In light of Nintendo’s E3 announcement of Metroid: The Other M, I felt inspired to go back and play the two Metroid titles released for the Gameboy Advance. I sadly realized that my copy of Metroid Fusion was missing, possibly stolen by a cousin’s child or simply misplaced during my cross-country move. That’s alright, though, because I was more interested in playing Metroid: Zero Mission, the 16-bit remake of the original Metroid title.
I downloaded Super Metroid on my Wii over the summer, so that experiences was relatively fresh on my mind. Zero Mission borrows a lot from its Super NES sister, including graphics, music, and weapons. It’s creation basically renders the SNES game redundant if played in order, even though it offers a completely new layout. Then again, since Nintendo wasn’t even planning on releasing the SNES game again, I suppose it’s more than acceptable to have a game that makes it useless.
There isn’t much to say about the game itself. It’s awesome and fun – but also short if you know what you’re doing. It’s so short that people can actually beat it in roughly an hour. No matter what I do, though, it takes about three. Since I only play at work when the kids are not being brats, that’s pretty good.
What needs to be commented on is the fact that 2D games are basically an art form in and of themselves. Even after this move we’ve made to 3D, thanks in large part to Nintendo’s own template for 3D game play, the 2D game has not actually been close to mastered. One must be truly imaginative to create an engrossing world that you can only see from ONE vantage point. When you consider that and all of the secrets that a Metroid or Castlevania game contains, you’ll realize that there’s some sort of wizardry involved in developing a flat world that is ever-growing but always reasonably connected.
This basically hammers down the fact that my favorite game style is 2D. Only one of my favorite games of all time, Metal Gear Solid 3, is 3D – the rest of my list is inhabited by 2D games. Not only are the worlds more interesting due to their being so fantastic, but even the perspective forced upon the player in such games allows for more creativity by developers. The 3D games have an emphasis on realism, which makes me personally less invested because I live in the real world. I don’t play games with hopes of mimicking reality – they are my escape.
Metroid: Zero Mission is a full escape. You’re a bounty hunter in a badass armored suit, jumping and climbing vertical tunnels and fighting aliens simply because you were paid to do so. The Metroid series is about as far from reality as one can get in video games, aside from Rez and Katamari Damacy. For me, this is the face of escapism, totally freeing us from our reality. While the Metroid Prime games have come close to bringing such worlds into three-dimensional reality, they still fall far short of what their predecessors have offered. It’s hard to make this sweeping generalization, but almost all 3D games have failed to really live up to what the 2D games have and continue to give. Let’s have more games with more fantastic worlds built around the game play and not the shallow, shoot-it-till-it-dies writing the companies are trying to make people like.