02 Sep

Out of Nintendo’s lineup of all-stars the Metroid series has the most unique past. From its original release in 1986 it has gone through more innovative unwanted upgrades than any of the other franchises. Whether it was skillfully adapting the space adventure to the underpowered, grayscale Gameboy Classic or fusing together elements of first person combat with platform exploration, the series has continuously surprised us by reinventing the genre in new and exiting ways. However, through all these variations several themes have remained intact: exploration, isolationism and item collection. With Team Ninja at the helm, Samus’ newest outing chooses to take a different approach and the results bear the question, what exactly is the other M?

M is for Misinterpretation

Other M’s biggest flaw is its deviation from the Metriod’s underlying canon. The game follows Samus as she explores the Bottle Ship alongside the current members of the Galactic Federation, a squad she was once a member of. During your time in the Bottle Ship, Samus will have constant contact with Colonel Adam Malchovich (the same Adam from Metroid Fusion). Having him and his crew all around you limits the sense of isolationism that often drives the dark atmosphere and mood of Metroid games. The result is a sometimes interesting and sometimes disappointing pacing that weaves in and out of classic enjoyment and hesitant acceptance.

The extra characters limit the sense of isolation they do provide for some interesting battle scenarios

This incarnation of the long-standing series allows you to recharge your missiles at any time by tilting the Wii remote upwards. Not only does this eliminate the need for a bottomless missile supply but it severely limits the “gotta catch ’em all” attitude prevalent through all the Metroid games. Why bother increasing your item capacity when you seemingly have an infinite supply already? It’s still interesting to dig the extras out, it’s just not nearly as compelling.

On the bright side, the 2D/3D perspective shifts create a compelling dynamic that truly pays homage to the classic Metroid titles. Rounding a corner and having some unknown monster burst from the wall as the camera pans into position really accentuates the action on screen. Sometimes these angles can even make you forget the sub-par Wii graphics, which, by the way, are very fickle. The cut scenes are gorgeous on the Wii  and overall it is one of the better looking game on the system, but it will shift from sharp to pixellated at random and the massive contrast only aids in pointing out the poorer instances.

M is for Motion Controls

Although boss battles are exiting, the first person camera hampers the experience.

The only thing that really bothered me during my playthrough was the controls. The game forces you to use the Wii remote in the sideways position and I can hardly name a Wii title that would benefit MORE from the use of the Nunchuck. You cannot have a 3D game that runs off a D-pad. It’s almost ironic, Nintendo pioneered the standardized analog stick with the N64 and here we have them retreating back into an almost archaic design constraint. Furthermore, the confusing first person mode seems asinine and almost broken at times. In order to fire missiles or lock on to specific parts of a monster you have to point the Wii remote at the television and render your character glued to the ground while every other creature continues to move at full speed. It’s something you will inevitably get used too, but for the frequency that you use missiles the sudden disorientation you constantly face will be a jarring reminder that you’re playing a game.

Team Ninja does make up for the buggy control system by adding some satisfying combat situations. When you stun an enemy you can dash in and deliver a lethal strike. The auto lock will sometimes throw you off but the overall effect is solid. The combat is difficult and over time you might tend to avoid it altogether but I never found a good fight unwelcome.

Does this look like a future bounty hunter or a pouty mother of two?

M  is for Miscast

Throughout the game Adam has our bounty hunter on a short leash, and the drab voice acting delivered by Samus makes me think the M might stand for menstrual. The story as well as the gameplay get really good as you progress but I was never able to get used to Samus’ dreary Mary Sue attitude. I’m really glad they finally added some real personality and dialogue to one of Nintendo’s major franchises (Wind Waker notwithstanding), but I never expected the woman who single-handedly eliminated Mother Brain to utter something as contrived as what is spoken during this game. She seems more of an addled homemaker than the fearless bounty hunter we’ve all come to expect.

M is for Maybe you should get over it

It’s true, I don’t completely agree with a lot of the cinematic and plot choices. But you know what, we should all just get over it. It’s like arguing that Han Solo’s deep-rooted nobility would never allow him to take the first shot on Greedo. Well, he did, so get over it. If this game starred any other character it would probably be one of the best titles on the Wii, but since it’s the sequel to a flagship series we’re going to hold the scrutinizing candle so close to the product that we are likely to burn the edges. The game is very good, if not a little short and lacking replayability. We should feel lucky that they didn’t hand us an arm cannon attachment for the Wiimote and put Samus on rails. The risks Team Ninja took to make this title are a huge gamble not only for Metroid but for any game, and for the most part they deliver on every level. Yes, the controls can be a little unnerving but, like every game, you will get used them. At the very least this is a platform for future titles to build upon and you should 100% try it before you listen to what anyone says.

19 thoughts on “Metroid: Other M Review”

  1. Brutally honest review. I like it :). Based on what I’ve seen I’m likewise going, wtf, over the character shift that was given to Samus. She’s wiped out planets, killed hordes of monsters, etc. She’s not a delicate flower…she has more “balls” than most guys.

    1. It’s really not a bad game, it’s just not a really good Metroid game. Hell, at one point Samus loses her shit over one of the more repeatable bosses. She’s a silent killer of entire alien races she shouldn’t be scared of some over inflated monster.

      The last half of the game is more true to the series but I still can’t condone the $50.00 purchase.

      1. Personally (as awesome as the Metroid Prime series was – first especially), I’d kill for game in the spirit of Super Metroid. Dark, hints of horror, tons of exploration, all on a ginormous interconnected map. Metroid is a series where I don’t need character driven dialog. What happened with the baby Metroid at the end of Super Metroid was an extremely powerful moment. No words were spoken, it just was. A game of actions speaking louder than words.

        1. I agree, I’d love a new super metroid style game.

          The other thing I wish is that Nintendo would start to acknowledge the classic controller pro… they did suc ha good job on that but never use it.

  2. I think it is funny how differently everyone pronounces the terms in the Metroid series. Some examples…

    -Samus ‘Aran’. I hear most Japanese people pronounce it Arron, when I add an emphasis on the first syllable.
    -Planet ‘Zebes’. I say it “Zeebs”, but I know most people do not. Still, I have heard it 4 different ways.

  3. I wish it was all just 2.5D and no First Person modes. There should be no instance when you are in first person mode that you cannot move (unless your character is restrained, but that would be plot point, not bad gameplay design).

    As for Voice Actors/Actress, most of the characters fit just fine; except for Samus. I think Nintendo should have gotten Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (voice of The Major on Ghost in the Shell TV series). See Mary provides that Stone Cold attitude that Samus needs, as Mary also played Julia on Cowboy Bebop, and Hilda on Outlaw Star; both very strong independent women.

    From reading the manga, my impressions of Samus are as follows: [spoiler] that she was an innocent little girl until Mother Brain Betrayed the Chozo and took over Zebes, and controlled the Space Pirates and Ridley all along. This betrayal made Samus a very, very vengeful women after she got back from her mission of scouting out Zebes when all the Chozo there died. She since then became an independent bounty hunter not wanting to follow all the rules of the Galactic Federation because they were governed by bureaucratic red tape. She also had a thing for Adam.[/spoiler] All that and the Manga is cannon, so Other M seems to conflict with the cannon some.

    Granted I haven’t played the game yet, but I have seen enough media on the game to give a partial analysis, but not make too many conclusions; except needing a new voice actor and better controls. I will eventually pick up the game when it goes on sale after hearing everything about lack of replayability and that the controls are not as desirable.

    Trevor, this was a good brutally honest review and I thank you for it.

    1. You pretty much hit the nail on the head Keck, the voice actress for Other M, Jessica Martin of no prior fame, simply does not capture Samus’ character at all. I really wish they would have put a little extra effort into their selection. Hell, they could have gone the route of every other game and just hired Nolan North.

      As for the thanks, your welcome. I actually had a really hard time writing the review because I wanted to recommend it so bad! Oh well, maybe next time they’ll give us the Metroidvania title that we’ve been begging for.

      1. I am still waiting on “Dread” myself. I hope they keep it alive and put it on the 3DS. That would be awesome having a 2.5D Metroid title on the 3DS. This 2.5D I am talking about it the standard 3D character models on a 2D linear plane with 3D objects in the foreground and background; none of this trying to move your character in a 2D/3D plane, cause that doesn’t work out so well (well it might with the slide pad, who knows). I really just want a portable Metroid title besides Fusion and Metroid 2. I really hope Nintendo creates a Virtual Handheld for the 3DS so I can dl some of the games that I never got a chance to play on the handhelds and also so I can take some of my favorite older games with me without having to change a cart or take two handhelds with me and extra batteries.

        I know this is slightly off topic, but it is related, and we have no where else to discuss these things really. I am also hoping Konami gives us another Castlevania for DS, but their 2D game went to the 360 this year and didn’t quite turn out like the fans expect. A Castlevania game has come out on the DS every two years since Launch of the DS so I was expecting one this year but no dice. I just hope they are making one for the 3DS launch, cause I can’t get enough of those games.

        1. Actually, I enjoy the Castlevania series much more than Metroid. It might be because, in large, Castlevania has kept to its core roots. Castlevania truly embodies exploration and isolationism even when there are supporting characters in the mix. It’s a shame Other M couldn’t do it and I hope that Lords of Shadows doesn’t stumble down this same path. But if a Belmont lands on the 3DS I might just have to break down and make a purchase.

          On that note Mega Man 2 3DS…SIGN ME UP~!

          1. A Mega Man collection on the 3DS would be awesome. I have the one for the GB and that was good. I just hope for Lords of Shadows that they not make it like all the other lame action adventure games lately (ie Clash of the Titans and Golden Axe: Beast Rider). Dante’s Inferno wasn’t bad, Beyonetta is good, and Dark Siders is 50/50 for me. I think it is cause of all the same colorness that really irks me about games these days, and bad game design. I wish there were more games that were MetroidVania games. I didn’t get to play Shadow Complex because I don’t have a 360, and none of my friends have it, so I am kinda deprived of that. So I have to get by on the few titles I do have.

            Anyways my weekend will be full due to me attending PAX, and I intend to make some vids of my escapades. Ah, getting to look at all the games in development and see some new ones that haven’t been shown off yet. That and an awesome concert of Metroid Metal, Anamanaguchi, The Protomen, and The Minibosses, so yeah that is just Friday’s concert (Saturday’s isn’t as good). See I brought it back to Metoid with Metroid Metal.

  4. I understand the point about it being strange that Nintendo was the one that introduced analog control in 3D games with Mario 64, so why would they possibly be willing to forget that in favor of a more traditional control style? But I think there is a major difference between the two games, and that’s over 10 years of game design.

    Other M doesn’t “need” analog control because the devs worked out smart, ingenious ways to get around it. While running through curving tunnels Samus almost sort of locks onto a path and follows it with ease. The player just needs to hold the direction they’re headed and that’s where Samus goes, just like in the old games. Platforming, unlike in Mario 64, doesn’t require absolutely precise jumps as Samus locks onto platforms making for easier jumping.

    You’d think of all things that combat would need analog control, but again, I’d argue the D-Pad is what makes evading as fun and easy as it is. Combat is fast, and tapping with a D-Pad means your response time is faster.

    I think people see the game is missing analog control and they just refuse to accept it. No one is really seeing the little touches Team Ninja added in there to help assist the player.

    This is coming from someone that absolutely refuses to play something like Mario 64 DS because it doesn’t have analog control. The games are just built differently.

    1. I respect the point, but I tend to disagree. I thought the style of dodging was too easy and when combined with the insta-charge shot is a game breaking mechanic. Team Ninja is usually great when it comes to creating a varied combat style but here I just repeated that pattern for every enemy in the game.

      Part of the reason I would have preferred an analog stick is the lack of sensitivity on the D-Pad. Sometimes I wanted Samus to just walk instead of crazily bolt around the screen like a cocaine baby.

  5. For me, if I want to play a metroid using the regular nintendo controller(which is basically what the sideways wiimote is), I’ll play the original metroid. Or Super metroid which is in my opinion the best game ever made still to date. I don’t want to play a 3d version of that with the same control scheme and a REALLY awkward first person element.

  6. Well, it’s not the most popular Metroid game with Metroid fans thus…………I’ll probably like it. I’m not a fan of Metroid. Didn’t like Prime (though I remember enjoying 3) and only marginally like the Godly Super Metroid. Plus I like cinematic games, although the cut scenes seem kind of cheesy.

    This logic was true with Resident Evil (enjoyed 5 immensely more then every other one I’ve played) so why not with Metroid???

  7. I just stopped playing about a quarter of the way through. I just couldn’t get used to the controls. Too much of Samus aiming at stuff I don’t want to shoot and wrestling with the wiimote trying to get it to go into first person. This game really just makes me want to revisit the Prime series.

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