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Metroid Fusion

Review By:  Tikerman

Developer:  Intelligent Systems
Publisher:  Nintendo
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Platform
ESRB:  Everyone
Accessories:  GBA/GCN Link Cable (Metroid Prime)
Date Posted:  2-9-03

Quick, before you make any rash decisions about buying this game, know this: It's short. Under 2 hours for experts, not more than 10 for the slowest. So, what that means to you is up to you. But read on. There are some good things about this game too. In fact, there aren't many bad things.

The story goes like this: You, Samus Aran, best bounty hunter in the universe, are sent to deal with some problems on SR388, that famous planet on which so many of your previous adventures took place. There, you discover some hostile life form, which you quickly destroy. But it doesn't end there. After taking out the monster, it leaves behind a strange substance. You try to destroy it, but it's too small and attacks you. You leave the battle unrattled, and think nothing of it. On the return voyage, however, the substance turns out to be a parasite, the X-Parasite to be specific. It hits your central nervous system and you lose consciousness, and stray into an asteroid field.

The good guys get you out of there, however, and take you straight to the Space Lab E.R. There, they remove infected portions of your suit, and inject you with a Metroid-based vaccine, because as it turns out, Metroids are the natural predators of X-Parasites. A new adventure begins. While in your Metroid-suit, an explosion takes place in the lab and you are sent to investigate. The Quarantine Bay has been blown open, and the X-Parasites have infected everything on the Space Lab. Worst yet, the pieces of your suit that were removed are missing. As it turns out, they have been taken over by the X, and is roving the premises with all the powers you used to have (and that you no longer have). Now it's up to you to eradicate your clone, SA-X.

The gameplay is very true to the original Metroids. If you haven't played any of the original Metroids, think of it as a combination of Mega Man and Castlevania. If you haven't played Mega Man, Casltevania, OR Metroid…uhm…dude, go play some games. The action and exploration is right on with its predecessors. Many claim that the navigation computer that guides you through the game takes too much of the navigation challenge out of the game, but that is not the case. This computer mostly defines your missions and tells you in what general direction to go, something you would be completely lost without. True, it does designate targets for you and supplies maps, but if you really want it to be a very challenging experience, put your hand over the screen.

At first, difficulty in terms of both action and exploration increase nicely as you go on. As it starts the computer tells you what to do quite plainly and the enemies are easy. The further you go, however, the less information you get, and the harder the enemies get (despite acquiring new weapons and the like). At one point in the game you stop getting new maps and have to explore plenty of uncharted territory.

One of the greatest things about this series is the plethora of weapons Samus has at her disposal, and Metroid Fusion doesn't disappoint. With only 4 buttons, Nintendo does a great job of smoothly offering every weapon without weapon menus or the like. Everything is handled within the four buttons, and thankfully, the L Button is dedicated to diagonal fire, which will make your life a lot easier.

The atmosphere is very appropriate as well. The graphics are dark, but generally not in such a manner that you can't see what’s going on (except, of course, when it is intentional). There really isn't much music to speak of; when you start the game it gives you a taste of a freaky score, but pretty much drops off after that. You get tidbits here and there, but throughout most of the game, quiet, slightly haunting sound-effects are drowned out by the sounds of your gun and various other things. But that's not to say it detracts from the spookiness of the sounds. Rather, the quiet tunes and sounds are eerie and you often find yourself straining your ears for the sound of footsteps, being that the only creature on the station other than yourself capable of making such a sound is SA-X, who can take you out in a matter of seconds.

One major letdown, however, is that near the end, the difficulty drops off tremendously. Not only does it cease to get harder, but for the last few bosses, it's almost ridiculously easy for that stage of the game. Final showdowns with SA-X and other huge bosses can be easily dominated by repeatedly mashing a single button, or sticking strictly to a simple pattern of attacks and jumps. One consolation for this, however, is varying endings that can be achieved for different completion percentages and times. As easy as this game can be at times, it is still enormously difficult to beat it under 2 hours, or with 100% completion.

Highs:

  • Smooth playing action utilizing many different weapons
  • Exploration is everything it used to be
  • Spooky atmosphere done well
  • Unlock original Metroid when you beat Fusion

Lows:

  • Quite short
  • Not any musical score to speak of
  • Some extreme gamers' challenging experience may be hindered by the Nav Computer
  • All gamers' challenging experience will be hindered by disappointing ease at the end

Final Verdict:

Definitely a good game. Had this gone on for a bit longer it would have been a smash hit. What little is offered, however, is as good as anything on the GBA, and is all in all a great experience, combining spooky atmosphere with challenging exploration, and the constant need to avoid your greatest threat, SA-X. As great as this game is, I just can't give it a great score considering its length. Hardcore fans could rip through this with 100% completion in a few hours, and to them wouldn't be worth a purchase. Don't buy this if you think you're that good, unless you want it to have it. In fact, pretty much anyone could beat this game on a rental cart, depending on how much time they have. As such:

Overall Score: 8.0

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