Metroid Fusion (Game Boy Advance)
Also known as Metroid 4, this game is interesting in hindsight because it already contains traces of the cancer that would wreck the series in 2010. In this mission of Samus Aran, she has to put up with a talkative AI and holds short inner monologues. The other big change is that a map gets added each time the player reaches a new sector of the Biological Space Lab. The director, Yoshio Sakamoto, apparently doesn't like planets. Thankfully, it's only a portion of the map that gets added and the target destination can rarely be reached on a straight-forward path, so a feeling of freedom and figuring things out for yourself remains, even if it isn't on the same level anymore. Additionally, you can go back to previous areas to search for hidden upgrades, so Fusion is nowhere near as limited as Other M.
This being a GBA game means that it had only six buttons available to it, unlike Super Metroid (a.k.a. Metroid 3) which could use eight. The developers tackled this problem in an intelligent manner. The Speed Booster activates automatically after running in a direction for a distance of about two screens. Missiles can be fired by holding the R button which is more convenient than the item select in Super Metroid. You can't shoot straight up while crouching anymore, but this is hardly missed.
Other than that, it's business as usual. Find your way through a labyrinth of rooms and corridors, and kill bosses to obtain new upgrades that enhance your abilities and/or firepower. The difficulty was slightly increased in comparison to Super Metroid which is a plus point. All of this is done on a very high level of quality, hence why I am giving Metroid Fusion a 9 despite its blunders in terms of story and handholding. It would be a mistake to ignore this game because it was made for a handheld.
|Controls||10||Uses fewer buttons than Super Metroid, but needs to make
hardly any concessions due to intelligent design.
|Gameplay||Continuation of the Metroid formula, but with clearer directions.
Difficulty is slightly above Super Metroid.
|Story||The spiritual predecessor to Metroid: Other M. Samus Aran
talks to an AI and has inner monologues.
|Single-player||The next destination is always marked on the map, but getting
there is hardly ever straight-forward.
|Graphics||Varied environments despite taking place on a space station.
A couple of boss fights are affected by slowdowns.
|Sound||Short on remixes and with a different style than previous games,
but the soundtrack complements the setting and gameplay.
|Value||Feels a tad bit short for the first playthrough, but many
hidden upgrades almost make up for it.
|Replay Value||No additional difficulty settings or alternate endings.
The most annoying thing is the unskippable dialogue.
|Score||9||The increased emphasis on story is the greatest weakness of
Metroid Fusion. Otherwise a fantastic game.