Metroid: Zero Mission

posted February 24, 2005 by Jer


I never play new games. New games have too much hype behind them. As Mr. Seffinga has said, you can't tell what's a good game and what's a steaming mountain of rhino shit when a game is just out because everyone is being paid to say "It's a stunning thrill ride, the best game I've played in years!"

So I play old games. Games that have sat around a while. Games that have started to endure the test of time. After a few months or a year, the truth of a game really starts to come out. It's with the year-old games that you hear stuff like "Oh yeah, I played that. It wasn't all that," or "Dude, you didn't play that? It fucking rocked my shit so hard I don't need Metamusal anymore!"

And so I'm writing a review of Metroid: Zero Mission. Not because I just played it. I played it a month ago. What I just played was Mario vs Donkey Kong, which was an excellent game. It started out easy, grew steadily harder, offered extra challenges after beating it, and presented enough plausibly-attainable extra shit that it provided me with over a month of solid, enjoyable entertainment. Metroid: Zero Mission, just like Metroid: Fusion, did not.

The Game Boy Advance is my favorite system in the world right now. It gives game developers a chance to go back to the glory days before games were, in truth, movies. The original Metroid was like this. You were dropped on a planet. The extent of your information was that some psycho-creature called Mother Brain was breeding a be-all end-all death monster called a Metroid. That's IT. If you read your mission document close enough (ie: the game manual) you'd even find a small snipit of research that suggested Metroids hate the cold and focused explosives. Of course, you have neither when you reach this planet. Like all true games, you have a shitty little pistol. You want better shit? GO FIND IT.

Once you were on the planet, you were on your fucking own. No internet existed and none but the most spoiled of brats actually got their parents to subscribe to Nintendo Power. You were abandoned on this rock to fight bats and bugs that REALLY want to learn what your lungs taste like. You want to know what it's like to be Riddick? Lock yourself in an internet-less closet and play the original Metroid for the first time.

The GBA Metroid games have none of that feeling. Game Players these days, apparently, can't STAND a challenge. At every turn and every impasse, game players must have a giant flashing neon sign saying "GO HERE NEXT!" We didn't have that back in the day! You had to figure it out. Oh shit, some of these blocks disappear when you bomb them... I better BOMB EVERY LAST GOD DAMNED ONE IN THE GAME to figure out where the secret passages are. There can't be less than two million of them... I'll be fine!

So, beating Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid: Fusion is nothing big. There is no maze and you're never lost. They do make up for it creatively though: they introduce retardedly-hard bosses. There are two kinds of bosses in modern games. Bosses that you need to be strong enough for, and bosses you need to know the trick to beat. Fair is fair: the GBA games had both kinds of bosses. I however, feel that the previous is bad game design.

When a boss is just extremely powerful, the method for beating him is to go back into the world and make your character stronger; either by "leveling up" or "finding more shit." Metroid is a "find more shit" game. However, the GBA Metroid games introduced a feature I liked to call "You can never go back." Once you leave a section, you can't go back to get all the shit you missed. Oh, but here's the gag: a lot of the shit you just can't get until you have future power ups! This is more the case in Fusion than in Zero Mission. Sure, you CAN find the secret passages right before you beat the boss that let you into the entire map, but 1) if you so much as wander into a story-room, you're locked out of everything but the boss and 2) you don't need SHIT to beat Ridley.

...but I digress. This is supposed to be about Zero Mission, and Zero Mission did have some good points. I'm about to spoil shit, so skip this paragraph if you're a whiney bitch. The sequence where Samus loses her suit is pretty fucking harsh. Our girl Samus goes from Unstoppable Walking Tank to untrained Solid Snake on a BAD FUCKING DAY. We learn why Samus is the only one in the universe with a Chozo Suit: she's the Chozo's adorable little pet human. No news on what happened to the Chozo, but I suppose I gotta play the FPS Metroid games to learn that, which I haven't. I'm an old school boy through and through. Anyway, the new story elements and the Metal-Gear sequence made up in part for the super-easy game play, leading me to rate this game in Beers instead of Vodka Shots. I don't know how I feel about the cute little-girl etchings on the time-honored Chozo hieroglyphs. On the one hand, it's pretty sickeningly cute - but on the other, damn is that Hilarious! Hey Chozo dudes! Your adopted pet human is scratching up your shit like her name was Cheeta!

Okay, end spoiler. I have to concede that Samus is and always will be a bad ass stone cold killa' and one of the best female heroes in video game history. It is an ENTERTAINING chunck of Samus' ongoing adventures, but certainly not a shimmering gem. More like a mildly-convincing cubic zirconia. Too short, too easy, but good story. I give it three and a half beers.

Rating: 3.5 beer