Metroid Prime Remastered review: "Party like it's 2002"

Metroid Prime Remastered review: "Party like it's 2002"
Images Courtesy of Nintendo

Written by 

Lloyd Coombes

Published 

13th Feb 2023 17:05

While the Switch has slowly gained an impressive library of ports from the Wii U, Nintendo has been a bit less consistent when it's come to prior generations. While we now have Game Boy games on the hybrid system, many are still itching for Gamecube titles to make the jump.

One of the most commonly requested titles from the little purple console is Metroid Prime, and for good reason - it's constantly cited as one of Nintendo's finest, a first-person shooter that offers everything from the 2D series in a 3D space.

And yet, in the two decades since it launched, and much to my shame, I'd never played it until Metroid Prime Remastered launched last week. That means while I can't speak to how effective Metroid Prime was in 2002, I can certainly praise the title as a newcomer to this part of the franchise - and praise I shall.

Prime cut

Metroid Prime Remastered Screenshot Showing Combat
Click to enlarge

When is a shooter not a shooter? That's the question I've been asking myself throughout my playthrough of Metroid Prime Remastered.

The game is played primarily in the first-person, with Samus' iconic arm cannon prepped and visible, but to call it a shooter feels like a disservice. Instead, Metroid Prime Remastered feels like, well, a Metroid game - there's plenty of backtracking, and unlocking new paths, but it's paced so well that no matter how many times you wander through the same areas you'll constantly find fresh paths and secrets to find.

It's this pacing that makes Metroid Prime Remastered such a joy to play, even in 2023. Since it was my first time exploring Tallon IV, every new upgrade to Samus' suit felt like a lightbulb moment - "oh, I can go there now!" I'd say to myself, desperate to see what's around the next, previously inaccessible corner.

Every time I considered switching the game off for the night, another digital carrot on a stick dared me to venture deeper into this alien world, and by the time the credits rolled I was ready to do it all over again.

Metroid Prime has always been described by friends as a "cosy game" with which to jump in and start all over again, and I can see why - sure, once you've finished it, you can't quite repeat the magic of discovery, but I can see myself replaying it annually just because everything feels right.

Rewired and reloaded

Metroid Prime Remastered Screenshot Showing An Environment
Click to enlarge

Part of that is down to how well the game controls, taking full advantage of the two analogue sticks available on the Switch. Metroid Prime's lock-on function, paired with its strafe-heavy combat, certainly harkens back to an older era of shooters, but it just fits perfectly even in 2023 - Samus' need to stay mobile means finding a rhythm with dodging, jumping, and scanning enemies for weak points.

This scanning functionality also helps provide a deeper look at Tallon IV, and can help with some puzzle elements, too. I'm less keen on the pointer controls, though, or the Gamecube-mimicking option.

Metroid Prime Remastered Screenshot Showing Combat
Click to enlarge

The big draw of this Remaster, though, is the visuals -- and for good reason. Put simply, Metroid Prime Remastered is one of the best-looking games on the Switch. That may seem like faint praise given the console's more modest power compared to its rivals, but everything looks gorgeous - and it runs at 60 FPS, too.

Sure, caverns and ruins look sharper than before, but Metroid Prime Remastered is a game all about the details; the raindrops on Samus' visor, the steam from vents, the shine of her armour. Some will scoff ("Ha! It's a 2002 game!" etc etc), but the new visuals add a stronger sense of place to our heroine's surroundings.

Extra, extra

While Metroid Prime Remastered is well worth playing all on its own, developer Retro Studios could have skipped any extra features.

And yet, the team has added a bundle of unlockable goodies including concept art from the development of the 2002 original and the 2023 update. There are 3D models of characters and enemies you can rotate and examine, too, and the soundtrack can be listened to at your leisure, too.

The Verdict

It's rare that a game with 2002 feels, or even looks, as good as Metroid Prime Remastered in 2023. And yet, Retro Studios has somehow managed it -- even with no prior knowledge and a lack of history with the franchise, Metroid Prime Remastered is one of the best Switch games you can buy right now.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch, code provided by the publisher

Lloyd is GGRecon's Editor-in-Chief, having previously worked at Dexerto and Gfinity, and occasionally appears in The Daily Star newspaper. A big fan of loot-based games including Destiny 2 and Diablo 4, when he's not working you'll find him at the gym or trying to play Magic The Gathering.

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