Whenever I start a new Nintendo game in an established series, I do so assuming I’m going to be disappointed. Their core series made the leap brilliantly to 3D, opening up gameplay in ways that I’d never imagined. And then, with one idiosyncratic exception, Nintendo has mined that gameplay in subsequent installments, not adding anything to the mix. (Actually, I’m happy to say that there’s now a second exception, which I hope to have time to write more about soon.) The resulting games aren’t bad; they’re building off of extremely solid core gameplay, and they’re not doing anything to actively screw it up. They just don’t have the freshness of the originals, or of the best of other recent games.

Which brings me to Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Any new ideas here? Are they, perhaps, doing something interesting with the Wii?

The answer: no, not really. It’s a good game, I’m happy to have played it; in fact, I ended up with a better feeling about it than its predecessor. I’m not an FPS connoisseur, but the controls seemed good to me: I could aim where I wanted, I could turn reasonably freely, my hand didn’t get excessively tired from having to stay pointed within a fairly small region of the screen (unless I wanted to turn). (And yes, I do realize that the game, while in the first person and involving shooting, isn’t best described as an FPS: I’m just talking about (part of) the control scheme, not the gameplay structure.)

Hmm, other than the controls, what else is there to say, given its predecessors? You go to different worlds instead of different areas of the same world; okay, but it doesn’t make any real difference. The scanning is starting to get to me, especially at the start of the game. I still like searching through the environments enough to revisit them once, trying to get power-ups, after I’ve leveled up fully. Nice that the different beams stack their powers on top of each other, removing the need to switch between them. Ship commands are kind of silly, but not actively offensive.

As I increasingly prefer in my old age, it’s pleasantly easy. Gone are the days when I have the time or desire to devote dozens of hours to master most games, especially games that make it actively difficult to do so; while I gave up its predecessor in disgust at the final boss battle, I had no such problem with this game. I had to fight some of the bosses two or three times, but I always felt that I was learning something, and just as frequently I beat them the first time on my last energy tank, with a pleasant sense of accomplishment. Hmm, now that I think about it, its predecessor’s bosses weren’t bad except for the last one, and in this game as well they committed the same structural flaw of having your last fight go too long without a save opportunity; it would have been better if they’d fixed that flaw instead of addressing the problem by making the last boss a bit of a pushover, but I’ll take what they ended up with.

As always when I write this sort of review, I feel guilty at the end. Really, it’s a good game; really, if you haven’t played another 3D Metroid game, you should give something in the series a try, and this one is a good choice. And even though I wish I were seeing more new, I’m glad to have invested 15 hours (or however much it was; a good choice of length, incidentally) of my life in playing it. In fact, I really should go give Super Metroid a try, now that it’s been released on the Virtual Console; if only there weren’t so many allegedly great games out this fall…

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