Metroid: Other M (Wii)
The announcement at E3 2009 was met with lots of hype. Nintendo and Team Ninja collaborated to create a new Metroid game. But one year later and shortly before its release it became already clear that Metroid: Other M wouldn't be all that. The game has been analyzed to death in the aftermath, so I keep things short here: It's an absolutely terrible Metroid game that doesn't do the series' legacy justice and should have never been made and released, because we still face the consequences of these decisions today; the IP has been effectively shelved ever since then. The body of this review will be first and foremost about looking at Metroid: Other M as a standalone game and how it fares as that, but of course the judgment in the table below will not exclude Metroid's legacy.
Metroid: Other M is very story-focused. The length of the cutscenes amounts to ~100 minutes which is a significant portion for a playtime of roughly ten hours. What's being served is pretty average for a science-fiction story and doesn't contain any big surprises. What sticks out as a negative is the justification for why Samus Aran doesn't use her full equipment from the get-go. The explanation is that the space station needs to be investigated first, so carelessly using too much firepower could potentially lead to unforeseen destruction and instability. This makes sense for missiles and bombs, but it's ridiculous when it comes to protective gear which Samus also doesn't use until the commander of the mission, Adam Malkovich, allows her to use it.
The progress is very linear. Enter a save room, get your next destination shown on the map, make your way through a few rooms and you are at the next save point; rinse and repeat. The player can pick up quite a few optional upgrades along the way, so there's a reason to pay attention to the environment. If it wasn't for that, the game would be quite a stinker. The frequency of story-enabled perks and optional upgrades keeps things interesting. The game is controlled with the Wii Remote held sideways which means that players need to navigate in a 3D space with a d-pad. This is a bit awkward, but the developers compensated for that by creating "running lanes" for Samus that do not necessitate a lot of diagonal input. What's more of an issue is that missiles can only be fired by pointing at the TV, so players need to change their grip while at the same time Samus cannot move.
Another odd design choice is that enemies do not drop health or ammo, instead the Wii Remote can be held vertically while holding down the A button to replenish energy and missiles. The former can only be charged if it has dropped below a certain threshold. This is also the basis for the game's hard mode that removes all optional upgrades and forces players to make due with a single health bar and a max capacity of ten missiles. Since this poses a problem for the epilogue, it was scrapped altogether in hard mode.
Metroid: Other M is essentially what happens when a developer thinks that story is the most important thing, so everything else needs to be dumbed down. Or at the very least, freedom needs to be taken away from the player in order to control the flow of the story better. This is completely at odds with the essence of Metroid which grants enormous freedom to the player. When you look at Other M on its own, you pretty much have a game that is very similar to the Prince of Persia trilogy that released on various systems during the sixth generation. This isn't bad quality, but it's nowhere near what people expect from Metroid.
|Controls||10||Weird design choice to go Wiimote-only. Most of the controls
work, but the limitations become apparent in certain situations.
|Gameplay||The essence of Metroid gets thrown under the bus in this 3D game
in third person perspective. Still enjoyable despite linearity.
|Story||Terrible by Metroid standards, but on its own it's an okay sci-fi story.
Some very poor justification for unlocks of upgrades.
|Single-player||Regular upgrades and relatively good pacing are incentive enough
to keep going. The simple action entertains.
|Graphics||Among the best Wii games on a technical level, but the setting of
a space station notably limits the boundaries for the art design.
|Sound||A different and more quiet type of soundtrack that sorely misses
memorable compositions that Metroid is known for.
|Value||About 10 hours to complete the main story and its epilogue that
allows you to freely explore and discover new areas.
|Replay Value||A hard mode with stupid design that forces the game to end prematurely.
Normal mode works as a dumbed down Metroid experience.
|Score||6||A game that does not honor its past and as a result cannot live up
to the very high expectations that people have for Metroid.