I’ve gotten a few Metroid-related questions lately, and the latest one is a pretty simple question, courtesy of Matt B.:
Hey Mato, I remember you saying you were interesting in doing more Metroid related stuff. Would it be possible for you to look into how well or poorly received Metroid: Other M was in Japan?
Here in the States it seems almost universally reviled by series fans, some of them citing Samus’ encounter with Ridley in the last quarter of the game as pretty much the worst thing in game history. Did Japanese fans have similar complaints?
A quick note: I’ve never played Metroid: Other M – in fact, I’ve only played up to a portion of Prime 2 and nothing after that, so I’m a little out of the loop with the more recent games. So I can’t really offer much thought or commentary on things, but here’s what a quick online search turns up.
First, Weekly Famitsu gave it a 35 out of 40 and placed it in the “Platinum Ranking”… I forget what that means, but it’s clear it was at least well-received. I don’t have a copy of that issue to check the reviewers’ comments, but that’s basically an 88/100 rating when put into a more Western-style review score.
Next, checking good the ol’ mk2 review sites, it looks like Metroid: Other M has a score of 55 and a rank of D, based on 25 different reviews. By comparison, Metroid Prime 3 scored much higher and has a rank of A. Even the Wii ports of Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2 did considerably better than Other M:
Here are just a few of the pros and cons that reviewers list:
- Good graphics and attention to detail
- Stylish, interesting battle mechanics
- It was neat learning more about Samus’ character
- It was cool seeing some old bosses return
- Easy-to-learn controls
- Quick load times
- Neat bonus stuff after you finish the game
- Overall it felt more like a bunch of cut scenes than a game
- Not as atmospheric as most Metroid games are
- It felt very linear and lacked the series’ sense of exploration. Very small areas. The fun of sequence breaking is gone.
- You can’t go around and collect items until almost the end of the game
- The weapon authorization system was meant to make things more realistic but just came off as annoying
- Other Metroid staples were removed, like freezing enemies to use them as steps, or enemies leaving behind items.
- Unmemorable music
- Samus’ voice acting didn’t fit very well
- Samus had always seemed physically and mentally strong, but this game kills that. She comes off as too childish and naive.
- The character direction and writing felt very childish
- The game felt too basic and simple. It felt like there wasn’t much game to it at all.
- Sluggish controls
- Complaints about the “search view”, which I don’t understand since I’ve never played the game
I could go on and on but I think that gets the point across. A lot of reviewers say they’re very disappointed as die-hard Metroid fans. One even commented that Retro Studios – a foreign company – managed to do Metroid better than a Japanese developer.
Anyway, checking on Amazon Japan, it looks like the game has a decent user rating. I’ve never put much stock in Amazon ratings for anything, so I don’t know if the 3.8 out of 5 it has is good or bad.
Reviewers seem to say many of the same things as the mk2 reviews – too many movie scenes, too restricting, good graphics, Samus talks too much, etc.
So overall it looks like Metroid: Other M did well with the gaming press but for actual fans and players it was lackluster. It doesn’t seem to spark quite the same intense, mouth-foaming hatred that it has in the West though.
Or, actually, maybe I should check 2channel first – they’re usually a happy bunch! Here are some random comments about the game:
It’s a movie game. And the people keep talking and talking and talking, which doesn’t quite fit a Metroid game.
Sakamoto went crazy.
I feel that no one ever asked for or wanted a human drama from a Metroid game.
I didn’t think it was a bad game. But it definitely gave Samus a way different image than any of the others. Until now she always came across as a silent, cool-headed, lone soldier, like Master Chief. But in Other M it feels like she’s portrayed as “regular woman Samus”.
I sensed something FF13 about it
Why won’t they ever make a NORMAL 2D Metroid?
To borrow a recent phrase from Nintendo, it was a bunch of unrelatable monologue. It comes out of nowhere, never ends, and the monologue itself doesn’t really have much to do with the player’s experience, which makes it feel like, “Well, that’s not MY problem.” As a result, it all just feels like more of a chore than anything.
This is a good example of a creator raping its own work.
It’s the only Metroid I’ve 100% cleared. I had fun.
Again, I could probably write hundreds more examples, those are just a few random ones. Overall, it feels like 2ch users place Metroid: Other M between “passable” and “crap”.
I think the most interesting thing is that whenever the topic of Other M comes up on English-speaking sites or message boards, complaints often focus on Samus’ character, especially things like her submissiveness to Adam and her turning into some blubbering weakling at the sight of Ridley, who she’s fought countless times before. That and that the game somehow breaks the series’ timeline unless you discount the entire Prime series altogether? I’ll just have to take everyone’s word that these things happen in the game.
Anyway, I didn’t notice any of these common Western complaints on the Japanese sites I checked. It’s very possible some Japanese fans HAVE brought up these complaints, but I didn’t see a single one during my quick checks on multiple sites at least. I dunno, maybe it’s just a cultural difference, or maybe Western gamers expect more or different things from Metroid games.
You know, maybe I should check out the game some time just to see what the fuss is all about. I’m not sure I want to spend money on a bad game, so maybe I’ll check out a Let’s Play of it sometime. If you have any suggestions, let me know!
Everything said, hopefully this answers the question and sheds some light on what Japanese gamers think about Other M!