Metroid: Other M Wii Review

Publisher – Nintendo – Developer – Team Ninja/Nintendo – Genre – Action Adventure – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 16+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

Nintendo are hardly a company that adapts with the rest of the industry. In fact, by the time they do catch up, what was once a new trend no longer is. Nintendo’s properties haven’t really been featured in any cinematic games as such for example, but Metroid: Other M is something outside of the Nintendo norm: a game that embraces a popular trend and even gives Samus Aran a voice.

The Metroid lead is no longer the silent type and appears in her deepest story yet, with events set between Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion. Although Samus’ voice actor does do a decent job with her narration and the story certainly is successful at humanising the character, the voice acting can hardly be called excellent and sometimes comes across as a little bland. There’s some excellent motion captured FMV sequences, but the story itself is nothing outstanding, nor is it anything truly offensive either. Metroid fans who just want to get on with the game, though, will have to tolerate unskippable cut-scenes, some of which are lengthy – a shock to the system for any long time fan, I would imagine.

There's some memorable boss encounters, most of which are oversized and not very friendly.

The oddly titled Metroid: Other M was a collaboration between Nintendo and Team Ninja, with the former obviously overseeing their property like a parent and the latter on development duties. With Retro Studios finished with the franchise for now, Team Ninja were given the mission of adding their own stamp to the series, and they’ve certainly done just that.

Other M still follows the example long set by Super Metroid, but there’s a renewed focus on action. The game allows those with a run and gun mindset to blast their way through enemies and returns the series to a third person view. There’s an automatic lock-on function and Samus runs along like she’s really eager to get the mission over and done with, both of which makes for a satisfying time. But Other M’s focus on action also has a rather disappointing side – there’s a dodge move which fills up the charge shot gauge, but as this is simply achieved with the d-pad (the same buttons that are used for Samus’ movement) of the Wii remote, it just makes many enemy encounters feel too easy and I often dodged out of the way when I didn’t even know that the enemies were striking. Don’t get me wrong it’s fun and flashy, but I certainly expected better from the people behind the modern day Ninja Gaiden series.

The switch to third person and regular side-on views certainly brings to mind classic Metroid, but first person hasn’t been completely thrown out. The game is played without the nunchuck and the remote is mostly held horizontally, which, with all the buttons mapped sensibly, works very well indeed. When you want to make the switch to Samus’ eyes, going vertical with the remote is the way to go – allowing you to take a closer look at certain things in your surroundings and to fire off a typical variety of missiles, but restricts you to head movements only. It’s a great idea which works very well and is a sensible mixture of both newer and classic Metroid elements.

The other side to Metroid is the exploration and whilst it isn’t as prevalent here as it has been in the past, the level design is excellent and you still are able to go off the main path and find helpful upgrades. Typically, you can only reach certain areas upon a specific point in the story, and here Samus’ individual skills can only be used when she’s authorised to do so. Skills include everything from the morph ball and bombs to missiles and the grapple beam, amongst others.

Get to a dazed enemy fast enough and you'll finish them off in brutal fashion. It's hard to believe it's a Nintendo game at times.

Metroid: Other M is also a gorgeous looking game, certainly up there with the Wii’s best visual examples. The overall look is striking, with its bright colours standing out from duller backgrounds, and snowy and lava areas really look the part. Samus’ purposeful animations are also nicely done.

Metroid: Other M is hardly the highpoint of a consistently excellent series, although it is a game that is still well worth a play. It may be lacking in challenge and is more linear than other titles in the series, but this is still a stylish action game that does more than enough to attract a new audience. Fans on the other hand will either look at it as a fresh start or a step backward.