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Metroid Prime 2

MP2 is to the original Metroid Prime what the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 is to the original Super Mario Bros. (as opposed to the Super Mario Bros. 2 released in the United States). It's the same engine, I mean. It uses the same mechanics and similar models, and it even uses a lot of the same special effects: the Echo Visor is little more than a palette-swapped X-Ray Visor, for example, and the Luminoth look like feathery Chozo. The "vaporization" animation for Ing Warriors killed by the Light Beam uncannily resembles the way Pirates char and disappear when you whack 'em with the Plasma Beam.

The whole game, in fact, seems designed to reuse as many ideas and assets from the original Prime as possible, and the "dual world" conceit (at least at first glance) makes the game seem even stingier on original content—twice the geography at no extra cost! It's like the original Metroid Prime was a cake that Retro baked, but they had ingredients left over. So they were like, "What are we going to do with these ingredients? I dunno, I guess we better bake another cake. Kind of like the first cake."

more on Metroid Prime 2 after the cut, plus Ico and Riven )
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[livejournal.com profile] casey bemoaned the lack of Metroid Prime: Hunters testimonials, so here is mine.

Imagine a room, say, 10'x8'. The room is full of asses. This game kicks all of them. It does so methodically, yet with gusto. Simultaneously, maybe. My intuition leads me to believe that a machine is involved, a machine designed especially for this purpose: the kicking of asses.

MPH is, essentially, "Quake you can take with you." It gives me the same sense of awe as Quake did when I first played it, the sense of creepiness punctuated with intense action. It's beautiful, too, as pleasing as it is coherent from an aesthetic point of view. On Arcterra, e.g., you can see, feel, hear the cold (dig the foley on the sound of ice cracking beneath Samus' feet). I'm not sure how the developers made my DS do all this. Maybe some kind of extortion racket. Blow? Who knows.

Let's talk about how to control ol' Samus, since this has been a point of contention in the press and media. I think it would be possible to play (and win) the game using "Dual Mode," as I was for a while (direction cross moves, ABXY looks, you have to turn the sensitivity way down or else you'll only be able to wildly flail around), but it's easier to aim with the touch screen. The initial awkwardness will be rewarded with greater precision. I've heard advocates of both methods complain about numb, aching hands after an hour or so of gameplay, but I've experienced little of this. (What little pain I have experienced mostly appeared after circle strafing the jewel-encrusted giant penis1 that passes for the first boss.)

My experience with the multiplayer so far has been one of utter humiliation at the hands of random internetsters. As far as utter humiliation goes, however, it was damn fun.

Complaints? Yes, I have complaints. Not everything can be perfect manna from the gods, and MPH is no exception. At issue here is the lack of save points. Actually, there's only one save point: Samus' ship. Laconically: this sucks. Hightailin' it back to the ship is impossible in some circumstances (if you're locked inside an area trying to off a foe or solve a puzzle), and damned inconvenient in others. After each boss battle you must, in classic Metroid style, escape the level in a heart-pounding race against the clock; my race is far too often not against the clock, but against the subway. I have to get back to the ship before I get to my stop.

Right. So it's "Quake you can take with you," but it's better to take it with you on the plane, or to the comfy couch, or to a lengthy boring lecture or something, than it is to take on your public transit commute. But hey, you know, fine by me—I just play Animal Crossing on the train anyway.

Oh, btw, if you don't own a DS, you should carefully examine the following two (additional) reasons for acquiring one. Exhibit A: Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. Exhibit B: Spore.

1 Did anyone else notice this? Did this resemblance cause anyone else to find that pre-boss cut scene sort of ... pornographic?

March 2016

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