Metroid Prime has long been considered one of the crowning achievements of Nintendo’s GameCube library. The series’ seamless transition to the first-person genre was defined by its frenetic action, massively explorable environments, clever puzzles, and daunting boss encounters. However, the subsequent two decades have worn on the original release, but much like Samus by the end of each game, Metroid Prime Remastered brings the title back to full power.
Metroid Prime Remastered takes the already-stellar original title and gives it a shiny coat of paint. While not unique to this release, I’m struck by how well the art style of Metroid Prime translates to modern visuals. Meticulously detailed textures and vastly improved lighting further accentuate the already beautiful character models and environments. Even the sound is better, making the excellent soundtrack that much more enjoyable. In fact, everything looks and sounds so good, you could easily fool a less-knowledgeable player into thinking this is a new release for 2023.
The visual improvements are noteworthy, but the modernized controls are downright revelatory. This version of Metroid Prime offers various control settings to allow you to play how you want. Classic and Pointer controls, meant to emulate the single-stick GameCube and motion-control Wii settings, respectively, play to the nostalgia of those who experienced this on those previous platforms. However, the new Dual Stick option is the best way to play Metroid Prime.
This setting (the default) maps movement to the left stick and aiming to the right in the most effective control modernization I can recall. This new control scheme makes almost zero concessions in its updates; the best compliment I can give is that my modern first-person shooter brain instinctually knew how to do almost every action with minimal tutorials or guidance. When combined with the lock-on system of Samus’ suit, this game delivers the amazing power fantasy of being one of the galaxy’s ultimate bounty hunters.
With these improvements in tow, Metroid Prime Remastered opens the doors for a new audience to experience one of the greatest Nintendo exclusives of the 21st century. Exploring Tallon IV is an eerie and atmospheric delight; the original development team at Retro Studios clearly understood how to transpose Metroid’s established formula of obtaining new powers to aid in thoughtful exploration of an ever-expanding map to an all-new genre. Throw in memorable boss fights, stellar environmental storytelling, and exciting combat encounters, and Metroid Prime’s superb design still feels awesome.
I emerged from my revisiting of Metroid Prime with only minor complaints. The unwieldy camera when you’re in Morph Ball, the lack of a real waypoint system, and the cluttered HUD show the game’s age but are miniscule complaints in the grand scheme of this remarkable remaster. Even the antiquated checkpoint system and the abundance of backtracking are little more than nitpicks and add to the tension without feeling cheap.
Metroid Prime Remastered is more than meets the eye, serving as a testament to how spectacular and timeless the original design was. The visual and performance improvements go a long way to making it more approachable, but paramount to those upgrades is the fact that it controls as well as nearly any other shooter on the Switch today. Metroid Prime was a masterpiece in 2002, and that assessment still rings true in 2023.
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