Metroid Prime Trilogy: A Comparison

With Metroid Prime 4 sure to be a reality…someday and a full playthrough of the entire Trilogy now in my recent past, I thought it would be a good time to compare all three games and discuss where each game excels and where each falls short.  Though I’ll admit that the first game is by far my favorite, I’m going to try to be as unbiased as possible as I compare all three games and decide who comes out on top in multiple categories.

Story

Winner: Metroid Prime

Loser: Metroid Prime 2

Now this one could largely depend on one’s preferences.  I liked the fact that Metroid Prime had a simple story that you had to uncover on your own, with generally no cut scenes or characters.  Metroid Prime 3 had the most story, and I usually found myself feeling impatient as I waited for dialogue or cut scenes to be over so I could continue actually playing the game.  The only reason I rank MP3’s story higher than that of the second game is because the whole Phazon corruption aspect was pretty cool.  Metroid Prime 2, on the other hand, just felt like more of the same as the first game.  We visit a planet where most, if not all, of the inhabitants have died off.  We try to fix it.  Except in MP2, we have cut scenes where characters explicitly explain to us what happened and what to do.  And you all know how I feel about cut scenes in my Metroid games….

Exploration

Winner: Metroid Prime

Loser: Metroid Prime 2

The first Metroid Prime had a very open feel.  Navigating the multiple, interconnecting regions of Tallon IV was fun and never really felt like a chore.  Metroid Prime 3, on the other hand, breaks the game up into multiple planets.  While more planets sounds like a good thing…it’s not.  At least, not from my perspective.  It really breaks up the immersion having to fly between different locations when, in the first game, I could just look at my map and choose the quickest route to get there by foot.  Metroid Prime 2, however, is the most frustrating to navigate thanks to that pesky Dark World, which had all kinds of annoying dead ends and the like that made getting around so much harder than it needed to be.

Weapons

Winner: Metroid Prime

Loser: Metroid Prime 3

One thing I distinctly noticed during my most recent playthrough of Metroid Prime 3 was the lack of weapons.  Whenever you get a new weapon, it replaces one you already had, with no option to switch between them.  Your missiles are eventually replaced, permanently, by ice missiles, while your beam gets upgraded to more of a fire type beam, followed by a better fire type beam.  You don’t even get a power bomb for your morph ball.  Compare this to Metroid Prime’s wave, ice, and plasma beams and Metroid Prime 2’s dark and light beams.  Now, the third game does have Hypermode, but I didn’t really like this new addition because all it did was require enemies to be tougher to make up for your increased firepower.

Locations

Winner: Metroid Prime

Loser: Metroid Prime 2

I loved the environments in the first game.  We had the lush green Tallon Overworld, the more desert-like Chozo Ruins, the lava-filled Magmoor Caverns, and even the snowy and beautiful Phendrana Drifts.  (I didn’t care for the Phazon Mines.)  I didn’t really like the locations all that much in the other games, with the exception of Skytown in the third game, which was not only beautiful, but a bit stressful to navigate (in an immersive sort of way).  I mean, who didn’t get a bit nervous sometimes when those huge, gravity-defying structures would rumble and creak beneath your feet?  Metroid Prime 2 in particular, however, was generally rather ugly, especially considering half the game took place in the Dark World.  I’m hoping for a greater variety of interesting environments in Metroid Prime 4.

Overall Feel

Winner: Metroid Prime 1 and 2

Loser: Metroid Prime 3

It all depends on the game, but in the case of Metroid Prime, I love the feeling of isolation.  I love being alone on this planet as I face hostile wildlife and space pirates, all the while uncovering what went wrong.  Metroid Prime 2 does this pretty well, too, with the Dark World in particular feeling so lonely and unwelcoming.  Metroid Prime 3 introduces characters, with cut scenes and dialogue and objectives, which completely ruins that isolated feeling I so enjoyed in the other two games.

Uniqueness

Winner: Metroid Prime 2

Loser: None

With the first game getting so much praise, let’s look at where the other two games excel.  Metroid Prime 2’s greatest strength, for me anyway, was the unique challenge presented by the Light and Dark Worlds.  Sure, that’s not the most original idea in the world (cough A Link to the Pastcough), but I really enjoyed having to navigate this hostile world, where the very atmosphere is toxic, and you are required to run between these bubbles of safety in order to survive.  I already mentioned how much I love the isolated feel of the first two games, and nowhere in the trilogy did I feel as isolated as I did in Aether’s Dark World (with the exception of the final world of the third game…).

Controls

Winner: Metroid Prime 3

Loser: Metroid Prime 1 and 2

And now for the third game’s strengths, though, honestly, this one depends on if you played the originals or the remake on the Wii.  Because initially, Metroid Prime 3 has better controls than its GameCube counterparts thanks to the ability to aim with the Wiimote.  On the other hand, I prefer Metroid Prime 1 and 2 on the Wii because the motion controls are simpler.  I love being able to aim with the Wiimote.  I do not love the grapple beam in Metroid Prime 3 when you are required to latch onto something and pull it.  A good deal of the time I had to pull multiple times before it would work, which wasted valuable time in the case of boss fights, meaning I would sometimes have to stun a boss over again because the grapple beam was too slow to act on my first attempt.  Again, if you just look at the original versions of each game, Metroid Prime 3 is still the clear winner, despite the annoying grapple beam.

Okay, I clearly wasn’t very unbiased, considering my favorite game won nearly every category (then again, it’s my favorite for a reason).  Nevertheless, I do really love all three games in the Metroid Prime Trilogy, and it was still pretty fun to analyze each game’s strengths and weaknesses.  And now, I’d like to know what you guys think.  Which game in the trilogy is your favorite?  What about that game made it superior to the other two?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

5 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    That’s a pretty good analysis. I can’t say I disagree with your take on any of the categories.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hatm0nster says:

    Even though Metroid Prime 2 is my favorite, I do agree with most of your points here. I enjoyed the atmosphere of MP2 more than one (that sense of isolation) and I loved both Torvus and Sanctuary (Light Aether), but MP1 has the better locations overall. MP3 has good ones too (the lava world and Skytown) but I still feel it was weaker than the previous two.

    I do disagree regarding the controls though. While MP3 (and MPC) have what I feel are the best motion controls of any game, I still prefer the Gamecube’s controls. To me they feel much more precise than the motion controls, leading to quicker and less frustrating boss fights.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. duckofindeed says:

      I actually am curious to replay the GameCube versions of Metroid Prime 1 and 2 because I kind of forgot how those games were to control. One interesting thing I noticed, however, when playing the trilogy on the Wii was that they seemed to expect more precise aiming in the third game in comparison to the first two, probably because of the motion controls. While I felt like the motion controls made the first two games easier, the third game was really frustrating sometimes because bosses seemed to have much smaller weak points, which I would miss more often than not.

      Even though I enjoyed the motion controls overall, I am thinking I’d prefer traditional controls in Metroid Prime 4….

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Geddy says:

      > To me they feel much more precise than the motion controls, leading to quicker and less frustrating boss fights.

      Yeah, this right here. The snappiness on the Gamecube controller, even switching weapons with the C-stick, works so well. I’ve played exactly 0 games with motion controls on the Wii that I enjoyed (Prime 3 included, never got far and don’t like the controls), and I’m hoping and praying one day we get a Prime 3 version that’s playable without motion controls. Although, since the game was developed with them in mind, it probably wouldn’t work otherwise.

      Ah well! Have to wait for MP4 then 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. duckofindeed says:

    Even though I personally loved the motion controls in Metroid Prime 3 the first time I played the game, I didn’t like them quite as much on my second playthrough. I still like aiming with the Wiimote, but I hate using the nunchuck for the grapple beam. It doesn’t work half the time, so I find myself flailing my arm around a lot just to tug on things with the grapple.

    Like I said in an earlier response, I’d really like normal controls for Metroid Prime 4. I very much want to play the game with my new Pro Controller, not the Switch’s tiny Joycons.

    Liked by 1 person

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