When Nintendo announced Metroid Prime 4 for the Switch several years ago, rumors also surfaced that a remake or remaster of the first three games might be coming to the Switch. During the recent Nintendo Direct, the wait was finally rewarded with a remaster of Metroid Prime. The physical release is scheduled for March 3, 2023, but the game is already available online. The big question, of course, is whether this Remastered version is worth picking up for those who played the original in 2002 on the GameCube.
A bit of history
The original version of Metroid Prime managed to garner high marks upon release at the time because it was the first time the oppressive atmosphere and adventures of mercenary Samus could be played from the first-person perspective. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes was released in 2004 and the trilogy concluded three years later on the Wii with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Several years after that, another bundle of the three games came out on the Wii called Metroid Prime Trilogy that managed to apply the Wii’s motion controls to the first two games.
In many ways, Metroid Prime Remastered combines the best of the previous versions with the technological improvements of the Switch. Anyone who regularly plays games on the Switch knows that the system is starting to feel a bit dated by now. Still, developers like Retro Studios and Nintendo regularly manage to deliver wonderfully strong performing games.
In the original, you didn’t have the choice to move and shoot at the same time, but thankfully Metroid Prime Remastered uses controls that are much like most contemporary shooting games. Where Metroid Prime does differ from most first-person shooters is the game pace that is a bit slower, the focus on exploring the environment and gathering background information. That information is about Tallon IV, the planet where Samus ends up after a brief introduction.
People who are somewhat familiar with the Metroid games know a bit about the structure of the series. You arrive at a location, see multiple areas that you can’t go to because you lack a certain upgrade, and will be able to explore those areas later in the game because you found a new weapon, suit or other enhancement further down the road. In that respect, Metroid Prime is simply a continuation of the concepts first found in Metroid on the NES in 1986. Where the GameCube version of Metroid Prime already impressed was with its many details such as a fogged up visor when entering cold areas or dripping condensation when you were near lava this Remastered version manages to give the graphical picture another huge boost.
In many ways, the game is the prime example of how to make a remaster. The original structure and locations remain largely the same but in the years between the GameCube and the Switch, Nintendo has obviously gradually learned to make games in 1080P. This is well reflected in the improved character models that include much more detail than in the original. For example, both Samus and her many opponents are much more beautifully designed. From textures on enemies’ skin and shiny surfaces to improved lighting, Metroid Prime Remastered simply manages to feel like a beautiful contemporary Switch title because of the graphical improvements. That the gameplay still stands like a house won’t surprise any fan of the Metroid games, but I was genuinely impressed by how much prettier this game was compared to the original.
For people wondering if Prime Remastered contains any extras compared to the original, it’s good to know that there are several pieces of artwork to unlock that further highlight the contrast between the original game and this new version. I personally would also have liked it if a savegame from Metroid Dread had unlocked a bonus like it did on the GameCube when you paired that system with a GameboyAdvance with Metroid Fusion, but unfortunately that was out of the question.
Secretly, I had hoped Nintendo would have given the entire trilogy this remastered treatment all at once. After all, Metroid Prime Trilogy on the Wii is still one of the best games on that system because it contains such a huge mountain of content. Somehow I hope parts two and three also get a similar treatment because this definitely tastes like more. But even when that doesn’t happen it fills me with hope that Metroid Prime 4 will be worth the long wait in the end. At least with Metroid Prime Remastered, Retro Studios has shown that despite changes of guard within the studio, they still have the talent to pull off a fantastic Samus adventure.
Metroid Prime Remastered is a textbook example of how to make a remaster of a classic game. Graphically the game is of course impressive with all kinds of updated textures, character models and lighting but fortunately the gameplay is also just as strong as ever. Of course, many people are mostly waiting for Metroid Prime 4 but at least with this Remastered version of Metroid Prime, gamers can pass the interim with peace of mind. Metroid Prime Remastered combines all the improved controls of the Wii version with the graphical bells and whistles of the Switch and it delivers a perfection fusion like Samus and the Metroids.