Ep. 117: Metroid

MAHQ's general podcast for nerdy things, which ran from 2011-2017.
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Ep. 117: Metroid

Post by Chris » Fri Apr 28, 2017 8:11 pm

Chaos Theater Ep. 117 - "Metroid"
- Download Now: 64 kbps - 120 mins, 51 sec. (2:00:51) 55.32 MB

Segment Breakdown for this Episode:

01. Intro: "What We've Been Up To"
Runtime: 0:00:01 - 0:39:57

02. Discussion: "Metroid"
Runtime: 0:40:38 - 1:57:38

03. Outro: "Internet whoring"
Runtime: 1:58:11 - 2:00:32

Chaos Theater takes to the stars to hunt space pirates in this latest episode. After catching up on what we've been doing, we go into our main topic, a discussion of Nintendo's Metroid series, covering everything from the NES original to Federation Force on the 3DS. There are no Mailbag or Audible segments this episode. Next time, we stick to the space theme to explore Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Music Featured in this Episode:
"mrsaturn" from GAME CHOPS Volume II by DJ Cutman
“Ice Valley” from Metroid Prime by Kenji Yamamoto
“Tallon Overworld” from Metroid Prime by Kenji Yamamoto

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Re: Ep. 117: Metroid

Post by yazi88 » Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:32 pm

I was really looking forward to this ep. I played a decent number of Metroid games. Never played the original NES Metroid, played Zero Mission though and beat it. Never played Metroid 2 and played a bit of Super Metroid which sadly I never owned. I have the Prime Trilogy on the Wii which I have yet to play and I beat Fusion which I enjoyed very much. Fusion is probably my favorite because I played it the most. Maybe someday I'll pick up Super Metroid on the virtual console and play it fully and enjoy it for the great things I've heard.

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Re: Ep. 117: Metroid

Post by LightningCount » Mon May 01, 2017 3:21 am

The Metroid topic was really up my alley. Really cool to hear you guys go through it. I'm only up to the part where you talk about Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, but I want to just share and comment on what's been said so far, and I'll come back later for the rest...

I've played every game extensively except for Prime Pinball, which I never touched...well, maybe I got to play a store demo once, I forget...

Oh, wait, I haven't played Federation Force, either. (But right now, I have a hard time thinking of it as a Metroid entry.)

As a Mega Man fan, I was always intrigued by Metroid (another robotic-looking character with a cannon arm!), but never played any of the entries until I rented Super Metroid circa 1996. What I found was a game that combined Mega Man with Zelda, another favorite franchise of mine, and I was blown away. (It also had some of that Castlevania II: Simon's Quest 2D questing to it, and its 2D questing wasn't also so far removed from the basics of Zelda II: Adventure of Link--both of these were games I was fond of, despite the controversy they face these days for being "black sheep.")

It wouldn't be until 1997-ish that I actually got to own the game and delve into it. When I rented it, I only could get to around Kraid. When I realized how big this game actually was, I was all the more impressed, and it quickly became one of the best games I had ever played (which it remains to this day.)

I actually had tried to get into Metroid with Metroid II: Return of Samus, but I could never track down a copy until it was re-released in the gold-stamped "million seller" line in the later 90s. Nowadays, I have a lot of the same issues with it that you mentioned, but in terms of story and building out the Metroid franchise's art direction and item roster, and for having such a different yet fitting game design, I still give it some credit. It's just that it's not that fun in and of itself now. But I enjoyed it during its time. It managed to have a suitable atmosphere and new tunes for a Metroid title. Also, that Spider Ball you mentioned was re-imagined for the Prime series; not the same item, but the same name with some similar uses--the crawling along walls and ceilings is now limited to special tracks.

So, as I recall, I got to the original Metroid last, probably around 1998. So confusing and hard. I've never beaten it without using codes. You basically summed it up; it's a great prototype for the franchise, but it's really rough around the edges. Still, I got some fun out of it seeing where it all started and how the ideas evolved. Its atmosphere still tickles the senses. It's definitely not without some merit.

So at this point, there was no more Metroid...to the point that seeing Samus appear in Super Smash Bros. for the N64 was a big deal. I was like, "Oh, so they do care about Metroid; maybe a new one will happen!" Because there were only these three, and they told such a complete story, it made each one all the more valuable. So, I wasn't so hard on 1 and 2 for their shortcomings.

Finally, Prime is announced, and the 1st-Person thing has me really skeptical, to the point that I didn't really follow much of the coverage of it, and just went into it hoping for a miracle. And that's what happened. In my opinion, the only game in the series on par with Super Metroid is the first Prime game. The two are kind of neck-and-neck for me. That said, I felt the 1st-Person limited some of the potential abilities of Samus and the level design for the Metroid franchise, so I was eager for a chance to see a full-3D, 3rd-Person game in the vein of Zelda's Ocarina of Time. (I would eventually get a small theoretical taste of this in Other M...but that's another story for another time.)

Back in 2002, I was actually more excited for Metroid Fusion in some ways, but it let me down. The format, where you're sent on mini-missions just made the whole thing feel "cramped." I liked a lot of the ideas, but the execution of them felt pretty bland to me overall. I never felt like the game had a good sense of flow to it. And by the way, as I recall, the reason Samus can adsorb the X Parasite is actually because she was given a Metroid serum (I believe from samples taken from the Baby Metroid in between Metroid 2 and 3). It turns out that Metroids and X Parasites were mortal enemies, and so on and so forth. The world building for Metroid Fusion, and it setting up the still-unresolved "corrupt Federation vs. outlaw Samus" plot was all very interesting. And I kinda loved the creative new suit design. In the end, I didn't think they gave Samus enough new and noteworthy abilities, however, given the amount of time since Super. (The early beta screenshots seemingly had boots that could walk up walls like in Capcom's Strider for NES.) So Fusion sort of has that "middling" feel for me. I've tried replaying it several times, but it never really hooks me the way Super did. And something about its sprite work never grabbed me as much as Super; but then, I'm not sure I've ever felt many GBA games fully captured the SNES feel--even the Castlevania games on it. As an aside, it's curious that Samus' sprite is hunched over for Fusion but was changed for Zero Mission to a different stance, despite the engine being shared.

I got Metroid Zero Mission next. I enjoyed it more than Fusion, but it also felt like it was trying a lot less than Fusion to evolve things. In the end, it was a glorified remake, though, so that sort of makes sense. It's cool and all, but it sort of feels like the "pop-art" cousin of Super Metroid. It's almost too polished and built with speed-running in mind. I had a good deal of fun with it the first time through, but I haven't enjoyed it much when trying to play it again. In trying to remake the original Metroid, it almost leans too much toward remaking Super Metroid, which takes away from the unique feeling one built up in the old days between the games and their own design quirks. I guess what I'm saying is, it's sometimes hard to say whether its a remake of Metroid 1 or a re-imagining of Super Metroid. (Also, the map statues that tell you where to go [if you pay attention], like in Fusion, ruins the sense of isolation and exploration some.) Lastly, with all the bells and whistles, it almost feels like it streamlines Metroid 1 too much., and is too easy as a result.

What followed was Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, which I did also beat, but it was sort of a chore to do so. The Light and Dark World mechanic annoyed me. The whole thing almost feels like they were trying too hard to be "epic." There are some genuinely interesting ideas and moments in the game, and hearing some new remixes of tunes from Super Metroid pop up is nice, but it just didn't feel as on-point as Metroid Prime. I think the Torvus Bog was my favorite part of the game, and was the most Metroid-ish part. Altogether, it's probably my least favorite Prime game, despite being a solid Nintendo adventure game. While not awful, the art direction felt a bit off here. However, props for including two new and useful suits for Samus. I still would have liked more innovations in the inventory, though. Historically, it seems like things have gotten rather conservative in this regard compared to Zelda overall.

Metroid Prime Hunters and Metroid Prime 3 came along and I didn't have a DS or Wii at the times of their releases, so I wouldn't play the former until 2012 and the latter until the release of the Trilogy Collection circa 2009. By this point, I really felt like Metroid was being rushed out and was in such a 1st-Person mold that it didn't need to be in going forward. In spite of that, my overall experiences with both of these games was rather positive. I'll wait to hear what you have to say about Metroid Prime 3 before commenting, but as for Hunters...

In some ways, Hunters feels the closest overall to Metroid Prime 1, but through the lens of, say, the N64. Taking place between Prime 1 and Prime 2, Samus and other Bounty Hunters are lured to a system of planets/space stations with a mystery surrounding an "ultimate power" that must either be captured or destroyed. While the idea of this being more of a "shooter" perhaps isn't completely wrong, it still has a lot of what Metroid Prime 1 had, just in smaller doses and with less graphical capabilities. However, the wrinkle of encountering other Hunters and the general art direction of the levels, it's very interesting if you can look past all of the rough edges. The stylus controls weren't really that bad after you get used to them, which can take a while. On second thought, though, this game has the planet-hopping idea from Metroid Prime 3, so it sort of mixes Prime and Prime 3...but it somehow feels more core Metroid-ish than Prime 3 in its presentation, and part of that is because I recall it trusting the player more. It's been a while since I played it, and I never beat the challenging last boss because my DS had shoulder button issues from too much trigger-finger action with this game. One of the bigger shortcomings of this game was the lack of unique boss encounters outside of the essentially mini-boss Hunters, but it did a few interesting things with the weapons Samus acquires. To answer Chris' question, if they "ported" it to New 3DS with new controls and updated visuals (and swapped a few new bosses in for the repetitive ones) they'd have something really interesting, I think.

Anyway, this game's best ending sets up another conflict that was never resolved, though some at Nintendo say they'd like to see it continued. (I'm less enthused there, preferring them to go forward from Fusion's plot.) In terms of "fun," for me, first-time experience impressions for the Prime series, it goes: Metroid Prime, Hunters, Corruption, Echoes. I played Hunters last, too, which makes that feeling all the more odd. But that's the lasting impression I was left with as of 2012. It's not on the level of Super or Prime--the scale is smaller and the visual presentation leaves something to be desired--but I really enjoyed it a lot. I came in expecting it to be just an FPS compared to the home console Primes, but it managed the adventure vibe within very well. I just looked back at some writing I did on it in 2012, and like I said here, I was saying then it was underrated and the closest in feel to the first Metroid Prime. I don't remember enough to fully quantify that now, unfortunately. I need to try to finish and/or replay it eventually to see if it holds up to those first impressions. I do remember, though, that it's one of those games you need to spend some time with for the world to open up in terms of items and locations. The opening of it doesn't grab you right away, and I know it took some time to get the controls down. So long as you don't expect a monumental entry, and so long as you have patience, I think Hunters has some good things to offer for Metroid fans.

Like I said, I'll be back with more thoughts in the future when I finish the podcast.
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