With the success of Nintendo Switch and the pulling in of many lapsed gamers, so many classic instalments in classic franchises have had their moments and made returns to Nintendo’s gargantuanly successful platform. Everything you’ve loved before – including Pokemon Snap, Link’s Awakening or even classics that most of the buying public skipped on Wii U – made a reappearance on the Nintendo Switch. But one franchise has been left in the dark.
It’s been a long time since Metroid and Samus were heard from in any capacity. Metroid Prime 4 was first announced for the Switch in 2017. Six years ago. It’s since changed developers and rebooted development. We’ve even had a new Metroid game, Metroid Dread, the fifth game in the mainline series; and in that time, we’ve still had to wait to see what Metroid Prime 4 could look like.
But now, Nintendo has shifted focus to arguably one of the most critically well-received games in their lineup from one of the most commercially underappreciated series they hold. Metroid Prime Remastered feels like a triumph for both Nintendo and fans. For Nintendo, it’s a triumph in bringing back a classic game that not enough people have experienced. For fans, it’s the beginning of a long overdue acknowledgement that, finally, Metroid Prime is being given the treatment it deserves.
As expected, the plot of Metroid Prime remains untouched in this remaster. The Prime series takes place between the events of the second and third games. Samus has crash-landed on Tallon IV while investigating an energy disturbance that she’s traced back to the Space Pirates. While trying to escape the planet, she uncovers yet another plot involving them and the titular Metroids. She attempts to eradicate them once more while escaping from Tallon IV.
I’ll get the obvious out of the way here, then. Metroid Prime Remastered is, without a doubt, the best way to experience Metroid Prime. It feels like one of the better examples of a remaster in games – artistically similar to the game it’s based on but with multiple new touches that help it feel modern, perhaps even feel just like you remembered it. But a lot has changed visually. On top of this, the controls have been reworked to offer modem dual-stick options too, though if you prefer the original control scheme, that’s here too, along with a slew of sensitivity options.
Those who have yet to play Metroid Prime would be left to wonder what’s so special about it. At the time, and even today, Metroid Prime was always an innovative take on the first-person shooter genre. It combines strong elements of action, exploration and puzzle solving to offer an authentic Metroid experience, but in 3D.
But what does that mean, exactly? Until Prime hit, the Metroid games were completely two-dimensional. Metroid Prime expanded that concept monstrously, offering a large interconnected world to explore with multiple paths through it. It’s a fun world to explore and incredibly satisfying to discover new pathways through. Every time you get a new power-up, you can explore new areas and start thinking about areas you’ve passed that were previously locked that you can now explore.
It’s a gameplay loop rooted deeply in backtracking, but that’s the charm of Metroid, and for the most part of Prime, it’s mostly satisfying.
Perfectly leveraging the jump to first person when it first debuted, Samus also gains access to visors for her helmet that can change how she interacts with the world. The scan visor is the main one you’ll be using, worldbuilding by giving you tidbits of info while also providing assistance to players who might be stuck. The thermal and x-ray visors she finds also provide her with different ways to interact with puzzles and track enemies. It’s a great system, though some players may still find an issue with how much stopping and scanning you might have to do.
Though it’s not all about exploration either. Samus is armed with various arm cannons to help her deal with the hostile fauna of Tallon IV and the Space Pirates overrunning it. The combat in Metroid Prime still feels snappy, owing greatly to a functional lock-on system. The enemy variety on offer here is similarly fantastic; the boss battles are especially sights to behold. So many of them are memorable setpieces that really test your mettle and are some of the most epic moments of Metroid Prime.
While the word “remaster” might insinuate a simple up-res, Metroid Prime Remastered is anything but and so much more. Practically every visual element has been remodelled or recreated in higher resolution with more detail than the original as playable on the Gamecube and Wii. It’s an incredible, high-effort remaster that absolutely nails the tone and atmosphere that the game is going for.
And the atmosphere is really where Metroid Prime shines. The game’s atmosphere is absolutely dripping; Tallon IV is a beautifully realised alien world filled with diverse biomes decorated with otherworldly landscapes. Though, Metroid Prime Remastered goes beyond just improving the world’s visuals. The lighting has been completely reworked to offer a greater ambience than in the original release.
I can’t overstate how these lighting improvements work to create a superior experience. They’re simple adjustments that make a huge difference. Just switching on a hologram system, only to see the glow of that hologram fill the room with light, is a level of attention to detail and fidelity that we don’t see on the Switch. It all comes together to make the world feel alive and real.
The stellar atmosphere is similarly amplified by a fantastic soundtrack. The original score by series composer Kenji Yamamoto does a great job of creating a unique sense of isolation and tension. New players will be able to look forward to hearing the epic and cinematic soundtrack the first time they visit locations like Magmoor Caverns and Phendrana Drifts. At the same time, returning fans will be reminded of the strength of the soundtrack.
I’ve played Metroid Prime multiple times, sometimes even with enhancements that only the modding community and dedicated fans could bring to it. But even though the Switch is objectively less powerful than a PC, Metroid Prime Remastered’s visual improvements more than makeup for it. Make no mistakes; this is undoubtedly one of the best-looking and smoothest-running games I’ve ever played on the Switch.
But despite how much Metroid Prime gets right, a few aspects still don’t sit right with me. While I’ve alluded that backtracking is a core design element of the series, Prime throws a quest at you towards the end of the game that requires you to do so in large amounts. It’s done in such a way that, while more straightforward on repeat playthroughs, it brings the story’s pacing to a halt towards the end.
All in all, though, this is a minor blemish on an otherwise lustrous package.
Metroid Prime Remastered is, without a doubt, the best way to experience Metroid Prime. Its effortful visual overhaul, coupled with new control schemes, brings an already fantastic game into a new era for a new audience. Better still, it plays just as well as it did over two decades ago, offering a tremendous sense of atmosphere and wonder. It's often said it's tough to improve on a masterpiece, but Metroid Prime Remastered successfully meets the brief and then some.