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Metroid Fusion

Developer: Nintendo | Publisher: Nintendo
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 11/17/02 | Genre: Platform

I’ll start off by saying that Metroid Fusion is the best original Game Boy Advance game to date. It’s got great atmosphere, and it’s well designed. It’s a lot like Super Metroid, but it’s also got a significantly different style. It’s a fairly intense adventure for any gamer.

Metroid Fusion takes place after Super Metroid. I won’t say too much about the story, except that Samus becomes infected by a parasite and as a result, loses all of her abilities (again). She must investigate a huge space station that is in some sort of crisis related to the parasite, all while regaining her lost abilities. The story takes much more importance in Fusion than in any previous Metroid game before it. This adds a new, interesting style to Metroid, but it also causes a few changes that some fans may not like.

Metroid Fusion probably won’t amaze you graphically, because it doesn’t do anything that fancy, and what it does do can be subtle. That’s not to say that this game looks bad. That’s not it at all. It’s just not like something like Yoshi’s Island, in which you got all kinds of neat sprite scaling and rotation effects flying into your face constantly. In Metroid Fusion, scaling is used in a few places on certain enemies, but you may not even notice it. However, the art direction is fantastic. The game uses lots of colors and the backgrounds are well drawn. It’s really atmospheric, especially for a Game Boy game. A few areas might be a little too dark. It looks good, but it can be hard to see without proper lighting. It's not a big issue though. Everything is smoothly animated, and there’s just a lot of detail in the graphics. You won’t be disappointed with the graphics, but you won’t necessarily be blown away by them either. Fusion does sport the coolest intro and mid-game cut-scenes that I’ve seen on the handheld, though.

The sound is impressive. Again, Metroid Fusion really sets a great atmosphere, and the sound is a huge part of it. I have considered it a capitol crime to play the Game Boy Advance without headphones, and this is especially important with Metroid Fusion. The music and the sounds really draw you into the game, and it’s top-notch for the Game Boy Advance.

Metroid Fusion has most of the elements that Metroid fans are used to. You’ve got tings like the Morph Ball, Dash Boots, and even some undocumented moves that Metroid fans will remember. The gameplay is familiar too. There are tons of exploring and many secrets to find. There are even secrets upon secrets of secrets (really!). The game is kept constantly fresh and exciting because you’re always finding a new ability that lets you do something new and access new areas. The space station is huge and there are all kinds of nooks and crannies for you to explore if you want to squeeze everything you can out of the game. The exploration is peppered with fun boss fights that are pretty challenging.

All of this is brought together with a very tight control scheme. Samus has several different moves, but they’re all brilliantly mapped to the Game Boy Advance’s buttons. You learn each move one at a time, so it’s very simple, and you don’t struggle with the controls. Although Samus has a variety of moves, similar abilities are grouped together to use the same buttons in various combinations, so you won’t get confused.

As I said before, Metroid Fusion focuses on the story much more than previous Metroid games. It’s an interesting change. Samus will have a few monologues that reveal her thoughts about what’s going on. Also, your mission on the space station is pretty dynamic. Things will change throughout the game. Certain unexpected events happen, which is new to Metroid games. A lot of story is also provided by Samus’ Commanding Officer, which happens to be a computer. It can be pretty interesting, but it can also work against the gameplay in some ways, especially for old Metroid fans. The computer gives you a lot of direction. It always tells you where to go next. Now, it doesn’t always tell you how to get there, but still, you feel less isolated than you do in past Metroid games. Also, there are times when you are not allowed to freely explore. The computer sometimes blocks off certain doors and other events prevent you from freely exploring too. Doors may be destroyed and many other things happen that can temporarily or permanently block some paths. This may annoy some fans of previous Metroid games, as one of the big draws of Metroid was having a huge world to freely explore, with a feeling of being isolated. On the other hand, it is also kind of nice to have a little bit of direction instead of aimlessly wandering. On the whole, I would describe it as different, not necessarily better or worse than previous Metroid games.

You could probably beat Metroid Fusion in about 6 or 7 hours on your first try, and that’s if you don’t try to get everything. I found that you may take more like 10 to 12 hours if you do lots of exploring and try to find everything without using some kind of guide. Also, there are multiple endings, so there’s an incentive to play through more than once. The experience is pretty engaging, so you won’t mind playing it a few times. It’s definitely worth it. Metroid Fusion has some connectivity with Metroid Prime for GameCube, but the features are more like little bonuses. It’s not really anything interactive like games such as Animal Crossing or other games are doing. Also, the interactivity only benefits the player of Metroid Prime, not Fusion. Still, it’s cool. By fulfilling certain requirements and then connecting the two games together, you can unlock Samus’ suit from Fusion in to use in Prime, and you can also unlock the original NES Metroid, which you can play on GameCube.

This is the best original Game Boy Advance game to come out so far. It’s long and involving, and it’s just really well designed. It’s classic Metroid gameplay, and that says a lot of great things about it. On the other hand, that’s the only thing holding it back from getting an ‘A+’. It is a lot like Super Metroid. Again, that’s a very good thing, but I like to save the ‘A+’ for games that add something really new. Still, you can’t go wrong with this game. Grab some headphones, get comfy, and prepare for a long, intense adventure.

By Andrew Thivyanathan - 11/30/02
ESRB Details: Violence
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Screenshots for Metroid Fusion

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