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Everything we know about Metroid: Other M

Briefly teased during E3 2009 and then spirited back into the shadowy halls of Nintendo, Metroid: Other M was one of last year’s most talked about games that no one knew a damn thing about. The only tidbits revealed were the developer (Team Ninja, best known for Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive) and that it was a brand new take on the long-lived series. Other M wasn’t going to be an FPS like the Prime series, nor was it a traditional 2D game like the beloved originals. Then radio silence for months. Now, having played a full hour, we know quite a bit. And it’s… interesting.


Above: Samus… with people?

The game opens with a stunning CG recreation of Super Metroid’s final moments. You’ll see the baby Metroid saving Samus from Mother Brain and her subsequent destruction at the hands of a hyper beam-toting Samus/Metroid hybrid. Then, some indeterminate time later, Samus intercepts a distress call dubbed “crying baby,” (not so) subtly hinting that perhaps the baby Metroid isn’t all that dead.

Once you arrive at the source of the signal (a run-down space station, of course), you bump into that group of Galactic Federation officers, headed up by Adam Malkovich, who was heavily referenced in 2002’s excellent Metroid Fusion. As Samus’s only former commanding officer (and perhaps more, judging by their behavior together), their initial meeting is tense. Samus elaborates on their relationship via a flashback narration, suggesting the entire game may be some kind of recollection.


Above: Samus served under Adam years ago, but has been a bounty hunter ever since an incident – not sure what

At this point it’s clear that Other M is not like any Nintendo-published game in recent memory. It’s loaded with cutscenes and voiced dialog, big on plot and eager to do something totally different. We admire Team Ninja for their efforts; if there’s one series that deserves a more serious, elaborate take, it’s Metroid.

That said, we’re not big on Samus’s voice acting. The voice is a bit too high and inexperienced. She’s a hardened bounty hunter, not an anime chick. Jennifer Hale voiced her through the Prime series (plus the female Commander Shepard in Mass Effect) and was a perfect fit. Not sold on this new voice, though we’re admittedly early in the adventure. Room to grow, perhaps.

From there Samus and the team spread out into the station, each with a specific task to complete. Samus is told, by Adam, to get the electrical systems back online, though he’s not authorizing the use of any bombs. This “authorization” system appears to be how you unlock most abilities in Other M. You begin with Charge Beam, Morph Ball and Missiles, but the rest, even though you possess them, cannot be used until Adam deems it safe and necessary.

A map displays your destination, so we took off towards the power room. Most of the gameplay is shooting enemies on a 2 and a half D plane, meaning you run left to right but can also move in and out to a certain degree, sort of like an old beat ‘em up. It’s all done with the Wii Remote held sideways like an NES controller, so yes, you’re navigating a 3D world with a D-pad. Kind of clumsy, especially with no target lock (yet, we hope). Nintendo invented the controller analog stick with the N64 – very strange to see this control choice. Feels like a pre-stick PlayStation or Saturn game. The aim-assist helps keep your shots directed at enemies, but there’s still a sense of oddness.


Above: There are also hallways that have you running “into” the screen

While shooting various enemies was the focus, there’s still time for Metroid-style exploration. Certain areas were blocked off, able to be accessed later once we acquired bombs. Finding these power-ups is a bit easier than past games, thanks to glowing icons on the map. We’re not sure if every single hidden item will show on the map, but it appears that missile expansions and energy tanks do.

Instead of scanning the environment as in Prime, you actually point the Remote at the screen to initiate a first-person view. Here, Samus can look around for objects to interact with, which in our session was almost always “blast it with a missile.” It would seem that this first-person view is the only way to fire missiles, as they’re not available in the regular run-and-gun third-person view.


Above: Point the Wii Remote at the screen to start FPS mode, though you’re forced to stand still while looking and aiming

We didn’t fight a true boss, but a giant purple bug-monster did act as a miniboss of sorts. Normal weapons have no effect, so Adam authorizes the team to use ice weapons (classic Metroid standby). You’re supposed to go into FPS mode, fire a missile to stun it so the other guys can freeze it. Once chilled, you can blast its limbs off with further missile attacks. It’s definitely a different kind of boss battle, and kind of disorienting to shift views so often, but it was assuredly unique and we’re curious to see what else the game has in store.


Above: This guy causes some trouble early on

We didn’t see much in the way of “in-your-face” attacks hinted at in the trailer. Sometimes, when an enemy gets up in Samus’s shit, a pre-made struggle is shown, ending with her batting the thing away. Other times you can actually jump on top of the baddy and blast it into oblivion. We really want to see and play more to fully get the nuances of this combat system.

Other M arrives June 27, just a month after Mario Galaxy 2. It’s a grand experiment of cutscenes, dodgy-shooty gameplay and classic Metroid exploration, one that appears to hold promise. At least we’ll know sooner rather than later how it all pans out. Looking forward to more in the coming weeks.

Feb 24, 2010

36 comments

  • Imgema - March 1, 2010 7:07 a.m.

    "eager to do something totally different" Sorry for the double post but i forgot to comment about this line. Excuse me but they are transforming Metroid into a mainstream title. They are adding the same old cutscenes every game has and the same stereotypical characters every game/anime/movie has. How doest that make Metroid "different"? The previous games were much more original and different, thank you very much.
  • Imgema - March 1, 2010 6:34 a.m.

    I just don't like how they approaching this game. They are ruining Metroid's atmosphere by making it a mainstream, usual game. Metroid is about a mysterious bounty hunter who goes into hostile planets ALONE. Isolation is one of the things that make Metroid games what they are. And now it looks like a usual, mainstream game with the usual looking secondary characters (is this the same black person like in Crysis?) Also, the mystery behind the main character was enough. I really don't care about Samus story. I don't care who her father is, if her childhood was tough, if she is in love with the other guy, etc, etc. Metroid is not a story driven game. It never was. But story driven games is now a trend, so Ninja Team has to follow and ruin Metroid. Whats next? A Matio game with a complicated story? Metroid Prime was great because it was a Metroid game, it had the atmosphere and design of the 16bit masterpiece and at the same time it had something new, without ruining those things. The first person view and the visors, made the game look like something new, but it was Metroid. This is not the case with other M. By taking away everything that makes a franchise what it is, doesn't make the game "new". Here's an idea to make Mario a fresh experience. Give him a shotgun and remove Luigi with a girl with big boobs.
  • SuperStingray - February 27, 2010 9:31 p.m.

    Pretty excited, but still skeptical. Hope there's optional nunchuck controls.
  • jackthemenace - February 27, 2010 7:26 p.m.

    this sounds good, but the controls do look dodgy... maybe using a nunchuck to aim would be a good idea, rather than just shooting in a tright line, use it to aim sidewards. it would also help with the run-and-gun idea
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - February 27, 2010 6:51 p.m.

    I loved fusion. Still do. 2D Metroid ftw
  • GoodGuyWithACrappyJob - February 27, 2010 6:38 p.m.

    I like the idea of a Metroid game with an elaborate story and agree that out of all the Nintendo franchises that could have one, the Metriod franchise is at the top of the list. But two things are bugging me. (No, not the control scheme. I've seen worse.)One is how Samus looks now. It's not bad, it's just that if I put her next to say...a Final Fantasy female character, I wouldn't be able to tell them apart, or even that they were from different games. @rafa_slash: Totally agree with you. Second, and more crucially, is the way you seem to gain weapons. "Authorization," really? I can just see myself running along, seeing a wall that could be blown up, knowing I could blow it to smithereens, and (after passing it to go to some objective) trekking all the way back to it after geeting the green light to use bombs. What happened to the kickass, hardcore, bounty-hunter Samus? Since when did she follow the rules? Authorization, pah! I love the Metriod series though, and hope all my fears are put to rest. I'll still buy it regardless.
  • thephntm - February 27, 2010 4:24 a.m.

    Other M is being released only a month after Galaxy 2? Why does Nintendo always set a retarded release date for Metroid games? Despite the awesomeness of Mario Galaxy 2, Other M is slightly above it on my priorities list. BTW: What happened to QOTW?
  • grappler51 - February 26, 2010 10:33 p.m.

    This is the first time since I heard about this game that I'm not super excited about it. The switching to 1st person POV to fire missiles seems kind of clumsy. I'm starting to think Nintendo shouldn't have given this franchise to Team Ninja. I do like the increased emphasis on story, with cut scenes and stuff, but why are aren't they using Jennifer Hale?!
  • GameManiac - February 26, 2010 7:35 p.m.

    Other M and Super Mario Galaxy 2 are already on my list. Looking forward to either one of them, and a good thing that they come sooner than I thought.
  • philipshaw - February 26, 2010 3:54 p.m.

    Looks cool but I'm cautious because I can't think of the last good game Team Ninja made
  • Unoriginal - February 26, 2010 1:37 p.m.

    Wait, so you can replenish health and missiles anytime just by tilting the remote?
  • Redeater - February 26, 2010 12:49 p.m.

    Crap! This is not sounding as positive as I would like. Not gonna lie......if the voice acting sucks....that is going to bother the hell out of me.
  • Hypermonkey262 - February 26, 2010 9:31 a.m.

    Trying to focus on the odd type of GAME Amnesiac, but I really hope it's good. It looks promising but Nintendo has done such a good job of screwing up promising prospects the last generation that I dont know what to think. Im so divided!! :(
  • RogueRED - February 26, 2010 4:54 a.m.

    i haven't touched any of the metroid games beyond Prime And echoes(No wii), but even if i buy said Wii and this. I'm a little worried. Team Ninja isn't known for running good franchises in the ground, But the risks their taking with this one seem just a bit too huge. I must admit I'm in favor of the strong story element, And the ability to see Samus in something besides the power suit(I'm hoping for a Zero suit unlockable, but this being the developer of DOA, expect bra and panties). However, This game has a long way to go, I read the article 3 times and am still confused about the control scheme, and switching between 3rd person beat 'em up and FPS seems difficult and much for the player to remember. That said, I'm sooo looking forward to this game. However, if it stays like this I expext nothing more than reviews of 7 or less. ReCaptcha:Defies Commission. Hm. Sounds Illegal.
  • robotechandnarutosucks - February 26, 2010 4:20 a.m.

    the game is shiiiiiiiiiiiiiittttttt playyyyy a reaallll game like halooooooo
  • Amnesiac - February 26, 2010 4 a.m.

    "Anyone else notice her gargantuan sweater puppies?" Believe me, they're hard to miss. But they're still small by Team Ninja standards.ho
  • RebornKusabi - February 26, 2010 3:14 a.m.

    I've had the pleasure of playing all of the Metroid games not only in order but also when they were released as well. I seriously love the series and really like the IDEA of where they're going with this game. While many fans of the series call heresy on the recent games because of the exposition that they have been giving Samus, I actually stand in the minority here- I feel that not only does this universe that the Metroid series takes place in deserve some exposition thanks to it's rich backstory that the games have hinted at recently but Samus herself is so goddamn interesting to me. She is an example of a female lead in a video game that is both highly sexy but also relatable, strong and "hardcore" but also maternal and caring of others around her regardless of her profession (Bounty Hunter). Sure you could argue that her skin-tight "Zero-Suit" borders on unnecessary but the reasoning for said outfit actually has a reason for it's existence in canon (I forget... I have been drinking >_>). As has been said on this site before, Samus Aran is one of the forefront examples of a female lead that can both be attractive but also a strong lead as well. Much like I have done for all of the games before, I will be getting this on day one so I look forward to it even if some of the things said in this preview by Lord Elston make my alert flags go up (Why the hell did they not use the amazing v.o. talents of Jennifer Hale for Samus here!) but I'll reserve judgement until I play it. People on here hate Heavy Rain and Metal Gear Solid 4 but I love those games so I can deal. Oh hello there, Mr. Beer! What's that? You want me to... DRINK YOU!? ohmnomnomnom :3
  • Valntyne - February 26, 2010 3:06 a.m.

    Samus served "under" Adam years ago... Ohhh! I see what you did there... ;) Side note, games looks cool...But don't have a Wii...
  • Kenzo - February 26, 2010 2:18 a.m.

    *dimension, not generation
  • Kenzo - February 26, 2010 1:33 a.m.

    I'm not sure I like the idea of the 2.5D world, it's not that I hate it, I just need a little more convincing that it can fully support metroid, it's not that i don't like sidescrollers, it's just that they are usually a lot more limited in what you can do and where you can go. after all, the third generation was invented for a reason wasn't it?

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