October 26th, 2009
Areas Covered: Sky Town Spire, Elysia Seed
Discussion Points: Bombing of the Elysia Seed, Helios boss battle
Sky Town Spire
With all of the pieces in place the formal precedings can begin. I never actually clicked previously to what was about to happen here, so when the Aurora Unit explained it to me in plain English, I must confess, I thought it was little convoluted. Let me explain what happens and you can decide for yourself: basically, with all the components assembled the bomb is now primed for launch. Using her ship as a hoist Samus drops the assembled bomb onto the centre-most point of Sky Town. The Aurora Unit then moves Sky Town (yes, the entire network of islands) closer towards the seed and disconnects the centre from the rest of the structure allowing it to free-fall towards the seed. The goal is for the structure to hit shield so that the bomb can explode and power down the force field thereby granting Samus access to the seed. Samus must stay on the structure as it’s falling to prevent any incoming space pirates from diverting the course. Once the bomb is in close proximity Samus can evacuate in an escape pod. The structure hits the shield and the bomb explodes.
This highly scripted premise—which in terms of playable bits consists of defending this free-falling structure armed with explosives only to narrowly escape—seems like something decidedly ripped from an action movie—therefore to a certain extent feels un-Metroid-like. Furthermore it’s questionable whether this set piece was worth the hassle of setting up. Both of these are fair points of criticism and, as with the initial encounter with Ridley, the action feels contrived and forced. That isn’t to take away from the experience, it works quite well and it’s nice to see new ideas applied to the Metroid formula, but it also feels like the creative spark is starting to wear thin.
The crux of this sequence is a tough shootout followed by a tense escape. The shootout is probably the trickiest so far as several ships surround the circular playing field at the one time and pirates are dispatched from them at every side. The danger comes in thick and fast which’ll have you reliant on hyper mode. Once you’ve dispatched enough pirates, you’re clear to activate your escape pod but—OH NO!—the pod is faulty. A small morphball hatch opens for you to frantically head downstairs to mend the device with a series of plasma welding mini games as a timer begins countdown. The setback is predictable but works well, you can see what I mean what I say it’s contrived though.
One final point I wish to make is that this sequence actually made me wishing that the Wii was a little more technically able, simply because the illusion of falling would have been much more effective with something more attractive an ugly brown haze. In fact, the actual illusion wasn’t too convincing and could have benefited from the structure bumping around a little. Also, what’s with the gravity? How is Samus not ripped to the top of the ceiling as soon as the structure begins to free-fall?
In the Elysia seed you take on Helios, a creature made of flying bats which can shift into two shapes: A ball which haphazardly rolls around the arena or a Gunstar-Heroes-esque humanoid who chases you in circles.After blasting off the outer layer of bats, the creature will float in air with 5 red dots revealing themselves around its outer centre at which point you can attack Helios with your seeker missiles to reduce him to his next form. Once you’ve done this you can start dishing our proper damage and eventually whittle him down to nothing.
The battle comprises of a tonn of blasting, stopgapped by a brief moment for the mandatory use of the latest weapon upgrade and then some more blasting. It’s in this regard that the battle feels rather unfulfilling, the meat of it isn’t entirely engaging. Well, that’s partly a lie. Helios has some clever movement patterns mixing up the confrontation so that it doesn’t feel like spam from the blaster. Afterwards you’re rewarded with the hyper missiles and hence we see a trend emerging.