When Japanese gamers got their hands on New Play Control! Metroid Prime a few months back, we were delighted that Wii owners would get the chance to play this wonderful game anew, with the enhanced controls that made Metroid Prime 3: Corruption such a fluid and fast-paced shooter.
Yet we couldn't help but think it would be even more wonderful if Nintendo was to package the original and its sequel together rather than releasing them separately. Then we started getting greedy, dreaming of how fantastic it would be if the two older games were packaged with Corruption in a special edition boxset and released as the Metroid Prime Trilogy. Now either Satoru Iwata has been tapping our phones or dreams really do come true, because - amazingly - it's here.
It's easy to forget these days that the original Prime was widely tipped to be a flop before its release, when some unimpressive early footage and rumours of a troubled development led many to write it off before it arrived. That it turned out to be one of the most skillful transfers of a well-known franchise from 2D to 3D ever was even more astounding, with the guiding hand of Shigeru Miyamoto helping the relatively untested Retro Studios to craft a true third-person adventure masterpiece. And seven years on from its GameCube debut, it still remains a landmark Nintendo experience, even if time has dulled its impact somewhat.
The Wii controls have been transferred wholesale from Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and work brilliantly, even without the beam-stacking of the later game. Switching between beams is similar to visor-swapping - simply press the + button and point to the right segment of the HUD - and once you're accustomed to the system, it's every bit as easy as using the C-stick on a Wavebird. Scanning is much quicker, and you'll now earn medals for certain accomplishments - another idea lifted from Corruption.
The new controls make it feel closer to a first-person shooter than before - it might be just us, but we swear Samus moves just a tiny bit quicker. It's a shame that you'll sometimes have to wait a few seconds for a door to open, as the larger discs on Wii increase loading times ever so slightly, but that's a small price to pay for the controls, which make you feel the game was made specifically for the format. Given how perfectly-tuned the original controls felt at the time, that's some achievement, and we wouldn't want to go back to playing it with a GameCube pad now.
Primed And Ready
Prime is a longer and much larger game than Corruption, but the downside to that is that its level design feels a little too convoluted - the backtracking that the Wii game reduced to a bare minimum now feels like more of a chore than it did seven years ago, even if some of its environments make it worth the trek. The gorgeous, snow-swept wastes of Phendrana Drifts are still perhaps a cut above any of the areas in Corruption, and its lonely, oppressive atmosphere trumps the weaker story sequences in the latter. Samus feels totally isolated and disconnected, making one or two sections as unnerving and forbidding as any survival horror.
It's rarely as intense as its follow-up, though. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is in many ways the Empire Strikes Back of the series; not because it's the best, but because it's several shades darker than the original. The first time you land on the planet of Aether, you're immediately confronted by death and destruction, as your mission to investigate the strange disappearance of a squad of Federation troopers goes seriously awry.