Archives by Day

Metroid Prime Remastered

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Action
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: Feb. 8, 2023


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

Switch Review - 'Metroid Prime Remastered'

by Cody Medellin on Feb. 22, 2023 @ 1:29 a.m. PST

The first Metroid Prime game has been remastered for the Nintendo Switch system with HD visuals and enhanced sound!

Buy Metroid Prime Remastered

The initial announcement about Metroid Prime was well received, since the last time anyone saw the series was back in the SNES days. Every bit of news after that — the fact that it was coming from a studio of a former Acclaim subsidiary, a change from 2D to 3D, the move to a first-person perspective — were all met with bewilderment and a fear that no one understood what was special about the Metroid series. All of those concerns were cast aside when the game was released, and people quickly learned that the team at Retro Studios knew exactly what it was doing with a game that defined how good the GameCube could be with the right talent. Although it has been close to six years since the announcement that a fourth entry in the series was coming, Nintendo saw fit to reward fans for their patience via Metroid Prime Remastered.

Metroid Prime Remastered is set between the original NES game and the Game Boy title, and once again, you take on the role of the bounty hunter Samus Aran. Answering a call from an orbiting space station, you find a ruined lab that was researching various creatures and energy sources. You also find that it was recently attacked by space pirates, and after a battle with some escaped specimens, you find that Ridley is still alive, well, and ready to escape from the facility. After escaping the self-destructing station with a damaged suit, you board your ship and give chase to the nearby planet of Tallon IV to eradicate the space pirate threat.

If you've never played the original prior to this, what you have is the basic Metroid formula from the first-person perspective. Exploration is the focus, as the game gives you complete freedom to roam wherever you want — if you have the tools for the job. Backtracking becomes a necessity since you'll discover impassable areas only to find a tool much later that'll let you progress the narrative and help you find secret areas to get more power-ups and upgrades. It isn't all flat spaces, but the platforming from a first-person viewpoint, traditionally a weakness of the perspective, is handled gracefully, and there are no doubts that you'll land safely. Switch to a morph ball to get through tight spaces or up magnetic walls, and you'll switch to a third-person perspective that also handles quite nicely without careening into unwanted spots.

Like many first-person shooters, combat is exciting, and switching over from different beams to missiles and back again doesn't feel alien, since it mimics the gun changes in other shooters. This was done at a time when developers were still trying to perfect first-person shooter controls on a console, so the game has a lock-on feature to help you target enemies or important switches. Strafing becomes easier because of it, and when you consider how frantic most boss fights can be, this feature is a great gameplay aid that doesn't dilute the experience.

While Metroid Prime Remastered nails these facets quite well, one change that really adds something to the gameplay is the visor system. The Combat visor is the normal one, while the Thermal and X-Ray visors help in seeking out enemies in environmental cover or in other situations when it's difficult to see. Their inclusion makes for some very memorable combat moments in a series that's not usually known for them.

The visor that defines the game is the Scan visor. It is your means of activating important switches or identifying important elements to move the story forward, but its biggest benefit comes from scanning all of the non-important stuff. Scanning energy balls and missile refills is novel. Scanning logs and other incidental data from the environment satisfies lore junkies. Scanning enemies satisfies both parties in addition to  those looking for hints for monster fights. It transforms the series by making players more observant of their surroundings and fleshing out storylines in a way that few 2D Metroid titles have done before — or since. Even those who had previously written off the series might be tempted to give it another chance.

The once-controversial change to a first-person perspective remains novel mostly because other studios' attempts at this don't gel as well. Metroid Prime Hunters was a more action-focused title that couldn't nail the controls due to it being on the Nintendo DS. Metroid: Other M tried to blend 2D movement with 3D shooting areas, and it felt clunky, while Metroid Prime: Federation Force focused on action with unnamed Marines instead of Samus. The fact that Retro Studios nailed everything about the Metroid series and added its own flair on the first try is impressive. The title delivers a sense of wonder at new alien environments, and the gradual power creep remains solid.

There are two major areas where the game has seen significant improvements. The first is with the controls, which offer four different schemes. Twin Stick is the default, and it gives the game the now-traditional first-person shooter controls that will be familiar to most people. Triggers take the place of some of the common face button actions, like shooting your arm cannon and missiles; using the morph ball still requires the face buttons. Lock-on remains present, so you now move around while still looking around the environment. Many players find this to be the control layout that offers the best amount of speed for the regular gameplay.

If your muscle memory from the GameCube era is still intact, the Classic control scheme remains with the GameCube layout adapted to the Joy-Cons or Pro Controller. For those with functioning GameCube controllers and the adapter that initially came out for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Ultimate, those devices work with the game, provided you're willing to make some modifications due to button placement. You'll still lose out on an option or two, so you'll still need to have the Joy-Cons ready, which isn't ideal and makes the default Twin Stick setup a better option.

If you first played this game on the Wii, you'll find the Pointer to be a good option; all of the aiming and shooting are relegated to the Right Joy-Con that mimics the Wii Remote. Aiming and shooting with this is accurate enough that you won't use the lock-on option much, but the accuracy isn't at the level of the old remote, so turning will feel slow. The final option, Hybrid, feels like both a correction to this shortcoming and a way to emulate something that most Steam Deck users have found useful with shooters. The controls mimic that of the twin-stick setup, but holding down a button lets you use the system's gyroscope function to finetune your aim. It works fine if you're used to some early PS3 games or still use a Steam Controller to play shooters, but it feels good if you're playing the game in portable mode, where it feels more natural to move the console.

The graphics are the other major area that Metroid Prime Remastered improves on, and while the original was already a stunner, this new iteration matches almost perfectly with your memories of the GameCube original or Wii iteration. The textures have gotten a major upgrade, and with a few tiny exceptions, it's difficult to spot low-resolution textures. The lighting has also gotten a major overhaul, which now does a better job of exposing more detail and making the environments look richer. As a result, this iteration looks much richer compared to the original, even if the overall polygon count and models remain unchanged. There are still some issues, such as light not being evoked from your charge beam and some other differences from the original and Wii versions, but they're minor. The game still maintains the 60fps with no dips, and it retains this level of graphical fidelity whether you're playing in docked or portable mode.

Compared to the controls and the graphics, the audio didn't exactly get a massive overhaul. The only real change is that the surround sound ditches the Dolby Pro Logic II codec in favor of uncompressed PCM, giving you much cleaner sound separation for every element. Beyond this, the sound effects remain just as clean as before, with every shot coming through with a perfect pitch. The music remains the highlight of this area, as it does a great job of evoking a sense of grandeur and menace. The new themes mix in well with the reimagined classic score of past games to make a soundtrack that remains just as powerful as it was close to 20 years ago.

Metroid Prime is a true classic, and Metroid Prime Remastered is perhaps the best version of that game to date. The adventure remains as timeless, with a near-perfect mix of combat and exploration that continues to be compelling all these years later. The improvement to the graphics helps the game look even better than some modern releases, while the sound is richer thanks to being uncompressed. The various control methods are a saving grace, as what was once a good control scheme now feels awkward to use. This is well worth having in the game library of any Switch owner who loves a good adventure. If the rumors are true, expect this same level of care and quality if and when Prime 2 and Prime 3 come out in remastered form.

Score: 9.0/10

More articles about Metroid Prime Remastered
blog comments powered by Disqus