Square Enix has released two new videos for their upcoming Final Fantasy fighting game, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. The new videos include the game’s opening cinematic and the introduction cutscene to Noctis from Final Fantasy XV.
The opening cinematic features iconic Final Fantasy heroes and villains fighting against each other. Heroes such as Lightning, Squall, Tidus, and Noctis are showing fighting against villains such as Garland, Sephiroth, and Ultimecia.
The video that details the opening of Noctis’ story within the world of Dissidia was also unveiled. Noctis is pulled into the conflict as a hero of light fighting for Materia, the Goddess of Protection. The other heroes all remember their previous fights in the other Dissidia games, but this is the first time Noctis has been pulled into the conflict. The video for Noctis features Lightning and the Warrior of Light both finding the prince and escorting him to an audience with Materia.
You can see both of the new videos in our First Fifteen, below.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is a re-release of the arcade version of Dissidia Final Fantasy that was playable in Japan. This new version of the game includes all the characters from the previous installments and is the first time that this version of the game will be playable in the West and Europe.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is releasing exclusively for the Sony PlayStation 4 on Jan. 30 of 2018.
Square Enix gives us a sneak peek into the world of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, with new footage of the opening cinematic and cutscene.
The cutscene, titled A Princely Welcome, features a rather disoriented Noctus, of Final Fantasy XV fame, as he is suddenly dropped into the world of Dissidia from his own. He is greeted by Lightning (Final Fantasy XIII) and later, the Warrior of Light (Final Fantasy).
The opening cinematic features characters from across the Final Fantasy franchise, including newly added characters to this console installation of Dissidia Final Fantasy, from Final Fantasy XV, and Final Fantasy XIV.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NTmakes it’s North American debut January 30, 2018 for PlayStation 4. Find out more about Dissidia Final Fantasy NT here.
Team Ninja’s upcoming action RPG Niohhas already drawn numerous comparisons to the Souls franchise (Both Dark and Demon), and this demon slaying adventure hasn’t even release yet. You’d be forgiven if you had forgotten that Team Ninja dominated the insanely difficult niche market before anyone had kindled a bonfire when it revived the classicNinja Gaiden franchise. Now, as Nioh goes gold and approaches its February release, it seems that Ryu Hayabusa is not quite as dead as we thought he was.
Team Ninja revived the classic Nintendo game back in 2004 with the stellar Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox, following it up with two enjoyable enhanced editions. Following releases showed a substantial drop in quality until finally reaching a series low point in 2014 with Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z. It was believed that a string of sub par sequels finally did what what ninjas, demons, and frustratingly placed birds could not, finally kill this decades old franchise, but Team Ninja’s Creative Director Tom Lee seems to be hopeful.
“Maybe I can say can say that Nioh is a gateway into the next chapter for Ninja Gaiden,” said Lee in an interview with US Gamer. ” is a very important, if not the most important franchise, for us, but at this point I think this franchise needs to be in the shadows for a while until we bring it back. There will be a time, and when the time is right, we will bring it back.”
While the uncertain time frame can be disheartening, the passion Lee showed for the franchise should be a relief for fans of the series. While Nioh takes its cues from the Souls series and Dynasty Warriors, its setting of a demon infested Japan at the beginning of the Edo period certainly brings to mind Ryu’s sword swinging, shuriken tossing antics.
Nioh is an upcoming ARPG from the crew over at Team Ninja. The temporary beta has been running this week on the PS4. Essentially, there is one major question that, depending on the answer, will decide whether or not Nioh is for you.
Have you ever wanted a game that took threw Dark Souls, Ninja Gaiden, and feudal Japan into a blender? If so, Nioh will be right up your alley.
The story revolves around a sailor named William Adams. He ends up in Japan, then slices and dices his way into becoming a samurai. It’s a tale we’ve heard a million times before, so that’s the last I’ll say on it. Besides, considering this is only a demo, who knows where the narrative will wind up going?
What’s has been shown most all so far is the gameplay, which Team Ninja have cribbed heavily from Souls games. So much so, in fact, that there’s a point where major features and mechanics feel instantly familiar—familiar, but not exactly the same, which is both cool in a few ways and sort of irritating in others.
To start with the cool, Nioh is a third-person ARPG that features a lock-on, dodge, block and parry system for melee combat. Various weapons are available, with more on the way, and players can take a variety of approaches to the combat. The weapons all fall into four categories: the Katana, the Duel-Katana, the Spear, and the Axe. There are also two separate categories for Ninja and Onmyo Magic for those of you who prefer a ranged or caster build. Like Dark Souls, each weapon scales differently with one of eight different statistics.
These statistics are levelled up at shrines (bonfires) using Amrita (souls). However, a neat twist on the system is the various skills and combos that can be unlocked. Each weapon category that opens up different combos and attacks as you level them. Rather than just dumping points in stats to improve your attack rating, players are able to add a deeper level of customization to their preferred approach to combat.
Another twist on a classic mechanic is the Ki system. Underneath your health bar at the top is a very familiar looking stamina bar, but rather than stamina it is now an energy that is used for different kinds of attacks. This meter can be replenished by hitting a button at the correct time following an attack. It also has the added benefit of allowing skilled users to chain together even longer combos provided they can continue refilling the Ki bar.
As for another one of the Souls series’ more infamous features that Nioh is evolving on is the difficulty. This game is tough, and even veterans of From’s games will find themselves challenged here. Enemy attacks often do massive damage, and rolling through or blocking/parrying attacks will take some getting used to.
Visually speaking the game looks decent enough, but nothing to write home about. Character models and textures are pretty sub-par, but for games like this only one technical quality is important: the framerate. So far, Nioh plays extremely smoothly and clips along at what appears to be at least around the 60fps mark. There were mentions earlier this year of an option to switch between 1080p/30fps and 720p/60fps but that option is not available in the demo. Either way, fans of action games know that speed>detail, and a game that has fast and buttery combat is preferred over one that has great graphics but moves at a sluggish pace.
Nioh is shaping up to be a game that will surely whet the appetite of gamers looking for a new twist on the Souls formula. Looking past the many, many similarities between the games, it looks like it will be a blast for anyone who enjoys fast, fun and difficult third-person combat. The game still doesn’t have an official release date, but hopefully once the demo ends Team Ninja and Koei-Tecmo can nail one down for those who enjoyed what they played and want more.
The Dead or Alive franchise is a series that has stuck around for nigh on two decades now and it is has become fairly well known, for better or for worse. The newest edition of the fifth official entry to the series, Last Round, promised to be just what its namesake suggests – the actual last round. Now if only Team Ninja would make this the final game in the series as well, all would be right with the world.
The fifth installment picks up after the last one with as many recurring characters as they could fit into the game. DOATEC has been rebuilt with Helena at the head of it and she announces a new Dead or Alive tournament, bringing all the old fighters out of the wood work to fight for victory again. Meanwhile, Kasumi clone Alpha 152 is still at large and Donavon’s dastardly plan of mass producing these perfect soldiers is moving forward. The ninjas, Hayate, Hayabusa and Ayane, work with Helena to uncover this mystery and finally put a stop to this evil plan. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what happens. The plot is so convoluted, nonsensical and rife with cringe inducing ‘jokes’ that it’s hard to actually know what was going on.
The storyline is nonlinear and goes back and forth through time until all the characters stories have overlapped, except for the ninjas stories about the evil clone. That story comes almost entirely after the tournament is over and 90% of the rest of the characters are no longer needed. Thinking the title of the game and the main plot would be the same was obviously foolish thinking by a non-hardcore DOA player like myself. Eventually, the story ends up making some semblance of sense, though my breakdown above is far more concise and intelligible than the ridiculous fight by fight layout of the story the game gives you. If you haven’t played every iteration of the series thus far, don’t count on knowing what’s going on for the majority of the game.
How stunning it looks, however, is a place to heap praise upon DOA5. Running at 1080p and 60FPS, it looks incredible. The environments are destructible, gorgeous and multilayered as you can smash your opponent into a different part of the arena you are in to continue the beat down. The character design is equally good looking. The characters interact with the environment which causes them to get dirty or wet etc. that stays with you for the entire fight. The character models are extremely detailed and look realistic even as they fly preposterously through the air to pull off a flying arm bar. Also, between the confusing cut scenes masquerading as story points to the fight arena is a seamless transition in both environment and in character model. The game simply looks fantastic.
The gameplay itself actually presents quite a challenge, if overly complicated. If you go through the detailed and in-depth tutorial, you are treated to a very extensive and thorough introduction to the move list. From the simplest of combos to stunning your opponent and carrying out an insanely long combo, the tutorial makes sure you are more than ready to take on the story mode. I say more than ready because as far as the rest of the game goes, the amount of detail given to the tutorial far outweighs the preparation you require to beat the game. Not that I’m complaining because it was extremely helpful but I found it rather difficult to pull off some of the more complicated combos when fighting the computer and ended up using quick punch more readily and effectively than say, a flying knee into a leg sweep into a front flip kick combo.
Knowing the combos and being able to pull most of them off rarely came in handy to someone who is ‘pretty good’ at the game. On the one hand, I played with a friend who hadn’t picked up a PS4 DualShock since its launch nor had he played a fighting game since SNES. His button mashing soundly beat me eight times in a row and these fights weren’t even close. On the other hand, when I went online, players who were much more adept at the game proceeded to also beat me in a merciless flurry of combos that I could hardly recover from to get even one shot in. This is what I found to be the way game played out. Either you were an adept who had mastered the combo list or you got by on button mashing and did pretty good for yourself. The rest of us who fall in the middle, well, we have to settle for hoping to land something special and squeaking out a win.
Fans of the DOA series will be delighted to find all their favourites in the roster. Everyone from the aforementioned ninja, to Christie to Hitomi to Bass Armstrong who is very clearly just a Macho Man Randy Savage rip off. Outside of the story mode, each of these characters come with a ton of costumes while some of the characters have even more available, Kasumi having a ridiculous 35 to herself. There are also some guest appearances from Virtua Fighter, the single most technical fighting game I’ve encountered, who are barely allowed to show their face in the Story Mode but are readily available in the other modes. Additionally, two new characters make their way in as DOA villain Raidou shows up in a new cyborg body and Honoka, a school girl whose reason to be in the game I couldn’t figure out for the life of me. The game also comes with a pair of new maps to all come together to make this an ‘upgrade’ from the Ultimate edition.
Say what you will about Anita Sarkeesian and her crusade, but this is exactly what she is talking about in terms of sexism in gaming.
Of course, no one conversation about DOA would be complete without a discussion on female body parts. Team Ninja seemed to have taken all the time they should have spent writing a storyline that made even a fraction of sense and put it all into mastering ‘Jiggle Physics’ for the new generation, so much so that you even have options for how much bounce you’d like to see. This is as ridiculous as you would expect. It came to a point where characters would be standing still and their over-the-top endowments would still be bouncing. Additionally, apparently the DOA universe is bereft of undergarments unless it adds a sexy nuance to an outfit. Some of the many unlockable outfits that you can acquire resulted in a friend and I having a battle where his character donned a thong bikini and high heels while my character was garbed in a sexy Mrs. Claus outfit.
This is relatively tame in regards to some of the other hyper-sexualized characters and outfits that you will encounter in this game. Say what you will about Anita Sarkeesian and her crusade, but this is exactly what she is talking about in terms of sexism in gaming. As a heterosexual man, the demographic that this is supposedly targeting, I was regularly mystified by the outfits, noises and suggestive positions that the female characters in this game would find themselves in at any given time. I’m aware that Japan and North America have wildly differing views on sexuality, but such an unhealthy representation is not only detrimental to the people playing the game but it takes away from the game itself. It’s hard to seriously talk about the pros and cons of a games fighting system when an 18 year-old Japanese school girl is on all fours and suggestively moaning amidst burning wreckage for no other reason than to simply have that scene in the game.
In the end, Dead or Alive 5: Last Round has some positive things going for it but more things detracting from it. The graphics upgrade makes this the best looking game in the series by far and may be the bench marker for how fighters should look on consoles this generation. The gameplay itself is easy to pick up and go but presents quite a challenge in the mastery of it. Although mastering the game isn’t exactly a necessity unless you plan on regularly competing against the best players online. The additions from the last version of this game are few and aren’t much of a selling point for a fan to repurchase the game. The storyline is almost hilariously nonsensical and is basically just an excuse for all of these characters to get into fights. Finally, the vaunted ‘jiggle physics’ are definitely well represented but even if you disregard the negative stereotypes this accentuates, it still only serves to distract from the rest of the game. When all is said and done, DOA 5 ends up being a great looking, middle of the road fighter that still heavily relies on absurd female characters in revealing outfits to sell copies. After nearly 20 years, maybe Team Ninja should try to figure something new out or finally put the franchise out to pasture.
Ninja Gaiden has long been on the road to decline, so it’s no surprise that Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z should stray so far from the pack, grasping for anything it can latch on to to stay relevant and lucrative. In this day and age, staying relevant means inviting zombies into a franchise. Much like Yakuza: Dead Souls before it, Yaiba introduces a league of the flesh-starved undead for players to hack, slash, and otherwise maim in unspeakable ways. It’s a far cry from the typical Ninja Gaiden series you may be used to, with a completely different kind of hero and a wholly different kind of game. This Dynasty Warriors-esque zombie-slaying marathon, however, is all bark and no bite.
The instant you fill Yaiba‘s profanity-laden shoes, you’ll note a marked difference in tone and gameplay. This Ninja Gaiden outing revels in the quick-time event, so memorize the zombie takedown demonstrated early on if you want to get ahead. As you carve through the advancing hordes of the shambling undead, it becomes abundantly clear that you serve a singular purpose: clearing a path through organic matter. You accomplish this with several well-timed button presses, squeezing the L2 trigger when the exclamation point pops up above an enemy’s head.
Yaiba receives a brief health boost and soldiers on, giving you abundant opportunities for an endless loop of carnage, so long as your timing is good. Plain Jane zombies afford little bonuses, but as the game attempts to bolster its defenses with more challenging swarms of the undead, you’ll receive larger rewards and pull off flashier QTEs. If you’re lucky, Yaiba might even use a pair of arms freshly ripped from their sockets to beat their owner to (second) death.
It sounds fabulously gruesome and endlessly fascinating, but even though I could appreciate the machinations as a gore hound, ripping the limbs or armaments from my enemies simply wasn’t engaging or logical. It’s not even immediately obvious that you must do this in order to procure additional weapons. It’s a bizarre decision given other Ninja Gaiden games’ methods of simply presenting weapons to players at the right time or allowing you to stumble upon them. With hordes of enemies rather than the smaller, focused assaults of Ninja Gaiden, the additional firepower should be meted out accordingly, and not doled out to players left to their own devices.
It doesn’t help that the game is its own worst enemy, with camera woes and self-defeating mechanics that work against you rather than with you. Instead of a third-person view, you’re stuck with fixed camera angles that make the hundreds of inevitable cheap deaths Yaiba will succumb to feel as though they’re supposed to happen. Enemies become invisible by proxy, and most of your time will be spent either searching for where your enemies have gone to or anticipating where they’ll come from next so you can frantically mash your attack button to fend them off. When you are locked in combat, it becomes so endlessly repetitive that not even ripping zombies limb from limb remains entertaining, and for a game that touts over-the-top gore and violence, this is a massive issue.
Then, right when you’ve become accustomed to the repetition of Yaiba’s repertoire and the mindless hacking through enemies, you’re forced to stop and do an about-face as a familiar character reappears and the game asks you to once again acclimate yourself to the same Ninja Gaiden you’ve always known. It’s as if you’ve been playing with a poor brainless sod up until this point and are finally given a competent avatar. It’s pointless, frustrating, and nonsensical – almost as if Team Ninja wanted this game to fail.
While the game is competent and can hold its own as the most by-the-book instance of a zombie hack-and-slash game, its myriad issues hold it back significantly, enough so that you should take one look, recoil in horror, and opt for an earlier Team Ninja release instead. If you’re just jonesing to kill zombies, perhaps you might opt for Oneechanbara. At least it makes no apologies about what it’s trying to be.
No matter how hard Team Ninja boss Yosuke Hayashi pushes Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 after revealing a next-gen title is in the works, a new, and true-to-the-series Ninja Gaiden game is something fans of the series deserve.
“Please look forward to this ridiculous ‘zombie x ninja’ game,” Hayashi said in an interview with Dengeki Online. Is it going to be that bad? Probably not. There’s an admirable chance the game is going to be decent at least. Gameplay footage has so far indicated the intense, fast-paced action the hack n’ slash series is known for is there. The added “please,” however from Hayashi is a clear sign that fans who played Ninja Gaiden games of the past are in for something quite different. This is old news however, and the promise of a next-gen title coming from Team Ninja is exciting.
Ninja Gaiden on the original Xbox was arguably the best, certainly one of the best, games on that console. A long story mode, which offered some minimal exploration, was complemented with a steady frame rate and gorgeous, gore-tastic visuals. It pushed the system to new levels of technical superiority, and established an audience who reveled in the game’s hardcore difficulty.
The transition to the Xbox 360 and PS3 was admirable, but not exactly a meaningful leap forward. Ninja Gaiden Sigma, which came out on the PS3, was an excellent remake of the original Xbox counterpart. Ninja Gaiden 2, which initially released on the Xbox 360, was insanely fun, but once again, didn’t take that leap forward from the original Xbox, simply offering us shinier visuals, and more weapons to choose from. Without a doubt, it was a game worth purchasing, and it was a solid exclusive action game for the Xbox 360 at the time. (The PS3 got an expanded version of the game a few months later). There was also Ninja Gaiden 3, which received an emphatic ‘meh’ from most consumers.
A true, next-gen Ninja Gaiden experience on the PlayStation 4 is a must. Aside from a graphical upgrade – something the series really needs – a game with multiple objectives, a bigger world, and a vast array of weapons are aspects of Ninja Gaiden that could be greatly expanded on the PS4. Team Ninja should look at what made Ninja Gaiden on the original Xbox great, like the intertwined game world, which cleverly weaved the Vigoor empire together, and combine that with the ridiculous action Ninja Gaiden 2 offered. Throw in a story that at least makes partial sense and allows Ryu, or some badass ninja who doesn’t talk too much, take on a bunch of tough-as-nails bosses.
It’s necessary when a game series is looking to move forward and trying to escape the shadows of its predecessors. At times this involves the introduction of a new character, a change in setting, or a combination of the two. However, when it comes to Ninja Gaiden, there are certain things you’d like to see intact, and others you would like to see expanded. New main character for the series? That makes sense, Ryu had a nice run, and it seems appropriate that a new ninja should take the lead. Cel-shading? Okay. Well not quite what I was expecting, but it does sets it apart visually from previous Ninja Gaiden games, which lately haven’t done much to enhance the visual style. Zombies and an annoying blabbermouth who spouts horrendous one-liners? No thank you. I have a copy of Deadpool already. His one-liners for the most part are actually funny though.
The newly released trailer for Ninja Gaiden Z, a collaboration project between Team Ninja and former Capcom producer Keiji Inafune, would be much more impressive if you turned off the volume, or replaced the sound with trailer music. As soon as the game’s antagonist Yaiba opened his mouth, I completely forgot I was watching a game that has ties to the Ninja Gaiden series. The inclusion of Ninja Gaiden in the title just feels like a last-minute slap on the product in order to bring fans of the series in alongside a new target audience that consists of, I don’t know, people who enjoy hearing lines like, “I’ve always known exactly where to stick my sword sugar tits.”
Let’s take a moment here and recap some positives. The combat will likely be smooth and graceful, pleasing newcomers and hardcore fans alike. The trailer showed off Yaiba slicing and dicing his opponents with ease – a lot like how Ryu did before him. As mentioned previously, the cel-shading is a refreshing change in visual style, and complements the bloody gameplay. I thought facing off against Ryu at the beginning and getting your keister handed to you was an excellent way to mark the start of a rebooted series. It establishes Ryu’s status as a master ninja, motivating you to improve and build upon your character in order to reach that same level of mastery in skill and wisdom.
Ninja Gaiden’s legacy stretches back to the days of the NES. Obvious changes have been made over the years to the gameplay and Ryu himself. However whenever a Ninja Gaiden game came out, it always felt familiar in many ways. Changes made within the game that either simplified mechanics or simply sucked in a fresh audience didn’t take away from the game’s overall legacy, and for the most part you always knew what you were getting into. A solid hack and slash adventure game with ninjas. With Ninja Gaiden Z, I really don’t know what awaits.
The problem is I already don’t care about Yaiba. At all. Especially if Yaiba is willing to cut someone off in mid-conversation to say, “Just give me something to kill.” I can see a brash, younger, less responsible character taking over the antagonist role in Ninja Gaiden Z, but these character traits don’t need to be shoved down our throats like it is here. They can be showcased in more subtler ways, like Yaiba jumping into a boss battle his guide Miss Monday strongly advices against, or an occasional smart quip here and there.
What I loved about Ryu is he always kept his cool, and when he spoke you listened. He often didn’t say anything substantial, but his calm demeanour always made me feel confident heading into battle. Yes that confidence was matched only by anger after dying a bunch of times, but it still pushed me to beat the level or boss because there was nothing more satisfying than completing stages in Ninja Gaiden.
Enemies were always threatening, and offered a great challenge on a consistent basis. Zombies have been done a lot in games recently, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t include them in a game ever again, but was Ninja Gaiden Z really the place for them? After fighting demons, werewolves, ghost fish, feline ninjas, dinosaurs, zombies feel like a bit of a step down. Demons and dinosaurs aren’t entirely original either, however that should have provided developers a greater incentive to create enemies that stray away from the generic sword magnets we’ve seen so far. Making zombies a little funny and calling them a “Special brand” of zombies isn ‘t very impressive.
Ninja Gaiden is a hack-and-slash game, plain and simple. I recognize that. The first Ninja Gaiden game on the original Xbox (I sure would like to be able to just call it the Xbox One) was one of the best games of 2004. It’s intense, violent action was combined with a relatively intriguing story, which wasn’t a masterpiece by all means, but did set up some tension and made us care a little bit about why Ryu was so pissed throughout the game. Having your village burned down will do that. The next two entries in the series – Ninja Gaiden 2 and 3 – took some steps backwards when it came to the story, but it was there, and the cooperation between Ryu and the police in Ninja Gaiden 3 was strange but at times pretty intriguing. With Ninja Gaiden Z, it seems like a large focus was put on making the main character different from Ryu in order to attract a new audience. However, it’s hard to warm up to a character that calls his guide “Sugar tits,” and fans of the series will have a hard time adjusting to the new concepts that have strayed away so far from the original source material that it’s become almost unrecognizable.
Since Metroid: Other M’s announcement, there’s only been one question worth asking: Will Team Ninja pull off creating a new, immersive Metroid title while still providing a nostalgic experience? Luckily, Nintendo has got the best from Team Ninja, and has gone back to its 2D roots after the singular 3D take of the Metroid Prime series. Other M is a hybrid of sorts; it builds an enveloping 3D world around an otherwise traditional game. It isn’t perfect, but it takes a step into a bold, new direction – however some changes are sure to irk Metroid purists. But missteps aside, Other M seeks to entertain in a somewhat different way – in fact, a somewhat less Metroid way
Other M is a 3D action game through and through. There are a few areas in which you’re locked into the familiar 2D plane, but you’ll use the d-pad to move around the game’s 3D environments. No nunchuk is required; you simply turn the controller sideways, leaving the 1 and 2 buttons for Shoot and Jump, respectively. Much of the game is spent switching between the traditional, third person perspective, and the first person perspective and pointer-based aiming system (obviously inspired by Prime). You can’t walk while in this position, but it does allow you to free-look by holding the B button and aim manually (or lock on), as well as fire missiles and super missiles (in fact, you can only fire missiles in this perspective, and only once a lock-on has been established). It’s a bit jarring rotating the controller, especially in tense boss battles, but despite the awkward controls it usually gets the job done without too much hassle.
What absolutely didn’t work in first person, though, was the occasional forced scanning sequence. When the game wants you to see something, it’ll drop you into first person and let you look around, only advancing when you’ve found and scanned the object it wants you to see. While this may seem easy enough, there are a few times when it can get mind-numbingly frustrating trying to figure out what the game wants from you in order to progress.
While previous Metroid games required you to explore nooks and crannies of the world map, that’s not entirely necessary in Other M. There are upgrade tanks (missile, energy, and e-recovery) as in past Metroid titles, but they are all marked on the map once a room is cleared of enemies. Figuring out how to get to them may be a bit tricky, but it’s not quite exploration.
In fact there’s very little exploration all together – unlike past titles, Other M is an incredibly linear adventure. When following the on-screen navigation there are only a few dead ends blocking your path, most of which just require you to find a hole to roll through or a cracked wall to blast. You don’t explore the ship as much as you just follow orders as to where to go next.
Speaking of following orders, Samus starts with all of her abilities from Super Metroid from the game’s start, except that you won’t be able to use them. Instead, they are “unlocked” when Commander Malkovich (who Samus is taking orders from now) “authorizes” them – an illogical nod to Nintendo’s one-off, Metroid Fusion. It’s hard to deny that the item scavenger hunting has long been a defining characteristic of the Metroid franchise and to see it simplified as such only serves to blur the lines further between Metroid and the archetypical action/adventure game.
Through the course of the game we learn about Samus’s life in the military and why she left, mostly through cut scenes. There’s more interaction in Other M than in any other entry in the series to date, and in fact, Samus is probably the most vocal character of all. She isn’t the self-confident badass that most of us pegged her to be. Instead, she comes across less steadfast, and more concerned with the opinions and judgments of her peers. In short, this Samus is far from meeting fan expectations. There’s no denying that these factors completely alter the feel of the experience, but it’s even more contrasted now because these are fully voice-acted cut scenes. The first couple of hours of the game are heavy and melodramatic to the point of silliness. Luckily, they grow less frequent and focus less on Samus’s past and more on the mysteries of the ship, at which point the story begins to meander back into it’s trademark, adventure territory.
Metroid is a hallmark series that spawned some of the greatest games of all time – so when a game falls just short of those standards, it doesn’t make it bad by any means. In fact, Other M is indeed a great game; the real question is this: If a well-renowned series is revitalized in a new and different way, does negative reception come from the game’s presentation and performance or the act of change?
As is often the case, the answer is contingent upon your personal opinion of what matters most. If you’re a die-hard Metroid fan looking for some action in Samus’ universe, you might resent the homogenized reinvention. At the same time, many fans will be able to look past Other M’s many issues to find a pleasurable adventure. Bearing the Metroid name means being judged on a higher level; and in the company of unforgettables, Other M’s presence seems comparably fleeting. -ES