Monday, August 27, 2012

Metroid: Zero Mission (Game Boy Advance, 2004)

The 0th Mission

Last month, I reviewed the iconic original Metroid ( Now I'll be taking a look at the 2004 remake. This game improves on the NES version in numerous ways, but (debatably) loses some of its charm. The big question is... why didn't Metroid 2 get the remake treatment? Graphic-wise it has aged even more than the original game and would be a perfect candidate for a solid remake.

The game begins with some pretty rad cutscenes. I like how Samus' armor here is in its original "factory default" state. She didn't get the armor she's now known for until after the conclusion of the original game. This being a remake of the original game, they had an opportunity to explain this and took advantage of it.

Samus blasts down to Zebes, which is the yellowest planet I've ever seen.

An extremely bad-ass Chozo can be seen in the background of the save screen. If all of the Chozo were this badass, maybe the space pirates wouldn't have wiped them out.

It begins. Yeah, she used to live here.

The iconic opening shot... doesn't look quite right in this version. It isn't blue enough!

The Morph Ball is right where it should be to the left. The changes are abundantly clear right away: a map in the upper right, for instance. The controls are much looser than on the NES, as well. Samus moves a bit quicker and it's easier to control your trajectory in midair.

The game is now full of energy-restoring Chozo statues that point you in the right direction, so it's difficult to get lost. This is hugely helpful for a game such as this, but it also runs the risk of making things too easy. The original Metroid wasn't exactly expansive enough to get too lost in, either.

The Long Beam, aka the most important beam in the game. Now Samus can attack further than melee range! Kudos to them for keeping this in the game, as unnecessary as it'd seem to be in this day and age.

The Kraid/Ridley statues are a bit different-looking now. Is Kraid wearing a helmet?

And here's a centipede miniboss that didn't exist in the original game - the first of many new boss additions. It's recurring in the first area, showing up several times until you finish it off.

Brinstar's map is nearly identical to that of the original game. The items are in the same spots and everything. Playing this right after the original NES game is an interesting experience.

The centipede shows up again for the final time. This fight forces you to both use missiles and fire upward/diagonally, so it's teaching you about the game as it happens.

Victory nets Samus the Charge Beam, which definitely wasn't in the original. It's tremendously helpful, given the relative weakness of the beams in this game.

This triggers a cutscene, as we see Mother Brain stirring as ominous music plays.

Samus has MB's attention now.

Crateria (of Super Metroid fame) exists in this game. Not much is happening in it, though, and it's mainly used as a through-way to get to different parts of Brinstar. Speaking of which, how did Original Tourian end up on top of the Brinstar starting point in Super Metroid? The people need answers!

On top of Crateria is a completely new area, one with ominous Gregorian chanting for music.

This place has powerups that didn't exist until later Metroid games, but at this point Samus can't use them yet due to her suit not being Chozo-made.

...yet. Awesome work telling a story by just using items.

This place has a distinctly Metroid Prime esque feel to it... which makes sense, as that game also had Chozo Ruins (on a different planet, but similar enough).

In the last post I talked a little bit about Metroid/Alien connections. Well, given their presence on multiple planets and general look, I feel like the Chozo are to Metroid what the Engineers/Space Jockeys are to Alien/Prometheus.

These Chozo statues convey a lot of power. They're almost Egyptian-looking.

Some are different in appearance from others. This one actually looks very Space Jockey-esque, and the power-up it holds is...

...the Power Grip, new to this game. Now Samus can grab onto the edges of things. This is supremely useful and possibly Zero Mission's greatest entry to the Metroid item canon.

Lo and behold, it's Samus' ship... except not. It isn't the ship she has in all of the later games. Looks more like a Federation-issued generic ship, much like her proto suit.

Norfair is hot and bubbly, as always. It's kind of funny that this is where you get the Ice Beam in all of the Zebes-based games.

The graphics look a little bit too hand-drawn sometimes (like here) but they're still great in this game. Nearly on Super Metroid's level, which isn't bad at all for a portable game.

Kraid's Lair is as annoying as ever in this game, featuring lots of one-way passages, tedious vertical hallways, and this new worm boss that roars out of a pit of acid. It's a rough fight, to say the least. At least the music in Kraid's Lair is really good.

The eye-door from Super Metroid appears in this game before the boss fights. It's trickier to "defeat" in this, though, as it possesses a nasty energy wave attack.

And here's Kraid, in glorious cutscene form.

He's beefed up to Super Metroid size, which could spell trouble for Samus.

Luckily, he's pretty easy in this game, even moreso than in Super Metroid. You don't have super missiles to help in this, but you do have this platform you can fire at him from without having to worry about getting knocked off by his attacks. As a result, the fight doesn't pose very much of a challenge.

The amount of available floor-space dwindles as the fight goes on, but it's nothing that can't be fixed with a barrage of missiles.

Kraid crumbles into the floor, just as you'd expect. The fact that this guy hasn't shown up in more games is amazing to me. He's only been in Metroid and Super Metroid, while Ridley has been in nearly every game in the Metroid canon. A massive Kraid in a modern Metroid game would be a sight to behold. After all, look at what they did with the Queen Metroid in Other M. Seeing that thing in full three-dimensional fury was the one thing that game did right. I wish they'd do something similar with Kraid in the next Metroid game, if we get another one.

Victory nets you the Speed Booster, which is as rad here as it is in other games. With that, this game is quickly becoming more like Super Metroid than it is like the original Metroid, which isn't a bad thing.

Something you don't want to see while crossing a pit of deadly acid: a huge crowd of vicious flying monsters zipping straight at you.

Cutscene shows Ridley arriving at Zebes on his ship. It's like he's the Ginyu Force to Mother Brain's Freeza, called in because Kraid (Zarbon/Dodoria) didn't get the job done.

One of the more interesting things I encountered in this game are these weird barriers. They're impervious to all weapons, but they are edible to these tiny bug creatures that roam the area. Lure some bugs over, and they'll chew through the barriers for you.

Finishing things up in Norfair en route to Ridley's Lair. The Varia suit is hereabouts, and lets you withstand intense heat.

The strongest beam in the original game. Here it's a bit different and a bit more powerful than it usually is in the Metroid-verse.

The one time in this playthrough that I got stuck was at the beginning of Ridley's Lair. You quickly reach an impasse, and I couldn't find any way to get through it. Turns out you have to give up and leave; outside a new tunnel has opened up that gets you into the other side of the Lair. That's odd game design to find in a Metroid. Usually things are a bit more intuitive than that.

New boss: a FLY FROM HELL. This thing is nasty, and the only vulnerable point is its hard-to-hit stinger.

Winning gets you the super missiles, again making their pre-Super debut here. I really wish they'd remake Metroid 2 with some of the later weapons/powerups the way they did with this game. It's been said before, but it bears repeating.

Cutscene. Something is swooping in on Samus, and it's, you guessed it...

Ridley, who is as ferocious as ever. Super missiles are a HUGE help here.

I'd go so far as to say he's actually more impressive-looking here than he is in Super Metroid, which is saying a lot. Super Metroid is officially the measuring stick for all facets of every other 2D Metroid game.

An ominous broken statue follows. There is a broken statue near the end of Metroid 2, and it too is very ominous.

Cutscene shows a pack of Metroids killing a space pirate. You'd think the pirates wouldn't keep trying to control the Metroids and use them as weapons in game after game after this, eh?

Here's the pirate in question. He fought well and died. Weird to see a pirate at all; the original Metroid was strangely devoid of them. They weren't invented until two games later, I suppose.

Tourian follows, lots of Metroids to fight, you know the drill. It's a bit unmemorable in this game, over quickly and not much of a challenge altogether. After Tourian in the original game, these Metroids seem like pushovers.

Mother Brain's hallway is the same as usual. Missiles aren't nearly as much of an issue here as they are in the original game, though; you have more of them and they're easily replenished.

The fight itself is easier than the original game since you have an easier time getting back onto the platforms if you're knocked off. The Mother Brain itself is much bigger, as well, making for an easier target. At least, the fight is easier while the glass case is intact...

...because once that breaks, things suddenly get difficult. The Mother Brain actually has an attack in this game, and it's a highly damaging energy wave. What's worse is that you can only damage it right after it fires. It's tough lining up a shot while also dodging everything else that is coming your way, and you have to make every super missile count.

Same deal as in the original game, same easy escape sequence.

Samus escapes from Zebes as Tourian blows up. The whole planet doesn't blow up until Super Metroid. ...isn't the whole planet blowing up kinda, I don't know, overkill?

With that, the game is over. Good remake. Samus is off to take a vacation.

But wait! Space pirates attack her ship and cause it to crash back on Zebes. You see, this game has an extensive "postgame area". I'd go so far as to say that the postgame is really the culmination of the regular game, since it's about 40% as long as the rest put together.

Samus loses her generic power-suit, forcing her to traipse around in the debuting Zero Suit. This allows for lots of gratuitous ass shots, as seen here.

Armed with a stun pistol (which sucks...a lot) and no real defenses or health, Samus has to try and hijack an enemy ship to get off of the planet.

Here's the final area. It's an extension of the Chozo Ruins, and completely overrun with pirates. So THIS is where they were hiding in the original game!

While this is all a very cool concept in theory, in practice it's a bit of an exercise in tedium. This whole section of the game is basically a stealth run; since you can't actually beat any of these pirates with your current weaponry, you spend all of your time running and hiding. It's incongruous with the rest of the game.

We see the most sexually-posed Chozo statue ever as Samus crawls around on all fours. Who designed this?

More fleeing from pirates. This does get pretty intense, I'll give it that.

Samus has a flashback to being raised by Chozo on this planet, then...

..."fights" a Chozo hologram. This is a bizarre fight in that you have to hit it when it turns vulnerable for a split second and no other time; attack any other time, and you'll take damage instead.

After that strange battle, Samus gets the iconic suit she'll be known for... and we get another gratuitous ass shot, of course.

With that, all of the "unknown items" suddenly become usable. The biggest one is the Plasma beam.

And just like that, the real Samus is born. This game is an origin story, and in that sense it succeeds.

The Plasma Beam is actually a Plasma/Spazer hybrid in this game, sending out three beams. Now that Samus is powered up, the space pirates are no match for her and she can go on an absolute rampage.

Another huge power-up. I believe the Screw Attack can also be had at this point in the game, but I somehow missed out on getting it.

After murdering most of the pirates, Samus arrives at the top of the ship. Who or what will the final boss be? Mother Brain redux? A giant Metroid? One of those psychotic Chozo statues that come to life?

...nope, it's... a goofy mechanical version of Ridley.

Meta-Ridley, this ain't. Maybe it's a prototype for the Meta-Ridley technology. It's a clunky and relatively unthreatening final boss, but the game deserves props for the menacing way that it crawls towards you at the start of the fight.

After Samus pummels its chest crystal with super missiles, the fight comes to an end.

Time for another escape sequence, this one featuring more formidable space pirates. This is a much rougher escape sequence than the earlier one.

Samus steals a pirate ship and zips off of the planet, and that's all she wrote.

Cool final cutscene shows an old drawing of Samus and the Chozo.

Now that's the Samus armor that we know.

And that's it. 52%, and I somehow missed the Screw Attack! Really good game, definitely a worthy remake. Now if only they would remake Metroid 2 like this. And speaking of Metroid 2, it's next on the list. I'll be devoting a post to it in the very near future.


  1. Enjoyed the review. This is easily one of my favorite Game Boy Advance games. I wish that I had the Game Boy Player and a Game Cube to play it on so that I could enjoy this great game on a larger screen. If you have the time and energy, I recommend that you try for a 100% run, a less-than-2-hour-speed-run, and/or a 9% run. I've done them all, and I enjoyed them all.

  2. "Now if only they would remake Metroid 2 like this."

    1. Wow, that looks incredible, especially for a fanmade game. I will definitely be playing that whenever it's done. Nintendo missed a HUGE opportunity when they didn't make a Zero Mission 2.