Now available on: Wii (2009)
Retro Studios achieved what many thought was impossible, transforming the side-scrolling Metroid series into a first-person adventure complete with what made the series so special, from its methodical exploration to its remarkable atmosphere. Where most franchises suffered from the jump between 2D and 3D Metroid Prime excelled, giving it stronger combat and fleshed-out worlds thanks to a new scanning mechanic, placing it up alongside SNES classic Super Metroid as a series favourite.
But where do you go next after creating one of the most critically-acclaimed games of all time? While the original's structure and themes were similar to Super Metroid in many regards, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes opted for a new template. It went with light and dark worlds, a tried and tested formula that Nintendo itself visited before in SNES adventure Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past.
The structure allowed the adventure to step away from the obvious realms of fire and ice, instead offering boggy, vegetation-filled marshes and more industrial settings that became more twisted and warped. The game's highlight was the Sanctuary Fortress, a futuristic, digitally themed lair that oversaw a vast city, offering a respite from the decayed temples we were used to. The area also reintroduced one of Metroid's most revered abilities, the Screw Attack, allowing players to essentially fly across distances by spinning through the air.
Meanwhile, the fact that you had to essentially explore the same world twice in different guises, especially for those who wanted to do everything, eventually became an exhaustive and lengthy exercise. It also shared the original's frustrating trait of being able to miss some scannable objects entirely after certain story events, meaning players could easily miss the secret, post-credits ending.
While Metroid Prime 2: Echoes' longer, tougher journey ultimately made it a weaker sequel, it still ranks as one of the GameCube's finest games, and can be commended for expanding on the original's strengths with a simple but effective theme. Along with its predecessor, it's well worth hunting down as part of the Metroid Prime Trilogy on Wii, allowing you to revisit it with the aid of the Wii remote pointer.
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