While the tension of Samus Aranâ€™s latest battle with the Mother Brain is still tantalizing the gamer nerve, and while the epic conclusion of the tale of universal phazon corruption is still fresh in the memory, dust off that GameCube controller and give the original Metroid Prime a spin.
Really, go ahead.
Loaded up? Wonderful. Now blast through the introductory space station for a moment; if there is one thing the original Prime holds over the latest, this is it. The eerie desolation and incomparable alienation of exploring this dilapidated Space Pirate vessel still manages to thrill five years after its release, and is a far better – and more suitable, considering the franchise – starting point for Samus Aran and her Metroid-blasting space exploration.
Finish off a few wounded Space Pirates? Excellent. Roll through some twisted corridors? Great. Exterminate the Parasite Queen and escape the detonating orbiter? Nice. For the few who have fought the urge to delve deeper into the spectacular locales of Tallon IV, and have instead continued reading, eject the disc and restart the console. Donâ€™t worry; it will be just as dreary and rainy at the Landing Site next time.
Now get modern. Sync a Wii remote and boot up Samusâ€™ latest adventure, Metroid Prime 3. Defend the Federation Base and assassinate the Berserker Lord, if you must. Itâ€™s completely understandable.
Back yet? Good. The moment the camera shifted behind Samusâ€™ visor for the first time in the original Metroid Prime, something striking should have been immediately evident and painfully obvious. If not, it should certainly be so after killing a few Space Pirates in Corruption:
The Wii remote and Samus Aran were made for each other.
And as terrific as the first two Metroid Prime games are, controlling Samus with a GameCube controller has become incredibly troublesome by comparison. In Corruption, she is the quick, nimble, sharp-shooting bounty hunter gamers have always imagined her to be. But on Tallon IV and Echoesâ€™ Aether, Samus feels as though her Varia Suit weighs a few hundred pounds; she is sluggish, her aiming is inaccurate, and perhaps most importantly, she has a hard time simply looking around.
This is not a damnation of the GameCube iterations of Metroid. Rather, it is a testament to the truly revolutionary controls of Corruption. Gamers can argue to a stalemate over whether or not it is a better complete package on Wii than Twilight Princess, but one thing is certain: Corruption is the first Wii title to render traditional control methods obsolete. Popping off Space Pirates has never been easier, and Samusâ€™ arm cannon has never been more accurate. The Wiimote allows for pixel-perfect Metroid-hunting precision, and paired with the nunchuk, it offers the first FP(S) console setup to rival traditional keyboard-and-mouse PC controls. Ever.
A review at GameTrailers.com raves that Metroid Prime 3 â€œproves that there is no better control option on any consoleâ€ for first-person gaming. IGNâ€™s Matt Casamassina took the praise a step further, claiming that Corruptionâ€™s controls â€œrespond quicker and with more precision than any dual-analog-helmed FPS ever created.â€
But perhaps it was Infendoâ€™s own overlord Blake Snow who said it best in the September 2 edition of Infendo Radio: Corruption â€œmakes dual thumb-sticks retarded.â€
Truer words would be difficult to muster, and their application is not exclusive to Metroid games. Play some other console-based FPS games; dig up the very best, even. Power up some nuclear reactors and turn on an Xbox 360 for some Gears of War, Bioshock or Halo 3. A few irritating minutes of aiming-by-thumb proves irrefutably that despite all these spectacular games do well, their controls are by comparison…oh, whatâ€™s the word…
Corruption has proven a point: there is no better console for first-person gaming than Wii. Developers have taken note of what Retro Studios achieved and are already implementing comparable controls into their projects. The result is a potentially bright future for shooters on Wii littered with some of the tightest-controlling FPS games sans mouse-clicking, most notably Electronic Artsâ€™ increasingly hyped November release, Medal of Honor: Heroes 2.
And itâ€™s all because of the Wii remote.
But last week, viewers of the tech-centric television channel G4 were told something very different. On the gaming-based X-Play, host Adam Sessler reviewed Metroid Prime 3 almost two months after it hit store shelves. The long delay in Sesslerâ€™s review itself may have been enough to convey his thoughts on the game, if not for the regularity of such unpunctual review patterns on G4.
Sessler began by calling Corruption a â€œdo-or-die game for the Wii.â€
Perhaps Sessler is merely pointing out the struggles the Wii is having to eclipse 20 million hardware sales in one calendar year. Or maybe he is alluding to the fact that the Wii has outsold the PS3 at a mere 3-to-1 worldwide ratio, failing to reach the more coveted 4-to-1 sales figures.
Or, of course, he could just be incredibly off-base. Just maybe. And as strange as his opening statement seemed, the state of his review experienced a sharp decline as he addressed the controls.
â€œYou canâ€™t help but shake the feeling that this game would actually be easier to control competently with the GameCube controller,â€ said Sessler. â€œUnfortunately, that simply isnâ€™t an option.â€
Adam Sessler is an experienced journalist. Of course, he never actually went to school for journalism, but to his credit, he has been involved with the gaming media for nearly a decade. Yet his comments spawn an inescapable desire to contend that he may well have never even played the game. Because in journalism, a true student of the profession plays games before reviewing them. In the case of Corruption, it may have also been prudent to play through the first two Primes for direct comparison, considering that the new Metroid is built entirely around a new control scheme.
Rather, it seems as though Sessler paid Corruption the most minimal attention, perhaps not even bothering to adjust reticule sensitivity, before jumping in front of the camera to announce his verdict. It would seem there is no better explanation for his unfounded arguments.
Think back a few minutes to the awkward stiffness of controlling Samus through the Space Pirate station with a GameCube controller. Fast-forward to the liberating feeling of pointer-based control, and how firing shots at Dark Samus with anything but seems entirely archaic. Of course, video games are subjective and cater specifically to the individual tastes and interests of the gamer. But to honestly suggest that Samus fared better with a C-stick, and fault Corruption for not including such a dated option, is absolutely absurd.
Of course, we shouldnâ€™t doubt Sesslerâ€™s integrity. His reports have always been fiercely astute pieces of objective and professional journalism, as evident later in his review, when Sessler warns about the physical trauma possible in extended sessions of Corruption.
â€œThe last time I got wrist cramps this bad,â€ warns Sessler, â€œI had just purchased Charmed season four on DVD, if you know what I mean. God, that was a good 30 minutes.â€
Ah, such is the essence of journalistic integrity.