Note: I re-reviewed this game in 2020. Please disregard this original review.
Well, this trip has been an eye opener. It is like eating a bunch of candy you loved as a kid and getting disgusted at how you used to like that poorly made glob of sludge. But every adult can still enjoy the taste of one candy bar of nostalgia that has not been touched by the annals of time, so let’s go back to the first Metroid game I played, and oddly the last one canonically, Metroid 4: Fusion.
Metroid Fusion Review
Release Date: 16/12/2011
Platform: 3DS (Reviewed), GBA
Price I Paid: Free, a 3DS Ambassador Game
The game opens with an unskippable, 5 minute long cutscene about how Samus has been infected by a giant X shaped ameba, and needing to have her iconic suit destroyed to make way for a blue one that is regarded with near universal contempt, even though it becomes the fan-favorite purple in due enough time. I understand the backlash over a redesign, but after 8 years without a game, and a solid story explanation, I find it more reasonable to ask why we cannot even have Samus without her stupidly large shoulder pads in a game anymore?
After nearly dying from a parasite, Samus is injected with Metroid DNA to fight it off, and mutates as a result. And since the same parasites are now all over a space station, Samus now needs to clear this station out of genetic mutations, for Science!
And since the parasite can take on the form of anything that it came into contact with, there are multiple Samuses in the space station, all fully upgraded, while you have the most plausible explanation for being stripped down to a blaster and less than 5% of your maximum health in this game. I actually really like the parasite recreations of Samus, or SA-Xes as they are called. Mostly because they can, and will, mess you up early on in the game. So there is a wonderful sense of fear established whenever you see one leap through the air with a Screw Attack, and use an ice beam, which messes you up since you are now part Metroid.
But beyond the main plot, Samus actually talks, mostly in the form of monologues during elevator sequences, but often with a computer that reminds her of a character that reminds me of Metroid: Other M’. And while it is nice to see her character develop, the talking scenes take way too long, and the text advances like a slug unless you hold A, release it, press it, release it, and keep the process going. Just plop text onto a screen, and press A to get to the next one.
But Metroid is about gameplay, and little has been altered here. The world is now in a hub world, so traversing it is easier, especially since a lot of exits get destroyed as you go on, since we wouldn’t want people to go off exploring. But here is where I realize just how linear Metroid really is. It is little more than a maze with the main path being painted red, and the side paths are all very short, with maybe an upgrade on health, or some explosives. I would actually stretch to say that all you really do in this game, is listen to a computer, go kill a baddie, fight the same miniboss of a circle about 10 times, and then then absorb them into your body, converting their resources into a power up. Of which, I’d like to say that they are distributed in an odd order, hell, the Wave beam is your second to last upgrade. But really the only new item is the Ice MIssiles, which can be charged to freeze a room of baddies. It makes more sense than an ice beam, since she is now little more than a bug to the cold, but ice missiles do not really solve that, they just create another issue. But hey, this is Nintendo, a company based on the, “I don’t give a toss, just remake classic franchises so we can steal Generation NES’s money” mentality.
But there is a good amount different about Metroid Fusion. A lot is just upgraded from Super Metroid, but seeing how there was a massive gap between releases, it is understandable to play it safe. Enemy designs are the biggest contributor, but at least they didn’t take its grappling beam, or inventory system. Although, the screen is still a bit too tight, especially with bosses who you can only see for a fraction of a second before they jump onto your bum.
And while this can be seen as petty, but the only enemy drops for health are blobs that restore 10 or your health, when you had ones that did half of that, and double that, back in the other titles. It makes it very difficult to get back all your health in the later section of the game, especially since bosses don’t fully heal you, which I guess makes sense, but after you beat a boss, you travel back to a combination of a full restoration room, a save station, and a plot progression station. You get the most health you get in this quadrilogy, 2099, and a lot of enemies can deal over 60, which isn’t that fully bad, but I like having full health whenever possible.
I do like the idea of having multiple unique sectors to explore, but I don’t feel like the world is unreachable for me as of now, I feel like the world is hiding itself until it is ready for me to come on in. And why did you restrict the ability to connect them until after the third to last boss? And when I went to find all the items, I stumbled upon a door that was destroyed, an idea that I loathe, since it is just limiting my options for exploration, and preventing me from getting 100% because I did not go and get the item at the right time. Oh, and I said it before, Shinesparking is just not enjoyable, please stop putting it into your games for more than a few puzzles that are simple, and not tedious.
But moving to the visuals, they probably have the second weakest sense of atmosphere out of the whole lot, but they are very vibrant and colorful. SA-X’s sections are a treat, but there are only about 4 of them. And while the animation is the smoothest and of the highest quality, it looks more forced than the other titles. I think this might have been intentional, due to the X-parasite just being every enemy, operating on foreign DNA, but that comes as an afterthought more than anything.
As a whole, the game is very solid, and the gripes are just that, gripes, the game is probably the most action focused of the titles, but a lot of the pacing just feels a bit forces. Since you are told to go somewhere after things went wrong, my grip on events feels fairly loose. I feel like I am the clean-up crew, when I want to feel like I am potentially saving the galaxy from a creature that could control planets in a matter of days. But it is still very competent, and the Metroid flaring is burning brighter than the first two titles. It is a colorful action game that lacks as much exploration, but is undoubtedly Metroid.
It’s held back by certain flaws, it manages to be a competently executed and fun product that is worth playing.