The Metroid Prime Trilogy is a series of games centered around Samus Aran, a space bounty hunter and nerd-boy paramour. The storied history of this series's production is well known. Many doubted the decision to move the franchise into first-person. Gamers wondered if Retro Studios had the talent to deliver Nintendo-like quality on this esteemed franchise. They assumed that Metroid Prime was doomed to failure. But, most importantly, many had to eat mounds of crow as Metroid Prime released to critical acclaim and is still, to this day, one of the most acclaimed console First Person Shooters ever. Two equally-stellar sequels brought the Prime story arc to a conclusion, and forever impacted console first-person games. With the Metroid Prime Trilogy compilation, series fans and newcomers alike now have the opportunity to play the greatest available version of all three games.
The story of the Prime series follows Samus Aran’s exploits on the planets of Tallon IV and Aether, and with the Galactic Federation. On Tallon IV, Samus discovers the Phazon research of the Space Pirates, which becomes important to the chronology of the series, and is confronted by many familiar and new nemeses. Samus travels to Aether to find out the mystery of a missing troop of marines, but only finds a planet torn in two. And finally, Samus travels to help the galactic federation with a supercomputer infected with a virus, but finds herself in an adventure that spans across three separate planets.
The Metroid Prime series were not only true to its source but also stood as a scathing indictment of console First Person Shooters. Retro Studios and Shigeru Miyamoto envisioned a truly deep and immersive game that allowed players to really experience the game world around them instead of focusing on shooting the next enemy.
In the design of Metroid Prime, mechanics and elements that are usually disregarded in First Person Shooters became the focal point, while the actual shooting took a backseat. Platforming, level design, boss battles, puzzle solving, and the surrounding environment were meticulously crafted to recreate the exact same feel that the original Metroid and Super Metroid featured. This made Prime a more cerebral game than some of the more action-focused competition. Levels were no longer two-dimensional planes that you simply traversed to get to the next waypoint; instead you had to move through the environment via 3 dimensional puzzles that needed to be solved. This same approach was brought to the boss battles, which are some of the most memorable moments in gaming.
The HUD also became an area that Retro and Miyamoto wanted to vastly improve. Instead of an overlay that simply shows player status and crosshairs, Metroid Prime features a HUD as Samus herself would see it. Her HUD is the curved display of her helmet with holographic overlay that displays everything from her status to the status of the environment around her. The developers also never forgot that the player’s HUD is as viewed from the inside of a helmet, so things like rain, mist, steam, and even guts from a destroyed enemies splatter on the glass and obscure your vision. When the lighting is right, Samus's face is reflected in her visor, which is a genius effect. Also, upgrades are available which add new depth to the game and new ways to experience the Metroid world.
So the question is; “How does Metroid Prime Trilogy make the experience even better?” It’s all about the controls. Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes both were handicapped by the Gamecube’s awkward single-analog controls with lock-on. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption released on the Nintendo Wii, and featured motion and infrared-enabled controls that vastly improved the gameplay. Many would argue that it’s even an improvement over the standard dual-analog control. Needless to say, the original two games feel like they were made to be controlled like this. Metroid Prime is all about immersive game design and feeling your interactions with the world is a huge boon to that philosophy.
There are a few different control options, which are broken down into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. The only way to play is with the advanced setting since it reduces the bounding box to the smallest size and makes aiming and turning much easier. Lock-on can also be turned on or off, and each way has its pros and cons and will simply depend on player preference. The controls work fluidly and a steady framerate prevents disorientation and loss of control fidelity. Jump and Shoot can be mapped to either the 'B-trigger' or 'A-button', depending on preference. You can also decide which of the '+' and '-' buttons switches weapons and which switches visors. This level of customization offers a comfortable transition for right- and left-handed gamers.
The controls are not the only improvements in the game. The first two titles benefit from the increased power of the Wii. Better texture clarity and lighting really show. Prime and Echoes also have been upgraded to support 16:9 widescreen and are presented in progressive scan. Even Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has slight graphical upgrades. The sound is also very well designed. The music is moody and atmospheric and melds well with the environments and set pieces that dot the games. Each indigenous creature encountered has their own cry or noise, and all the sound effects are appropriate. However, the most outstanding quality of each title's presentation is the art. The artists at Retro are very talented, and it shows from every little nuance in these games. Lighting, texture, mood, and atmosphere are all amalgamated to produce a gorgeous masterpiece.
Retro Studios also added some little things that increase the value and replayability. There is an achievement system added to each game that gives players points for reaching certain predetermined goals. These points can be used to unlock some very enticing bonuses, such as concept art. The multiplayer in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is also greatly improved with the Wii Remote, but even with this improvement it still fairly primitive Deathmatch and stands as the only weakness this title has.
Metroid Prime Trilogy is a compilation of three high-quality titles and is worth the $50 price tag on that merit alone. However, there are many additions that improve the gameplay and value. The Wii Remote control scheme makes the gameplay as fresh as it was when Metroid Prime first released. The art galleries and achievements add value to what is already the best value proposition this year. And dont forget the packaging which feature a beautiful tin case and miniture art book. The Prime series represents a revolution in the way first-person game design is approached, and if you have not experienced it, then now is the time to jump in.