By Justin Guillou / August 29th, 2015
|Title||Metroid: Zero Mission|
|Release Date||February 9, 2004(US) April 8, 2004(EU)
March 12, 2015(Wii U Virtual Console EU)
|Age Rating||ESRB – Everyone|
The original Metroid is, in my opinion, one of the most genius games to ever come out. It was a game that tried its best to defy conventions and stereotypes established by games of the era. At the time, you played platformers like Super Mario Bros., and things were simple. You press Start, go right, jump a bit, get trolled by Toad and rescue the princess. In Metroid, you start out and can go right, but you will quickly realize you are unable to progress. That is when it clicks: you realize you have to go LEFT! It sounds trivial today, but that was a rather bold design choice for the time. I’m sure many people’s minds were also blown when they found out Samus is a woman. Who says a lady can’t be a hero? Anyways, enough of me fantasizing about what life was like before I was even born, and let’s take this party to the year 2004. Nintendo decided to remake this NES epic and bring us Metroid: Zero Mission. Spoiler alert: it is glorious!
You are Samus Aran, a bounty hunter, and you land in Brinstar, explore stuff, jump on platforms, avoid lava, blow stuff up and get upgrades. Are you going to get drawn out 30-minute dialogues scenes in this game? NO. In fact, there is barely any dialogue in this game at all. There are a few cutscenes here and there, but do not expect Samus to waste her time talking to every enemy she comes across. Heck, there are not even many tutorial scenes. Almost everything is shown through gameplay, and it feels natural. While we are on the subject of cutscenes, I have to say the art direction is just gorgeous. The 2D sprite work is equally as impressive. Samus is very well animated, and bosses generally take up most of the screen. Everything looks like it came straight out of an awesome sci-fi graphic novel. Nintendo, how about a new Metroid manga or OVA in this style?
Right off the bat, you will notice a few new improvements over the original. You actually have a map, can save your game, aim your gun down or diagonal AND duck! In fact, this game has most of Samus’ abilities from Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, making this a much smoother experience. Samus controls like a charm and moves at a nice brisk pace. Seriously, this is Metroid gotta-go-fast edition. In no time at all, you will have found several powerups such as the Long Shot, health upgrades, Missiles and Bombs. You should expect to see most of Samus’ moveset from Super Smash Bros. here. This is also the game where the popular Zero Suit is from.
Your main goal is to track down and defeat Ridley and Kraid, then face off against Mother Brain. Due to the lack of a map in the original, it was very easy for you to get lost. Now, at various moments, you reach Chozo statues which place markers on your map giving you an idea of where you should head next. Of course, being a Metroid, game, there are plenty of hidden goodies to be found inside of walls, ceilings or any secret passages. The game is also filled with nice remixes of classic themes from Metroid and even some from Super Metroid. Fans of the original game are in for a little surprise when they get to the “End” of the game. Let’s just say this game is not only a remake but an expanded cut of the original.
The problems I have with Zero Mission are really minor. There are a lot of new mini-bosses in the game, but none of them are very challenging, and go down rather quickly. There are a lot of secret passageways but they were almost always “on the way” to my next objective, making the game feel a bit more linear than I expected. Also, the game is over very soon, at least on the “Normal” difficulty. Without a guide, I was able to get through the entire game in just over three hours. The bright side is the game is perfect for speed runs. In fact, in true 2D Metroid fashion, completing the game quickly unlocks special artwork. You can also unlock the original NES Metroid for you to compare the two games. I will say, despite the great nostalgic trip, the improvements in Zero Mission make it difficult to come back to the original.
Metroid: Zero Mission is a great GBA game with plenty of replay value. A copy nowadays will cost anywhere from $25-40 online. It can be pricey, but, in my opinion, this is one of the best games for the system, AND you technically get two games in it, so it is worth it. If you are in Europe, you can pick it up on the Wii U Virtual Console for much cheaper. Those of us in the US are not as fortunate, so, for now, the GBA release is all we have. If you do not already have a copy, track it down!
Review copy purchased by author.