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Metroid Fusion

Developer / Publisher: Nintendo
17 November 2002
Metroid Fusion - cover art
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3.93 / 5.0
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918 Ratings / 8 Reviews
#271 All-time
#12 for 2002
Samus Aran is attacked by parasitic organisms called the X. The X would clone Samus and use the clone to attack the real Samus and other biological organisms. While trying to stop the clone, dubbed SA-X, Samus fights for her life while discovering many things about planet SR388, the X, and the clones.
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2002 Nintendo  
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XNA 0 45496 73184 7 AGB-AMTE-USA
2002 Nintendo  
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It’s difficult to say whether or not Metroid Fusion was Nintendo’s “plan B” if Metroid Prime had failed. Both games were released on the same day in November of 2002, but Metroid Prime obviously took higher precedence over Fusion due to its status as the franchises monumental leap into the third dimension after being absent for an entire generation. Under the general excitement for Metroid Prime, however, there was a malaise that stemmed from a rookie developer at the helm of the ambitious project. Also, a whole generation of 3D adaptations gave us the precognitive ability to anticipate a series transition to 3D being less-than adequate after so many rough ones. Metroid Fusion could’ve been a fail safe to still maintain the reinvigorated Metroid hype if Metroid Prime affirmed the cynical notions of a choice selection of people. After all, it’s safer to build upon foundations that have already been established as opposed to starting from the ground floor. As it turned out, Retro Studios fired on all cylinders and crafted not only a spectacular 3D Metroid game, but arguably the finest game that Nintendo produced for the Gamecube. Metroid Fusion then became a handheld supplement for unfortunate occurrences on the road when Metroid Prime could not be played. I jest, of course, but Metroid Prime’s accolades eclipsed the impact that Metroid Fusion could’ve had. Metroid Fusion now had to prove that 2D Metroid could still coexist with its 3D twin that had surpassed it.

Metroid Fusion was still important to the franchise's evolution because it still had been eight long years since we had seen Samus, except for her role as a playable character in the first two Super Smash Bros. games. The franchise wasn’t in dire need of being revamped as Super Metroid practically perfected the rudimentary formula the NES Metroid laid out and was arguably the greatest game on the SNES. Still, eight years of gaming progress since Super Metroid’s release could’ve produced a new Metroid game whose advanced hindsight would expose all of the Super Metroid’s cracks that were not clear to gamers of the SNES era. Either that, or it could cultivate an experimental title that takes the Metroid series into a new, radical direction. Metroid Fusion proved to be somewhat of the latter, a sequel that deviated slightly in gameplay, atmosphere, and its design philosophy while maintaining the core essence of the previously listed elements. Even though Metroid Prime had changed the course for Metroid for the foreseeable future, Metroid Fusion proved that 2D Metroid still had something new and interesting to offer.

Except for Metroid II on the original Game Boy, the sequential narrative of each subsequent Metroid game has only been implied. Because Metroid Fusion was released on the same day as another Metroid game, the developers had to explicitly state that Metroid Fusion was another entry in the line of Samus’s story with the subtitle “Metroid 4” appearing in the title screen. This distinction between the 2D Metroid titles and Prime became even clearer once Prime became its own separate entity with two sequels, solidifying Metroid Fusion even deeper in the series canon with the previous titles. Metroid Fusion continues from the resolution of Super Metroid in a galaxy where Metroids are no longer a vital concern. As relieving and anticlimactic as this sounds, one must remember that space is infinite, so there could be an innumerable amount of intergalactic threats. Fusion’s face-hugger is the X, an amorphous, multi-colored parasite that feeds off of the DNA structure of its victim. Because their predators, the Metroids, have been eradicated, the X now run rampant due to the upset in their ecosystem. Samus almost succumbs to the draining force of the X, but is saved via an inoculation containing a Metroid’s genetic material. She is sent to investigate the origin of an explosion in the abandoned BSL station where the X’s influence is a scourge on the facility. Metroid Fusion’s premise is somewhat ironic, but it still evokes chills nonetheless.

Any title on a handheld Nintendo console from a series usually seen on a home system was a case of relegation. The impetus for taking gaming on the go stemmed from convenience, unfortunately sacrificing the quality one would get on a home console. Super Mario Land and the Oracle games may emulate the experience effectively, but anyone who claims they are up to par with their mainline counterparts is kidding themselves. Metroid, on the other hand, seems to have a history of putting every other mainline title on a handheld console, or at least that’s the pattern I can discern. Sure, the GBA wasn’t comparable to the capabilities of the Gamecube just as the original Game Boy couldn’t hold a candle to the NES/SNES. However, the GBA served as a turning point where its graphical prowess could compete with at least some of the home consoles, notably Nintendo’s pixelated consoles of the past. This is especially promising considering the last Metroid game was on the SNES, and a handheld Metroid could visually compete with the iconic Metroid we were familiar with without a jarring technical regression. Metroid Fusion’s pixelated graphics are as exceptional as we remembered them in Super Metroid, but there is a peculiar tone to them not seen in the previous game. The most appropriate way to describe Metroid Fusion’s graphics is…fleshy? They are bright, artful, and lurid, yet somewhat sickly and unnatural. It’s a distinct art style reminiscent of the classic anime film Akira and the album cover of Aesop Rock’s Bazooka Tooth, but I couldn’t tell you if the style had a name. All the same, it’s what slightly elevated Metroid Fusion in the visual department over Super Metroid. Eight years was all it took for a handheld game to surpass its console predecessor, a sign of gaming’s rapid growth.

Metroid Fusion does very little to deviate from Super Metroid’s gameplay, but then Super Metroid’s gameplay isn’t too dissimilar from the first Metroid. As early as the first title, Metroid crafted something unique in the 2D platformer genre and decided to persist with it for every subsequent game, even for the 3D Prime entries. Samus still acquires gadgets that help her traverse through an alien environment while blasting through a bestiary’s worth of extraterrestrial creepy crawlies using an eclectic arsenal of weapons. As stated before, Super Metroid’s gameplay formula would have withstood the test of time, yet Metroid Fusion still tweaks it slightly. For one, the X are a new type of enemy with a prevalent presence, surprisingly more so than the Metroid’s ever were in the previous games. Instead of being conveniently inserted near the end of the narrative, the X are a constant force to reckon with in every corner of the laboratory. However, Samus never fights the X directly. Strangely enough, they serve as Fusion’s source of health and replenishing ammo. Once an enemy is vanquished, the X essence floats around until Samus either latches onto it or it darts off to resurrect enemies. Reanimating enemies is always an irritating factor of the X, and it’s the only instance in a video game (that I can recall) where units of health can cause harm to the player. As vexing as the X could be, I appreciate the system the developers have established using them. Three different colors of X can spawn from defeated enemies, with yellow restoring health, green restoring ammunition, and the rare red X restoring an abundant amount of both. The number of restoration is significantly reduced from the bevy of ammunition types littered around Super Metroid, and this coincides with Fusion’s proclivity to streamline all of Samus’s abilities and power ups. Returning Metroid players might be disappointed with the lack of options Fusion presents, but I’ll gladly take it over scrolling frantically through Samus’s lengthy inventory in a pinch.

In some aspects, Metroid Fusion’s goal seems to veer towards making a more accessible Metroid experience. Stacking upgrades is one thing, but the most contentious method of accessibility the developers implemented is what they did with the game’s world design. Unlike the open-ended realm of Zebes with its interconnected districts, the BSL station takes an approach unseen in the series. Branching off of the entry point where Samus’s ship is docked are six sectors located south of the hub. Each sector varies in terrain and carries a unique set of challenges. The sectors do not overlap between them and Samus returns back to the hub via the same elevator she rode down on without any alternate paths available. While I understand the vocal criticisms that claim this butchers Metroid’s design philosophy, I have to disagree. Each sector’s sanctioned sandbox design still emulates how the districts of Zebes were formatted, even if all of them are enclosed. Players will still find the same amount of breakable walls, deep chasms, and tight crevices for maneuvering through with the morphball. Not connecting the sectors of the laboratory almost exposes the illusion of seamless world design, something to consider when evaluating Super Metroid and Metroidvanias of the same ilk.

However, what I don’t like in relation to Metroid Fusion’s design choices is how progression through these areas is executed. If the opening cutscene is any indication, Metroid Fusion is brimming with exposition. Super Metroid expressed the events surrounding the game with masterful subtlety, using only two lines of spoken dialogue to set the harrowing scene and letting the gameplay and atmosphere take it from there. Zero lines of spoken dialogue are uttered through the compressed sound chip of the GBA, but there is enough text between the few characters in this game (including Samus) to fill the pages of a Hollywood script. I’m not sure if this is due to an accessibility initiative or a sign of video games becoming more dialogue-intensive since Super Metroid’s release, but Fusion’s constant need to keep the player informed on what is occurring is the antithesis of what made Super Metroid’s story impressive. Exposition infiltrates Fusion’s progression every step of the way as Samus is given a clear objective from the navigation rooms seen in each sector. Samus is then briefed by a federation official who not only explicitly marks the location of the objective on the map, but also asks her if she’d like her directions repeated to her a second time. How could a series that practically pioneered letting the player loose in a hostile void with unclear parameters become so patronizingly linear? As a result of dotting the trajectory for Samus, the player feels less inclined to deviate from the beaten path to find upgrades. Of course, Metroid veterans know better and will meticulously power bomb every room in a thurough search of the facility, but newcomers to the series will suffer from not knowing any better.

I realize that perhaps Fusion’s pension for hand holding might be to uphold the game’s intended atmosphere. Metroid Fusion still exudes the feeling of claustrophobia, yet it stems from an entirely directional ethos. By diluting Samus’s autonomy, it creates a sensation of unease as if she is always being watched. Samus is no longer at the mercy of the magnificent scope of outer space, but a lab rat in an experiment conducted by uncaring hosts. As much as the narrative wears out its welcome, the growing mystery behind the circumstances of the explosion and the federation’s true intentions. The player’s suspicions are affirmed when Samus rejects the federations directions and uncovers a section of Metroids that the federation were planning on releasing back into the ecosystem. Upon discovering this, the federation plans for Samus to abort the mission as they send in federation troops to finish the job, without even considering that they would all perish at the hands of the X. Metroid Fusion manages to be the most unsettling the series has ever been. While Metroid has always felt tense, Metroid Fusion feels sufficiently creepy.

Despite Metroid Fusion’s direction, by some miracle, it still manages to be more difficult than Super Metroid. Reaching the objectives isn’t any more obtuse than in previous games, although one particular section involving several bloated spike enemies and the space jump ability wore on my patience. The main reason for Fusion’s amplified difficulty is the bosses. They are the reason why excavating the laboratory for upgrades is essential to success, and even to the point where the player has to grind for them to stand a chance against the bosses. Serris X swims around the arena at breakneck speeds, the security bots only leave themselves vulnerable for a second, and I’m pretty certain that the munching jaws of the plants in the Plant Core boss room are inescapable. Ultimately, it’s the damage output of each boss that makes them so imposing, making the margin of error when fighting these bosses razor thin. The gigantic size of bosses like the arachnid Gedo and the garishly grotesque Nightmare almost forces the player to tank an inordinate amount of damage as they ricochet off the walls like a bouncing DVD logo. The game’s obligatory Ridley encounter is possibly the hardest across any Metroid game for this reason. The bosses don’t compensate for any of the more facile aspects of the game, yet the fact that these bosses are in a game intended to be easier is a pleasant surprise.

The apex of these formidable foes and the crux of Fusion’s narrative is the SA-X, the uncanny clone of Samus conjured up by the genetic power of the X. You know how unstoppable Samus feels near the end of each Metroid game after all of her power has been recovered? That’s the potency of the SA-X, and it doesn’t have good intentions with Samus’s full potential. A sequence that introduces the SA-X where the parasite causes devastation to a door only for the game to zoom in on its vacuous, inhuman eyes is the best display of “show, don’t tell” the game offers. I got the impression from this scene that the SA-X would act as a persistent hunter like Nemesis or Pyramid Head, but the malevolent force only rears its unfeeling head on occasions, usually when Samus is out of sight. However, the fact that it could be lurking anywhere on the station aids the discomfort of always being watched by an omnipotent force. One exception is when the game forces the player to interact with the SA-X in close quarters, displaying how quickly it can eviscerate Samus and cause the player to wet themselves in fear. Another impression is that the SA-X must be stopped and with the power imbalance on display, it’s the clearest overarching objective that coincides with Samus’s unspoken goal of getting stronger. Fighting SA-X at the end is a cathartic duel after scurrying away from it in sheer terror for so long. For unclear reasons, the SA-X helps Samus defeat an evolved Metroid monster that keeps Samus from exiting the facility once that typical self-destruct countdown engages. Did the SA-X submit to Samus’s will after she showed it humility by defeating it, or was it something cheap in an attempt to give Fusion one last edge over Super Metroid? Considering the bosses, it’s most likely the latter.

Metroid fans could’ve simply played Metroid Prime to satisfy their deferred cravings and while it’s exciting to explore uncharted realms and possibilities, it's also imperative to get reacquainted with old ground. In saying that, the pixel art and 2D perspective was all that Metroid Fusion had in common with its iconic predecessor. While its ambition to deviate from aspects seen in Super Metroid are valiant, it creates a whole slew of perfunctory elements that still give Super Metroid the overall advantage. While Super Metroid is clearly the better game, this fact does not render Metroid Fusion insignificant or unworthy of holding Super Metroid’s mantle. For all of Metroid Fusion’s flaws, I still appreciate the finished project for its willingness to expand and innovate: the mark of a true sequel.
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Erockthestrange 2017-07-21T20:22:22Z
2017-07-21T20:22:22Z
7.5
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Bounty hunter Samus Aran explores planet SR388 where she is attacked by an X-parasite. The Galactic Federation cure her with a vaccine from Metroid cells which gives her the ability to absorb the X-parasites but weak to cold.

Samus learns that the X parasites can replicate their hosts' physical appearances and now there’s a Samus clone in the area (known as SA-X). This version of Samus is fully upgraded with Ice beam so must be avoided when encountered.

Samus explores the facility, guided by a computer AI that she names Adam (after her former commanding officer). The story is told via text and some still-image cut-scenes.

Compared to the likes of Super Metroid, the navigation is much more linear. The world is split up into distinct areas which is traditional for the series but they are all accessed via a central hub, with elevators taking you to each one. You always enter and exit at the same place, so the navigation is mainly fairly circular. The entrance has 3 rooms in succession; Save Room, Navigation Room, Recharge Room. I’ve no idea why they decided to do this - why can’t it just be one room? The navigation room is where you interact with Adam, and will often tell you the exact room you need to reach next. You can see the majority of rooms on the map, but there are some hidden areas too.

The combat is quite difficult since Samus’ health drains fast. The X-parasites that are left behind don’t recover much health (some recover missiles). The X-parasites flee shortly after appearing and can respawn creatures or re-appear as stronger ones; so you need to collect them quickly. Save rooms don’t heal you either which can make some sections very frustrating when you are stuck on low health.

There’s quite a few challenging bosses throughout the game, although the final boss is rather dull. When you defeat the bosses, then you have to defeat the X-Parasite that is released. Defeating this restores a new power which allows you to access new areas.

Super Metroid is a brilliant game but some sections could be frustrating when you were expected to uncover a hidden area. This was an aspect that was detrimental to the original game too. You would think they would eradicate this aspect; but this game is full of it. I don’t mind sections where certain tiles are damaged, giving you a good indication of a path. I don’t mind when you can see a room on the map and then have to look for a hidden entrance. However, there’s far too many occurrences where there are no clues but dropping a random power bomb will uncover these. After you acquire the power bomb, I just dropped them in every room to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. It slows the pace of the game down, and makes it feel tedious rather than being based on skill, or any observations.

There’s a few other odd aspects with the game design. There’s a couple of boss fights that only trigger when you approach clearly locked doors. There’s a few manoeuvres that aren’t explained and I learned by watching videos on Youtube.

It’s a watered-down Metroid experience compared to Super Metroid, and parts of it seemed a bit bland. There’s a bit more emphasis on the story, but the ending is a bit mediocre.
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CaptainClam 2017-09-29T22:47:28Z
2017-09-29T22:47:28Z
3.0
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A linearidade de Fusion não é, por si só, um problema, mas passa a ser quando o jogo eleva a dificuldade e, ao mesmo tempo, impede o jogador de explorar livremente os cenários atrás dos power-ups.

Fora isso, o ritmo é delicioso e a curta duração o favorece como uma experiência concisa e mais cheia de adrenalina do que a média da série.
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gabrielctps 2022-02-23T21:18:52Z
2022-02-23T21:18:52Z
4.0
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Metroid Fusion does little to clear up my puzzlement about people's adoration of 2D Metroid games. It is decent enough for the first few hours, though not particularly remarkable if you've ever played another Metroid game. But as the difficulty sharply ramps up, the game increasingly becomes a struggle against its clumsy, hand cramp inducing controls. Finishing it was a struggle - I really wasn't enjoying it after a while, and my hands hurt.

The game world and how you traverse it continues to be a 2D Metroid weak spot. The designers were wise enough to realize wandering aimlessly through anonymous labyrinthine corridors trying to figure out where you need to go like in earlier Metroid games isn't actually fun, so they usually point you to your destination, and it moves reasonably quickly. But I don't understand the design rationale for so many paths through the world going through hidden destructible blocks that regenerate after a few seconds. Having to randomly drop mines all over the place to figure out these arbitrarily hidden passages is neither fun, nor a puzzle, nor interesting game design, it's just a mindless impediment that stops the game's flow dead every time you have to roll into a ball to lay some mines or shoot at random walls.

On the positive side, it can be pretty atmospheric for a game with 16-bit style graphics and audio, and I thought the music was well done. Your evil clone roaming the halls adds a welcome bit of tension. The writing/English localization is a little weird and stilted, but it's a minor enough part of the game that it's easy to ignore.

But ultimately I think games like this live and die by how fun and precise their core mechanics are, and Metroid Fusion's are sloppy. It's an uncomfortable fit for the platform's limited buttons, doesn't feel good to play, and after a sharp late-game difficulty spike demands way more precision than it offers.
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blargh4 2022-01-28T20:31:31Z
2022-01-28T20:31:31Z
2.5
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Released on the same day as Metroid Prime, and the first 2D Metroid in 8 years, Metroid Fusion underlined the horror element apparent (but not always manifest) in the series. A heavy and sickly atmosphere permeates the experience to the detriment of level design, marking a sudden turn towards stringent - almost episodic gameplay as opposed to interconnected areas. But its real point of interest is SA-X, a Resident Evil-inspired enemy who further emphasized their horror leanings. Unlike typical enemies (who by themselves range from passive to irritating) and bosses, this player-sized persistent invader inspired genuine fear.
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Blah_Blee 2021-06-30T16:09:52Z
2021-06-30T16:09:52Z
6 /10
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Strong atmosphere, different method
Fusion is notorious for ditching free-exploration in favor of establishing a more structured narrative fueled by anxiety, but it pays off with the most nerve-racking Metroid to date (pre-Dread at least). Fusion's defining element is helplessness, and in a rare show of ludonarrative harmony, you are rarely ever truly in control. Even when you get to power-trip with a new weapon, something else comes along to put you in your place.

Thanks to the sparing narrative elements, its climate of unease is well-maintained. Even a wordless 15-second cutscene can drop the room's temperature by 10 degrees. The sound design in particular feels very involved, with complementary shifts between ambient exploration themes and science-fiction Hitchcock doing wonders for the tension. Even if the exposition from Samus's computer is a little too frequent, the game's monologues are sparing and just detailed enough to let the imagination do its worst.

Even if the fear aspect doesn't do anything for you, Metroid games are just plain fun when you're not painstakingly bombing a room to progress. The control is surprisingly precise and fluid for a system with 4 buttons, and the crunch of sinking a missile or 50 into an enemy is one of the finer things in life. For some, Fusion will always be a disappointment for how much it restricts exploration, but I much prefer its heavier emphasis on horror, and I'm glad that the series looks to be going further in that direction with Dread. Metroidvania isn't exactly a genre starved for quality content these days anyway.
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Zigludo 2021-10-15T20:56:49Z
2021-10-15T20:56:49Z
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Catalog

Leonine Metroid Fusion 2023-02-08T04:25:41Z
2023-02-08T04:25:41Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Hey_Its_Pretzels94 Metroid Fusion 2023-02-07T06:28:11Z
2023-02-07T06:28:11Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
michaelcera Metroid Fusion 2023-02-05T17:20:54Z
2023-02-05T17:20:54Z
2.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
bbraio Metroid Fusion 2023-02-03T16:35:26Z
GBA • XNA
2023-02-03T16:35:26Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
19_ Metroid Fusion 2023-02-03T01:27:05Z
2023-02-03T01:27:05Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Vainx Metroid Fusion 2023-02-02T08:50:37Z
2023-02-02T08:50:37Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Nassif02 Metroid Fusion 2023-02-01T03:34:55Z
2023-02-01T03:34:55Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
andreh7676 Metroid Fusion 2023-01-30T21:05:18Z
2023-01-30T21:05:18Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
TramSoy Metroid Fusion 2023-01-30T15:46:10Z
2023-01-30T15:46:10Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Chrono_90 Metroid Fusion 2023-01-30T09:57:18Z
2023-01-30T09:57:18Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
dissonine Metroid Fusion 2023-01-30T05:53:22Z
2023-01-30T05:53:22Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
sk3rk Metroid Fusion 2023-01-28T09:31:28Z
2023-01-28T09:31:28Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
ESRB: E
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x Cartridge
Franchises
Also known as
  • メトロイド フュージョン
  • Metroid 4
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  • Previous comments (12) Loading...
  • wallrooseyes 2021-11-16 02:47:44.169514+00
    genuinely scary game when it wanted to be
    reply
    • wallrooseyes 2021-11-16 02:49:10.693493+00
      oh and the metroid games have the best motivation for replays ive ever seen
    • CrackTheSky 2022-12-12 03:03:51.981059+00
      Agreed, this game's atmosphere is second-to-none. There aren't many 2D sidescrolling games that can instill dread like this.
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  • brasscontraption 2022-01-19 15:49:20.181123+00
    anyone still complaining about this game being linear should shut up. you dont know shit about design man
    reply
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  • pink_9320 2022-05-14 17:37:58.308416+00
    even for as train-tracked as the game is, it feels like there are some points where the points of progression are hidden in really obtuse and unintuitive places
    also the movement is a significant downgrade from super metroid just cus it's slower and too consistent

    other than that, this is definitely a solid metroid game lol
    reply
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  • pink_9320 2022-05-31 21:15:31.318264+00
    the sequence break mod for this game improves it so much, but it's already pretty great in vanilla imo
    reply
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  • Sharked98 2022-11-17 16:15:16.176601+00
    Happy 20th!
    reply
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  • feargm 2022-11-17 23:54:55.318059+00
    happy 20th!
    reply
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  • Regal_Throes 2022-11-30 15:58:53.38976+00
    Fusion is still my favorite Metroid. Atmosphere is unmatched, and SA-X is so kick ass.
    reply
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  • DemonsSingLoSongs 2022-12-18 20:16:06.227621+00
    it IS very linear but i don't think it matters too much when it's still an extremely solid game. it clearly achieves what it goes for despite a few odd design decisions dotted throughout the game at different points.
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