From GameCube to Wii: Metroid Prime

As we continue to wait for some new first-party Nintendo action goodness, the Wii “New Play Control!” version of Samus Aran’s first foray into 3D has been released upon Japan. So, what (other than the language) has been changed? Is it just Metroid Prime with “waggle” tacked on, or did Retro Studio’s involvement lend more to the project than that?

Many are quick to write off the game as a waste, figuring that anyone who wants to play it can easily throw in their GameCube copy and pick up the old controller, but according to IGN, there’s more to it than that:

Over the past two years Wii has brought a lot of people back to the world of Nintendo console gaming, so there’s a generation of players out there that haven’t experienced the start of the Metroid Prime franchise. In fact, there’s probably a bunch of you out there that started the series at its (seeming) finale: Metroid Prime 3. While you have all the power in the world to revisit the previous two games on the Wii using its GameCube backwards-compatibility, after seeing what Retro Studios did for the Wii game it might be tough to return to traditional controls using a GameCube controller. — IGN

All in all, it seems that the New Play Control! version of Metroid Prime is designed to not only give new players who missed the GameCube generation a better jumping-on point, but also give those who did play the original a worthwhile upgrade with which they can play through it again.

The controls are based on the layout used in the native Wii title Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, but can be tweaked to the user’s liking, including the default looseness of the control. The original allowed for accurate aim via a lock-on reticule, which remains, but players don’t have to use it if they don’t want to, and can still enjoy the benefit of precise shooting.

Speaking of which, shooting is performed by the A button, while B will be used for jumping; switching visors is a simple matter of holding down the minus button, then pointing at the visor you wish to peruse. The Nunchuk’s Z button locks on, and firing missiles is set to the D-pad.

New Play Control! Metroid Prime runs at 60 frames per second and at true wide-screen, without suffering from any artificial stretching (with the exception of the title screen’s FMV running behind the interface). That is, if you’re running the game on a true widescreen TV. The GameCube version would present cutaway scenes in letterbox format, and go back to 4:3 “full frame” for the first-person portions, and the Wii version will work the same if it’s set to run at 4:3. But if you’re on HD or Widescreen, you can enjoy 16:9 the whole way through.

Barring the intro, Metroid Prime doesn’t have much in the way of speech, and unless you can read Japanese, the current release will probably do you little good as you begin scanning objects.

Another addition some gamers may appreciate, the Metroid Prime veterans in particular, is the addition of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption’s award medal/token system, which notes various accomplishments by giving you a Samus “S” icon in either gold or silver, depending on how well you do at certain tasks, such as defeating the first boss and escaping the space station.

There is still no official release date, or even announcement, of this title for the US yet, which is just a little strange, since Metroid is usually considered more popular in the West (not to mention first-person games). IGN is hopeful we’ll see something by the end of the first half of the year, but most likely after New Play Control! Metroid Prime 2: Echoes hits Japan later this year.

For now, if you want to compare the GameCube version to the Wii version visually, IGN has arranged a series of videos which aim to do just that.