I know what you’re thinking. “Here we go, Nintendo quickly polishing another old game to stick out on the Game Boy Advance and make another quick buck.” However, this time you’re wrong. Metroid: Zero Mission is more than just an easy graphical update of the first instalment in the famous Metroid franchise.
From the very beginning, the fluidity of the game will be instantly recognisable to those who’ve play Metroid Fusion. It’s the usual scrolling shoot-‘em-up/exploration that we all know and love, with the hardcore Game Boy Advance processor pushing it along at a staggering rate. You often wonder exactly how they managed to pull this off on the NES.
The world map is based around four main areas. This maybe a little disappointing to those who have experienced Fusion’s complex array of caverns along side the several main areas, but the gameplay experienced within these maps is still as remarkable as ever. The usual item-hunting rules apply, as Samus Aran begins the game with very little armourment as usual, and also her abilities greatly reduced. The design of the maps around these elements is flawless. Only after obtaining certain items will new parts of the map become available, and you’ll always remember where all those little hidden bits you couldn’t get to before are.
Metroid: Zero Mission uses these areas as opposed to levels in the usual Metroid tradition, and the difficulty curve within this is brilliant. With minor bosses appearing seemingly randomly from within the first ten minutes of play, and the four main bosses imposing quite a threat. Two of the main bosses, in particular, can be quite troublesome and, being the only instance of this in the game, the control style doesn’t often help. Having to hold the R button whilst pressing B to fire missiles isn’t the easiest position to maintain for extended periods for those of us with fully-grown hands, and so when playing on the SP I found that after two certain bosses I had tiny bruises on the palm of my right hand from holding the R button so tightly!
Once having completed the original NES Metroid mission, there is more lying in wait… For the first time, you get to play as Samus without her Bounty-hunting armour. Armed only with an emergency pistol, the new objective of the game is stealth. Never out of place with the visual style of Metroid, this section of the game is demanding of praise entirely by itself.
The graphics in the title are obviously spotless. Being a NES update, there was a fair amount of scope for upgrading and all of it has been done beautifully. The animation is superb and the variety of design on display is evident of a long, long pre-production – originally at least. The sound is commendable for what can be done with a solitary speaker, and above average for the usual Game Boy Advance guff.
When taking in the title as a whole, with the depth of gameplay and the stunning visuals it has to offer, it would be impossible not to see this as groundbreaking work for the Game Boy Advance. However, for all intents and purposes, this is a remake, and due to which, this title’s Originality rating has caused some distress. Only when completing the title and unlocking the original NES version of Metroid will you realise what a revolution for the series this update has been. This is truly stunning work, which is only let down by an incredibly short life-span.