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Preview: Metroid: Other M

You have email. Metroid: Other M has been delayed in the United States of America until August! Bye, have a nice day.

 

When we first saw it, our hearts sank, too, despite being Brits, but stop and think about it: Is it really that much of a bad thing? Nintendo's launch schedule in absolutely rammed at the minute, and we won't be finished with just the Wii & DS' big games so far this year by June, and we haven't even had Super Mario Galaxy 2 yet, so more time for everything is obviously a good thing, even if that's just because 'Too much Monster Hunter Tri' also fits in that category.

 

Secondly, the control scheme seemed slightly off at Nintendo's recent press event, and we'd rather go through what we like to call 'The Zelda Cycle', waiting for a perfectly formed game, even if we get it 2 years after we first saw the ETA.

 

The obvious downers are that we have to wait longer for the next instalment in the Metroid saga, which is looking to be an absolute epic. The game is a 3D action game with first-person shooting segments and some 2D exploration in the style of the original Metroid titles thrown in for good measure. The control frailties mentioned come from the fact that the whole game uses the Wii Remote alone, without the Nunchuck. This wouldn't be so bad if the game was in 2D, but then there's a vital flaw in that statement: It's not. Holding 'Up' on the tiny D-Pad to run up the screen just feels... Wrong. However, given the extra time they now have, hopefully these can be fixed.

 

Samus is once again the games' protagonist, and all of the genuine gameplay we've seen of Other M shows Ms. Aran in her infamous Varia Suit ('The Orange One' to all you non-Metroid heads) although leave the levels for the very pretty-looking cut scenes and you'll see Sammy's had a bit of a makeover. Now complete with a green jacket, stroppy attitude and Tony & Guy haircut, the 'New' Samus is just what we haven't been seeing all of this time while she's been plugging away at trying to rid the universe of Metroids over the past 20-odd years.

 

Metroid history is another important factor in Other M: The game picks up where SNES title Super Metroid left off. Actually, that's a lie. It picks up slightly before SNES title Super Metroid left off. The opening cut-scene shows the spectacular end of the game in glorious 2010-O-Vision. The hyper beam that 'Does the Job' during the climax has seen a significant upgrade since a purple box flickered a bit in Super Metroid. Thanks to external graphics studio, D-Rockets, Samus looks lovelier than ever before. Well, if by 'Lovely', you mean 'Deadly'. That hyper beam is now a huge orange fire than explodes from her arm. "Mother! Time to go!" screams Samus, ending her seemingly eternal silence.

 

Why Nintendo paid highly acclaimed voice actress Jennifer Hale (Disneys' Cinderella herself) to grunt a bit and pretend she's being hit in the face by a dirty great missile, without any words, but the moment that the part has some lines to say they wave goodbye to her and hand the part to total newbie Jessica Martin is a total mystery to us. The only logical explanation is wages. A higher-profile actress would want more money for putting such emotion into the otherwise dormant script. But with such a huge budget to work with and such a great emphasis placed on the cut scenes, surely they could at least afford to pay a reputational actress for the main character?

 

However, Martin seems alright, as does the voice acting in general to us, although we have heard various other gaming sites and magazines being, shall we say, less enthusiastic about the casting.

 

We do have one cut scene-based niggle, though: Some of the writing seems slightly off, as if it's been translated from Japanese (Oh, wait.) and not properly checked. It's nothing too major, but even if we only get the odd 'Engris' phrase, we'll be suitably annoyed.

 

Sticking to audio, Other M promises to be a hearing-y treat, like Syrup Sponge for the ears. While we, like many others, where initially miffed that Nintendo had ditched Kenji Yamamoto, who was behind the soundtrack to nearing all of the franchises games, and created masterpieces such as, erm, that one that goes 'Ooh, wah, wah, ooh, ooh... OOOOOOOHHHH!!'. (Which, itself, sounds like a toddler in a toy shop. I want it! What do you mean I can't have it? Actually, I want this one. THANK YOU GRANDAD!) You know that you know which one we mean. However, his replacement is none other than Kuniaki Haishima! Erm, yeah, him. Though, to be fair to ol' long-name, we've gone to YouTube and heard some more of his stuff, and we were impressed- Plenty of spooky, eerie music can be found down Haishima lane. Anime show Monster showed he's an excellent composer, and if the piano snippet from the official Metroid website is anything to go by, he's gone and cemented his place as a fantastic musician with his work on Samus' world. Well, worlds.

 

You might have noticed that we’ve been speaking about graphics, audio, cut scenes, dialogue... All that fluff without getting down to the nitty-gritty of it all. The core elements of the product. The gameplay. One or two of you may have read in between the lines. Have we avoided the gameplay deliberately because (Whisper it) it’s... well, disappointing?

 

If that is you then A). Congratulations for the great work with the whole hidden meaning-spotting stuff, but you maybe wanting to go back to Professor Layton because B). You’re wrong. Other M plays like a dream.

 

We haven’t had all that much of a go with the game, but near the start Samus is banned from using her full range of weapons, which is at least a new way of de-powering Ms Aran, so big woops to Team Ninja for the innovative ideas. You may be thinking that ruins the fun, but –Oh no- even without her arm canon, Samus certainly knows how to rumble. In fact, we’d go as far as saying that you could find yourself having more fun later in the game if you ban yourself from the use of her primary weapon. A new core mechanic is the dodge- Samus jumps and dives out of the way, using her little sidesteps to get into positions from which either she can go back and use her more hi-tech attacks, or make use of her new melee moves. She thumps monsters and thwacks aliens, jumping around them while she’s giving them what-for, Smash Bros. style. It looks like it’ll be the most fun ever, and we’d be very surprised if Team Ninja, who built up such fantastic combat systems and highly enjoyable dodging sections in their Ninja Gaiden games, let us down.

 

Combat stretches beyond that, with the ability to turn the remote around and point it at the screen (This bit reminds me of the bits in Super Paper Mario with the hidden stuff that you have to point the remote at to discover) which brings you into a Metroid Prime-style first-person mode, which gives you the options to fire more precise shots or to scan your enemies, either to complete a logbook (Provided they’ve brought it back. We’ve heard nothing so far.) or to give you an instant walkthrough on the bosses. You are stuck on the spot until you go back to 2.5D mode again, but it’s a nice touch regardless.

 

We’ve already waxed our point about that control system, so we won’t bring that up again, but besides that, the main game strikes us as fine. It’s not quite a Super Metroid-topper yet, but we haven’t seen enough of it yet, and all Metroid games start off slow: It’s the law, although it’s seemingly the only one that Team Ninja haven’t broken throughout their long and lustrous (In all senses of the word) career. We’ve changed our mind. That delay is looking increasingly annoying...

Trailer Analysis Other M Discuss on the forums TR