When Samus made her return.... she came back infected.
Nov 6, 2012
Samus Aran encounters a hostile creature during one of her missions for the Federation. After killing it, a second threat emerges from the creature in the form of gelatinous blob and bonds with her. She learns that the thing is a parasite dubbed Parasite-X; it bonds with its host replicating their abilities and memories killing them in the process. Her armor becomes infected and several pieces are removed. Aboard one of the Federations orbital research stations; the Parasite-X breaks free and eventually multiplies taking over the space station. Together with the space stations computer, Samus attempts to retake the station and destroy the parasite. -summary
Metroid Fusion was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2002 as a direct sequel to Super Metroid, which was released in 1994 for the Super Nintendo. Metroid Fusion had been released on the exact date as Metroid Prime for the Nintendo Gamecube, which saw Samus making the transition into first-person view, this was initially being met with skepticism. I was among that group to write off Prime in the beginning, therefore I decided to stick with 2-D plat-forming and went with Fusion. Although in the end I have no issue admitting Prime was indeed the better of the two, still, Fusion is very good in its own right pretty much maintaining the top notch game play that makes Metroid special in the first place.
Metroid Fusion has a story worth noting and the plot becomes more interesting as time goes on. After Samus' becomes infected it later spreads within her, which leads to the Federation injecting her with a vaccine containing Metroid DNA. This turns her into a hybrid of human and Metroid, thus, working as a permanent vaccine making her immune to Parasite-X. Samus becomes able to absorb the rampant parasites and this will increase her health. The infected pieces of her armor becomes its own entity and this parasite is later dubbed SA-X, it becomes Samus at full power, then goes on a personal mission hunting her throughout the space base. In addition, some of her weapons make it to other Parasite-X monsters, in which she has to defeat them to upgrade herself again.
Of all the games in the Metroid series by this point, I will say Metroid Fusion has the most complex and interesting story, as it provides a reason why Samus isn't at all full power from the start. Instead of just stripping her of everything for the sake of a sequel. The story also heavily supports the game play.
Metroid Fusion is a single player, 2D action and adventure game that follows Samus as she explores and seeks to exterminate Parasite-X, which has taken the liberty to infect not only personnel but also different species. She is aided by a navigation computer that delivers all necessary information. She will attempt to gain new abilities, and along the way battle with plenty of tough monsters lurking around the space station.
Metroid Fusion is rather mixed in regards to the game play. For one thing, the enemies are indeed pretty tough since they are very unbalanced, in fact, a little unfairly unbalanced. They can rack up some major damage against you and this isn't even including the boss battles. At the same time though, the game is pretty forgiving in regards to health pick ups, because you will be able to refill your health and missiles after each kill, and you will be doing a lot of killing. There are also refill points scattered around to keep you topped off. The various weapon upgrades are intact and many of them were seen before earlier in the series, such as the speed booster, ball morph, and various missiles. While at the same time there are either new things such as the ledge grab, or a twist on older ideas like freeze missiles. The point is, there are many weapons and additional powers to keep the game interesting.
The boss battles can be very tough, and I can imagine less skilled gamers dying plenty of deaths. Some of the bosses require certain strategies to defeat, like a walking tank-like creature that can only be attacked with missiles from above. Along with another creature that uses anti-gravity against Samus', lowering the speed of her missiles. The most interesting boss by far is the SA-X. The SA-X is lurking somewhere on the base, and your only option is to run like hell when spotted; the walking terror has your freeze beam in its arsenal, and since Samus is now half Metroid, she can be frozen instantly and killed. Even with more than 5 full energy tanks, the SA-X can sometimes kill you inside of three shots. One segment forces you to run away while at the same time shooting open doors and blasting open your own paths, creating an interesting chase. The game also has its share of puzzle like segments where you may have to navigate very small mazes for another missile upgrade, or perform various techniques with the speed boost to obtain other power ups. For the most part, there's nothing I would really say is overly complicated.
The game play also has issues that hardcore fans of the series were quick to blast it for. The main culprit is definitely the navigation computer. Nintendo plays it too safe here, and allows the computer to basically hold your hand. It maps out your next objective almost completely. The game is also completely linear with pre-determined paths and security doors that are opened when certain criteria are met. This heavily harms the sense of exploration found in the original Metroid and Super Metroid. It's virtually impossible to become lost and not know where to go next. The one running theme through the Metroid series being the sense of isolation is also lost, as the computer is pretty much that angel on Samus' shoulders providing companionship.
I give props to Nintendo for innovation and even some sparks of originality, but I understand fans who were unhappy about this, because it makes the game far easier plus slashes the length as well. When I first played the game, I ran through it with 88% completion in slightly over 4 1/2 hours. So the game is relatively short. I also think the linear style lowers the replay value, since there's really no other way to tackle the game outside of what is already laid out for you.
I can't think of anything really negative to say here, as everything performs well for the most part. The ledge grab is automatic and never became a chore to use. If I have to point out anything, then it will be holding the right trigger to use the missile. When under pressure it's easy to lose a grip on it, and begin firing regular blasts. This can be a problem during tight boss encounters. I just tend to heavily focus on what I'm doing to eliminate possible problems.
The Game Boy Advance graphics is pretty amazing here. The backgrounds are done well and they capture the moody feel of the series. The space station is assembled very well, with a makeshift jungle area, an icy domain, and even a hot temperature lava set up. The game is easy on the eyes with its vibrant and creative color schemes. The character designs are pretty good too with Samus fusion design being the best.
The BGM works well for the most part complimenting many of the areas. Unfortunately, none of the music really stood out and grabbed me the way it did in Super Metroid or the later released Metroid: Zero Missions. There's nothing truly memorable here at all, and this also goes for the boss themes. The BGM simply does its job holding your interest but never goes beyond the call of duty. The same thing for sound effects. The usual freeze ray and missile explosions are well intact, yet nothing spectacular to mention.
Metroid Fusion is a game that can be about as good as you want it to. Personally, the linear feel and lack of exploration doesn't bother me as much as others. The coolest feature about it is being unbelievably newbie and casual gamer friendly. Now yes, some of the boss battles can be pretty frustrating, but this game will more than likely encourage people to play more games in the franchise. Overall, if you're searching for an action game with a somewhat decent length then give this a shot.
Pros: -Newbie and Casual game friendly, interesting story, gameplay
Cons: -Gameplay has its issues, short and too much handholding for some
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