2003 will see quite a few important titles for the Nintendo GameCube. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is only weeks away for European gamers. However the first of these important titles was released at the end of March. Metroid Prime may not be as universally well known as Zelda, Mario or Pokemon but the series is an integral part of Nintendo's software history. Indeed the Nintendo 64 console was the only Nintendo console not to have a Metroid game.
You control Samus Aran, a Power Suit clad female bounty hunter. The Power Suit was created by an alien race called the Chozo. The Power Suit is critical to Samus' survival. All the information from the Power Suit is shown visually through the HUD. The manual (pages 12-13) instructs you on how to read the HUD). The Chozo didn't only create Samus' suit though, they also taught her how to be a warrior and infused her with Chozo blood. Samus had been orphaned as a young girl after Space Pirates had raided the K-2L planet. Samus was to exact her revenge upon the Space Pirates and eventually she killed the Mother Brain. The Space Pirates were not finished though and the game begins with Samus once again on their trail.
There are some misconceptions about what type of game Metroid Prime is. It would be wrong to simply classify the game as a FPS. This isn't the Nintendo version of Halo. Yes there are plenty of enemies to shoot but Metroid Prime is so much more in regards to gameplay. In fact if you come to the game expecting a FPS game you'll be in for a surprise. The control system won't initially feel comfortable to a FPS player. The left analogue stick moves you around but you'll need to hold the R button down as well, in order to aim. You have to hold the L button down in order to strafe. Samus can even roll into a Morph Ball in order to navigate small areas and perform other actions. Samus must also use her Scan visor quite a lot too in order to determine how to use devices, solve puzzles or determine the weak points of her enemies. The Scan visor also helps to gather information that is stored in her logbook, which can be read at anytime from the in-game menu. There's not just the scan visor though as Samus can also make use of her Thermal visor and X-ray visor once she has obtained them. Don't get me wrong there are plenty of heart pounding moments in Metroid Prime to easily match any FPS and the areas where you have a limited amount of time to escape are simply heart stopping. In short Metroid Prime's gameplay has so many more dimensions to it than your average FPS game.
Graphically Metroid Prime has its moments. Climb out of the water and watch the trickles flow down the visor; they look fantastically real. The environmental detail can look bland and even poor on the odd occasion. On some levels where you get up close to the foliage, it can even look blocky. Close up external views of Samus' Power Suit also reveals a lack of texture detail. Generally though what's here is of a good standard and is what you'd expect from a GameCube title. There is no slowdown whatsoever and the framerate is ultra smooth. The developers have made good use of lighting effects that help to set the mood of each environment rather well.
The game is not completely deaf gamer friendly. That's not to say that deaf gamers will have a problem enjoying Metroid Prime though. The cutscenes are not subtitled, which is a shame and there are times when the music will notify you of approaching enemies slightly earlier than you can see them but this isn't really a problem as such, more of a tiny inconvenience. All messages received within the game itself (such as the map, logbook and data from the scans) are in text. On some occasions the messages that are given verbally are not the same as the ones that appear in text on the screen but usually the messages will mean the same thing. You have to press the A button to remove the text so you can take all the time in the world to read the information.
Should you own a Game Boy Advance and a copy of Metroid Fusion (which you've completed) then you'll be able to unlock the NES Metroid on your GameCube. I didn't have access to a copy of Metroid Fusion so I can't comment on what the game was like but suffice to say that it's hailed as a classic and given how old the game is (it's unlikely to include speech) it probably won't cause deaf gamers any problems. You can also unlock a Fusion suit for Samus if you have Metroid Fusion.
Metroid Prime, all things considered is definitely one of the best Nintendo games to date. Retro Studios have brought an excellent series bang up to date and the transition from a 2D SNES game into a 3D environment has been very smooth indeed. Indeed the gameplay will feel very familiar to long standing Metroid fans, which is an incredible feat when you consider that most games don't survive the transition from 2D to 3D let alone retain the feel of the original games. There are one or two omissions in regards to subtitles but the bottom line is that the game is enjoyable for deaf gamers. With it being the first must own title to be released on the GameCube this year, you're definitely not going to want to miss out on it.
Game Rating: 9.0/10