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Metroid Fusion

by Alex Culafi - May 9, 2012, 5:42 pm PDT
Total comments: 28

In honor of the most recent NWR Game Club, Alex takes a look at the canonical sequel to Metroid: Other M.

I suppose my memories of Metroid Fusion go back to about 2003, when an eight or nine-year-old me received a Game Boy Advance SP and a trip to the mall around my birthday, the purpose of which was to allow me to pick out any single game I wanted. Having bought Pokémon Ruby earlier that day, I went into KB Toys and picked out an interesting game I'd played at EB Games a few months prior: Metroid Fusion.

Fusion continues the series' 2D legacy to great effect. In typical Metroid fashion, Fusion is an action-adventure platforming game, taking place in a large area that slowly expands as Samus gains power-ups, which permit entry to new locations. Power-ups include things like the Plasma Beam, temperature-resistant suits, and bombs that allow destruction of certain, normally inaccessible walls. Samus obtains these items through direct download in the station's many data rooms and by defeating bosses. Unlike other Metroid games, power-ups aren't simply gained through a single victory: after defeating a boss, Samus is forced into a second fight with a hovering Core-X organism, which requires several hits to take down, making the power-up available.

My original playthrough of Fusion was a mess. I had no idea how to check mission objectives (so I was just exploring until something happened), I skipped through the (initially) terrible and confusing story, and overall I sucked hard. Bosses took multiple tries, and simple enemies would kill me with embarrassing frequency. Eventually, I simply used Action Replay to give me max upgrades and health. That worked well for a while until I ended up stuck once more. I threw up my hands and, for the next nine years, remained convinced that what I slogged through was a difficult and confusing mess. To further state how terrible I used to be at video games: Metroid: Zero Mission took me over 20 hours to finish, and that's with a pretty insubstantial item collection rate.

For this reason, I didn't even consider touching Fusion when the game was released as part of the Ambassador program. I had my poor memories, and I was happy to leave them as such. But after I played Other M, things changed. The story, though poor, was mostly understandable, and the game was supposedly more a prequel to Fusion than the sequel to Super Metroid. That intruiged me. When I beat Other M a week before writing this, I thought I would pop open my "We're sorry" ROM of Fusion just to take a look.

When I first started up a new save file, it was weird. That unskippable wall of text was now interesting and said things I found myself wanting to read. The story connected incredibly well to Other M, and one could see how Samus' character had a terrible personality long before that Wii game.

The gameplay was far more impressive than I remember, but far easier, too. In two sittings, I'd gotten past the point where, in my original playthrough, I was stuck while invincible. This was accomplished in about an hour and a half! I especially loved how frequently power-ups are obtained in the game, which routinely changes up the gameplay. The story continued to develop, and Other M's continuity to the series—from the dried up Ridley to Nightmare's return to Adam Malkovich's character—is downright eerie. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Metroid Fusion feels more like a cool WayForward sequel to Other M than Other M is the shaky prequel to Nintendo R&D 1's Fusion.

The bosses are also particularly great, with tons included. More importantly, the SA-X, Samus' doppelgänger and the main antagonist of Fusion, is genuinely menacing, and its entry into a room admittedly drudged up actual fear in me. The bosses themselves range in difficulty, from terribly easy to somewhat brutal. If you don't know the strategy to beat the final boss, expect some frustration—a whole lot of it.

When I beat the game (at just under four hours, though my Activity Log claims 8.5), I was so glad that my perception of this game could be broken, and that something fairly antagonistic to my younger tastes became an experience I really treasured. Does it have its flaws? Definitely. The fact that bosses follow with monotonous Core-X fights every single time bothers me quite a bit, as does how progressing the story requires feeling around individual rooms a bit too much. All in all, though, Metroid Fusion is a great game, and if you haven't played it yet, in the words of Reggie Fils-Aime, "What's wrong with you?"

Talkback

TrueNerdMay 09, 2012

I've played through Metroid Fusion more than I have any other game. I love it. It's a far more linear affair than Super Metroid which understandably turns a lot of people off, but as a trade off it's exceptionally paced. There's not a second of downtime in Fusion. I also think they did a lot of intelligent things with the controls and power up stacking that streamlined a lot of things that should have always been streamlined. Zero Mission did a better job of maintaining a non linear feel and had sequence breaking and had that stealth sequence at the end and is probably just the better game overall, but Fusion is great.

CericMay 09, 2012

You see if someone would have said that Other M was a Prequel to Metroid Fusion I probably would have bothered with the game by know.

My younger bro's been stealing my 3DS just to play this game.

nickmitchMay 09, 2012

Quote from: Ceric

You see if someone would have said that Other M was a Prequel to Metroid Fusion I probably would have bothered with the game by know.

I thought it was clear that the point of Other M's story was to give more context to Samus's relationship with Adam because Fusion touched on it so much.

TheLastMetroid21May 09, 2012

Best metroid game IMO. I have them all and i love the series but this game was just on another level when it came out. Prime blew my mind sure but when fusion released (almost along side it) I felt like i was playing a perfected Super metroid and what more could anyone possibly ask for.

DasmosMay 10, 2012

I didn't realise Super Metroid wasn't already perfect.

AdrockMay 10, 2012

I liked Fusion for what it was though cloning dead things always feels like cheating in stories. Super Metroid had a great ending with a perfect emotional high, all without a single line of dialog. Prime could and should have been a series reboot allowing Retro Studios to go their own way but I suppose that's easy to say in hindsight.

Gameplay-wise, I didn't love Fusion. It didn't evolve enough from Supet Metroid. While still good, it's hanging on the coattails of it's predecessor.

Quote from: Dasmos

I didn't realise Super Metroid wasn't already perfect.

+1

Pixelated PixiesMay 10, 2012

Great game, but relatively forgettable when compared to the heights of Super Metroid and the Prime Trilogy.

CericMay 10, 2012

Quote from: nickmitch

Quote from: Ceric

You see if someone would have said that Other M was a Prequel to Metroid Fusion I probably would have bothered with the game by know.

I thought it was clear that the point of Other M's story was to give more context to Samus's relationship with Adam because Fusion touched on it so much.

I'm sure it is if you had played the game.

Ian SaneMay 10, 2012

I haven't played this since it came out and considering how it hints towards Sakamoto's meltdown in Other M I might not like it as much now with more context.  At the time I couldn't help notice how it was much more linear than Super Metroid.  It still seemed to work though.  It had hidden missile tanks and you actually got new weapons instead of being told when you can use something.  Little details like that can make a big difference in how fun the game is to play.

Metroid Fusion is a good example of what I used to consider a typical Nintendo sequel.  It still played like Metroid but it wasn't Super Metroid Part 2.  Changes like the Fusion suit and the way you collected the X virus cell things for health and how it had that more mission structured design made it distinct from the rest of the series and made it stand out.  It isn't a non-essential sequel.  It CAN'T be because it differentiates itself too much.  I used to associate Nintendo with that sort of approach.  Each game was somewhat of a unique entity that you HAD to play.

What is weird though is that I find the non-linear approach of Super Metroid is exactly what makes it so good.  You explore around and find some area you can't get past.  Then later you get some new item and you immediately think "hey, I remember that area I couldn't access.  This new item will let me explore there!" and then you head over there and start exploring the area and it's immediately rewarding.  Sakamoto seems to not get that.  If you make Metroid linear that whole hook is gone.  If Metroid was just some side-scroller it would have, well, become obscure like Kid Icarus because it wouldn't stand out against better side-scrollers like Castlevania and Mega Man.  The non-linear approach is what made the series stand out in the first place.

Linear Metroid, to me, is like a Mario game with Zelda's auto-jump.  It just completely nullifies the whole point of the series.

AdrockMay 10, 2012

Quote from: Ian

It isn't a non-essential sequel.

Yes, it is. In almost every way. Plot-wise, Samus defeated that Space Pirates, even blowing up an entire planet that their leaders were stationed (after blowing them up) and the very last Metroid, which the series gets its namesake, was destroyed.

Quote:

...because it differentiates itself too much.

I didn't think so. Gameplay-wise, the only real differences were hanging on ledges and the introduction of missions. The latter severely limited sequence-breaking. The core gameplay is Super Metroid in portable form. The way the X gave the Fusion suit was new abilities isn't wholly difference from the upgrade system in the previous 3 games.

Fatty The HuttMay 10, 2012

Ah, Ian. You make me smile.
Who else can so deftly weave together compliments to Nintendo with bashing Nintendo?

Ian SaneMay 10, 2012

Quote from: Adrock

Quote from: Ian

It isn't a non-essential sequel.

Yes, it is. In almost every way. Plot-wise, Samus defeated that Space Pirates, even blowing up an entire planet that their leaders were stationed (after blowing them up) and the very last Metroid, which the series gets its namesake, was destroyed.

So when you play a game where the story appears to have wrapped up you have no interest in a sequel?  Doesn't gameplay matter?  I never even think of the story when I decide whether or not to skip a sequel.

AdrockMay 10, 2012

I'm curious how you define a non-essential sequel then. Plot-wise Super Metroid wrapped the series up quite nicely. Sakamoto basically said, Oh, shit... Uhhh... clones!" just so Fusion could have a story chronologically after Super Metroid. Gameplay-wise, Fusion is Super Metroid but worse. As I said, I liked Fusion for what it was. However, everything about its existence is non-essential. It did nothing except make the series worse. It's still good; it's just worse than Super Metroid in every way.

And I find it ironic that you're suddenly defending sequels when half of your posts are about how Nintendo makes too many sequels. As much as I like Metroid Fusion, Super Metroid was the one game that neither needed a sequel not was open for one.

Fatty The HuttMay 10, 2012

Alex, I'm curious; why do you think you found the game so much easier this time around? Is it just because you are older and more experienced? Is it because you paid more attantion to the story? Something else?

nickmitchMay 10, 2012

Quote from: Adrock

I'm curious how you define a non-essential sequel then. Plot-wise Super Metroid wrapped the series up quite nicely. Sakamoto basically said, Oh, shit... Uhhh... clones!" just so Fusion could have a story chronologically after Super Metroid.

From what I remember, Fusion plays to the idea of what happens after all the Metroids are dead. We find out that without Metroids, the X-parasites start over populating because the Metroids were actually created to keep them at bay.

CericMay 10, 2012

Quote from: nickmitch

Quote from: Adrock

I'm curious how you define a non-essential sequel then. Plot-wise Super Metroid wrapped the series up quite nicely. Sakamoto basically said, Oh, ****... Uhhh... clones!" just so Fusion could have a story chronologically after Super Metroid.

From what I remember, Fusion plays to the idea of what happens after all the Metroids are dead. We find out that without Metroids, the X-parasites start over populating because the Metroids were actually created to keep them at bay.

I don't remember them being created for that as much as natural predators.

AdrockMay 10, 2012

Quote from: nickmitch

From what I remember, Fusion plays to the idea of what happens after all the Metroids are dead. We find out that without Metroids, the X-parasites start over populating because the Metroids were actually created to keep them at bay.

There was no mention of the X until Fusion. Sakamoto created a problem that didn't exist just so Fusion could exist. The series could have ended with Supet Metroid. That's what makes Fusion non-essential. Super Metroid didn't end with players wondering how the galaxy would survive without Metroids preying on the X because the X didn't exist until Fusion. Supet Metroid ended with players thinking the galaxy is finally at peace: the last Metroid was destroyed and the Space Pirates were defeated for good.

broodwarsMay 10, 2012

Metroid Fusion is a very odd game for me, as it's a game I remember enjoying (but not loving) on the GBA and yet nowadays I can't think of anything other than the creepiness of the SA-X that I altogether liked...especially in comparison to Zero Mission, which was faster; had a much greater emphasis on exploration; and was a great deal more fun, with the exception of the lame and frustrating Zero Suit sequence.

I do like the idea of moving the Metroid franchise forward past the events on Zebes, but there's just something about that game that never quite clicked with me.  Maybe it's the rather-poor storytelling, the lack of exploration, the entire game being on a space station (a problem that would return in Other M), or just that it's a 2D Metroid game and I'm more a fan of the Prime games.  I can respect that Fusion tried to bring new experiences to the Metroid franchise, but as I have no nostalgia whatsoever for Super Metroid it just didn't speak to me.

Ian SaneMay 10, 2012

Quote from: Adrock

I'm curious how you define a non-essential sequel then. Plot-wise Super Metroid wrapped the series up quite nicely. Sakamoto basically said, Oh, ****... Uhhh... clones!" just so Fusion could have a story chronologically after Super Metroid. Gameplay-wise, Fusion is Super Metroid but worse. As I said, I liked Fusion for what it was. However, everything about its existence is non-essential. It did nothing except make the series worse. It's still good; it's just worse than Super Metroid in every way.

And I find it ironic that you're suddenly defending sequels when half of your posts are about how Nintendo makes too many sequels. As much as I like Metroid Fusion, Super Metroid was the one game that neither needed a sequel not was open for one.

The story in a videogame sequel is irrelevent to me.  It matters a lot in movies or books but in videogames the gameplay experience is what really matters and that's what indicates if a sequel is essential or not.  In terms of gameplay I feel that Metroid Fusion is unique enough from its predecessors that anyone interested in the series can't skip it.  A good example of unessential sequels would be the Mega Man series.  A lot of the Mega Man sequels are glorified expansion packs.  It has new levels and that's about it.  What does Mega Man 5 do that Mega Man 4 doesn't?  You could take a mishmash of levels from both games, swap them around, and it wouldn't look out of place.

Metroid Fusion isn't just More Super Metroid.  It certainly has some similar gameplay.  I obviously needs to still feel like a Metroid game.  But it does enough new things that you couldn't write it off as unnecessary.

It's not like a sequel has to completely re-invent everything.  It just has to stand out from the previous games in some way either in adding new ideas or changing around existing ideas.  A sequel is unessential if it comes across as merely extra levels to the previous game, perhaps with some small additions with minimal impact on the gameplay.

I would say that Other M is unique enough that it isn't unessential.  It just SUCKS, unfortunately.  I would recommend skipping it entirely on a quality issue, not because it's generic.

If Metroid Fusion isn't that different from Super Metroid then why does it get flack for being linear?  Obviously that change impacts the game enough to create some controversy.

nickmitchMay 10, 2012

Quote from: Ceric

Quote from: nickmitch

Quote from: Adrock

I'm curious how you define a non-essential sequel then. Plot-wise Super Metroid wrapped the series up quite nicely. Sakamoto basically said, Oh, ****... Uhhh... clones!" just so Fusion could have a story chronologically after Super Metroid.

From what I remember, Fusion plays to the idea of what happens after all the Metroids are dead. We find out that without Metroids, the X-parasites start over populating because the Metroids were actually created to keep them at bay.

I don't remember them being created for that as much as natural predators.

There's lore from Metroid Prime that implies that the Chozo either created them or were at least breeding them for that purpose. Don't remember the exact text, but it stuck out to me.

Quote from: Adrock

There was no mention of the X until Fusion. Sakamoto created a problem that didn't exist just so Fusion could exist. The series could have ended with Supet Metroid. That's what makes Fusion non-essential. Super Metroid didn't end with players wondering how the galaxy would survive without Metroids preying on the X because the X didn't exist until Fusion. Supet Metroid ended with players thinking the galaxy is finally at peace: the last Metroid was destroyed and the Space Pirates were defeated for good.

There was no mention of them because they weren't a problem. The species was on the brink of extinction because of the Metroids and only came back because Samus killed them all.
In Metroid II, Samus kills the last Metroid, but saves one baby. Were you left wondering what the hell was going  to happen to that baby? No? Then that makes Super Metroid non-essential. As for the clones, one baby makes all of the Metroids you see in Super Metroid. It's shot with Beta rays or w/e and multiplies. That's better than clones?

For the record, Other M is not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. I actually think it's rather good. Hell, it's not even the worst Metroid game. Prime Hunters has it beat HARD in that department.

AdrockMay 10, 2012

Quote from: nickmitch

There was no mention of them because they weren't a problem. The species was on the brink of extinction because of the Metroids and only came back because Samus killed them all.

There was no mention of the X because Sakamoto invented them for Metroid Fusion.

Quote:

In Metroid II, Samus kills the last Metroid, but saves one baby. Were you left wondering what the hell was going  to happen to that baby? No? Then that makes Super Metroid non-essential. As for the clones, one baby makes all of the Metroids you see in Super Metroid. It's shot with Beta rays or w/e and multiplies. That's better than clones?

Actually, yes. Metroid II's ending is specifically written for there to be a sequel. Otherwise, Samus would have decimated every last Metroid and... well, the end. Super Metroid is written as an end game with a definite conclusion. You don't start a story with "The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace..." then end said story with the last Metroid blowing up (then the entire planet blowing up) if you weren't wrapping things up. There's nothing open-ended about that.

And yes, I think asexual reproduction through radiation works within the context of Super Metroid more so than cloning in Metroid Fusion. Cloning itself isn't the problem. Had Super Metroid ended with an epilogue with clear intentions of a sequel, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Cloning after Super Metroid's very clear-cut ending is what makes cloning in Fusion a cop-out. Sakamoto painted himself into a corner. Super Metroid was clearly planned, Metroid Fusion clearly wasn't.

Ian SaneMay 10, 2012

I'll agree that from a storyline perspective the whole Metroid series makes the most sense as a trilogy.  If it was a movies series, that's where I would stop it.

I've thought more about what makes a good sequel and I think the best way to sum it up is how one would answer the question "what does this game have that the previous ones in the series did not?"  The broader the answer the better.  If you have to get to the point of saying "it has all new levels" to provide a suitable answer that's pretty weak because that's expected.  Hell, if you CAN'T say that then we're really in trouble (and some "sequels" are actually this minor).

A game that has a really lousy answer to this question is Doom II.  The answer would be "Well we've added some new enemies, there is now a variation of the shotgun with two barrels, and the level progression is done in one big blob instead of seperate episodes."  That's it?  Pretty weak.

Now compare that to a game with a really great answer to this question in Super Mario 64.  "The game is fully 3D and Mario can go in any direction to explore the levels."  BOOM!  Now THAT is doing something the previous games didn't and note how the change is so major that the answer can be summed up in one broad sentence.  The more detailed you have to go to explain the differences the less essential of a sequel it is.

nickmitchMay 10, 2012

Quote from: Adrock

Quote from: nickmitch

There was no mention of them because they weren't a problem. The species was on the brink of extinction because of the Metroids and only came back because Samus killed them all.

There was no mention of the X because Sakamoto invented them for Metroid Fusion.

Quote:

In Metroid II, Samus kills the last Metroid, but saves one baby. Were you left wondering what the hell was going  to happen to that baby? No? Then that makes Super Metroid non-essential. As for the clones, one baby makes all of the Metroids you see in Super Metroid. It's shot with Beta rays or w/e and multiplies. That's better than clones?

Actually, yes. Metroid II's ending is specifically written for there to be a sequel. Otherwise, Samus would have decimated every last Metroid and... well, the end. Super Metroid is written as an end game with a definite conclusion. You don't start a story with "The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace..." then end said story with the last Metroid blowing up (then the entire planet blowing up) if you weren't wrapping things up. There's nothing open-ended about that.

And yes, I think asexual reproduction through radiation works within the context of Super Metroid more so than cloning in Metroid Fusion. Cloning itself isn't the problem. Had Super Metroid ended with an epilogue with clear intentions of a sequel, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Cloning after Super Metroid's very clear-cut ending is what makes cloning in Fusion a cop-out. Sakamoto painted himself into a corner. Super Metroid was clearly planned, Metroid Fusion clearly wasn't.

You keep using the phrase "clear intentions for a sequel" or similar phrases. I don't think a clear, open ending is all that necessary to set up a sequel. You kind of want the story wrapped up at the end of a game. If you don't rescue the princess or save the world by the end of the game, either you lost or feel like shit, unless you're already expecting a sequel. Even in that case, it's better knowing that you saved the day in some sense, even if sinking an entire city doesn't kill of your enemies, like in Gears. Fusion keeps the story going and actually tells a good one.

AdrockMay 10, 2012

Quote from: nickmitch

I don't think a clear, open ending is all that necessary to set up a sequel. You kind of want the story wrapped up at the end of a game.

No, it's not necessary. You don't need to plan a sequel to make a sequel (though it helps). You can make infinite sequels but this isn't about whether you can. Of course, you can.The crux of this discussion is whether or not Metroid Fusion is non-essential and really, it is. Super Metroid didn't just wrap up its own story, it wrapped up the story arc of the series. The events of the game resulted in the destruction of the very reason the games existed. That's a curtain call. That's not the end of Samus; just the end of "Metroid" because there are no more. Nintendo can make a sequel (and obviously they did) but they effectively wrapped the "Metroid" series up so everything else is non-essential. Metroid Fusion didn't tell a bad story. However, its only purpose is to continue a story that already ended. That's what makes it extraneous, non-essential.

Quote from: Webmalfunction

Prime Hunters has it beat HARD in that department.

I like to pretend it doesn't exist.

nickmitchMay 10, 2012

Quote from: Adrock

Quote from: nickmitch

I don't think a clear, open ending is all that necessary to set up a sequel. You kind of want the story wrapped up at the end of a game.

No, it's not necessary. You don't need to plan a sequel to make a sequel (though it helps). You can make infinite sequels but this isn't about whether you can. Of course, you can.The crux of this discussion is whether or not Metroid Fusion is non-essential and really, it is. Super Metroid didn't just wrap up its own story, it wrapped up the story arc of the series. The events of the game resulted in the destruction of the very reason the games existed. That's a curtain call. That's not the end of Samus; just the end of "Metroid" because there are no more. Nintendo can make a sequel (and obviously they did) but they effectively wrapped the "Metroid" series up so everything else is non-essential. Metroid Fusion didn't tell a bad story. However, its only purpose is to continue a story that already ended. That's what makes it extraneous, non-essential.

I think it was starting a new story (or at least trying to). Maybe that's extra or non-essential, but I think I like Ian's definition of an essential sequel better. No offense.

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