Metroid Zero Mission Review

xandermartin98
ZERO MISSION REVIEW

Needless to say, Metroid’s first two games, as influential as they may have been, are a pair that held up only marginally better than the likes of Super Mario Kart and Earthbound Zero. Seriously, if I was given a choice between actually going BACK to Metroid’s first two games and those of the Zelda series, I would gladly pick the Zelda ones ANY day.

Such was especially the case with the first one, which boasted rather uncharacteristically dull and generic graphics (seriously, even on the NES, this game could have looked SO much better), blank backgrounds, copy-and-paste rooms as far as the eye could see, distinct lack of proper aiming and ducking features, inexcusably pathetic excuses for boss fights, and...actually a really shockingly great soundtrack, which was perhaps one of its few truly redeeming qualities besides innovation factor (Given the choice between it and Earthbound Zero, however, at least NES-troid only requires the player to tolerate it for about two hours at the most, provided that said player happens to have a map for it THAT HE GOT FROM AN OUTSIDE SOURCE).

Needless to say, however, Zero Mission is a remake of the first game that, while understandably not nearly as creative or interesting OF one as Super Metroid was back on the Super Nintendo, still manages to fix nearly every single problem that its source material had and THEN some...while still being a brilliant reimagining in its own right, as well being arguably tied with Wario Land 4 and Metroid Fusion as THE overall most absolutely gorgeous-looking game on its system, hands-down. Gunstar Super Heroes, PLEASE take note from this review; graphics are NOT everything.

STORY: While it has a few interesting little tidbits added here and there (learning that Mother Brain IS actually watching you all throughout the entire Brinstar/Norfair portion of the game, collecting several “unknown items” for your Power Suit, discovering the origin of the War Wasps in Norfair, and finally infiltrating the Space-Pirate-infested Chozodia as Zero Suit Samus and recovering your fully-powered Gravity Suit), Zero Mission is still very much the exact same story as the original, and rightfully so; it simply tells itself in a much more involving and cohesive manner. NEXT!

SOUND: Excellent sound design as always, but where it REALLY shines is in how unbelievably good of a job it does in remaking the old music of the original Metroid. Seriously, just LISTEN to this game’s renditions of Kraid’s Lair and Norfair; calling them godly is quite a bit of an understatement if you ask me. While it’s still overall not QUITE as good of a soundtrack as Super Metroid’s (go ahead, just TRY and tell me that the NES Brinstar theme is as good as the Brinstar THEMES from Super) and basically doesn’t have even a single original song worth noting, this game’s soundtrack is simply classic top-notch Nintendo quality in its purest form regardless.

GRAPHICS: Jesus, I’m STILL on the fence to this day about whether this or Metroid Fusion looked better overall. While the recent AM2R (Another Metroid 2 Remake) for PC may have easily looked better than both of them, it was using Zero Mission’s engine, so in retrospect, I’m probably going to have to give the “Best GBA Graphics” award to this game. Taking not only the superb comic-book art style but also the supreme environmental design aesthetic from Super Metroid and basically putting it on 32-bit steroids, this game is a handheld treat for the eyes almost beyond reasonable comprehension, ESPECIALLY for its time. Yes, I said it; this game, on the whole actually looks EVEN better than Gunstar Super Heroes. Just absolutely beautiful, nothing else to say about it.

GAMEPLAY: While I always personally found Metroid to be a series that prioritized graphics and atmosphere WAY too much over actual gameplay, it generally still consistently manages to deliver the gameplay aspect in spades despite the irritatingly short lengths, low difficulty levels and linear area designs of its games, and this game is the EXACT embodiment of literally everything I just said in this literally paragraph-long run-on sentence.

Despite being, on the whole, considerably EVEN easier than Super Metroid before it, Zero Mission also carries over the classic sequence-breaking theme of Super’s level design to an even GREATER degree than before (even allowing you to literally get the Varia Suit IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE MORPH-BALL BOMBS if you happened to be good enough at bomb-jumping, no less, as well as even skip the Varia Suit altogether and fight Ridley BEFORE Kraid using just one of the game’s many, MANY exceptionally cleverly hidden shortcuts) and, for lack of a more accurate description, is basically a speedrunner’s dream incarnate...speaking of which, HOLY MOTHER OF M is this game fracking short. We’re talking like literally two hours on average for 100-percent runs here, and about one-and-a-half for standard runs, let alone professional speedruns.

That being said, every last second OF those roughly 105 minutes at most is absolutely OVERFLOWING with polish and will make first-time players literally DROOL over its graphics, ESPECIALLY when compared to those of the original game. The level design is excellent, the hand-holding is thankfully only a MINOR annoyance this time, the integration of its abilities (most notably the new Super Metroid and Fusion ones, like Speed Booster and Power Grip for example) is simply second-to-none in its execution, and its trademark Metroid atmosphere literally could not be more on-point even if it tried.

OVERALL: While I don’t personally think it’s quite AS good of a remake as AM2R was to Metroid 2: Return Of Samus, this game is a work of 32-bit art regardless and is an undeniable must-have for ANY Metroid fan’s collection, whether it be on emulators or the actual GBA itself. 9.25/10

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