Surprise! The rumours that all three Metroid Prime games would receive a compilation release in the US with the "Wii-applied" control scheme were true.
This might come as a blow to Metroid fans who were really looking forward to a fourth game; however, Nintendo of America makes the point that not everybody who owns a Wii owned the GameCube. They consider this a chance for everybody to get on the same Metroid page at the cost of only one game as opposed to having to shell out for Corruption and the Wii-released Prime and Echoes. And before you start flinging cans of soda and empty chip bags at your computer screen, the control scheme is actually pretty fun.
Oh, and there's multiplayer, too.
What Is It? Metroid Prime was released for the Wii in Japan this March, while Metroid Prime 2 will be out later this year, both with new Wii controls replacing the original GameCube ones. Rather than simply porting those titles, however, Nintendo has decided to do American audiences one better by combining the Wii-released games with Metroid Prime: Corruption for a compilation release.
What We Saw I visited Nintendo's offices to play through the very beginning of Echoes just to see how the Wii controls stacked up and then dove into four-person deathmatch multiplayer.
How Far Along Is It? Metroid Trilogy is due out August 24, so I'd say fairly final.
What Should Change? Nothing New, Really: Don't get me wrong – the control scheme certainly makes Prime and Echoes feel different. But there isn't any new content added to any of the games, which could be a real bummer to people who already shelled out and played through all three games.
Not A Seamless Experience: When you load up Metroid Trilogy, you can access all three games from a hub individually. You don't have to beat Prime to unlock Echoes or finish Echoes to play Corruption and what you do in one game doesn't have an impact in what you do in other games. You could even play like 20% of Echoes and then double back to Prime whenever you got bored. It's convenient, I suppose, but I think it makes the plot feel disjointed. Or, you know, unimportant since they're not trying to preserve continuity.
What Should Say The Same? The Wii Controls: They feel good, they play well and they cut back on some of the menu selection and scan point operation tedium. For example, to select the scanner, all you have to do is hold down the minus button to pull up a heads-up display. From there, you just point at the item you want to select it and then point that item at whatever you want to scan – very painless and very quick, which is going to make it easier to absorb what story there is through scan points.
The Multiplayer: The multiplayer from Echoes is back and immediately accessible from the hub with no gameplay prerequisites. It's a little sad that it's local-only four-way-split-screen, but there is something to be said for having four people flailing around with Wii Remotes trying to shoot each other or drop bombs and bounce to safety while in ball form. Also, you can totally screen-watch to see who just picked up invincibility and thereby avoid making a tactical error in attacking them.
Myriad Tweaks: Trilogy supports 16:9 widescreen. They've added bloom lighting to all three games. Doors open faster. Loading times are faster. Samus can now do that ball-form jump where she drops a bomb and – with a well-timed Wii Remote flick – get extra air when it goes off in all three games. It might not seem like any one of these things really matters, but altogether, the tweaks go a long way toward making the games feel good and play well.
Tweaked, But Not Too Much: Nintendo says the tweaks to the control scheme don't compromise the difficulty in the game and that they've preserved the puzzle element in all the games. I believe them, because Samus' ball-form jump from Corruption could in theory wreck some jumping puzzles from Prime and Echoes. But during my hands-on time with Echoes, I didn't feel like anything had gotten easier. It just got prettier; and while that made it a little less frustrating in difficult jumping sections, it wasn't less challenging.
Collectibles Give Old Hands Stuff To Do: Throughout all three games, you can pick up different coloured badges to buy collectibles like a Mii bobble head for Samus' dashboard in her ship or unlock the game's original soundtrack.
Final Thoughts I'm pleased with Metroid Trilogy. I like multiplayer and I like getting three games for the price of one. I wish that Nintendo were using this time to make a sequel instead of remake some classics. But at least they're doing them well. And if nothing else, I can easily delude myself into thinking that Trilogy is just a way for Nintendo to clear its throat braving a Metroid Prime 4.