Metroid Fusion is the first of the Game Boy Advance titles in the franchise and had been titled Metroid 4 for a short point of its life. Narratively speaking, it’s the last to occur in the timeline, taking place after the events of Wii’s much-debated Metroid: Other M.
In this game, you control Samus Aran as she explores a space station after being infected by the X Parasite. In an effort to save her life, the crew at the Galactic Federation use a vaccine made of Metroid DNA, but inadvertently grant her characteristics of the species that allows her to absorb the parasites that once threatened her existence.
As her gravity suit is damaged, Samus no longer retains her standard Power Suit but instead finds herself equipped with a special Fusion Suit. This means that, once again, she is without her normal selection of powers as you begin the game. She is then sent to the Biological Space Laboratories station, soon learning that it too has been infected by X Parasites and therefore being tasked with putting an end to the parasitic infection.
As this is a 2D Metroid, the rooms are relatively small as you explore, and are often filled with enemies that you will need to destroy. Although these respawn when you exit the room, providing a constant challenge as you investigate the gargantuan station. As with previous Metroid games, dotted around the rooms you will find hidden areas that give you boosts to your missiles and energy tank.
Metroid Fusion is an odd one, which deviates a little from standard Metroid fare in that it is fairly linear. While you can investigate your surroundings as you wish, you’re typically guided through all the rooms without much exploration on your own. This guts part of the game’s feel a bit, but there are still plenty of small areas to discover by yourself. Additionally, the game falls on the short side, with a seasoned player able to finish it 100 percent in around two hours. If you’re a new player and have never played this game, you’re likely to take Samus for a spin for at least five hours or more, especially if you are chasing that elusive 100 percent completion. It’s worth it too, with the time taken and percentage of completion resulting in a different ending picture for your efforts.
Metroid Fusion‘s difficulty is rather fleeting, with the bosses just requiring you to pummel them as much as possible without being hit. There are also a few puzzles in the various rooms for you to complete, typically based upon finding alternative paths but do require a bit of thought. In addition to this, you will get recovery from practically every enemy you defeat, which will help you stave off the game over screen.
Metroid’s save system remains as it always has been, with save stations dotted around the station. Thankfully, they’re easily marked on the map so you can easily go back and save when you think you’re about to hit something big. However, if you don’t have time for that, the Wii U Virtual Console steps in with the save state and suspension features, which can make stopping and restarting the game much easier.
Graphically, the game holds up well. The sprites are all finely crafted and fit in with each area’s specific aesthetic. The Wii U’s smoothing filter for the game works wonders on it, calming the background slightly and making the sprites less hurtful on the eye when on larger 1080p screens. You can keep it as standard though, and the graphics still hold up in that case.
Metroid Fusion‘s soundtrack has a subtle nuance to it, adding to the suspense when necessary. When on the space station, you get the feeling that you’re drifting through the stars on the lifeless metallic hulk, with the standard noises. It all fits and builds the atmosphere rather well.
Metroid Fusion is a classic example of the gameplay that has allowed the franchise to become so beloved. Whilst this outing has its detractors due to its linear nature, it still remains to be a fantastic, solid game that many players will find enjoyable. Especially making you want to return to discover all of the game’s secrets.
If you haven’t played it, and have enjoyed other Metroid titles, a purchase is certainly recommended. For those that may still wonder why it attracts so much discussion, Metroid Fusion is as good a place as any to begin. If anything, it now has me clamouring for a new, classic style Metroid title from Nintendo.