Video Game Thoughts: Metroid Fusion

Metroid Fusion was a 2002 action adventure game by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance. Playing Metroid Fusion was a surprise because I didn’t expect to get a Game Boy Advance. One of my best friends had it, so I got to see many games for it, but I knew my parents didn’t have a lot of money. I didn’t want to ask for the expensive Game Boy Advance. That all changed when my mom said it would be okay if I asked for the new Game Boy for Christmas. I did just that. My parents usually got me what I asked for, so I eagerly awaited Christmas. It was a huge surprise then, when my parents got it for my birthday instead. Sometimes I could get a game for my birthday, never a console like this. My parents rarely had a big enough budget for that.

This was all coordinated with my friend. My parents got the Game Boy Advance, and the friend got me Metroid Fusion. It was a great first game for the new Game Boy. The graphics were amazing compared to the old Game Boy. Everything was in nice color with detailed graphics. The animations were really good too. I had gotten Metroid Prime a year prior. Metroid Fusion was a great second act to that game. I got to see the best 3D Metroid game in Prime and the best 2D Metroid in Fusion.

Fusion was not a favorite of all Metroid fans though. A lot of them preferred Super Metroid on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The main reason was that it was a less linear game. It was possible to get upgrades and kill bosses out of order. Metroid Fusion, on the other hand, was a directed experience. The player pretty much had to get the upgrades and destroy the bosses in the order the developers intended. A lot of classic Metroid fans hated this and still consider Super Metroid to be the best. Metroid Fusion had just enough handholding for me though.

I don’t like games where there is no indication of what to do next. That might be okay for some parts of a game, but it should be pretty clear during most of the game what the player should be doing to progress. In general, I believe it is okay if the game guides the player to finish the story as long as the player is left on their own to discover all the optional stuff. Metroid Fusion had many optional upgrades, such as getting maximum capacity for Super Missiles, that the player could find by going back to old areas and exploring them more.

The debate here was really sandbox vs. linear. In the ultimate sandbox game there is no real story. The developers just create the basic rules of the game. Players combine those rules to create their own story. In the ultimate linear game, the story is set in stone by the developers. The player plays out the story, but has no control over it. This is really a spectrum with games falling more towards one side or the other. Metroid Fusion went more towards the linear side, while Super Metroid was more towards the sandbox side. This was the core of the disagreement between fans of Metroid Fusion and fans of Super Metroid. While I do consider Super Metroid to be more groundbreaking, I think Metroid Fusion is the better game overall.

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