I can't say that I've been a fan of the Metroid series for an incredibly long time like some people could say. But I can say that I'm a fan for life! Metroid is one of my most favorite game series, along with Ace Attorney and Elder Scrolls. I say all this to say: I'm not a Metroid aficionado, but I know well enough to know what's a good Metroid game. Metroid: Zero Mission is a good game.
The story of Metroid: Zero Mission is quite simple. In fact, Metroid: Zero Mission is actually a remake of the original Metroid game! Samus is called to go down to Planet Zebes to kick some Space Pirate butt and terminate their experiments on the Metroids. Before she can do that, however, she has to actually...get there. So off she goes through Brinstar and Norfair in order to track down the Space Pirates and give them a good blasting. On her way, she encounters two Space Pirate allies, Kraid and, of course, Ridley. After taking care of them, she moves onto Mother Brain, the mastermind behind the Metroid experimentation. I don't really know how Mother Brain does that with only one eye, though. Blink once for yes, twice for no, thrice for destroy the galaxy with souped-up Metroids? Anyway, once Samus defeats Mother Brain, it starts a self-destruction sequence. Samus escapes, but only to be attacked once more by Space Pirates...in space. Her sweet ride lands beside the Space Pirate Mothership which is just asking to be infiltrated. She blows that up too. Samus' motto should be: "Have a problem? Blow it up!" I'm not complaining though because that's pretty cool. I mean, who wants to play a game where you deal with intergalactic pirates through civil discussion and diplomatic agreements? NOT ME.
The graphics in the game are pretty good. I wouldn't say AMAZING, but compared to the former game, Metroid Fusion, it kind of lacks a little something. I can't say exactly what made it this way, but the graphics seemed a little bland to me at times. Like it needed just a little bit more polishing and a lot less of the same blue paint in order to make it sparkle. I don't know. If I didn't know the order in which the games were released, I would have said that Zero Mission came before Fusion due to the difference in graphics. Now, graphics don't necessarily make or break a game's rating, but it is one of the things I look at when determining whether a game is great or "awesooooome!" With that being said, this game is definitely a significant improvement of the game that it was based on. It even comes with the original Metroid game once you beat the game! I couldn't help but play a little afterwards. He he.
The music is phenomenal! My heart races every time I hear that Brinstar theme. Ohhhh baby! There's no subtle music to get you started. It's just "BOOM. GET GOIN'. YOU'VE GOT A GALAXY TO SAVE!" Ah, the peaceful life of being a bounty hunter, eh, Samus? All throughout the game, you get music that so beautifully fits the theme and atmosphere of what's going on. Of course, the Brinstar theme and the "Loading save" are songs that I believe are iconic to the entire Metroid series. One thing that I noticed and was appreciative of was that the music's volume lowered when you go into the menus or the maps. I'm really big on maps in a game, and it really helps me concentrate on figuring out what route to take when the music is subtle rather than blaring my eardrums out to Zimbabwe or something.
Samus Aran... Aran so far away...
I have to say, I only really got lost once in this game. I know in other games, I might go around in circles until I've made holes in floor...only to discover I was supposed to make a hole in the floor and go down. Metroid: Zero Mission is pretty straightforward when it comes to level designs. Sure, there's always the hidden passageways to glorious loot, but I could usually tell where they were. Who knows, maybe I've gained a "Metroid sense" where I can tell where hidden levels and objects are. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that I bomb every wall and corner that looks ever so slightly suspicious. Anyway, the level designs are great. They're not complicated but interesting enough to instill that exploration bug in the player. I like that. I like going into an empty room and being like, "Aha! There's something hiding in here! BANG BANG!" I found quite a few things that way, let me tell you.
The difficulty in Metroid: Zero Mission is just where it should be. I always play on Easy mode because I'm a wimp, but that didn't mean I was cutting through the game like butter on the sun. The bosses were just as difficult as I remembered from my first time playing them (at least most of them were) and the ways to get the items were just tricky enough for me to give up on some of them. Darn, I wish I knew how to Sparkshine as a ball. I remember that ONE SPOT where I needed to use it! Guess I'll need to play the game again!
One thing that actually was different than any other Metroid game was that you play as Samus without the Power Suit! In these levels, you can't blast your way around town. You have to use stealth (something I'm apparently not good at) to get around the Space Pirate Mothership and reach the Chorizo Ruins where you ultimately regain your suit and your firepower. It's pretty nice to be able to show those Space Pirates who has the big guns in this town! The only thing I found disappointing about the difficulty in Metroid: Zero Mission was the battle against Ridley. For some reason, I found this battle to be incredibly easy! No lie! I barely lost any health the entire time. Either I'm a Ridley-battling professional now, or I was just lucky. I'm going to go with lucky that Ridley never managed to pick me up and scream terror into my heart.
Overall, as a remake, Metroid: Zero Mission is wonderful! It has the same Metroid aura that surrounds the games like Fusion and Super Metroid. It may not have introduced anything particularly new, but it definitely didn't decrease in quality playing. Although I didn't necessarily love the game, I did really, really like it. I only wish it was longer! More Metroid = happy me!