reviews\ Dec 14, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Metroid Fusion - GBA - Review defines the word fusion as "the merging of different elements into a union."  That sums up Nintendo's latest Game Boy Advance masterpiece, Metroid Fusion.  It is, as the definition states, a merging of different gameplay elements.  This game isn't just a treat for Metroid fans -- everyone will want to own it.

Like Metroid Prime, Metroid Fusion's gameplay is really close to perfection.  The controls feel so smooth that you'd think that Shigeru Miyamoto developed them.  Super Metroid fans know what to expect, but Fusion's controls are even better with new moves/weapons and faster gameplay. 

Combat is fast and exciting.  The A and B buttons are used in a typical Nintendo game fashion: B is used to fire Samus's many weapons, while is used for the fun task of jumping.  You'll run and shoot a lot in this game, but jumping is very important.  For one thing, some monsters shoot high, while others shoot low, and the only way to dodge some of those low shots is to jump over them.  Second, Metroid's levels are like gigantic, intricate layers, making the jump move essential to your progress in the game.

The morph ball -- an important technique in both new Metroid games -- is executed in Fusion by pressing down on the directional pad twice.  Samus then rolls into a small, Sonic-like ball that enables her to plant bombs (to kill monsters or destroy barriers) and sneak through small areas that cannot be accessed in any other way.  There's a lot of exploring and a little bit of backtracking in this game.  Since Samus can roll faster than she can run, the morph ball is a good way to speed through an area that you've already explored.

Nearly every room is littered with monsters, just like most of the rooms in Resident Evil are filled with zombies.  One major difference here: Metroid's enemies constantly re-spawn!  It doesn't matter how many times you defeat a monster because if you leave the room, it'll be there again when you return.  Ammo is unlimited, and blasting enemies never, ever gets tiresome, so this is not at all a problem.  It makes the game even better because you always have something to do, whether you're completely lost or not.  None of the game goals are obvious, and none of them are insanely difficult, but some are presented in such a way that you'll miss them even when they're right in front of you.  So you'll backtrack, search the whole area again until you finally realize what to do next.  Although this game has very little in common with the survival/horror genre, that also reminded me of Resident Evil.

One awesome new twist is the monsters' ability to survive even after being killed.  When you kill a monster, it turns into a gelatin-like creature (its true, X parasite form) and roams around for a little bit.  Absorbing the X parasites is as easy as touching them.  If you fail to absorb the X parasite quickly, it'll recreate its monstrous body and begin attacking again.

That's cool, but that's not even the best part!  Killing monsters is no longer just for fun since you can actually gain something from them.  X parasites contain special items (weapon ammo, health power-ups, etc.) that replenish Samus's depleting meters.  This, too, reminds me of another Shinji Mikami game -- Onimusha.  I know these are minor similarities, but Capcom loves Nintendo, and I think this makes it pretty clear that Nintendo loves Capcom.  Who can blame them for sharing ideas?

Playing Fusion and then playing Prime (or vice versa) makes the correlation obvious: they're both the same kind of game, only played in different dimensions.  This does not mean that either game is a rehash of the other -- they're not.  Every level is fresh and new.  It reminds me of the first time I played Super Mario World and Mario 64. 

Metroid Fusion is without a doubt Samus's best 2D adventure yet!  Game Boy Advance has a ton of stellar games, but I honestly have not had this much fun playing a GBA game since Castlevania was released at the system's launch.  The whole game is a new experience.  There are familiar gameplay elements (as all sequels should have), but the level designs are very original.  Plus, if you link Metroid Fusion with the GameCube's Metroid Fusion, you can unlock the full version of the original Metroid game!  You'll be hooked to your Nintendo systems long after these games are finished, that's for sure.  As with every great Nintendo game, the replay value is sky high.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 9.5
If you want to get the most out of your Game Boy Advance, get Metroid Fusion.  The gameplay is unmatched by another GBA game out there.

Graphics: 9.4
Among 2D games, graphics can't get much better than this.  You can add polygons, but then it's not entirely a two-dimensional game.  Everything from Fusion's character models and the backgrounds, to the weapon animation and the awesome boss battles are filled with graphical beauty rarely seen on the GBA.

Sound: 8.5
I may sound crazy for saying this, but I like Metroid Fusion's sound a little bit more than Prime's.  Both games have superb soundtracks, but the simpler style music that Fusion offers reminds me of Nintendo's older games.

Difficulty: Medium
Metroid Fusion is one of Nintendo's more challenging games.  It'll take you at least a little while to play through this one.

Concept: 8.8 
This isn't as new of an experience as Metroid Prime is, regardless, Fusion's new gameplay concepts, new levels and new music/graphic effects are outstanding.  It's the best sequel you will ever find on the GBA.

Overall: 9.5
Metroid Fusion is 2D gaming perfection!  This game will suck you in and have you glued to the GBA screen until it is finished.  Fusion is so good that if it weren't for the small, unlit screen, you wouldn't even be able to tell that it is a "portable" game.  There are more than nine million Game Boy Advance owners in the U.S., and every single one of them should own Metroid Fusion.


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