Maybe it was the move away from the extremely popular and hugely successful Prime formula. Perhaps it was the linear, more action oriented approach to the series by Team Ninja….or maybe it was just because Samus suddenly became all chatty and that. Whatever the reason, Metroid: Other M simply didn’t connect with fans, critics or the general public.
Metroid: Other M has sold a relatively measley 500,000 copies thus far and is seen by many as one, if not the, biggest disappointment of the Metroid series to date. Was Other M’s critical and commercial lukewarm reception warranted or did it deserve a little more respect? To be honest, I wasn’t even sure about it for the longest time. Partly put off by Team Ninja’s changes to the core Metroid experience and the good rather than great review scores strewn about the net, I didn’t actually get around to/bother playing Metroid Other M until just last month.
The thing is, so-so review scores and a slight change in direction really shouldn’t have delayed my purchase of Metroid: Other M for so long – I picked up each release in the Prime series on day one and no amount of internet shrugs would usually put me off a high profile first party Nintendo release – so what happened?
Maybe it was the lack of cutting edge technology – the Prime series always looked outrageously good and even the third release on Wii had the novelty of motion controls. Other M on the other hand, while far from being ugly, is home to some surprisingly low resolution textures. Despite its consistently fantastic art design, the fact remains, Other M doesn’t look any better than Metroid Prime, released way back in 2002, and is certainly way off the pace when compared with the latest HD offerings on the 360 and PS3.
The other potential issue was that, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t know what I was going to get from a Metroid game. Be it Mario, Zelda or Smash Bros., while changes and advancements are inevitably made for each new instalment, the core of what makes each franchise unique tend to remain in place. In the case of Metroid: Other M however, Team Ninja gave the game a human cast, an elaborate story and, well, they gave Samus a voice. What’s that about? Surely this went against everything that the series stood for. Obviously all this change was a little too much for the majority of gamers to take.
Whatever the reason may be, Metroid: Other M simply didn’t capture the imagination like previous titles in the series, which in retrospect is a huge shame as it actually turned out to be one of 2010’s most pleasant surprises. While I’m not going to claim Other M to be in any way superior to the Prime series, it is nonetheless a brave, largely successful experiment that, thanks in part to lowered expectations, became one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I have had for quite some time.
Ok, so yeah, Samus’ father figure issues and occasional petulance do fly in the face of the image built up by many gamer sover the years and the linearity of the gameplay is certainly a major step away from the traditions of the series. Get over these gripes however and you’re left with one of the finest games of 2010 and certainly one of the best released on the Nintendo Wii in recent memory. More importantly, despite the over reliance on cutscenes and Samus’s inability to keep her mouth shut, Other M sits comfortably as a first rate, if nonetheless anomalous release in the Metroid series.
From its fantastic art design and sumptuous score to its fast paced, exquisitely streamlined gameplay mechanics, Metroid: Other M is a brave game that takes the series away from its traditions while managing to keep the soul of what makes a great Metroid game intact. Metroid: Other M isn’t perfect but it’s still a fantastic game and more than worthy of your time.
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