Metroid Prime Remastered – Switch Review

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If you’ve never played a game in the Metroid Prime series, it’s likely that your preconceived ideas are wrong. Screenshots suggest a trio of pretty-standard first person shooters, but these games are—true to the design of the wider Metroid series as a whole—metroidvanias through and through, though rendered in a first-person 3D style. They feature the same emphasis on map-reading and exploration and almost identical platforming and action, down to the pacing of the encounters with enemies and the giant bosses.

A giant bug queen boss looms over Samus Aran, seen from a first-person perspective
Somehow you can imagine these bosses appearing in a 2D metroidvania

On its original release back in 2003, Metroid Prime was hailed as a masterpiece. And the game was impressive—I remember it vividly—there was something powerful in its all-encompassing atmosphere, and how via a hundred artful details and design choices it made you feel part of Samus Aran’s adventure as if you were right there inside her head, making decisions, taking risks, and discovering a new world. I remember being impressed with its art style—GameCube games still look good on the most part—so there was every reason to expect a Switch version to hold up well. Just as long as the developers, Retro Studios, fixed the original’s antiquated controls.

Primed and Ready

A screenshot depicting an area in 'Chozo ruins'—one of the six biomes in Metroid Prime Remastered
Tallon IV is a joy to explore.


Playing as bounty hunter Samus Aran, you investigate a distress signal coming from a seemingly abandoned space frigate. As you explore the listing frigate, and the surface and biomes of the planet Tallon IV, the sense of isolation is intense—palpable. Moving about the world you slowly uncover the mystery of multiple disasters—a tale of extinction and careless experimentation told almost exclusively through in-world scan items and some brief, wordless cutscenes. If some modern games drag out their experience through misbalancing their narrative with too little gameplay, Metroid Prime Remastered is their antithesis. It’s pure ‘game’. At no point are you left staring into space waiting for a cutscene to end just so you can play. The feeling you have while playing Metroid Prime is that Retro Studios have made bold, progressive design choices: that Metroid Prime is no relic from gaming’s past, but a vision of how it should be in the future.

Samus Aran fires her arm cannon—the light reflects her face in the visor.
Fire too close to a wall and Samus’s face is reflected in the visor. She even winces a little.

Attention to Detail

Retro Studios rightly deserve huge credit: Metroid Prime comes across as a labour of love, with attention to detail paramount—from the raindrops that fall on Samus’s visor, to the reflection of her face in the glass if you fire a missile too close to the wall—and so on, multiplied by a hundred more instances of finesse and craft that elevate the already enjoyable gameplay to the level where I want to use words like ‘art’ and ‘perfection’.

This remaster has been created with care too. The visuals have received more than an HD upgrade. The world seems to have been completely retextured, and plenty of character models are more detailed. The lighting has received a boost. I’d even say that Metroid Prime Remastered is often one of the best-looking games on the Switch. Those GameCube graphics scrub up very well, and having the original’s 4:3 presentation fill up the entirety of a modern TV—or the entirety of the Switch’s screen—really help Metroid Prime elbow some room for itself in a modern gaming library.

Two strange fountains spew forth water.
Environmental puzzles are another huge part of the game.

All the Control You Need

The GameCube original’s controls would be near-enough unplayable by today’s standards. The original used one joystick to move Samus around, moving her backwards and forwards or turning her left or right. The ability to strafe was locked behind a button press. I’m not sure you could even look up or down.

Metroid Prime Remastered fixes everything. It’s a dual-stick, motion-aiming delight. It features all the control options you could ask for. Completely free motion aiming is bizarrely hidden within a sub menu, but, crucially, it’s there. You can play with Metroid-Prime-3-style controls, where you use the joycons like Wii Remotes—although, this option wasn’t for me.

A screenshot of the in-game map.
As with all metroidvanias, you need to keep an eye on the map. A huge part of the game is identifying unvisited areas and unlocking new abilities to access them.

Music Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

The excellent soundtrack helps add nuance and a keen sense of pacing and progression throughout. From the menu screen on, it all sounds so alien. I enjoyed the strange musical theme that dominated the opening trawl through the frigate, and the more uplifting theme when I started exploring Tallon IV in earnest. The  industrial thumping beat throughout Magmoor Caverns is glorious.

The game’s pacing does suffer nearer the end, with some slightly tedious fetching of some important ‘artifacts’, but by then you’ve already fallen in love with this beautiful 14-hour adventure—you’ve moved in and kids are on the way.

Samus fights an alien bug.
Tallon IV is full of enemies—bugs and beasts that would have felt at home in any of her other adventures, and plenty more.

Final Thoughts

Metroid Prime Remastered is a beautiful evocation of a 2D Metroidvania in 3D graphics. It keeps you on your toes throughout with engaging exploration and genuinely challenging action.

The bottom line is this: one of the best games ever made has been upgraded and finessed to perfection. There are no caveats here—Metroid Prime Remastered is a wonder. The biggest surprise is that in twenty years there have been no imitators: the only comparable games are Metroid Prime’s also-excellent sequels. But if you’re up against something this good, perhaps it’s best not to bother.

Metroid Prime Remastered gets our top gong: the shiniest of all my Thumb Culture Platinum Awards.


Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

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