Sunday, March 5, 2023

Beaten Metroid Prime Remastered

at the bottom of the Phazon Processing Center

If someone asks how my weekend was, I'm going to answer with "radiant", because I got an overdose of Phazon radiation. The stuff glows so vibrantly that you can almost feel it through your screen. Anyway, I've just completed my first playthrough of Metroid Prime Remastered with 100% items and logbook. A review will follow shortly, probably tomorrow evening, but before that I just want to talk about my personal experience with this remaster, which can be summed up with:

"Must look at everything."

And there were two reasons for this:

  1. It all just looks so pretty now.
  2. I really wanted to scan absolutely everything.

This took quite some time. In fact, this playthrough lasted over 13 hours, where I can do much better. But going fast wasn't the priority here, where sometimes I just stood there and marveled at the scenery.

looking at the canyon by the Monitor Station at the center of the Magmoor Caverns

As a Nintendo fan you learn not to be a "graphic whore", but what Retro Studios (and everyone else involved) has achieved here on such old hardware is nothing short of a miracle. This is the best looking Nintendo game with a realistic art style and it shows. So, I really took my time to look at everything, sometimes even just staring at walls. But this helped with not missing anything for the logbook.

Luckily, the scans carry over in a New Game+, so I technically won't ever have to do this again, until the next remake in 20 years or so. I also took the time to read through everything once more, which I haven't done in a long time, where it was a nice refresher. And when it comes to Metroid my memory sadly isn't as good as it is for Zelda, I can tell you that much.

I was even making some of the same mistakes as five years ago, when I revisited Metroid Prime on the Wii. Again, I've went to the bottom of the sunken Frigate Orpheon without the Gravity Suit and used the Save Station down there, only to realize afterwards that I need to get the Gravity Suit first and now have to climb all the way up without it. This is an infuriating platforming section, because those Jelzaps pull you off the platforms and then you land in a tentacle pit, like in some bad hentai movie...

And I even still remembered how I went the wrong way during this part in the game five years ago, but my thought process was that I didn't go into the wrecked ship right away, because I had assumed I needed the Gravity Suit first. Well, it was exactly the other way around...

It's badly designed and lacks a good flow, because after you got the Ice Beam it leads you to the Frigate Orpheon, where you only need the Ice Beam to enter it, so it seems like the way forward, while you actually need to go to the other end of the game world. This may even have been intentional, to make the player first go down there, learn that they need the Gravity Suit, and then search for it. The enemies even change between these two visits.

Well, maybe the hint system sends you in the right direction a bit sooner, but I wouldn't know, because I always keep it turned off ever since my first playthrough on the GameCube fifteen years ago. There is no shame in using it with this game, though, especially for first-timers. If a long-time fan like me still can get lost in the maze of Tallon IV, Metroid Prime must be utterly confusing at times for new players.

Backtracking in this game can also be annoying, because many rooms need two items to finally clear them. For example, the Tower of Light can be accessed once you've gotten the Spider Ball. So, you might want to go there and get that fancy Wavebuster once you have that upgrade in your possession. But if you haven't gotten the Gravity Suit yet, then you will have to return there once more to also get the Chozo Artifact in this place. Plus, there is also some backtracking to the room before, where you might end up going there four times in total.

Chozo Ruins in the early game, at the Gathering Hall

But enough about that, since these aren't new problems. Other than the absolutely gorgeous graphic, a big aspect of the remaster are the controls. I'm not fully happy with them (more about that in my review), but I did give all of the four control schemes a try. Classic controls are probably my least favorite, because I really enjoy using the gyro aiming. The hybrid controls aren't that great, however, because you have to use a button to activate the motion-powered aim. Otherwise it acts the same as the classic controls.

Interestingly, the dual stick controls also support gyro aim in the options and they do an even better job of implementing them, so I went with this control scheme for the majority of my playthrough, until getting the Power Bombs to be exact. I just like using the Pro Controller and this seemed like the best option, but it does get a bit convoluted at times, especially with the beam switching, because you don't have the right stick for that.

So, in the end I also gave the pointer controls a chance with the Joy-Cons and it was so much better. It's as good as I remember it from the Wii, even better so, because you can now easily switch beams and visors with the extra buttons that the Wii Remote and Nunchuk didn't have. My only gripe with it is that you have to use the A-button to shoot, instead of Y like in Metroid Dread, where I accidentally triggered the Morph Ball one too many times during a boss battle. Otherwise it's very good and I will most likely use this from start to finish for the Hard Difficulty.

Speaking of, I will keep this mode for later, like I usually do. Maybe I will play it to warm up for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes Remastered in the future... I just need to remember to not go down into Frigate Orpheon prematurely. And I still hope that they may release an update that unlocks the Fusion Suit somehow, because Hard Mode wouldn't be the same without it. Metroid Fusion will become available via Nintendo Switch Online next week, maybe they'll connect that somehow... Let's see.

Mission Final. Percentage Complete: 100%, Total Time: 13:16, New Extras unlocked in the Main Menu! Hard Difficulty Unlocked!

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