The latest entry in Nintendo’s venerable Metroid franchise is deeply flawed. Team Ninja gives us a tap-dancing pig smeared with lipstick when all we want is unadulterated bacon.
Most of Other M’s problems are so conspicuous I wouldn’t be surprised if they were the result of a big fish or two being so married to an idea that they couldn’t see how much the implementation detracted from the gameplay.
Strip away the obvious gristle:
- The unskippable introductory tutorial. It’s presence in Hard mode (unlocked by beating the game) is poor craftsmanship.
- The cutscenes. Let’s ignore the writing and voice-acting quality: when I have an hour to play an action game I don’t want to spend 45 minutes of that hour watching melodrama. Thankfully you can skip these on repeat playthroughs.
- The pixel hunts. Zero replay value and a chore to “solve” the first time through. Where’s Waldo.
- The third-person stalking. Does not build suspense as intended. Actually took me out of the game the first couple of times it happened thinking I had accidentally entered an alternate view/controller mode. The bane of repeat playthroughs.
- The forced first-person. The tail attack segment in particular is just whack-a-mole with z-lock.
- The motorized wall crawlers. Forced periods of inactivity, yay.
And there’s still some fat to trim:
- The Authorization mechanic is an infuriating conceit and unlike previous explanations (or lack thereof) for having to reacquire your abilities you are constantly reminded of it while playing. It removes any sense of achievement and eliminates the possibility of acquiring an ability earlier than intended.
- Requiring the player to save (which automatically refills Samus’s health and missiles) in order to proceed seems designed to compensate for the occasionally overpowered enemies and erratic Sense Move events between saves.
- The Concentration mechanic. Same.
What’s left are the bones of a decent Metroid, not the bacon we had hoped for.
Despite all these flaws, I played through the game a number of times on both Normal and Hard. Team Ninja clearly didn’t do everything wrong but its hard to ignore how much better the experience could have been with some egoless self-editing during the development process.