Metroid Prime Remastered is a perfect remastering of a game that was already nearly perfect. This is far and away the best way to play the game, as any flaws with the original have been remedied.
Oh wait, I need to write an actual review, don’t I?
Nintendo has developed a reputation for releasing games that seem unfinished. They work, are generally polished, and are enjoyable to play but lack depth. Unfortunately, the ports of Nintendo 64 games on Nintendo Switch Online feel like they’re just ROMs copied and pasted to run on the N64 emulator.
Given the strength of Metroid Prime, you’d think that out of all the games for Nintendo to push out the door without any extras quickly, it’d be Metroid Prime. But ironically, the opposite is what happened. As a result, this is not only the best Nintendo remaster yet but also the best game available for Nintendo Switch today.
Metroid Prime Remastered is a work of art. It’s carried by the strength of its foundational gameplay that has aged gracefully since its release over 20 years ago. The remastered visuals, buttery smooth frame rate (60 FPS!!!), and reworked controls make this one of the must-play games of 2023 on any console.
How Can You Not Be Romantic About Metroid Prime?
To be fair, Metroid Prime is a game that continues to stand the test of time. Its crowning achievement upon release was successfully bringing the Metroid series from 2D to 3D. Ironically, most recent Metroid releases are 2D games, including 2021’s Metroid Dread, also available for Nintendo Switch.
Due to this, it’s normal to wonder how much of Metroid Prime’s success was due to innovation versus good gameplay. Thankfully, we now have the answer: Metroid Prime is just a damn good game, period.
The best part of playing through the remaster is seeing how it helped shape future FPS titles. This isn’t just a first-person Metroidvania, but arguably the foundation for several key modern classics. Platforming in a first-person game is a considerable risk, but Metroid Prime not only pulls it off, but it pulled it off twenty years ago. The game is still lapping the competition in this regard. Additionally, its subtle storytelling is reminiscent of FromSoftware’s narrative design.
There aren’t story-driven cutscenes featured in the game that beat the player down with context. Instead, you’re on your own to dive into the game’s lore and story with the Scan Visor. You can dig into every lore log available or ignore them completely. The game’s experience doesn’t change based on how much you get out of Metroid Prime’s story. Fans of the franchise will enjoy some interconnected moments that have since become iconic. Thankfully, these moments have been directed to have an impact on newcomers to the series as well. Whether this is your first or hundredth playthrough of a Metroid game, Samus’ discovery of Metroid being kept in biological tanks still packs an emotional punch.
If you told me this was a game developed for the modern day, I’d believe you. As a Metroidvania, you’ll spend plenty of time traversing through familiar terrain. For example, you’ll enter a new room and see a locked door. You can’t open it yet, but you’ll return when the moment is right.
Naturally, this type of gameplay can grow tiresome. Backtracking through the same area over and over isn’t the most fun thing in the world. Yet Metroid Prime finds a way to keep the player engaged. Traversing through familiar terrain rarely, if ever, feels like a chore. This is thanks to the game’s incredible pacing. Every time you backtrack, you have new abilities are your disposal, unlocking new possibilities and secrets. As a result, it becomes less about walking back and forth through the same area ad nauseum and more about finally exploring that locked-away nook and cranny. This is where Metroid Prime laps the competition. No matter how many times the game asks you to return to an area, it’s never a concern. Gameplay remains engaging, thrilling, and unparalleled.
One of the critical revolutionary aspects of Metroid Prime, especially for its original release, is the transition of Metroid from the 2D to 3D gaming space. So how would Retro Studios maintain the look and feel of a Metroid game? Would it just turn it into a stereotypical FPS, or would it keep the franchise’s hallmarks? With the original release, the answer was 100% the latter. Its awkward control scheme took some getting used to, but it reinforced that Metroid Prime is a Metroid game first and an FPS second.
With Metroid Prime Remastered, the same remains true, but the reworked control schemes to incorporate a “dynamic” control setup akin to modern FPS titles is a godsend. You can play with original controls or even the point-and-click style from the Nintendo Wii version. Personally, there’s no match for dynamic controls for me. This is how I always wanted Metroid Prime to play. It’s how I imagined it playing looking back before actively replaying it and remembering the stumbling blocks that is the “original” control setup. Samus Aran handles smoother than a hot knife through butter. It’s an actual dream come true.
Metroid Prime Remastered Proves the Nintendo Switch Is Capable of Amazing Graphics
In a similar vein, the graphics are how you remember them being on GameCube. While the GameCube is a system capable of churning out gorgeous games, the restrictions of its console generation still limit it. Looking back, it’s shocking to see how “bad” the graphics were. Of course, I’m using the term “bad” loosely; Metroid Prime is one of the best-looking games of its time. With the Remastered release, it gets the visual overhaul it has always deserved.
The art design and direction remain top-notch and are elevated to a new level with the high-definition visual overhaul. The icing on the cake is the game’s ability to run smoothly at 60 frames per second. When people wonder if we’ve reached the limits of what’s capable with Nintendo Switch hardware, Metroid Prime Remastered comes out swinging.
Honestly, it’s hard not to keep gushing about how beautiful this game is. It’s a true work of art and a testament to how a game’s beauty, grace, and atmosphere can further elevate it. From diving deep into the mysteries of Tallon IV and the Chozo lore to the tranquil beauty of the Phendrana Drifts, Metroid Prime invites you in for the time of your life.
Metroid Prime Remastered is a beautiful exception to the norm for a company that is notorious for cutting corners and overpricing a barebones re-release. It showcases what’s possible when Nintendo gives an all-time classic the treatment it deserves. The improved visuals and enhanced controls showcase that Metroid Prime’s core gameplay and story have aged tremendously well. The game still holds up today and is a wonderful contrast to Metroid Dread.
This is an early and very serious contender for Game of the Year. So whether you’re picking it up digitally or holding out for the physical release, don’t miss out on Metroid Prime Remastered.