Metroid Prime Trilogy review. Samus re-lands on Wii in a three-game set of her previous Prime missions

Metroid Prime Trilogy box artwork (American version)
Nintendo’s most famous Bounty Hunter, Samus Aran, has landed on Wii once again. This time in a three-game collection which pairs her most recent mission (Metroid Prime 3) with her two previous missions (Metroid Prime 1 and Metroid Prime 2, originally released for GameCube).

Metroid Prime Trilogy was released in the U.S. on August 24, 2009, in Europe on September 4, 2009, and will be released in Australia on October 15, 2009.

Technically Metroid Prime Trilogy is the latest in Nintendo’s string of GameCube re-releases with updated Wii and Nunchuck compatible controls, which Nintendo calls its “New Play Control” line (simply labeled “Play on Wii” in Japan). In America the New Play Control releases included: Pikmin, Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat and Mario Power Tennis.

Metroid Prime Trilogy Japanese Boxart Japan got a few more games including Metroid Prime 1, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Chibi Robo and Pikmin 2. So when it came time to bring Metroid Prime 1 and 2 to the West, Nintendo decided (smartly) to put both games AND the third game on a single disc, and sell it in the West as “Metroid Prime Collection” instead of releasing them individually.

What’s more, Nintendo even sweetened the deal by making the North American version a “Collector’s Edition”, which comes in a metal tin with a plastic slip-cover as well as a little fold out art booklet which features a history of the franchise, pieces of art and other information on the game’s lore.

So is this a collection worth buying? Or is it a Wii rehash?

Metroid Prime Trilogy logo screenshot (Main Menu Title Screen)

System: Wii
Also Available On: None
Released: USA August 24, 2009 – EUR September 4, 2009 – AUS July 23, 2009 – JAP October 15, 2009
Players: Mostly single-player. 4-Player for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes multiplayer mode.
Genre: First-Person, Action Adventure
Save: 2 Blocks. Three save files.
Online Support? Yes. But no online multiplayer. It’s only to send Tokens to friends or send screencaps to friends. And to see if your friends are playing it.
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Country of Origin: Japan
Rating: T for Teen because of “Violence and Animated Blood”.

When considering purchasing Metroid Prime Trilogy, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself. 1. Are you a big Metroid fan? 2. Do you own the GameCube originals? And 3. Are you someone who has never played a Metroid Prime game before?

Metroid Prime Trilogy screenshot (Prime 1)

The first and second questions can be answered by first going into what ADDITIONS Metroid Prime Trilogy has added. Because if you fall in the second category, you will probably be looking for a REASON to pick up this newest compilation. As a big Metroid fan, like myself, will probably purchase the game anyway . . . because they are big Metroid fans.

The first nice thing about this collection is the package itself. Nintendo rarely ever does “special editions”, so this is a rare treat for Metroid fans. The slip case adds the decal information while the metal tin is purely a metallic gray with a cool design of Samus’ shooting her blaster. While the back of the tin is a front view of Samus’ body staring straight ahead. While the back of the Slip Case has the “back of the case” information on it. The art book was disappointing to me because I was expecting more. It’s really just a small rectangular booklet that folds out into 5 sections. A history of the Metroid series is on one side with artwork on the reverse. The booklet is printed on very high quality paper with a super glossy finish. It’s also a deep black and WILL get fingerprint marks on it. Although I was disappointed that the “art book” wasn’t actually a book (it’s a “booklet”, darnit!), you can’t knock a bonus and either way you slice it this is a nice little edition. But overall the physical collection itself isn’t really nice enough to warrant a purchase if you are only getting it for that reason.

Metroid Prime Trilogy American Boxart Backside

So that brings us to the actual game additions themselves, thankfully those who fall into the second category and own the previous GameCube games, will have some incentive to pick up this title.

The biggest addition is the new Wii controls. You now control Metroid Prime 1 and 2 like you do Metroid Prime 3, by using the Wii Remote to look/aim, and the Nunchuck to walk around. And even though you are using the Wii Remote & Nunchuck, there are no additional gesture motions that you’ll have to make while playing the first and second games.

So while the controls present you with a new way to experience the games, I wouldn’t necessarily say that the controls are BETTER than using the GameCube controller (which you CANNOT use in these Wii versions). The new controls present some problems of their own, while also having some pros.

The biggest knock to the controls is simply the change in FEEL from the GCN version. Since you can now look around anywhere while looking on, this diminishes the lock on feature. Thankfully you can toggle this in the options to be just like the GameCube games, which you’ll want to do immediately. Because without it, it makes it harder and less fun to “pick off enemies” by repeatedly tapping the lock-on button like in the Cube version. The new controls also make certain sections or aspects more difficult, like looking upwards or using your Grappling Beam. And then there are the annoyances that come from the Wii controller itself. There will always be times where your arms get tired, or you will need to scratch something, or accidentally move your arm too far, only to see your view swirl around. This is particularly troublesome when using Samus’ Grapple Beam.

Morph Ball screenshot (Metroid Prime Trilogy)

I also think that the controls are very cumbersome and less intuitive. The controls in Prime were custom built for the GameCube controller. You had the different guns mapped to the C-Stick, so tapping a direction would instantly switch your gun. While the different visors were mapped to the D-Pad. Where tapping a direction would change visors. This was much easier to remember than the the Wii system, which has you hold down the Plus or Minus Buttons and then point to a certain section of the screen. While some people may remember easier than others, I always had a hard time remembering which section was which, or I’d accidentally point to the wrong section. It’s just much slower and more troublesome than before.

Overall, the game just feels better, on the whole, using a GameCube controller the way it was meant to be played. BUT, particularly if you didn’t play the GameCube originals, then these controls work fine. They just take a while to get used to.

However you do actually get a few benefits from the Wii controls. The ability to simply point anywhere and shoot can sometimes be helpful. No longer do you have to stand still to look around, you can look around whenever you want by simply pointing in that direction. This also means that technically you could play without even using the lock-on system if you wanted.

Metroid Prime Trilogy screenshot (Prime 1 Boss)

Lastly, Retro Studios DID add one little gesture control addition to Metroid Prime 1 and 2. If you in your ball form, you can now make the ball jump by flicking the Wii Remote up (called the “Spring Ball” as Metroid fans will remember). This doesn’t necessarily add anything to the game, nor does it take anything away. You’d think it might make some sections too much easier, but really it doesn’t. All it actually does is make things faster and more efficient. Instead of having to lay a bomb and wait for it to go over to prop you into the air, you can just flick the remote and wah-lah! This feature is actually very nice and makes the game that much more fluid, without interrupting or changing how the game was originally meant to be played. As the sections where you have to bomb yourself to find a hidden item, are not helped by the new Spring Ball.

The other biggest change comes in the form of the new intro to the game, the new menu interface (as well as some slight graphical or UI tweaks in gameplay) and the the Token System from Prime 3 that has been extended to all the other games.

As you play through the games, you will earn Tokens for collecting Artifacts, beating bosses, etc. and you can then use these to unlock Extras. Most of these extras are the same as the GameCube originals, and you now simply unlock them by earning Tokens instead of by beating the game. And some of the Extras you won’t earn until you’ve reached a certain point. And while most of the Extras are carried over, some are new, like you can now listen to and purchase the soundtrack to each song in the game (although they have to be purchased separately).

Metroid Prime Trilogy Tokens/Achievement screenshot

The opening of the game has also been changed. When you first fire up the game you get this cool intro of the inside of Samus’ blaster. Which looks really, really cool. Sadly though, the ORIGINAL intro menu screens from Metroid PRime 1 and Prime 2 have been completely cut out (thankfully you can still buy the awesome song that plays during the Prime 1 intro). So instead of navigating an awesome menu from INSIDE a freakin’ Metroid while awesome music plays when you first fire up Metroid Prime 1 . . . it instead simply hops straight into the campaign after you’ve selected the difficulty. This is a bummer because those menus were flat-out awesome.

Last but not least, when you beat Prime 1 or 2, the game will automatically take a snapshot of your Items Collected and Time ranking page and send that screencap to the Wii Message Board! This is a feature that should be part of every game in my opinion and will ensure that you never have to write down your End Game information ever again!

So in answer to people who fall into the first and second categories, you’ll have to decide if the above, plus having all three games easily accessible on the Wii, is worth the $50 the Metroid Prime Collection costs.

Metroid Prime Trilogy Echoes Screenshot

Although it is also worth noting that graphically, there are some special effect omissions from the first game. While these aren’t a big deal, they are noticeable for fans who know the game well. The biggest missing effect comes from using the X-Ray Visor. In the original game you could literally see the bones in Samus hand manipulating the Arm Cannon controls. That effect is no longer present in Metroid Prime Trilogy, instead you don’t see anything, just a solid object. Very disappointing, as that was one of the coolest effects in the game. Also missing is the effect of your Ice Beam being covered in Ice when you Charge it. Those are the major biggies, there’s one or two smaller effect missing (like rippling water). Overall it is not a big deal, and you won’t even notice it if you aren’t a veteran of the first game. But if you ARE, then they seem like glaring, and dumb, omissions. How/why would they take out the X-Rayed Samus hand? It was so cool!

Thankfully the other cool effects that made Metroid Prime so unique remain, and they look as cool as ever! This includes water running down the screen when you jump out of a pool of water, static that covers the screen when you get close to an electrical pulse, raindrops hitting the screen, and of course, condensation from fog appearing on the sides of the screen if you walk through any kind of mist.

Here’s a video of the effects missing in Metroid Prime Trilogy.

Here’s the rest of the missing effects, thanks to the excellent Metroid Database web-site:

* The water ripple effect when rolling around in shallow water with the Morph Ball.
* The beams of light eminating with a fully charged Power Beam.
* The icicles that form over the cannon with a fully charged Ice Beam (but it still plays the sound).
* The sparks of electricity with a fully charged Wave Beam.
* The embers floating up with a fully charged Plasma Beam.
* The heat rising up from the tip of the gun when you fire many shots in succession.

So how about the game’s themselves? Well finally we come to the last category, the person who has not played any Metroid Prime game before in the past. Or even if you own Prime 3 but do not own Prime 1 and 2? If you are one of these unfortunate souls, then stop reading this right now and go out and buy Metroid Prime Trilogy! Although it is worth noting that if you own Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for Wii already, you WILL NOT be able to use those saved games with Metroid Prime Trilogy and vice versa, same goes for Prime 1 and 2 GameCube Memory Card save files.

Here is a preview of what you can expect for each game (I’ll contain much more information on each in my individual reviews of each game).

Ridley Artwork (Metroid Prime Meta Ridley Boss)

Originally Released: GameCube, 2002

Metroid Prime is a masterpiece, that still holds up just as well today as it did on the GameCube. The game really makes you feel like Bounty Hunter Samus Aran as you see the world from her point of view via her visor. The environments in the game are all unique from one another and the game is full of cool effects as described above. As you progress you will gain new abilities that will allow you to reach certain points of the game that you couldn’t get to before. While a host of old power-ups return, while new ones are regulated to the Visor upgrades, which allow Samus to impressively see in new Vision. The bosses are large, the game will take you around 10-15 hours to beat, possibly more on your first play through, and the game has secrets galore with lots of puzzle-like areas (though they aren’t hard enough to really be called puzzles). It is quite a challenge to finish with 100%. Especially since nearly every object, enemy and boss in the game can be scanned for more information, and these scans go towards your total completion rate. Individually, Metroid Prime 1 in Metroid Prime Trilogy STILL gets a 10 from this reviewer. It is that great.

Metroid Prime 2 Dark World Artwork

Originally Released: GameCube, 2004

Metroid Prime 2 follows in the same formula as the first game, with players seeing out of the eyes of Samus as they make their way through the game’s various environments, gaining new power-ups that allow them access to new areas and solving puzzles, which are more complex in this second chapter. The biggest new features in this game come from a much more in-depth story, told via voice-over from new characters, and a seperation of the main world into Light and Dark version. Where puzzles and environmental objects in one world will effect that of the other. So some environmental puzzles will require you to move between the two worlds to solve them. Samus also encounters Dark Samus, an evil version of yourself that you will encounter throughout the game. Prime 2 also included a four-player offline multiplayer mode, which is now accessible straight from the Metroid Prime Trilogy menu. This mode should have been online, sadly it is not. Overall, Prime 2 feels like “more of the same” and is not as memorable as the first game. Although it does feature one new power-up that returns from the old games, which virtually makes up for it. And once you’ve played Prime 2, you will feel naked without it in Prime 1 . . .

Metroid Prime 3 artwork

Originally Released: Wii, 2007
Prime 3 did well to truly take Samus into the “next-generation”. This is particularly done by having a hub area where Samus can actually speak to various characters who are voiced. You will also encounter OTHER Bounty Hunters, a first for the series. Prime 3 also makes full use of the Wii’s Motion Controls, and will have you turning dials and throwing out a whip-like power-up. The game world also feels much bigger, and for the first time, Samus’ gunship actually part of the gameplay. You can enter it and manipulate various controls, and will actually use it to fly to other planets! Metroid Prime 3 however follows in the same formula as the previous games, and other areas. In conclusion, Prime 1 simply had a new, fresh and memorable feel that couldn’t be duplicated in the sequels, IMO, but that doesn’t make the sequels any less than great games.

All in all, Metroid Prime Trilogy should be in the collection of every Wii owner. All of these games are flat out excellent, and the ability to play them on the Wii, and even share tokens with other owners of the game, makes them feel more modern (not to mention using the Wii controls).

However if you aren’t a big Metroid fan and already own Prime 1 and Prime 2, then you may want to think twice about picking up Metroid Prime Trilogy, which doesn’t ADD enough to the games to make you want to pick them up again if you already have had your fill.

Prime 1 and 2 also lack their original introductions (with the AWESOME Prime 1 main menu music. Thankfully that music is still in the game via the soundtrack option), Prime 1 lacks a view very cool effects, and the games simply FEEL different when playing them with the Wii Remote & Nunchuck. Combine all these together and you may want to keep your Prime 1 and 2 GameCube copies around. There also is no playable version of Metroid 1 in Metroid Prime Trilogy, which was an unlockable extra if you linked Metroid Prime to Metroid Fusion on Game Boy Advance on the GameCube version. But this isn’t a big deal because you can purchase the NES Metroid 1 for $5 via the Wii Shop for Wii Virtual Console.

So if you have no played these games, then DO SO! You will NOT be disappointed.

Metroid Prime Trilogy Samus Wallpaper

Metroid Prime is still as impressive today as it was in the infancy of the GameCube. The effects are beautiful, all three games are HUGE, the amount of exposition from scanning objects is incredible, and the gameplay, most of all, is very fun. The amount of combined gameplay in all three games is extremely high, I’d say close to 50 hours worth per game, especially if you want to get 100%. Except the most cynical Metroid fans who will already own all the games, that makes this collection a winner for most Wii owners.

Graphics: 9.0
Amazingly, these games still impress, although it’s mostly in the effects department. As well as the design department. There is no denying how incredible the levels are designed in this game. Especially once you realize how everything interconnects. Before the end of each game you will know the world pretty well. Even though they are so detailed and intricate that you will still get “lost” for a while until you can remember the right path. Thankfully the awesome 3D maps will always help you out some.

Music and Sound: 9.5
Although some people charge that the sound is too 16-bit-ish, in my humble opinion the original Metroid Prime has some of the best Metroid tunes. In particular the soundtrack sounds like almost nothing else, especially that Main Menu music of Metroid Prime 1, which is only listenable via the soundtrack option of Trilogy or when you beat the original game. The music in the other two games is less memorable I think, although Prime 3 has a few standout tracks as well. Overall, the music and sound effects are great and entirely fitting. Which makes it even cooler than Retro Studios added a Soundtrack unlockable option so that you can listen to all the music in each game.

Ingenuity: 8.0
Although Metroid Prime isn’t as “fresh” as it was when it first released, it still plays like nothing else out there. I am actually shocked that no other game has duplicated the way Samus’ visor comes into gameplay. And although I haven’t played Halo 3: ODST’s night vision and enemy highlight visor nor Batman: Arkham Asylum’s detective mode, the Prime series sheer variation in visors looks like it got it right the first time. And the effects of water running down the screen, static effecting your view, blood guts splattering the screen and myst effecting your site, still impress. And what other game lets you roll into a ball to fit into tight spaces? These games are truly unique, even if Prime Trilogy doesn’t do anything “new”.

Replay Value: 9.5
Between all three games, there is a heck of a lot of replay value. Especially since on your first play through it’s nearly impossible to finish with a 100% Item & Scan completion rate along with a quick time to get the best ending. You’d have to do it for each game as well! Thankfully all the games are fun enough that you’ll easily want to replay them a second time to try and do better.

Metroid Prime 3 Samus wallpaper