Metroid: Other M Preview

Like I told you guys, I got to go see Metroid: Other M on Friday. I watched a 20 minute demo of mostly cutscenes with a little gameplay, then got to play about 15 minutes myself consisting of only gameplay.

The Expected
To be honest, I don’t really know what I was expecting. I’ve never been a massive Metroid fan, and I only really got into the Prime series when I tried out the Trilogy version. Even then, I didn’t get far into it before I got the thing stolen and had to rebuy it then return it to my friend. Other M appears to be catering to both fans of Prime (the 3D perspective) and the old side-scrolling adventures (2D and only using the Wiimote). Which I knew already, so I suppose I was expecting that. But the bulk of my feelings from this event fall into the other two categories.

The Unexpected
Although I knew that Other M was supposed to be story heavy, I suppose I thought that meant “for Nintendo”. The opening cutscene was epic and lengthy, and after the game started, they didn’t really let up. It was a little off-putting, but after I let myself relax, I found that I was enjoying the scenes. The voice acting and writing isn’t the greatest, but like Kingdom Hearts it appears to be sincere and character focused enough for me to get into it anyway. I like how the focus was on Samus’ point of view, and how she would narrate her feelings and reactions to the situations and people around her. There’s obviously more than enough room for the story and scenes to be largely terrible, but they were better than I was expecting.

In terms of gameplay, I was happily surprised to find that the 2D gameplay doesn’t seem to be restrictive in terms of traditional Metroid exploration. It’s because you can actually move in and out of the environments, making it more like 2 and a half D, as much as I dislike that term.

Another pleasant surprise was how intuitive the transition between 2D and 3D was. Pointing at the screen then going back to the SNES-style position was smooth as butter, and alleviated my fears of fighting with the controls in that respect.

2D?

The Mixed
Despite the smooth transition between perspectives, I’m still not sold on it. While I never got annoyed during the demo, I’m hesitant to say that I don’t expect to get frustrated that I can’t move around while in first person, especially because of the similar visual look to the Prime series.

I mean, the game at least seemed to react appropriately depending on your choice of perspective. 2D combat is frantic and fast, and the 3D seems to be more forgiving in terms of timing, but requires precise aiming as opposed to the auto-aim in 2D mode. That, however, doesn’t mean that the 3D perspective adds anything yet, and I’m completely unconvinced so far. Like always, I’m willing to change my mind, and I hope I end up liking it.

The only thing that struck me as outright bad was something of relatively little consequence to the experience. The way Other M handles Samus’ suit and weapon upgrades is that she’ll only use the equipment that she’s authorized to use. That’s dumb and will likely take me out of the game every time a little message pops up that says “Samus is choosing not to use her missiles out of respect for Captain Whoever’s orders”. Losing all your power-ups at the beginning of the game is just as silly, but at least it only happens once.

Another thing I should mention is that Nintendo made sure to point out that despite the heavy focus on story, Metroid: Other M will retain its traditional mood of loneliness. And from the little I saw, that actually appears to be true. The cutscenes are full of people, but the levels are solitary and have a classic Metroid feel. Only one boss battle included other characters, but it didn’t detract from the mood for me.

So that’s it. The demo made me cautiously optimistic for the title. At this point, it really could go either way.

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9 Responses to “Metroid: Other M Preview”

  1. Riddles says:

    1) If they’re going to take a mute experience like Metroid and turn in into a cutscene-heavy affair, the acting and dialogue better be damn good. Why bother after 20 years otherwise?

    2.) Wow. I know the whole “Oh god, I got hit really hard and all my upgrades flew out!” schtick was getting old, but did they really replace it with an equally stupid gimmick that doesn’t have the benefit of being an endearing tradition? Fantastic thinking.

    3.) I’m glad they’re at least claiming that Other M will maintain the classic Metroid mood. Still, if I wonder if that’s even possible if I’m being intermittently forced to watch a 10-minute space opera. The reason the mood behind Metroid – particularly Prime 1+2 – was so powerful was because of the relentlessness of the lonely, oppressive atmosphere. There were no sunny breaks in between solitary gameplay segments. The entire experience was one, long lonely trek.

    Anyway. Point being, I was cautiously optimistic before, and I still am. It looks like the game will be fun, but will it be Metroid?

  2. Constipated_Cow says:

    Riddles… I have no idea why you think Prime 3 had tons of isolation. It was very isolating. Towards the beginning it isn’t as much, but that only lasts for a couple of hours… it then becomes just as isolating as the first two.

    Ethos, if you buy this game I will be at your house all day and night playing it after you’re done with it. You have no say in the matter.

  3. SiliconNooB says:

    Wasn’t this one of the games you heaped scorn upon in your guest article?

  4. Ethos says:

    1) Well, again, think of my comparison to Kingdom Hearts. I don’t think this will be the pinnacle of acting and writing in games, but there’s the potential for the game to have a lot of heart and focus on character to make up for it.

    2) Yeah, it wasn’t just my observations, the Nintendo rep confirmed that that’s the gimmick this time around. I agree with you entirely.

    3) Now I’m obviously not the expert on Metroid, but the game really did seem to maintain a lonely feel, and the cutscenes were all from the perspective of Samus, which actually felt a little lonely in its own way. Plus, the presence of people some of the time creates the potential for juxtaposition.

    But I’m just talking optimistically. Like I said, from that demo it seems that things could easier go far in either direction.

    And Cow, I do have a say in matter. You sold your Wii. You’re out.

  5. Ethos says:

    @SN – Yeah, welcome to Matti.

  6. Constipated_Cow says:

    @SN & Ethos: No, I praised it in my guest article.

  7. Constipated_Cow says:

    @ ME: I read my initial response here again and realize that I didn’t make sense in my first sentence. I meant to condemn riddles for thinking that Prime 3 had no isolation when in fact it does. I meant to say: I have no idea why you think Prime 3 DIDN’T have tons of isolation.

    @ Ethos: You can go fuck yourself repeatedly with a spatula.

  8. Riddles says:

    @Matti: Prime 3 may well have had “tons of isolation,” (I didn’t play much more than 4-5 hours admittedly) but prime 1+2 are entirely isolated experiences. Prime 3 is not a coherent, singularly isolated experience. And it doesn’t look like Other M will be either.

    I recognize that I probably sound kinda picky here, but that’s just how I feel about Metroid. I don’t appreciate being broken out of the sense of desperate, lonely isolation at any point. It weakens the overall mood.

  9. Riddles says:

    UNLESS the cutscenes/dialog end up being strong enough to enhance said mood, which I doubt. They certainly weren’t in Prime 3.

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