The Retro Raconteur:
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Metroid Prime is the Greatest Game of All-Time

There's no better way to kick off a new gaming blog than to discuss my favorite game of all time: Metroid Prime. While not a popular choice for best game of all-time, the first-person adventure is certainly one of the most critically acclaimed titles in video game history. The original Gamecube title has an astonishing 97 metascore on, which would be tied for 2nd if metacritic included legacy platforms in their all-time rankings.

Metroid Prime released in 2002 from the relatively unknown Retro Studios. Many longtime Nintendo fans were just a tad enraged when they learned one of Nintendo's most beloved franchises had been given to an up-and-coming studio, not to mention the longtime 2d series would not only be going 3d, but also 1st person. Early screenshots and preview builds of the game did nothing to quell those fears. Sensing the game wasn't shaping up as they'd hoped, Nintendo and Retro started meeting more often. While we'll likely never know the exact details of what happened in those meetings, Nintendo cancelled Retro's other projects and everyone focused solely on Metroid.

When the game released, critics were blown away. Not only did the game play well as a 1st person shooter/adventure, Retro took Metroid from 2d to 3d flawlessly. The series retained its sense of exploration, isolation, and epic boss battles. I remember picking up the latest copy of Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) and flipping through until I found the Prime review. I had hoped for a silver award, maybe even a gold, but what I found was almost unthinkable: three 10's and EGM's prestigious platinum award.

From the moment you pop the mini-DVD into little purple cube, you'll realize the game sets itself apart in a big way. You're treated instantly to a sleek menu accompanied by a wonderful score; Metroid Prime exudes polish from the very first menu and until the final credits roll. At the time of its release, Metroid Prime was the best looking game on a console. Period. Yes, that includes the more powerful Xbox system, which of course featured Halo: Combat Evolved. Prime wasn't just good; it excelled on so many levels. I could go on for pages about what makes Prime great, but I'll try and highlight three reasons why it's my personal favorite game of all-time.

1.) The Boss Battles: Every gamer loves a good boss battle and Prime is chock-full of them. The best boss fights are those when you face seemingly insurmountable odds. A creature far more powerful than yourself, yet you have the ability to outsmart it by exploiting a particular weakness. I will never forget the sense of awe when battling Meta Ridley, Thardus, and even the Parasite Queen in the game's opening sequence. The music, the sequence of events leading up to it, and the fights themselves are just astounding.

2.) The Sense of Isolation: This is one area where many modern games fail. The original Dead Space did an excellent job of making you feel completely alone and isolated; however, other games like Resident Evil have slowly turned into more action-oriented games. While Prime has plenty of action, you play as a bounty hunter who is very much alone. This is made completely evident from the moment you investigate the Space Pirate frigate Orpheon. The other locations Samus visits throughout Tallon IV continue to illustrate the isolation and how alone you are. Even so, you're never bored or left wondering where to go next. From the ice-capped Phendrana Drifts to the underground Magmoor Caverns, you'll always want to push forward and explore even more of the beautiful planet.

3.) The Little Things: Part of what makes Prime so great are the tiny details. The way Samus can see her reflection in the visor when a large light flashes or the way it fogs up when she enters a room with disconnected pipes. My personal favorite is the heat that rises from her arm cannon after you fire off a few bursts in quick succession. Prime is loaded with these unique touches. And speaking of loading, it's almost non-existant, which is unheard of for a disc based title. Prime hides its loading in very subtle ways through the use of locked doors and moving elevators. In fact, you'll never see a single loading screen for the 10-15 hours you spend behind the visor.

If you've never played Metroid Prime, do yourself a favor and find a Gamecube (or a Wii) to play it. The first game can be had for fairly cheap on eBay and Amazon. Even better if you can find a copy of the collection with all three Prime titles; although finding a copy for a decent price may prove difficult. What's more surprising is the following sequels, Metroid Prime 2 Echoes and Metroid Prime 3 Corruption, are equally as good. Every Metroid fan has a preference, but the original Prime will always have a special place for me because it did something incredibly unique that had never been done before. Although it released more than a decade ago, Metroid Prime remains my favorite game of all-time.

Meta Ridley

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-GametimeUK-1742d ago

I don't agree with it being the best game of all time. With the amount of games released the odds are rather slim that I would agree with you. However, I can see why you chose this game. It is absolutely an absolutely brilliant title that aims to meet excellent in every single department required to make a fantastic game (and succeeds). Visuals, controls, gameplay, audio. Man, this game is a treat! I would like to thank you for the blog as it was a nice trip down memory lane for me.

Incipio1742d ago

It was ahead of its time in graphics, gameplay, and didn't even need the protagonist to speak a single word to move the story forward.

JD_Shadow1740d ago

Though I agree with you on that it didn't need anyone talking for the game to be good, I know what game you're referring to, and I disagree that Samus should return to being a silent protagonist, and you can't judge a Metroid game's quality solely on that because she's had a voice in other games besides that one. Nintendo has way too many silent protagonists as it is in their lineup of games, and Metroid should not fall into that trap of following the status quo. It's one of the few, if not only, series Nintendo has that has a gritty, serious story line that can go in a ton of directions, and I think to do that, and to not sound sexist, we shouldn't tell one of the most popular female protagonists in gaming that she should STFU!

Zodiac1742d ago

It's a master piece of a game.

TheLastGuardian1741d ago

I got a Wii recently and bought the Metriod Prime Trilogy for $36, which is a steal compared to what it goes for online. I'm currently playing through the original MP for the first time and it really blows me away. I love the music, atmosphere and the epic boss battles. Nice blog, RetroRaconteur.

Picnic1741d ago (Edited 1741d ago )

Metroid Prime is certainly a contender. The original trailer seems an exaggeration about the graphical quality but the in game graphics are still good. It's the fluidity of the morph ball that most impresses graphically. Apart from that the audio and the cleverness of the level design tends to impress more than the pure graphics (although the graphics are nice). The eerie beauty of the abandoned frigate stands out to me even more than Phenandra Drifts. I found one of the later bosses just too tough for the otherwise lovely control system though.
I easily pick it above The Wind Waker as best Gamecube adventure. In fact I'd pick Paper Mario : The Thousand Year Door and Resident Evil above The Wind Waker whose main accomplishment is some nice cel shading and the odd piece of good music. Level design wise Metroid Prime eats it for breakfast.

I started playing Echoes though and didn't want to continue. It felt too sci-fi. That might seem like a silly objection for a game set in space but the original Metroid Prime appealed to me because it felt more like a classic adventure/platformer/survival horror game that just happened to be set in space.

Kevlar0091741d ago

I loved the small environment effects, like how steam fogs up your visor, getting out of water or lava has a nice water/lava effect streaming down, and as you look up into the rain more drops hit your visor. The soundtrack alone is amazing, I listen to it every so often.

It's hard to find a flaw in this game (apart from maybe too much backtracking). The atmosphere is perfect, the graphics and effects are amazing, soundtrack is amazing, and showed that FPS's don't have to be all about shooting as many bullets as possible for hours on end (First person adventure is the most accurate genre for it).

Imo it really transcends Video Games as a whole, was more art than entertainment. It did such a fantastic job of turning Metroid from 2D to 3D, much like what Mario 64 did in its day. Certainly one of the best conceived games of all time

zerocrossing1741d ago (Edited 1741d ago )

How far did you get in Echoes? I ask only because I actually rate it higher than the original Prime, thanks partly to it's Light Aether/Dark Aether traversal.

Seeing the dark twisted Ing hordes version of the Luminoths home world is amazing and offers some tense experiences, IMO. The fact that not only are you battling Dark Aethers nightmarish inhabitants during your time there, but the planets atmosphere and echo system are trying to take you down also.

I would recommend playing it until you get your 1st new suit upgrade, if you still don't like the game after that then it probably isn't for you, but personally I absolutely loved echoes.

Picnic1741d ago

I didn't get far. The graphics, or at least the art design, looked like a notch down from Metroid Prime. Maybe if Echoes had been released first I'd be more willing to engage with it but it's still pretty much like comparing Aliens to Alien. The original film is always going to have that element of beautiful understatement and surprise. The sequel is just playing around with it.

Kevlar0091740d ago

Prime 1 is definitely superior to Prime 2. Not just because it came before, but Prime 1 had more diverse locales, the dark world and portal jumping got tiring and stale (a little too much purple), and the difficulty in Echoes was a bit too much for my liking.

Not that Echoes was bad, just that Prime 1 is the 3D Metroid you could ever want, it's the definitive Metroid experience for 3D. You could make a lot of comparisons between Prime and Super, both amazing titles in their fields.

I've completed Echoes twice, once on normal and another on Hard (and believe me it was hard in every sense). The ending is almost too good to pass up, you go through so much hell you really feel like you accomplished something, and watching the Ing meet their fate just felt so good. I actually played it 95% through my first time, then stopped for a few years, but going back to it was worth it.

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