Metroid Prime was originally released for the GameCube in 2002 and later on Wii as part of the Metroid Prime Trilogy in 2009. I neither played the GameCube original nor the Wii version and therefore the newly released remaster on Switch is my first contact to this game. Therefore my impressions after the roughly twenty hours I used to play through fully judge the game based on its todays impressions and without any personal nostalgia.
Technically the game is surely one of the highlights on switch. The graphics are excellent with strong colors, special effects and good textures. Especially in handheld mode it’s one of the best-looking games on Switch surely, however the game ran always smoothly in both, handheld and dock mode. The music is excellent and some of the soundtracks remain in your ears surely days and weeks after playthrough. The music changes dynamically to more fast-paced tracks once enemies appear which adds to the tense combat especially in later levels like the Phazon Mines. Sound effects like the sound of the different beams and missiles are equally well designed.
Gameplaywise the game follows the usual Metroid formula: You explore a complex map with connected regions in 1st-person view in order to find weapons upgrades (there are 4 types of blasters) and new abilities for Samus, like the iconic morph ball or the grapple hook. You fight standard enemies like plants shooting spikes as well as more clever enemies (the pirates) using a lock-on mechanism. Health- and ammunition upgrades allow to increase your maximum health and stock of missiles. The balance of exploring and fights is excellent especially early in the game. However, during last third of the game lots of back tracking is required which feels unnecessary, especially as there is no fast travel option available requiring long walks between different parts of the map being taken multiple times. In addition, finding all required artefacts in this last part of the game can be tedious and the game gives (typical for games of the early 2000s) only few hints how to find them. Luckily the 3D-map is well-designed showing dedicated names for different rooms, save-points and transport-elevators. This helps a lot during this phase of the game. One of the highlights of Metroid Prime is the use of the different visors. Thermal and X-ray scanner need to be used to detect hidden paths or disguised enemies adding to the depth of the gameplay and sense of exploration as scanning already visited areas with a new visor can exhibit new hidden items. Especially the intense and well-designed boss fights require the use of different visors and combination of Samus’ abilities (like changing the blaster in order to kill enemies being only vulnerable to a specific blaster type). The only negative point I experience is that controls can feel a little clumsy or overloaded in those more dynamic fights. This can lead to switching to a different visor rather than changing the blaster as intended. However this is just a small weakness as Metroid Prime does not really play as an ego shooter relying on good reaction and skills but more on the correct strategy being applied to a certain enemy or situation.
Metroid Prime Remaster is a very good game combining excellent exploration with strategic and tense combat. Audiovisuals make it surely on of the best games on switch. Still, it feels like some modernization would have made the game more enjoyable nowadays: Autosaving and fast travel are two feature that would have enhanced the overall experience surely.
- one of the best looking games on switch
- iconic soundtrack/music
- visor mechanic enhances exploration
- good balance of exploring and fighting
- Combat requires good combination and use of different gameplay mechanics
- excellent platforming in 3D
- good designed 3D map
- lots of backtracking in last third of the game requiring to study the map a lot
- no autosave (especially before boss fights)
- no fast travel (which means even more backtracking)
- controls can feel a bit clumsy in more hectic situations
“Metroid Prime Remastered is still a gaming milestone showing the Metroid-formula can work in 3D as well as it does in 2D. More than twenty years after the original game release adding some comfort features like autosave and fast travel would have enhanced the still very good gaming experience.”
Sources: Screenshots: own screen captures