I’m Begging You To Play Metroid Prime Remastered With Motion Control
I’m only a few hours into Metroid Prime Remastered, but I can confidently say it's one of the best remasters out there. Retro Studios was able to maintain the tone and atmosphere of the original while elevating almost every single technical and visual aspect of the game. The new lighting, character models, HUD effects, and animations work together to bring Samus and Tallon IV to life in a way I never could have dreamed of. I haven’t been this impressed by a remaster since the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, and now have more confidence than ever that Metroid Prime 4 is in good hands.
Metroid Prime Remastered is the definitive version of the game, but before it launched – in the (many) years where its existence was Nintendo’s worst kept secret – I didn’t think it would be. After the half-baked Skyward Sword port botched the motion controls, I was worried Metroid Prime would suffer the same fate. I was delighted to find that Retro Studios not only translated the Wii’s motion controls to the Switch version, but they feel damn amazing to boot.
New fans will think I’m joking, but those who grew up on Prime know that nothing beats the Wiimote. Before I get into the options available in Remastered, here’s a quick history lesson (which I got much deeper into last year). Metroid Prime first came out on the GameCube and had a single-stick control scheme that has not aged well. You rotate when you turn the stick left and right and you have to hold down on the left trigger to strafe. You also had to stand still when you aim, which wasn’t a huge deal because of the game’s auto-lock feature, but anytime you did ,up and down were inverted. This is a control scheme only for purists, and it's no wonder modern games don’t use it.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on the Wii changed everything. The Wiimote and Nunchuk combo allowed for a brand new control scheme that remains one of the coolest and most immersive ways to play in first-person to this day. Instead of locking the target reticle in the center of your screen and forcing you to move your entire body to aim, Metroid Prime 3 allowed you to use the Wiimote as a motion controller and physically aim Samus’ arm cannon. This allowed you to aim anywhere on your screen with the accuracy of a mouse on PC, mirroring your movements to Samus’. When the trilogy collection came to the Wii, the first two games were updated to use said motion controls. This was, and still is, the best way to play Metroid Prime.
Metroid Prime Remastered has four control options, and for the vast majority of players, the new Dual Stick method will work perfectly. It uses a modern layout that anyone who has played a console shooter in the last decade will already be familiar with, and it maintains the auto-lock feature, so even if controller aiming isn’t your forte, you won’t have any problem with Prime’s combat. I have nothing bad to say about this approach, and applaud Retro for managing to modernize the game like this.
I also have no problem with Classic, which replicates the GameCube control scheme. It’s even better if you have a GameCube controller that connects to your Switch, because then you can have a fully authentic experience. It’s an antiquated control scheme that I wouldn’t use myself, but I’m glad it’s included nonetheless.
However, if you want the best Metroid Prime experience possible, I urge you to play in Pointer mode. This control scheme matches the Wii layout and almost perfectly approximates the experience of playing with a Wiimote and Nunchuck. Even though the Joy-Cons use a gyro sensor instead of true motion detection like the Wiimote, you can still get one-to-one motion when you move the Joy-Con around to aim. It will take a minute to get used to, as it's quite different from the shooter controls we’ve been using for decades. The biggest hurdle is learning how to aim the gun at the edge of the screen to rotate the camera. But if you can get past that, you’ll find that this is the control scheme that suits Metroid Prime the best. The crucial thing is that you play with your Joy-Con detached from your Switch, and that you calibrate them correctly. If you do that, you shouldn’t have any out-of-sync issues like Skyward Sword has. I’m incredibly impressed by the implementation here, and didn’t think it would be possible.
I don’t like to think of Metroid Prime as a first-person shooter, despite the fact that it is in first person, and you do shoot things. I think first-person action-adventure platformer is more accurate because it describes what it’s actually like to play it. Metroid Prime is all about exploration, discovery, and the constant dopamine hit of new upgrades, just like its 2D predecessors. The gunplay is pretty secondary, emphasized by the fact that you have an auto-lock on the arm cannon that perfectly tracks targets for you. The motion controls help put you into the space and align your experience with Samus’. VR players know how powerful that physical connection can be, and you can achieve a similar effect with motion controls here.
If I have any complaints, and I do, it’s the Hybrid option. This combines the Classic control scheme with motion controls that can be toggled by holding the right trigger. Combining Classic with Pointer instead of Dual Stick with Pointer feels like a huge missed opportunity to gently introduce players to the benefits of motion controls. Instead, you have the two hardest control schemes smashed together, and I doubt anyone but true masochists will opt for this one.
I also wish that you could still shoot with the right trigger in Pointer mode. You have to tap B to fire and hold the right trigger to lock the camera, which feels a bit counter-intuitive. It’s an easy problem to overlook though, because I’m just grateful that motion controls were included and that they work this well. It’s not as easy and most people won’t bother trying it, but if you’re going to indulge in a classic, you might as well play it the best way.
What Retro has done here is no small feat. Remasters are often dismissed as low-effort paint jobs on old games, but Metroid Prime Remastered elevates every aspect of the original, without losing any of the features that made it unique. Retro didn’t need to include all the different control schemes, but doing so shows a tremendous respect for the history of the series, and an appreciation to the people that have loved it all along.
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