In 2007, the great and wonderful folks at Valve made every single one of us dirty, dirty consumer pigs feel like we just blew up the ferris wheel at the Toys”R”Us in NYC and made off with five spectacular games, only paying for one of them. The unrelenting glee that beat my days with The Orange Box with a stick were absolutely incredible. I was amazed by how nicely five extremely well-developed and all-out fun games could be crammed onto one disk and sold in a single package. I never had the chance to experience Half-Life 2 until The Orange Box came around and turned me into a little kid in a candy store. A candy store on a post-apocalyptic Earth, swarming with Zombie Combine Solders, Headcrabs, turrets that enjoy playing peek-a-die, and asshole seven year olds on Xbox Live who scream racial slurs at me and always pick the FUCKING Spy. For the past two years, I’ve sat here with my beloved orange disk under the impression that I would never find a deal this incredible, that there would never be another compilation disk with more value than Valve’s testament to terrific marketing strategy.
Then Nintendo announced this. I’m not going into full detail on what happened that day, but the phrases “temporary belief in God again,” “blown mind” and “silent orgasm” applied.
Metroid Prime Trilogy is a compilation disc of all three titles in the Metroid Prime series: 2002’s Metroid Prime, 2004’s Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, both from the GameCube era, and 2008’s Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. It takes the GameCube titles, and adds onto them the motion control featured in Corruption, as well as some graphical upgrades and a few more minor details. To put this in perspective, this is like taking your beloved puppy from your childhood that died when you entered middle school, and finding that little Fido has come back to life, only now he can talk, do your ENG 210 homework, clean your dorm room, and convince any woman to give you a chance at love. It’s that good.
The Metroid titles under the Prime subtitle form one large narrative taking place between the original NES title and the Game Boy sequel Metroid 2: Return of Samus, revolving around the mysterious material known as Phazon, and how it is beginning to warp and change the universe. Metroid Prime takes us to Tallon IV, a world once populated by the birdlike race that took in series protagonist Samus Aran when she was an orphaned child, now filled with deadly creatures, long-deserted ruins, and labs for Space Pirates. Metroid Prime 2 investigates the planet Aether, stuck in a war with a parallel-dimension “dark” version of itself, brought on after a Phazon asteroid collided with the planet. Metroid Prime 3 then looks to tie these story arcs together in one gigantic, galaxy-wide affair as Samus faces her inner demons manifested.
The story throughout the Prime series is actually a fairly optional experience early on. All three games make use of a Scan Visor in order for Samus to learn more about her surroundings, giving us more infomation about the plot as it’s told, creatures encountered, or the myths and lore of the precursor civilizations of the worlds. In the first game, there is not a single line of dialogue given, aside from some messages from the ship. Prime 2 has several cutscenes with some dialog from time to time, during Samus’s interactions with the fallen Luminoth race. Prime 3 stepped the production and storytelling up to a grander scale, however, sporting a quaint-sized supporting cast, and featuring plenty of spoken dialogue to go around.
The best reason to explain the shift in this has a lot to do with the feeling of truly being alone as you progress through the series. Upon landing on Tallon IV in Prime 1, Samus truly looks a tad frightened landing on a unknown world, with not a soul around to communicate with. Prime 2 has some members of the nearly extinct Luminoth tribe around for exposition, but Prime 3 has a bigger focus on the Galactic Federation we have heard so much about in the backstory of the series, but never actually seen in the series proper until that game’s release. It’s a nice touch, moving through the series and seeing the scope of the events play out as the trilogy draws closer and closer to its explosive finale.
What’s really on display here is the absolutely perfect control scheme given. The GameCube versions of the first two games scoped out the GameCube controller very well, but the jump to the Wii is absolutely flawless. The aim-and-shoot nature goes off without a hitch, and the button placement for jumping, switching visors and beams, and swapping into the morph ball becomes second nature after a few hours into the game. All three games are mapped the same, so switching from one game to another is easy and fluent. If you can play one title, you can play them all. The biggest gripe I can give is that in order to turn, you have to point the Wii remote to the side of the screen, and there’s a few times where I’d point my controller too far and stop turning completely. Add in the pain of holding your arm up for extended periods of time, and you meet the same failings that every Wii shooter has. But none of them come close to the perfection that Metroid has made.
Both of the GameCube titles got a nice graphical touch-up from their original versions, but really, it’s barely noticeable. The games are all simply beautiful. The planets are all so vibrant and detailed. Water flows through the world, lighting from Samus’s beam affects the world around it, and the creatures in every world are so exotic and terrifying. Every nook and cranny of Samus’s universe is full of eerie atmosphere that truly puts it in a league of its own. I’ve never been more impressed with the vistas of a game until BioShock, five years after Prime 1.
Another important add-on to Prime 1 and 2 is the addition of the rewards system featured in the third game. Artwork, movies and plenty of bonuses are available for all three games. There’s one interesting bonus to note, and that’s the inclusion of unlocking the Fusion Suit from Metroid Fusion in Prime 1. In the original game, this could only be unlocked by connecting a Game Boy Advance with a cleared Metroid Fusion game to a GameCube running Metroid Prime. It’s a nice callback to the struggles Nintendo had with its very expensive system of GCN/GBA connectivity. Something I might consider revisiting myself sometime soon…
One more feature thrown in is the inclusion of Metroid Prime 2’s multiplayer mode. It’s just as fun as it was in the original game…but it’s also as forgettable. Don’t look to this game for party play. The Wii has plenty of other titles for that.
It’s really a wonder to me if anyone who owned a GameCube passed up on either of the two original masterpieces. All three games are single-player gaming at its best. There’s so much in each game to explore. Power-ups to obtain, creatures and lore to scan—so much to love about it. This re-release is that one chance to truly enjoy the fruits of this industry’s labor, and you better get it fast. It’s going out of print. It’s three nearly perfect games, packed in a sleek metal case, with a very awesome art book, and so much joy to be found.
Buy this game, or I’ll come to your house and burn your Modern Warfare 2 disc. And then your X-Men comics collection. I’ll do it. Don’t tempt me.
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