Moving on in my quest for Metroid is Metroid Fusion. Another GBA title, but this title predated Zero Mission, which I reviewed last week. Anyway, Metroid Fusion is a very… interesting game. Chronologically, it actually takes place after all the other games. While I’ve never focused too much on the Metroid series plot in my reviews, I’ll touch on it a bit more for Fusion. If you want my quick thoughts on Fusion though… It’s definitely the worst Metroid game I’ve ever played.
Don’t get me wrong, there are certain things that Metroid Fusion does well. For starters, I think the environments are much more varied and interesting in this game than any other Metroid game I’ve played. If you’ve noticed my other reviews, one of the main gripes I have with Metroid (not that it’s a particularly important gripe) is that the environments are quite bland and same-y. Metroid Fusion kind of combats that by having discrete areas to visit, and each of them are different thematically. So there’s a jungle area, a water area, a lava area, etc., etc. While other Metroid games had areas such as Norfair and Maridia, which kind of covered the lava and water areas respectively, the network of caves in and around these areas made it so they still felt the same. So in that respect, I have to give some props to Metroid Fusion for that at least.
Metroid Fusion also kept the the creepy and lonely atmosphere of the other Metroid games. However, you do have an AI kind of telling you what to do in various areas. I think that one link to society does take a bit of the feeling of loneliness, but still, Fusion does a very solid job at keeping the atmosphere similar to the older games. There’s a ton of crazy aliens out to kill you, and all that lies between you and your eventual goal (which for some reason always involves whatever planet you’re on blowing up spectacularly) is a legion of alien enemies and bosses and space pirates. Your only tool? A badass space suit made by some extinct alien race. Of course, as Fusion begins your suit is irreparably damaged (a convenient way to lose all your powers) and is infused with some metroid DNA. So now you’re kind of a metroid! Title tie-in!
Well, here’s why Metroid Fusion is the worst Metroid I’ve played. The gameplay has some very unwelcome changes. For one, a lot of the free roaming you can do in the other games is taken out in favor of this AI called Adam, who kind of railroads you into where you’re supposed to go and when you’re supposed to go there. So there already is a major mark against this game. A lot of what makes Metroid fun is exploring these large areas by yourself, finding out where you have to go and picking up a lot of secret stuff that’s satisfying to find. Not that some of the secrets aren’t satisfying to find in this game, but the limited exploration is a huge knock against Fusion.
Another big problem I had is that a lot of the techniques you’d use to kind of sequence break or get places you technically weren’t supposed to get to yet were taken out of the game. So these would be bomb jumping and wall jumping. These two techniques are fairly easy to do and could lead to some really interesting finds, so I was quite disappointed to find out that they weren’t in Fusion. Besides that, there was some streamlining done in this game that I found a little odd. Not necessarily bad, but it just felt different. For example, instead of super missiles being a separate selectable missile type, instead all of your missiles are upgraded to super missiles. It’s kind of an odd change and takes away the need for super missile doors vs. regular missile doors. In addition, in the other games it’d kind of scale your damage accordingly since your super missiles were quite powerful but your supply of them was generally low. It’s not a huge issue, I just found it an odd design choice.
The graphics of this game are okay. Even though it came before Zero Mission, I’d say the graphics are fairly similar. I will say that due to the more varied areas, there’s a good deal more color variation which is cool to see. Still, I think the GBA could do better than this game (and the eventual Zero Mission). I will give this game a bit more slack since it came out about two years before Zero Mission, so obviously games will look better later into a system’s lifespan. Nothing mindblowing, though. Insofar as the music is concerned… It was mostly okay. There were a fair number of new tracks, and nothing was really stand out.
The reputability of this game takes a hit due to how linear the game is. Because you’re railroaded into where to go and what to do, and there aren’t really many tricks to facilitate sequence breaking, I think this game is less fun on the replay. Still, like all other Metroid games, there’s that in game timer and item collection rate, so there’s some replay value there. It’s just that the game would feel pretty similar because you’d be doing the same things at the same time, unlike in Zero Mission or Super Metroid where you can get lost all over again. Okay, that sounds bad, but I really enjoyed getting lost.
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