The first of Nintendo’s stellar fall lineup, Metroid: Other M also marks the first time that Nintendo handed off a key first-party franchise to another developer (albeit a reputable one). Other reviews have been scattered across the board, but it definitely depends on what you expect from the game.
Team Ninja (Ninja Gaiden series) was tasked with taking the series in a different direction, and they definitely did just that. The game is heavy on cutscenes, with the big news being that Samus actually has a voice now. There are mixed feelings on this; it does seem to detract from the isolation felt in previous games in the series, but it was kind of refreshing to see the Metroid mythology fleshed out in a different way. The story, set after the events of Super Metroid (SNES), starts with Samus investigating a distress call coming from a Bottle Ship.
The action is primarily in third-person perspective within 3D environments, though when using missiles (and for some brief, occasionally annoying visor scan segments) you need to switch into a first-person view. This can be a bit nerve-racking at times, but just remember you can still dodge in first-person view. A lot of reviewers have missed this point, and it isn’t in the manual so you can’t fault them for it.
Which brings up one of the many new things in the game: the dodge ability. Once you get used to it, it makes some segments of the game incredibly easy, especially when you encounter projectile based enemies. There are also power moves, which are a sort of finishing move you can perform when fully charged and the enemy is weak. Both of these add a distinct Team Ninja flair to the game that is not necessarily unwelcome, just different that what you would expect from a Metroid game.
Other deviations from the Metroid formula are as follows:
- Slightly more linear: You are working with a Galactic Federation squad, with the squad leader calling the shots, locking and unlocking doors based on which areas you will be heading to next.
- Weapon and suit upgrades: The way this is handled makes actually a bit more sense than the arbitrary “lose all your cool abilities at the start of the game and then go find them all again” bit. Since you are working under the jurisdiction of this squad, the leader has to authorize use of missiles, beams, and so forth.
- Health and missile restoration: The enemies don’t drop health or items as in previous games. Missiles are restored using “Concentration,” where you tilt the remote upward in your right hand and hold the A button. If your health is critical, Concentration will refill some of it as well. Otherwise, health is only restored when you reach a Navigation Room, which serves as a map upload room, refill room, and save room all in one.
- Item hunting: The game actually works item hunting into the story, in a way. You will get a chance, after the main story boss, to have free run of the Bottle Ship, collecting whatever you missed, which will all be marked on your map as well. This was the most fun part, as you now have access to all weapons and abilities. For the most part, they are easy to find, though there are some tricky ones (and two missable ones near the very end; be careful!).
All told, this game is definitely not for everybody. If you are a Team Ninja fan, you will probably like it. They’ve taken a respected series, and as the name implies, given fans another take on it. If you are a Metroid fan, you need to approach this game with an open mind. If you are expecting a new, improved, Super Metroid, this is not it. If it were, what would the point be? Overall, Metroid: Other M is a solid action game that gives the player a decent amount of background on Samus, and, though there are some annoying bits, it’s still rewarding to see that 100% statistic after you’ve hunted down every last collectible.
Metroid: Other M was released on August 31, 2010, currently retails for $49.99, and can be found online or at any Milwaukee video game retailer.