Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Ben's Gaming Memories & Beginnings - Metroid Prime

Today we have a double series post! With the announcement AND release of Metroid Prime Remaster, I wanted to take a look back at what Metroid Prime itself means to me. You see, not only do I have a story to tell related to Metroid Prime as a whole, but it was also my first Metroid game period! In fact, I was one of those people who didn't even know who Samus was in Smash Bros 64, and I was surprised to learn she was female because of her description. Up until then I didn't even know anyone who knew what Metroid was -- but things changed when I reached middle school. So yeah, not only do I have great memories from the game, and the Prime series as a whole, but it's also where it technically all began for me.

The first time I actually saw Metroid Prime was at Walmart. You see, back in the 2000s we still had game demos playable at locations other than stores like GameStop or Best Buy. Walmart was usually the go to when you lived in small town areas such as myself, and they always had the latest and greatest on display. When the GameCube released, Metroid Prime AND Metroid Fusion were both on display. The GCN was setup near the end of the shelves to the right, and the GBA was setup just to the left of it for someone else to play. Of course I was mainly interested in playing Super Mario Sunshine at the time, but sometimes I'd walk up to the demo and find someone had already started up Metroid Prime. Well, I sucked at it, and simply couldn't figure out the controls! So I gave it little to no thought, backed out of the demo, and went over to whatever game I actually I cared about. As for Metroid Fusion? I kept dying non stop, so it too didn't hold my interest.

Some time after my first experience with Metroid, my friend Keith invited me to his house one day, and he wanted to show me his Super Metroid game. Not sure why he chose it, but I remember he handed me the controller, and let me just go to town with the fully decked out Samus. I thought it was cool that she could fly and all, but until then I never really had that much of an interest. I mean, I did think the game was cool, and had fun playing it that day -- but I assumed I would never be able to get into the series itself. Then the DS came out, and Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt demo was released with it, and finally I decided to make more of a serious attempt at getting at least one of the games. So, once again I went over to my friend's house, and played a little of Metroid Prime 2.

While I don't remember the exact timing of things... I know it wasn't too long after that I convinced my parents to let me rent the first Metroid Prime from the local rental place, but playing it wasn't that simple. They were funny about what I played or watched, so I feared it was something they wouldn't approve of at the time, AND my GameCube was actually setup at my mom's work office. My grandma was on duty that night (as she managed it on weekends), so I did get to go there and play it some -- but it wasn't until the weekdays that I actually got to sit down and give it a real chance. 

Quickly I realized the controls weren't as complicated as I originally had thought, and felt stupid for having such a hard time. Sure, the lock on mechanic took some time to get used to, but that was really it. The game's dark atmosphere, and creepy alien setting made me afraid to advance at times, but I also found I didn't want to put the game down. Exploration was a lot of fun, and the boss battles were just insane! Getting new power ups allowed me to access new areas I couldn't reach before, and it was always fun to get something new like a beam upgrade. Then there was the scanning... I became obsessed with finding and scanning EVERYTHING in the world, and I was determined to complete the game 100% by doing so! It made collecting things fun for me, and I actually enjoyed learning about the world. Sadly I didn't own the game so I was stuck on limited time with it, but needless to say I did keep renting it over the next year or so. It was everything I didn't know I needed on the GameCube, and I loved every second of it. And then I rented Metroid Prime 2.

Honestly, I'm not as big of a fan of Prime 2, but I still did enjoy it. The multiplayer mode was cool, and I checked it out some with my dad, but overall it didn't hook me as much simply because I wasn't as big of a fan of the dark world it introduced. It wasn't until Metroid Prime Hunters got released that I was as drawn in as much as I was with Prime 1, but that was mainly due to the multiplayer and characters. Honestly Hunters is still my "favorite" Metroid game of all time, but again, that's mainly due to the memories and countless hours I spent playing it online. Technically it was my first online shooter -- so that can be a topic for another day!

When Prime 3 came out, the motion controls are what interested me the most. It was a let down that the online multiplayer hadn't carried over from Hunters, but the game itself was a lot of fun. Motion controls were PERFECT for the Prime series, and they allowed you to do new things you couldn't before. For example, you could lock onto an enemy, and shoot at enemies behind them by simply physically aiming at them! It made some things so much easier, and sped up the gameplay quite a bit. So, when Metroid Prime Trilogy was announced, I knew I had to have it.

Prime Trilogy is easily one of my favorite Wii games. GCN Ports of Prime 1 and 2 bundled with Prime 3, and updated with motion controls (and some extra new features) was simply amazing! Finally I actually owned a copy of both Prime 1 and 2 to go back to, and the controls just felt great. It was more like playing a shooter on a PC, rather than playing a classic tank control style shooter. Finally I was able to continue playing one of my favorite games, and I finally had a reason to sit down and finish Metroid Prime 2. Everything about the collection was simply great, and it became one of the few Wii games I would keep returning to.

Now here we are today, and Prime 1 is out on the Switch, and it's everything I could've asked for! A remaster of a true classic, with multiple control options, and on a modern console. It's the perfect starting place for newcomers, and great for long time fans as well. I'm still in shock it actually happened, but I'm happy it did! Sadly I can't pick it up at the time of this writing, but I plan on fixing as soon as I get the chance.

Thanks Nintendo! Thanks for making another dream come true!