Metroid Other M is here! One of the most famous females in video gaming, fearless bounty hunter Samus Aran has already thrilled Wii owners with the superlative Metroid Prime Trilogy, but she’s returned to her roots with this fast-paced action shooter. However, with notorious Dead or Alive developer Team Ninja at the helm, does Samus emerge with her dignity intact? Find out in our Metroid Other M review.
When Metroid Other M was formally announced at the 2009 E3 show it sent shockwaves through the Nintendo fan community. The Sci-Fi franchise has been a jewel in the company’s crown for decades yet here the industry veteran was allowing Tecmo’s Team Ninja studio – previously famous for the gore-packed Ninja Gaiden and the titillation-heavy brawler Dead or Alive – to step in as co-developer.
Almost at once the net was alive with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation – would this union result in a more action-oriented gameplay? Exactly how much creative control would Team Ninja exert over Metroid Other M? And – possibly most important of all – would Samus be imbued with enormous, pendulous fun-bags, as all of Team Ninja’s previous female characters had been?
Although we regret to announce that Samus’ cup size hasn’t been boosted in this latest epic, there’s a definite feeling that Metroid Other M represents a shift in the development of the series yet at the same time it respectfully tips its hat to previous instalments. Set between the Super Nintendo classic Super Metroid and the Game Boy Advance gem Metroid Fusion, this latest adventure gives more screen time to Samus’ back-story than ever before.
Metroid Other M’s traditionally silent protagonist gets to do plenty of jabbering this time around, although ironically her monotone delivery is grating rather than gratifying and you’re likely to wish she’d kept her trap shut by the time the adventure reaches it conclusion.
After dabbling with a first-person perspective for the Metroid Prime trilogy, Team Ninja and Nintendo have taken Samus back to her roots with Metroid Other M. Large portions of the game are played from a side-on viewpoint, although Samus can still move in three dimensions. Attacks lock-on automatically and the ability to dodge by merely pushing a direction on the D-pad allows even the most novice of players to look skilful.
By pointing the Wii Remote at the screen you quickly switch to a first-person view – something which is instrumental when dealing with Metroid Other M’s myriad boss encounters. These fearsome foes showcase weak spots which can only be harmed by firing rockets in first-person perspective – the trade-off is that when you’re looking through Samus’ eyes, her feet are rooted to the spot. The mechanic of toggling between two control methods initially seems awkward but after a while Metroid Other M becomes surprisingly natural and fluid.
The feeling of progression within Metroid Other M is less natural, however. Samus comes equipped with all of her powers and weapons by default, but the storyline absurdly forces her to wait for permission to use them before they become available to the player. There are also many situations in the game where it isn’t obvious what to do next, and these stumbling blocks result in bouts of unnecessary frustration which could have been solved by better level design or improved signposting.
Thankfully Metroid Other M’s high points go some way to atoning for its handful of failings. The straightforward exploration is more akin to the legendary Super Metroid and the clever melding of two different play styles makes the game feel like no title you’ve ever played previously.
While purists will no doubt moan about the poor voice acting, Samus’ occasionally annoying monologues and overly extravagant combat manoeuvres, at its heart Metroid Other M remains loyal to the franchise and offers ten to fifteen hours of mostly riveting gameplay. It’s just a shame that it has a few blemishes which prevent it from achieving true greatness.