Metroid Prime has long been considered one of the crowning achievements of Nintendo’s GameCube library. The series’ seamless transition into the first-person genre was defined by its frenetic action, massively explorable environments, clever puzzles, and daunting boss encounters. However, the following two decades wore away at the original release, but much like Samus does at the end of each game, Metroid Prime Remastered brings the title back to full force.
Metroid Prime Remastered takes the already outstanding original title and gives it a shiny coat of paint. While it’s not unique to this release, I’m impressed with how well Metroid Prime’s art style translates into modern graphics. Meticulously detailed textures and vastly improved lighting further accentuate the already beautiful character models and environments. Even the sound is better, making the excellent soundtrack even more enjoyable. In fact, everything looks and sounds so good that you could easily fool a less knowledgeable gamer into thinking this is a new release for 2023.
The visual improvements are notable, but the modernized controls are nothing short of eye-opening. This version of Metroid Prime offers different control settings so you can play how you want. Classic and Pointer controls, intended to emulate the single-stick GameCube and Motion Control Wii settings respectively, play to the nostalgia of those who experienced this on those earlier platforms. However, the new dual stick option is the best way to play Metroid Prime.
This setting (the default) maps movements to the left stick and aims to the right in the most effective control modernization I can recall. This new control scheme makes almost no concessions in its updates; The best compliment I can give is that my modern first-person shooter brain instinctively knew how to perform almost any action with minimal tutorials or guidance. Combined with Samus’ suit lock-on system, this game delivers the amazing power fantasy of being one of the galaxy’s ultimate bounty hunters.
With these improvements in tow, Metroid Prime Remastered opens the doors for a new audience to experience one of the biggest Nintendo exclusives of the 21st century. Exploring Tallon IV is an eerie and atmospheric delight; The original development team at Retro Studios understood how to implement Metroid’s well-established formula for gaining new powers to support thoughtful exploration of an ever-expanding map into an entirely new genre. Add in memorable boss fights, outstanding environmental storytelling, and exciting combat encounters, and Metroid Prime’s superb design still feels great.
I emerged from my revisit of Metroid Prime with only minor complaints. The unwieldy camera when you’re in Morph Ball, the lack of a true waypoint system, and cluttered HUD show the game’s age, but are only tiny complaints in the grand scheme of this remarkable remaster. Even the antiquated checkpoint system and abundance of backtracking are little more than nitpicks, increasing the tension without feeling cheap.
Metroid Prime Remastered is more than just a testament to how spectacular and timeless the original design was. The visual and performance improvements go a long way in making it more accessible, but paramount to these upgrades is the fact that it controls pretty much every other shooter on the Switch today. Metroid Prime was a masterpiece in 2002, and that assessment still holds true in 2023.
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