Metroid: Other M

When Nintendo first announced they were making a 3D Metroid, I guess something like Other M was what most people hoped for; continuing the story of Super Metroid in a setting that was mostly a 2D platformer with some additional depth, and a chance to see a lot of old content in 3D. Back then, fans were in an uproar over Nintendo’s decision to go first person and then rejoiced over the fact that Metroid Prime was in every aspect a brilliant game, perhaps the best on the platform. A trilogy and eight years later, the bar has been raised a lot for 3D Metroid games, although to be honest I do not think Other M would have satisfied fans in 2002 either.

Other M stays very true to the original Metroid games (up to and including Metroid Fusion) in the sense that most enemies and all powerups come from previous games. The problem with this is while Metroid Prime reimagined the meaning of metroid-flavored exploration in 3D and provided an incredibly rich gameplay experience, Other M seems only to want to present a story with tons of cinematics and the game is just dutifully tacked on as a quick 2D-3D conversion. Of the few things actually changed are the combat which is somewhat more spectacular with finishing moves and dodging, and a removal of the economy as Samus no longer gets pickups from defeated enemies and health and missiles can always be regenerated on the spot. While these features work well on their own they do not really fit with the exploration and gathering of powerups that are the core of Metroid games.

Making cutscenes take a lot more time and effort than making gameplay, and Other M is a lot shorter than the Metroid Prime games with a lot more story presentation. Creating games as interactive movies is something of a core value in AAA game development, but it is always painful to see a game sacrifice its soul in order to be more like the rest of them; especially since very few games actually have a good and involving narrative. I suppose this is why so many developers focus on smaller productions where they can focus more on the things that are important for their individual games.

And the narrative of Other M really annoys me, partly because it is a major reason the rest of the game is failing but mainly because it doesn’t fit the game; in particular I hate that they have taken one of the strongest and possibly the first heroine in games and turned her from a stoic warrior into a stereotypical crying little girl. It is painful to watch and downright insulting to the Metroid heritage. I can only hope that the low review scores persuade Nintendo to return to the traditional way of doing things rather than to give up the series for another 7 years, but I suppose the future will tell.

2 Comments so far

  1. Johan Svahn on September 22nd, 2010

    I like the Metroid series (altough Metroid Prime was the latest I played) but have not felt the urge to buy Other M at all. Why? It just doesnt feel as a Metroid game. This opinion is purely based on gameplay videos and trailers. So either the trailers failed or the game failed. And reading reviews such as this one confirms my suspicion that the game failed.

    Thanks for a good review, as always!

  2. Saint on September 22nd, 2010

    Thanks.

    It’s not awful, really, the gameplay that’s there is quite enjoyable and very similar to the other games. But there’s nothing new and everything but the story is scaled back immensely so as a part in a brilliant series I would consider it a failure.

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Posted on Sep 19/10 by Saint and filed under Reflections | 2 Comments »