Metroid Prime Remastered review

One of the biggest and best surprises of the recent Nintendo Direct was the shadow drop of Metroid Prime Remaster. There have been rumours for a long time that this was in development, but it turns out Nintendo went above and beyond with this release. I’ve always been a big fan of the Metroid 2D series and 3D Metroid was new for me. Today I want to bring you my review of Metroid Prime Remastered.

It’s 21 years since the release of Metroid Prime on the Gamecube back in 2002. Prior to that release Metroid had only existed in 2D, side scrolling, in the classic metroidvania style. Retro Studios successfully reimagined Metroid as a 3D shooter, with a healthy dose of puzzling, successfully converting the series from one genre to another, while maintaining the feel of classic Metroid titles. Looking back at the top games on the GameCube platform, it’s still one of the best games on that platform.

Retro Studios have a great reputation in the industry, and while Metroid Prime 4 has been rebooted and developed started again, Metroid Prime Remaster is an example everyone can point to and say “This is how a Remaster should be done”. Whether you’ve played it before, or you are new to Metroid, this is one to have in your Nintendo Switch Collection.

First impressions go a long way, and Metroid Prime Remaster makes a great one. Samus docs onto a Space Pirate Ship, and you are immediately struck by the visuals. Many have complained Nintendo Switch can’t handle great graphics and performance, but Metroid Prime Remaster is one example of debunking that myth. From top to bottom Metroid Prime Remaster has been given an upgrade; the environments, Samus and the enemies you encounter. If you’re coming to this Remaster from the original then you’ll feel right at home, but if you are new to the series then you’d be forgiven for mistaking this as a 2023 release.

The overall package looks good, but it’s all down to the finest details including the rain drops on Samus’ suit, the condensation in the visor and the metallic nature of Saums’ arm cannon. It’s not all rosey though, as one of the original developers has complained about the door animation. This may seem like a minor issue, but for the developers who poured themselves into the game, this one stings.

Regarding the gameplay the immediate impact of this upgrade is the twin stick controls to bring it in line with modern shooters. The original Metroid Prime came out before console games had figured out how to control first person shooters, even though PC shooters had figured this out long before, it took some time for console developers to come to an agreement on how controlling first person characters should work in a 3D space. Nintendo have given us the choice between twin stick controls and classic controls, but I don’t seem any reason to go back to classic controls unless you really want that authetic feel. The game also supports motion controls, but unfortunately they don’t translate as well as they did on Nintendi Wii. Personally, I’d stick with the twin stick controls, but it’s good to have options.

Outside of the controls the exploration and shooting is the main attraction of Metroid Prime. Retro did a wonderful job with the original, keeping the essence of 2D Metroid titles and translating that to the 3D space. This isn’t your straight forward first person shooter, there is plenty of exploration, puzzles and environmental narrative. Samus loses her abilities at the start of the game, and much like other Metroid titles you have to progress through the game and regain your abilities, and this allows you to get to new areas of the map.

One of the innovations of the original is here and in tact with the lock on aiming ability. This was different to the first person shooters of the day, like Halo Combat Evolved for example. This allows you to focus in on single enemies, allowing you to side step enemies and essentially dance around them, similar to gameplay in Ocarina of Time for Link. There are plenty of parallels to draw between early 3D Zelda games and Metroid Prime, combat being one of them.

Scanning is a huge feature of Metroid Prime, and it’s a polarising feature. Samus can scan the environment to pick up valuable information about the environment, and much of the story telling is done through these scannables. Personally, I like this, it’s unqiue when looked through the lens of 2022, and provides Nintendo the ability to tell a richer story without having to pay for expensive voice over and animation. It’s not for everyone, and you can work your way through the whole game without interacting with this feature if its not your cup of tea. I would recommend it though, because there’s some great narrative contained within the scannables.

The base game is great, and pretty much an essential Nintendo Switch title. Nintendo have added in soem valuable extras into the game too including concept art from the game’s development process. There is also an audio gallery as well as a 3D model viewer. As you discover more enemies in the game, you can jump back to the 3D model viewer and check them out. The concept art is really rich too with concept art from the original 2002 Gamecube title as well as the remaster in their own galleries, so Metroid fans have plenty to enjoy and it’s neatly organised.

Overall, Metroid Prime Remaster is a triumph. It was good back in its day, but Nintendo and Retro Studios have managed to make it even better, bringing it up to the standard of 2023 games, while improving on the original in almost every way. This is hopefully good news concerning Metroid Prime 4, with the Retro team getting back into the groove with this Remaster. Apparently Nintendo has had this sitting on the shelf since 2021, so Retro maybe further along with 4 than we may think. But that’s the future, and this is now… Metroid Prime Remastered is a fantastic game, and one you should definitely check out.

Developer: Retro Studios
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release date: 8th February 2023