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Metroid: Other M – mega hands-on

Before Samus has time to spot her quarry it has a 15-foot tail wrapped round her neck. Ah, so this is what was being observed, then. One of Other M’s many minibosses, the chameleon is a hulking great brute. The tail alone spans half the room. With Samus ensnared, the lizard spins on the spot, whipping her into the air. Around and around she goes, the camera drunkenly pinwheeling along with her. We’re sure the intention is to frighten and disorient, but we can’t help marveling at how smooth the motion is. Captured in one long graceful shot – from entering the room to flying about its lofty heights – it’s a brilliant technical showpiece.


Above: Samus coolly observes a chamber of writhing cocoons. These pods crop up all over the ship. We smell a plot point! And lots of cocoon goo

Ogling, however, will not sort out our cold-blooded friend. Or, for that matter, his chum who decides to join him. Two on one? No fair! Where’s the ref? We expect that’s him spattered all over the glass. No use crying over spilt internal organs. On with the fight!

The scrap demonstrates the carefully choreographed dance between first- and third-person. Cloaked in invisibility, the chameleons deftly weave past the arm cannon. Their shields ripple against the background and it’s not unlike fighting two panes of frosted glass - albeit frosted glass that hacks up smoldering spit and headbutts you until your insides resemble jam. The trick is to knock them out of their hidden state with a well-aimed missile. Swinging the remote at the screen we lock on with B and fire with 1. With a second invisi-fiend on the prowl it isn’t safe to stay in visor mode. Swing the remote back around and the killing commences.


Above: The grapple beam returns to whip Samus over fields of suit-melting lava. How Team Ninja has squeezed a volcano into the Bottle Ship is beyond us

Team Ninja’s most obvious addition to the classic Metroid formula is the focus on lightning fast evasive play, familiar to anyone who’s cursed/yelped/wept through the recent Ninja Gaiden games. Quickly tapping the D-pad lets Samus dart from incoming danger, propelled by back-mounted jets. This is not only incredibly cool (as nimble as she was in Prime, you never got a feel for how she was getting around so quickly), but turns every fight into a raucous struggle. Watch her skid backward to avoid a chameleon tongue or dive out of the way of a whipcracking tail and it’s hard to believe this is the same gal who awkwardly bounded over projectiles in 1986.

For every cinematic beating poor Samus takes, she deals out one twice as bad. Stun an enemy with successive hits and she can execute a lethal strike - just get close and fire once. In the case of the chameleons, a lethal strike involves putting one in a headlock, wrestling him to the floor and ramming her arm cannon in his gaping maw. If it weren’t for the very loud bang, the image of Samus easing her cannon into a monster mouth could almost be maternal, like feeding a bottle to a baby. Choose to jump on a dazed foe and Samus performs an overblast: a foot on each shoulder and a cannon pressed to the top of the head. In this case, either method will do. There is a second chameleon, after all.


Above: Samus has killed Dessgeegas in 8-bit, 16-bit and tiny GBA form. With visor view she can get up close and personal with shiny new 3D versions

From the very start, Sakamoto wanted the purity of NES controls, and here he has them. All this chaos and agility from two buttons: one to jump, the other to shoot. The art lies in context-sensitive doubling up. What shoots and charges beams on foot will drop bombs and generate power bombs in morph ball form. Computer terminals and save stations are automatically activated. The D-pad handles movement and evasive dodges. Messing around ekes out other novel tricks. Fully charging the arm cannon and entering morph ball mode, for example, plants five bombs on the spot, a move we entirely missed in our first play test. What further secrets await on the Bottle Ship?


Above: When exploring claustrophobic corridors we’re treated to an over the shoulder view (well, with shoulder pads that big, it’s more of a behind the shoulder view). Combine this perspective shift with Samus slowing to a creeping pace and it becomes a tense moment

Unexpected it may be, but the union of Team Ninja and Nintendo bears enticing fruit. The former gets to offer its revered brand of sharp, brutal action, but held to the latter’s impeccable design standards. As much as Other M looks and flows like Metroid, it handles like you wished Metroid always had. Samus is a tank, gymnast and sniper all in one. More than this, she has the heart and depth Nintendo rarely affords its mascots. Link may be the classic hero, and Mario the enthusiast, but both are simpletons in the wake of Sakamoto’s weighty Samus Aran.

Jul 28, 2010

Topics

Nintendo

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23 comments

  • GameManiac - July 30, 2010 4:38 p.m.

    There's so much promise to this game! I'll have to get the Metroid Prime Trilogy along with this game as well.
  • The_Tingler - July 30, 2010 5:52 a.m.

    @crumbdunky: I totally agree. I hate using the Wiimote on its side, and even in 2D platform games I only use the control stick now. This fact alone is making me wait for reviews of this game rather than pre-order it.
  • sklorbit - July 29, 2010 3:13 p.m.

    definitely excited for this one. im really hoping samus actually talks in this game unlike the prime games.
  • mahabat - July 29, 2010 6:42 a.m.

    thank the lord it at least picked up gameplay wise, also people complaining about poor graphics, where are you getting these complaints from? of course the screenshots don't look as good as the real deal, they almost never do
  • slimjim441 - July 29, 2010 5:43 a.m.

    Schweet! This game is going to be so high-technical!
  • Jesse1066 - July 29, 2010 4:02 a.m.

    Marathon logo! In the first screenshot! (the map!)
  • WillisTron - July 29, 2010 3:29 a.m.

    This and Donkey Kong Country Returns are making me love my Wii like I never have before <3
  • Bonesqaw - July 29, 2010 3:19 a.m.

    I'm unbelievably stoked for this game, and this preview has calmed any fears I had about the unusual sounding control scheme. Gotta go place a preorder
  • justinbanda - July 29, 2010 2:34 a.m.

    Yay! Now, is it still premature to hope for a 3DS version? It's not that I don't like the Wii, but I think this would be much better as a handheld game: a spiritual successor to Metroid Dread... remember that? Yeah. I'd rather wait a few more months and be able to tote this around in my pocket rather than have to sit at home and struggle for hours on end.
  • Love - July 29, 2010 1:53 a.m.

    I dont know if I want this game yet.... I will probably wait till it comes out
  • Silvermech - July 29, 2010 1:50 a.m.

    Curse it all! I love Metroid, but I can't come close to finishing the games.
  • crumbdunky - July 29, 2010 12:59 a.m.

    I STILL think the controls, the insistence that it be played solely with one Wiimote on it's own and sideways most of the time(seriously, it's the least comfy controller EVER in that position/role imho), is going to stop this being the great, enjoyable game it should be for me. I like my challenge to be borne from game design IN GAME and not have troublesome difficulties added by mere stubbornness over the controls. I can understand that they wanted it playable with the classic NES set up0 but then to have FPS interludes makes a mockery of it and what would the harm have been in allowing the use of a classic controller or a nunchuck-I sadly, DESPISE the Wiimote D-pad for doing anything above lobbing a grenade or similar and for Brawl would've given up if forced to stick with the Wiimote over a GC controller. Otherwise, though, it's got this Metroid fanboy wetter than the Atlantic(in the rain)and I can't wait to see the fruits of their labour-I just REALLY don't like the prissy control scheme at all and find things such as the changing planes with the Wiimote from TP to FP just a bit of a gimmick and hindering to any immersion built up. Don't get me wrong this is reordered-I just hope I don't regret it because of that controller issue as I'm yet to see any merit in the thinking whatsoever.
  • 510BrotherPanda - July 29, 2010 12:13 a.m.

    I'm with Crabhand on this; I hope it's as smooth as they say.
  • SenatorPepper - July 28, 2010 10:53 p.m.

    Yeah! Enough of this exciting preview that made me do a total 180 on Other M! I want a DKC preview!
  • CH3BURASHKA - July 28, 2010 9:51 p.m.

    Without having played it, I can't possibly take either their presentation of the FPS/3PS transition nor your impressions at face value: it's just too mind-boggling. That's one Nintendo game down: when's the DKC Returns hands-on coming?
  • TrigunGunner - July 28, 2010 9:46 p.m.

    Looks like this game is shaping up into something pretty amazing. Looking forward to it
  • Cyberninja - July 28, 2010 9:19 p.m.

    glad it controls well so now i dont have to worry anymore.
  • nuno004 - July 28, 2010 9:18 p.m.

    time to dust off the ol wii again after beating tvc
  • CHAINSAWhaxor - July 28, 2010 9:17 p.m.

    I was hoping it would have stunning visuals to rival Mario Galaxy, I guess I have too much faith in the little white box.
  • conchking - July 28, 2010 9:15 p.m.

    I think that the tense over the shoulder view fits the game, like dead space. So far the game looks very mediocre.

Showing 1-20 of 23 comments

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