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Metroid Fusion

Review By:  Steve Carlin

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

Super Metroid. When I hear those two words, I think of one of the most gratifying experiences Iíve ever had the pleasure to play through. Everything about that game was perfect. The graphics were artistic and realistic. The controls were pinpoint accurate. The gameplay was gripping. The worlds were huge. No game can duplicate the magic that I feel radiating from my television screen every time I switch on my Super Nintendo with this cartridge packed in. And now, theyíve made a sequel. The flawlessness that the geniuses at Intelligent Systems had crafted eight years beforeÖ could they do it again? Could they even exceed their past accomplishments?

Letís find out.

Graphically, Fusion is impressive. The hand-drawn cut-scenes seen in the introduction sequence and throughout the game have a sleek appearance, and are some of the best Iíve seen on the GBA. It ainít too shabby in the actual gameplay, either. Although Samus and other smaller monsters appear a bit rough around the edges, the backgrounds are first-rate along with larger character models. There also seems to be a great amount of attention given to the detailójust look at some of the bosses. Overall, Fusion is presented quite nicely.

Fusion does an excellent job of bridging the gap between the traditional Metroid formula and newer concepts found in the game. It feels new and different, but still manages to maintain that good olí Metroid feel. The most obvious example of this would have to be the storyline. The game starts with a fairly lengthy introduction, with Samus explaining how she returned to SR-388 on a research mission only to discover new organism: the X parasite. Samus becomes infected by the X, and the events that follow lead to an infestation of the entire research station. It is up to Samus to exterminate the X and stop their disease-like spread. Throughout the game youíll interact with the onboard computer of the game (a.k.a. Adam), whoíll dish out objectives and advice.

Any Metroid fan can tell you that this game is much more focused on the story than in any of Samusí previous adventures. Traditionally, you were given a brief introduction, and then thrown into the game. The rest was up to you to decipher. This time around the game will delve much further, explaining the instincts of the X and even some of Samusí past. The first-person narration of Samus in the introduction and some cut-scenes within the game is a wonderful addition, as it allows for more of a connection with her. Before this game, Samus always seemed ambiguous to meónow, she has more character.

The improved plot comes with a consequence, though. In order to convey much of the story to the gamer, Fusion uses Adam to interact with you. This interaction helps to develop the plot, but at the same time it decreases the amount of freedom you have due to the objectives that are given to you. Going into the game, I was immediately alarmed. Metroid has always been known for its extreme amount of freedom. The idea of a linear Metroid is blasphemy, pure and simple. Alas, I exaggerate. It wasnít nearly as bad as I thought it would be. While he guides you to certain areas, you are still free to explore other areas at your will. There is still plenty of freedom to be found here, especially near the close of the game. In the end, the minor sacrifice was worth it for the deeper story.

I was pleased to see that the developers decided to kick up the difficulty of the game. The actual exploration and puzzle solving is still at the same level as past games, but the enemies are tough. Enemies usually take out anywhere from thirty to eighty units of energy. Some of them even take out a hundred (thatís a whole energy tank)! And donít even get me started on the bossesÖ ruthless. Youíll see what I mean once you get to the spider. Fusion is also less forgiving in the armor upgrades. The Varia and Gravity Suits only increase your defensive capabilities by five and ten percent, respectively. Youíll still be getting your ass kicked no matter what suit Samus is wearing. However, youíll adapt. While the game may seem insanely hard in some parts (especially the boss fights), youíll get used to the enemy mechanics and soon be blasting everything to bits like nobodyís business. Itís hard not to, especially withÖ

Ö the controls. Intelligent Systems did an excellent job of porting over the controls from Super Metroid to the GBA. A to jump, B to fire, down to crouch and roll into your morph ball. Press and hold R to fire your missiles, and L to aim diagonally up or down. Many items from Super Metroid make their return, including the speed booster, wave and plasma beams, and spring ball. Samus also comes loaded with some new abilities such as diffusion missiles, ice missiles, and the ability to climb ladders. Of course, the addition of the ladders basically killed off the grappling beam, but no biggie. The controls are perfectly accurate, and youíll be navigating your way through the ship with ease.

The music and sound is pretty good for being a GBA game. It feels very Metroid-like, eerie in some places, heroic in others. Thereís even some remixes of classic themes, like one of our memorable favorites from Super Metroid. They help to set the mood of the game, especially when some major plot twists are revealed. The combination of excellent story, great gameplay, and a pleasing soundtrack wraps up Fusion as a nice little package that youíve gotta pick up.

Highs:

  • Deeper storyline, progressive storyline
  • Perfect controls
  • Good amount of difficulty
  • Music
  • Beautiful graphics, especially in the cut-scenes

Lows:

  • Feels a little more controlled, thanks to guidance from Adam
  • A bit on the short side

Final Verdict:

Is it better than Super Metroid? No. A worthy sequel? Hell yes. It is the best game on the GBA, by far. Nothing comes close, except for maybe Advance Wars. Itís an absolute blast to play, with an engrossing storyline and gameplay. Fusion is so full of false walls, secret passages, and hidden items that Metroid fans, new and old, wonít be able to put their GBAs down. After you beat the game, youíll want to dive back in to find all the items, finish it as fast as you can, or just experience it all over again. An absolute must-buy. Iíll wrap you in plastic and beat you with sticks if you donít.

Overall Score: 9.2

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