Thursday, June 30, 2011

Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA) Retro Review

Continuing our celebratory bash of all things Game Boy Advance, it's also the 25th anniversary of the Metroid franchise. No better way to applaud both than a retro review of the second game on the list of best GBA games. It's Metroid: Zero Mission, and spoiler alert: it's good.

Samus Aran's First Mission is A Success

When it was released in 1986 back on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Metroid was an innovative title. It brought with it an entirely different game style than players had been used to. The goal was simple-- upgrade your equipment so you could access new parts of planet Zebes. However, all of the game looked the same, the game had a punishing difficulty, and there was no map to assist you. Nintendo felt this title was worth revisiting, and revisit they did with Metroid: Zero Mission for the Game Boy Advance. With colorful maps, helpful item locators, and brand-new post-game content, this is the definitive version of the NES classic.

Bounty hunter Samus Aran's first ever mission has her infiltrating the harsh and unforgiving planet Zebes to take down an entity known simply as Mother Brain. It isn't going to be as simple as entering a room and blasting her to Hell, unfortunately. Instead, Samus is going to need to upgrade her equipment if she wants half a shot at fulfilling her mission objective. The wildlife is dangerous, the caverns are labyrinthine, and the dangers are many.

Samus Aran explores the depths of Brinstar.

There's a plethora of upgrades to collect in Zero Mission from charge shots to new beams to missile upgrades, health-boosting energy tanks, high jump boots, spin attacks, and morph ball bombs to name a list. As you earn new abilities, the game opens up considerably. Previously unreachable areas become ascertainable. The game does an adequate job of directing you in a general sense on where to head next without actually holding your hand the entire way. There's an abundance of save rooms and map rooms to make getting around Zebes much easily. Still, there's plenty of challenge to be had just staying alive much less finding your way about the hostile planet.

The planet Zebes is split up between various zones. There's Brinstar, the starting area, Crateria, Kraid, Ridley, Tourian, and more to explore. Each zone has its own set of enemies and dangers to get acquainted with. Each zone also has its own theme from Brinstar's cavernous areas to Crateria's aquatic puzzles.

This centipede has its eye on Samus.

Metroid: Zero Mission takes much less time to beat than the NES original mostly due to the fact that you have a map to assist you this go around. The game can be completed with 100% items collected in less than three hours. However, your first time will probably take upwards of 5-10 hours. Multiple playthroughs will reveal secret endings just for beating the game under certain conditions. Getting everything in the game will show off Samus in a more revealing outfit while doing the bare essentials will not reward the player as much.

New to this rendition of Metroid is an entirely new post-game episode where Samus' ship crash-lands on the Space Pirates' planet. Samus, armed only with her Zero Suit, must stealthily creep through the corridors of the planet undetected. A final battle with the boss of the game with all of her powers bestowed upon her adds up to one hot finale. This new change to the game is a welcomed one, and adds a solid breath of fresh air to this ancient relic of the past.

Kraid is here and ready to kill.

Metroid: Zero Mission is a colorful game. There's cutscenes that occur at crucial story points in the game such as Ridley arriving on the planet Zebes to the introduction of the gargantuan Kraid. The animation is superb, and the framerate stays constant even with loads of action occurring. Case in point, this is a stunning game that really pushes the Game Boy Advance.

Metroid: Zero Mission is a fantastic title to start playing the Metroid franchise with. It contains a more manageable collection of tools to assist the player without being overwhelming like the Nintendo Entertainment System original. There's plenty to do, secrets to find, and bosses to take down. This is the type of game you'll play for a half hour, put down, and sooner or later get right back into. You'll constantly be returning to this game if you have any kind of soul to you. It may be her first mission, but Samus Aran is no virgin to kicking butt.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.5/10]

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