MDb Review: Metroid Fusion: by TJ

When I was at E3 2001 and I saw video footage of the in-development Metroid IV, I was amped. True, the graphics had a long way to go at the time, but when seen in motion, it was obvious that the developers were planning on taking Metroid gameplay to places it hadn't been before. A year and a half later, we finally have the game, now titled Metroid Fusion, and the Metroid series has indeed been taken to new places -- and they are very different places than anyone could have dreamed of.

How would they continue the Metroid series after the Metroids had been destroyed in Super, we asked? The answer: Anywhere Nintendo darn well pleases.

Graphics and Design

The same team which developed the first three Metroids created Fusion, as well. They took a bold step in replacing Samus' classic Power Suit with the very different Fusion Suit, giving our girl a sleeker, more organic, even feral appearance. It might not be as tough-looking as the good ol' Power Suit, but I still like it. And it makes sense, given that Samus is forced to fight the SA-X -- a clone of Samus at her most powerful. The Fusion Suit gives the real Samus a dramatic contrast to her enemy.

The backgrounds and enemies are superbly detailed and somewhat more colorful than those in most Metroid games. Considering the setting of the game, which is a research space station which simulates six different habitats for creatures, this makes sense -- not to mention easier viewing on the GBA screen.

Another nice touch is the addition of hand-drawn art in the game's cutscenes...oh wait, did I mention there are cutscenes? Well there are, and they're lovely. I would love to get ahold of copies of the original Photoshop files, because the art is beautiful -- much more elaborate than the scenes in Super Metroid's intro sequence.


Fusion's control is largely a Super Metroid feel with a few additions and deletions. The first thing you'll notice is Samus' ability to grab onto ledges and pull herself up, ala Prince of Persia. Much like Metroid II's addition of a "crouch" position and Super Metroid's introduction of the wall-jump technique, it's extremely useful and you'll wonder why they didn't think of it before; when playing the older games again, you'll wish it was there. The wall-jump technique from Super does return, although it's somewhat modified -- no more scaling a single sheer wall to gain that power-up a little early. It's kind of a bummer, but I bet the programmers did that for the same reason they stopped having bubble doors close automatically after the original Metroid -- because Metroid masters found out how to exploit it. Bombing techniques have changed -- no more bomb climb, but you don't really need it since the High-Jump and Spring Ball powerups are now combined in a 2-for-1 item; plus, Sam can lay 4 bombs instead of 3, so the tradeoff isn't so bad. Finally, climbing on certain walls and ceilings has basically replaced the Grappling Beam, which is okay -- no power-up required. There are a few other things they changed regarding the physics of jumping, running, and rolling into a ball, but they're negligible differences from previous games. All of these changes make playing Fusion slightly different, but no less enjoyable, than Super. With just a few minutes' practice, any Metroid veteran will be able to navigate Samus through her surroundings as gracefully as ever.

As for Samus' weaponry, it too is a little different from past installments in the series. While Samus' beams combine with each other every time you gain a new one, the player is not able to turn each individual weapon on and off as we could in Super. This doesn't seem to be a problem, however, as the beams simply get stronger -- there's really no need to switch back to an earlier beam. Samus still gets her missiles and power bombs, but in a new twist, her missiles get upgraded through the game. The addition of Ice and Diffusion Missiles is interesting, but no less effective. I have mixed feelings on the game's system of holding the R button to switch to missiles. While it is easy enough to use, and a little quicker (and safer) than moving your thumb from the control pad to press Select like the other Metroid games, I think I still prefer being able to switch them on and off with one touch of the button, rather than having to hold R throughout a boss battle. An option to control this would have been nice.


By now you've probably heard that Metroid Fusion is somewhat more linear than other Metroid games. This is true, although on your way to get where you need to be, there is still the freedom to take your time and poke around. I think of it not so much as being "linear" or "mission-based" as it is "focused." Samus has a computerized CO which she takes orders and objectives from, so there's no running around aimlessly, wondering what to do next. Some may argue that that's half the fun of the old Metroid games, and I am inclined to agree. However, since Fusion is a little more story-driven (thanks to the orders from your CO and those cutscenes I mentioned earlier) than other Metroid titles, I think this system works well. Should the series continue in that fashion? Maybe, maybe not. It doesn't seem like it would work until you play it, so who knows. They made a Metroid in first-person, so taking a few orders from Adam the computer (no relation to the old Colecovision-based model, I'm sure) shouldn't be too shocking.

One strange thing I'm noticing is that players seem to find Fusion either too easy or too hard. I found it to be both, actually. Finding your way around, solving the puzzles, and making progress are easy tasks. The bosses and enemies have patterns and identifiable attack techniques, which some may say makes them easy, as well. However, the enemies in Fusion all seem to do an absurd amount of damage to Samus, which can make it rather difficult. Even with the addition of the Varia and Gravity Suits, Samus' energy tanks are depleted shockingly fast, it seems. The only thing you can do is suck it up and hone your skills. Doing so will require the try, try again method, but it pays off before too long.

Overall, the game is quite short -- most players will finish it in 4-6 hours on their first play. The fastest completion of Fusion I've heard of as of this writing is about 1:30, which is about the same as a skilled veteran can comfortably complete Super Metroid with a fair amount of powerups and items collected. However, in an interesting twist, it's been found that Fusion can actually be completed by picking up only ONE power up (you must get at least one pack of missiles). Yes, Fusion can be finished with only 1% item collection, but it's not easy. In summary, once the game is beaten, there are still challenges which can be taken on, and different ways to play through it, which greatly increases Fusion's replay value.


Metroid Fusion should certainly satisfy those who have been waiting for a true follow-up to Super Metroid. It's a blast to play, very addictive and engrossing, and you can bomb your way through secret passages 'til the cows come home. I found that just using the old "Metroid instinct" -- that is, the uncanny ability to find secret passages and hidden features that we old Metroid vets have developed over the years -- is extremely rewarding. Acting on the hunch that the dead end in front of you hides something by bombing it and actually finding a secret passage inside which leads to one more Missile or Energy Tank...that's like Christmas for the longtime Metroid fan. And Fusion is so full of false walls, secret paths and hidden goodies that anyone who already knows Zebes and SR388 inside out will feel like a kid in a candy store checking them all out.

After all these years, we finally got two more Metroid games. Both are a little different from what we're used to; both bring new concepts to the Metroid series, and both are very, very welcome additions to the franchise. While Metroid Prime took the game's format in another direction, Metroid Fusion took its story to new places. And as the direct successor to Super Metroid (as the introduction clearly states, Fusion is indeed still "Metroid 4"), we can only wonder where Samus' fate will take her next. Metroid Fusion will likely act as a lynchpin to the future of the series.


MDb Review: Metroid Fusion: by Asaic

After an excruciatingly long hiatus, Samus finally returns. Was it worth the wait? You bet it was.

Metroid Fusion is remarkable. It is a totally unique game that manages to hold onto everything that made the Metroid series great. It is the perfect sequel to its predecessors from start to finish.


Just when you think it can't get any better than Super Metroid, they give us Metroid Fusion. Previously, the third Metroid installment and a few other games (such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night) were the leaders when it came to solid 2D play control. Now there is a new champion. Think Super Metroid, but with a few more moves, increased speed and even more precise and responsive control.

Nintendo did a great job porting the general play mechanics of Super Metroid to the Game Boy Advance. Having the R button as the key to firing missiles instead of the select button is the perfect compliment to the faster gameplay in Metroid Fusion. Using the select button wouldn't have worked too well in those heated boss battles. About the only complaint I have is that I would have swapped the L and R buttons, or at least made a configuration option like Super Metroid had. Otherwise, the control is as good as it could possibly get.


This is the department where Metroid Fusion shines most. The pacing is perfect all the way through. With the brilliant addition of grabbing ledges and climbing ladders, it adds to the already exceptionally smooth gameplay that Super Metroid offered us nearly a decade ago. From the exploring to the boss fights, the pacing and precision never let up.

One of the main differences in Metroid Fusion is the increased damage that Samus takes. It is not uncommon to lose more than 100 units of energy in a single hit. Most normal creatures in the game will drain you anywhere from 30 to 70 units, and the suit upgrades only reduce damage by 5% of the base damage, each. Early on you will notice that this game is far less forgiving than the previous installments. This is only amplified in the somewhat difficult boss fights -- that is, until you find out how to exploit their weak points efficiently, then the game becomes quite easy. I am reminded of games such as Contra and Ninja Gaiden; once you've learned how the enemies work and what to expect of them, the game becomes very easy.

But don't let that fool you. Easy as it gets, Metroid Fusion is still extremely fun to play. Nintendo pulled their magic tricks once again and proved that a game doesn't need to be really challenging to be great.

Another great addition is the story. This is the first Metroid game to have a progressive story, and it's a good one at that. It is the perfect mood-setter and it keeps you moving along at the right pace, giving you an actual reason to be absorbing X parasites and searching for power-ups.

Some people are turned off by the story due to the fact that it guides you towards the next major power-up or boss fight. What many people fail to realize is that Metroid Fusion, by nature, is a far less linear game than Super Metroid. In Super Metroid, you cannot get to the next areas unless you have the right item to open up the only way in. Fusion, on the other hand, would be too directionless without the computer CO aiming you in the right direction and blocking off areas you're not ready for yet. Using this new idea, the developers were able to give you a good reason to revisit each area in the game multiple times without them being repetitive. Plus, if you could just go anywhere anytime, you would very quickly find yourself stuck in areas that you don't have the right items to get out of.


While it's difficult to come up with new, inventive graphics in the 2D market, Metroid Fusion delivers about the best we could expect from sprites and scrolling backgrounds. It is nothing to complain about. You're simply not going to get much better than this in a 2D game. Fusion doesn't push the envelope for special 2D effects, but it really doesn't need to. Metroid has never been about flashy graphics and effects. The animations are smooth and perfectly timed. There is no feeling of a rushed product here.


Again, it is about as good as one could expect from this type of game. We're not expecting to have Dolby Digital surround sound with Redbook music here. The sound and music is on par with the best the Super NES had to offer. And that's nothing to complain about at all.


The music was very impressive. Brand new tunes filled out most of the score, yet it still felt completely Metroid-like, even the very first time each tune plays. After a couple of sittings, you'll have one of many great tracks stuck in your head. This adds a perfect sense of nostalgia to an already worthy sequel. I can't imagine it being any better than this for a Metroid game.

Lasting Appeal

With more hidden items to uncover than any previous entry in the serious, and a total of five different endings, there's a lot to keep you going. But endings aside, the reason I play Metroid Fusion over and over again is to simply enjoy the amazing gameplay. This game just reeks of 'fun.' I didn't even play Super Metroid this often when it was brand new, and I totally loved that game. When it comes to replayability, Fusion delivers in spades.


There is very little not to like about Metroid Fusion. From perfect controls to amazing gameplay, it's a hands-down winner. Fusion is easily the best game in the Game Boy Advance, and is also my favorite Metroid title. That's a huge feat, considering I've been playing Metroid games since the NES original hit store shelves in the 80's.

If you own a Game Boy Advance, you simply must own Metroid Fusion. Whether you're a Metroid fan or not, it will keep you coming back for more. And if you are a Metroid fan (why else would you be at this site?) you won't be the least bit disappointed with what Fusion has to offer as a sequel.

Final Rating:
As a Metroid sequel: 9.5/10
As a stand-alone game: 9.5/10