Reviews: Metroid Zero Mission

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Not the Metroid 1 remake I would have wanted
The original Metroid had many flaws, certainly. It does a terrible job of making it clear what you need to do. Seek out and kill Ridley and Kraid to open the path to Mother Brain, but you don't even know that ahead of time. Get the freeze beam so you can kill metroids, or else you're as good as dead when you encounter them. Not obvious, not explained.

Zero Mission is considered to be a remake of the original game, but while it does streamline things to make more sense, it takes away a lot of what made the original game work: specifically, its non-linearity. While you could get hopelessly lost in the original, the remake heavily limits where you can go until you get specific abilities. Chozo statues mark spots on your map, letting you know exactly where to go. Sure, knowing how to get there isn't obvious, but somehow it feels more limiting than even Metroid Fusion.

One time I headed to the next area, but went left instead of right as the map suggested. I found some hidden paths, and discovered a new upgrade. I was feeling like the game had finally allowed some freedom and I'd engaged in Sequence Breaking, only to progress to the right and find out that I needed my new ability to move to my next marked destination. In other words, I would have ended up taking this path no matter what. That's not exploration. That's not freedom. Genuine examples of Sequence Breaking do exist, but the game overall is very guided and linear.

The sound is awful. After Super Metroid on the SNES, Metroid Fusion felt like a downgrade, but it still had at the very least excellent sound effects, and passable music. Here, the music sounds like it's playing at 22 KHz or something like that. The samples are just bad quality, with some weird "tinny, echoing" feel to them. Was this an attempt to make the sound "retro"? Or make it sound foreboding? Either way, I'm not big on it. The compositions themselves are fine.

The game's finale is clever, I'll give it credit for that. Samus losing her power armor and having to navigate a stealth sequence is a nice original take on the gameplay. A great surprise and way to end the game, but it doesn't compensate for what came before.
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