Metroid: Zero Mission (2004)

[メトロイド ゼロミッション]

Metroid: Zero Mission (2004)

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Director: Yoshio Sakamoto
Platform: Game Boy Advance

An enhanced and expanded remake of the original Metroid, chronicling Samus Aran's first mission: the destruction of the Metroids on Planet Zebes.

The control scheme fundamentally follows that of Metroid Fusion, well adapted to the GBA. Using the R button as the toggle for missiles is really convenient once you get used to it. The ability to grip edges is a good intermediary step before picking up the High Jump Boots (though, unlike Fusion, it's a powerup you need to collect). The new sequence after the destruction of Mother Brain is an interesting change of pace, pitting a largely defenseless Samus against the Space Pirates in what amounts to a sneaking mission. The addition of guide statues makes the game much more linear and even on normal difficulty, it's a rather easy game, but hard mode unlocks after your first playthrough.

Unlike the more verbose Metroid Fusion, this game is more like Super Metroid in that it relies on nonverbal storytelling. There are some cutscenes with limited animation to add a little extra punch. It works well and, honestly, in light of how the series progressed, I'd say this is the best way to handle a Metroid game. We get a precious bit of insight into Samus' past, which ties in with the backstory manga.

The game looks about as good as you can get in the GBA. The art style for the cutscenes works well for the small screen with its bold outlines and such. However, I'm not a big fan of Samus' character design here. I preferred her look from Fusion a lot more, but I suppose that's a matter of personal preference.

The music features some nice remixes of themes from the original game. The GBA's sound chip isn't as good as the SNES's, but it does well with what it has. Sound effects are up to par.

When you beat the game, the original game is unlocked. It's a nice bonus. You're also able to link to Fusion, but only if you have the original GBA cartridges and the link cable. It doesn't apply to the Virtual Console release.

Whether you're an old fan looking for a new take on the classic or part of the new generation who wants something a little more accessible, this is well worth playing and definitely a must-own for fans of the series.

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