Retro Review: ‘Metroid Prime’ is cutting edge even over a decade after release

Game Imageby George Hyde, Volunteer

When the subject of female protagonists is brought up, one of the first characters that comes to gamers’ minds is Samus Aran, famous intergalactic bounty hunter. Until “Metroid: Other M” (a name that shall never be spoken again), Samus has never really had a voice, but she never needed one. Her actions spoke louder than any words could, and her atmospheric adventure on Tallon IV remains playable and enjoyable even compared to the games of today.

The basic story of “Metroid Prime” begins with Samus receiving a distress signal from a derelict Space Pirate scientific research vessel, where she discovers a dark conspiracy revolving around a mysterious, volatile substance called Phazon.

However, that’s only the most basic explanation of the game’s plot and setting. If time is taken to scan and examine the world, players can learn about the local wildlife, the lives and turmoil of the Space Pirate forces and explore a deeper story involving the rise and fall of a once powerful civilization.

And that’s the beauty of “Metroid Prime” — the details. It’s very hard not to admire the attention to detail the developers put into this world. Almost every room and area has something to do, something to discover and something to keep adventurous and curious players occupied. This is an even bigger accomplishment when the sheer size of the game environment is considered. It rivals even some of  today’s biggest games.

Of course, the little details only serve what is perhaps the game’s greatest strength: its atmosphere. The visuals, gameplay and soundtrack all mesh together perfectly, and the results are at times mesmerizing. From the dark, tense Space Pirate mines, to the empty, ominous ruins, to the calming atmosphere of the ice-themed realms, the game can be stunningly beautiful.

The only real gripes are the GameCube version controls, which may take some time for modern audiences to get used to, seeing as the same control stick is used for both moving and aiming. However, because the game is more of an adventure than a straight-up shooter, the controls are a nitpicky issue — and the Wii version’s controls are far easier to get familiar with. However, the Wii version (bundled with the other “Metroid Prime” games under the title “Metroid Prime Trilogy”) has been discontinued and may be more difficult to find than an original GameCube copy.

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These issues should not stop gamers from playing this classic title. Even compared to today’s modern, high-production-value games, “Metroid Prime” holds its own with its engrossing gameplay and atmosphere. And a used GameCube copy will only run buyers about four bucks or fewer, so it’s definitely worth the price.