Metroid: Other M faced insurmountable expectations. The Metroid Prime series that preceded it was perhaps one of the best trilogies created by Nintendo. To top it, Nintendo hired the remains of Team Ninja, the vaunted team that revived the Ninja Gaiden franchise, to apply their take to the adventures of bounty hunter Samus Aran.
The game has faced some harsh criticism for the team's focus on establishing Samus' back story. It's full of plot holes, indeed, but you have to admire Team Ninja's willingness to try to distract gamers from the obvious limitations of the Wii. That, after all, is the real problem with Metroid: Other M. The Nintendo Wii, while great for casual gamers, is built on architecture that makes the graphics just slightly better than the GameCube and other systems of the previous console generation.
In fact, Team Ninja's original Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox, released in 2004, looks better than Samus' latest tale.
It doesn't help that Team Ninja tried its best to render lush graphics. The first of the main areas you explore is a jungle environment. It's extremely tough in the Wii's standard definition (HD is not offered) to discern what are enemies versus what is flora.
And even when you can, the control scheme makes it difficult at times to shoot even normal enemies. Metroid: Other M is both a third-person and first-person game. The majority of the game takes place in third person, as you hold the Wii-mote horizontal to control Samus as she runs around targeting enemies. This portion often has a forced perspective, though, as it's essentially side-scrolling with some depth.
First-person mode is where the game comes up short. To switch to first- person perspective, you move the controller from horizontal to vertical, although that switch is sometimes clunky and leaves you playing in third person.
In first person, you stand still, but it's the only way to shoot missiles, the necessary weapon to vanquish the boss enemies, and many annoying enemy spawn machines. Switching to missiles leaves you vulnerable to attack because you're a sitting duck. Team Ninja programmed it so each enemy has some lag to allow you to switch and fire missiles. Wouldn't it have been nicer, though, to go purely third person?
The game is often interspersed with cut scenes, a departure from the more action-heavy, less story-driven previous Metroid adventures. It's clear that Nintendo isn't the most experienced at telling compelling stories, since the Samus story seems clunky at times. Still, it's about time we got more background on her.
But if you're like me, you'll read about her background online and pop in a copy of Metroid Prime to relive the days of better Metroid games.