Developer Retro Studios has my heart, what they have managed to create over the last 7 years is nothing short of the most influential and loved series to ever grace any console.
On my list of favorite games 2002’s Metroid Prime for the GameCube ranks the highest, simply put I love this title.
Till this day I am astonished at how a once unknown developer has taken such a beloved franchise and moved it into the third dimension whilst maintaining the classic series feel and essence. Very few games can match the sheer mood and ambiance that the Metroid Prime series is known for.
When I found out that the entire Prime series was coming to the Wii on one disc I just couldn’t believe Retro studios was going jam pack all that awesome sauce into one piece of media.
So what we get in Metroid Prime Trilogy is the excellent GameCube games, Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime 2 Echoes, and the Wii’s Metroid Prime 3 Corruption on a single disc with significant control and graphical enhancements for the GameCube originals plus a clever achievement system that ties all three titles into a seamless gaming experience. It has been a tremendous joy revisiting this entire series conveniently packaged into a metal collector’s edition case with an art pamphlet. You couldn’t ask for a better deal on the Wii.
Seriously, three tremendous gems packaged for around $59.99 is a steal!
The Prime series at first glance may look like a first person shooter but actually takes the more appropriate title of First Person Adventure. They employ a lot of exploration, tons of back tracking, zany morph ball puzzles, some delightful first person platforming, and clever battles. In fact each one of the sub genres within the series could very well be a game on its own; yet only in this series do we see such elements blend in a harmonious manner to create an unparalleled gaming experience.
All three titles focused on exploration of alien lands and trying to piece together a story of a greater threat. In the case of Prime 1 you’ll find yourself organically navigating the land to finally confront the final boss. This traversing and exploration aspect feels so natural and that by the end you begin to realize the true magic of the games script and level design. Having locations that were once unreachable quickly become accessible throughout the adventure and uncovering secrets and weapon upgrades never felt more satisfying. On the topic of upgrades expect to see a typical Metroid stereotype of losing your suit powers during the beginning sequence. This is forgivable for Prime 1 but by Prime 2 you feel slightly cheated and a tad bit sad that you’d have to go around and reclaim the upgrades that were yours to begin with again, thankfully this mechanic is tossed away for Prime 3. What all three games do well is create a layered world that beckons to be explored with the various weapons upgrades and insanely cool visors.
Control wise the first two games of the series get a much needed boost as these were original GameCube titles. By applying the same blueprint from Prime 3 the controls (thanks to the IR sensor) are smooth and refreshingly accurate. In fact I went back to the original Cube titles and found the controls very limiting. You visors and beam selection is smartly given to the plus and minus buttons that now overlay the screen and let you freely select the visor or weapon of you choice. Movement is set to the nunchuck and shooting and jumping is set to A and B on your Wiimote. The lock on ability is given to the Z trigger on your nunchuck and finally missiles are now selectable by pressing down on the D-Pad. It is a smart utilization of the Wiimote and nunchuk and feels as intuitive as it is natural. I would strongly recommend that you select advanced controls in the options to get the best results. In advanced, the dead zone of your targeting is minimized giving you a sharper turning radius and faster left and right movement. Trust me it’s worth it.
The gameplay focus is on what wiped out the Chozo of Talon IV with different regions on the planet that need to be explored to solve this mystery. You’ll find yourself going from desert ruins to scenic glaciers to underground mining labs in some of the most diverse landscapes in any of the Metroid series. You begin to unravel the space pirates (your enemies) research and find the missing link to this poison that plagues Talon IV. Along the way expect tons of morphball puzzles and some very interesting story telling thanks in part to your scan visor. Very ambient with tons of cool weapons and memorable boss encounters. Prime 1 ranks as one of the best in this trilogy set.
Often compared to Majora’s Mask from the Zelda series, this iteration has the same gameplay mechanics as its predecessor but with the inclusion of light and dark worlds. Samus answers a distress signal to a planet and finds herself in a conflict between the Luminoth and the dark world menaces known as the Ing. Utilizing ammunition for her beam cannons you are thrust into a world which houses both a light side and a dark side that can be traversed by going through portals. With a lot more boss fights and tons of cool cinematic moments you soon realize the same poison from talon IV has had a hand in the disruptions on this new planet and face off against a new but somewhat familiar foe.
What begins as a side story soon ensues a deep quest to restore Luminous to its normal state.
With tons of secrets and some fine vistas to explore your objective is all about restoring light to the dark and collecting mystical keys to the Ing Hideout. Echoes was less about natural flow and more about objectives based gameplay which to some extent needed to be there since Luminous is dauntingly large and equally complex.
Heralded as a return to the series roots while wrapping up the dark Samus/Phazon story arc, Prime 3 was developed for the Wii and released almost a year ago. Weapon upgrades are handled in traditional Metroid fashion with each upgrades replacing your old one. A greater focus is laid on story telling and small investigative work in uncovering where the home planet of Phazon is located. With the most gorgeous levels in the series you are not limited to just one planet and traverse to different parts of the galaxy. Now mixed into the gameplay is an overdrive mode that runs on Phazon and players must use this hyper mode cautiously at the risk of Samus’ health. Adding to that for the first time in Metriod history you get to use your Gunship in some really clever puzzles. Prime 3 showcases some of the finest boss fights and immersive story telling yet.
Since it was a Wii title the motion control implementation is natural and many of the motion interactive moments feel genuine and well thought out.
On the visual front things are looking stellar as all three titles have received visual upgrades of which Prime 1 and 2 get the most out of it since they were last generation titles. The entire set runs at 480p and thankfully in widescreen mode. Prime 1 gets a lighting and texture overhaul with environments now looking crisper and more vibrant than ever before. This truly is evident in some dynamic lit rooms and when looking at enemy characters up close. Prime 2 utilized a different rendering tech and so the upgrades may not be as apparent as in the first but they are definitely there. Visually Prime 2 does lag a bit behind but it’s still an upgrade when compared to the GameCube release. I find the reason may be in its design of the dark world and some dreary locations that really can’t benefit from slight visual upgrades. But don’t let that fool you as the game does look stunning for a Wii title. It’s rather sad that games that were released last generation with a small visual upgrade can stand as the best looking Wii games but then again I believe it’s a testament to Retro and their artistic ability.
Prime 3 was developed for the Wii as mentioned before, and its visual fidelity is noticeable right from the beginning; even though the game is a year old it still stands at the top tier of Wii titles. Really they didn’t have to but Retro went in and actually did some minor visual work in Prime 3. All three games are oozing with lush environments that cause you to stand there and stare. With dynamic lighting, tons of level geometry, and some awesome hand drawn textures no two areas look alike. Just try and marvel at the lattice work on each corridor in Elysia and then be stunned as you traverse the high tech solitude of Sanctuary Fortress.
I should tell you that during my review word got out that some effects work was missing from Prime 1, namely slight water dynamics and some gun effects. This seems to be true and a questionable omission on Retro’s part. By no means does it affect the entire games visual scope nor does it hamper on any of the ambiance but its removal does prove odd for the fans who own the original. Above all let me stress that this is very very very minor and I guarantee 90 percent of people won’t even notice this. Still the original had some slight water dynamics and subtle effects like your gun freezing over when loading an ice beam.
I should also let you know that since all three games are selectable from the main menu there was no need to implement each titles personal menu and load out screen, a minor sadness to those of us who have seen the stellar load screens of Prime 1. Seriously it was the best menu load out I had ever seen. In the end the menu and selection screens are well done and follow the trilogy set’s own art style.
Someone go give Kenji Yamamoto an award! Prime Trilogy houses some of the best work he has ever done. All the music is eerily beautiful, almost like a galactic opera that fuses all sorts of electronic music into one harmonious symphony. Some of the best ambient music is here and a fair amount of it is remixed/ re-imaginations of the original 2D soundtracks. But it’s not just the beautiful music that will catch you ear, a lot of smart effects sounds and ambient location noises complete the entire audio package. Whether it’s the beautiful chorus harmony of Elysia complimented with the turbulent sounds of airborne engine thrusters or the isolated ruins of Chozo and its echoing hallways which compliment the down tempo electronic music; it’s clear that a balance is created in each location through ambient sounds and awesome musical accompaniment.
Prime 3 takes it a step further with tons of dialog and well acted moments between you and the other bounty hunters. The voice work is top notch and while our heroine remains silent everyone around her certainly has a lot to say.
Turn up the volume on your surround sound set since it does run the standard Dolby Prologic II and defiantly ranks as one of the Wiis finest audio experiences.
You have three stellar games each taking about 20 hours or so on your fist go to complete .
Add to that hours of replay with an achievement system that is taken from prime 3 and now implemented for the entire trilogy. You collect prime Credits that can be exchanged for items like story boards, music, art, diorama sets, and small cosmetic upgrades ala a new skin for you armor or a virtual bobble head for your ship. Combine the fact tat you can send friend credits and receive them via Wifi and you have an achievements system that rivals the trophies set on PSN. It’s sad that other games on Wii don’t do this.
Add to the whole list is a reworked version of Prime 2′s multiplayer now fully reworked to take advantage of IR motion controls and viola! A perfectly good time waster with you buddies; just don’t expect to play them online since it’s all local here.
Easily clocking at 80 hours I found myself completely in love with the tons of unlockables on this disc.
It’s a title that you’ll come back to again and again. The single player story alone will take up most of your time and should you dive deeper and complete 100 percent, you’ll definitely be treated to more than just an extended ending.
The finest trilogy in gaming has come back as a stellar value package. There is no finer example of modern gaming than the Prime series. The innovations, style, music, and game play mechanics have stood the test of time. This is A MUST BUY FOR ALL WII OWNERS.
There are no excuses anymore if you own a Wii. Go out now and get this.
Just like Ocarina of time and Mario 64 before it, the Prime series is the crowning achievement of a classic franchise revived for next gen gaming. I can guarantee that there is no other gaming experience like this.