Metroid: Other M
Giving Samus to the people of Team Ninja was a risk for Nintendo. As flamboyant and unpredictable and ingenious as they are, they could become overconfident and completely wreck the special, lonely and mysterious atmosphere of the Metroid games. But fans of the blone babe shouldn’t worry: Metroid: Other M may be “different” here and there and start exploring boundaries, it still remains largely a Metroid game.
Let’s start with the biggest change: contrary to previous games you’ll have to spend less time exploring environments and discovering things. Just like in the early days the hallways and rooms are straight and square, but the makers chose for linear adventures instead of more adventurous ones. The result is that less than before you get the feeling you’re alone in a strange world where a new discovery lurks around every corner. In exchange you do get improved and very streamlined combat. Quite a lot of improved combat even!
As you always have to go forward and there’s a clear map the game has become a lot more spectacular and energetic. Enemies arrive quick and you’ll constantly have to watch out. With the controller held sideways it comes down to evading attacks well, load weapons and then attack strongly to stun and then kill hostiles, from closeby or a bit further away.
Aiming is done automatically but with the morphing possibilities, your evasive moves and jumps the experience becomes a fluid and fun game. Special is also that when you point your remote to the screen you suddenly switch to first person view. The disadvantage that in this mode you can only stand still and orientate yourself is made up by the fact that you can also shoot missiles. Quickly you’ll be switching between this and the standard perspective like the best bounty hunters. Quite brutal and refreshing for a game on the Wii.
Even more immersive are the many boss fights that vary from interesting to plain brilliant. The bosses are original, spectacular and surprise with their attacks and challenging difficulty. You’ll be tested and some are more intense than you would expect! Make sure to know very well where the buttons – and especially the dodge – are. There’s a number of interesting puzzles that slow down the tempo now and then and the environment always has a quite a lot of objects and materials hidden for those the love exploring.
We just mentioned the balance between intensity and more quiet parts and here’s where the story and how it gets told plays a role that shouldn’t be neglected. We learn quite a lot about lead character Samus in beautiful cut-scenes – at least, for Wii standards – so that veterans of the series don’t remain on their hunger. However, we’re still talking about Team Ninja doing the development so a cut-scene can take a bit longer than what you’re used to from more Western games. Those that have checked out Bayonetta or MGS before won’t mind this one bit though, but the mystery behind Samus is gone forever. Whether that’s a good decision or not is something we’ll have to wait and see for.
One thing Team Ninja didn’t have a good influence on is the music. In the end this was quite disappointing but luckily compensated by the beautiful animations from Samus and opponents. The rest of the graphics show again why we would love to see a Wii with HD: the ideas and atmosphere are present but the console’s power is too weak to bring that vision to life in an equal way. But don’t despair, Other M still looks good enough to enjoy the makers’ creativity.
In the end Metroid: Other M is a succeeded experiment. We lose some of the unique atmosphere but in return get better and most of all more spectacular combat. The gameplay is solid and the adventure grabs you from start to finish. For the fans of the series there’s a Samus that looks sexier than ever and you can still have fun searching for hidden gear, even if that doesn’t go along anymore with a feeling of lonelyness throughout the story and the characters in it. Kudos to Nintendo and Team Ninja for taking a risk and again making the choice for innovation with such an important franchise!