Metroid Fusion

After discovering Super Metroid years after its release, I was hooked on it. I would play the game over and over trying to come up with a route that could be completed in under 3 hours while not requiring any advanced tricks. For me, it begged the question of why the game never had a sequel. I couldn’t answer that question, but I wanted more Metroid. Eventually, I went to Best Buy for reasons I don’t remember and wandered off into the video games section. There was a Game Boy Advance (attached to the wall) with Metroid Fusion running on it for me (and other potential customers) to sample the game. Naturally, I handed Best Buy some cash and took Metroid Fusion home with me.

Metroid Fusion picks up where Super Metroid left off. Samus, to keep it simple, has to go into the BSL station to investigate, then eradicate, the X Parasites that have infected the station. Because the game has more story and text than Super Metroid did, Fusion was far more linear than two of its predecessors. In order to ensure that players get the whole story, the developers cut off any and all sequence breaks. That was a decision fans hated at the time, but now Fusion is accepted how it is.

There are seven areas in Fusion and each one has a unique theme. Each of the six lower sectors also has a three letter code for reasons I have never figured out. Sector 1 is mostly bland. Sector 2 is a jungle. Sector 3 is the traditional lava land, like Norfair. Sector 4 is the water stage. Sector 5 is the ice arena. Sector 6 is a night simulator.

For the most part, items that grant Samus new abilities are boss drops. Missile upgrades and both types of bombs are obtained in data rooms. Missile, Power Bomb, and Energy tanks are scattered around the map. I really like how the bosses match the items they will leave behind. For example, Serris can zip around the room, Nightmare messes with gravity to push down missiles, and Nettori constantly fires beams. It’s clever and the fights are just the right difficulty. Only Yakuza and SA-X are likely to frustrate players.

Fusion also brings a stealth element to the series; periodically, Samus will run into a clone of herself known as the SA-X. Although never stated, one can assume SA stands for Samus Aran. These sections are mostly just finding a place to hide, but the chase in Sector 2 stands out as great. At that point in the game, Samus had just obtained the Space Jump. It allows her to fly across the large room and into Sector 2, where the SA-X is waiting for her. This is a fun escape sequence, where Samus has to quickly jump over the SA-X while avoiding her ice beam, power bomb a wall, shoot open three gates, and find a hiding spot. This is a nicely tense segment that nails the fear of battling the SA-X. Any player that missed the save point below has the added tension and fear of having to refight Yakuza in their minds, too.

Ok, that’s enough positivity. Let’s Plasma Beam this game now. I’ll start with the linear structure of the game. Most fans hate it, but it doesn’t bother me for most of the game. It’s fine…until Samus gets the Screw Attack. At that point, Samus has nothing left to do except finish collecting items and fight the SA-X. Unfortunately, going to the Main Deck is a one way trip. Once Samus goes there, she is forced to finish the game. If Samus wants to find more items in the sectors, she’s out of luck. The game forces her to finish the game the moment she enters any recharge room near the sector exits. It even puts a “point of no return” save point next to those rooms. If Samus uses it, there is no chance of ever finding the missed items before finishing the game. This is a terrible idea. Backtracking is a part of Metroid, and for Fusion to close off most of the game before the final showdown is unforgivable.

There’s a vaccine mandate on the BSL Station, which is why Samus is all alone there.
This must be a CDC number as it’s completely made up and no explanation is ever given as to where it came from.
Samus found the guard requiring proof of vaccination.
Every boss turns into a Core-X at the end. Hitting it with missiles when it’s not flashing will get rid of it and Samus will get a new ability.
Samus now has the ability to do the monkey bars in Fusion, allowing her not to get fried in here.
Hello, Chozo statue! I wish there were more of these in Fusion, but this is it.
Quite a few bosses involve shooting missiles up its rump at the right time. This is one of them.
That’s the SA-X on the lower floor. Samus is just hiding on the upper floor.
It’s the BOX fight, but I had trouble gripping the bars so…
…it didn’t work out very well.

Players that can get past the linearity of Fusion will discover there’s a really good game underneath.

Grade: B

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