Just over 11 hours and another Metroid has been completed 100%. You could say that means I can now start waiting two to three years again to get my next fix, but I think I’ll be replaying this one a few times.
While it’s not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, Metroid: Other M simply flows nice enough to be played through again and again. Its flow is reminiscent of Zero Mission in that respect. Another game for which initial reactions were mixed, but in the end turned out to be a kind of apex for the series in a way nobody had realized beforehand.
Other M has a similar quality in its combat system. Team NINJA mixing dabs of Ninja Gaiden into Samus’s move-set feels more natural than one might expect. The 2D Metroids have always been an exercise in making Samus the key to every lock in the game (rather than picking up a random key-item as in, say, Zelda), and Team NINJA has extended this quality into the combat. You simply become part of it.
While there’s still a lot of mindless blasting (which feels distinctively 2D thanks to the auto-aim), jumping onto enemies, dodging their attacks and weaving fatal actions into your battle dance feels right at home and makes the game feel like Zero Mission 3D. The only thing that could have pushed this over the edge, is when they would have allowed for additional moves as you pick up some items (like the Speed Booster to makes dash-attacks mid-combat for example).
That might have alleviated the one problem with combat: its too easy. Simply circling the d-pad and hammering the 1-button is enough to take out most enemies. You’ll dodge practically everything and keep shooting stuff to smithereens. It might not be the smartest approach, but it’s all too easy to fall back into its clutches. Still, I guess it keeps the game accessible. In any case, it feels far more Metroid-ish than the Primes ever managed, which is quite shocking to realize.
Ultimately, the main draw of the game - the storyline - turns out to be the real letdown. Nothing is explained in regard to the Chozo and the metroids. Instead, we get soap opera melodrama about Samus and Adam. The thing is, Fusion does a far better job of characterizing Adam than all this fluffed exposure in Other M manages.
Speaking of which, the game is an almost exact carbon-copy of Fusion. There are some slight deviations, but it’s like nobody even bothered to think of something new. It becomes insulting when it starts to recycle bosses. The game redeems itself slightly with the encore afterwards, but ultimately Other M is another Energy Tank for the series, rather than a new suit.
Though it’s an Energy Tank filled to the brim with sweet, deliciously lethal energy.