If you are a Metroid fan, you will love to play it.
Not to knock on Metroid Fusion's direction or anything, but it sure is great to see Samus back in her classic suit again. Metroid: Zero Mission is Nintendo's attempt to solidify the popular and successful Metroid series with a stunning, more coherent-but-mysterious storyline that fits what the company worked in for Metroid Prime. The gameplay remains as strong as it's always been, never straying far from what's already been established in past Metroid game. But also like most Metroid games released, Zero Mission seems to end far sooner than it should, and its lighter difficulty level unfortunately helps it end even quicker. Even so, the game is a worthy follow-up that sticks with what made the franchise such a success on every Nintendo console.
Three difficulty levels
Classic NES version unlockable
Link up with Metroid Fusion to unlock extras
Cartridge save: three slots
We definitely have to start this review off right: Metroid: Zero Mission is not a remake of the original Metroid released on the Nintendo Entertainment System nearly 20 years ago. Instead, team members have taken situations, locations, and enemies from the 8-bit NES adventure, and reformulated an entirely new game design. So while you may recognize some elements in Zero Mission from start to finish, the techniques involved in getting through situations in Zero Mission could never be mirrored in similar areas of the original game. If Samus' first mission was a written tale, the original Metroid is the Cliff's Notes to Metroid: Zero Mission's novel. And even that isn't too apt an analogy, since Zero Mission has significantly more going on after the NES game ends.
Zero Mission is rooted firmly in what Nintendo has already established in past Metroid games. So firmly, in fact, that there's not much new to this "fresh" Metroid experience. Players again take control of Samus at her most basic abilities. She can run, jump and shoot through the alien infested areas, but that's pretty much it right from the start. Luckily, waiting for players at the start of the game is the Metroid staple: Samus' Morph Ball technique. With this ability, players can crouch into a sphere and roll through narrow passages, leading into deeper portions of the alien planet. As Samus gets further into the adventure, she'll earn stronger firepower and more useful skills; the power grab, for example, makes a return from Metroid Fusion and gives players the ability to latch onto ledges. This ability is used for many of the platform challenges in Zero Mission, several of which are used in combination with her Morph Ball, so, like in Fusion, players can pull themselves up from a ledge into ball mode to access those tight nooks and crannies.
Much of the game's challenge, as usual for the Metroid franchise, comes from simply having a keen eye. If there's a spot in an area where you seem stuck with no way out, the graphics will generally indicate how to escape. Some are subtle, like little cracks in the tile that show a destroyable platform. Others require players to blast tiles to reveal the clue to destroy them; some can only be removed with missiles. Or a morph ball bomb. Or a dash attack. Many of these tiles block access to portions of the planet, so without the specific technique in your abilities, it's a good indication that you'll have to make a return trip.
The payoff towards the end of Metroid: Zero Mission is a much more rewarding experience than Fusion's conclusion.Read full review