It hasn’t been since Super Metroid’s release on the Super Nintendo that we’ve gotten a console Metroid title developed by anyone but Retro Studios. Having finished up their highly acclaimed Metroid Prime Trilogy at last and moving on to tackle other projects, Nintendo shifted the series from Retro and handed it to a team that no gamer on Earth could have anticipated: Team Ninja.
Team Ninja is best known for the likes of Dead or Alive, Ninja Gaiden, and putting a ridiculous emphasis on virtual tits and ass. But guess who else would be there leading the project forward? Yoshio Sakamoto, the man who crafted Super Metroid, the finest action-focused Metroid game in existence. With a team like this, it’s hard not to have high expectations for a game. Does Other M manage to live up to the ridiculous hype it garnered?
But it’s never a good idea to start off on a negative point, so we’ll kick the review off with some of the things Other M does undeniably right. The presentation in this game is absolutely fantastic, and that can hardly be argued. Everything from the amazing visuals, excellent sound design, professional voice acting, cinematic camera effects and heavy story elements is top notch Wii production. The game is gorgeous.
The graphics are perhaps the most impressive, and while I don’t feel Team Ninja toppled what Retro accomplished with the closure to their Prime trilogy, I do feel that Other M is among the best looking games Nintendo has to show on their system. The game is made even more stunning with the awesome cinematic camera that remains locked to the player, but follows Samus around with various zooms to help give a more cinematic feel to the gameplay.
Audio is equally impressive, especially when considering the score and sound effects as a full package. Everything fits just right. Every sound effect and piece of background music was meticulously recorded to ensure a really top notch quality.
The biggest addition to the Metroid in terms of presentation is the inclusion of a fully voiced story. First and second party Nintendo games rarely ever include voice acting for some reason, and instead players read all the dialogue. While that approach to telling a story works fantastically well most of the time, it’s nice to see the big N trying something new.
However, it’s far from perfect. All the voices are fine and fit their characters just peachily, but Samus’ dialogue just doesn’t fit. Instead of sounding like the powerful, kick ass bounty hunter we’ve all imagined her being, she sounds emotionally weak and somewhat robotic. This is a problem that is certainly ignorable, but it brings me to my next point.
The story. This is the most involved story a Metroid game has ever seen, and when I heard that, I was giddy. I was super psyched to learn all about Samus as a character.
Unfortunately, that is where I am let down the hardest, and that is where most other Metroid fans will feel the hardest blow with Other M. Samus’ character is so obviously written by a man that it is hard to really feel her. Instead of being what we all assumed she was — a strong and independent woman with a knack for kicking alien ass — Sakomoto turned her into a weak woman who allows herself to be subject to the domination of a male named Adam, who is also the reason players don’t have access to their full arsenal right off the bat, despite the fact that she has saved the universe and has a fucking gun for an arm.
What’s up with that? Samus should be the most kick ass woman in all of gaming, instead she turns out to be a sensitive little baby with emotional issues? Ugh.
When Metroid Other M was first shown, it seemed the franchise was making a return to its roots, leaving the first-person gameplay of the Prime series behind and going back to a more oldschool approach. It looked totally awesome, and I had no doubt in my mind that I would love it. Then it was announced that the game would be controlled exclusively with the Wiimote turned sideways. …what?
It didn’t seem to make sense, but I trusted the developer’s decision, even though it seemed like throwing on a nunchuck would’ve been far better. Now that I’ve played the game from beginning to end, I can comfortably say that the inclusion of the nunchuck would’ve been far better. Still, what we’re given works just fine, with a few exceptions. We’ll put the fact that moving characters around through a 3D space with a d-pad is super wonky aside, as it isn’t as much a problem as it could have been thanks to the locked camera. The simplicity provided works pretty well, and after I got used to the controls they were no longer an issue.
Except for the fact that the only way to shoot missiles is by pointing the controller at the screen, and when you do this you can’t strafe, leaving you open to oncoming attacks. Nunchuck would’ve fixed that problem. Hell, there’s still a d-pad on the damn thing, so why can’t we use it to move? This was a pretty weak decision on the developers’ part, and it leads to some pretty frustrating experiences.
One last thing that really bummed me out, and then you can be done reading. The game is less than 10 hours long. If longevity of gameplay is what has to be sacrificed for a cinematic story, then I prefer things the way they were. However, if games like Mass Effect can be cinematic and sufficiently long then why can’t Nintendo games?
At first I was very disappointed in Other M. The more I played it, the less disappointed I was, until I became only slightly disappointed with what was being offered. Don’t get me wrong, Other M is a great game, but it could’ve been so much better. The weak evolution of Samus as a character is the biggest gripe, followed by the sometimes awkward controls. The visuals and audio are absolutely top notch, and the presentation is really impressive.
Somehow, at the end of the game, I felt very satisfied with what Other M had given me. I had multiple gripes and whines about the game, but when everything was said and done, it became apparent that Other M is a really good game, despite the issues I had with it. I can only imagine how much better it could’ve been if some silly design choices were avoided. Perhaps, if we ever get an Other M sequel (Another Other M?) it can be as truly awesome as this game should’ve been.
Score: 8.0/10 (Great)