This title was reviewed on GBA, also on 3DS and Wii U Virtual Console.
So Smash Bros. Ultimate came out recently, and with it came three Metroid characters. My brother wanted to start playing Metroid, mainly for Ridley. So, like Conan’s father handing his son the sword, I educated my brother on the franchise, and ended up getting back to my old favourite: Fusion, a game I’ve beaten about 30 times. So what makes Metroid Fusion click with me? Let’s have a look.
With the GBA having very similar hardware to the SNES, Metroid Fusion is very similar graphically to the previous game in the franchise: Super Metroid. That isn’t a bad thing, with Samus and her various foes being beautifully animated and there’s plenty of colour across the game. Backdrops and areas are quite varied too, with each sector having its own theme, whether it be tropical, artic or underwater, making Fusion a graphical treat. The only problem is that the graphics suffer due to the low resolution of the GBA’s screen.
The story here is top notch. Set after the events of Super Metroid, Samus returns to SR388 from Metroid 2, and gets infected by an X Parasite, which were allowed to spread thanks to Samus’ Metroid genocide in Metroid 2. This leads to Samus’ ship being destroyed, her being near-death and her suit being mostly surgically removed. She is saved by a vaccine made from the Baby Metroid from Super Metroid, given a new ship and suit, and sent to investigate an explosion at the B.S.L research station where an explosion happened. The explosion causes a breach of X Parasites across the station, and Samus must stop the outbreak. The X mimic creatures, so plenty of classic enemies return, including Samus’ most terrifying enemy yet, the SA-X, an X mimicking her old power suit. She pre-dates Dark Samus by about 3 years, and is even more terrifying by the fact she has the ice beam, which Samus’ new Metroid genes are especially weak to. The story is solid with plenty of twists and tense moments, and it never gets old even after the crap ton of playthroughs I’ve had.
As the title suggests, Metroid Fusion is a MetroidVania. You explore the massive B.S.L research station, killing enemies and collecting abilities and power-ups to explore new areas. For the most part it’s standard fare, but there’s a few tweaks and modification that make it feel different. For starters, Samus controls differently, being far less floaty and more precise than in Super Metroid. Samus’ suit is also far lighter now, allowing her to grab ledges and climb up ladders. Samus also acquires new abilities not seen before or since, such as Ice Missiles and Diffusion Missles to make up for Samus’ current incompatibility with the Ice Beam. The game’s controls have also been streamlined to account for the GBAs lack of buttons, with Super Missles being an override for the regular missiles.
Some changes aren’t completely positive however. Despite still being a MetroidVania, it is far more linear than any other Metroid. While other Metroids are renowned for their non-linear style and focus on sequence breaking (reverse boss order anyone?), that isn’t the case here. Progression is very linear, with you going to Navigation rooms, getting told what to do, and then doing it. It isn’t a Call of Duty campaign though, as getting to your objective and back is never straight forward, with plenty of times where the map can change or be destroyed, and alternate routes must be found and explored. In typical Metroid fashion, power-ups are also hidden in places you can’t get to right away, and before the penultimate boss fight you have an opportunity to explore the entire station to collect the rest of your items. While sequence-breaking isn’t allowed, the devs did sneak one in. If you use the shinespark ability in a very specific way, you can skip getting Diffusion Missles, which leads to a unique conversation in the Nav room. Other than that though, Fusion is a very linear Metroid title, and while I like that for its more focused design, I can see why some Metroid fans
The audio in Fusion is fantastic, especially when it comes to the music. Each sector and each boss fight has its own theme, and they fit very well. There’s a fantastic remix of Vs. Ridley and Nightmare’s theme is terrifying. The main theme is also a very eerie rendition of the Super Metroid theme, which fits the atmosphere very well. Sound effects are also solid, with beams and missiles sounding powerful as ever, and the roars of some enemies are vicious, although Ridley’s screech can cause ears to bleed.
Metroid Fusion is a fantastic entry in the Metroid franchise. It has tight and refined controls, gorgeous visuals for the GBA, a terrifying atmosphere and story, as well as some unique abilities. Throw in some creepy music and solid sound effects and you have one of my favourite games of all time, there’s a reason I beat it 30+ times. It is very linear compared to other titles in the series which may upset some players, but I like this more focused design. My only gripe with Fusion is that there hasn’t been a Metroid game set after it yet, and I’ve been dying for a sequel.