Never Played: METROID FUSION
I’ve been a huge fan of the Metroid games since a little kid, well, since Super Metroid obviously. If I had to pick a favorite gaming franchise Metroid would probably be my choice (maybe second only to Street Fighter). Metroid Fusion was the one and only Metroid game I had never played before, so this blog is definitely a good excuse to finally do so. Metroid Fusion was the first of two Metroid games for the GBA, releasing in 2002 to amazing reviews and decent sales (which is pretty much the ratio for every Metroid game ever created). It was developed by Nintendo Research and Development 1, who also developed Super Metroid (which this game reminds me more of than any other Metroid game). Metroid Fusion is considered to be the latest in the timeline of Samus Aran’s journey.
Graphically Metroid Fusion is quite impressive, with excellent use of color and beautiful sprites. The art style reminds me a lot of Super Metroid, but with more crisp and clear outlines. Bosses in particular look awesome and intimidating, even on the small GBA screen. The cutscenes are nice too, almost manga-like in style. The soundtrack is just as brilliant, with good use of suspenseful tracks during certain plot points. Sound effects of weapons, doors and bosses are all impressive and immersive considering the limited technical abilities of early handhelds like the GBA.
Where Metroid Fusion excels the most (like all Metroid games) is in gameplay and level design. The game takes place on a single space station that is in lockdown, with different sealed off quadrants, each with their own security clearances. To progress through the plot you must gain different clearance levels to get access to areas you could not before. You get that access by gaining new abilites that allow you to work your way into the new areas. For example, once you have missiles you can blow up rubble to get to a previously unreachable area. Or once you have ice weaponry you can freeze enemies and use them as jumping platforms to get up to a room you previously couldn’t. These mechanics reward the player for smart thinking and exploration. Often these new weapons are found by defeating bosses, which Metroid Fusion is in no shortage of. Several of these bosses will be very memorable for me due to their crazy designs or the fun mechanics of their fights. Gedo X was an awesome fight (I won’t spoil the details for you) which I had a lot of trouble with at first. Nightmare X was frustrating difficult for me and there was a point where I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to complete this review or not. His amazing gravity controlling mechanics and weird design combine to make him one of the most memorable bosses ever. Speaking of memorable bosses, Dark Samus (known in this version as SA-X) has some particularly awesome moments in this entry of Metroid. She’s constantly stalking you throughout the game and when she’s near you you must hide or run for your life.
These moments can be very suspenseful and sometimes require very smart play by the player. As difficult as Metroid Fusion can be at times, I must commend it for doing a stellar job at explaining mechanics to the player and walking them through how a Metroid game works. The pacing also is top notch. There is a steady stream of new weapons and abilities that fit their way perfectly into the progression of the game’s level design.
If there was a Metroid game I could suggest to new players who want to get into the series, it would be this one. Not only because it is a great example of how amazing Metroid games can be, but also because of the great job of direction the game gives you. Metroid Fusion is one of the best handheld games I’ve ever played, its one of the best Metroid games ever, which is really saying something.