Thursday, September 9, 2010

Metroid: Other M: For Those Other Guys





I believe that Metroid Other M is the worst of Nintendo's core franchises that has been brought to the Wii. I say this, not because it's a radical departure from the past installments (it is), but because it is a bad game.


While I have enjoyed most of the past installments in the series, I would not considered myself a hardcore Metroid fan. I played Super Metroid back on the SNES, it was a very minimalist exploration game, with virtually no storyline, and a large world to wnader through, with each new upgrade letting you access more of it.


When they announced the first Metroid Prime game for the Gamecube, a lot of people were worried that it was going to become a first person shooter, lots of straight up action without the exploration and isolation aspects of the original games. This turned out to not be the truth. Sure it was a first person perspective, but instead of frenetic shooting action, it was more slow and deliberate. The exploration and sense of isolation were still present.


Now comes Other M. Our hero, Samus Aran, who has been all but mute in the previous games (she usually just doesn't have anyone to talk to) kicks off with a 10 minute long monologue. Then she ends up on a space station with a squad of space marines, and not only talks with them, but has a running monlogue about talking to them. It's the strangest thing, one of the earliest lines was someone calling her "princess" and then her talking about how there's only one person that calls her princess, and blah blah blah. Really, the problem isn't that she talks at all, it's that she talks too much, and it's so poorly written.


"But Bryce! Surely there's more to games than just the dialogue and writing?"


There certainly is, and I've certainaly played and loved more than my share of games with bizarre dialogue and awkward translations, so let's move onto the gameplay.


Other M feels like it can't make up it's mind as to whether it wants to be a first person shooter, or a side scrolling platformer. While running around you hold the Wii mote sideways, like a classic NES controller, the directional pad makes Samus run, 1 is shoot, and 2 is jump. Action in this mode feels really loose and imprecise, you have no lock on, and enemies are constantly coming at you, making you really wish you could shoot while walking backwards, but you can't. There are a couple of oddities added in here, such as the ability to gruesomely finish off criticially wounded enemies by closing in with them, and using the directional's to dodge enemy attacks just before they land, which really shows that the game's developers are the same people that made the Ninja Gaiden games.


Then, in order to fire missiles, you have to aim the wiimote at the screen, which brings up a first person aiming perspective, but effectively locks in you in one place. Add in that in order to fire the missile you have to actually lock onto the target, which means that while you're trying to hit a boss's weakspot, it's smacking you around like a pinata.


I finally decided to send this back to Gamefly after dying several times on the second boss. It's just not fun. But it does lead me into a rant that I want to get off my chest:


Why does everything on the Wii have to have motion controls?
When Nintendo first released the DS with a touch screen, a lot of developers said "I just don't see how my game can incorporate that" and Nintendo replied by saying "Then don't use it, just because the bottom screen's a touch screen, doesn't mean you have to have touch controls". And it took awhile, but a lot of the best games on the DS don't use the touch screen, or at least don't require the use of it.
I don't think that Nintendo has made that statement for the Wii about motion controls, but it should, and it should lead by example. Playing Zelda on the Wii is very tedious, I don't want to have to swing my controller everytime I need to smack something with a sword, that sort of thing works fine for mini games like Wii Sports that a marathon session would be 30 minutes, for something like Zelda or Metroid though, I plan to be sitting down for an hour or more everytime, and it's just tiring. Plus the Wii doesn't always recognize that the wiimote is moving, having your primary attack rely on something so fickle can be a serious liability when your guy is being mauled by orges.
There are plenty of ways to control videogames using the standard wiimote and nunchuck that don't require motion controls. Hell, there's even the classic controller, which is essentially a PS2/3 controller, which worked for games for seven years, use it why don't you?

1 comment:

  1. Pretty sure I've never played a Metroid since the first one for the NES. Can't even remember if I enjoyed it.

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