New Metroid is bold step for Nintendo



Zach Walton

Samus Aran isn’t a silent heroine anymore, and she has a lot to say.

“Metroid: Other M” is the latest game in the 24-year-old franchise that sees interstellar bounty hunter Samus Aran eradicating space pirates, metroids and all other enemies of galactic peace.

“Other M” was first lauded for bringing in Team Ninja to handle development alongside Nintendo. Many saw this as a sign of Nintendo growing up and treating their characters with the maturity they deserve. The focus on hardcore action and storytelling excited some, but led others to question Nintendo’s direction. “Other M” is an interesting experiment that works sometimes and fails others.

The setting this time is that Samus is called by a distress signal to a Galactic Federation ship. She meets a Federation Marine squad that includes Adam Malkovich, a character that many may remember from the GameBoy Advance title, “Metroid Fusion.”

The game begins to falter here. Nintendo is new to storytelling in their games, so it falls almost flat. It succeeded in “Fusion” because of the lack of voice acting and the inclusion a proper antagonist. “Other M” has a hit-or-miss voice cast and an unclear antagonist to give any real meaning to the player’s actions.

The gameplay more than makes up for the story’s shortcomings by being as visceral and exciting as any Team Ninja game. The gameplay is definitely simplified by its single Wii remote control scheme but it never lacks any of the challenge found in previous “Metroid” or Team Ninja games.

The only real problem is that the game never lets the player upgrade Samus’ melee abilities in anyway and the new weapons just deal more damage instead of adding any new move sets. It would work fine like this in any previous Metroid game but it feels somewhat shallow in this context compared to Team Ninja’s “Ninja Gaiden” series.

All complaints aside, the gameplay decision to control the game with a single Wii remote works extraordinarily well. The controls are smooth and responsive. The transition from third-person to first-person by pointing the Wii remote at the screen is also instant and gratifying with the sudden aesthetic change.

The decision to buy this game really boils down to how much of a “Metroid” fan somebody is. If the player has been with Metroid since its inception or at least played the GameBoy Advance “Metroids,” they will feel right at home. Those who have only played the “Metroid Prime” series may be turned off somewhat by the drastic change. “Other M” feels like “Metroid Fusion” in 3D with a first-person viewpoint tacked on for puzzle solving.

Regardless, the quality of “Other M” isn’t the main point here. Nintendo has given one of their mainstay franchise characters a voice. After years of focusing on gameplay and fun, but never on a story, Nintendo may be taking a bold step into serious, mature storytelling. We can only hope that Nintendo pursues this further with their other story-driven series like “The Legend of Zelda.”

Metroid: Other M gives longtime silent heroine Samus Aran a voice. She may not have the best voice but it’s a voice that Nintendo needed to let out.