Inside Pulse 12

Diehard GameFAN: Hall of Fame Nomination – Metroid Prime

Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.

Game: Metroid Prime
Developer: Retro Studios
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date:11/17/2002
System Released On: Gamecube
Genre: First Person Adventure

Who Nominated The Game: I did.

Why Was It Nominated: After the release of Super Metroid in 1994, Nintendo had very much pushed the Metroidvania formula as far as it can go. The N64 came and went without a Metroid game ever being developed for it as sister titles such as Zelda and Super Mario successfully made the jump to the third dimension. There were some plans for a Metroid title on the the ill fated N64DD but as that over delayed peripheral bit the dust so did any new adventure featuring Samus Aran.

When the Gamecube was released, Nintendo had already formed a partnership with Retro Studios to develop mature themed games for Nintendo consoles in order to shake the “kiddy” image that had haunted it during the Fifth generation console wars. It was hoped that Retro, which was formed from the ashes of Turok creators Iguana entertainment, would fill that void in Nintendo’s gaming line up.

However, when the game was announced as a first person shooter everyone flew into an impressive bout of nerdrage over this choice despite assurances from Nintendo that the exploration aspect so beloved by fans is well and truly in place. The other issue was the studio of choice, Retro, has yet to develop a game since it’s 1998 founding and problems with reaching deadlines and Ion Storm levels of drama were becoming a source of embarrassment to the Nintendo high brass. They outright bought Retro in 2002 and fired Jeff Spangenberg, Retro’s charismatic founder and president, after skipping too many days of work and leaving his staff leaderless as well as posting pictures of himself with half naked ladies online. He was replaced by Steve Barcia, founder of Simtex (the designers of PC classics Master of Orion and Master of Magic), he would also leave Retro after Metroid Prime‘s release as reportedly he could not lift morale either. During this time, Retro staffers started pulling in 80-100 hour weeks to get the game finished by the Q4 2002 deadline that Nintendo had set and when that date rolled around, Metroid fans expected the worst.

To everyone’s amazement, Metroid Prime was not only good, it was one of the best games released on the Gamecube. Both Metacritic and Gamerankings place it as the #1 best reviewed Gamecube game of all time as critics fell in love with the excellent graphics and gameplay that was fresh yet faithful to the original 2D titles.. Kenji Yamamoto, the man responsible for Super Metroid‘s excellent music, delivered an excellent soundtrack with new tunes as well as remixed tracks for maximum nostalgia value.

Nintendo had done it. The Holy Trinity of Nintendo titles: Mario, Zelda and Metroid had all successfully made the jump to 3D in style. A truly impressive record.

All in Favour:
Mohammad Al-Sadoon: Since I nominated the game I guess it’s obvious how I’d vote.

I’ll be honest and say I never played a Metroid game before Prime, which leaves me wide open to the Metroid purists who cut their teeth on the original Metroid and the classic Super Metroid (no one cares about Metroid 2).

But that shouldn’t take away from the excellence of Metroid Prime. When it was released, Nintendo basically got three of it’s major 2D franchises to successfully transition into 3D when most other companies were struggling to transition one franchise (*cough*sega*cough*) to the third dimension.

The graphics pushed the Gamecube to the limits of its abilities and the gameplay was unlike any other first person game out there, successfully fusing shooting and exploration into a seamless whole while the HUD/Visor style would be copied by many other futuristic action games.

Many people claim that a “perfect” game does not exist, but for me it does; it’s Metroid Prime.

Sean Madson: I was originally on the fence about this one, but I decided to go forward with the thumbs up and I’ll tell you why. Metroid Prime was able to accomplish three things successfully. The first and foremost is that it was able to bring the Metroid franchise to the next generation and do so successfully.

Secondly, in doing so, it was able to switch genres while leaving intact the things that made the franchise so appealing to fans in the first place. This was Retro Studios’ first crack at a Metroid title and they nailed it. It’s not an easy task to change the formula for a franchise as established as this one. Fans were irate when they heard about the changes that were proposed for this title. Whether they agreed with them or not, it’s hard to argue that it’s a damn good game or at the very least, a highly polished one.

And last, this game could almost be credited for creating a new genre. It’s a FPS without actually being a FPS. Sure, you were looking out of Samus’s visor and could shoot things, but the emphasis wasn’t on blasting anything that moves for the most part. It was about exploration. Perhaps they should’ve dubbed it a FPS/Adventure. The other editors may disagree with that notion, but I appreciate what Metroid Prime tried to do and stand behind it 100%.

All Opposed:
Alex Lucard: Short and sweet. I never found the game to be fun. The plot was awful and I’m pretty much dispositioned to hate any game with as much backtracking as Metroid Prime contained.

To put it this way, I limit myself to only owning twenty games (at most) for a system. I maxed out my Gamecube pretty easily. Metroid Prime didn’t even come close to making consideration for that list. When I honestly can’t say I enjoyed a game at all, I can’t give it a yay vote. Sorry guys.

A.J. Hess: It’s not that I don’t like Metroid Prime, it’s that I don’t think the series should have jumped to first person. Part of the joy of the Metroid series has always been the exploration. While Prime featured that, the decision to isolate Samus’s viewpoint to what came out of her suit is too restrictive. Not entirely a shooter, not entirely a platformer, Prime failed to excite me on most levels. Now, come back to me when we nominate Super Metroid, and you’ll see a different perspective.

Guy Desmarius: Sure, the 3D Metroid games were good, but I never felt like they were the classics some people seem to perceive them as. In my opinion, the Metroid series has always been about exploration first and action second, and while Metroid Prime did make me think a lot, I also feel like it stripped the series from its essence. Not only that, but the game felt tedious in some places, and even slowed down to a crawl in some sections. I could also mention the fact that the game’s sequel was superior despite being very similar to this one, and I don’t really see how I could allow Metroid Prime to get into the Hall of Fame. Its only real innovation was to change the style of an established series, but it didn’t really create anything new. It was fun, but there are better games in the same series. Metroid Prime’s place is with other “almost” games from popular series, such as Super Mario Bros. 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It’s fun, but it’s not can’t miss.

Chris Bowen: Despite my ambivalence on 3D Metroid games, I flip-flopped on this one. On the one hand, I’m not a big fan of the Prime games, but this isn’t about me or my opinion. One can’t deny that the Prime games revolutionized a strong franchise, and were a key system seller.

On the other hand, if we’re going to use “system seller” as a metric, then 1) the game should be the top system seller, instead of franchises like Zelda and Smash Bros., and 2) it should sell systems that actually sold well. It’s hard to justify “it sold systems” when the Gamecube was the punching bag of the sixth console generation. Just how many systems could it have sold when the Gamecube sold so poorly?

The Prime games were good games, if you like that sort of thing. I just can’t think of any reason to put them into the Hall of Fame. To me, the list of Metroid games that are HOF worthy starts and ends with the original and Super Metroid. They were revolutionary. Metroid Prime… not so much.

Michael O’Reilly: I remember enjoying the first twenty minutes of the game, the exploration. And then finding the rest of the game kinda boring.

William Kaye IV:Considering this could have been a gigantic mess, turning a 2D platformer into a 3D hybrid platformer-shooter, it turned out very, very well, and I loved it while playing it. Unfortunately, this game is really just a greatest hits version of better 2D games. Every weapon and every ability in this game has been seen previously, back in Super Metroid. Yes, the plot is different, and there are quite a few enemies created solely for this game, but the fact remains that the core gameplay here is not really original. Combine that with the fact that there is way too much backtracking in this game (although not nearly as bad as in the sequel) and that there is something to be said for simplicity when it comes to bosses (which none of the Prime games have, every boss is an EPIC ENCOUNTER), I just can’t recommend this for Hall of Fame. Great for what it is, but not what it would need to be.

Result: 2 In Favour, 6 Opposed, 25% Approval = REJECTED

Conclusion: While nearly everyone agreed that the Prime games were solid and well made games, they are apparently not good enough to step out of the shadows of the classic 2D titles they attempted to emulate. Ultimately it suffered the same fate as Super Mario Galaxy and Legend of Zelda:Twilight Princess: Of being being only a “good” entry in a “legendary” series.

Next Week: We take a vote on a game that is regularly dubbed “The Best RPG of All Time”. An RPG that somehow manages to make a great game out of swords, guns, time travel and talking frogs with swords that time travel to defeat a giant parasitic alien in the future.

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  • Nigel Chaos

    Can’t wait for next week. if it doesn’t make the HOF I’ll.. probably just bitch.