Video Game Thoughts: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes was a 2004 first-person adventure game for the Nintendo GameCube by Retro Studios. I was initially not interested in this game. I had a blast with Metroid Prime, but it was good enough. I didn’t feel the need to get the sequel. I never had a lot of money, so I preferred to get all new games instead of sequels. I got sequels for a new console because the developers usually made lots of changes to make me interested again, but a sequel of a game just a few years back was mostly just new content. This was the case with Metroid Prime 2. I always looked for new game mechanics. The game had high quality graphics and sound, short loading times, great exploration, and cool bosses to fight, but the first Metroid Prime had all these things too.

I really wasn’t planning to get the game. One of my friends had loved Metroid Prime. He, being a gamer, heard about the sequel and wanted to play. He didn’t have a GameCube, so my GameCube was the only way he could play these games. He kept pestering me to get Echoes. I resisted for a few weeks, but he won me over in the end. The game turned out to be what I expected, but it wasn’t bad really. The game was just as good as the original. It just wasn’t as new or fresh as the original.

Metroid Prime 2 featured a brand new world and story. It was pretty fun to explore the new areas. The gameplay was designed for players that had finished the Prime game, so it was a harder game. The developers expected the players to have a lot of experience. I did enjoy all the new puzzles and exploration. They did a much better job with the story too. There were regular journal entries and other pieces of text to read to learn about the world. The game had a cool light vs. dark theme. Every area in the game could be visited in both modes, with small changes. Solving some puzzles required switching between the two sides.

My friend was really excited to play, so we played the game the first time together. We made it to the final boss all by ourselves. Then we printed out a list of where all the upgrades in the game were and systematically found them all. I later went through the game without a guide and found everything myself. I did have a lot of fun with this game — I’m glad I got to play it — but I was right in the end. It didn’t really add anything new gameplay-wise. It was just more content. To me, more content has always been the domain of TV and movies, but video games have to have a bunch of new game mechanics (in addition to new content) to really impress me. I may just be spoiled though.

For years games were this new thing. There were so many obvious ideas to pursue when making games. I got used to every new game being radically different or greatly improving the gameplay compared to earlier games. As the game industry became more mature, developers explored all the easy ideas. Now the majority of new games only contain new content, not much in the way of new mechanics. There are still new ideas to see, but they are harder to find. This cycle has happened with every form of entertainment. For example, in movies the golden age was long ago. These days moviemakers mostly stick to a few tried and true formulas. Video games have reached that point, and like the film industry, the independent scene is the place to go to see new ideas. The big companies will always want the easy profits that formulaic movies and video games provide.

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