We got a couple threads that turned into arguments about Metroid: Other M
, and a thread trying to focus solely on the content of the game. This thread is to politely discuss whether this was the right direction for the game, or even the Metroid
series as a whole.
And I mean stay polite. I won't deny I got argumentative before, but this is to avoid that. State your cases for why you think this was or wasn't a good thing for the series, and keep it civil, whatever you agree or disagree about.
Myself, I think this was the wrong direction, and these are the reasons why:
M Stands for "Mystery":
Someone said that the Metroid games are some of the trippiest game ever made. Now that might seem to go against all the crazy stuff seen in games like Super Mario Bros.
and even The Legend of Zelda
, but fantasy lands like that are actually meant to be silly and whimsical at points. A science fiction world, even a soft science one like Star Wars
, is expected to be mostly grounded in reality and have defined rules.
Metroid is all about screwing around with those expectations.
How? Try explaining the basic premise of Metroid to a non gamer, and be sure to include describing the morph ball.
Sure that seems just plain and familiar to Metroid fans, but how many games have a suit of armor, whether plate armor or Powered Armor
, that transform into a rolling sphere
At least hedgehogs actually curl into a ball, so it makes sense a bit for Sonic the Hedgehog
to do that *
, but not a suit of armor. There isn't anything to even try to explain it. It was just there for expedience in getting the sprites to work around low tunnels, but the result is still trippy.
Not to mention that the suit can drop low yield bombs, but only in ball form. How does that even work? Incidentally, that's not meant to have an answer, just illustrate how out there the game is.
Plus many of the other power up in that game and II just screwed things up even further, including the screw attack of course. Before you got that power up, you didn't want to jump into enemies in a typical video game. You shot at them first or avoided them. Suddenly jumping into them was the best form of attack *
Then Super Metroid offered its own cool power ups *
. But what it brought most was...
Super Metroid turned exploring Zebes into like exploring a haunted house *.
Aspects were there in the first two games, but it went full flower here, and it was awesome. This is where Sakamoto's strength shows. He wasn't really trying for story here, just atmosphere, and the game was all the better for it. It wasn't just trippy, it was also spooky, and I don't just mean at the haunted ship.
Also, I don't know if Sakamoto wrote the introduction, but if he did, that is what he should have stuck with later on. It just told us what we needed to know, the direction of the clips was great, and mentioning the Metroid followed Samus around like a confused child spoke far more than any "Blah, blah, blah, The Baby" comments could.
That scene is a beautiful example of less is more, and the score just turns that into one of the best introductions to a game ever. We could have had a boring exposition recap, and instead the opening just draws you in. Even though you are getting information, you are also given a sense of mystery, due to the presentation.
Now although this is a side comment, that scene should be required viewing for game developers wanting to right a story. On that note, I know Aerith's death scene in Final Fantasy VII
is well known, but for writing emotional scenes, I would have developers instead watch Aerith's stepmother recalling how she found Aerith and then later learns her husband died in the war. That block of polygons sobbing on the table moved me far more than any CGI "Lady of Shalott" knockoffs.
Anyway, Super Metroid didn't sell as well as the first game, but I'm putting that partly due to marketing. It sucked.
It was just another 90s EXTREME
ads, with "24 megs... Nintendo's biggest game ever" as a selling point. I really doubt Street Fighter II
sold 6 million copies on the SNES
alone due to being 16 megs. Okay, turning an attack dog into a chihuahua is a bit funny, but does that seem like an appropriate ad for a Metroid game?
Regardless, the game showed that Sakamoto has already set the design paradigm for Metroid games, and it was to explore a strange, new world
... by turning into a ball that drops bombs. So the mood of the games was that of trippy, mysterious exploration, in a nutshell.
The exploration and the mystery split off:
and Metroid Fusion seem to have split off the elements from Super Metroid. Prime kept the exploration, Fusion kept the mystery, and both had just some elements of trippiness.
By keeping the exploration, Prime is the superior game. While it doesn't have as many cool surprises as the first three games, it did have some cool elements, like looking at everything through the infrared visor (it's like all the texturing is taken off the models, and you just see the polygons with flat shading). But it did lack a lot of the mystery and atmosphere of the first three games. The wrecked station didn't feel quite as spooky as the wrecked ship in Super (or even Maridia, given that the ship was mostly underwater).
2 got some of the mystery back through the Dark World
, but lost some exploration points with the dark world increasing the backtracking required, and the chunks of the dark world turning a lot of the exploration into a bunch of puzzles.
Fusion was noted for being too linear, but it did have the atmosphere. Let me tell you, if Samus's childhood flashback with Ridley in "Other M" had been as scary as when we saw the SA-X's face, I would have totally bought Samus being at least somewhat frightened.
So while the game was holding your hand, it had the mood, and that made me at least want to play it to the end.
Now I could discuss the other games, but those are enough to bring me to the three reasons I feel this is a bad direction for the game:
- Limited exploration until the post game
- No sense of mystery
- Trippiness is replaced with bland story
1. Now exploration has gotten some attempts at justification, but so far it's largely undisputed that this is one of the most linear games in the series. Exploration is important to the series. Too little, or even too much (Prime 2) will hurt it.
2. As for mystery, I don't mean the mystery of the plot (which has a poor resolution anyway). I mean atmosphere. Aside from the aforementioned SA-X appearance, we also get the look of wrecked old Tourian in Super, and the ghost of the wrecked ship in Super, and even how some enemies light up a room in Super and the room gets darker the more of them you defeat.
All of those were at least partly from Sakamoto, along with plenty of other touches
. So I give him no excuse for not taking advantage of that kind of direction in this game, since we've seen he's good at it.
3. The story... it falls flat for another three reasons: execution, execution, execution.
Some could argue taking a risk like this with a story is laudable for its own sake. That assumption precludes a scenario of a story being done by those without talent. Let me tell you, if you aren't talented, the story will suck, and going "it's good that you tried, because you tried something different" is not an excuse.
No, I am not claiming Sakamoto is talentless. I refer you to what I wrote about him in point number 2.
I'm just stating he's not practiced with the kind of storytelling he tried here. He was out of his league. He should have tried a lot of stories like this first, or gotten some outside help.
But even if the talent had been there, going story heavy would still have gotten in the way. At the very least, the game should have had two modes. All action with no story or cut scenes, and a mode with story so that gamers wanting to just get to the action wouldn't have to bother. That
would have been a reason to include the theater mode, so those wanting to see the story wouldn't have it interfere with their game.
Yet the question of Samus also should be brought up. Again, it's the execution more than anything. I don't care about her having emotions, or maternal instincts, or any of that, when he writing and voice acting both suck. And the pacing of her monologue scenes are horrible as well.
I'm bringing up the introduction scene in Super again. Sure she was just spouting exposition, but it was stuff we needed
to know. And the way she spoke wasn't saying too much. Less is more was also the key to that scene. Show, Don't Tell
is the problem with Samus's portrayal as well.
But the Ridley scene... First of all, to the claims that we should read the manga, I agree with Sci Fi Debris
. Just switch "movie" with "game" in this quote:
"You don't get credit for stuff you don't put in the movie because, now try to follow this because it's a pretty big leap, you didn't put it in the movie. I shouldn't have to wait months and watch all your deleted scenes to say 'Oh, this finally makes sense!' or pour through some non-canon books to say 'Oh, so this isn't a pile of nonsensical horseshit after all!'"
This isn't just us. When The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
came out, book fans, including me, were in an uproar about what we perceived as Character Derailment
of Faramir. When the extended edition came out, and a scene was included showing Faramir was pushed by being a "Well Done, Son!" Guy
, did any of us go "Well that explains everything, and I'm sorry I was mad before,"? Hell no! We went "Why didn't you include this in the final cut? It would have made it make some fucking sense!
"... or something to that effect.
Basically, if he was going on Samus having PSTD, it needed to be addressed in the game itself
that she always had this, even when she fought Ridley before.
(Some have told me the instruction manual with the game has this information, but game rentals, used games, and the fact that Ubisoft is actually dropping them from some games, all show that reading those is in decline, and thus still not a reason. Plus instructions are only good for backstory when the game itself is limited in story, and that clearly doesn't apply with Other M.)
But even then, would that have been a good idea? Again, that comes down to execution, and there's a difference between contradicting minor things, and seemingly flying in the face of what the audience has seen before.
Now there is the dispute about what some mean by "Stoic", so I'm using the actual definition. Many of us did not assume Samus didn't feel fear, just that she overcame it, because she is a good warrior.
So were not upset that she was feeling emotion at all, but that she had no control over them all of a sudden
. Now some could argue that scene being a realistic portrayal of PTSD makes the scene good, but I bring up the Compressed Vice
issue that many viewers have when that trope shows up. It still looks like character derailment for the sake of a moral. Now aside from the moral part, it still looks like they just tacked on something for the sake of drama. And the manga can't help there since few even know there is a manga of the series (never localized in the country where the fanbase is largest).
But again, this could have been done right, but only by a really good storyteller, in a way that played with our expectations in an entertaining way. Yes, it seems wrong to state that looking at a PTSD has to be entertaining, but even if the point really is to help raise PTSD awareness, it would still have to be a good story.
I would elaborate more, but it's really late. So I'll conclude that this is the wrong direction, because the story gets in the way of the mystery and exploration, and the story being bad just compounds it. We don't take bad stories and voice acting with FPS and RPGs, so I see no reason to accept those here.
edited 26th Sep '10 3:56:59 AM by DragonQuestZ
I'm on the internet. My arguments are invalid.