Two decades after its original release, Nintendo announced the same-day release of Metroid Prime Remastered during a Nintendo Direct live stream on Feb. 8, 2023. And somehow, the franchise’s prime achievement has become even better.
Nintendo and Retro Studios released the original Metroid Prime for the Gamecube system back in 2002, successfully transitioning from a strict side-scrolling platformer — which utilizes a side-view camera angle where the screen follows the player back and forth — to a 3D action-adventure shooter. Back then, it was universally praised for its riveting combat and immersive environment.
In this updated version, players are instantly launched into the perspective of Samus Aran, a badass silent bounty hunter investigating a distress signal on a space vessel orbiting planet Talon IV.
The tutorial grants players access to the protagonist’s weaponry, such as an arm cannon equipped with blasters and missiles, a morph ball for hard-to-reach areas and a scanning visor to interact and learn more about the environment.
Samus loses her suit upgrades upon encountering her greatest rival: Meta-Ridley, a robotically enhanced dragon space pirate. This forces her to make an emergency landing on Talon IV and set out to repair her power suit while investigating the alien parasites plaguing the decaying world.
A defining aspect of the game is the visor system that you continuously upgrade throughout the game. It serves as a way to learn enemy weaknesses, elevate the tension in combat scenarios, see invisible enemies or those in the dark and further the storyline.
With the protagonist’s silent nature and lack of other characters to talk to, most of the story is learned through scanning and reading left-behind texts, from ancient scripts in temples to log entries from scientists experimenting with Talon IV’s fauna.
Players are in for a lot of reading, but this sets up the game’s solitary tone perfectly and allows for full immersion into the game. Spoiler alert: the way the game introduces the thermal visor is one of my favorite combat sequences ever.
As much as I can sing the game’s praises, I encountered some control and quality of life issues in my playthrough. Switching between the different visors and arm cannons using the D-pad can be challenging, especially when you’re still getting used to the controls.
Periodically, I had to stop to change out visors to scan something new, only then to scramble back to the combat visor because a group of enemies suddenly dropped in. You get used to it over time, but it has a tendency to halt the flow of the game, especially in its beginning hours.
Another harsh aspect is how the game relies only on manual saving. You can play for an hour, get health and missile upgrades, maybe even an upgrade necessary for story progression only to then die because you fell in toxic water. Unless you were able to save your progress, you’ll find yourself having to redo everything.
Saving is limited to certain rooms scattered around the map. Though I found this to be an early-game issue, you may have to go out of your way to save your progress.
By the time I had a decent amount of upgrades, it was easy to get through fights and I had enough mobility that saved rooms weren’t much of a hassle to reach. The game also has a casual mode for beginners or players that may be struggling.
Nonetheless, Metroid Prime Remastered is a stellar example of how to do remakes right. The textures and character models have been reworked and improved upon. The game’s graphics are modernized while intermixing the mysteriousness of ancient alien ruins taken over by nature, underground magma caverns and abandoned space pirate labs.
The controls themselves switched to dual-stick with an option to use motion controls, though it’s not recommended. But its merging of FPS style and platforming gameplay has aged like a fine wine. It keeps the transition from movement to combat relatively seamless.
I’ve never played any Metroid games up until Prime Remaster’s release, yet my experience with this installment in the series has converted me into a superfan. I’m willing to spread the good word of Samus Aran’s adventures to any of those willing to listen.
In all seriousness, it’s a great introduction to 3D Metroid games. It’s friendly to FPS beginners with its auto-aim features, a beautiful environment for those who enjoy being immersed in a game’s world and thrilling combat around each and every corner for those who enjoy action.
With its affordable $40 price tag, I recommend anyone with interest in the Metroid franchise to try it out.
ESRB rated for Teens (13+) for animated blood and violence.
Metroid Prime Remastered is available for digital download and physical purchase for the Nintendo Switch system.