The lights are on
Credit for the review name goes to Companion Cube and NIK, both of whom are pretty cool (even though NIK has horrible opinions). I needed help to come up with a name because I'm incredibly uncreative. My screen name was actually given to me by Shooterboy23, and- oh yeah, the review.
For my twentieth review, I wanted to do something special. So, I decided to review the entire Metroid Prime Trilogy, and compare each game to the others. But before I get into the differences, I'd prefer to get some of the similarities out of the way. But here's a warning; I write colossal reviews of individual games, and this is three.
Each of the games is a First Person Adventure/Shooter, with puzzles, platforming, and varying degrees of exploration and backtracking. Metroid Prime Trilogy has one big addition to Prime and Prime 2; the controls from Prime 3. The GameCube Prime games had an untraditional control scheme as opposed to a standard dual analog shooter. You had tank controls while not locked on (Pushing left or right causes you to rotate rather than strafe, forward made you move forward and back made you move back), and the D-Pad and right analog stick were used for changing your beam weapons or the visor on your helmet. To free aim you had to hold R (which locks you in place), and to strafe (walk sideways) you had to Hold L and lock on. They worked well most of the time, but they were insufficient against a few certain bosses and fast enemies.
The Wii controls are much better, now you free aim by default and move in the direction you push the analog stick like normal, and the pointer controls are very precise. There is a lock on of sorts, but rather than guiding your shots it locks your camera onto the enemy while still allowing you to aim freely, making shots easier. The default control sensitivity is competent enough, but I'd suggest switching to the faster setting as soon as you start playing. If you can't aim, you can play the majority of the three games with the lock on guiding your shots like in Prime and Prime 2, essentially making it the GC controls but better.
As a general rule of how the controls effect Prime and Prime 2, fighting many enemies is effectively the same, and many others are made marginally easier. In Prime, it makes one early game boss, Flaahgra, go from being rather easy to being a joke. It balances that out with a late game sub boss though. Deep in the Phazon Mines, you encounter an enemy that can't be locked onto, and it was a pain to fight with the GameCube controls. Now, it's fine. One enemy was made worse, another was made better.
Prime 3 had an achievement system, and it's been added to Prime 1 and 2. You get credits for killing bosses, finding upgrades, beating the games on higher difficulties, etc. Speaking of difficulties, it appears that they've added a new one to the first two, Hypermode. They didn't, they made an easy mode named 'normal', changed 'normal' to 'veteran', and changed 'hard' to 'Hypermode'. You can use the credits to buy things like soundtracks from each of the games, a screenshot tool, and concept art. One notable addition is Samus' Fusion Suit - in the GameCube Metroid Prime, you could unlock the alternate suit and the original Metroid game by connecting your GameCube to your GBA with Metroid Fusion. This would be impossible on the Wii, so they made it purchasable.
The controls are nice and all, but overall the additions don't make it worth buying again if you already have the games unless you're a Metroid fanatic (So yes, I was happy with my purchase) or collector. If you haven't played the Metroid Prime games yet, this is the best way to - although you could buy the three games individually cheaper.
In 2002, Nintendo and Retro Studios released a game called Metroid Prime. It was released on the same day as Metroid Fusion, and they were the first games in the series since Super Metroid back in 1994. Do you know what Super Metroid and Metroid Prime have in common? They're each widely considered one of the best games of all time. Do you know what's different? I have an annoying friend who constantly pesters me about reviewing one of them, and it's not Metroid Prime.
In Prime, you start out with nothing but your Power Beam and Scan Visor, and gain a great deal of upgrades from there. The Ice Beam allows you to freeze enemies where they stand, the Wave Beam homes in on enemies and stuns them, the Plasma Beam does high damage with a good rate of fire, and you have a limited supply of missiles that home in on enemies and do high damage with a slow rate of fire. Missiles can be combined with each of the beams for a unique beam combo for each; Super Missiles for the Power Beam, A Flamethrower for the Plasma Beam, the Wavebuster for the Wave Beam, and the Ice Spreader for the Ice Beam. They each consume large numbers of missiles, so it makes every missile expansion more valuable to get. Getting the Super Missile is part of the game, but the other three are optional.
Those are only the beam weapons you find, you also get boots that allow you to double jump, a grapple beam that lets you swing across gaps, the Morph Ball that lets you enter small areas and bombs that can be lain with it to reach higher areas. The Morph Ball has several other upgrades, like a magnetic upgrade that allows it to travel along tracks, or one that gives you the ability to charge up a boost of speed. You also get several suit upgrades like the Gravity Suit that lets you move through water unimpeded, or the Varia suit that keeps you from taking heat damage in the Magmoor Caverns.
There are five areas, Tallon Overworld, Magmoor Caverns, Phendrana Drifts, Chozo Ruins, and the Phazon Mines, connected by elevators. They're all overflowing with puzzles and have greatly varied level design that makes great use of your ever growing arsenal. Backtracking is frequent, but when you return to an area you almost always have some new ability that makes you able to go somewhere or do something you couldn't before, which keeps it from being boring. There is one significant flaw in overall level layout though, Phendrana Drifts can only be reached from Magmoor Caverns, which makes it more tedious to return to than the others.
There's somewhere around 60 enemy types in Metroid Prime, and the majority of them are unique. The closest there is to recolors are the five different types of Space Pirate that have the same AI and design, but four of which are only vulnerable to a certain beam - which, because of how unique each of the beams is, results in entirely different strategies for each. You have small creatures that you blast away with a few shots of your Power Beam, Baby Sheegoths that rush you and are only vulnerable from behind, your most formidable enemies the Space Pirates, and many more. That's not even talking about the bosses.
Each of the bosses is well designed, and the music fits each boss encounter well. Flaahgra is made a joke by the improved Wii controls, and Primes essence (the final boss) had a very small repertoire of attacks so it got boring very quickly, but the rest of the bosses were at least good, and Meta Ridley is the best Ridley battle in the series.
All three of the games have a key hunt. Before being able to go and fight the final boss, you need to find a number of items that let you gain access to the last few areas. Prime has 12, and you can gain information regarding them almost immediately. It's a good idea to integrate the key hunt into your journey, rather than waiting until the end to get all of them. Before fighting the fourth to last boss and getting the final upgrade, I had already gotten ten.
Metroid Prime 2 moves from Tallon IV to Aether, a planet that has been split between two parallel dimensions - a light and dark dimension - by a space borne cataclysm. Samus Aran arrives after taking a mission from the Galactic Federation to investigate a missing frigate, and finds the frigate quickly, with all of the marines dead. Soon afterward, she's enlisted by a creature in a race named the Luminoth to defeat the Ing who inhabit Dark Aether and have almost destroyed the Luminoth. The planet is held together by a number of energy collectors, and if one loses all four of theirs then it will cease to exist. Light Aether has already lost three, so you arrive just in time.
In terms of new gameplay mechanics, Echoes adds the Beam Ammo system and the Dark World, a parallel universe. A cataclysm caused the planet of Aether to be separated into two parallel worlds, Light Aether and Dark Aether. On Light Aether, all is normal, but in Dark Aether your health is drained by the harmful atmosphere while not standing in light beacons which not only protect you, but slowly heal you. It makes being in the Dark World a nuisance for a decent period of time before you get the Dark Suit, which slows the health draining down greatly. The first part of the game is rather dull, but it begins to pick up steam after that point.
The Beam Ammo system doesn't really make much of a difference outside boss battles. If you're low on ammo for a beam, you can just destroy an ammo cache with the other beam to get ammo. It's not so much a genuine limit as a minor nuisance. After running out of ammo, you can still fire the beam, thankfully. You need to charge it to be able to fire a normal shot, which makes them very impractical in combat but still able to open doors that need a specific beam.
As for your beam weapons themselves, there are two new ones, a returning beam, and a reskinned beam. Your default power beam is the same, and the Dark Beam is exactly the same as the Ice Beam, aside from a slightly higher rate of fire and other minor differences. The Light Beam has a lower rate of fire than the Power Beam but greater power and a charge shot that fires several shots, and it can charge light beacons to kill enemies who come in contact with them. Near the end of the game, you get the well named Annihilator Beam. It doesn't have its own ammo like the Light and Dark beams, but uses ammo from each of them. It homes in on enemies and has a very high rate of fire. Like the Light Beam, it can charge light beacons, but it doesn't just damage enemies who enter it. It makes any nearby Ing charge into them and commit suicide.
A number of upgrades return from Prime, like the Morph Ball and it's associated upgrades, the Space Jump Boots, and the Grapple Beam, and an upgrade from the 2D games is introduced to the Prime games; the Screw Attack. It's still powerful, but it's been changed to be limited to six jumps, it can't be used to get higher, and hitting the environment causes you to stop. It's not nearly as practical as the 2D variation, but I still used it effectively from time to time.
There's several new upgrades, like the Echo Visor that lets you see sound, the Seeker Missile that allow you to fire five missiles at different targets simultaneously, the Gravity Boost that keeps water from impeding your movement speed and doubles as an underwater jetpack, and the Light Suit which protects you from the atmosphere of Dark Aether with 100% effectiveness and teleport between several temples, to name a few. The Seeker Missile isn't particularly useful though, mainly because the Super Missile charges in a similar amount of time and is better.
The level design is overall good, although not as good as Prime, particularly in the beginning. It really suffers from the implementation of the Dark World, which makes backtracking through an area three times to do anything a common occurrence. Many of the Dark World areas are exactly the same as their Light World counterparts, and it's lacking when it comes to art direction - nothing but purple and black as far as the eye can see. On the bright side of the dark side, it gives the game a darker atmosphere and adds some variety because it's different from the Light World.
Looking at a list of creatures in Metroid Prime 2 has about eighty creatures. That sounds initially impressive, but about twenty of them are "Dark" versions of creatures that already exist, and are usually just the normal one but with more strength and more purple. In addition to that, several of the enemies are reskinned enemies from the original game, sometimes with minor changes. But even taking those into account, the list of unique enemy types is very long, and they did add some great enemies. Like the Quad MB/CM, two enemies that combine into one and are fought with both normal weapons and the Morph Ball, or the Rezbit, an enemy that has several attacks that include a computer virus to infect your suit. It's also home to the best bosses in the whole Metroid series, as well as the worst in the Trilogy.
The way that you lose all your power ups in the beginning of Prime 2 had them stolen by various Ing, and this leads to them being used against you in a number of the boss battles. This lead to a lot of unique battles, with great ones like the Boost Ball Guardian. On the other hand, you had not so great ones, like the incredibly dull Spider Ball Guardian battle. Morph Ball implementation in boss battles is much more common than in Prime, and it's inconsistent in execution. Some bosses are even fought entirely in third person with nothing but the Morph Ball and the upgrades having to do with it. The three Temple Guardians are good, and the first two Dark Samus battles are among the best in the Trilogy. On the other hand, one boss is a normal enemy with twice the health and triple the size, and the final battle with Dark Samus is even worse than Primes Essence from the original.
They key hunt in Prime 2 has only nine keys, and when you find the Lore entries saying where they are you're already near them. They're in the Dark World version of that area, being held by invisible creatures that can only be seen with the Dark Visor.
Prime 3 is much more populated than the first two games, and the opening and ending actually have Samus fighting the Space Pirates alongside the GF, if not in practice. For the majority of the game, you're still on your own though.
One big difference between Metroid Prime 3 and the first two is the overall structure of the game. They each had the player in large areas where they'd explore, backtrack, and find upgrades as more and more of the world became accessible. There was a great deal of freedom, and Prime 3 doesn't match it. There is a strict main path without much deviation, and each upgrade usually only opens up a few paths, as opposed to the myriad of paths that'd be opened in the earlier games.
On the other hand, there's far less backtracking. In the first two games, different areas were connected by elevators that took you from one area to another. In Prime 3, your ship is actually used in the game and one of its new functions is replacing the elevators. There are a number of landing sites, and you can travel from any of them to another with your ship once you've reached each by foot. The result is backtracking that's shorter and less frequent, but because of the linear nature of Prime 3 it feels more like padding than an integral part of the game.Prime 3 has the worst level design in the Trilogy, but there's still a good deal of variety and different challenges. The environments are varied, from the spires of Skytown, linked together by ziplines to the perpetual blue of the otherworldly Phazon seeds. It pays to pay attention to your surroundings despite having the most poorly hidden power ups, but there is something that makes going for a 100% run without using a guide - not that I'm going to tell you, I'll let you figure it out for yourself. A 100% run of Prime 3 really isn't that impressive though.Another difference is Hypermode, a mechanic that lets you trade an Energy Tank for a period of invincibility and the Hyper Beam (not to be confused with the Super Metroid upgrade of the same name). It lets you have high damage at a high cost, but it's still overpowered because of the temporary invincibilty and lack of anything with comparable power for most of the game. It's optional outside of some boss fights, but there are some enemies that will go into Hypermode, making your normal shots do laughable damage and practically forcing you to use it.There are a few other Hypermode exclusive upgrades aside from the Hyper Beam, like a powerful area of effect 'lightning' attack with the Morph Ball, or the powerful Hyper Missiles. There's also the Hyper Grapple, which is a powered up version of your Grapple Lasso.
The Grapple Lasso is a twist on an old upgrade (that is gotten separately), the Grapple Beam, used for combat rather than traversing gaps. It's a nice idea, but for most of the game its use is limited. The only thing you can do is grab the enemy then pull (literally, because it uses the Wii's motion controls. They work well and fit the action fine, so I'm not complaining.), which has a different effect depending on which of the small pool of enemies you can use it on. The most prominent of these is a Space Pirate with a shield that can be ripped off, allowing you to attack it - and for most of the game, it can't be fought any other way.The Plasma Beam and basic Power Beam return, and you get a new beam called the Nova Beam, capable of shooting through Phazon. It lets you access switches covered in Phazon, shoot through Phazon barriers used as cover in a few areas, and, when used alongside the X-Ray Visor, allows one hit kills on certain enemies. That includes a couple recurring sub bosses, and nothing puts a smile on my face like killing an enemy that was once formidable in a single hit. You only get three beams, and like the 2D Metroid games rather then the first two Prime games, they stack. Instead of switching between them, they all work as one beam that gets progressively more powerful. It removes a layer of strategy, and it means there aren't any Beam Combos, devaluing missile expansions.
I've already covered most of the new upgrades and several old ones, but a few still remain. Aside from the Power Bombs, all of the Morph Ball associated upgrades return, and the Hazard Suit is essentially a Varia Suit that protects against acid rain instead of lava. The missiles are now imbued with freezing abilities instead of a beam. The Seeker Missiles and Screw Attack return identical to the Prime 2 versions, but the former is more useful because of the lack of Super Missiles or any other way to use missiles quickly, and the latter is gotten earlier in the game and sees a good amount of use in Skytown, if not many other places.
The final non-Phazon Grapple Beam upgrade gotten is the Grapple Voltage, something that gives you two more options in addition to 'pull target' - siphon energy to increase your own health while slowly damaging the enemy, or quickly overload the enemy with energy, at the expense of your own health. It's good that they tried to use the Grapple Beam in combat, but the execution leaves much to be desired, and is a missed opportunity. The ship also has two uses not mentioned earlier - very rarely utilized bombing runs (another missed opportunity), and a Ship Grapple that allows you to move large objects.My count of the list of creatures comes out at about 100, with most of them being new enemies. There are many different types of creatures, with everything from small insects to colossal bosses. There are some rehashed enemies, but not as many as Prime 2. The Space Pirates make more of an appearance than in past games, and are your primary opponents throughout much of the game.
The variety in strategies for fighting them is great, some can be killed in many ways while others require specific weapons or strategies, and knocking over the Steambots in Morph Ball mode like bowling pins never gets old. Prime 3 has roughly the same quality of boss battles as Metroid Prime, with the majority being good, a few bad ones, and a few great ones. The final boss is pretty poor after the first stage (it's a three stage fight), but it's still the best final battle in the Trilogy - considering the competition is a game of jump rope and MP2's sad excuse for a final boss, that's not the greatest accomplishment.
They key hunt in Prime 3 is by far the shortest and least annoying, and you don't even need all of them. You get energy cells that are used to power the abandoned GFS Valhalla, but you only need a few so long as you're careful about which doors you use them on and don't care about a 100%, and you get four energy cells following the course of the story. You could easily get the number of energy cells you need in under an hour, but remember - when you go to the GFS Valhalla, either consult a guide on which way to go, or save before using them and restart if you go the wrong way.
There is a two to four player local multiplayer mode available, but I can't give a verdict on this because I couldn't find anyone to play it with. The general consensus is that it's tacked on though, and I remember hearing somewhere that Nintendo had Retro finish the game months before they thought it'd be complete - it apparently only has two modes.
I've already said this, but I'll say it again. It doesn't really add anything significant beyond the controls, and unless you're a Metroid fanatic it's not worth buying if you've already played the games. If you haven't, this is the best way to play them. I beat them each in 8 hours 10 minutes, 12 hours 40 minutes, and 8 hours 27 minutes respectively, but I know these games well enough to play them blindfolded. The average play time for the first two is 20-30 hours, and Prime 3 10-15 hours.
*This review was not edited to address the colossal review mechanics
Hmm.. I'd say I agree with both of the criticisms, and that it's a nice change of pace from comments that are just "good/great/cyoar/amazing etc. review." While I was writing I actually did think that I was getting excessive about certain upgrades (the grapple lasso in Prime 3, for instance), which lead to me trying to balance that out by talking about the rest because I still needed to talk about the Grapple Voltage because of that "underutilized idea" complaint. Ironically, it resulted in me talking excessively of upgrades in general.