When you think of Nintendo, what three video game franchises come to mind? Mario is the obvious one, which is still going strong after milking every conceivable genre imaginable. Zelda would have to be number two, with each addition becoming an instant classic. So what about that number three spot? It, of course, belongs to Metroid; the only other Nintendo franchise that has the pure system selling power of Mario and Zelda. With the release of Metroid Prime back in 2002, the series was revitalized after an eight year hiatus, and received enough critical acclaim to guarantee it that number three spot for years to come. The Metroid Prime Trilogy contains the original Metroid Prime, as well as Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and is an unbelievable package that every Wii owner should have in their collection.
The protagonist of the Metroid series is the enigmatic bounty hunter, Samus Aran. Armed with her trademark powersuit and a surplus of deadly weaponry, the mysterious heroine has been a staple for Nintendo ever since her debut in 1986. After the smash hit Super Metroid was released in 1994 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, however, the series seemingly died. Not only was there no new Metroid games made for the SNES, but the series missed the entire Nintendo 64 era as well! The only satisfaction diehard Metroid fans had was found in playing as Samus in Super Smash Bros. Thankfully, with the release of the Nintendo Gamecube, the Metroid drought was ended.
Metroid Prime was an important game, of that there is no doubt. It brought Samus into 3d, just like Super Mario 64 and Zelda: Ocarina of Time did for their respective heroes. Both of those games are clear cut classics, and Metroid Prime definitely falls under the same category. The game does away with the side scrolling action found in previous Metroid games in favor of a first person perspective. At first, some were put off by the fact that Metroid was being turned into a first person shooter. Then, they played the game. The game's developer, Retro Studios, has proclaimed time and time again that Metroid Prime was more of a first person adventure than a first person shooter, and they're exactly right. Although you play the game through Samus' eyes, with her visor composing your HUD, the exploring elements found in the side scrolling 2d adventure are still present.
The transition between blasting enemies with your powerful arm cannon and solving environmental puzzles is seamless. The balance struck between combat and puzzle solving is somewhat reminiscent to the Zelda series, and keeps the game from feeling like just another shooter. There are also platforming sections, thanks to the return of the infamous morphball upgrade, which allows Samus to roll into a tiny ball to fit into tight spaces. This switches the game out to a third person perspective, and is a vital tool for Samus' success. There is plenty of variety in Metroid Prime, yet it's never overwhelming; it all adds up to a pretty unique experience that has redefined what people think of when they hear the word "Metroid".
Metroid Prime actually takes place just after the first Metroid game, and before Metroid II: Return of Samus. Answering a distress call from a space station orbiting the planet Talon IV, Samus decides to investigate. It doesn't take long for Samus to encounter Ridley, the General of the Space Pirates, who she defeated in the first Metroid (and who has appeared as a boss in almost every Metroid game). Following her foe to the planet below, Samus makes it her mission to stop whatever it is the Space Pirates are up to. The story is told almost exclusively through the examination of random objects with your scan visor, which will fill Samus in on the background of the planet, and the mysterious substance known as Phazon. The fact that there isn't an overt authority figure telling Samus what to do and where to go is actually quite refreshing. It gives the game an isolated, solitary mood, which just adds to the overall experience.
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes deviates from this narrative technique slightly, in that Samus is helped by the Luminoth, a highly advanced race that is nearing extinction. Although it's nice to have some guidance so players don't get stuck, it does take away slightly from the desolate mood of the first game. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption takes it even further, introducing voiced dialogue, and quite a bit of it, too (considering there is none in the first game). The differentiation in story telling between the three games is actually a good thing for this package, as it helps separate them from one another. Since the only story to be found in MP1 is found through the visor scans, you have to look for it if you want to experience it. In contrast, MP3 has a more standard way of getting its story across, with voiced dialogue and traditional cut scenes. Thus, no matter how you like your story told, the Trilogy has got you covered.MP2 is the only game of the bunch to feature multiplayer. It feels like an unnecessary addition, and just pales in comparison to the single player experience. However, the Trilogy still offers outstanding replayability without an engaging multiplayer experience. All three games are fairly lengthy, especially for lore nerds who will spend time scanning every possible thing with the scan visor. Also, in order to get the "true" endings, you have to collect every missile and energy tank to achieve 100% completion. On top of that, the Trilogy adds an achievement-like system. After completing certain tasks, such as killing a boss, you'll get a credit, which can be exchanged for bonuses such as concept art and soundtracks. It's a nice addition that completionists will certainly enjoy, and it's always nice seeing that little icon pop up after killing a boss.
Gameplay is pretty much the same in all three games, featuring plenty of shooting action and puzzle solving. Throughout each game, Samus will acquire an abundance of new equipment, including new beam types (such as ice and plasma), new powersuits (such as the gravity suit), and even new visors (such as the x-ray visor). Samus will also become equipped with weaponry found in past Metroid games, including missiles, bombs, and her grappling beam. The biggest addition to the first two games is the Wii controller scheme, which was introduced in MP3. With it, you use the Wiimote to aim, and the nunchuk to walk around. It may take a few minutes to get used to, but once you do, it's much more favorable than the Gamecube controller, which only had one joystick. In fact, the aiming of the Wiimote in the Metroid Prime Trilogy is probably the best yet for the Wii; a standard that all Nintendo first person shooters should be measured against. Still, it wouldn't have hurt Retro Studios to include the option to use the Gamecube controller for MP1 and 2, since there will some people who just prefer it.
Back when Metroid Prime was first released, the graphics were nothing short of breathtaking. Even today, they remain as some of the best visuals for the Gamecube, and still look pretty darn good. The Trilogy offers 480p widescreen support, and although it's a great addition, it's still clearly not HD. Nonetheless, the graphics still impress at times. The visor really makes you feel like you're Samus, with water droplets and alien blood splatter occasionally running down your vision, and steam appropriately fogging you up. When there are bright flashes, you can even see the reflection of Samus' eyes. The environments are beautiful and varied, ranging from the lava filled hollow of the Magmoor Caverns, to the serene, snow filled oasis known as Phendrana Drifts. And those are both just in the first game. MP3 clearly looks the best, as it utilizes the Wii's hardware, but all three games still look impressive, even by today's standards.
All three games boast incredibly magnificent soundtracks. The musical scores go from eerie and cryptic to heart-poundingly intense, and everything in between. There are also quite a few remixes from the old Metroid games, which add that nostalgia factor this is just so engrossing. The sound effects are appropriately sci-fi, and add to the overall atmosphere as well. The voice acting in MP3 isn't the greatest in a video game, but it's not terrible…and it is a nice change for a Nintendo franchise to introduce some voiced dialogue (*cough* Zelda *cough*). Samus doesn't talk, which does keep some of that isolated mood found in MP1. Overall, all of the soundtracks are stellar, and will stick with you long after you've completed all three games.
There are only so many games made like Super Mario 64 and Zelda: Ocarina of Time that are able to completely reinvent an already well established series. Metroid Prime is that type of game. It successfully brought the series into the realm of 3d gaming, giving it new life, yet still retaining that distinctive Metroid feel that made the first few games so popular. There is no denying that Metroid Prime is a classic. In the Metroid Prime Trilogy, you not only get this innovative, original masterpiece, but you also get Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption; two games which are excellent in their own right. Add in an improved Wiimote control scheme, 480p widescreen support, and the fact that the entire package is just $60, and you've got the greatest deal in gaming since The Orange Box. If you own a Wii, then you need to own the Metroid Prime Trilogy.