Most helpful critical review
A stable yet disappointing game...
on November 19, 2003
As soon as Metroid Fusion was announced I ran to the store, anxiously waiting to get it home. I remembered how Super Metroid was such an improvement over the original and I was hoping that this game would be even greater. Now Metroid Fusion has all the trimmings of an excellent Metroid game, with its detailed graphics, good soundtrack, and improved story. However, one aspect of the game is a bit off, and unfortunately it is the most important aspect of all, and that is the gameplay. More on to that a bit later, so read on my friends.
The graphics of the game are excellent, and is by far the strongest point of the game. Nintendo did a great job using the Game Boy Advance's full potential for this game, and it really shows. The backgrounds and lighting effects are all above par, and should make any Metroid fan happy. From boiling rooms erupting lava, to sub zero rooms overflowing with ice, to artificial jungles, to the basic save and recharge room, the games graphics are very detailed and vibrant. Nothing negative to say about the character designs either. Each enemy has a classic Metroid feel to it, and Samus has never looked better...
If you enjoyed the sound from Super Metroid then you will like the sounds of Metroid Fusion just as much. The only gripe I have is the the music is recycled, and usually repeats whenever you enter a different sector. It is disappointing that each sector doesn't have its own theme music, but you really can't expect too much from the limited power of the Game Boy Advance. However, the sound effects of the game are fine. Explosions, evaporating enemies, flips, nature effects, etc. are all above par, and sound fine.
Unlike the sound and graphics, the gameplay of Metroid Fusion is sadly disappointing. Instead of the great exploration that took place in the previous Metroids, you are left with a game that instead, tries to walk you through it. The game play's in a mission based format, and forces you to take on different objectives. While this may seem interesting, this is a direction that the Metroid series shouldn't have taken. The primary problem with this is that the game gives you a map, too detailed descriptions of what you are supposed to do, and you are even told what exact area you are to go to. Instead of exploring the different sectors to complete the objectives, you are left with an annoying computer giving you too much information in every single level. This aspect makes the game too linear, and takes away the thing that made Metroid so great. The primary flow of the game is get a mission and map of the sector you are going to. Then use that map to know exactly where to go in that sector, finish the objective, and go back to the computer. Even more annoying is sometimes you will backtrack to previous sectors, a gameplay element that seemed to flow into Metroid Prime as well. Now while it is fun to blast enemies, and experience the new elements of Samus, the fact that the objectives of the game are so linear is a let down.
Apart from the story and objective part of the gameplay is the actual action based fighting part. Just like the traditional Metroid games you have your laser cannon, bombs, missiles, and the energy tank. A new idea thrown into the game was the parasites, which when absorbed allow you to recover your health or missiles. The interesting part of this is how if you don't absorb the parasite it can sometimes transform into an enemy. This quick aspect of gameplay is another interesting idea thrown into the game. Also, you can find upgrades in the game to increase their power, or add for more of those weapons to be stored. Despite the fact this game is mission based, it is still fun to fight enemies and search for some secrets hidden in each sector. The classic Samus gameplay, hidden secrets, and fact that the game is not TOTALLY linear, is why this game is still a fun game, and didn't turn into a total disaster.
Sadly, the replay value of the game is poor, as in this case correlates to the challenge of the game. This game is very easy, and can be completed in anywhere from 4-8 hours. The game's lack of levels, linear gameplay, and small amount of secrets will be the primary reasons you most likely will not go through the game again. The key reason that the challenge of the game is so simple is of the fact that the map feature was included. The mission objective story would have blended so well had the game not been so linear. The things that made the Metroid series so great was that every time you went in a level you could explore it differently than you had before. You could go to levels in any order you wanted, and the freedom kept you hanging, yet constantly interested. It is a shame that this game couldn't have gone in the same direction.
Overall, this game is just missing something. It could be the linear gameplay, simple premise, or lack of hidden secrets that made both Metroid and Super Metroid so fun. I still enjoyed Metroid Fusion, but after beating it, I just wanted more. Those that don't care for the Metroid series don't even give this game a second glance. However, I recommend fans the series to give this one a go. All in all, Metroid Fusion is an interesting result of the new steps Nintendo was trying to create. However, these new steps is what took away the gameplay that made Metroid what it was. I can only hope that the next Metroid follows the path it should have took.