Preview: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes Hands-on (Nintendo Gamecube)

Game: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
System: Nintendo GameCube
Developer: Retro Studios
Publisher: Nintendo of America
Release Date: 11/15/04

No one can deny that Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is the tops of near everyone’s GameCube wish list this holiday season. Fans have been waiting a long time for this game, literally since last year’s E3 when the first trailer was shown. And in a little less than three months from now, fans are finally going to get their wish.

Of course this doesn’t mean that Nintendo wants to keep their fans COMPLETELY in the dark. Nintendo has recently released a Metroid Prime 2: Echoes demo disc, which includes a playable demo, two movie trailers, and other extras. But like the Zelda Collector’s Edition disc they released late last year, you can only find it in special GC bundles, or if you register your GC and a certain number of games on their website. That’s how I managed to get mine.

So now that I’ve gone through the demo a few times, and saw all the extras, I now have a pretty good idea of what to expect. And if that’s only a demo, I can hardly wait.


Chargin’ up the ol’ blaster…


THE STORY

This account is taken straight off the demo:

A Galactic Federation ship has disappeared in pursuit of a band of space pirates. At the request of the Federation, Samus journey’s to the planet Aether, the location of the ship’s last transmission. There, Samus finds herself in an incredible world where Light and Dark intertwine in two unstable dimensions. The Light World is controlled by the Luminoth, a peaceful tribe with a unique and highly developed civilization. Their four gigantic energy generators are all that keep the Light World from collapsing. But that civilization faces imminent destruction at the hands of the invading Ing horde, beings born of the Dark World. If the Ing seize control of the generators, the Light World will be extinguished forever. Samus embarks on her mission to destroy the Ing and bring peace to Aether. However, there is an ominous shadow lurking in the darkness, a shadow that is quietly stalking Samus.

Now forgive me for being critical here, but to me, the background to this game sound…I don’t know…I little hokey. I mean, the whole Light VS Dark thing has been done to DEATH without Metroid specifically signaling it out as a plot point. And as usual, the Light guys are the good guys, and the Dark guys are the bad guys. Why not throw the roles in reverse? Have the Light guys unbearably evil for dominating the planet and disrupting the yin/yang balance?

Oh well, that’s just the nit-picky story pointer-outer in me. It leads to some new gameplay mechanics, so I won’t complain TOO much. It’s still Metroid…


When worms go bad…


THE DEMO

Of course the real meat and potatoes of this demo disc was the playable demo. For those who haven’t gone through it yet, allow me to walk you through it:

You start with a display of your mission specs, and then you see Samus’ ship enter the Aether planet’s atmosphere. In keeping with the Light/Dark theme, the atmosphere keeps phasing between a white hue and a purple hue. And as the ship enters the atmosphere, the weather changes from white/cloudy to purple/thunder storms. During one of the Dark phases, the ship gets struck by lightning, and crashes down on the planet surface. Samus emerges unscathed, and to the usual Metroid fanfare as you finally take control of her.

For the purposes of the demo, Samus starts with several of her weapons already equipped. She can turn into the Morph Ball already, including the Morph Bombs as well. As far as her beam weapons go, she has her normal shot (with charge), already has missiles, and she also has a “Light Beam” and “Dark Beam” equipped. Now these beams are new to the game, they have their own separate ammo meters, and both can be charged. Charging the Dark Beam will fire a larger Dark shot, and charging the Light Beam will fire multiple light shots.

You can also start scanning stuff from the get go, just like the first game. The scanning system is somewhat modified, and this time for the better. Once you activate the Scan Visor, things you can scan glow blue, rather than showing a tiny logo you can barely see. And once something is scanned, it gains a green glow, making it easier to tell what has been scanned and what hasn’t.

So you start in an ancient structure, blast away some vegetation, and head up an elevator. Going forward a bit more makes you run right into some Splinters you’ll need to blast away. After taking care of them, just continue heading forward to run into your first encounter with Space Pirates. And let me just say that the Space Pirates are about the most kick-ass they’ve ever looked in a Metroid game. I mean WOW. They are BAD ASS, I mean, LOOK AT THAT ONE! LOOK!


Hello, my name is Space Pirate #421, and I am BAD ASS!

BAD. ASS. Thank you, good night.

Back on topic, take care of the Space Pirates with your missiles (or your Charge Beam), and they’ll fall quickly. Then they’ll activate some turrets against you, so you’ll need to lock on them manually and fire more missiles to take them out. Once they’re all gone, you head into the next section where you Morph Bomb the floor, and head into the game’s first Morph Ball section. You roll down to the end of the tunnel, and arrive into a room where several Space Pirates go through a Dark Portal. They can’t see you, so you just keep rolling under their feet through some timed electric barriers.

When you can stand again, head forward, nuke some more Space Pirates, and head up an elevator to the next level. Nuke some MORE Space Pirates to unlock one of the doors. Head to the door and walk in it to get your first glimpse of what we call “Dark Samus”. Dark Samus wears a dark-blue/black suit, with a sharper visor. Every time I see this, I think of a more badass “SA-X”, but that’s just me. Anyway, keep going once you get control back to a control panel to activate the Dark Portal. Next you backtrack, you go through the portal, and then you can finally take advantage of the new play mechanics.

Once you hit the Dark World, things change. You are surrounded by Dark atmosphere, which makes you lose health. However, there are “Light Zones” around that you can stand in safely and regain health, albeit slowly. Some Light Zones are permanent, while some you can temporarily activate by shooting “light balls” in the area. After going forward a bit, and using your Light Beam to clear some obstructions, you’ll get to fight some Warrior Ings, who are shadow creatures that will appear and disappear in the shadows. Use your Light Beam to damage them. And once they’re dead, and you head back through a Light Portal to the normal world, the demo CUTS YOU OFF! No more Metroid Prime 2 goodness for you! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Nintendo laughs at your pain.

Anyway, while short, the demo contains a LOT to salivate for. The game looks beautiful, plays just like the first game, and the preview of the new game mechanics are pretty cool.


We can get you there from here…with this transporter!


THE EXTRAS

The demo also comes with a few extras to get you psyched up for the game, and for the most part, they’re pretty cool.

The first things you’ll notice are two movies that are included. One is called a “Preview Movie”, and one is called a “Trailer Movie”. Trust me, all they do is supply gameplay footage you probably haven’t seen before. Although they include some multi-player screenshots, which look very smooth thus far.

The Chronicle is another nice addition, as it includes game footage, music clips, and a game description for each Metroid game released up until now. It’s cool because I got to relive old memories. It kinda sucks because it reminded me that I haven’t played Super Metroid yet, and have no SNES in my house to play it on. Still, I got to rock out to Metroid II music again, so it wasn’t a total loss.

What really made me hungry for more of this game was the Art Gallery included. It’s basically another movie that showed concept art piece after concept art piece, which included INCREDIBLE drawings of enemies, bosses, and Samus herself. And believe me, if ANY of those drawings become fully 3D-rendered baddies in the game, I’ll be first in line to buy the game.

All and all, this is a decent demo of what promises to be an excellent game, and after playing about 1.5% of the game, I think there’s some amazing stuff to look forward to this November. Get your preorders in NOW.


Bouncin’ along, waiting’ for November 15th…