First impressions of Metroid: Other M

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Everybody loves Metroid, right? I mean, Fusion had its quirks, Hunters was ill-conceived, Corruption wasn’t the home run that the previous two had been. But it’s hard to argue with Super Metroid, Metroid Prime, and Metroid: Zero Mission. At least one all-time classic there.


I know a lot of people were a little nervous when it was announced that Team Ninja was going to put out the next game in the series. And I wasn’t really that interested when I saw the initial screenshots and read the initial previews. It seemed much more Team Ninja-y than I was in the mood for.

But when the game shipped and the reviews started coming in, I was intrigued. It wasn’t as bad as it was looking in the previews. And once I received it from GameFly and popped it in the drive, I was surprised to find that it was a lot more Metroid-like than I was expecting.

So here’s the first three hours of my experience with the game.

Tue 9/14 7:31:54 PM It’s always a great big ordeal when I play Wii games at this point.  Do I have a disc in the drive?  No, of course not, why would I.  Oh, better go turn on the wireless sensor bar.  No, the other one, the one that doesn’t use a 9-volt battery.  Will I need to find a nunchuk controller?  No, not this time.  And so on.

This is not an exaggeration. And it didn’t stop there, as you’ll see below.

Tue 9/14 7:33:06 PM So it’s pretty obvious that it’s been a while since I’ve touched the Wii.  Looking at the screen makes me think it was to play Cave Story, but no, it was actually during the brief period where I thought I could get into Monster Hunter.  Turns out that didn’t work out very well.  But at least I got a classic controller out of the deal.

I wanted to enjoy Monster Hunter, but it’s just not my thing. Those days of playing Phantasy Star Online-style fake MMO grinds are behind me. It would have been different if I had a regular group of people to play with, but unlike the guys at Bootsnake Games, I never found a party.

And, of course, I bought the Classic Controller after I finished Cave Story. Oh well.

Tue 9/14 7:34:09 PM So, system update.  I guess the PS3 doesn’t have a monopoly on “do a bunch of shit before you get to play the game you just put in.

To be fair, though, the PS3 seems much worse about this. Half the time I put in a PS3 game to play (maybe once every month or two), I have to wait for a system update, followed by a (mandatory) install…

I know this is not a new complaint, but I’m a grown-ass man now. I don’t have nearly as much time to play games as I used to. Having 20 minutes eaten up by playing a system instead of a game is getting more and more unacceptable to me.

Tue 9/14 7:35:09 PM While we wait, let me say that this has been a great summer for games.  Limbo was fantastic.  Lara Croft was really fun.  And although VVVVVV has been out for a while, its release on Steam finally made me pick it up.  And holy cow, what a great game!  And what a great soundtrack!

I know I’m forgetting some game or another, but those three were really great. And the VVVVVV soundtrack is one of the best I’ve heard in a game in years. I’m still trying to figure out if the newness of Pushing Onwards is making me overrate it and want to put it in the all-time top 10 game songs. You be the judge.

Tue 9/14 7:36:55 PM Still waiting.  The progress bar is under the L in “Please wait a moment.”  I guess I need to more regularly power on my Wii?  Although I guess that’s more Nintendo’s fault than mine.

This came out a little snarkier than I intended, but I’m certainly not alone in suggesting that the Wii has been a pretty big disappointment — even with the Super Mario Galaxy series.

(And hey, two of the all-time top three games on GameRankings is nothing to sneeze at, even if 90% of the system’s games aren’t even worth looking at.)

Tue 9/14 7:37:29 PM Whoa, false alarm, it went from 40% to 100% literally in less than a second.  Always entertaining when progress bars don’t actually mean anything.

Tue 9/14 7:38:14 PM One thing I’ve always enjoyed about the Wii is its little animated channel windows.

I like the fullscreen treatments that games get on the PS3, too — but I’ve never understood why not all games have one. Come on! It’s a 1920×1080 image and (maybe) some audio from your game! What’s the holdup?

Tue 9/14 7:39:12 PM Oh, right, I also need to update my wireless network information.  Good times.  So… how did the system update work, then?

Still trying to figure this one out. My old “Grantastic” wireless network doesn’t exist anymore, so I’m not sure how the update downloaded. Maybe it’s best not to ask these things.

Tue 9/14 7:40:04 PM So the Nyko (?) dual Wii remote charger has pretty much made it so my Wii Remotes will hold a charge for about 30 minutes.  Is that normal?

Seriously. The light is green when I take the remote off the charger, but as you’ll see later, it burned through a charge waaaay too quick.

Tue 9/14 7:44:03 PM By the way, if any of you are ever considering setting up your entertainment center with a projector, couch, Wii, and glass-top coffee table, you should probably remove one of the four from the equation.  This might not work as well as I’d hoped.

I’ve been using a projector instead of a TV for about five years now, and I have to say, the novelty is kind of wearing off. I miss contrast, being able to see everything on the screen whenever I want, and… well, having a normal setup. Now that Kinect and Move are imminent, I’m starting to wonder if they’re even going to even be possible with this setup.

Tue 9/14 7:45:39 PM Yes, putting a piece of packing cardboard on the glass top of the coffee table solved the issue.

Tue 9/14 7:46:54 PM Well, that title screen is... subdued.

Tue 9/14 7:46:54 PM Well, that title screen is... subdued.

Tue 9/14 7:49:01 PMHello, Samus voice.  You are… breathier and higher-pitched than I was expecting and hoping for.

Tue 9/14 7:49:50 PM Definitely digging the Super Metroid ending cinematic, though.

Tue 9/14 7:51:25 PM Yeah, not sure this voice is going to work for me.  Yikes.  I’d expect a battle-hardened bounty hunter to sound more… world-weary, I guess.

See this video.

Tue 9/14 7:51:43 PM Do we have any idea how we came to learn the names “Ridley” and “Kraid”?

I mean, I know how I learned them. But I mean, has any of the lore ever explained how we learned their names. Since there wasn’t any actual in-game text until Metroid Prime, and since Kraid didn’t exist in that world…

Maybe I’m thinking too much about this. I guess I’m still a little annoyed that we were forced into creating an actual name for the aliens in Space Siege. Not that this is the same issue. You know what, never mind.

Tue 9/14 7:53:23 PM Of course, the first thing I do when Otakon tells me to use my bombs is try to bomb my way to the ceiling.  As any good Metroid player should.  Pleased to discover the rhythm is pretty easy in this iteration.

Although after about an hour of play, I haven’t found any spots where it will actually let me bomb my way very high at all. So disappointing! Okay, not really.

Tue 9/14 7:55:56 PM Aaaaaaand, dead battery.  Keep in mind this is less than 30 minutes after taking it off the charger.

The battery indicator shows as half full right after being taken off the charger. Maybe I didn’t fully charge them initially and so the batteries never built a charge in the first place.

Tue 9/14 8:00:27 PM Other one didn’t work either.  Excelsior!  Found a third remote in my drawer, and… doesn’t light up.  Luckily, syncing it (where’s the sync button on the console?  … … … found it) fired it right up.  Let’s try all this again.

Tue 9/14 8:01:46 PM Whoa, whoa, “hold the remote vertically and hold A to recharge missiles”?  This really is going to be a different kind of game.

Tue 9/14 8:04:05 PM “You just going to sit there while something grabs you?”  No, jackass, you just haven’t taught me what to do when that happens first.

Tue 9/14 8:05:43 PM Also, hey, games.  Stop IMMEDIATELY PLAYING YOUR “fail” AUDIO AS SOON AS I DO SOMETHING WRONG.  Red Dead Redemption was HORRIBLE at this.  As soon as I’d accept a side mission, the giver would immediately — IMMEDIATELY — say some variant of “WHAT ARE YOU STILL DOING HERE?!  I THOUGHT I ASKED YOU TO GO GET THREE LILIES!”  Yes, gameplay programmers.  I noticed you set up a dialogue triggering system.  Well done.

Tue 9/14 8:06:45 PM “Allow adequate room around you during Power Bomb play”.  What?  “Play?”  What are… I don’t… What?

Still not sure if this was supposed to be breaking the fourth wall, or if I just don’t understand what he’s saying, or what. Just a weird moment.

Tue 9/14 8:07:59 PM Oh god, Samus, when you lose your abilities this time, can it be because you damaged your larynx and couldn’t talk anymore?

Sadly, this was not to be, as the actual reason for her not being able to use her signature abilities turned out to be just as bad as I’d heard.

Tue 9/14 8:09:36 PM Nice late title card and Metroid theme flourish, but goddamn, is the VO the runt of the litter right now.  I hope it picks up.

Tue 9/14 8:14:27 PM “There was a time in my past where I was in the Galactic Federation Army.  Where I was the only one in the army with special red and gold armor.”

Tue 9/14 8:15:03 PM Yeah, they’re really making Samus feel like a weakling here, with the army guy actually SHIELDING SAMUS ARAN WITH HIS ARM from an explosion.

Tue 9/14 8:16:34 PM So “Adam” is a General.  What rank is the guy who is giving the General orders?

Turns out I got this wrong: Adam does outrank everyone. However, I don’t think you can blame me — they introduce Higgs first in a way that makes him the center of attention.

Tue 9/14 8:17:56 PM “Samus has decided not to use bombs or missiles until Adam authorizes them.”  Hoo boy.  I had heard that the fiction for locking out abilities was flimsy, but I was hoping they’d offer SOMETHING more compelling than “this guy with the weird face is telling me not to use two staples of the franchise by not saying a word.”

Tue 9/14 8:38:15 PM I come back to the action after a bathroom break to find that my Wii Remote has somehow de-synced.  Join the Nintendo Fun Club today, Mac!

This wasn’t a 20-minute bathroom break — the game actually got pretty cool and not remark-worthy for a bit.

Tue 9/14 8:42:01 PM So is this big purple boss supposed to be made up entirely of those crawly bugs?  Because that didn’t really read.

Tue 9/14 8:45:24 PM Definitely love the boss fight alongside the soldiers, though!  Great stuff, with missiling the boss and then blasting the spot they’ve frozen.  Something tells me it’s not going to last, though.

Tue 9/14 8:46:08 PM Kind of anticlimactic ending to the fight, though.

Tue 9/14 8:47:06 PM Man, the thumbs cutscene… let’s just move on.

I was prepared for this game to have a lot more cutscene and narrative than previous ones, but I was hoping it would be a bit more compelling than this. And I know it’s kind of lazy to use “Japanese” as a perjorative, but soldiers giving a thumbs-up as a salute? This is feeling a little too Japanese for my liking right now.

Tue 9/14 8:49:40 PM Apparently, that’s not possible, because it’s going to go on for another five minutes.

Tue 9/14 8:52:07 PM The “you, go over there! you, go over here!” cutscene was pretty rad, though.  (Although it reminds me of an old MST3K episode that I probably won’t be able to find a YouTube clip of.)

Very pleasantly surprised to be wrong about this. Man, I remember when you had to use eDonkey2000 to find MST3K clips.

Tue 9/14 8:55:53 PM Nice touch, having the glowing eyes of those little enemies streak as they jump to different levels.  Definitely helps, what with the soupiness of the Wii’s graphics in general.

Tue 9/14 8:57:30 PM Ugh.  I can jump off ledges but can’t fall off?  Quit holding my hand.  I’m a big girl.

Tue 9/14 8:58:04 PM Oh, and I can’t jump down from ledges with waist-high walls.  Excellent.

Look, I know you have to constrain the player somehow, while still reserving the right to have realistic environments. But this was especially egregious.

Tue 9/14 9:00:48 PM Nice little puzzle microboss fight with the two spawning insect cocoon things.

Tue 9/14 9:02:35 PM Completely confused by the Ninja Gaiden-style melee kills.  “Jump on an enemy and press 1″?  I did that.  A bunch of times.  And almost died as a result.  I’d call that a failure of the tutorial.

Tue 9/14 9:08:08 PM Not sure how I feel about the blue dot telling me exactly where the hidden item is in every room.  I kind of liked having to hunt them down in prevoius games.  But I guess this isn’t previous games.

Tue 9/14 9:13:48 PM So an energy tank is made up of four energy… parts?  Okay.

Not “components”. Not “fragments”. Not “pieces”. “Parts”.

Tue 9/14 9:16:00 PM Okay, I guess I get the melee kill thing now.  Jump OVER the enemy so you’re on its head before the apex of your jump.  That’s… strange.

Tue 9/14 9:19:46 PM The recharge everything after every encounter” thing is really throwing me.  I’m used to having to save my missiles for boss fights.

Tue 9/14 9:21:10 PM Looking at this game, I find myself wondering if a 720/1080 Metroid game would be an improvement.  I’m kind of leaning towards “no”, without radically changing the enemy design.

Tue 9/14 9:23:48 PM Miniboss fight with the big tongue guy and his invisibility is confusing.  I was able to hit him out of it (I thought) the first time, but now he’s just invisible and shooting things at me every five seconds.  Train me better, game!

Tue 9/14 9:53:35 PM “And in one corner was the miserable corpse…” That’s not a corner. Or maybe future geometry is different.

Tue 9/14 10:03:46 PM So I just went through a door that… turned into an invisible wall behind me?  I don’t understand.

Tue 9/14 10:05:56 PM Oh, okay, an invisible wall that I can un-invisible.  That’s kind of neat.

Tue 9/14 10:07:23 PM Whoa, an outdoor area in daylight.  Reminds me of the first Metroid Prime.  Man, that game was good.

Tue 9/14 10:10:19 PM Almost got killed, retreated to relative safety, tried to charge back up to 99 health, and died right as it seemed I succeeded.  Boo!

Tue 9/14 10:10:49 PM Ah, what a pleasant surprise, though, as the game checkpointed me RIGHT before I activated the things that killed me.  Whew!

Tue 9/14 10:22:23 PM I definitely like the mechanic of “get to safety and you can get a free 99 health back”, though.  Adds a nice element of “I’m not completely screwed yet”.

Tue 9/14 10:23:02 PM And since I used it right before finding a long-awaited save point, and since the Wii Remote powered with actual batteries is also giving me a low power warning, I think that’ll be all for tonight.  Good stuff, though!  Definitely not as bad as I was expecting.

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