More Whining About Metroid Other M and the Decline of the Metroid Series Part 2





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Published on Apr 5, 2012

In this, I expand on my short rant that I made during the last on-camera video I made. But more than just Other M, I talk about the decline of the Metroid series as of the past decade, at least the titles that Sakamoto likes to consider his own.

Things that I didn't specifically talk about or expand on as I'd have liked to in the rant:
There's a very simple term that I'd like people to remember as you watch. Show, don't tell. That's what the older Metroid games lived by, and even elements of the Prime series also adopted.
I barely mentioned the Prime games simply because those are an exception to the subject that I'm talking about, both in quality, and the fact that Sakamoto doesn't agree with their way of presenting a 3D Metroid game, more specifically, Metroid Prime 1. Prime was a game that did right many of the things that Super Metroid did. Not necessarily the sequence-breaking, but the ability to interpret the situation as a player. There was an OPTION for hand-holding with the hint system if you don't like exploring, but you could choose to turn it off.

Just as well, the storytelling wasn't in your face and over-exposed like Fusion and especially Other M. The storytelling in Prime was done in the environment, with the completely optional lore that would elaborate on things. The Chozo lore would be majestic and tragic, the Pirate Lore would be foreboding and sometimes be hilarious when you read their failed attempts to replicate Samus' Power Suit, things like that. Even what was told in that game wasn't entirely clear. The Great Poison that the Chozo speak of is initially assumed by the player to be the poison coming from Flaahgra, but you come to realize that it's the far more dangerous Phazon as the game goes on. It also doesn't hand-hold and insult your intelligence by telling you how Prime fully merged with the Phazon Suit and became Dark Samus.

Show, don't tell. We don't care how it became Dark Samus, so there's no reason to have an over-complicated narrative explaining how it happened. This pushed the mystery of the invincibility that Prime/Dark Samus showed throughout the saga. That's the difference between Retro's game design philosophy and Sakamoto's.

Prime also rewarded free exploration by the player with the inclusion of the Beam Combos and hunting the artifacts as a way of encouraging curiosity and exploration. The same game design with exploration being key was the core foundation of Super Metroid and even Zero Mission to a degree. This is what Sakamoto didn't understand with the linearity of Fusion and the nauseating narrative of Other M. Story is fine and dandy, but when you push it to the forefront without giving the player the choice to choose where to go (a la Megaman) you're bottlenecking them down what is essentially a long hallway with no real reward for exploration. This is typically what kills a game's replayability. Just my two cents. Not every game needs to have an overwrought and in your face story complete with hand-holding and insulting a gamer's intelligence. Nor does every game require a director who's obsessed with pushing what his vision is upon an already established franchise (right down to poor direction for the actors involved), rather than giving the fans the ability to interpret their own opinion on the matter like Samus' character in Super and Prime. Like I mentioned. What was Samus' driving reason for chasing Ridley back to Zebes in Super? Outright telling us ruins some of the mystique of the character.

That's the difference between old-school games with a small focus on story and the cinematic route that the videogame industry has taken over the past decade. A piece of player freedom has been lost during this transition, and that's not always a good thing.


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