Retro Review: Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA)
Zero Mission is essentially an enhanced remake of the original Metroid from the eighties. It delivers new insight into the background of bounty hunter Samus Aran, one of gaming’s first female protagonists, paired with various newly enhanced features. These features smooth over any of the jagged edges that may have been present in the original, making Zero Mission more accessible for newcomers to the series. As a matter of fact, if you have yet to play a Metroid title and are interested in the franchise, Zero Mission is probably the ideal starting point.
The game starts off with Samus landing on planet Zebes. Her mission? Eradicate the Metroids and Space Pirates that threaten the galaxy as we know it. This adventure is aided by regular cutscenes explaining the story in great detail. The most memorable of these are the final set with change dependent on how you finish the game. Either in a shorter time frame, different difficulty or with less power-up items. There are eight endings in total. The original Metroid is in fact shorter than Zero mission but isn’t really seen this way. This is attributed to Zero Mission been made more accessible with the addition of the convenient automap system. Along with this guiding system the game also includes an abundance of save points which allow you to regenerate all your health as well as ammo. There are also the occasional bug like creatures that roam around the game’s colourful palettes and fall through cracks or maneuver through walls, hinting towards secret areas. As accommodating as these add-ons are they also cut out a substantial amount of gameplay time due to the absolute ease of navigation, limiting a standard playthrough to a mere 5 hours. If you want to finish the game with its multiple endings you have a far more time-consuming and intricate task at hand.
If you’ve never played a Metroid sidescrolling platformer, Samus starts off with a simply equipped suit with standard shooting capabilities. Throughout your progression you upgrade your abilities. The morph ball power-up allows you to navigate narrow spaces, bombs let you blast through walls and ice beams assist Samus traversal by freezing enemies in order to use them as platforms. These and many more power-ups are used to navigate your way throughout the various intergalactic environments which consist of various puzzles that require you to tackle them in order to progress. Metroid: Zero Mission is one of the best remakes out there. While the Gameboy Advance had limited hardware power it was substantially more powerful than the limited NES capabilities bringing the original game to life for a new audience. On the other side of the spectrum, fans of the series will will be glad to know that while the overhaul is significant Nintendo have still remained true to Metroid’s roots. Sure, the game’s difficulty has been tarnished but the task of completing all the endings more than makes up for this shortfall, especially when you’re try to complete the game in under two hours in a speed run with all items for a more elusive ending.