Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (2010)

Genre: Adventure / Platformer | Players: 1 | Developer: Ninja Theory

Enslaved tries to replicate the cinematic stylings of Uncharted (2007) but fails. At times it even felt like a PS2 game with aspirations. You play as Monkey, enslaved by Trip and forced to protect/aid her. You use your monkey skills during platforming sections and your staff during combat sections. It mixes things up occasionally with some chase moments and puzzles.

Trip can upgrade weapon and armour, but it’s never explained how she can do that, or why she’ll only do it when you've collected enough of the shiny red tech orbs that litter the world. It’s in her best interests to keep you alive so you can keep her alive (you’re the gopher), so why not upgrade for free?

The Bad: You spend more time fighting the camera than bad guys. Monkey jumps 30 foot gaps but finds it impossible to step over a tiny pebble. It rarely encourages any emotional stirrings in the player. Trip occasionally glitches, halting progress. The loading times are irksome; while walking tentatively through a minefield (after one of Trip’s miraculous discoveries), halfway through the game decided it would pause to load. Bastard.

The story by Alex Garland often makes little or no sense. It's Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en transposed to a post-apocalyptic world… global war… blah, blah… It takes a story of infinite wonder and turns it into a mountain of festering fly-infested clichéd crap. There are scenarios where Trip will say, “I've an ability that’ll enable us to pass this new and unexpected challenge.” Huh? “Sure, Trip. I’d never have guessed, because you DIDN’T have it until now; it would've been useful an hour ago when I was getting my monkey ass kicked by a giant Mech!“

The Good: The concept art is pretty. Monkey's Cloud is fun. The environments are colourful. The character designs are interesting and there are some rare moments near the end where the emotional content rises above despicable, but those alone aren't enough to make a good game.

Buyer’s Guide:
Available for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. You can have my copy for free if you give me a reason to hate you.

2 combat animations that won't quit when you want them to out of 5

Monday, February 20, 2012

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (2009)


Genre: Survival-Horror / Adventure | Players: 1 | Developer: Climax Studios

When I heard wind of the first Silent Hill being remade, I was predictably rather excited, as I had always wanted updated graphics and for the tank controls to be taken out behind the meat processing facilty and put out of their misery. When I first played what it actually turned out to be--a reinvisioning--I was vehemently opposed to writing my own neuroses and psychoses over a character who shines as one of the whitest knights in all of gaming: the stalwart and stoic Harry Mason.

I chose to stick it out and was highly rewarded for my bravery. Though it may seem mysterious and magical from the outside, the algorithms used to determine the endings you receive and the contents of your psychological write-up are rather simple, and can yield a good variety of results. There are two parts to the ending you will receive and these are determined by things as concrete as your participation in Dr. K’s exercises and as ephemeral as what you choose to cast your gaze and flashlight upon.

Speaking of which, the Wii version of this game stands head and shoulders above the Sony ports in large part because you are able to control your flashlight with the Wiimote. The level of immersion provided by this, as well as holding it up to your ear when listening to voicemails and calls, is rather staggering and I cannot recommend it enough. As strange as it is, this is probably the definitive Wii experience, for me. Plus, the PS2 version takes door opening animations as a chance to load FAR more than the Wii original. Yes, they were all developed at the same time, but it is clear that the Wii hardware is what the game was designed around.

The change from blood and rust to ice may seem controversial as well, but this provides an entirely new atmosphere of dread, especially in the chase scenarios that do an amazing job of conjuring terror as you flail helplessly around confusing and labyrinthine stretches of the town.

The game quietly and unnervingly presents a reality-of-Oz interpretation of Harry’s experience and actually fleshes him out while making him even more worthy of being a Silent Hill protagonist (as strange as that concept may seem the first time you let it flicker across your brain). Controversial, unsettling, and chilling, Shattered Memories forces you to explore your own memories and decisions as much as Harry’s.

Buyer's Guide:
Originally released for the Wii in 2009 and the PS2 and PSP in early 2010. Easily available in used bins everywhere. I would assume that the PSP port has the same loading issues as its big brother.

5 Sexy Boat Rides out of 5

Nutted by NEG

Final Fantasy XIII-2 (2012)


Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Developer: Square-Enix

Somehow, Squeenix managed to screw up every single facet of XIII-2. Instead of bringing back the stellar cast of the original, it was decided that monsters would fill the third slot in your party. The system is similar to Lufia II’s, in that you give your monsters items as opposed to leveling them in a traditional manner. It’s a serviceable enough system, but why should we be denied the cast when they are all actually in the game?

In terms of gameplay improvements, you are now allowed to save paradigm decks (a feature sorely lacking from the original) in A GAME WITH NO CHARACTER SWITCHING.

Roles are now leveled from 1 to 99 and the majority of the skills are given to you near the beginning of each skill track. There doesn’t feel like there is much progression from around lvl 40 to the high 80s and 90s, in the main quest.

Further, the roles are denied crucial skills such as Haste (which is dependent on getting pre-emptive strikes) and the En-spells. Synergists and Saboteurs are not necessary for the majority of the main quest but are crucial to the final battles. This leaves one scratching their head as to why you’re able to complete the game almost exclusively using the Cerberus paradigm--a very erroneous criticism leveled at the orginal game.

In the main quest, you only visit a handful of areas (repeatedly). Besides Academia (the new Zozo) they are relatively small and lackluster. Questing within them is banal and insultingly bad, to boot, as quest items are just found in chests.

The characters from the original make cameos, as noted, but the plot of this game makes an intelligent character seem like a dolt constructing a Rube Goldberg-esque solution to what should ultimately be a non-problem.

Most egregiously, the story somehow simultaneously rehashes part of the original’s plot while managing to also completely invalidate its entire point. It’s a slap in the face to fans of the original and while it may not be the worst game I’ve played on a technical level, it is the worst in as much as it ruins characters I am invested in on an emotional level.

Oh, and you’re going to have to buy the real ending as dlc.

Buyer’s Guide:
Sadly, this is currently widely available for both the PS3 and the Xbox 360.

1 Nu-metal Chocobo Theme out of 5

Nutted by NEG

Final Fantasy XIII (2010)


Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Developer: Square-Enix

The thirteenth entry in the ubiquitous series is hands-down the most divisive. Unquestionably the Xenosaga fan’s Final Fantasy, XIII buoys its story on the back of an insane amount of cutscenes. For the majority of the game, movement is contained in gloriously rendered, yet painfully linear areas, between said cutscenes. The focus, in the beginning, is on moving the story forward and teaching you the intricacies of the highly kinetic battle system. The story does take a long time to get moving, and the potential of the battle system cannot be witnessed until late in the game when you finally get access to the entire party and everyone can start learning all 6 roles, as opposed to their native 3.

If you have a great deal of patience and can appreciate that the confusion inherent to much of the story is intentional--in service of the overarching metaphor--then you should be able to enjoy yourself until the game opens up in the eleventh chapter (of, you guessed it, thirteen). At this time, you can take advantage of a good percentage of the optional hunts presented to you, if you prepare accordingly. The more challenging hunts can only be taken on successfully after a final set of upgrades is presented post-game. XIII rewards fans of its battle system both before and after the credits roll.

One should be aware that the story begins in media res and characters do not always relay all important information outloud. It pays off greatly to read the voluminous datalog that is provided, as well as the vignettes presented with each hunt, which provide further insight into the denizens of the game.

Focusing on what happens when you are suddenly and violently excluded from society, your home, family, and friends and enslaved by a fate you seem completely unable to change, XIII embodies a premise that transcends its literal presentation and has the potential to speak to so many players.

With one of the smallest and most well-realized casts in the series’ history, XIII delivers a simplified jrpg experience for those willing to take the time to appreciate it. If you want high degrees of freedom, go play the Fallout or Elder Scrolls series. This game should not be criticized for what it isn’t (and people in the West have become accustomed to), but celebrated for what it is.

Buyer’s Guide:
Available on the PS3 and Xbox 360. It’s unfairly cheap, these days.

5 Unclear Focuses out of 5
Hey, Kamen Rider/Sentai fans, check this out.

Nutted by NEG

Silent Hill 2 (2001)


Genre: Survival-Horror / Action | Players: 1 | Developer: Konami

Like Final Fantasy before it, Silent Hill veered off in a new direction following the well-recieved original. It wasn’t too different, however, as this is part of the original ‘trilogy’ of roughly comparable entries in the series. You no longer follow Harry Mason, but are instead put into the shoes of James Sunderland, a man looking for his deceased wife in the titular town, following his receipt of a letter beckoning him to the place they once held dear.

The game follows the same basic formula as Silent Hill, tasking you with exploring a new portion of the misty and foreboding resort town while solving simple environmental puzzles and a few logic puzzles of varying degrees of difficulty. The environments you explore are all easily seen as symbolic after you have completed the game at least once. The puzzles can also be seen through that lens if you have the inclination to place them in its line of sight. The combat is stiff for the most part, but there are enough bullets to go around, assuming you don’t waste them on enemies in the streets.

As always with these games, value is mainly garnered from the story and the atmosphere created by the exquisitely chosen environments. Anyone with a penchant for urban exploration and the deeper corners of the human mind...probably already loves this series! If you haven’t played a Silent Hill game, however, this is a fantastic introduction, as you do not need to have played the original to enjoy this one. It has the strongest story and some of the most memorable music in the entire series.

The game’s biggest strength is that even if you cannot personally empathize with James, you will still have conflicting and sometimes violent emotions roused in you as you traverse the town and his psyche, simultaneously.

Buyer’s Guide:
This game is available in its original release on the PS2. However, there is a Greatest Hits version which adds in the UFO ending and a playable sub-scenario for Maria, one of the characters in the game. This “complete” version is also available as Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams on the Xbox. The PC port contains these extra features, as well.

Don't bother with the HD remake. If you're curious as to why, AFTER you've played this in its proper form, check out Twin Perfect and Fungo's documentary on the subject, which can be found on Youtube.

5 Special Places out of 5

Nutted by NEG

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction (2007)

Genre: Platformer | Players: 1 | Developer: Insomniac Games

The first part of a trilogy of Ratchet & Clank: Future games.  Tools of Destruction came out early in the PS3s life and wasn't the huge leap ahead that fans were expecting; instead it delivered the same tried and tested platforming and guns formula Insomniac used in previous R&C PS2 games but with tighter controls and bigger areas to explore.  The HD visuals are pretty to look at but beauty is only skin deep, it’s the solid gameplay that kept fans from being disappointed.  After the arena-based Ratchet: Deadlocked (aka Ratchet: Gladiator) it was nice to get back the freedom to explore open areas again.

You run, jump, double jump, strafe, swing, shoot, drive, grind and fly your way through levels kicking bad-guy butt as you try to get closer to evil-tyrant and all-round-sulky-meanie Tachyon.  He's attempting to ruin everyone’s day by bringing back the banished Cragmites.  Everyone knows a Cragmite is a butt-hurt killjoy, so hooray for Ratchet and Clank (and ... er... Capt. Quark).

The game uses the tilt function of the PS3 Sixaxis controller.  That dumb-ass addition that Sony thought was the future after Nintendo made millions from gamers and non-gamers alike with their Wii.  There are some flying sections and some puzzles that require you to move the controller about on an X,Y,and Z axis, spraining your wrist in order to progress.  It’s a feature that irks.  The Sixaxis was arse-paper and remains Sony’s second greatest shame (only surpassed by the PSP).

Your weapons level up the more enemies you kill with them, making them more powerful, which is necessary as the enemies themselves get harder to kill.  You can also purchase unique upgrades from vending machines if you have the cash. Doing so adds extra functionality to each individual weapon, most of which are useful.  It's platforming at its best and another great addition to the R+C cannon.

Buyer’s Guide:
Available for PS3 only, on blu-ray disc.  It's old now so you should be able to find it for cheap in the trade-in section.

3½ Lombax tilts out of 5

Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time (2009)

Genre: Platformer | Players: 1 | Developer: Insomniac Games

Third and final part of the Ratchet & Clank: Future trilogy, and by far the best.  It concludes the story that began in Tools of Destruction and continued in Quest for Booty.  It’s not essential to have played Quest for Booty, but do play Tools of Destruction first if you want to follow the story.  As such, I can’t go into plot details but people don’t play the R&C games for plot anyhow, it for the big-ass guns that bring big-ass fun and the excellent level design.  There are new weapons and some old favourites (yes, the RYNO but you’ll have to work hard to get it).  There's other equipment surprises, too, that I won't spoil but I predict that one of them will become your new best friend.

New to the series is Clank solving tricky temporal puzzles that start simple: flick a switch and a door opens or floating platform appears enabling progress.  Get deeper into the game and you’ll need to flick three or four switches simultaneously.  Clank can record one of his actions using ‘Time Pads’ and set it to playback while he performs a different task.  You’ll need to record yourself up to four times and get the timing precise to complete some of the trickier puzzles.

You have the freedom to fly your ship from place to place in real time.  It gives you optional tasks and enemies to kill along the way.  You can stop off at small moons and obtain bolts and upgrades etc.

As always, after the main game finishes you can enter Challenge Mode which lets you replay the story with your weapons, bolts, exp, and upgrades intact, and adds the ability to obtain ever more powerful weapons.  There are also some optional Clank puzzles that'll really melt your brain, or maybe cause you to rip out all your hair… all of it, from even the most secret places!  They are feckin hard.

It's the same R&C formula I love, honed and tweaked to perfection.  If you hated the previous games then you'll likely hate A Crack in Time, too.

Buyer’s Guide:
Available for PS3 only, on a regular blu-ray disc.

4 shames for Mr Zurkon out of 5

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Golden Sun: The Lost Age (2003)

Genre: Role-playing | Players: 1-2 | Developer: Camelot

The Lost Age picks up where the last game left off, but you now play from the perspective of Felix whom you had been chasing in the first game. They now journey to light the remaining elemental lighthouses and restore the ancient force of Alchemy.

Gameplay is mostly unchanged from the first installment. Standard RPG fare enhanced with equip-able Djinn familiars. There are a few tweaks in that now there are equip-able items that can change your class, you can mix different elements of Djinn for new summons in addition to the old summons and this installment is quite a bit more non-linear. The previous game let you revisit locations and do some events out of order, but this one is even more so. There are also certain game elements that change if you transfer your completed game data from the first game via either a link cable or a password taken from the first game cartridge. It isn't necessary to finish the game, but it can give some bonuses like extra items and some new scenarios depending on your actions as the first protagonist, Isaac. It is also the only way to get all Djinn. The battle mode is also still available via the link cable.

Puzzles, animation and exploration are all ramped up with new spells and locations to visit and then revisit with new spells to unlock hidden areas. The game also falls on the easy side, but less so than the first game. It also moves at a slower pace which can be grating at times. It takes a good way into the adventure just to get your 4th party member. There are new enemies, but like the first there are a limited number and new enemies are often just recolored sprites of the original enemies. Even the new main villains are just similar stand-ins for the first game's lost ones. Just as good as the first with some new tweaks.

Buyer's Guide:
This one carries a higher price than most for some reason. Used copies can be had for $15-25. New copies can go much higher. From $25 to $100.

4 The "spear-wielding, desert tribe in need of a witch doctor" section might come off a bit racist out of 5

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty (2008)

Genre: Platformer | Players: 1 | Developer: Insomniac Games

At the end of Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction something happened that was later resolved in Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time.  This mini adventure slips in between those two larger games and tells the story of what Ratchet got up to with Talwyn.  He went looking for booty (not hers).
It’s the same running, double jumping, simple puzzle solving antics that we've come to expect from the series.

As usual, the game engine is almost flawless.  You can dodge, strafe or jump in all directions while targeting and shooting with ease.  It added the ability to lift various things with your wrench (the ever-reliable Omniwrench Millennium 12), which became a regular feature.

It’s a short game, you can finish it in one or two sittings (depending on how long you consider a “sitting” to be - I’d estimate it takes about 5 hours) but it has the same high standards as the full length games.  The developers care about the franchise and it shows.  Textures and character models look amazing in HD, if you care about such things.  My one complaint is some of the cavernous levels are almost too dark.  I had to tinker with the contrast more than once.

For me the real fun in the Ratchet games comes from levelling up the ridiculously named and oversized weapons.  They start small and after many kills eventually become a devastating explosive barrage of hot death.  It feels good having a weapon the size of a coffee table on your shoulder.

Buyer’s Guide:
PS3 only.  Originally a PSN title.  It was later released on a regular blu-ray disc in Europe only.  Because of its short length it was a lower price than normal.

3 Crotchetizers and butterscotch Snickerdoodles out of 5

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lumines Plus (2007)

Genre: Strategy / Puzzle | Players: 1 - 2 | Developer: Q Entertainment

Lumines was praised as being one of the best titles available for Sony’s stillborn handheld, the PSP. I found the PS2 version recently for £1 / $1.58 in the pre-owned section, so I grabbed it. It’s another Tetris style falling blocks game. The blocks are always 2x2 and are always of two different colours. You have to match up the colours, making a similar 2x2 square so they’ll disappear. Simple. Except, they don’t disappear instantly, they hang around for a time like meth junkies in the park. In theory that means you can add to the disappearing blocks with the next available falling block, increasing the size and score. In practice it means despite clearing part of your screen it’s still feckin there, so it screws up where you can set your next block. It’s a hateful idea. Someone needs killed for it.

The game was designed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, creator of REZ (2001) and uses a similar kind of music integration. The music isn't just background, it becomes a part of the gameplay. The tempo changes depending on how hectic or relaxed the action gets. That’s fine and dandy, but the music– oh God! The music is abominable. I wanted to stick something in my ears so I wouldn't hear it, anything would have been better, cotton, a kitten, a pencil, a dildo, broken glass. In the end I had to mute the game just to play BECAUSE YOU CAN’T TURN THE DAMN MUSIC OFF OR DOWN!

It’s fixed in a pre-set order that loops indefinitely so you hear the same tune every time you start a new game, over and over and over. You have to reach a certain score to unlock new tunes. Whoever composed it, next time you shave try standing an inch closer to the blade. Please and thanks.

I'm in the minority here (that's okay, the air is cleaner away from the stench of fitting in, plus when we play minority strip poker I always win) because I have almost nothing but scorn for Lumines. It’s my second falling blocks game in a month, the other was Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (1996). Play it instead, not this festering turd.

Buyers Guide:
Don't, but if you hate yourself that much it's available on PSP, Mobile phone, PC, PS2, Xbox Live Arcade, PSN, iOS, PS Vita.

0 give me a shotgun and some cotton out of 5

Monday, February 6, 2012

Stranglehold (2007)

Genre: 3rd Person Shooter | Players: 1 / Multi | Developer: Midway Games

A ‘sequel’ to John Woo’s film Hard Boiled (1992) that has you stepping into gun-happy cop Tequila Yuen’s scuffed and bloody shoes. I seem to remember there was some plot about something or other. In between that I was ducking and diving with twin pistols in cinematic slow-mo, shooting punks that existed solely for gratuitous entertainment.

A press of the L1 button causes Tequila to dive. If there's a body in your sights the game will automatically go slow-mo letting you load a full clip into them with the trigger button (R1). The slow-mo is called Tequila Time, which is another way of saying Max Payne/Bullet Time, etc. The more stylish and inventive your kill (e.g. executing a head-shot while swinging from a chandelier) the more stars you earn. Stars enable you to perform special techniques called Tequila Bombs, or to heal yourself. Progress further into the game to learn more Tequila Bombs.

Some moments attempt to break the repetition. The Mexican stand-off is the most obvious. I was so bad at it. I gave up trying, so just took a load of bullets in the face until it was over. That’s perhaps my biggest gripe with the game: you can pump an ass-full of lead into someone’s face and they'll stand and take it like it was cake. A bullet in the head (see what I did there?) should be enough to put anyone down.

Boss battles are a pain. Shoot, run, find health, pant a lot. You can snap to cover by hitting a button, but almost everything is destructible, so cover won’t last long.

John Woo is the bar man who sells you stuff. Both he and Chow provide voices.

The game is primitive. The variety of guns available is small. It came out early in the PS3’s life, so was perceived as being better than it actually is. There's still some fun to be had trying to get a perfect nut-shot while trundling along like a grounded Superman on a food trolley, but when you can pick up something like Uncharted 2 (2009) for less than the price of a pizza there’s really no reason anyone would buy Stranglehold any more. It’s old hat. There's online multiplayer, but it’s always deserted.

Buyers Guide:
The PS3 Collector's Edition includes the film Hard Boiled in HD. The Xbox 360 Collector's Edition doesn’t. Take that, Bill. Head-shot!

1½ doves out of 5

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (1996)

Genre: Strategy / Puzzle | Players: 1 - 2 | Developer: Capcom

Once upon a time a plucky dev at Capcom suggested merging Tetris and Street Fighter II. They didn't sack him on the spot. Instead, they made the game and it became a classic. They gave him the key to the city, bought him a golden Snuggie with his name embroidered into it and a pair of used Chun-Li panties which he tucked into his back pocket without flinching. Maybe.

Like Tetris, you control blocks that fall from the top of the screen and fit together at the bottom. The main difference is blocks can only be destroyed by using a shining ball of the corresponding colour. That enables you to destroy anything from a single block to a hundred or more simultaneously, depending on how many you have of the same colour touching. If you’re extra clever (i.e. lucky) you can achieve a massive combo where two, three or all colours are eliminated. Pulling that off severely shits-up your opponent’s day. Their screen will fill with blocks that can’t be destroyed until a timer counts down. All of that combined makes the game simple but very damned addictive.

At the bottom of the screen are chibi versions of SF II characters and some guests from Darkstalkers. If you’re playing as Ryu, for example, when you unleash a combo on your opponent he'll rush over and Dragon Punch a bitch as a show of awesomeness and force. It’s purely cosmetic, but it's fun to see your opponent on the ground with stars circling their scum-bag head.

The current gen consoles got a D/L only HD scrubbed-up version that allows online play, so if you've no friends (boo hoo) to go head-to-head with you can get brutally smashed over the internet by someone you've never met.

Buyers guide:
Available for almost every major platform under the Sun. Arcade, PS1, Sega Saturn, GBA, PSP (as Capcom Puzzle World), Dreamcast (Japan only), Xbox 360 (XBLA), PS3 (PSN), PC and even Blackberry (chuckle).

5 c-c-combo coming your way, bitch out of 5

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Noby Noby Boy (2009)

Genre: Erm... | Players: 1 - 4 | Developer: Namco Bandai

NNB is an odd game. I’m not even sure if it can be called a game. I’ll try to explain. You control BOY, a kind of worm with a head and a butt. The left analogue stick moves his head; the right stick moves his butt. If you push them in opposite directions he stretches out. If you eat things (fruit, blocks, speakers, people, camels, etc) you can stretch further. The further you can stretch the bigger the object you can eat. You score points by stretching to as great a length as you can.

The SUN sends your points to a second character called GIRL, who's whizzing around the solar system and can only reach a new planet when you (and the rest of the world, it’s a cumulative thing) send her enough score. A new planet reached is a new level for you to stretch around on, and gives new things to eat. (This happened to me during playing, I chuckled: open in new tab for pic. That’s my worn character in the background, the long thing with the bunny on its back.)

Each world is a floating platform in space, so if you get too long your ass can fall off the sides. If your ass is too heavy, it’ll drag you down with it. You can lighten the load by shitting out things you've eaten, but that'll shrink you.

The camera controls are a nightmare until you get used to them. To move the camera you hold L1 and R1 and tilt the controller. You have to do that while simultaneously using L2 to eat things. If you want to zoom in or out you use one button and tilt. You can also spin around, go above or below BOY (inside the planet view) and more that I can’t even begin to try and remember right now.

It’s made by Keita Takahashi, the creator of Katamari Damacy, so if you've played it you’ll maybe begin to understand why I had trouble reviewing NNB. I'm giving up now. I can't write any more. My head is full of Noby.

Buyer's Guide:
Can only be bought directly from PSN.

3½ times literally eating my own ass and because IU demanded it out of 5

Friday, February 3, 2012

Metroid Fusion (2002)

Genre: Action-adventure | Players: 1 | Developer: Nintendo

Metroid Fusion sees Samus infected during a mission protecting scientists by a parasite called X. To save her life, the infected parts of her suit are surgically removed and she is injected with a vaccine made from a culture of metroid cells which also happen to be the X parasite's natural predator. The parasite has thrived since Samus herself has all but eradicated the metroid population. Now she is sent on her first mission since the incident to investigate an explosion at the lab where her infected suit was sent.

Developed by the same team behind the classic Super Metroid for SNES, Fusion is also of top quality. Controls are smoothed out and using the shoulder buttons for things like diagonal aiming and toggling between weapons makes combat much more fluid now that you don't have to stop and switch. Enemies are standard fare from other metroid games with the added caveat that they are actually the X mimicking the wildlife. Killing them turns the parasite into it's natural form which Samus can use to restore health and weapons since the metroid vaccine has immunized her to their parasitic nature. Samus has lost all of her abilities since the last game (As she always does), but they can be restored by downloading upgrades from HQ or absorbing large parasites that come from defeating bosses.

The game is less open than it's predecessors since there is actually a minor focus on story, but you can still just fuck off and explore for power-ups and hidden areas if you want. Some complained about adding back-story to Samus, but I think it was rather well done and humanized her a bit. You can also use the link cable accessory to connect with both Metroid Prime and Metroid: Zero Mission to unlock bonus content. All the classic Metroid you expect with smoother controls and pretty new graphics.

Buyer's Guide:
Available used on the GBA for anywhere between 5 and 30 bucks depending on the seller. Also available on the Virtual Channel to 3DS owners.

4 She should learn to keep spare upgrades in a closet or something out of 5