Metroid Prime Trilogy
Despite being less than excited by my first Metroid Prime experience (Metroid Prime 3: Corruption), I decided to follow the advice of my fellow NL’ers and give it a go. Only paying £19.99 with credit I had laying about for a used copy helped make that decision a bit easier, but no surprise this wasn’t that different an experience from my time with the 3rd game. I made it all the way to the titular end-boss getting right to the point when it was nearly dead (as was I) and then it changes form and there’s the incredibly annoying regular metroids helping it. That’s when I decided to cut my losses after spending the last month getting to this point.
Most of the game plays okay, but the first-person perspective really makes no sense to me. It’s not really an action game as you would expect: instead most of the time you’re just looking for that next device to help you access new areas. The first-person view just gets in the way of being able to look around – and why the hell do I have to get on top of something to scan it? Isn’t Samus’ suit some kind of advanced alien technology? The endless back-tracking is made more tedious by respawning enemies, though they do change in some areas as you get more equipment. I’m pleased I got to the final boss and only consulted a walkthrough once to find a particularly non-intuitive artefact hiding place, but I couldn’t see replaying that last boss battle given how long it was – seriously, it was a bit much.
I’m frankly surprised at the high regard this series is held in given that it changes the gameplay of the previous Metroid games so radically and is so damn repetitive. Samus has to rebuild her arsenal in every damn one of these games! The extent of creativity seems to have been to have one or two of the beam weapons be different in each game, but given it’s a trilogy you’d think they’d at least refrain from recycling the bosses. I’m very much hoping that Metroid: Other M is going to be a breath of fresh air given the new development team and apparent desire to make it more of an action game than a walk-a-thon.
Pac Mania (Virtual Console Arcade)
After taking a break from the franchise, bringing Pac-Man into the 1990s with a 3D-rendered appearance seemed like a natural. The Legoland look and isometric perspective work really well, whilst still keeping that classic Pac-Man flavour. The addition of a jump button is offset by having the number of ghosts increase and eventually having jumpers among their ranks as well. It’s a great entry in the franchise and well worth picking up, though at present it’s only available for the Virtual Console in Japan. You can also play it as part of the Namco Museum Remix which is available in North America and Europe. An interesting addition to the usual Namco VCA options of starting number of lives and points required to earn a bonus life is the ability to choose how many levels there are in a game or make it endless if you desire – pretty neat!
Xevious (Virtual Console Arcade)
One of (if not the first) video games to use pre-rendered 3D graphics in place of sprites was Xevious, which gives it a much different look from other vertically scrolling shooters. The use of separate shots for air and ground targets and plentiful enemies provides plenty of scoring options and the level of challenge is kept high. Definitely a must-have for shooting fans, the fixed difficulty level of this VCA version feels just right. As with Pac Mania, you can also find this game in the arcade section of Namco Museum Remix.