Fun fact, this was the first Metroid game I ever played. This does not mean I’m biased; I just thought that would be interesting.
This game is arguably the most important game in the entire series. It brought it back after ten long years of silence after the release of Super Metroid, brought Samus into the third dimension, and most importantly for Nintendo:
It made a shit ton of money.
In terms of plot, this game follows the Metroid formula very closely. The game opens up with Samus investigating a station filled with dead space pirates. On her way out (after killing a giant bug thing and blowing everything up) she runs into a mechanical Ridley (Meta-Ridley, if you will) and loses all her gear.
Now Samus must descend to the planet below in pursuit of Ridley, the remaining Space Pirates, and destroy a brand new threat: the Phazon and the Metroid Prime. It’s clean, simple and to the point.
And then there’s all the lore.
See, Metroid Prime introduced the new Visor system, which allows you change what Samus, and by extension you, can see. You have your Standard visor, your Heat visor, and your X-Ray visor. But the one you’ll be using the most (to an infuriating degree) is the Scan visor.
When you use the Scan visor, your vision is littered with orange and red squares. Red squares activate different things in the environment, helping you progress in the game. But orange squares are the ones you need to be worried about, at least if you want to complete everything in the game.
Which I always do, because I’m fucking insane.
These orange squares provide you with information. Scanning enemies can tell you about their attacks and weaknesses, and scanning different things in the environment can tell you about what they are or the history of the world.
As tedious as it is to scan everything (and believe me, it gets tedious) it is well worth it to scan it. Having the extra info on the universe of Metroid is awesome, and it goes a long way towards making the story of the franchise even better. It’s a great addition that makes Metroid feel that much more deep.
Still, I can’t say I’m too fond of the different visors. They have their uses, but I’ve never really had any fun using them. I’d always switch back to the normal visor as quickly as I could.
In other terms of gameplay, this one is an odd but completely natural evolution of the Metroid series. Whereas the prior games were all 2D side-scrolling adventures, this one is a 3D first person shooter. But at the same time, it maintains the tight platforming and exploration that the series is known for.
And it’s awesome.
Platforming is tight and fun, killing things feels better than ever before, and of course: getting collectible items feels fucking amazing. This game is Metroid through and through, and the quality of life changes only make it better.
The best one being, at least for me, switching between weapons. In Super Metroid, you had to mash the Select button to get to the weapon you wanted. But in Prime, all you’ve got to do is either flick a stick to select your Beam (oh yeah you can switch between those now and it’s really helpful) or hold a button to select your Missiles. These little changes make the game so much easier and more fun to play.
So the plot is good and the gameplay is great. Now how’s the game sound and look? Amazing, that’s how. Even after roughly three console generations and a massive evolution of graphical tech, this game still looks fantastic. The sound design sucks you right in with every metallic step or fleshy explosion. The music is phenomenal, perfectly fitting each area and boss fight with an atmospheric techno sound.
There are also plenty of nice touches that keep you engaged and immersed. The best example of this is Samus’ reflection; whenever you experience a bright flash, you can briefly see Samus’ face in her visor, examining her surroundings.
Friendly reminder: this was on the Gamecube.
Now, I can’t talk about Metroid without talking about the boss fights. So how are those? Some of the best in the series. They’re all an excellent blend of puzzle, challenge and straight up fire fight. Thardus, Meta-Ridley, the Metroid Prime, and so many others are some of the best boss fights in the history of video games, and I will never forget them.
Mostly because I’ve played this game a thousand times already, but that’s not why.
This is one of the best Metroid games ever made. Easily top three. It looks great, sounds great, and it plays wonderfully.
And Prime 2 still somehow manages to be a better game.