Controlled by the Mother Brain, a band dubbed the Space Pirates attacked the Galactic Federation stealing creatures called Metroids, which are very dangerous organisms that latch onto their victims sucking away their life energy, killing them in the process. They seek to mass produce them for the purpose of using them as weapons. The Federation turns to the inter-galactic bounty hunter Samus Aran, to infiltrate their planet Zebes and kill the Mother Brain. -summary
Metroid: Zero Mission was released back in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance. It's an updated remake of the original Metroid for the Nintendo Entertainment System which was released back in 1986. Unlike many gamers who still remembered the NES classic and loved it for being the great game that it was. I was looking forward to this remake because I felt there were things that could have been improved upon. My faith in the remake can be attributed to Capcom's 2002 Resident Evil remake. I know these are two different games by two different companies, but after witnessing the potential in video game remakes, well, I just believed there was no way this could turn out horribly. Fortunately, it didn't despite small missteps here and there.
Metroid: ZM is still a single player action-adventure game that follows Samus as she navigates through different sectors of Zebes on her way towards battling Mother Brain. Along the way, she will encounter large boss battles, and acquire various weapons and abilities to lessen the challenge in the mission. Make no mistake, this is indeed a remake, the game feels quite different yet so familiar at the same time. The game maintains the abilities from the original Metroid, while at the same time it uses elements from both Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion. Samus will be able to grab on ledges after long jumps, jump in morph ball mode, use the super speed boost suit, and fire two different types of missiles as well as the ground bomb. For the most part, the game possesses the cooler features of its predecessors.
The stage design also feels fairly new and there are some real moments of creativity. The game is quite puzzle heavy, forcing you to master Samus' skills to either obtain various items or make it to another point. There are no instant deaths found in the game, however, there are situations where you can find yourself dying very quickly, due to entering a room that is far too hot for Samus' current armor, or falling into lava and acid pits with your health quickly decreasing. The enemies can also give the very impatient a serious pounding, and this also goes for the boss battles as well. Iconic bosses such as Kraid and Ridley are still present, and a war of attrition during battle with the former will see to it you die plenty of deaths. The game has moments where it can be difficult.
New to this remake, is the game making your objectives clear and pointing you into the right direction. Many fans are actually mixed on this, and look at it as a form of hand holding, because they feel it eliminates some of the games exploration. I see what they mean, while at the same time I see little wrong with it. The exploration is still there in ways; you still have to search for additional missiles and energy tanks. The original could have benefited from something like this, because there isn't much fun in being lost and the original game relied heavily on sharp memory.
The plot flows through very short cut scenes that do a splendid enough job telling the story, despite the lack of dialog. And speaking of story, the game introduces a second half that takes place after the battle with Mother Brain, which sees Samus taking on the Space Pirates utilizing stealth to get to certain points. This is clearly the most difficult part of the game for reasons I rather not mention.
Now although I mentioned that the game can be difficult at times, it's very easy when compared to Metroid Fusion though, especially in regards to cannon fodder and bosses. This is actually one of my problems with it; the boss battles didn't feel epic enough outside of the fight with Mother Brain. Another issue that I have is that the game is too puzzle heavy. Most of the time you spend will be trying to get your hands on items right in your sight. There can be a little too much to do sometimes, and the game requires you to obtain a 100% completion if you want to fight a truly tough final boss battle. I don't see the logic in this; the final boss should always be at their toughest without any gimmicks to get them there. The items grind actually adds some unnecessary length to the game as well, but you can also skip a bunch of items and go straight to the unfulfilling final battle. Double edged sword indeed.
For the most part this area is pretty strong. The jump feels a little floaty but it's actually meant to be that way. Pulling off special moves like the ball morph on the fly is simple enough, while the speed boost is self activating. Now getting the additional speed boosting abilities to work mainly takes practice due to the precise controller and button prompts. However, I've never been too crazy about the missile activation on either the GBA system or DS Lite. Holding down the right trigger while firing with the (B) button can be a pain sometimes, especially during boss battles. I never cared for this function in Metroid Fusion, and I don't care for it here either.
Of course, you can expect vast improvement with the visuals. The graphics are pretty smooth with larger and more detailed sprites. The sprites are also well animated with fluid movements, that can easily be noticed when Samus is dashing or flipping. The backgrounds are a big improvement, since now there are actually distinguishable landmarks to help know where you're at. This is so much better than the original, since in that game every area looked the same. There is some variety in the enemies, as well as new ones such as a giant larvae, plus Kraid, Ridley, and Mother brain look really good. Mother Brain is also pretty creepy, as it slowly pulsates in its giant glass protection.
The music is awesome remakes of original themes, with the main stage theme sounding even more heroic than before. The music is well orchestrated at times giving off the feel of a space opera, while also giving off a creepy sci-fi/horror feel on other occasions; Kraid's menacing stage theme comes to mind. The sound effects are improved as well, but they kind of sound similar to Super Metroid though; the explosions most notably. Still, this area is fairly good.
The game takes a little over 5 hours to complete all depending on how much time you spend searching for the items. The only replay I can imagine is trying to get that 100%, I can't really imagine one coming back for repeated play throughs since the difficulty really isn't much. The original game can be unlocked; I'm not sure how, all I know is that the game was playable after I finished Zero Mission. In any case, if you loved the original I still say give this a shot. If you never played Metroid before and you own a DS Lite, or if you can download it, this is an excellent place for newbies to start.
-Better production values, feels like an update in good ways, great place to start
-Too puzzle heavy, vets may not care for some new features
What did you think of this review?
When people ask me what my favorite game of all time is, I always answer the same thing: Metroid. Sure, Super Metroid on SNES took the concept and made it better, and Metroid Fusion was a fantastic follow-up on the Game Boy Advance, but when push comes to shove the original is where my vote will always go. Then there's Metroid Prime…but that's 3D and a story for a different day. This game and this story are all about the glory of 2D gaming.
So you can only begin to imagine my excitement when Nintendo's newest Metroid redo appeared on my desk. For those of you that may not know, Zero Mission is a special edition of sorts. It's the original Metroid with spruced-up graphics, streamlined level designs and gameplay, plus a whole new chapter.
At it's core, it is most definitely the original Metroid, but as you travel around the world you start to notice differences. Hallways are changed, statues lead you to the next objective, and abilities like Power Grip and Space Jump that never existed in the original iteration pop up in time.
Nintendo has been very hush-hush about this title since its announcement, and after playing through the game myself, I must admit I'm a little reluctant to give away too much, but I can give you some interesting facts to whet your whistle. The biggest chunk of new content takes place after you beat Mother Brain (which was where the original ended). Not only is this new zone fairly large (I would say it's bigger than ...