Super Metroid is widely considered the best game in the Metroid series. Metroid is known for its variety of weapons and suit upgrades, its rewarding exploratory play, and of course, the enemies. In 2002, the franchise finally split into two genres. Metroid Prime would begin a series of first-person shooters, which at the time was considered a letdown to fans, even though it turned out to be a great game. Because of this, many were clamoring for a new game in the classic tradtion. Enter Metroid Fusion. This game has everything you could want in a Metroid game, from the weapons and upgrades, to the swarms of enemies, and the exploratory nature of the gameplay. But let’s not forget the story, which is integral to everything Metroid.
The game opens on a black star field with the words “Nintendo Presents … Metroid 4.” Very simple, yet appropriate. A quick clip plays, with a cargo ship with the letters “B.S.A.” on it, Samus flying alongside. She receives a warning that an asteroid belt is ahead, but she zips ahead to investigate. An explosion follows, and the next thing you see is the Metroid Fusion logo, and the familiar Metroid theme we all remember.
The basic story is that while on SR-388 with a Biologic Research Labs team, Samus becomes infected with “X”, which served as food for the Metroids. Samus returns to her ship, but the organism infests her central nervous system. She passes out and proceeds to crash into the asteroid belt. Luckily, the ship ejected Samus, and she was recovered by the research team and returned to the Galactic Federation’s Headquarters. All was not well, however, as the infestation multiplied quickly, corrupting Samus’s Power Suit. Worse yet, her body had become so reliant upon the suit that it could not be removed without killing her. Parts of the suit needed to be surgically removed, but the X in her nervous system was too deeply embedded to destroy.
Using a cell culture from the baby Metroid Samus rescued in Super Metroid, they manage to save her. X is no longer deadly to Samus; she can absorb them just as the Metroids did. However, she and her Power Suit are forever altered. The research team captured additional samples of X and the remaining pieces of Samus’ Power Suit and sent them to the B.S.L. station, but there is an explosion in theQuarantineBaywhere they were being stored. Samus is sent to investigate this explosion, and thus begins the game.
First and foremost, the game feels like a Metroid game. It should, considering the people that developed Metroid Fusion (Intelligent Systems) also developed Super Metroid. But the story line is what really sets Fusion apart from other games in the series. It’s solid, engaging, and firmly rooted in the mythos already established.
The game is absolutely gorgeous to look at. It’s not quite as dark as other games in the series (due to Nintendo’s mandate to use lighter color palettes on GBA due to the dim screen), but it still captures the feel of earlier adventures quite well. There is a bit of slowdown in some of the boss battles, but this can be forgiven, as there are often many sprites being moved across the screen at the same time.
The game controls the same as the other 2D Metroid games in the series, which is definitely helpful. There are a few tricks in store even for the fans, as the game is clever enough to use the fans’ memories against them. More than once, you’ll find yourself overlooking something as insignificant or impossible just because it didn’t work that way in the past. The only real loss here is the omission of the classic Bomb Jump technique, although you can still jump with the Spring Ball.
Metroid Fusion is an amazing addition to the franchise, and now that it has been rereleased through the Ambassador Program on 3DS, a new generation of gamers can access this GBA classic. For those who were not able to participate in Nintendo’s program, there is a great chance that Game Boy Advance will be available on the eShop by the end of the year, and Metroid Fusion is very likely to be among the first batch of games announced.