The year was 2000, and the Gamecube was being unveiled at Spaceworld. There were tech demos and game previews everywhere, and they all showed that the purple box was a powerful little cube. One of these demos was an FMV sequence featuring a super detailed model of Samus running down a highly detailed corridor of a spaceship, and then turning around and blasting an enemy. Along with the realistic Zelda and Mario 128 demos, this was probably one of the biggest highlights for hardcore Nintendo fans at the time.
Really, Really Annoyed Fans
Things were looking rosy for the Gamecube but it was only a year later in 2001 that things turned sour when Nintendo announced that Metroid Prime was becoming a “First Person Shooter”. The effect this announcement had on hardcore fans was not only amazing but there was a real shock and annoyance at Nintendos decision. This article will take a look at the controversy and events that followed from this announcement.
Meet The Developers
At the time the game was of course un-named but Metroid was Metroid and going First Person was a big No No for the fans. Even worse, it wasn’t being developed in Japan, rather it was going to be developed by a fledgling Texas Based 2nd party studio called Retro. Fans mocked the game, calling it “Retroid” as an insult. The reactions to “Retroid” were almost as bad as “Celda,” another controversial move that resulted in many boycotting the Gamecube.
Things were not looking good for the Gamecube. People believed that Nintendo had hung themselves and abandoned everything that they had been building upon since the NES days. Nintendo seemed to have gone mad, and many were alienated over the announcement refusing to even wait and see the final outcome.
The Demo Arrives
When the playable demos finaly arrived, there wasn’t a lot of positive feedback. In fact the demos seemed to concern the fans even more. The opening mission of the spaceship was featured as the main demo and this suggested to players that the game was going on to become one of those uninspired, linear FPS style Halo clones. People assumed the worst and the playable demos dismayed, and mislead everyone about what is perhaps the greatest accomplishment in the history of games.
Even though Gamecube was getting sceptic remarks about its future, its sibling, Gameboy Advance, was doing very well. Fans prayed for Nintendo to stop the development of “Retroid” and make a real Metroid game by Nintendo R&D1. Nintendo didn’t fully stab these people in the back with their news. It was announced in March 2001 that there would be a Metroid game for the Gameboy Advance. Then a year later at E3, it could be seen that this was going to be the sequel everyone wanted. At least, that is how it seemed at the time.
Metroid Fusion Not As Expected
It had been roughly 8 years since Super Metroid was released, and Samus was going to be back. However there is a lot of Irony to Samus’s comeback. This 2D Metroid game, subtitled fusion was a departure from the series! Instead of focusing on exploring areas and finding weapons to find various ways to complete the game, it focused on a heavy story that didn’t even involve the actual presence of Metroids heavily at all. Rather, the gameplay was very linear, and involved the extermination of parasites called “X.”
Samus’s traditional power suit wasn’t even worn by the heroine. Many were disappointed with the outcome of Fusion. Some went even as far as actually hating the game and calling it the weakest in the series. Fusion was generally rated high by the critics but many did feel that it was a little too linear for a Metroid game. The “other” Metroid game, that had been mocked on for so long, was the opposite of Fusion.
Retro Studios Pulls Through
Metroid Prime captured what Fusion did not; Nostalgic Gameplay. Retro Studios knew what they were doing, and they did not forget what Metroid was all about; the thrill of exploring massive worlds. Losing all the Power-Ups at the beginning of the game certainly was a big sign that Retro was going to force you to find all of the power-ups. Exploration, moody atmosphere, unique art style, and Metroid Music and sound were taken into heavy thought and employed in the game. Nintendo wasn’t going to let one of their best classic franchises be destroyed. Retro Studios proved all the skeptics wrong about the 1st person mode, and they showed that just because a studio is new, it doesn’t mean their games would be bad. In some ways, the skeptics (which were probably just about every Metroid fan in existence) discriminated and pre-judged the game.
The end result was something bigger and better than anyone could even possibly imagine. The scope of the game was grandiose, and the atmosphere was taken directly out of Super Metroid. In many ways, Prime was Super Metroid in true 3D. Retro Studios achieved the impossible, and Metroid Prime to this day is considered one of the best games of all time.
Metroid Prime and Fusion Opinions
Prime: Yes, Retro studios really did achieve the impossible. The first person view was very misleading. I will admit, Prime was my First Metroid game, and I had trouble getting into it at first. I was very bad at it. However once I got the hang of things, I loved the game to death. The non linear gameplay and massive environments are still impressive in this Next Generation of gaming. Prime was a beautiful accomplishment in every department. It is truly a revolutionary title that has set the bar for Metroid games very high.
Fusion: I found it much easier to get into, as this was my second Metroid game. I think the idea behind fusion was to make something that Newcomers could get into easily. Fans will most likely like it, but Hardcore Metroid fanatics are likely to hate it. Looking back, I can see where many complaints lay in the game. It is a bit short, the missions are linear, and game feels easy compared to other titles in the series. I like it still, but it’s definitely not the best Metroid Game (what were you thinking Game informer!?). Nerveless, it is a solid title that must not be missed or completely overlooked.