Gamers and games: The subjective relationship; or, Metroid Prime just didn’t “do it for me.”

If you follow me over on United We Game (and here’s your chance if you aren’t), it’s possible that you caught the vow I made over there last summer to complete Metroid Prime. If you didn’t, well…in late June 2014, I vowed to beat Metroid Prime. There ya go. At the time I had determined that it had been far too long since I faced that singular game loved by many that brought out the worst in me so many years ago. So, putting my nose to the proverbial grindstone, I picked up the Metroid Prime trilogy, dug out and hooked up our Gamecube (had to do it right, y’know), popped in Metroid Prime (my god, how beautiful it was to play a game without updates and load times), and I set off with Samus and her adventures on the planet Tallon IV.

And things were…good. Really good. I beat bosses, saved the game every chance I could, and had a decent time exploring. I fell in love with the music of the Phenandra Drifts, was only mildly annoyed by the fact that I could never remember the difference between the thermal visor and the X-ray visor, and made off pretty well with my collection of energy tanks and missiles. In the end, I faced off with the final boss, the actual Metroid Prime, and I lost. I lost to it a bunch of times. And eventually I lost to it so much that my interest in beating the game completely fizzled out. I felt accomplished enough to be able to call the game “done, if not beaten.” There’s not much more to dwell on, and you can follow my experience in these posts on UWG:

My Time with Metroid Prime: Recap and Update
Metroid Prime remains, and the question of “beating” games
Metroid Prime: Throwing in the Towel and Final Thoughts

I bring up all this here not because I have anything else to say about the game itself, but because something about the experience has bothered me ever since I called it quits a couple months back. It’s personal and silly, but it bothers me that I didn’t enjoy the game as much as I thought I would. Like, somewhere in the back of my mind I held that once I completed Metroid Prime, surely it’d hold a top spot among my favorite games. The final battle with Prime notwithstanding, I’m pretty sure I rank it in the middle, and the lower middle at that. Over the years, I suppose I had seen and stored away enough positivity about Metroid Prime — even its Google search results exude almost nothing but glowing praise — that I just figured we’d hit it off. I like the Metroid universe, I like Samus, I like exploring and finding treasure and shooting things. What I didn’t like, simply, was all that as rolled into Metroid Prime.

Maybe it was because, to a certain extent, I forced myself to play.

Maybe it was because I’d grown apart from first-person perspective games.

Maybe it was because playing it brought back a number of stressful memories, not just of the game itself, but of the time around when I first played it back in 2002.

I can’t say for certain. All I know is that because I’m harboring these notions, I can’t bring myself to play the second and third games in the trilogy, and worse, I just don’t want to. At least right now.

But I did take away one big idea from Metroid Prime: when it comes to us and the games we love, it’s all subjective. There will always be people who will argue to their graves that this game or that game is the GREATEST GAME IN THE HISTORY OF DAMN NEAR EVERYTHING. (Hell, that’s how it is with me and Super Metroid.) While through writing or word-of-mouth we each may be able to convince friends and/or strangers to try games that we love, there’s not much we can individually do about it if their experiences turn sour. And there’s little reason to take anything like that personally. If you like a game, that’s awesome, and you have the freedom to tell everyone about it. If other people don’t, that doesn’t somehow stain your ego.

When it comes to Metroid Prime, however, part of me really wishes that I could see what of it people adore so much. It’s not something that keeps me up at night, but what did I miss? What about this game has relegated it so fondly to the memories of others? Did I just miss out on the initial zeitgeist?? Why don’t I care enough about Samus? Because I do, I DO CARE!

(At least, I think I do.)

Tell me people, WHAT MAKES US LOVE THE GAMES THAT WE LOVE??!!??

(Okay, that might keep me up tonight.)

(Sorry for all the yelling, I know it’s late, but I’m so confused…and tired…and I wanna play Super Metroid now…)

13 thoughts on “Gamers and games: The subjective relationship; or, Metroid Prime just didn’t “do it for me.””

  1. Definitely agree. I think it suffers from 2D-to-3D syndrome: A well-paced 2D game that suddenly becomes bloated and slow because of the extra space and confusion introduced in the transition to 3D. It’s not bad at all, it’s just… not what I want out of my exploration adventure game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You hit the nail on the head there! The 2D Metroid games simply don’t have a ton of space to fill, so the gameplay is pretty concise and straightforward, though it feels expansive. A definite plus.

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  2. I was also a bit underwhelmed by Prime playing it recently. It’s extremely competent and in some ways very accomplished but it didn’t particularly grab me in the way a classic ought to. Still, I can’t be too down on it because I did enjoy the game a lot when it first came out, and I was surprised by how much I remembered of it even more than 10 years later, surely a good sign. Re: playing the other games in the Prime series, if you didn’t enjoy the first one I’m not sure the other two will appeal to you either… in my mind the first one is a template that the other two slightly modify. The third game is the most different from the first, it’s more linear, and easier as a result. The downside is it loses some atmosphere compared to the previous two.

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    1. I won’t lie and say that I’m totally looking forward to Corruption…at least not yet…but, frankly, I think I’d be okay with a linear Metroid Prime game. It surprised me that I got as frustrated with traveling back and forth between the same areas — a hallmark of the Metroid series — as I did. I’m beginning to think that I really got off the wrong foot with the game generally, and that hampered the whole experience. Then again, it churns my stomach to consider replaying it. I simply don’t want to face any of those bosses — my reflexes just ain’t what they used to be, haha.

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  3. There’s nothing more annoying than getting stuck on the final boss. You’ve invested many hours into a title only to be a single fight away from the ending.

    I didn’t like Prime because I am not fond of FPS games. I much prefer the 2D Metroids. From the looks of things Federation Force is going to be a train wreck.

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    1. Ew, Federation Force. That seems a rather unfortunate turn for the franchise. Another 2D Metroid game a la Fusion would truly be the bee’s knees.

      In my younger years I probably would have been much more determined to “finish” any given game. Now, I don’t have anything to prove, but it still feels a little funny leaving a game when the end is so close. Maybe I’ll beat it someday. …maybe.

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  4. You hear about this one work that everyone loves and can’t help but buy into the hype. You’re left disappointed. It’s a process we’ve all gone through at some point in our lives. For me, the name of that game is The Last of Us. I get why it’s popular, but they’re for reasons that I don’t find appealing in the slightest.

    It’s a shame you never beat the final boss. Personally, I really like the Metroid Prime trilogy, though the first one is not my favorite. That would be Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Not only do I feel it’s the best Metroid Prime game, I think it’s the best game in the entire franchise, and one of my favorite games of all time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I heard that before about Corruption, that it’s the best of the series. I’ve considering skipping Echoes (which I’ve heard is difficult) to play it first. Thoughts?

      No amount of hype can make *everyone* like *all* the games. I assumed that my familiarity with the Metroid series would help propel me through the game. It did, but it also and mostly didn’t. I think my personal expectations were just unrealistic.

      I was in a similar boat with The Last of Us – it’s easy enough to see why people like it, but I just couldn’t see myself getting into it. Now that I’m playing it, it’s still not my type of game, but I am enjoying it.

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      1. To be honest, I like all the games in the Metroid Prime trilogy. The original is a good starting point and a solid game. Echoes is indeed very difficult. It’s my least favorite game of the three, though it’s much better than fans say it is and I still really enjoyed it. Skipping to Corruption may not be such a bad idea; it was the first game of the trilogy I completed, then I proceeded to complete the rest of them in reverse order.

        I’d say knowledge of the rest of the series could help, but the thing I really like about the Metroid Prime games is that they stand very well on their own. It’s not like Metroid: Other M which is swamped with so many callbacks to the other Metroid games (minus the Prime trilogy) that roughly 61% of the game would be lost on newcomers. I think the rule when it comes to references is that they have to not be distracting to people who wouldn’t get them. Again, the Prime trilogy does this perfectly; there are callbacks, but they’re more like neat Easter eggs for longtime players while newcomers can still infer their importance even without context.

        The Last of Us depends entirely on whether or not you like the characters by the end. If you don’t, there is no chance whatsoever you will like the game. It’s because from a purely gameplay standpoint, it’s actually very backwards-looking. I do hope you get more out of it than me, though.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s funny, with most story-driven games, I usually get really into learning everything about the characters. But with the folks in The Last of Us — Joel, Ellie, and whatshername — it’s not like that. I’m more focused on the atmosphere and gameplay, so it’ll be interesting to see just how much I get out of it by the end.

          Thanks a lot for the Metroid Prime notes! I think I will skip Echoes when I decide to go back to the series. It’s going to be awhile though — I need a little distance from Samus and those pesky metroids. 🙂 (I have The Other M and attempted to play it recently. Ew…those controls. Not so good.)

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent points there. The game’s atmosphere was a C+ for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the music, but I found most of the terrain unpleasant to navigate. Coulda been a first-person perspective thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It could be. Part of the charm for me though was the sense of claustrophobia mixed with the melancholy loneliness and urge to explore further. It wasn’t the best game in the world, but it gave me a real sense of isolation at the time.

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