Lately, every game console has seen a wide variety of remakes and sequels. Metroid Zero Mission, while technically a remake of the NES game, plays out like an entirely new game due to enhanced graphics, special moves, and play control.
Zero Mission tells the true story of what really happened on Samus’ first quest to planet Zebes. Just like the NES game, Samus is put in charge of destroying the space pirates who are trying to harness the power of the Metroid. While the story is similar, players are given more depth in this GBA version. Comic book-like cut scenes with text dialogue develop the story. Zero Mission blends in a lot with the GC game, Metroid Prime as the bird-like Chozo statues are more numerous and scattered around the planet. These Chozo statues tell the background story of Samus through their mystery and hieroglyphic symbols and text.
Zero Mission plays similarly to Metroid Fusion. Players must travel though uncharted territory while searching for power ups and hunting bad guys. Samus grows stronger by collecting Energy Tanks, Missile Tanks, and other items like the Morph Ball, Power Grip, and Screw Attack. Because Samus grows by collecting items or gaining abilities, levels are designed with special limits and barriers. For example, say Samus sees a ledge or platform but cannot reach it. If she comes back later with the High Jump ability and Power Grip, she can now venture to this ledge with ease. This is how the gameplay formula works. One new ability or item is used to travel deeper into Zebes. This formula of gameplay has been a staple for Metroid titles in the past and always makes for a solid and exciting game.
Besides a few new abilities, the game also receives a massive facelift from the NES version. All the environments, character models, animations, enemies, enemy A.I., and bosses have been completely reworked. Most of the level design from the NES game has been modified to fit the new abilities that Samus can obtain. Every type of sprite on screen is full of fluid animation and clarity. You will never experience slow down or see a muddy texture or sprite. Without a doubt, the game looks gorgeous.
Without the music and sound, the environments wouldn’t have the same gripping atmosphere. The music corresponds with the look of the environment and will please any ear. The sound effects are wonderful as well. You can always feel the presence of Samus’ footsteps while the swishing twirl of her spin jump generates an accurate motion effect. However, just like Metroid Fusion, this game should be played with stereo headphones. If there are two games that you should play with headphones, its Metroid Fusion and Zero Mission. When playing with headphones, be sure to select the headphone option in the option screen.
In my opinion, Metroid Zero Mission, along with Metroid Fusion, are two of the best platformers I have ever played. The wonderful control scheme and layout play a big factor in my opinion. Samus will gain quite of few moves throughout the game but the player can easily pull each one off despite only having four buttons to work with. “A” and “B” jump and shoot while “L” aims at a 45 degree angle. “R” is used in conjunction with the shoot button to launch missiles. Plus, this set-up works when Samus is also in ball form. After the Power Grip has been obtained, players can cling to the side of ledges and platforms. Samus can also shoot while gripping the side of the ledge. The solid play control enhances the game play by giving the player a wide variety of moves while only using a few buttons.
Without question, Zero Mission is an extremely solid game that play and looks entirely differently from its NES counterpart. The only thing wrong with this game is that it is too short. Most gamers will probably finish this game in about three hours. Luckily, there are different difficulties to slightly increase replay value. Despite being on the short side, the ending will generate an ear-to-ear smile. After the legendary Mother Brain fight, something happens which opens up a completely brand new world. I’m not going to give away what happens, but this final stage nearly doubles the size of the game. Plus you will play as Samus in a completely new way. This new end to the game is a fantastic way to put a new twist on a remake and I wouldn’t be surprised if other developers steal this idea.
Metroid fan or not, people will love this game. The game may be a little on the short side but the ending is unforgettable. The graphics, music, and gameplay have been entirely reworked to create a whole new Metroid experience. The different difficulties add some variety to the game and ending sequences can be unlocked for viewing at any time. Plus, you can also link Zero Mission to Metroid Fusion to unlock secret high-resolution pictures of Samus with and without her suit. After completing the game, the original NES Metroid will be unlocked. This is a great way to compare the original and this remake. All gamers will have a blast playing through Zero Mission as it is a must own for any GBA owner.