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Metroid Dread...

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

I played through Super Metroid for the first time recently and I loved it. It’s got everything a landmark title needs. Atmospheric music, an engaging story that pulls you in through the gameplay, (mostly) fun controls and plenty of secrets to find in a massive, dramatic world. Its predecessors, Metroid and Metroid 2: Samus Returns are decent and lay the groundwork for the formula that created Metroid 3: Super Metroid.

While I don’t particularly enjoy Metroid (it’s dated, cryptic and difficult), I appreciate it. Metroid 2 I have some nostalgia for, but not enough to play through it again now. Since I think Metroid 3 is phenomenal, I had high hopes for Metroid 4: Fusion. It had almost a decade to advance the formula of a genre its series helped spawn, the Metroidvainia. Unfortunately, I feel it missed the mark.

The dark, foreboding atmosphere and minimal exposition of the first three games were replaced with a bright, colorful foreboding atmosphere and exposition every ten minutes or so. Fusion still has a wide array of powerups that allow you to explore and traverse a research space station. A station that is under attack by a deadly new enemy that mimics Samus at her most powerful. The platforming is solid and while the powerups are Metroid standard, (ball, bombs, ice, spin jump, etc.) that's fine because they're fun and presented in new ways.

I didn't do any Metroid research(i.e. google Metroid lore and scan through some wikis) until after playing through Fusion. I know I'm meant to care about all the backstory that's being heaped out, but the presentation is such a contrast to the rest of the series. As a result, all the exposition dumps that Fusion crams in only serve to confuse and annoy.

If you've played Metroid: Other M apparently things make much more sense but that isn't the case for a lot of people, Myself being one. Kingdom hearts has that same problem. Gaiden syndrome I guess I'll call it. Where a side story ends up having major implications on the numbered entries of a series even though it isn't really part of it. I'm not going to recount any of the Metroid stories here other than the one addition of backstory I did enjoy that was presented through gameplay and maybe two lines of dialogue.

Samus, canonically, saves the animals at the end of Metroid 3 and they manage to find a ship of their own and escape the exploding planet Zebes. I found this unlikely, even in a game with space chickens and dragon pirates. However, in Fusion, we find them again on the research station and discover not only are they intelligent, but sentient. So, I guess it isn't really fair to call them animals, is it? It was a nice touch that didn't affect the pacing and was well scripted.

Overall, I don