(Game Boy Advance)

Metroid Fusion (Game Boy Advance)

Game Review

Metroid Fusion Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Laurie Blake

Like cold fusion, only cooler

Metroid Fusion slipped out of the airlock between two behemoths, simultaneously having to live up to the legacy of its predecessor Super Metroid, which is a big Power Suit to fill, and keep the advancing Metroid Prime at arm cannon's length. It would have been easy for Fusion to have become lost in the vacuum created by Prime, or to languish forever in the shadow of Super Metroid, but in Metroid Fusion Nintendo has crafted a 2D handheld gem that deserves to hunt with the big boys.

Set sometime after the events of Super Metroid, the opening of Fusion sees bounty hunter Samus Aran accompanying a team of researchers sent to the Metroid homeworld of SR388. Upon arriving Samus is promptly infected by the indigenous parasite codenamed ‘X’ and whilst returning to base in her ship Samus falls unconscious and takes a quick trip through an asteroid belt, winding up in a critical condition at a Galactic Federation lab. It transpires that the X-parasite has multiplied within Samus and it’s not exactly doing wonders for her health. Fortunately the scientists create a vaccine made from leftover baby Metroid juice that kills off the X; however, the damage to Samus’s Power Suit is irreparable so it needs to be removed, leaving her in the underpowered Fusion Suit. As well as being a rather fetching shade of blue, the Fusion Suit gives Samus the ability to absorb X-parasites. This ability proves handy as she is sent to investigate an explosion at the Biologic Space Labs Research Station, which just so happens to be overrun with the little buggers.

As Samus’s borrowed ship docks at the BSL Station the game hands over control to you. Directed by the ship's computer you explore as Samus, blasting the X you go. The X are excellent mimics and are masquerading as the myriad creatures kept aboard the BSL; successfully felling a parasite reveals its blobby true form which Samus can then absorb to replenish energy or missiles. The absorption mechanic plays into the way in which Samus upgrades her abilities: killing bosses releases a core X which, when defeated, can be absorbed to gain new abilities. Samus can then use these new skills to reach new areas, which harbour yet more abilities to learn in a classic style. The list of Samus’s skills features fan favourites such as the Screw Attack, along with a few new tricks, including the ability to charge up Diffusion Missiles that radiate outwards upon impact. The constant upgrading adds a real feeling of progression to the game that is exemplified by the more linear structure.

Unlike the rambling quest of Super Metroid, Fusion’s seems a lot briefer. Exploration is broken into chunks through the use of objectives doled out by the ship's computer Adam at the new Navigation Rooms. Whilst this does make the game more linear, it is well suited to handheld play, as it means you are never at a loss for where to go: simply consult your map by pressing Start and your target location is clearly marked. It has also allowed the guys at Nintendo to cram each segment chock full of action. One minute you’ll be fighting a giant security robot, the next you’ll be trying to stop the whole space station exploding, and the overall pace of the action will leave you breathless. Those who still prefer a good old explore should fear not: Fusion still has tonnes of hidden areas and power-ups for you to wander off and find, adding some much-needed length to the game.

The short length is Metroid Fusion’s one fault; after the credits roll you’ll be shocked to see your completion time. Averaging around five hours for competent players or between six and seven if you're going for 100% completion, the real shock comes from the fact that the time passed so quickly. The length is only exacerbated by the difficulty; seasoned gamers will barrel through Fusion with relative ease, the bosses providing the stiffest challenge and even they can be conquered in two or three attempts. This would be more of a problem if Fusion weren’t an absolute blast to play; so much so that you’ll start it and before you know it you’ve completed it, then find yourself firing it up for another time almost instantly.

The game grips you from the get-go; you’ll be drawn into the frantic action, ponder on the possibilities of exploration and want to dive deeper into the story. In a relative first for a Metroid game, Fusion attempts to construct some semblance of narrative throughout the experience; through the use of simply animated cutscenes and still frames you are updated on the overall plot throughout the mission. These expositional pieces either take the form of text narration from Samus as she rides the elevators up and down, or through conversations with Adam. It is these dialogues that really build a sense of character into the game: torn between logical duty and feeling, Adam has quite an interesting character arc for a computer. As the game goes on you will find that your relationship with Adam is both one of implicit trust and distrust as he doles out useful objectives, but clearly has ulterior motives. Early on Samus draws parallels between the computer and her ex-commanding officer Adam Malkovich; the comparison instantly imbues the computer with a personality and you’ll be left smiling as the machine slowly becomes more human-like.

Having Adam constantly relaying orders to you somewhat dilutes the atmosphere of isolation established in previous entries in the series, but this is balanced by the increased feeling of tension. This tension is due to being stalked by the SA-X: an X-parasite mimicking Samus at full power, orange shoulder pads and all. As you are severely underpowered, the encounters with the SA-X leave you with no choice but to run and hide, at least until you can acquire better weaponry. The threat of the SA-X is constant and the run-ins with your doppelgänger are some of the most exhilarating moments in the game; you can’t help but feel tense when Adam says "leave immediately – the SA-X is tracking you."

Fusion’s sound design plays a massive part in building the atmosphere. The use of music and sound to punctuate action and heighten tension is masterful, from the slow building of tense music throughout exploration to the sudden burst of high intensity chase music and back to silence, broken only by space-age beeps and whirs as the threat level descends. The score is a mix of old and new that does an impressive amount with the limited GBA hardware, and although the tunes aren’t exactly memorable they feed into the overall package.

The 2D sprite-based graphics of Fusion are reminiscent of Super Metroid, except better. Samus moves with defined, fluid animations and the game is full of lovely little touches like the way in which space moves outside as you walk past a window or the spotlight that illuminates Samus in darkened areas. Overall the enemy design is great; especially the bosses, which are a showcase for the character artist’s vision. Being both varied and impressively detailed, it makes fighting them a real joy, especially when there are little extra graphical treats like a boss whose face progressively melts as you pummel it with missiles. There is a great diversity of environments, which is impressive considering it is all set aboard one space ship. The BSL Research Station is split into six ‘habitats’ ranging from night and aqua to a replica of SR388 planet surface, and descending into each for the first time is a real treat.

Conclusion

Like Samus’s new suit, Metroid Fusion is utterly absorbing. It is a perfectly crafted handheld adventure that’ll grip you from start to finish, even if those two points aren’t necessarily far apart. It will leave you wanting more, but that’s no bad thing: some of the best things in life are just a little too short. Metroid Fusion easily captures the magic of the series and is a great example of polished 2D GBA adventuring, making it a must-have for any would-be bounty hunters out there and a great addition to the 3DS Ambassador programme.

More Stories

Game Trailer

User Comments (70)

Chozo85

#1

Chozo85 said:

Its funny, I played this game on the GBA and didn't really care for it much, but playing it through again on the 3DS I'm enjoying it a whole lot more. It is a much briefer experience than Super Metroid but I would say the in game clock is very slow and it doesn't account for deaths and restarts. My 3DS calculates that I've spent twice as much time on the game as the in game clock suggests.

shingi_70

#2

shingi_70 said:

I hope they release this on the e-shop soon. This was my first metroid game so I have a soft spot for it.

Shworange

#3

Shworange said:

Is anyone having problems with this game's save file? I was a few hours into the game. When I went back to play it after turning the 3DS completely off, my save file was gone! ...yes I stopped at save spots and actually clicked on "yes" to save the game. ... No, no one else had access to the game. I started playing it on Friday and I saved and powered down. I played on Saturday and then saved and powered down. I played some on Sunday as well. Then I went back Sunday evening, and the save file was gone!
Anyone know why this happened so that I don't run into this problem again?

Rawk_Hawk

#4

Rawk_Hawk said:

As good as this game is Zero Mission is better. But really both are essential games to play and Nightmare is one of the coolest Metroid bosses I've ever seen.

Link79

#5

Link79 said:

When This and the original Metroid Prime released on the same day back in 2002 the series was brought back from the dead in a big way! I absolutely loved this game and in some ways I even thought it was better than the almighty super Metroid.

FernaMedel

#6

FernaMedel said:

is this really after super metroid as the review said? i thought this took place after prime trilogy which should be after other m, cause the suit has not made an appearance, anyways…

Ryno

#7

Ryno said:

Good game though ranking near the bottom of the Metroid series for me. I should go play it again and now compare this Adam to that of Other M.

Rensch

#8

Rensch said:

I slightly prefer this over Zero Mission, even though that's an amazing game as well.

EvilLucario

#9

EvilLucario said:

@6

The timeline goes as:
Metroid [Zero Mission]
Metroid Prime [Pinball] (Pinball was essentially Prime 1 told in Pinball form)
Metroid Prime: Hunters
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Metroid Prime 3: Courruption
Metroid II: Return of Samus
Super Metroid
Metroid: Other M
Metroid Fusion

Groovius

#10

Groovius said:

@FernaMedel, not sure about the Metroid timeline, but I would note that the intro calls it METROID 4. :D Which, I guess, would mean METROID/METROID II: RETURN OF SAMUS/SUPER METROID/METROID FUSION. in sequence.

tovare

#11

tovare said:

Excellent game. It is also a very modern game in how the story is told.

stromboli

#13

stromboli said:

I became sad that I could not play this game (never had a GBA and am not an ambassador), so I found another way... a very nice way, and I am loving it. Sorry Nintendo, hurry up and release these games for the public to earn some more cash :)

Aqueous

#14

Aqueous said:

I've been having lots of fun with this, although I'm stuck trying to remove the green locks right now. I remember not enjoying this a long time ago when a friend asked me to play, I was told never to use missiles but the green ones refill the amount your carrying and I could not beat the first boss. Then I was stuck trying to finish the SR388 area, as everything looked similar. Not any more though.

MrMagpie

#15

MrMagpie said:

Zero Mission always had the edge on this one for me, but only because of the fact that Fusion is much more linear, whereas ZM seemed to be built around sequence breaking, even rewarding you if you skipped out 85% of the items (including the long, charge and wave beams if I remember rightly, as well as most of the other seemingly crucial gear) with some rather cool art, encouraging you not to just blindly go where the Chozo statues directed. I have fond, fond memories of both though.

SpriteKing

#16

SpriteKing said:

Easily the best Metroid game in the series, and my 2nd favourite GBA game, my 1st being M&L Superstar Saga.
Everything about this game is just outstanding.

grumblegrumble

#17

grumblegrumble said:

Almost perfect score for a very perfect game. I never played this before until a few days ago when it was released to us Ambassadors and I have to say, it's a visual delight... I am loving every second of this game. Thank you, Nintendo!

KeeperBvK

#18

KeeperBvK said:

To me this is by far the worst Metroid game, which isn't to say it's really bad. Just more like a 7/10 game and nowhere near a 9/10. It's just too easy and takes the player too much by the hand, resulting in not only a weaker experience, but also a drastically shorter play time than the other Metroid games.

paburrows

#21

paburrows said:

I love this game, but I do remember that it had cut scenes that were almost as bad as The Other M.

Mikau94

#23

Mikau94 said:

I love this game, it as so hard the first time I played it, I am really enjoying it. I can't wait to fight the final boss, it is epic!

Meta-Rift

#25

Meta-Rift said:

@21: What are you talking about? This game's cutscenes are great. Other M's story is basically the same as Fusion's, but poorly thought out and executed.

FluttershyGuy

#26

FluttershyGuy said:

Getting this classic and the equally awesome Minish Cap has only made me hungry for new side-scroller Metroid and classic overhead-view Zelda! Old-school gaming 4 life!

SilentJ

#28

SilentJ said:

I absolutely loved playing this on my gba. Sadly some jerk stole it along with all my other gba games and the gba itself. I'll never get over it. Awesome review though!

Bliquid

#29

Bliquid said:

It has a near perfectly balanced gameplay, stunning 2D graphics, excellent sounds and music, and it's also daring in changing the iconic appearance of Samus.
Yes, it's a brief experience, but boy, if it is a charming one.
Maybe not the best in the series (ofc i'm looking at you, Prime...), but with no doubt my personal favorite.

Hervine

#30

Hervine said:

One of my favourite games, only bad thing I can say is the checkpoint distance if you get killed by the Spider boss :P SA-X is so scary too :o

emayer

#31

emayer said:

This is my favorite 2D Metroid, and my favorite game on the GBA. And the review is spot on: I've played through this game countless times on the original cartridge, so I thought one playthrough on the 3DS would be sufficient for now. But I almost immediately started up a new file after completing my first one the other day, and finished it in one sitting! For me, this game is the definition of addicting. The action is fast-paced, and the bosses are just amazing.

Scissors

#35

Scissors said:

Perfect 10 for me, my favorite game of all time. No exaggeration either it really is my favorite.

Linky_97

#37

Linky_97 said:

I finished this game 3 days ago and im starting the second run already! Im just lovin it!!!

Gamesake

#38

Gamesake said:

The only reason I pushed myself enough to finish it on the Gameboy Advance, was because it unlocked extras in Metroid Prime. I pawned it after beating it once. I never want to play Fusion again.

winter123

#41

winter123 said:

Only game I have ever felt the need to speed run. I think it was under 2 hours and 20 minutes. You get special ending screens depending on how fast you go and how much collectables you got... and any combination of the two. The interesting thing about speed running is that you usually can't take the time to save.

WaxxyOne

#42

WaxxyOne said:

I agree that this game can feel short in comparison to the other Metroid side-scrollers, but I think that's just a side-effect of the more story-driven experience this one offers. It should be noted there is still plenty of room for exploration but you don't get it for a ways into the game which kind of gives you the feeling the game is railroading you more than you might like.

I remember the first time playing this though not liking the regular checkpoints in each area because part of the fun of the original Metroid and Super Metroid was feeling like you're lost deep in some network of caverns and this game is much more structured. However, now that I'm playing through it on my 3DS at a more relaxed pace and taking the time to enjoy to artwork, environments and storyline I am beginning to appreciate the game for what it is a lot more.

I think there is room in the Metroid franchise for some more linear games as well as the ones that focus more on exploring. To me it's not about whether Super Metroid or Metroid Fusion is the better game; each offers its own unique experience set in the Metroid universe. What I'd really like to see now is a new Metroid game in the 1st-person or side-scrolling variety. I felt Other M's gameplay mechanic was decent but it didn't feel like Metroid to me.

kyuubikid213

#43

kyuubikid213 said:

I enjoy it simply because it isn't as cryptic as Metroid on the NES (Ambassador Title), but it still is cryptic. I hate it when they want me to run around all stupid looking bombing everything and shooting the ceiling...

misswliu81

#44

misswliu81 said:

i know some have said this is too linear for a game, but i like it like this.

a fantastic title that deserves a sequel on the 3DS or wii U.

shredmeister

#45

shredmeister said:

This Samus timeline has left me a little mind-boggled. Back when I played this in '03, I was able to link the GC and the GBA together, with Prime 1 and Fusion respectively, so that I could unlock the Fusion suit on Prime 1 (Neat, huh?)! But that only defies the timeline, doesn't it?

Anyways, cheers to another great game on my 3DS! Now I wonder if I can unlock that fusion suit in Metroid Prime Trilogy. hmmmmm

Shock_Tart

#47

Shock_Tart said:

@shredmeister unlocking the fusion suit in prime 1 was just one of those "hey lookie i got the cool extra content" type of things. it really had nothing to do with connecting the storylines other than making samus look different. i would love to see this for the e shop soon, this was one of my fave metroid games.

retro_player_22

#48

retro_player_22 said:

This game is much more enjoyable to experience on the Game Boy Player. It's like Super Metroid but louder and action packed.

Luffymcduck

#49

Luffymcduck said:

This is the first Metroid I´ve played and also the one I enjoyed the most. My favourite Metroid game. It´s more linear than Super Metroid but it has epic action and a good story.

kdognumba1

#50

kdognumba1 said:

When the server goes down for SW:TOR or I get booted off and have to relog, this is the game that I play while waiting. Thank you so much Nintendo!

cyrus_zuo

#51

cyrus_zuo said:

Zero Mission is my favorite Metroid, but I haven't played this one yet and am eagerly looking forward to it (just need to clear the holiday backlog). This is the ambassador game I'm most excited for.

eviLaTtenDant

#52

eviLaTtenDant said:

To me there wasn't anything really special about Samus' character before this game. So the whole story and Adam sections did a lot for me. Pair that with absorbing the X for ammunition and energy (Why the heck should an enemy carry a missile ?) & SA-X and you've got a near perfect atmosphere here. While Zero Mission and Super Metroid feel more iconic in their enemy design all that made it a better experience to me.

vakama94

#53

vakama94 said:

one of the best games I've played for the GBA, if only Nintendo would give us Metroid: Dread

TheGreenSpiny

#54

TheGreenSpiny said:

@35: This is one my favorites too. Hands down the best GBA game. So glad to have this one on the ambassadors program.

millarrp

#55

millarrp said:

I hope this ends up beng available to everybody...from what I've read of this game it's worth while playing

eviLaTtenDant

#56

eviLaTtenDant said:

I knew i forgot something ...
@Shworange (3.): Haven't played any GBA game on the 3DS yet so i only have two guesses.
Did you accidentally exit the game while it was saving ?
My only other idea is that there might have been problems with the memory card. If it happens more often it might be a good idea to copy everything on your PC, format the card and put it all back on it.

Henmii

#58

Henmii said:

While I like the look of Metroid: Zero mission more, I still think it's a pretty cool game! I never forget that when I arrived at the water area and couldn't go back I thought I was totally wrong. The area was super evil, with those swimming Space pirates but I came through. Later I learned that it was always meant this way!

EddieEddieEddie

#61

EddieEddieEddie said:

We need the next metroid game already! this is the last one in the timeline, so they better make the next game on the 3DS or even better; on the Wii U. (I would crap my pants if Metroid Prime 4 happened)

Blizzaga

#62

Blizzaga said:

I'll be all over this the moment it's no longer exclusive to the Ambassador program. >.>

gazamataz

#63

gazamataz said:

i feel this game's length is about right.it fact it took me ages to finsh.maybe it's because it's the first 2d metroid i've played.bomb and shoot everything.who knew.

atariman

#64

atariman said:

Great game! I'm kicking butt in it. an 8/10. as a gamer I give the credit to Retro Studios for the metroid prime series. Retro Studios Developed Metroid prime stuff. www.RetroStudios.com.

noxusprime06

#65

noxusprime06 said:

this was the first metroid i had ever played and i was soooooo in love with this game its not even funny....then i discovered zero misssion and the rest of the series and i was in love even more

Varia01

#69

Varia01 said:

I thought they said this wasn't going to be on the 3DS eshop. Still extremely jealous of those who own it.....

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...