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I Need Friends!

September 6th, 2007

For the past few days I’ve been playing Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, a new Wii game that’s getting stellar reviews. I’ve been eager to try out a first-person shooter on the Wii, so I cashed in some trade credit at GameStop and picked up a copy.

As was the case with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime 3 is my introduction to one of Nintendo’s core franchises. Therefore, I’m a bit unclear on the background. I appear to be a female bounty hunter named Samus who wears a kick-ass powersuit with a gun for one arm and a grapple for the other. I’m fighting some “pirates” which really seem more like generic, spiky, alien beasts than anything resembling Johnny Depp. Every once in a while, I run into an evil version of myself. And, for reasons unknown, I can turn into a ball.

Actually, I quite like the bit with the ball. It reminds me of the classic arcade game Marble Madness, only with a lot less falling into bottomless pits. The “morph ball” mode is primarily used to enter various tubes and ducts to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. In some cases, it’s made clear that these tubes are used for maintenance, which suggests to me that in the world of Metroid, janitors are required to roll themselves to work.

The Wii controls are a lot of fun. The Wiimote acts as the gun arm, and allows you to steer yourself just by pointing. The Nunchuk is the grapple, and one has to flick it forward and back to rip free loose objects and swing across gaps.

And I don’t care what anyone says about the Wii running an outdated graphics engine, the game looks gorgeous even on my HD set. The alien environments are spectacular.

That’s not to say that everything is rosy in Metroid World. For a first-person shooter, the game seems to heavily favor its puzzle content. Lots of locked doors with unnecessarily complicated mechanisms that make me wonder how the janitors even reach their roll-tubes in the morning. Most adversaries I’ve encountered so far are pushovers, except of course for the bosses. While the latter aren’t impossible to beat by any means, it’s a matter of shooting, and shooting, and shooting some more, slowly wearing down their long health bars.

I’ve also been annoyed by some of the arbitrary impediments I’ve encountered. For example, passages which are blocked by ice that is inexplicably untouchable by my vast array of weaponry. My built-in scanner says that this ice can be melted by a high-temperature source, which apparently doesn’t apply to me, even though I piss energy beams. Likewise, many barricades are made of materials which can only be penetrated by a specific weapon, and of course, I usually don’t have the one in question. When I scan an object (one does a lot of scanning in this game), I’ll typically get a message like “This door is made of Mergatroid*,” and then it’s a matter of both finding the anti-Mergatroid missile and remembering where you needed it in the first place.

*Possibly not an actual material used in the game.

Finally–and this is something I only now discovered–unlocking certain content on the disc requires one to earn credits of various colors. Most of them are gained by scanning new items or performing certain tasks, but the green credits (which are part of the price of every unlockable) can only be obtained by finding “friends vouchers” which must be traded with gamers on your online “friends” list. From my perspective, there are three problems with this:

  • I don’t have a wireless connection to the Internet.
  • I don’t have any friends who own a Wii.
  • I don’t have any friends who also own Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.

So, there you go, all of the bonus unlockables are completely unavailable to me. Granted, they’re nothing all that special (bumper stickers for your ship, a Mii “bobblehead,” and such), but still, it’s a pisser to have a game that demands that you interact with other gamers. Here’s the best bit: it doesn’t otherwise include a multiplayer mode.

It’s not a deal-breaker, but as a sign of things to come in the digital gaming frontier, I can’t say that I’m taking it well.

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