Metroid Dread - A new 2D Metroid Pew Pew
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  • // Experiment status report update. Metroid Project "Dread" is nearing the final stages of completion.

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    // Pew Pew

    Launch Date: October 8th, 2021
    Price: Normal, until you start considering Amiibo
    Dev: MercurySteam & Nintendo
    Specs: …it’s a Switch game. We’re lucky we’re getting frames.
    Platform Gimmicks: Rumble, Amiibo stuff, Joycon Drift optional
    Enemy Design: Robotic with beeps, boops and vision cones

    // An Introduction to Dread



    Metroid Dread is here. It’s been 19 years since a new story was told in the 2D Metroid Space. That game was Metroid Fusion, and it was good. Really, really good.

    Metroid is a weird one in that it’s a Nintendo franchise with big name recognition that few people seem to actually buy. Of course, there’s a chicken and egg situation here too – it shouldn’t be a surprise that no one buys Metroid nowadays when the most recent entries have been Other M, Federation Force and a Remake of Metroid 2.

    But with Prime 4 on the way, Nintendo have also opted to stick out a 2D entry, with the same team that did the Metroid 2 Remake (the best of the recent Metroid entries, despite being flawed). It’s worth noting, as well, that Fusion was done alongside Prime 1, so the signs are there that a 2D / 3D Metroid wombo-combo can work and work well. Both will continue different story threads but I’ll be honest – as much as I love the idea of Prime 4, being able to continue the story from Fusion into an actual Metroid 5 is possibly even more exciting.

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    Dread sees Samus enter a mysterious base where she is stalked by murderous machines. The usual 2D gameplay seems to be there, with a handful of new powers and moves. Tonally, this very much looks like it’s going for Fusion’s cold, metallic oppression, rather than the heaving humid planetary underground networks of other entries.

    // How it plays

    It’s a Metroid game. What this means is that you usually have to:

    1.    Explore and progress through an interwoven environment and multiple connected biomes
    2.    Gain power-ups to cross gaps, unlock doors, detect secrets etc.
    3.    Find hidden rooms
    4.    Shoot bosses
    5.    Kill Metroids / Space Pirates / X parasites

    You know the drill. Metroid games can fall into a couple of categories, some being more linear and story driven, others allowing more flexibility. While general sentiment seems to be that linear Metroid = less good Metroid, it’s worth noting that there have been some great entries that have been more linear e.g. Fusion (there’s also been some absolute duffers…looking at you Other M). Beyond this, 2D entries have generally had boss fights as action set pieces, whereas the 3D ones have thrown in a few more puzzle bosses.

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    Metroid games are often defined by their atmosphere. Lush, alien environments with plants, tundras and wildlife, as well as sterile corridors of the many space stations Samus visits. The atmosphere in these games is usually incredible. They’re oppressive, thick and, occasionally, scary. Music rumbles low in the background until bosses appear and all hell breaks loose. They’re about rising tension, isolation and exploration. Going deeper into the depths with an ever-increasing arsenal, but often feeling vulnerable. That is, until Samus collects enough power-ups to feel like a walking platoon.

    Metroid games strip you of your power, and force you to survive, then build you back up again. If you’ve never played a Metroid and want a frame of reference, then think Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Hollow Knight or Axiom Verge. Or, hell, Dark Souls 1.

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    Need somewhere to start? Start with Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion or Prime 1. Super Metroid in particular is Tetris-level perfection and has never been bettered.

    // Why Metroid 5 and the Story So Far

    So, I’m not really a big LORE BOI, even with games I really like. I’m more about the atmosphere and individual stories told within a single entry. If there’s cross-game payoff (e.g. Mass Effect) then that’s all good, but I’m not one to read into wider worlds and implications unless the game actively does sth with them.

    That said, however, there are a couple of things people may be wondering about Metroid Dread. Namely, why is it Metroid 5 when there’s been a bunch of them? And, story-wise, what does this mean we’re likely to see? Well, luckily you have me here to edu-macate y’all.

    The best way to thing about the Metroid Canon is to split it into 2 groups – the “numbered” games (1-5) and the Prime games (Prime 1-3, plus Prime Hunters etc.). Notable shitehawk and Mr Metroid himself Yoshio Sakamoto has often shrugged off the Prime games as being a separate thing but they’re not – he’s just a bitter hack, so ignore that.

    Here’s how they work, as far as I understand:

    First up you have Metroid aka The Zero Mission (there’s some changes between the OG here and the GBA remake, but we’ll put them together for this). Samus is working with the Federation when Space Pirates attack the planet Zebes. They want to use a race called the Metroid for galactic warfare and domination. Samus has to confront a cybernetic thingy-thing called MOTHER BRAIN, as well as shitbirds Kraid and Ridley. She defeats them, kills the Metroid and generally blows a lot of shit up.

    Then you have the Prime timeline, which takes place after Metroid 1 and tells a self-contained story. It focusses on Samus’ fight against the Space Pirates while they attempt to use a substance called Phazon which can be found on a planet called Tallon IV – a planet formerly inhabited by a long-dead (or seemingly long-dead) race known as the Chozo. They’re the race that hold the power ups in their hands in a lot of Metroid games. In Prime 1, Samus discovers the source of the Phazon (on Tallon, not the whole universe) – a creature known as Metroid Prime and she manages to defeat it, after fighting and beating Meta Ridley. This fight however, causes her to absorb a huge amount of Phazon and leads to the creation of Dark Samus. The following Prime games center on Dark Samus and Phazon, eventually ending in her victory in Prime 3: Corruption.

    With the Phazon story concluded (until Prime 4, most likely) Samus goes back to run-of-the-mill bounty hunting. That is, until, the story of Metroid 2. The story of this game is comparatively simple – Samus is given a mission to wipe out the remaining Metroids, after the Federation deem them to be, basically, “fucking dangerous, bro”. And so, Samus does just that. She travels to SR388 on a mission of genocide and goes so far as to kill the Queen Metroid. How heroic!

    One Metroid does survive, though. Right at the end, an egg hatches and Samus hesitates when about to kill it. The Metroid doesn’t attack and instead imprints on Samus as its mother. Samus repays that naivety by donating the baby to science leading into Super Metroid (Metroid 3). Oh, and Ridley was also there and there was a fight. But Ridley always gonna be there. There’s also a post-credits sequence (quite possibly only in the remake, not played the full OG) which explains that the X PARASITES have returned – this won’t be important for a while and is likely just retconning X in earlier to the story to tie into Fusion.  

    So, at the beginning of Super Metroid, scientists on the Ceres Space Colony are all like “hey, these Metroids could be used for good things too” (there’s no analysis of whether the genocide of an entire race was a bad idea at this point #CancelSamus). Everyone is happy and the Metroid baby seems fine. Hooray!

    But after Samus leaves she receives a distress signal and goes back to discover the station being attacked by Space Pirates, led by Ridley (again). Ridley steals the baby and Super Metroid is basically Resident Evil 8 – a find-the-baby simulator. She does find a Metroid along the way. A BIG one, and it attacks her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And then, as she is about to die, the Big Metroid recognizes Samus as its mother (it was the baby all along! Awwwwww). Long story short, it runs off in shame, Samus keeps searching, Samus finds NEW AND IMPROVED MOTHER BRAIN and is powerless to stop it. The BIG BABY returns, sacrifices itself to save Samus, and Samus is finally able to defeat MOTHER BRAIN 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO.

    So now, Samus lives. Hooray!
    Mother Brain is dead. Hooray!
    Every single last Metroid has been genocided or killed itself. Hoo

    Next up in the main timeline is Metroid: Other M. This game fucking blows. Ignore it. The only things you need to know are that this is technically the first canonical appearance of Adam, Samus’ former CO. He’s shit in this game, but he’s somewhat better in Fusion. In this game, Federation scientists thought it would be a good idea to clone space pirates, Metroids and make a mother brain AI. It wasn’t. Adam dies trying to stop this and Samus kills another Queen Metroid – managing to re-extinct the whole race for third time (or is it fourth?). Adam is turned into an AI program.

    Metroid Fusion is Metroid 4. It was, at the time, the most story heavy of all the games – at least, so far as actually pushing the story front and centre goes. Metroid Fusion also introduced Adam, as Fusion was made before Other M.

    Fusion starts with Samus playing bodyguard for a research team, back on SR388 of Metroid 2 fame. Remember that X parasite recton? This is why it happened. Fusion introduces the X parasite right here, at the beginning of the game - a shape shifting, creepy floating blob. With the Metroids having all been F-ed in the A by Samus, the X parasites are now flourishing, as it’s explained that Metroids were the predators that kept X in check previously.

    An X parasite latches onto Samus (think Venom symbiote from Spiderman for suitable visual) and doctors are forced to surgically remove her power suit in order to save her. On top of this, they also have to give her a vaccine made of ACTUAL METROID STEM CELLS (may not be stem cells, but whatever). The suit, still infected with the X, is sent off to a Space Lab while Samus recovers.

    Later, Samus is sent to investigate a disturbance at the lab where her suit is being held, only to discover that the suit has become an X-controlled Samus replicant (that’s right, this is her second dark doppelganger after Dark Samus in Prime 2 and 3) and that SA-X (as it is called) has basically fucked shit up. Samus spends a lot of time thinking about Adam and her past while trying to stop the SA-X from getting out of control, eventually managing to crash the station onto the surface of SR388. Prior to this, though, she discovers the facility had also been used for other things such as…you know…making more Metroids. She just about manages to fight off the OMEGA METROID before escaping at the end…seemingly ridding the universe of both the X and Metroid threat. Properly. For real this time.

    This point is the furthest we have reached in the timeline. That is, up to now. Now we have Metroid Dread.

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    // What we know about Dread and Theory Bait

    We know a few things.

    1.    First, it’s a new planet – the planet ZDR. So, at least for the first part there’s no Zebes, no SR388 yada yada.
    2.    There’s Chozo involved. They were added to the 2 Remake but have been most prominent in the Prime story arc.
    3.    The E.M.M.I. robots are federation and were sent to ZDRT to investigate a report that the X parasites are still alive.
    4.    Samus is sent to investigate when the E.M.M.I. fall off the grid and when she arrives, it seems they want to kill her.
    5.    There are multiple E.M.M.I (7, apparently) and seemingly one per biome.
    6.    Samus will need to run and hid from the E.M.M.I rather than fight them head-on.
    7.    This game apparently “marks an end” to the story arc detailing the relationship between Samus and the Metroids. What that means, I have no idea.

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    So, what’s the deal? Did the X corrupt the E.M.M.I? Or maybe it was the Chozo? Perhaps the E.M.M.I. came across a surviving SA-X and upon seeing Samus decide to wipe her out too. Or maybe they we tweaked to kill Metroids and sense the Metroid DNA in her. Who knows? And what does “marks an end” mean? Will they finally kill off the Metroids for good? Will Samus die and Dread marks the canonical final game in the timeline?

    Whatever the case, Samus seems to be on the run for this adventure, and that’s often where Metroid games shine.

    // What’s New and what’s Old?

    So, what stays from the Samus Returns 3DS remake? Free aim is still there, as is the counter parry. Block at the right time and enemies are open to a counter attack. The Remake felt pretty nice in movement but the animations on the parry were often overdone, turning up the dial a little too far towards anime action, sth which Team Ninja also did. From what I’ve seen of Dread though, this seems to have been toned down.

    What’s new? Some new powers and actions – spider magnet, slide etc. Spider magnet lets you stick to surfaces and climb, even across horizontal gaps. Slide is just that, slide. This seems seems less of a power and more an expansion to moveset – looking to replace the morphball for small gaps.



    There’s also an emphasis on stealth. The E.M.M.I will chase you down and can detect sound. When an E.M.M.I is in the area, stay still and out of sight to not get spotted. Once you unlock the cloak, it seems you’ll be able to hide in plain sight…as long as you don’t make any noice.

    This seems to builds on the pursuit sections in games such as Fusion.

    // Those Visuals

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    Let’s get this out of the way - the style is divisive. Unlike the brighter, more vibrant feel of Samus Returns or Prime 1, Dread instead decides on a more washed out look, with high contrast black and whites, and what few colours that are there punch super hard. It certainly doesn’t have the incredibly detailed and ornate environmental art of something like Ori, but I disagree with the idea it looks cheap or low quality. The high contrast in the areas should also hopefully make the stealth spots quite readable.

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    In motion, I think the starkness of the visuals really work, and I think it lends itself well thematically to the cold, mechanical antagonists that the E.M.M.I. seem to be. I also absolutely love the new suit and the ways that blues pop in this game is sth else. Closest comparison I can think of is sth like Nier Automata which also seemed very washed out on first glance but was actually gorgeous in motion.

    If there’s one worry I do have, it’s touches such as terrain animation (e.g. collapsing floors) seeming overly stiff and some enemy designs just being…well, fine. I imagine that the debate over whether Dread looks good or not will rage for some time. But, count me as in as someone who actually likes this style.

    // Why I’m excited

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    There’s a bunch of reasons but lets keep it simple. Easiest reason to come up with is that this is NEW 2D METROID!! They’re rare, like super rare. As in, Fumito Ueda managed to finish 3 games in the time since the last all new 2D Metroid came out.

    But beyond that, there’s the theme and tone. Metroid has never been edgy (apart from when Team Ninja got their hands on it) but it has been oppressive. Metroid is sci-fi, but it’s more Alien than Star Trek, with the Federation pulling off an increasingly convincing Weyland Yutani impression, and it succeeds most when Samus is vulnerable and on the back foot. The SA-X in Fusion is a perfect example of that, giving off real Terminator it will not stop vibes.

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    Dread seems to be leaning into that, having the E.M.M.I as dangerous foes that must be avoided and forcing you to hide and hold your breath. When Metroid does this right, it does it really, really right.

    // PRESUMABLY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

    DISCLAIMER: The game isn’t out yet. I’m just guessing all this.

    Yoshio Sakamoto is a grumpy hack. He also seems to be involved quite heavily. Should I be worried? What about MercurySteam – are they really up to doing this?

    This is the big question. Sakamoto is a weird one in that he has made quite a few really good games, but Metroid has long since outgrown him and his most recent attempt to reclaim relevancy as the Daddy of Metroid was…not good. He’s also often seemed resentful of Retro Studio’s success and the perception has been, rightly or wrongly, of a man who refuses to let his grip and influence over Metroid go. Samus has been great in his games (Fusion) and utterly awful (Other M). The Samus Returns Remake was uneven, but he’s also been director on Super Metroid – one of the greatest games ever made. So, he’s earnt at least one more shot, imo, and it seems unlikely that Nintendo have the desire to do more 2D Metroid without him. So…we just have to accept it. It’s Sakamoto’s game.

    As far as MercurySteam go, jury is still out on them. They seem to be decent Guns-for-hire and have worked well with Japanese developers in the past – having worked with Nintendo on Samus Returns and Konami with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. But…I don’t see them as particularly great artists. Their games feel smooth but have often lacked atmosphere and for Metroid that’s a deal breaker. Samus Returns was overly bright and lacked the sad, somber feel of the OG, becoming brighter and more cartoony. Samus Returns was literally a game about committing genocide and the original wasn’t pitching Samus as triumphant. The Remake fluffed that, imo.

    That said, Metroid fans were vocal about that (even if critics missed it, for the most part), and one would hope that MercurySteam have taken that criticism onboard. Atmosphere deffo seems better from just the early clips. Again, I think they’ve earned one more shot at it. They clearly know how to get Metroid done.



    How will this work into Prime 4?

    I’d put money on these two games not being very closely related. Biggest connection may well be the role of the Chozo, but other than that they will likely do their own thing. X parasite has thus far been mainline only, so we’re unlikely to see it in Prime.

    Do I need to have played a Metroid before to understand what is happening in Dread?

    As much as I’ve talked about story so far, the story in these games is rarely very important. They’ve gotten more story-driven for sure, but you can play them all out of order and not miss a huge amount. If you do want to brush up, I suggest playing Fusion and the Samus Returns Remake. They’re the ones that are going to lead into Dread most closely.  

    Is this gonna fall under the more linear route? Or we gonna go back to more open, sequence-breaky stuff?

    Recent Sakamoto entries have veered towards the more linear end of the spectrum, most notably Fusion and Other M. Other M, in particular, was very, very linear and hand-holdy, and the backlash (not just because of that, but also story, combat…everything) was immense. This might help push Dread back in the other direction but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is Fusion-esque in terms of exploratory freedom (as in, not a huge amount).

    Why is this game so ugly?

    This is for you.
    Spoiler:

    I am a supposed hardcore Metroid fan who prays for Metroid before every Direct, but now that a new 2D Metroid has been announced I realise I just wanted a Prime Trilogy boxset. What is wrong with me?

    Dunno. But I recommend seeking help.

    I am a consumer and wish to Do a Capitalism. What are my options?

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    Thus far there’s the standard Frugal Consumer Edition, where you pay money and they give you the game and fuck all else. Not sure that will ever catch on.

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    Then there’s the Full Moran Special Edition aka Reg-bait. This contains the game, steelcase, art cards and an art book. It’s, like, totes gorge. I want need it.

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    Then there’s 2 Amiibo (also Reg-bait) – one for Samus and one for E.M.M.I. Amiibo are, well, Amiibo, and you already know if you are a FAN or NOT. As far as Amiibo go – these look nice. I have already pre-ordered mine lol.

    So, the amount of stuff to buy is in line with what you’d expect from a big release, but they’ve hardly gone FULL BANGER with it. So far, no special edition controllers, no digital deluxe editions etc. And, with Metroid being one of Nintendo’s smaller (in terms of sales) flagship brands (along with the likes of F-Zero), it’s possible this is all there will be.

    I rate this capitalism 6 out of 10.

    What do the Amiibo do?

    Increase your health and missile capacity permanently. You can also re-use them once per day to restock health and missiles.

    // Vox Pops (Have your Say now!)

    So, are you excited? Are you disappointed? Will you buy it? Will this be your first Metroid or your fifth? Did I miss anything / get stuff wrong in the OP?

    Speak YOUR truth down below.

    From me, and from Samus, PEW PEW.
  • EvilRedEye
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    Good OP!

    Never really thought about it until you set it out but it's quite an odd progression as a series, isn't it?

    NES > GB > SNES > GBA > Switch

    I know it's pretty normal for Nintendo to do only one game in a series per machine but the home/portable flip-flop seems a bit unusual as does missing out the 3D home consoles until Switch (N64 didn't even get a Prime). Wonder if it's why it's not commercially the hottest franchise - doesn't seem that settled.

    I don't know what to think about Dread really. They've not done mainline Metroids for so long that I have no real opinion as I've never played one.
    "ERE's like Mr. Muscle, he loves the things he hates"
  • Wow. What. An. OP.
    I am a FREE. I am not MAN. A NUMBER.
  • Tat edition preordered yesterday. Gimme a preorder for the amiibo please Nintendo.
    I am a FREE. I am not MAN. A NUMBER.
  • This is insane as an OP


    I’m really looking forward to this. I had a good time with Samus Returns and so have a good feeling about a smoother moving version.

    Will get the amiibo but the spec Ed is a bit much for extra card.
  • Paul the sparky
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    Top OP. Game looks pap
  • Not a massive Metroid fan, but read every word of that as it was a quality op and deserved it. Top, top work dude. Even got me interested. Bought the Mrs a Switch for her long stay in hospital and may buy this for myself when she returns.
  • "5. There are multiple E.M.M.I (7, apparently) and seemingly one per biome."

    The Year of the Biome confirmed.
    I am a FREE. I am not MAN. A NUMBER.
  • Will be on this day one... and yeah epic OP.
    オレノナハ エラー ダ
  • b0r1s
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    I'm Dreading reading that OP.
  • All this talk of Samus Returns on 3DS and how it wasn't all that etc, and I haven't even played it!  I think I sold my tat edition to ERE on here at cost.  For some reason, I just wasn't bothered about playing it.  Maybe I should.
    I am a FREE. I am not MAN. A NUMBER.
  • b0r1s
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    It was to me. I still haven’t played it either! I really should.
  • Samus Returns is good - just think they fucked the tone and art style a bit. But the base game is still a good one.
  • Nice work on the OP.
  • This looks like Shadow Complex and I don't want it.
  • mannaboy
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    Da Da Da Da Daaaa.

    Great OP, no way I’m not jumping in for a new 2D Metroid. Super Metroid is seared into my brain.
    Things can only get better.
  • I don't know why I'm surprised this is a full price release but £49.99 still made my eyebrows jump. Given that I'm not a huge Metroid fan I expect I'll pass, but might've been tempted to download for £24.99 or so (Ori 2 territory).

    Not into the visuals but they're okay I guess, I won't be shouting 'that looks shit!' at it like I will Advance Wars, it just looks a bit...clinical. Cheap even. And shooting robot enemies rarely float my boat.
  • The thing I like about the graphics (that we've seen thus far, of course it's gonna be more expansive than the environment we've seen, it's Metroid) is the fact it's all very clean, austere, and desaturated, a clean room lab style aesthetic, with Samus and her Parasite-X intected suit being the foreign invader, hence the EM.M.I. research robots hunting her down. A fun wee inversion of the expected.
  • It does look a bit like portal for sure.
  • I'm in. Great OP. I've lost who you are. Cinty??! Name changes should be banned.
  • I played Samus Returns on 3DS and thought it was alright.
    Watxhed the Tree House gameplay demo of this and I'm really not liking the art style. The muted colour pallette just doesn't look good at all.
    Also, this is out in October, but the frame rate is frankly awful, I hope they manage to fix that before release.
    Town name: Downton - Name: Nick - Native Fruit: Apples
  • Nina
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    Great OP, feel much smarter now.

    Will get this. Not the special edition as I will only get them if there's pins involved (and currently they're sold out within seconds every time they go live), but might consider the amiibo. Love the colour scheme of the new suit. Can hide that well between Gundam.

    I brought the Samus Returns cartridge with me last time I was in Europe, gonna try and play that before this one. Maybe I'll even attempt Hollow Knight as well.

    Although I hardly play these for the lore (played but not finished Prime, Fusion, Zero Mission, finished Super on 3ds - thank you save states, have not played Prime 2-3 and Other M, do have those in Europe though. Did play some of the weird ones on the DS/3DS) as I can never string together the clues that are given, so Metroid is just a soak up the atmosphere and look cool while doing so. Prime was the first 3D game I owned, and I will forever love Samus.
    Can still remember the Phendrana Drifts music.
  • EvilRedEye
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    I never bought Metroid Returns for the 3DS which I will probably end up regretting when I end up spending a million pounds to get it for the collection.
    "ERE's like Mr. Muscle, he loves the things he hates"
  • Nina wrote:
    Love the colour scheme of the new suit

    Yes, got no problems with the suit.
  • EvilRedEye
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    The Americans are after our UK amiibo! Best get them now.
    "ERE's like Mr. Muscle, he loves the things he hates"
  • Yes but where from?
    I am a FREE. I am not MAN. A NUMBER.
  • davyK
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    Super Metroid. I had that big box version. Almost gave up at the start over a bit where I couldn't progress because I thought the control was crap. But something kept me going for another 20mins or so - then it clicked. A majestic game. And I completed it. Loved it.

    Metroid Prime. Got it and thought it looked great. Wandered about, struggled with the controls a bit and got lost as I usually do in 3D games. Gave up. Tried again when the 2nd one came out. Same thing. Wifey got me the 3rd one with a Wii. Liked the new control but got stuck early on. Gave up again.

    Sold them and got Trilogy on Wii. Tried it again. Wandered about and got lost again. Got killed and I realised I hadn't reached a save point and I had to start all over again so I gave up. Sitting on the shelf mocking me.

    Big box Metroid was a casualty of my 300 game clearout. I still wince from time to time about that. I think it's the only game I wish I had kept out of that.

    Don't like handheld gaming so I have been Metroid-less. Heard the Wii one was pish.

    A new 2D one might do it for me though. Will keep an eye. Looks splendid so far.
    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • davyK
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    I love it when someone loves a game enough to do an OP like that. :)
    Holding the wrong end of the stick since 2009.
  • It's the best OP since Eric's Top Tens.
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