Samus’s Mighty Return
Good things come to those who wait. This is exactly the case with Metroid Fusion. Gamers had to wait years for the Metroid saga to continue, but it was definitely worth it. Everything about Metroid Fusion screams perfection. 2002 was the year of Samus as Metroid Prime for the Gamecube and Metroid Fusion were released simultaneously and go hand in hand. Both titles compliment each other and are some of the coolest games ever made.
Fusion takes place as the latest chapter in the series, chapter 4. The story swiftly grabs your full attention from the opening animation and won’t let you go until you complete the game. Fusion is slightly different from previous Metroids do to the fact that Samus now unintentionally received the ability to absorb parasitic life forms called “X”. The story takes place shortly after Metroid 3, Super Metroid for the SNES. Samus is sent on a mission to study the aftermath that the extinction of the Metroids has had on the planet SR388’s ecosystem. This planet is the birthplace of the Metroid life form and was the location of Metroid 2, Return of Samus, for the original Game Boy. In that game, it was Samus’s quest to destroy every single last Metroid. After defeating the Queen Metroid, Samus was returning to her ship when she encountered a Metroid baby that hatched right in front of her eyes. Instead of destroying the final Metroid, she took it with her to be studied and researched by scientists. The story continued with Metroid 3, Super Metroid for the SNES. Samus drops off the young Metroid larva at a space station research colony then leaves searching for a new bounty to hunt. Shortly after leaving the space colony, the scientists send out a distress signal. The colony was under attack. Samus immediately turns around and finds that Ridley stole the Metroid larva. She then tracks Ridley back to the location of Metroid 1 for NES, the planet Zebes. There, she finds that space pirates have rebuilt the planet that she destroyed not too long ago. At the end of that game, Samus fights a reborn Mother Brain and gets knocked out by her powerful laser beam. The baby Metroid then flies in to the rescue by sucking the energy from Mother Brain and then infusing it into Samus. This results in Samus’s life being saved, but Mother Brain grows angry and kills the last Metroid. Samus then defeats Mother Brain again and narrowly escapes the exploding planet.
Here is where Fusion’s story begins. After Zebes is blown to bits, Samus gets ordered to go back to SR388, the homeland of the Metroid. It turns out that Metroids fed off a parasitic life form called “X”. These X parasites contain the ability to copy their prey by mimicking their DNA resulting in a carbon copy of the host. Since all the Metroids were destroyed, the ecosystem has been over run with X. Samus lands on the planet and takes a few samples of life forms to be studied by scientists. Without being fully aware of the situation, Samus is attacked by the X virus and her body and power suit become badly infected shortly after she drops off the specimens at a research station. The infection grows until she blacks out and faces a near death experience by floating unconsciously into an asteroid belt. Lucky, her ship jettisons an escape pod right before it’s smashed to pieces. Scientists rescue her but the X has infected her body and suit so badly that she is given little time to live until someone found a cure. That cure comes from the cell culture samples of the baby Metroid that she picked up in Metroid 2. The cure is administered and Samus recovers but her suit and body have been radically changed. This means that the baby Metroid saved the bounty hunter’s life twice. Samus’s DNA fused with that of the Metroid’s resulting in a power that allows Samus to suck up X parasites and absorb their abilities. The specimens that Samus brought back from SR388 also contained the X virus and the space station where she dropped them off experiences an unexplained explosion. Needless to say, Samus, with her new powers, is sent in to investigate. She takes mission orders from her new ship, which she communicates with by finding Navigation rooms spread throughout the space station. Soon after entering the now haunted station, Samus finds that a clone of herself has been created from her old infected power suit and is running a rampage. It is up to Samus to regain her lost powers, discover the secrets of the X, and take out her evil clone.
The game play is solid as can be. The same side scrolling action is still incorporated with Fusion, but many new elements have been added. Samus can now climb ladders, hang from ceilings, grip ledges, and shoot spread missiles. Exploring tight areas is made easier with a new simple technique that allows Samus to enter small openings in the wall by pulling herself up and rolling into a ball simultaneously. This game plays perfectly even though the GBA has only four buttons. The “A” and “B” buttons jump and shoot while “R” fires missiles and “L” aims at a 45-degree angle. Missiles can now be shot while hanging from ceilings and clinging to walls. Samus’s trademark wall kicks are back but are now much easier to perform and she can even launch herself off a wall while holding on to its edge. Just as in all the previous Metroid games, Samus gains new abilities as she moves further in her quest. New items such as the ice and spread missiles are joined with classic items such as the speed burner and screw attack. Once she gains an ability or technique a new passage will usually open up allowing Samus to reach new places and take on stronger enemies. Boss battles require a combination of strategy, quick reflexes, and proper weapon usage.
Fusion’s music and sound effects are the best on GBA. Eerie music sets the mood perfectly as this game may scare the crap out of you at one point or another. Getting scared from a game system that is the size of your hand sounds ridiculous but it will happen because a stealthy, terrifying creature is stalking you throughout the entire adventure. There are times in the game where the music goes silent and all you can hear is the hallow metallic footsteps of Samus’s clone searching for you. The sound of its footsteps will haunt you throughout the whole game. If you play this game with a pair of headphones, late at night with no lights on, you’ll see what I mean. Besides getting freaked out by the slow, deliberate footsteps, other sound effects add to the pleasure of the game as well. Missiles and gun blasts each have there own unique sound when they come in contact with different surfaces. Listen to enemies scream as you blast them away. Samus’s jump even results in the satisfying classic swooshing sound. If you play one game with a headphones on, this is that game. (Be sure to switch the sound to headphones in the option menu.) Not only does the sound fit the mood, but the graphics do as well. The game contains excellent graphical cut scenes that offer the viewer a chance to see parts of game up close and in immense detail. Each part of the ship even has its own feel. You will start to shiver when you fight in the freezer, and you will begin to choke when you see the fog that you must lift. Each one of these environments contains such a high level of detail, you will wonder if you are playing it on a next generation system. The lighting and particle effects are defiantly noteworthy as well. Samus’s many weapons leave behind a trail of explosions and smoke while her clone can light up a darkened area. The environments themselves are animated as well. Ice shards will shimmer and ground will pulsate. Even the save pad is animated. Samus’s animation is so smooth, the player will never get bored of looking at her. You will never lose sight of this game’s great visual aspects if you play it on a GBA SP. The system’s front lit screen and better speaker will make this game much easier and enjoyable to play. To further the greatness of this game, the original 8-bit Metroid can be unlocked by completing Fusion then linking it up to the Gamecube’s Metroid Prime by the system link cable. This is a great way to experience the first game in the series if you missed it on NES.
Lets face it, the Metroid series is one of the best of all time, and Fusion delivers everything that fans want. The game’s plot twists will blow your mind and will leave you wanting to go back and play the game again just to soak up every detail and attempt to find all the power-ups. Metroid Fusion is everything that you could want in a game. It surpasses all the previous Metroid games by bringing forth classic game play elements and showing off high-powered, fast paced action. This game lives up to the expectations that the 8-bit and 16-bit Metroids have brought, and exceeds them in everyway. You don’t just play this game; you experience it. Not only is this game the best game on Game Boy Advance, it is one of the best games ever made.