“The cosmos. In the vast universe, the history of humanity is but a flash of light from a lone star. The life of a single person should be lost in space and time but among the stars is one light that burns brighter than all others… the light of Samus Aran.”
Yup, Nintendo has given Metroid Prime Remastered an oh-so-dramatic introductory cutscene that sets the stage perfectly for one of the most cinematic, theatrical and gripping games Nintendo have ever released.
“Her battles extend beyond her life and etch themselves into the history. Here, another chapter of that history will be written,” the scene continues, before players can actually get their hands on the iconic bounty hunter. More than a simple remaster though, this reimagined version of Metroid Prime sees Nintendo finally celebrate Samus Aran’s enduring legacy.
Originally released in 2002 for the Gamecube, Metroid Prime was the fifth game in the Metroid series but the first to take the 2D side-scroller into three dimensions. The premise was simple enough – formidable bounty hunter Samus Aran crash lands on the planet Tallon IV after doing battle with her nemesis Ripley and has to find artifacts to escape alongside upgrades to repair her damaged suit – but the resulting game was nearly flawless. It went on to sell over 2.8million copies, inspired two sequels (2004’s Echoes and 2007’s Corruption) and remains one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time.
But it’s always felt like Nintendo was never quite sure how this gun-wielding, bomb-toting, space Iron Man fit alongside cheery plumbers, adorable pink blobs and princess-rescuing Hylians. Sure, Samus has always had a prime spot in the Smash Bros. franchise but the series has often felt like an afterthought, until now.
The comeback started with 2021’s brilliant Metroid Dread. The first new 2D Metroid game in 19 years respected what had come before, but wasn’t afraid of subverting expectations either. It still felt like the end of something though, whereas Metroid Prime Remastered (released last week) strangely feels like a new beginning. The title really cements Samus Aran’s status as a legend with plenty more to give, and the game does it without having her quitting the bounty hunting gig to look after a town on Tatooine for reasons à la Disney‘s The Book Of Boba Fett.
Nintendo and Retro Studios has changed very little in Metroid Prime Remastered. Taking a leaf out of the recent Dead Space Remake book, the game’s narrative remains true to the original and for good reason. Metroid Prime was always a thrilling game that blended blast-happy boss battles with mind-bending puzzles and a curious want to explore every inch of Tallon IV, and Remastered is no different. The engaging shooter/puzzler is as engaging today as it was back in 2002, with a sparse soundtrack that’ll still send a shiver down your spine.
The biggest change is how Metroid Prime looks and handles. The controls work perfectly on the Nintendo Switch while Gamecube diehards have the option to toggle those back to allow their muscle memory to shine. As for the visuals, they’re astoundingly great.
Samus Aran’s suit now looks fearlessly imposing, while the different environments of Tallon IV are regularly breathtaking. From the rain hitting your visor and the way the light reflects off your arm cannon to the industrial intensity of later boss battles, this refreshed and repainted take on a classic is impossible not to get immersed in. Even a well-timed rocket now reveals Samus Aran’s reflection in your visor with startling detail.
"They took Samus' reflection out of Metroid Prime Remastered" pic.twitter.com/rFuRCYqeCa
— Scott Tailford (@SlashLP89) February 9, 2023
Picking up Metroid Prime Remastered for the first time, you’ll probably be amazed that the game looks and handles exactly how you remember it did, with Nintendo somehow matching two decades of rose-tinted glasses. Remember how terrifying the Parasite Queen looked? Hate to break it to you, but it was actually a brown and green blob of cell-shading but in Remastered, it’s once again the stuff of nightmares.
It’s almost funny how the best-looking game on Nintendo Switch is now a 21-year-old remaster, but that should tell you the level of care and attention that’s clearly gone into this project. It’s not on the same level as the ongoing Final Fantasy 7 Remake project, but it’s a long way from the recent release of Goldeneye 007 (which makes a brilliant case for never revisiting a much-loved classic).
Metroid Prime Remastered graphics are a huge upgrade. See how it stacks up to the Wii & GameCube originals in our graphics comparison
▶️ https://t.co/WtNHZ48Gmx pic.twitter.com/IpCGWGXVtL
— GameXplain (@GameXplain) February 9, 2023
Of course there are a few niggles. A former developer has claimed the doors are “fucked up” because they look a little different while some players have complained that Metroid Prime Remastered uses the scanner from the Wii’s rereleased Metroid Prime Triology, rather than the original. Other players have issues with the £35 price tag, when WiiU owners can still purchase the original trilogy for almost half that. It’s telling that these are the biggest criticisms around Metroid Prime Remastered though.
In recent weeks, Nintendo has spoken about how it’s entering “uncharted territory” with the Switch as the console confidently enters its seventh year. Rather than talking next-gen, the company is looking at brilliant games to keep players interested. Obviously the promise of The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of A Kingdom is a biggie but Metroid Prime Remastered sees Nintendo determined to reinvent Samus Aran as an A-list star. The surprise release is further proof of their confidence in the character.
Gamers who grew up with Metroid Prime already know her potential, and the release of Remastered fills Nintendo Switch’s current shooter-shaped-hole perfectly if paint guns and water pistols aren’t doing it for you. Beyond that though, this polished, intuitive masterpiece of a game acts as a brilliant introduction to the series ahead of the long-rumoured Metroid Prime 4, which had development restarted in 2019 by Retro Studios after Bandai Namco’s work on the project wasn’t seen as good enough.
If Metroid Prime Remastered (which uses the latest version of Retro Studio’s proprietary RUDE engine) is anything to go on, it’s time to get excited about Samus Aran all over again as Nintendo gives a timeless hero a fierce new relevance and an even brighter future.
Metroid Prime Remastered is out now on Nintendo Switch.