There are a few things about Metroid Other M
that deserve praise; there are also things that deserve a foam bat to the head.
This game did an excellent job of translating Metroid's core play mechanics to 3-D; the result is a game with the freedom of movement of a 3-D game combined with the intuitive controls of a 2-D game. There are hiccups; the sideways Wii-mote controls are unneccessarily restrictive, most egregiously limiting use of missiles to the awkwardly-implemented first-person mode.
game flow, however, is not kept intact, with all exploration elements being surgically removed; the player is kept on rails right up until the end and power-ups are mostly handed to you as you need them. The lack of exploration elements, while not intrinsically bad, is incredibly jarring in a Metroid game as well as disappointing, considering the freedom to explore that usually comes as a result of upgrading to 3-D.
There are a number of unneccessary elements that add little to the play experience and could easily be done without, namely the Focus mechanic, the aforementioned first-person mode, and the constant, infuriating Pixel Hunts
(imagine Wheres Waldo
, where Waldo is a dark green smear on dull green grass in a poorly-lit green room).
The writing... meh. It's trying hard, and it fails just as hard. The doomed GF troops are too flat to really care about (excepting Anthony
, of course), the villain was cool but would have been more effective if their backstory wasn't told via a flashback long after any chance of resolving things peacefully had faded
, and Samus' new characterisation could easily have been explored more deeply. Her idolisation of Adam would be much less unsettling if we were actually shown more examples of him being a loving foster father, instead of a careless, controlling jerk; I'm sure they're there, but it doesn't work unless they're shown.
What makes Other M disappointing is that it's easy to see how it could be better. The base mechanics are all there; remove the Pixel Hunts
and tacked-on first-person mode, improve or excise the story, and give the player more freedom to explore, and you would have a Metroid to remember.
Other M is still enjoyable, despite its flaws. I feel perfectly secure in holding out for a Surprisingly Improved Sequel