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Metroid Prime Remastered review - an arm cannon blast from the past

Samus' first 3D adventure returns for the modern day, with a few new bells and whistles. Find out about this remaster of an action-classic in our full review

Metroid Prime Remastered review: a screenshot from Metroid Prime Remastered shows Samus standing triumphantly

Our Verdict

Metroid Prime is one of the best games in action history, and now it gets an upgraded release that sets a new high-water mark for remasters across the industry. Gorgeous visuals, fantastic control options, and stunning sound design, all make this the best way to play Samus’ stellar sci-fi epic

Like many gamers, I have a shortlist of games that (subjectively) are perfect for me – The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, Bloodborne, Breath of the Wild. It’s not a long list, but there are a handful of titles that execute everything they set out to do, and they do it exceptionally.

Metroid Prime is one of those games. Whenever I think of the eccentric tumble of notes from the soundtrack of the GameCube starting screen, I think of Metroid Prime. Well, that and Smash Bros Melee, to be fair. A true sci-fi epic, upon booting up the game, the opening portamento trills and synth stabs send shivers up my spine to this day.

The first of Samus Arun’s 3D adventures, Metroid Prime does everything it sets out to do and does it all exceptionally. Mixing first-person shooting mechanics with action-adventure platforming, Metroid Prime is a pioneer. In the 21 years since its release, many titles continue to try and recapture its magic, but this remaster proves that it’s still the king.

Metroid Prime Remastered is a loving re-release of a classic, with better visuals, smooth controls, and some smart QOL adjustments. Retro Studios has clearly spent a lot of time polishing and finessing its own darling, and it pays off in every single frame. I mean, who better to deliver a remaster of such a classic, than the studio responsible for it to begin with?

Metroid Prime Remastered review: a screenshot from Metroid Prime Remastered shows Samus looking at a map

If this is your first time on Tallon IV, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. Metroid Prime successfully translates the Metroidvania elements of Samus’ 2D escapades, but (obviously) in 3D. Blasting enemies, building up an arsenal of weapons, and backtracking are the name of the game. It really does feel like 3D Super Metroid, but that first-person view puts you in the driver’s seat.

After Samus Aran receives a distress call from an abandoned space frigate, she explores the vessel to find a few monstrous stowaways, as well as her nemesis Ridley. When the giant-robot-pterodactyl-space-pirate tries to flee, Samus pursues it to the local planet of Tallon IV but breaks up on entry and loses her powers. Now, she must explore this world to unearth the space pirate’s plot, learn what Ridley wants with the Metroids, and regain her powers along the way.

Metroid Prime Remastered review: a screenshot from Metroid Prime Remastered shows the space pirate Ridley flying high above

In Prime, you spend most of your time shooting enemies. Still, the game also has a healthy amount of platforming, scanning enemies and artefacts to uncover clues, epic boss fights, and Samus solving environmental puzzles with your mixture of weapons, visors, and the infamous morph ball. There’s a lot here, but Prime perfectly eeks out different gameplay elements over an action-packed 12-15 hour run time.

Initially, Metroid Prime isolates Samus. She’s completely alone, and taking those first steps onto this hostile planet is a mixture of trepidation and discovery. But Prime pushes this even further than 2D entries in the series, as the first-person view helps you to feel like you’re genuinely lost in a new world.

Metroid Prime Remastered review: a screenshot from Metroid Prime Remastered shows surveying a large open area filled with orange foliage

What that extra dimension really adds though, is a sense of curiosity and exploration. Aiming Samus’ arm cannon to look around the dense foliage of the Tallon Overworld, raindrops falling down her arm, the first steps on an alien world feel better than ever. Of course, the idea of mixing platforming, shooting, and even ball-rolling elements into a game is a daunting one.

Do you worry about shooting enemies in a 3D space? Lock on to your foe, and strafe around them to avoid getting hit. What about platforming? Metroid Prime has a satisfyingly floaty jump, and you can even adjust your direction and momentum in the air. Samus’ transition to the third dimension is seamless, and the essence of Metroid is still here.

Metroid Prime Remastered review: a screenshot from Metroid Prime Remastered shows Samus' gunship stationed in the jungles of Talon Overworld

Plus, Prime wants you to look around. Intriguing doors in every area, enemies with thoughtful placement, and carefully plotted cliffs and ledges all catch the eye. The title also slowly rolls out powers like missiles, the morph ball, and many more, rewarding your curiosity. There isn’t a crack in a wall or a hole in a tunnel that doesn’t lead to something amazing.

You need all those extra missiles as well because the planet of Tallon IV is a hostile one. Each area is home to more deadly creatures than Australia. Every room has some sort of beast, flying pest, carnivorous plant, or countless other hostile alien creatures. Half the fun is just blasting away, but so many adversaries demand some thought.

Metroid Prime Remastered review: a screenshot from Metroid Prime Remastered shows Samus pointing her arm cannon at a large enemy

You must use everything in your arsenal to get through this world, and figuring out how to defeat a new foe is always satisfying. While some telegraph weak points with bright red glowing appendages, some demand you scan them for Samus to then use a certain visor or weapon to kill them. You won’t get far just blasting your way through Tallon IV, and that’s what makes it feel so good.

The slow escalation in the hostility of the planet, the enemies, and even the daunting bosses is incredible. The bosses of Metroid Prime are fantastic, room-filling monsters. Each one demands precise shooting and some puzzle-solving. Meanwhile, most drop a new power or ability, giving you another reason to head back out into the world and explore. With each new skill, another corner of the map is yours to discover.

Metroid Prime Remastered review: a screenshot from Metroid Prime Remastered shows Samus pointing her arm cannon at a space pirate

From start to finish, I think Metroid Prime is a perfect game. Epic moments like the fight with the giant stone creature Thardus stick in my memory, and the music and visuals of areas like Phendrana Drifts are utterly sublime. Small details like the satisfying ‘pew’ of lasers or the metal thud of Samus’ boots through corridors all add up, and Retro Studios presents every single inch of this game with love and skill.

So, how does Metroid Prime Remastered hold up? Frankly, this is possibly a new high-water mark for remasters, and somehow does justice to the original in every single way. I’m no stranger to the world of Tallon IV, visiting it countless times over the years, and yet on Switch, it feels like the first time all over again.

Metroid Prime Remastered review: a screenshot from Metroid Prime Remastered shows Samus shooting a Metroid

Metroid Prime Remastered works on the bones of the Wii port, using some of the same code. So what’s here is, crudely, a very fancy facelift. But Metroid Prime Remastered runs at a solid 60 fps in 900p docked, 60 fps in 612p in handheld, and it looks stunning while doing it. I have to say that this remaster is a contender for the best-looking game on Switch.

Samus’ suit gleams with a beautiful metallic texture, and that arm cannon you see in most of the game looks incredible as it powers up and unleashes laser blasts. Enemies and bosses appear more grotesque than ever, dripping in fluids and their scales or bones protruding out like never before. But the world of Tallon IV is the star of the show, with each area featuring breathtaking detail, texture, and atmosphere.

Metroid Prime Remastered review: a screenshot from Metroid Prime Remastered shows a long hallway leading to a statue of a chozo

The soundtrack of Metroid Prime is a classic, and the sound design, in general, is great on Switch. I’m sure the boost from modern televisions makes a difference, but the sounds of alien creatures grunting, waterfalls and lakes running through open areas, and the powerful propulsion of Samus’ gunship all deepen the experience tenfold.

Finally, the game also features new control options. Players can choose to use a dual analogue scheme, which emulates a lot of modern shooters, or use a single stick method similar to the GameCube’s original. Plus, there are extensive motion control options, which allow players to change the sensitivity, whether to stay locked directly onto the target when locking on, and much more. I can’t imagine anyone not finding a comfortable and satisfying way to play.

Metroid Prime Remastered review: a screenshot from Metroid Prime Remastered shows a black and white view of a Space Pirate

In short, Metroid Prime has never looked, sounded, or played better. Being able to play it handheld, with incredible motion controls, is an absolute blast. Retro Studios don’t compromise anywhere, and everything that makes the original so great is here, painstakingly and lovingly fine-tuned for a new generation. Plus, the £34.99/$39.99 price tag makes it easy for newcomers to jump into the series.

My single gripe has very little to do with the game. The credits for Metroid Prime Remastered not only omit some staff who worked on this re-release but also omit members of the original development staff, instead reducing credit to a single screen saying, “Based on the work of Metroid Prime (Original Nintendo Gamecube and Wii Versions) development staff.”

This game couldn’t exist without those original staff, and neither could this remaster exist without the many teams responsible for it. Nintendo does right with some remasters, as Ocarina of Time 3D features the entire original credits for the N64 release, and then the entire staff list for the remaster. It’s a baffling choice and disappointing to see when the entire package is such a love letter to a classic. I hope it gets changed in future updates, but it shouldn’t get in the way of your fun.

Metroid Prime Remastered review: a screenshot from Metroid Prime Remastered shows Samus standing triumphantly

Metroid Prime Remastered is a masterpiece. A remaster that executes everything it sets out to do, and it does it exceptionally. The ability to play such a beloved game on Switch might have been enough for some, but this release puts fresh life into the title with a mesmerising graphical facelift that shows off just what the Switch hardware can do.

The title itself is a thrilling mixture of satisfying first-person shooting, puzzle-solving, and action-adventure gameplay that all encourages exploration. Each new area brings with it a plethora of fun new items, abilities, and enemies to kill. The 12-15 hours of gameplay you get here are some of the tightest, most exhilarating, and simply beautiful experiences in gaming. This re-release is a jaw-dropping remaster of a stone-cold classic, and immediately one of the best games on Nintendo Switch.

For even more bounty-hunting action, check out our Metroid Dread review next, and then head over to our guide covering the best Switch Metroidvanias.