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April Fools '11 - Review Rewind: Metroid 64

Mother, TIME TO GOOO rake the leaves.

I picked this one up at a used game store for only $29 and it was better than I remembered! After 3 Metroid games they had to go in a new direction, especially with 3d and rumble packs taking off so fast. How did we survive without cell phones? I don't know. What I do know is that the game (which you just lost) took a three-pronged approach to action, adventure, and shooting.

Verdict



For those who want to experience the joys of motherhood but still want the bounty hunter career.

A jumps and R shoots (granted) but what's new is that Samus' gun can be controlled. Up/up down/down right/right left/left is all 1:1 thanks to the N64 analogue tension. Speaking of tension, there is plenty of moody atmosphere, dark caves, freakout moments, friendly fire, cravings -- and I'm not talking about her period.

The change (no not that one) that fans may not be thrilled about: her name this time around is Samus Adrienne. Adrienne is the French feminine form of the male name Adrien. Its meaning is literally “dark one” and this game has darkness in spades. While not nearly as detailed as in Other M, our heroine's back story is explored in the opening cutscene. Her French husband is killed by Ridley while on a diplomatic mission (big surprise) (French people... am I right America?); later in the closing credits she returns to a Federation courtroom to restore her name to Aran, defying all odds both as a bounty hunter and as a woman.

Like I said, pretty dark stuff for a Nintendo game.

A little known fact is that several moves and abilities were first introduced right here in Metroid 64. One is the Wall Jump, which up until then could only be performed with a glitch. No doubt lifted from Super Mario 64, this lets Samus jump higher and higher between two walls to find more power-ups, check the smoke detector battery, or just for fun (think futuristic bounce house). Another first for the Metroid series was the Icestare. It was only demonstrated once in the opening scene when her husband wanted to power up the sound system. Without saying a word she fired a disapproving Icestare in his direction, rendering him a compliant pansy for the rest of the afternoon.

Like the game play, the setting was pretty unique for its time. While Mario was running around even more grass and Zelda was doing yet another traditional forest/ice water/desert temple layout, Metroid 64 went to some pretty interesting locations. From a space station on the verge of total collapse to abandoned science labs, there's plenty to see. Sadly, though they are aesthetically diverse they are marred by low poly counts, occasional blurriness, frame rate hiccups, and volumetric fog. I think we all know who's to blame for that oversight (Play Station). At least the game is packed with features: it's Expansion Pak enhanced, there's a camera mode for saving pictures to the Memory Pak, and the Transfer Pak allows you to import ravishing new Power Suits designed on your Game Boy Color.

Are there better looking games in the series? Sure. Are there Metroid games out there with a better story? Definitely (though not on Wii). Still, it serves as a bridge to the Prime trilogy and breaks a hole through a bottle of Metroid formula. Haha, because Samus is she the Metroid's mother.


 

Comments

Jason Ross Senior Editor

04/01/2011 at 10:14 PM

I completely forgot about this game!

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