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Metroid: Zero Mission

Video Game Reviews

Ratings are based on a five-point scale, in homage to the the late, great Next Generation Magazine.

Gameboy Advance

Rating: * * *
Metroid - Zero Mission - video game reviews
Metroid - Zero Mission - screen shots - click for closeup

February 25, 2005

Metroid has been a beloved Nintendo staple for two decades among faithful gamers, paving the way for many action-adventure games and killing far too many hours. Super Metroid, which appeared on the Super NES over a decade ago, largely set the gold standard for this genre, and it's among the best videogames ever made. The only problem is that its shadow is damn near inescapable.

I think I'm a little more forgiving about Metroid: Zero Mission, even though it is, for all intents and purposes, Super Metroid all over again. There have only been two platform titles (both on the Advance) in the past decade, as opposed to three Castlevanias. So, at the very least, if you're going to have leftover turkey for lunch, you could skip the tofu and go straight for the dead bird.

This is the problem I'm having with a lot of these type of games, and perhaps it's due to the industry's move into 3D. Traditional 2D games have becomed an endangered species. It's become so that we no longer expect innovation or forward-thining; mimicking the classics of the 16-bit era is more than enough to keep us happy.

This results in a Metroid adventure that is entertaining and visually accomplished, but after it's over you forget the game ever existed. Goodness knows what's here is barely challenging. One of Super Metroid's charms was its difficulty; you were literally dumped into an endless maze of chasms and left on your own. Zero Mission holds your hand from start to finish, literally pointing you to the next vantage point.

What good is that? I'm sure there's a certain logic to this approach from a design point-of-view, but you feel as though you're just being shuffled along. Move along, kids, nothing to see hear. Be sure to catch the next tour in ten minutes.

Nintendo couldn't even bother to cook up any new weapons or power-ups. How lazy is that? Hooray, Samus Aran can cling to the side of a wall. I'll be sure to send a letter to the editor on that one. And come up with some new environments while yer at it. The only difference from Super Metroid is that the designers even more blatantly stole from Miyazaki's Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind. It's got to the point where I'm starting to have an ethical crisis when shooting insects.

A button for ice beam, a button for rockets...Is there a button to make everyone get along? I know I'm causing an Ohmu stampede somewhere. Studio Ghibli should be getting royalty checks for this videogame.

And all this can be yours for three Hamiltons. It all comes down to how hungry you are for turkey sandwiches.

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