Late thoughts on: Metroid: Other M

For years, there have been several Metroid games that I couldn’t get around to playing due to the systems they were on. Now, when I was lent a Wii, I finally can. And I decided to start not with the games I will surely like (the Prime trilogy), but instead with something that I’ve attempted to play several times before and always got frustrated really quickly – the infamous Other M. Now that I have given it a proper 100% run, is it any better than you might’ve heard?

Haha, no, of course not.

Let’s get the most infamous out of the way. The cutscenes/storytelling are dreadful and invasive. Even ignoring the fact that the series are usually known and loved for short, rarely voice acted, scenes between the gameplay bits and almost everything is always told via gameplay, you cannot ignore the fact that the story and script are just plain trash. Everything is overexplained for no particular reason, with flashbacks to things that happened a minute ago, sometimes in the very same cutscene, lots of internal monologue talking about something that doesn’t need talking about and monotone bored voice of Samus. All of which is there to tell an “emotional sci-fi story” as if written by a person who has no idea how stories work. The only good thing about the cutscenes that I can say is that they blend in with the gameplay very naturally and I’ve not seen many similar examples of how seamless it works at times.

That said, the gameplay is also a huge problem, which seems to be mentioned not as often. The flow of Metroid games is usually focused on exploration and special one-off tougher battles with bosses or just difficult enemies. While most of the time you’re running through the locations not really paying much attention to the enemies, as much to the level (to find cool stuff). Other M is almost purely an action game, in contrast. There’s still some exploration (mostly locked until post-game), there are still some puzzles. But most of the encounters, especially in the first half, are really hard to just run through. The action is changed to be more important, thankfully, but that’s where another issue appears.

The best way to win in combat encounters in Other M tends to be to stand in one place for most of the battle. You see, there’s a dodge move now and it works by tapping any direction button right before you get hit. It can instantly charge your shot and only works from when you are standing still. As such, a lot of battles work as extended QTE-like encounters more than as what you expect from Metroid. It’s cool to pull this off, of course, and the animations for Samus in this game are stellar. But this approach gets quite tedious. Especially since from about midpoint of the game it starts becoming easier and never stops, and you realize that underneath it all it’s still the same combat as before, except you start highly underpowered.

And yes, you are underpowered this time because Samus chooses to, not because she’s forced to, because the story is crap. And yes, the QTE nature extends to a lot more, creating a bunch of terrible sequences where the game insta-kills you if you don’t do something very specific at a very specific moment and you might not even know what an why. Like, for example, the game explains you how to use a weapon that is required to kill the final boss (something you have to do on tight time limit too) after you kill the final boss, then watch the cutscene, credits and start the post-game – thanks, very timely. Also there are a bunch of “guess where to point the Wiimote” moments which won’t stop until you find that tiny spot you need to aim at. Oh, and the controls are indeed terrible – playing with Wiimote sideways hurts and aiming it at the screen to shoot rockets is inconvenient. It’s less horrible than I’ve expected, though, but still terrible.

If you love Metroid games, I can understand if you’d want to play all of them, including this one. But don’t. It’s not just a terrible Metroid game, it’s a pretty bad game and one of the worst examples of the plot, especially for a high budget production, I’ve ever seen. Just avoid this one, better see you in the next mission.

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