Samus Aran is one of Nintendo's best-loved characters, yet after so many outings we still don't really know the lady behind the visor. About the closest we ever got to understanding the character was in Metroid Fusion on the Game Boy Advance.
That's about to change, as a developmental 'reboot' of the series in Metroid: Other M
– headed by an unlikely collaboration between co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto and Team Ninja – will not only give Samus a voice for the very first time, but will aim to present a much more story-driven space adventure.
When the E3 2009 trailer first appeared, I was blown away by the resulting effort. This new focus didn't water down the traditional Metroid
exploration and action at all. In fact, it looked like classic Team Ninja mayhem - Samus was darting in and out of the screen, grabbing enemies and blowing holes in their heads while leaping left, right and centre.
My main question after seeing the trailer was just how this action was going to be handled. We've been treated to some pretty fantastic 3D adventures from Retro Studios' Metroid Prime
trilogy, but this looked like the action was happening on a 2D plane. Is it 2D or is it 3D? Well, after having played it for a good while, I can say it's a wonderful mix of both.
Holding the Wii Remote sideways like a NES pad, the majority of your play will be spent running through areas of a dilapidated space station in 3D, while the dynamic camera will sometimes position itself like a classic 2D Metroid game.
At any time you can point the Wii Remote at the screen and change the viewpoint to a first person mode, which will allow you to scan the room you're in for clues to proceed, or to aim at enemies more precisely. A direct throwback to the Metroid Prime
games, and a welcome addition. Using the first person mode you can also fire your trusty missiles at nearby enemies.
The pacing of each room is just as you would expect from Super Metroid,
with 'quiet', atmospherical rooms leading to incidents where you're attacked by swarms of bugs. A lot of the enemies I saw I recognised from past Metroid
games too, including those bastard flying bat things that still find a way to drain my health. Even in Other M
those sneaky ceiling-hugging cretins were doing it!
But you're probably wondering why Samus is exploring a somewhat abandoned ship where loads of enemy creatures are lurking, right? Well, the much more involved storyline sees Other M
take place in between the SNES Super Metroid
game and the aforementioned Metroid Fusion
, with the opening cutscene showing events that occur immediately after the destruction of Mother Brain.
After a ceremony and a pat on the back, Samus is haunted by the child that helped her defeat the Metroid monster on Zebes – now considered dead in the inferno that finished Mother Brain off. You understand her agony as she feels like the ordeal was her fault. That she should have protected it as it protected her.
Some time later, Samus discovers a distress call during a routine sweep of the galaxy. A special kind of transmission known as a 'Baby's Cry', the bounty hunter is compelled to investigate a nearby Bottle Ship where the signal was sent from. It looks like it had been on the receiving end of some serious pounding, and it's not long before Samus runs into some old friends.
A brief encounter with the Galactic Federation introduces you to Anthony Higgs – a personal friend of Samus. Another familiar name comes from the group of space militants - Adam Malkovich. Those who have played Metroid Fusion
will know Adam as the once-commanding officer of Samus.
Turns out Samus used to fight for the Federation, before an undisclosed incident forced her to be dismissed of duty. She's become a famous bounty hunter since then, and Adam's not best pleased to see her, calling her 'outsider' at first. The reasons for the Feds being at the Bottle Ship are unknown, but Samus decides to stick around for their safety. Well, she is in a super-powered space suit, after all.
After some action-exploring on the decks of the Bottle Ship – the camera panning around from behind-the-shoulder to sidescrolling view as and when it seems necessary – I run into the first boss of the game. The Federation soldiers find a dead body, but don't have time to investigate as a giant eye gathers a swarm of bugs to build itself a body and attacks.
Defeating the boss required a combination of Samus' abilities – dodging the swipes of the monsters' arms, I had to hit first person view and target the eye. Once hit, the soldiers used freeze guns to case the limbs in ice. A well-timed missile took care of those quickly enough.
Knowing the Metroid
series as I do though, I know that this monster was only a taster of some of the action that I'd get to experience in Other M
. And I really appreciated the emphasis on Samus' back story too – being the enigmatic persona she usually is, to get inside her head and see what she sees is something that I can't wait for.
Metroid: Other M
is coming the Europe in 2010.