Metroid Prime Remastered Review
One of the GameCube's most iconic titles is back.
Metroid Prime’s core game design hasn’t aged too well in the years since its original release, but in this Remastered version, its visuals and sense of atmosphere have never been better, making it an easy one to recommend for Metroid fans already familiar with the series’ quirks.
- Palpable atmosphere
- Remastered visuals look incredible
- Updated controls are a huge help
- The art style has aged beautifully
- Backtracking is a persistent chore
- The game does a bad job of telling you where to go
- Mapping the game’s locales can be a nightmare
- UKRRP: £34.99
- USARRP: $39.99
- Same game, new visuals:Remastered edition gives Metroid Prime a new coat of paint with updated textures
- Updated control scheme:You can swap between the original controls, motion controls and dual-stick controls
- Play Metroid Prime on the go:This is the first time the game has been ported to a handheld console
As a means of keeping fans satiated until Samus Aran’s next mainline adventure turns up, Nintendo has brought back a classic of the GameCube era with Metroid Prime Remastered.
Almost six years have passed since Nintendo first announced that Metroid Prime 4 would be coming to the Nintendo Switch. Given that the game’s predecessor came out all the way back in 2007, it’s been a long wait for Metroid fans as the fourth installment has been hit with some well publicised development hell, and there’s still a big question mark as to when the game might finally appear.
Even though it rarely buckles to public opinion, Nintendo seems to be aware of the frustrations of the fanbase as the surprise announcement of Metroid Prime Remastered feels like an opportunity to appease fans through the ongoing wait.
Given that the first Metroid Prime came out almost twenty years ago, I was surprised during my playthrough of Remastered over how well the sum of its parts have aged. Unfortunately, in the face of innovation from similar Metroidvania style games over the years, there are parts of Metroid Prime Remastered that feel outrageously ancient. Here are my thoughts on Metroid Prime Remastered.
Graphics and performance
- Prime’s atmosphere is its greatest asset
- Updated textures breathe new life into the game
- Runs flawlessly on Switch
Of all its many facets, the one component of Metroid Prime Remastered that has easily stood the test of time is its art style. Everything from Samus’ suit to the alien creatures that serve as the game’s antagonists have been thoughtfully designed to the point where, even 20-years later, they haven’t become derivative in the current sea of first-person shooters.
The same can be said for Talon IV, the alien planet where the majority of Metroid Prime is set. Even though it defies geological physics to have lava pits, snowy mountains and sand-filled ruins in such close proximity to one another, each locale within Talon IV has its own unique style. Much like the different levels that you’d expect to see in a Mario game, Metroid Prime isn’t held back by the typical trappings of most first-person shooters in that its levels aren’t afraid to lean into their colour palettes.
These points remain true of the original version of Metroid Prime, but it’s all the updates that the Remastered edition brings with it that easily makes this the best version of the game by a country mile. For starters, the game’s textures have been given a massive overhaul, to the point where it largely looks like an entirely new game.
For fans of the original title there are plenty of smaller tweaks too, the best of which is that you get a proper glimpse of Samus’ face in the reflection of her visor (which did make me jump the first time I saw it). It also needs to be said that I encountered no slowdown whatsoever during my playthrough – everything runs smoothly in the performance department.
If the detail that has gone into Metroid Prime Remastered is any indication of what to expect from Metroid Prime 4 then I think we could be on the cusp of seeing one of the most visually arresting titles for the Nintendo Switch.
Story and gameplay
- New control schemes make the game a lot more fun to play
- Backtracking destroys Metroid Prime’s pacing
- It can be tricky to figure out where to go next
As much as I adore the visual side of Metroid Prime Remastered, it’s in the narrative and gameplay where it becomes clear that this game (or rather the original it’s based on) is starting to show its age. To its credit, the core gunplay of Metroid Prime is still a lot of fun, and it’s only made better by the improved controls schemes that are available here.
At any point during the game, you can swap between the classic GameCube-era controls, the motion controls featured in the Metroid Prime Trilogy for Nintendo Wii, or (as I did), you can opt for dual-stick controls that more closely mirror the style of a modern first-person shooter.
Having the ability to look around the environment without limitations makes it far easier to scope out collectibles and any unlockables that might be hiding in the area. Speaking of which, the core progression system at the heart of Metroid Prime is still very addictive, tasking you with reclaiming all of Samus’ abilities following a devastating fight. Knowing that investing another 10-15 minutes in the game could nab you that next important upgrade keeps you hooked throughout.
What holds the game back from greatness however is its confounding reliance on backtracking to push through the story. The game’s final challenge is particularly egregious as it simply involves returning to previously visited locales to find collectibles that you may have passed by without noticing, and the game does a horrendous job of explaining the task to the player.
There does seem to be a built-in timer within the game’s code to steer the player in the right direction if left dawdling for too long, but I spent far too much time on countless wild goose chases just trying to figure out where I was supposed to be going next.
The game’s map doesn’t help things either. The various sections of Tallon IV are connected by elevators that are very difficult to keep track of, and the map doesn’t offer any throughline to signal which elevator you need to be heading towards, which leads to a lot of guesswork and wasted time.
Compared to a game like Returnal, which wears its Metroid-inspired design on its sleeve, there’s very little backtracking to be found and there’s always a sense of pushing forward towards the game’s end goal. Even 2021’s Metroid Dread does a better job at nudging the player in the right direction, despite its unmistakable Metroidvania roots.
To make matters worse, Metroid Prime starts to fill its tightly packed levels with more formidable foes as the game goes on, which just prolongs the backtracking even further. These moments are devoid of any enjoyment and it’s clear after just a few hours why this type of game design doesn’t feature prominently in 2023.
Should you buy it?
You want to play a unique FPS:
Against the backdrop of modern first person shooters, Metroid’s unique art style and gunplay feel like a breath of fresh air, even after all these years.
You want the best Metroid game on Switch:
Not all of Metroid Prime Remastered has aged well, so if you want the best Metroid experience on Switch then Metroid Dread is a far better pick.
Even after all these years, the allure of Metroid Prime remains intact, largely due to its incredible atmosphere that only shines brighter thanks to the updated visuals and controls scheme of this Remastered edition.
If you’re a Metroid fan who missed out on the game when it first came out, then Metroid Prime Remastered offers up the best way to experience it. For everyone else however, Prime’s obtuse game design and constant backtracking make the game incredibly frustrating which, after playing similar but newer titles like Metroid Dread only serves as a reminder of how much game design has changed since.
How we test
We play every game we review through to the end, outside of certain exceptions where getting 100% completion, like Skyrim, is close to impossible to do. When we don’t fully finish a game before reviewing it we will always alert the reader.
Tested on Nintendo Switch
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Metroid Prime Remastered is single-player only, with no multiplayer modes.
Yes, you can jump between motion controls, classic controls and dual-stick controls at any point.