It feels like remasters of games are becoming more and more prevalent these days. As development times drag and costs soar, it’s easier for publishers to plug the gaps between new releases by refreshing old classics. Nintendo in particular relies quite heavily on this tactic, and why wouldn’t they? They’ve got a rich history of iconic games practically begging to be introduced to new audiences. Metroid Prime is one such game, and if this remaster is anything to go by, then Nintendo certainly shouldn’t halt its efforts.
Originally released in 2002 for the GameCube, Metroid Prime was a radical departure for the series. The first to take place in a 3D world and to use a first-person perspective, Prime reinvented what the Metroid series could be. Still, it had its detractors. The game’s unusual control scheme was particularly irksome for many players and, by modern-day standards, it’s unlikely it would ever be accepted. I’m happy to report then that said controls have been completely overhauled in this remaster, with a much sought-after dual-stick control scheme. While this is probably the most important change, impressive upgrades to the visuals and sound mean playing Metroid Prime has never been so atmospheric!
Atmosphere really is everything here as well. As Samus investigates the strange experiments of the Space Pirates, she’ll explore the ominous world of Tallon IV, a place brimming with character and intrigue, from crumbling ruins to magma-filled caverns and even murky depths. The remnants of the long-lost Chozo race loom over proceedings, providing insight into the calamity that struck their world and rewarding exploration with a mysterious story. Every step you take is fraught with danger, and there’s a lingering sense of foreboding about the planet that’s hard to shake off. Everything about the game just feels so visceral.
A lot of that is also down to the sound design. The somewhat moody soundtrack really sets the tone for a darker adventure, while still retaining a classic sci-fi touch that reminds you that you’re a space-faring bounty hunter. Whether it’s the chilling quiet of the snow-capped Phendrana drifts segueing into the tense, fast-paced action of the Space Pirate labs, or the epic accompaniments of each boss fight, the music really elevates every part of the experience here.
It’s an experience that feels so thoroughly rewarding as well. I’ll admit I’ve never really been a massive fan of the Metroid series before. I’ve always appreciated the games for what they do, but the 2D adventures never really hooked me in any capacity. Metroid Prime however is the polar opposite. It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly why that is, as 2D and 3D Metroid are quite similar in their approach. Perhaps it’s just the grandiose sense of adventure that comes with seeing Samus in a fully realised 3D environment. When I think of sci-fi, I often envision sweeping cinematics and a massive sense of scale that evoke a pure sense of awe. Metroid Prime accomplishes that feeling while retaining the more claustrophobic feel of its predecessors.
I realise that’s something of a contradiction, but Metroid Prime really does feel at once epic and reserved. I’d attribute that in large part to that core focus of exploration. Nintendo themselves described Metroid Prime as a “first-person adventure” upon its release rather than a first-person shooter, and it’s not hard to see why. Sure, you run into plenty of enemies throughout the game but they feel almost inconsequential in a way. The fauna of Tallon IV is little more than a passing obstacle as you uncover the planet’s secrets, meaning the fights that really do matter feel all the more spectacular. Every encounter with a Space Pirate signals a significant shift in difficulty, and as you start to run into Metroids you’ll definitely be longing for the days of fighting mere lava snakes!
One thing that has always irked me about Metroidvanias is the heavy reliance on backtracking. It’s certainly exciting to return to an area after acquiring a power-up and finding yourself able to charge through a previously blocked path, but the constant traversal through areas you’ve already seen a dozen times over can be tiresome. Metroid Prime isn’t necessarily any different in this regard, and yet I still found I wasn’t as bothered by it. I think it speaks to the world that has been crafted here; each trek through feels as exciting as the last and the underlying sense of mystery regarding the world means there’s always some detail to take note of.
Metroid Prime Remastered is a shining example of how to update a game to be more in line with modern sensibilities, without losing any of the charm that made it so exciting to begin with. The updated controls alone elevate this game beyond a mere reskin, but it’s also a reminder of why fans have been clamouring for it on Switch for years now. If I wasn’t a Metroid fan before, I most certainly am now!
Metroid Prime Remastered £34.99
Metroid Prime Remastered marks one of Nintendo’s best efforts at revitalising an old classic. The updated controls, pristine visuals, and atmospheric soundtrack all work alongside gameplay that remains stellar to this day to create an unforgettable experience.