Metroid Prime Remastered Review

Primed for launch on Nintendo Switch

By Paul Hunter

Metroid Prime on the Nintendo GameCube is an absolute legendary action-adventure title, easily among the best games the Big N has ever produced. Retro Studios, a new development team at the time, was given the monumental task of moving the traditionally 2D Metroid series into a fully 3D world—and in first person to boot. This was also the first Metroid game developed outside of Japan, showing just how much trust was placed upon the team at Retro. And we all know how this experiment turned out: Metroid Prime is considered one of the greatest games ever created and is still in the Top 20 video games of all time on Metacritic.

Following last week's Nintendo Direct presentation, the company stealth-launched Metroid Prime Remastered, an enhanced version of this classic game featuring high-definition visuals, enhanced sound and new dual-stick controls. After spending 15 hours reliving this epic adventure in its entirety I can confidently say that Nintendo's nailed it: They've honoured everything that made this title so legendary while improving and elevating the experience in nearly every way. This is the definitive version of a title that every Nintendo Switch fan owes it to themselves to play. Let's dive right in, here are three things I liked about the game..and one I didn't.

Liked: Stellar Graphical Overhaul

From the moment your ship arrives at the Space Pirate frigate, it's apparent just how huge of a visual upgrade this remastered version is. Everything has been given a fresh coat of paint, from the many varied environments to all the hostile creatures and even Samus Aran herself. Areas look super crisp, whether that's the fiery lava pits of the Magmoor Caverns, the frozen tundra of the Phendrana Drifts or the wet, verdant Tallon Overworld. The original Metroid Prime was already a nice-looking game in its time period and this remastered version does a fantastic job honouring the original's art style while bringing all the visuals up to modern standards. Metroid Prime Remastered is among the best graphics ever seen on Nintendo Switch—it's really that good.

The subtler detail enhancements add tremendously to the game's immersion as well. For example, when you enter the hot lava zones Samus' helmet will fog up with the steam, momentarily obstructing your view. The waterfall splashes and water ripple effects also look great, and so too do the various flora and fauna that light your path ahead like a lantern. When you blast your arm cannon close to a reflective surface you'll see a flash of Samus' reflection on-screen, reminding you that you're inside her signature power suit. Speaking of your arm cannon, all the beam upgrades you get—the Ice Beam, electricity-imbued Wave Beam and hot magma Plasma Beam—all have greatly upgraded effects that make them look more powerful than ever.

The impressive visuals extend to the extensive gallery accessible from the title screen. Fans may remember the Wii port included a concept art gallery, but this time it's been greatly expanded with art from the original game and the Remastered version. The Switch version also adds a soundtrack gallery featuring 29 tracks to unlock, along with a 3D character viewer with 36 models that unlock as you play through the game.

Liked: New Dual-Stick Controls

While the original Metroid Prime is fondly remembered as an all-time classic, one complaint fans had were the limiting "tank controls" that took getting used to. No longer is that an issue with the Nintendo Switch remaster adding modern dual-stick controls that allow you to move around while separately changing your point of view. It makes such a massive difference in combat, especially the intense boss fights, so much so that it almost feels like an entirely fresh new game. But purists don't worry, the remaster includes a classic control scheme that replicates the GameCube version, plus for fans of the Wii version, there's a pointer option that enables motion controls for the camera and aiming. A new hybrid control scheme is also available and combines classic controls with motion controls. While these retro-inspired control schemes are nice additions, I preferred the modern dual stick option that felt responsive and familiar.

We might take Nintendo Switch's portability for granted these days, but it's worth pointing out that Metroid Prime Remastered marks the first time this title can played on the go. It's awesome that this game can be played anywhere and especially since the handheld controls are exceptional. The only drawback is the map is a tad harder to navigate on the smaller screen, but other than that this game runs beautifully in handheld mode. Amazingly enough, the locked 60fps never takes a dip in handheld mode, although the resolution takes a hit at 612p. When docked, the resolution gets a nice bump up to 900p and was my preferred way to play (given how beautiful the graphics are!).

Liked: Impeccable Game Experience

While I wanted to spend the bulk of this review touching upon what's new in Metroid Prime Remastered, I'd be remiss to not discuss the core game itself, which to this day is still one of the best action-adventure titles ever created.

Most big-budget games these days spend millions on lavish cutscenes to tell the game's story, but in Metroid Prime cinematics are only used for brief seconds to introduce new zones and before boss fights. Nearly all of the game's storytelling is done through incredibly detailed and diverse environments, with each individual zone having its own mini story to tell. There's always a sense of mystery, whether that's coming across a huge lava lake with a strange monitoring control system or a windy underwater garbage shoot used to dispose of something or a hard-to-reach ice temple with a tall Chozo statue hinting at a civilization from centuries past. The sheer environmental variety makes it exciting to reach new zones and discover all of its secrets and lore.

On the topic of lore, another huge way the story is told in Metroid Prime Remastered is by using Samus' scan visor. Enemies and objects of interest can be scanned, with the red icon ones being added to your research log book. The game tracks your log book percent completion and at certain milestones, you'll unlock items in the concept gallery. Scanning also helps shed more light on the Tallon IV planet, the ancient and advanced Chozo civilization, the Space Pirates that are out to stop you, and the purpose of individual rooms. It's crucial to scan since you'll be given hints from time to time that can help open new paths or reveal hidden items. Despite the scanning mechanic being introduced over 20 years ago, I still found it fresh and exciting to use.

As far as level design is concerned, Metroid Prime might still have the best ever in an action-adventure game. Roaming the ancient corridors and elaborate rooms searching for the 20-plus suit upgrades is a blast, and once you do obtain an upgrade, it's exhilarating to revisit old areas to unlock new paths with it. Whether that's using the Spider Ball to electrically cling to a rail path and roll to new zones or using the Grapple Beam to swing along dangling hooks and reach previously inaccessible areas—it's all so satisfying to do. And you really need to plan your routes strategically since Metroid Prime has no fast travel option whatsoever. I thought I was going to miss the feature but I didn't at all, partially because over time you'll unlock a number of elevators that help you hop between zones but also I wanted to revisit areas with all my newfound abilities.

Didn't Like: No Auto-Save

Alright look, I'm reaching here because there's almost nothing I'd improve or change about Metroid Prime Remastered. But if I had to give this game a minor con it would have to be an archaic manual save system that's been retained in this modern version. In order to save your progress you'll need to find specific save stations and sometimes they can be far from your current location. So if you need to pause your game to take care of some family business or even take a long call there's no quick save option available to you.

But perhaps worse is that if you ever have low health you have to carefully make your way back to a save station without dying, since the stations also refill your energy. While it didn't happen often, there were a couple of times that I died, one of those occasions I hadn't saved in about 25 minutes, forcing me to redo entire sections. I get that Nintendo wanted this version to remain true to the original, but a quick save option (like in the recent Final Fantasy Pixel Remasters!) would have been a nice inclusion.

The Verdict

Metroid Prime Remastered is an exceptional upgraded version of one of Nintendo's greatest games ever. Anyone that enjoyed Metroid Dread or plays action-adventure games in general needs to get this title which stands tall among the Switch's crowded library of triple-A first-party bangers. Gaming doesn't get much better than Metroid Prime.

Final Score: 10/10 - Masterpiece

Metroid Prime Remastered details

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Retro Studios
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Action Adventure
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

A key was provided by the publisher.