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Review: Metroid Prime Remastered

Written by LHYonNPUK

A return to Tallon IV was something Metroid fans have been eagerly anticipating, and it’s better than we could have hoped for.


Metroid fans rejoice! We have been blessed with a remaster of a GameCube masterpiece. 

Let us begin with a bit of a history lesson for the uninitiated. Metroid Prime is a First-Person Adventure-Shooter, first launched on the Nintendo GameCube in 2002. Following directly from the plot of Metroid/ Metroid: Zero Mission, bounty hunter Samus Aran travels through space to answer a distress beacon. It turns out that the source of the beacon is a Space Pirate ship which had been experimenting with a substance called Phazon. After exploring the ship, Samus encounters her arch-enemy Ridley, who flees to the planet below. Samus gives chase and lands on the harsh, hostile planet of Tallon IV. Her mysterious guardians, The Chozo, had once inhabited this world, and sealed away a Great Poison there. We take up the task of restoring Samus’ strength, eradicating the Space Pirates, and finding out what sinister business they were up to here. It’s a tough job, but Samus can do it! 

Immediately, the first thing that stands out is just how faithful, yet improved, this remaster is. At its core it is still Metroid Prime, a fantastic game with buckets of adventure, battles and puzzles. Putting nostalgia aside, it’s a testament to both Nintendo and Retro Studios’ work that this 20+ year old game simultaneously looks ahead of its time and holds up today. The gameplay is immensely satisfying. It feels great to explore, and each encounter you clear without taking damage releases bucketloads of serotonin into your system. Each boss beaten and upgrade found opens a whole new slew of puzzle solutions and exploration options. Getting Samus back to her initial strength is rewarding, and surpassing it feels even better!

Traversing the various biomes and facing-off against the foes of Tallon IV never feels dull, and there’s enough danger to keep you engaged during the trek from elevator to elevator. There are moments where you’ll find yourself mistiming a jump or backtracking to a more dangerous zone in search of a Missile or Energy tank, and end up taking heavy damage. Luckily, unlike 2D entries in the Metroid series, Prime also displays updates on the HUD that give you an optional prompt to tell you where you need to go to progress. This is great if you tend to get lost easily, or if like me you spend ages getting distracted by how pretty the game looks. There’s also plenty of Save points dotted around Tallon IV to refill your health and set checkpoints. Metroid Prime did have one other mechanic not seen in the 2D games, and that is the option to swap between beam weapons, letting Samus have a more varied arsenal and allowing her to exploit her enemies in multiple ways. Most of her tools from the 2D Metroid series make an appearance here and we’re greeted with some new additions too, like the Boost Ball, Spider Ball and some spoilery upgrades which I won’t go into here.

The Scan visor is unique to the Prime series and lets you fill a database with notes, and tips on how the game works. Scanning certain objects will give you additional backstory and information on what they do, and scanning enemies, while dangerous, also gives you tips on how to best them. Having this as a tool to assist in further environmental storytelling is such a nice way of allowing players different levels of engagement. For myself, reading the different data logs was a fun way of discovering clues and hints on how this game followed on from Metroid and how the Prime sequels build off it. It’s just a really neat little idea that I wish more games explored.

 A major difference with the Remastered version is the enhanced control options. It’s really intuitive to play regardless of which of the 4, yes, 4 control schemes you choose to play with, each with their own button mapping I might add. For gamers who want the traditional experience, the “Classic” scheme is for you, perfectly replicating the GameCube movement, camera and weapon controls. Hybrid is a blend of the original control scheme, but with gyro aiming included. Pointer is a motion control focused scheme that made Metroid Prime 3 (and Metroid Prime Trilogy) a dream to control on the Wii. It has a signature smooth aim and movement setup, and pressing the ‘R’ and ‘ZR’ buttons lets you reset your aim. This was my preferred scheme when playing docked. Finally, a new addition is the dual-stick controls, which I found was the ideal scheme for portable play. One small, but mighty helpful update is that holding the ‘fire’ button for your beam weapon fires a 3-shot burst before instigating the charge beam, not an earth shattering update but it is incredibly useful for exterminating the smaller aliens that roam Tallon IV. 

The HUD looks so much nicer in the Remastered edition, with sleek curves, and smoother opacity than the classic version. It binds all the original tools like the visor selection to the D-Pad, and opposite that we have weapon select. The sides of Samus’ visor are occupied by the Hazard indicator on the left, missile ammo on the right and the top corners sport a radar, mini-map and Samus’ energy bar. Despite sounding visually busy, it is quite non-intrusive and gives players everything they need in a really dynamic and realistic way, it feels like we’re in Samus’ helmet just like each cutscene suggests.

The game has updated accessibility options too, and a new, updated Narration feature toggle, which can add to the experience if you’re hungry for more Metroid content. The final new addition is an Extras menu which showcases art, music and other unlockable content for the completionists out there. 

Metroid Prime Remastered is such a beautifully re-crafted game that benefits so much from its updated visuals, which have been polished so much that chrome would be jealous. The lighting and textures have been completely reinvented but still capture the feeling of Metroid. I was immensely happy that this game wasn’t just a HD upscale, but an entirely rebuilt game with new textures, visuals and a new engine, all while perfectly recreating the look and atmosphere of the original.
Even the original style of the HUD, and all its included mechanics, is faithfully maintained. All in all, the presentation is phenomenal. I particularly enjoy the fact that both the helmet interior and the arm cannon have both been revamped and look even better than they did in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. The in-game technology looks significantly more sophisticated and sleek with augmented lights and flourishes.  Metal surfaces really shine with the atmospheric lighting and with the dynamic new engine, even the scorch marks from Samus’ beam weapon and health and missile pick-ups look believable.

The creatures have more of a realistic look too, with defined scales and chitinous edges of the various limbs and jaws that threaten Samus throughout her journey. It’s a real testament to the design team that they’ve been able to take the original designs from 20 years ago and refine them to a place where they’re still recognisable and yet a world apart visually. Every creature maintains their strong silhouettes, but looks vastly superior in this iteration. Animations also play a part here, and the general power of the Nintendo Switch system over that of the GameCube means that the cutscenes and enemy movements look more natural; helped in no small part by a really solid framerate . The high quality particle effects, weather physics, spores, explosions, and gorgeous water mechanics help make Tallon IV look more like the hostile, but habitable planet it was designed to be,  and I am loving every second of it. 

During my time playing it I didn’t notice too much of a change in the sound design. The iconic power-up and puzzle-solved jingles still flood my brain with serotonin, and the alien-sounding synth soundtrack still hits as hard today as it did over 2 decades ago. Yamamoto’s soundtrack is timeless, and I’m glad it hasn’t been tampered. I get to re-enjoy the chilling ambiance of Phendrana Drifts exactly how I remember it, and I can listen to it until I’m sick of it thanks to the music player in the extras menu. The power beam, missiles and enemy reaction sound effects return in higher quality audio, and they sound amazing. Even playing handheld on the Nintendo Switch System, the audio is as crisp and clear as it is in docked play. Both newcomers and veterans alike will have plenty of audible delights to enjoy during their expedition of Tallon IV.

All in all it’s very interesting to talk about how fun and great Metroid Prime Remastered is but we also need to consider how this souped up version performs, and once again Retro Studios and Nintendo completely deliver here. This is the smoothest experience of Metroid Prime to date. With a new engine, higher quality textures, a solid frame rate, fast and responsive loading times, and no perceptible input delay, it’s surprising that it all fits in a 6.7GB file size. During my hours of gameplay I experienced no crashing, freezing or stuttering, even in busier areas where the screen can be flooded with particle effects. It’s also not a battery eater. You can play for multiple hours without draining the Switch System. It performs great  in both docked and handheld modes, which is a bonus for everyone who dreamed of playing arguably one of the best games ever while on the go. 


Metroid Prime is an iconic title from Nintendo’s past, and this augmented re-release is a must have addition to any adventure game fan’s library. For the asking price, it’s a perfect choice for anyone looking for a new world to explore, or a familiar one to retread, and a stellar first step to bringing the rest of the Prime series to Nintendo Switch. The fact it was dropped with little buildup has large implications for the future of the series in my view. With improved visuals, enhanced control options, strong gameplay, and deep environmental storytelling, this is now the ‘Prime’ way to experience the original Metroid Prime.


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Written by Luke Young

Edited by Mark McAllister, Jen Griffiths and Paul L. Russell

Graphic by Paul L. Russell