Metroid: Zero Mission (Game Boy Advance)

Metroid_--_Zero_Mission_(box_art)Metroid has been around for almost 27 years.  The original game was released in Japan in 1986, and it got a North American release around the same time the next year.

The original game features a space bounty hunter in a high powered suit named Samus Aran.  Samus has come to the planet Zebes to stop a group of Space Pirates from exploiting an alien species, Metroids, in a bid to rule the galaxy.  The game was incredibly successful, influential and ground breaking.  It’s exploratory gameplay was among the first of its kind.  An incredibly eerie atmosphere, created by fantastic music, level and creature design marks it–arguably–as the invention of the Survival Horror genre of video games.  It’s practically like playing a video game of Alien.  And, of course, Samus Aran is the world’s first (recognized by Guinness Book of World Records) Playable Female Protagonist in a mainstream title, what’s more, is that the discovery of Samus’ gender comes as a surprise ending (Unless you know Justin Bailey…)

So, what happens almost 20 years later when you’ve created one of the most successful franchises of all time?  That’s right, kids… it’s time for a remake/reboot combo.  Enter:  Zero Mission.

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Call of Dirtnap

Allow me to let you in on a little secret:  I am, by no means, a soldier.  And it’s a fantastic fucking thing that I’m not… on so many different levels.  Mainly because I’m not putting my life on the line for freedom.  But even more because I would be a terrible soldier.   I can’t fathom how whole generations of men who were better than mine faced unimaginable horrors for real, without a respawn point, pause button or pissbreaks.

As a Fat Guy With Glasses, I’d already be at a terrible disadvantage in a real war situation.  But with skills as poor as mine, I’d be fucked.  You know in war movies there’s always that one guy.  You know the guy.  He gets out half a sentence about his girl back home, and gets shot before he even gets off the boat, truck, plane or whatever else?  If I were a soldier, that’s the kind I would be.  One trip out.  “Can’t wait to see M–” BANG.  Dead.  A terrible warning to all the other greenhorns fresh out of boot camp that this is unfriendly territory.  I can say this with near certainty because I can’t seem to even do well as a pretend soldier.

For most of the afternoon today, I played Call of Duty: World at War.  I say played, but what I mean to say is “sucked at”.  I’ve seen several people play various different First Person Shooters, whether they’re war based, sci-fi, or whatever…  and they are always better than me.  I can’t see a goddamn thing.  I can’t aim, I can’t hit, I can’t reload.  I can’t tell what the hell is going on.
I have a blast with it though, because unlike real life, when you drop dead, you just restart at the nearest checkpoint.  Hell… if you get shot too much you hide behind a rock for a few minutes and you’re healed.  Problem solved.  And with all these magical advantages, I still drop within moments of touching ground every single time.  I’m sad enough that I’m pretty sure Jim Nabors would look at me and puke in disgust.
You’re dead? Surprise, surprise, surprise…
I played it long enough and poorly enough that Mel was approaching upset.  See, the game is loud.  Very loud.  There are constant gunshots firing at you and others.  That probably wouldn’t get on her nerves if I could keep the volume turned down.  But you see, Kiefer Sutherland is trying his damnedest to yell things like “THERE’S SNIPERS IN THE TREES!” louder than the explosions and gunshots and give me my orders.  Trouble is, he’s barely audible, unless you have the volume up loud enough that the gunshots annoy your wife.  If you’re good at the game, you could probably ignore him.  I’m not, so I can’t.
Adding to her annoyance, I’m sure, was that the sound was not constant.  When you die, the sound fades out.  Then you continue and it’s back to the loud again.  So, seeing how I’m awful, it’s like this:  
BANGBANGBOOMBANGBANGBLAMBANGBANGbangbangboom…. “Fuck.  Almost got ’em there.”  
I have to admit, Mel’s great though.  She never said a word.  Well, I don’t think she did.  It was hard to hear Kiefer.  I had to focus. But I’m pretty sure she didn’t.  Once it was supper time she asked if we could watch a show, and we did.  Then after supper and the show she asked what I wanted to do.  I said I was going to play a game.  She calmly and politely asked that it not be Call of Duty.