I spent part of this last week playing Metroid Zero Mission, mostly to take a break from Fire Emblem Awakening for a bit but also to celebrate the remake's tenth anniversary today. Zero Mission is a game that hit all the right notes when re-envisioning the NES classic, preserving the spirit of it while embracing much of what came after. It was a celebration of the whole series, a proud little game and it has a right to be.
Rather than labor the obvious elephant in the room, feel free to tack on an "except Other M" to anything nice I say about Metroid from here.
I've always been drawn in by the silence, the loneliness and danger the Metroid series evokes. I enjoy that it's often been a series content to trust me to figure things out on my own - that's the reason Metroid will be referenced when people talk about Dark Souls, I might add.
There are nudges but they're often subtle and thankfully not big boxes of text and pictures that explain every nuance of a mechanic or have giant arrows pointing the way. When you get a new item, there's instantly an application laid out near where you got it. Sometimes a rare, friendly or just frightened creature will hint at the application of a technique or a passage you could get to. Maybe those little bugs leeching on your health can be transferred to that irksome organic blob-coccoon thing blocking your path and take it down. That kind of stuff.
What's really awesome is that sometimes that place you thought you needed to use High Jump boots to get to can be reached with a well-placed wall jump or well-timed use of bombs. While it can be fun to explore and discover new abilities, some of your most basic tools are deceptively versatile and the environment more accommodating to many of them than they might first appear. No tool should be taken for granted, even in some boss fights.
This is a series that trusts the player is smart enough to figure out or discover these things on their own. Kind of a rare thing these days.
And the story is handled in much the same way. Metroid is often willing to assume you're smart enough to piece the events of a game and the series on your own. Your feelings about discoveries, triumphs and events are the story. Your feelings are Samus Aran's. Often its the glimmers of her humanity that add enough about her to the experience anyway.
Finding new ways to tackle and conquer the game is a huge reason I keep coming back to the series and the games it inspired. It doesn't hurt that each world is crafted so well that it does feel like it was once lived in and is now but a lonesome, desolate ruin.
And here's a thought - where most franchises want you saving worlds Samus has really only saved one in her whole career. If the world isn't dead, its usually blown up by the end of a Metroid game. Aether got lucky in Metroid Prime 2. Samus might save the galaxy over and over, but your world might very well be fucked if she has to show up on it. I'd consider an immediate move if she did.
She just has this way of triggering self-destruct mechanisms.
While this replay was done on the rather sensitive touch interface of my tablet, I did manage to clock in just over three hours. Not my most remarkable run, but not a bad one either. Now I'm eyeballing Metroid II since it just got Miiverse support last week.
In fact, since I posted the first screenshot after the community went live, I feel kind of obligated to.