September 29th, 2009
For the prelude to this article, please click here. I’m going to be jumping a lot between fully fledged observations rather than writing in a progressive walkthrough format as I originally proposed. So it’s more like; this topic was relevant at this part of the game, and up to now here are my thoughts on this relevant topic. I also intend to talk predominately about the pragmatic features of the game, rather than the actual goings-on (ie. what you do, what happens in the narrative). This post has evolved into something else entirely, so I’ve broken it into two. The next one will arrive shortly.
Areas Covered: Samus’ Ship, Olympus Space Station, Norion
Discussion Points: Samus’ Ship functionality, the extended cast, the tutorial functions, interplay with the cast, grapple lasso, Meta Ridley
You begin Metroid Prime 3 in the cockpit of Samus’ spaceship. Interfacing with Samus’ ship is one of the new features to Metroid Prime 3, so using it as an initial starting point was probably a wise decision. Effectively it’s meant to act as the centre point of the game’s hub in which Samus can planet-hop through the galaxy, but due to the limited destinations it initially doesn’t present itself in such a manner and feels largely worthless. Most of the ship’s utilities seem pretty immaterial too. Oh, that is besides the cool gimmicks, of course.
Olympus Space Station
Samus soon departs to the Olympus space station. This is an interesting area because it’s unusually full of people. I don’t mean literally full of people, they’re actually pretty sparse and don’t really converse anything of merit – but people, in a Metroid game. It’s a little bizarre. The Metroid games have always been about isolation and Metroid Prime 3‘s attempt to branch out into, both the figurative and literal, social sphere of the universe is an awkward fit. What are all you stand-in space folk doing in my Metroid game? Shoo! The space station, just like the ship, rather quickly familiarizes players with these new, superfluous additions. That isn’t to be too discrediting though. Retro Studios, so far (as in 25% progression), has done an admirable job at handling them, but that doesn’t prevent these features from providing unnecessary friction against the rest of the game.
I’m hesitant to say whether Olympus Space Station acts as the game’s tutorial or not. It isn’t until after the events on Norion where the game properly begins. It’s akin to Metal Gear Solid 3 in this regard, the Virtuous Mission is obviously the tutorial, but the game doesn’t really open until after the Ocelot battle once you’ve retraced your footsteps – there’s a bit of suspension in between.
The space station more or less suits you up everything pre-MP3, whilst setting the precedence for the conflict. You learn the basics of moving, shooting and morph-balling, acquire missiles, meet some savage space pirates and down a boss. It’s not until after Norion that you’ll gain the PED suit and grapple lasso; the latest additions to the bounty hunter’s repertoire. Narrative-wise it’s the same, the Olympus Space Station sets the scene, Norion takes the next appropriate steps and acquaints you with the rival bounty hunters and the treacherous Dark Samus.
Norion is interesting as the primary objective (objectives are provided frequently by the Galactic Federation) is shared among Samus and the collective group of other bounty hunters. The team must reactivate three turret generators to fight off a wave of incoming space pirate fleets. One might assume that Samus, as the player, performs all the work for the team (as tends to be the case in most video games) but in actuality she completes her objective while frequently, and seamlessly, aiding the other members. There’s clear cross over as the other hunters interlude with your progress, passing the rod and covering your back. This gives Retro breathing room to introduce the various members as they portray their distinctive personalities. In later levels the bounty hunters become “corrupted”, forming the core boss encounters of the game. This initial method of introduction is clever then as it plants the seeds for what’s to come.
The grapple lasso is the key new mechanic for this isolated chapter of gameplay. The lasso is a perfect fit for Metroid Prime 3, made better by the tugging sensation from the Wii nunchuck. The lasso surprisingly lends itself to a host of action (not just rounding up space pirates, well ok, you can’t do that either) such as removing debris or ripping shields from space pirates. Very satisfying. The new visor for commanding Samus’ ship is also used briefly, I’m yet to be convinced though.
Near the end of the Norion level we’re spoilt by the appearance of Meta Ridley. He makes a brief stint as Samus is making her way to the final generator traveling through a metal frame in morphball-mode. Ridley clings onto the frame and tries to chew his way through. He’s just there to spook you though and it nicely crescendos into the next spate of space pirate attack and then finally into the proper confrontation with Ridley. This sequence is a little rough around the edges, but mostly achieves its desired sense of thrill. Firstly though, Ridley’s entrance is brilliant and if it wasn’t for it’s earlier showing in E3 demos, I would have probably been blown out of my seat. The boss situation is equally so, seeing Samus and Ridley in hot pursuit as they fall down a hazardous shaft. The execution is a little wonky as the battle plays out in two heavily controlled spaces; either falling face first, avoiding oncoming debris, or in the tight grip of Ridley’s claw. The transitions between each are a little awkward as the first person viewpoint tries to orientate itself around the action. It’s a little jarring but a momentous battle all the same.
September 27th, 2009
I’m sensing that — with articles such as the ones I’ve written on the PSP Syphon Filter games, Prince of Persia, Zelda: Twilight Princess and the Half-life series — I’m slowly leaning in favour of longer, more exhaustive pieces of writing on a single game or series. And I quite like it!
Although I’ve tried and failed twice, almost three times before (check the Final Fantasy Marathon, Syphon Filter: LS walkthrough and GTA: CW Cross Blog Dialogue) I’d like to once again try journaling my game progression and observations into a more-than-one-part series of posts. You know, the walkthough format where I spout out observations relative to my completion rate. This time I’d like to give it another red-hot go with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
I chose Metroid Prime 3 for two reasons. Firstly, I hold the sub-series in high regard. Metroid Prime being a deeply engaging experience, one that reinvigorated my eagerness towards this medium in the way that only the best games can. The level of artistry on all fronts was and will always be truly impeccable, Retro Studios have a craftmenship like no other.
The second reason is not so honourable. I bought MP3 back on release (came with a $20 guide too, not bad for $69, inclusive) and joyfully began playing it, reached 20%, then stopped. Tried again and was disrupted. A week later, I finally started again for the (ironical) third time, this being the play through I shall monitor.
Before I get into the discussion though I wish to prelude with some preliminary objectives;
Piecing Together the Trilogy
I’d played the prior two games excessively – as I usually did with games at the time. This has given me a decent understanding of the previous games, so with this knowledge, I hope to piece together the trinity of themes which each title represents. I obviously have strong ideas on the earlier two games, therefore playing MP3 will allow me to conclude the my thoughts on the trilogy as a whole.
Trueness to the Original Series
I’m also playing through Super Metroid simultaneously and am therefore interested in grading MP3 on how well it maintains the Metroid-ness of the series. How pure it is to series lore? And how do Retro Studios handle expansion and divergences? This is particularly interesting for MP3 as it’s already been preceded by two other Metroid Prime games, hence it needs to establish some individuality within the proven formula, as Metroid Prime 2 did before it.
Streamlining. This is a Wii game after all – how well does the game accommodate the new control scheme via interface?
Fresh, Stale, Corrupt?
How well does Metroid Prime 3 maintain that new game smell in a sub-series which is already at it’s peak?
Dark Samus and Phazon both originated in Metroid Prime. Maybe, just like the Matrix trilogy, there is a life, birth and death metaphor going on. Maybe not. I’m intrigued at how this title will close these elements. Phazon seems legit, but Dark Samus is still a bit of a dubious character. I’d like to draw comparisons with the less dubious SA-X from Metroid Fusion too.
September 24th, 2009
Originally I’d planned to write an extensive and thorough analysis of Paper Mario‘s RPG system in contrast to the traditional JRPG. I’m still going to do that, right now, albeit, in an appropriately streamlined format.
– simplistic problem solving (ie. pushing blocks, switching switches)
/ OR: item dependent problem solving (ie. Lufia 2)
– usually dependent on walking through maze-like labyrinths
– difficulty: mazes before longer and more elaborate
– simplistic – mid-range problem solving (ie. pushing blocks, switching switches), also includes jumping, hammering mechanics
– dependent on logic puzzles based on abilities of respective side kick
– difficulty: layers side kick abilities to form trickier logic puzzles
– swords, shields etc all raise the players stats and ought to be upgraded at townships
– most items are healing or strengthening items
– badges provide abilities for both inside and out of battle (predominately inside)
– items heal, strengthen and attack enemies
– four party members
– often exchangeable class types between party members
– frequent random battles
– player advancement through linear statistics progression
– customizable via class and abilities (abilities often purchased or learn)
– teach team member gains abilities through a separate, unified system
– single ‘attack’
– ability system is separate from other areas of the character development
– abilities tied to class
– outcome of battle dependent on prior grinding (ie. player time)
– one party member and a side kick
– one fixed class type for Mario, the side kicks are similar to classes, also fixed but changeable in battle
– enemies appear on screen allowing for preempt attacks and avoiding conflict
– player advancement through selectable statistic upgrades, customizable abilities (badges), discovered equipment (stronger hammer and shoes), special abilities based on progression (Star power)
– customizable via side kick selection and above abilities
– two main forms of attack (jump, hammer), dependent on enemy type
– ability system (badges) affect all of Mario’s ability set (jump, hammer ability set, statistics)
– abilities tied to hammer and jump abilities (Mario) and sidekick’s inherent abilities
– outcome of battle dependent on player skill in sub-games
From this data we can draw a handful of observations:
-questing in JRPGs often requires little interaction or interplay, you simply walk through the dungeon, Paper Mario‘s exploring ties into the skill set of you sidekicks
–Paper Mario‘s inventory system is less cluttered with ranging weapons and armor, and doesn’t require constant maintenance. Instead Paper Mario focuses on the streamlined badge system.
–Paper Mario‘s combat is skill based, increased difficulty therefore requires the best selections of techniques for the right enemy type (enemy properties (ie. spikes, flames) have a great influence on available move set) matched with good execution of the respective subgames.
-players can choose whether to engage with enemies or not in Paper Mario
-in Paper Mario, the player’s skill and grasp over the battle system improves over play time, rather than simply their raw player statistics
-the ability sets in Paper Mario are tied to the hammer and jump (or sidekick attributes) rather than a class system
–Paper Mario has a more rigid customization structure but allows greater degrees of customization on lower level attributes. Tradtional JRPGs allow for a complete overhaul of character through class.