By Brent Oxford
Good things come to those who wait. Eight years after Super Metroid was released for the SNES, Nintendo finally revived their sci-fi franchise with two new games. Metroid Prime defied the beliefs of even the most hardcore Metroid fans, bringing Samus Aran’s world to the third dimension in a first person view. The other, Metroid Fusion, sought to continue the story of Samus after the events of Super Metroid. Despite some problems that Metroid purists may hate, Fusion will satisfy anyone who was waiting for a new 2D adventure.
Returning to SR-388 once more to assist Biologic Space Laboratories researchers, Samus is attacked by an unknown creature that enters her body. Feeling no ill effects, Samus continues her assignment. However, as she is leaving the planet, she suddenly loses consciousness and her ship crashes into an asteroid belt. Turns out the creature that attacked her earlier was a parasite which was later revealed to be the X parasite, and it had completely taken over Samus’ body. Unable to have her Power Suit completely removed due to the X parasites integrating her suit’s organic components with her own body, Samus is given little chance to survive. Luckily however, Federation scientists are able to create a vaccine with a cell culture from the infant Metroid Samus got from her last visit to SR-388. Samus is cured of the X infection, and is reborn with a new Fusion Suit, and immunity from all X parasites.
Metroid Fusion like its predecessor is a 2D action/adventure game. Onboard the Biologic Space Laboratories or B.S.L. Station, Samus has been ordered to stop the X parasite infestation which has crippled the station and killed all its occupants. However, Samus has been weakened, losing all of her abilities due to the Federation attempting prior to remove her Power Suit. To make matters worse, the B.S.L is also being occupied by perhaps the greatest threat Samus has ever faced, an X parasite mimicking Samus herself, the SA-X. To succeed, Samus will have to use her new ability to absorb X parasites into her own body, restoring her lost abilities and destroy many dangerous creatures that now inhabit the space station, while at the same time evading the SA-X which mimics Samus at full power.
However, where Metroid Fusion differs greatly from its predecessor is in its open-ended world, or rather lack of. While Super Metroid basically let you go wherever you wanted provided you had to skill to do it, Metroid Fusion forces players to go where the game wants you to go, thanks to a computer in the game that directs Samus to her different objectives. This feature basically destroys any chance for the player to explore the space station as they please, eliminating sequence breaking. This mechanic is sure to annoy Metroid purists who enjoyed the open-ended environments of previous Metroid titles. Fusion is also more story-driven than the games that came before it. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, some fans may wish they could simply turn the game’s dialogue off.
The game’s presentation is solid in every category. Characters and enemies move very fluidly with clean 2D graphics, and the game’s bright colors really help bring the game’s environments to life. The audio is equally as good, with a nice blend of atmospheric background music and some more upbeat tracks for certain situations in the game. Another fine edition that completionists will love is being awarded different artwork of Samus depending on how you complete the game. Beat it with 100% items? Get a picture. Beat it 100% in under 2 hours? Get a new one.
Overall, Metroid Fusion may be considered one of the weaker titles in the franchise due to its forced linearity and unskippable dialogue, but a weak Metroid game can still be a great game and an amazing adventure regardless. If you’ve never played Fusion before, I suggest you give it a try.
About the Author: Brent Oxford is a long time gamer who prides himself on being able to enjoy many different genres of games, from Kirby to God of War.
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Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Nintendo R&D 1
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Platform(s): Gameboy Advance
North American Release Date: November 18, 2002