It’s difficult to put into words exactly why I love the original Metroid Prime so much, yet it remains my absolute favourite video game of all time. The game was my entry point into the series and would encourage me to play further titles in the franchise, create Shinesparkers, and then produce the fan-arrangement Metroid album, Harmony of a Hunter. Today, on the fifteenth anniversary of its original European release, I want to share how I first encountered my favourite Metroid game.
My introduction to Metroid was through Super Smash Bros Melee in 2002, where I first discovered a ‘robot’ character called Samus. I must admit I wasn’t familiar with the Metroid series, and I didn’t particularly care for the franchise until a friend from the USA pleaded with me to give the game a try, going as far as sending me his own copy of the game to insist I play it. I was able to track down some software so I could use it with my PAL-region GameCube, and when the game arrived in the mail, I began my adventure stepping into the boots of Samus Aran.
The opening level upon the Space Pirate Frigate did a great job of drawing me in, showing me a stark contrast between other games I had been playing up until that point. It began with a feeling of isolation and intrigue, which served as a tutorial teaching me all I needed to know about the controls. The tension began to grow with a sense of foreboding as I progressed deeper, eventually leading to the Parasite Queen, my first boss battle. The following escape sequence was a neat and unexpected twist that resulted in me losing several of my power-ups along the way when I was thrown against a wall, and eventually, I came face-to-face with Meta Ridley for the first time. With minutes to spare, I escaped the station and chased Meta Ridley down to the planet the station was orbiting below. My excitement had grown, and I was hooked.
Stepping out of the gunship onto the surface of Tallon IV was another memorable moment. The pace of the game had shifted back to one of calm, and I could relax and take in the environment around me. I began my journey to discover the secrets that the planet had in store, left by an ancient race known as the Chozo. Metroid Prime is a truly beautiful game, from the impressive scenery right down to the finer details like water droplets splashing against Samus’ visor as the rain pours down on it and the sunlight breaking through the ruins of the Tallon Overworld. Despite its beauty, the planet was alive and deadly with weird and wonderful creatures and vegetation that would kill you if it was given a chance. This became clearer as I progressed deeper into this strange, alien world, where I would face creatures that succumbed to the great poison known as Phazon in inhospitable environments like the fiery depths of Magmoor Caverns and the icy wastelands of Phendrana Drifts.
The visor system was a brilliant addition to the game. Switching between different visors such as thermal and x-ray allowed me to view the world in different ways. Although Metroid Prime featured very little spoken dialogue, I was able to discover more about its story with the Scan Visor, which could be used to learn more about the environment, creatures, and lore, adding the information to the logbook. But the greatest feature of Prime for me was its soundtrack; it was my partner throughout my journey and complemented each area and moment perfectly. I especially loved it when I backtracked to the early areas later in my play-through to find that the music had changed, reflecting the progress I had made throughout the game as I became stronger and more capable.
Eventually my adventure seemed like it was coming to an end. I had spent hours reacquiring my suit upgrades and rebuilding my arsenal of weapons, destroying creatures infected by Phazon, and thwarting the plans of the Space Pirates on Tallon IV. Collecting the twelve artefacts left by the Chozo had taken a lot of effort, and I felt proud of my achievement, only to have them blown up by Meta Ridley in an intense fight at the Artifact Temple. I remember the moment well, because I had very nearly killed him, only to die myself. I remember swearing at the television and going straight back into the battle to try again, where I took great pleasure in destroying him. Needless to say, Ridley left quite the impression as I went on to play further games in the series.
Metroid Prime is an excellent game, which taught me to be more observant of my surroundings in video games to discover hidden areas and secrets. It encouraged me to explore more of Nintendo’s vast library of games, more mature titles on other platforms, and of course, more games in the Metroid franchise. But I can never forget the first time I played Metroid Prime, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Written by Darren Kerwin