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Metroid: Other M

Oh Samus, how far you have fallen...
Taking a completely different development route than the highly successful, critically acclaimed Metroid Prime 3: Corruption that came out of Retro Studios, Nintendo partnered up with the makers of Ninja Gaiden, Team Ninja, to create Metroid: Other M. Typically to other Team Ninja games, this version of Metroid is presentation heavy in respect to cutscenes. The story is positioned between the events of Super Metroid (SNES) and Metroid Fusion (GBA). Samus gets pulled into a perilous situation on the dormant Bottle Ship and joined by Commander Malkovich with the Federation Army in tow. The narrative is partly designed to unwrap the events on the Bottle Ship, but mostly to offer insight into Samusís past. Overall, the story works well as the bridge between the two games, but there are plot holes spread throughout the tale. That being said, everything is highly polished in typical Team Ninja fashion. But did they pay the same attention to the gameplay?

One major problem with the story that ties directly into gameplay is the limitations put on Samus by Commander Malkovich. Opposite from other Metroid games, Samus has the full power of her suit available to her at the start of the game. But she chooses not to use important aspects of her suit until the Commander authorizes it. Want to stay protected in your heat-resistant suit while wandering though a lava filled area? Too bad! You get to lose health because the Commander hasnít said thatís ok to use yet. These self-imposed restrictions border on ridiculous at times and simply donít make a bit of sense. The development team would have been better off sapping all of Samusís powers at the start rather than this ridiculous premise.

Another problem related directly to the controls, which are all mapped to the Wii Remote rather than the Nunchuk combo. The Wii Remote is held horizontally, like an old NES remote and the jump / shoot / roll buttons are assigned to the buttons. Itís designed to work like old-school Metroid, but the 3D world is anything but that. Thereís no way to lock onto enemies besides the auto-honing system of the arm cannon, hence you have to run at them to take them out while in the third person. This creates tedious interactions requiring little skill while mowing down the minor minions.

Firing missiles also leaves much to be desired. In a first person view, missiles are fired by pointing the Wii Remote at the screen, locking onto the target and firing off a volley. While all this is going on, plenty of enemies will make some serious, life threatening progress on your location. Also, enemy attacks whip you out of the targeting mode right back into third person. The entire system is poorly engineered, with the exception of being crucially useful during boss battles and the view being useful for the environmental puzzles.

Boss battles, especially the final few, are quite fantastic and the difficulty is ramped up considerably on the majority of them. They can seem unpredictable, but if you understand the right time to dodge and fire off a volley of missiles, Samus will make it out of there alive. Timing is a big part of these battles and patient gamers will be rewarded after memorizing attack patterns. The final bosses require some serious skill to complete, something that the game does a relatively poor job of preparing you for.

The game has a fairly linear progression pattern as well. Being rewarded for exploration is a thing of the past as Samus follows order after order to each save point. You do have to locate ways to reach objects within the game, typically by looking for cracks in the wall or other passages. Exploring maps was one of my favorite pastimes in previous Metroid games and I was disappointed, but not surprised, that Team Ninja went that route.


  • The cutscenes in Other M are where you are going to see the most polish in terms of character design and animation. There are some stunning cutscenes in Other M, obviously benefiting from Team Ninjaís experience. On the other hand, the visuals during actual gameplay are spotty at times and pale in comparison to Metroid Prime. Level backgrounds are painted in low res, fuzzy textures and donít quite pop off the screen. In addition, the fluctuating camera angles can be a huge pain in the butt and makes the game more difficult than it actually has to be.


  • The gameís soundtrack works to its favor, striking fast paced themes during the action sequences and melodramatic, slower tunes during the low-key scenes. It pays homage to a few of the tunes from past games as well. The voiceovers donít fare quite as well due to lackluster delivery, something that feels more like the developers fault when stringing the dialogue together. Jessica Martin, a Seattle actress, does a solid job as Samus, but gets bogged down in occasionally trite screenwriting rather than poor delivery.


You are looking at about 10 to 12 hours to complete Metroid: Other M; not typical to the classic, exploration heavy Metroid titles, but an average amount of gameplay for a third person shooter. Other M has a smattering of problems, fairly shocking for Nintendo (typically releasing only the most polished games). The lengthy story (told in a couple hours of cutscenes) has a few plot holes and a plethora of ridiculous decisions by Samus. The combat system is repetitive and exploration for goodies is fairly non-existent, beyond the occasional targeting location task.

In short, Metroid: Other M isnít to the quality that Iíve come to expect from Nintendo. While the narrative can be captivating towards the end of the game, getting to that part felt more like a chore than entertainment. Metroid fanatics would be doing themselves a favor if they picked this up as a rental to knock out over a long weekend rather than buying it.

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