I am another person in the "disappointed with Other M" camp. The basic idea was solid, but suffered from underdevelopment in key areas (level design, utilizing their combat engine effectively, story editing, etc.) Based on the numerous accounts I've read and Let's Play footage I've seen, here's what I would change:
Teach Sakamoto to "kill his darlings". I make this basic writer's lesson number one because it would solve so many problems, from the "all tell, no show" monologues, to poor character development that leads to accusations of abuse and sexism. The basic idea is that a writer needs to look at their own work critically, in order to edit things they would have otherwise left alone. Seeing as every interview shows how Sakamoto was in love with his own story, he clearly didn't know this lesson. It may also help to re-focus on plots he clearly wasn't so interested in, such as the Deleter sub-plot.
Limit dialogue/story progression to key cutscenes and navigation rooms. Admittedly, this is the least "lonely" of the Metroid games, and they should have run with that by having some "team chatter" at the navigation rooms. It's established from the start those are the only places the rest of the team can communicate at, so why not have brief dialogue that could fill us in on some side characters, like Maurice. ("Who?" Exactly.)
Re-write the Ridley scene. Every defense I've read on this scene only serves to emphasize how unclear the writing and directing makes it. If you have to imagine dialogue or reference other works for the scene to make sense, that is a sign that said dialogue or background should have been included in the scene, or preferably referenced earlier in the game all along.
Make authorizations "unlockable". Authorization demonstrates an interesting lesson in game design; presentation matters. Functionally it's identical to ordinary item hunting, in that when you reach a designer's planned area, you gain access to ability X, then Y, then Z. But take away the illusion of finding what you don't have and essentially allow access to what's already there arbitrarily, and it breaks the sense of urgent exploration and empowerment when you find a useful ability. Instead the player is thinking "finally, it's about time I was allowed to use this!" It's showing the programmer's hand to the player by exposing a game world-breaking secret; the ability was there all the time in the game code!
So my idea requires a bit of clever level design, but as that's Sakamoto's strength I don't think it's too much to ask. Have the state of the Bottle Ship change throughout the game, progressively getting more uninhabitable or hostile as the chances of finding survivors dwindles. Why limit non-weapon systems throughout? Because Adam expects you to explore first where there are likely to be survivors. So the Hell Run could instead involve Adam instructing you to take the non-lava room route to your destination (because you don't expect survivors to be in the super hot volcano room, of course). But if you opt to run through the lava room, you can reach an optional sequence break where you get a different item authorized in an "event" before the Varia Suit "event". This mimics how in the older games careful exploration could let you get items early. It also shows how simple it could have been to implement sequence breaking in the game, while making the game itself an easier run for new or casual players.
De-emphasize first-person mode. Leave this for searching as originally intended, and for targeting extra-damage areas and other things it makes sense to aim for carefully. Let the player fire missiles in 3D mode.
Return to pickups. Concentration is clever, but causes two problems; Missile upgrades are all but useless on top of not being fun to use (see above for a potential fix), and normal, non door-blocking enemies are pointless to fight since you can't replenish anything from them. Leave concentration as a means of restoring some health, and leave pickups for missiles. Got a boss that needs missiles to kill? Have objects in the room or thrown that drops pickups.
That was very well-written and you hit the nail many times. Good job.
The idea of Adam telling Samus to go into Sector 3's safe zones but leaving the lava way for a sequence break is really clever by the way.
Also, welcome tot he Metroid Database!
Oh absolutely. Other M's story reads like a first draft. If there's one thing I hope Sakamoto has learned from this game it's that you're always better off eating shit from an editor than the critics.
How would you have done this scene? I think fear was the right emotion to show, but he picked the absolute worst way to convey it.
Here's the stuff I would improve (though you covered most of them):
-Make sequence breaking possible so that there was more incentive for replay and speed running.
-Design the corridors and environments with more things to interact with like enemies and split paths. It gets boring just running, running, running, through mostly empty corridors with only one exit and one entrance. Other metroid games put effort into this, not sure why Other M ignored it and decided it was fun to just hold the run button down and listen to saums' footsteps for 10 minutes at a time. Most of the rooms/corridors seemed to have one way in and one way out. In other metroid games you had often ran into places where you had to decide whether or not to go left or right or up or down. Trying to remember what choices you made added some depth and suspense to the exploration. In Other M, you just go in an obvious direction practically from the start of the game.
-Make cutscenes skippable on the first playthrough for those who don't care about story. I understand that all of the other metroid games make you watch them on the first playthrough, but none of the other games have 15 minute long cutscenes! Who cares what samus is thinking!
-Nintendo really wanted this game to not use the nunchuck, but the whole idea of pointing the wiimote at the screen to switch to missiles SUCKS. Sure it made the game controllable w/o the nunchuck, but barely. They should have either came up with a better idea, or included the nunchuck because that control scheme was just awful.
-They sure liked to compare this game to Super alot, so why not include one of the things that was so awesome about Super? I'm talking about the ability to disable items on the submenu. Everyone loves that feature - so why not include it? I hated having to shoot everything twice after getting the ice beam!
-Authorization to use weapons? That one is self explanatory, there's no need to go on about how lame it is.
-What kind of a name is Other M? Not only does it sound retarded, but they NEVER EVEN EXPLAINED WTF IT MEANS!
-The mullet lizard...and 100 other things I could probably think of if I tried harder.
PS- OK so it's out: I don't like this game. Before you flame me, please remember two things: 1-The thread asked me what I would improve, I didn't just criticize it for bitching's sake. 2- I'm not flaming anyone for liking the game.
Use nunchuck. Couldn't they have used the motion controls to initiate Lethal Strike moves and Sensemove but make that manual instead. The gameplay's too automated...
I think I would've rewritten the whole story from scratch. The whole point was to show us who Adam was and to make a 3D Zebes. The latter fell short since it wasn't nearly as dark and atmospheric as Super Metroid. Has someone written a fanfic to replace Other M yet?
Well... Not easy to bring anything new to the table, really.
In times of crisis, weakness cannot survive. But be very careful how you define strength.
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is a superstition. It does not exist in nature" - Hellen Keller
In addition to what other people have said (although this repeats some stuff I have said before):
1. Samus should be much more confident and aggressive except in the scenes where it matters. By making her mopey and passive the entire time, it lessened the impact of the scenes where it actually mattered (such as Ridley's appearance and Adam's death). Those scenes could have been extremely moving if they had been something unexpected and out of the ordinary, but Samus just acted the same as she always did so they didn't have any emotional impact. Those scenes could have been left entirely untouched, and the plot of the game kept exactly as is, simply making her more aggressive and more confident the rest of the time would have made it 100 times better. It also led to a mis-match between her in-game behavior and her personality in the cutscenes.
2. Eliminate the instant-death scenes. Things like the elevator scene, the giant fish, and the nahmine attack should have been cutscenes rather than interactive. First, it is just cheap killing players with no warning. Second, the scenes could have been a lot cooler if scripted. For example Samus could swing down below the elevator and push her back up against the wall as it fell back, with it missing her by a fraction of an inch. Or with the fish, she could have jumped out of the way, jumped on the fish's head, then used it as a platform to jump across the gap. Or with the nahmine, she could have used one hand to push off its head then did a spin jump to keep herself airborn as it passed under her, landing on one knee and her hand to watch it slither away. Adding some motion blur and bullet-time to them, and they would have been far better.
3. Along similar lines, eliminate the behind the back scenes where Samus can only walk around without doing anything. Ones like sector zero and the elevators should be non-interactive, while ones like the bathroom should be normal interactive scenes.
4. Use item drops. First, without them you are too dependent on navigation rooms. Second, it could allow battles like king keyhunter and phantoon to be much more difficult since you could refill life during the fight.
5. The GF soldiers should be using energy weapons, not slug-throwers. Compared to the zebesians they designed, and their own robots in the game, not to mention the GF in other games, their weapon technology is positively pathetic.
6. I would have changed the cutscene order somewhat. For instance, I would have interspersed scenes from the ship exploding with Adam's death, although put some hints or fraction-of-a-second clips of the scene earlier. That would have been more cinematic. I would have put the scene with her leaving the unit at the very beginning, when she first encounters them. This would leave players wondering about what happened between them and the significance of the brief snippets they saw. I would also have the scene about the thumbs-down much later, maybe after the scene with el pollo loco or when Samus is chasing the deleter or chasing Adam to sector zero (in other words the scenes where she is questioning him).
7. I would have eliminated the final monologue entirely. Just go from the scene with everyone on Samus's ship to the scene at GF headquarters.
8. You should actually have fought MB in some way. Maybe not her directly, perhaps something she was directly controlling, but the final battle should have been a battle, not another "look at the right random place in the scene" bit.
9. Along those lines, either eliminate the "find the right random place in the scene" bits, or made it more obvious what you are looking for. At least in prime there were markers over important scenes in the environment. The ones with the kihunters and little bird's corpse both easily took me 15 minutes to find what I was supposed to click on. Even systematically moving my cursor through the scene didn't work because if I did it quickly enough to finish in a reasonable amount of time I wouldn't see the very subtle change in the cursor shape.
10. Improve collision detection. The parts of the scene you could walk on and the parts of the scene it looks like you can walk in often don't match up, especially in corridors where there is absolutely no reason why you couldn't have geometry-matching collision boxes. Along similar lines, the area where the fish at the walkway should have allowed you to jump across, or even jump out.
11. They needed to flesh out the deleter scene more. The fact that there is so much debate about who the deleter was up to this point, and that we still don't really know how he died, shows how badly that part was carried out.
12. If they are going to have NPCs, they should at least play some role outside of just the story. There was a total of 2 battles where the NPCs actually had any role in the actual battles (the fight with el pollo loco, Ridley, and the Metroid Queen only involved them in cutscenes before or after the fight), and with 1 of those the NPC had essentially no real impact on the fight. There should at least have been 4 or 5 battles, maybe 3 or 4 fights with ordinary enemies and 1 or 2 additional boss fights, that included at least one other GF soldier who actually played some significant role.
13, There should have been an x-ray scope, as well as some holographic walls you could walk through.
14. The morph ball blasters should have take you the entire way. Scenes like the outside morph ball tunnel should not have been interactive.
15. There should have been more interaction with equipment. Pretty much the only equipment you could interact with was a few places to raise or lower walkways, a few hologram generators, a few nonsensical moving platforms, and a few grapple points. However there were a bunch of cranes that could have been activated, and things like drills, a wheell-shaped set of morph ball tunnel that could rotate to change which points it connects (think the first temple in Riven or the spinners in the GBC and GBA zeldas), and other such things would have been great. The prime games were much better about this.
16. There were only a few new species, and most of those were mostly copies of Earth species. They should have been more original. I also didn't like how the magdolites were humanoid, I think amorphous blobs of lava like in Super would have been better.
17. There should have been some variety in architecture in different areas. Art deco is cool and all, but it got a bit old after a while.
18. There should have been more signs of the battle. It looked like probably hundreds of people, dozens at least, were killed, but we only find 2 bodies. I know this is Nintendo, but if they are going to put bodies, there should have been more signs of the struggle that took place.
19. I think in at least one situation, Samus should have gotten on a computer and found something interesting on her own. She pretty much relies on others to get her information for her, despite the fact that she doesn't trust anyone completely.
20. The enemies should have fought each other on occasion. Enemies like the zebesians and some mini-bosses were clearly under MB's control, while lesser enemies seemed to answer more to Ridley, and the two didn't seem to get along, so neither should their minions. It would have been cool having zebesians firing into a swarm of reos, or geemers piling on one of the giant horseshoe crabs and then having it stand up and try to shake them off.
Man is the lowest-cost, 150-pound, nonlinear, all-purpose computer system which can be mass-produced by unskilled labor.
-NASA in 1965
Thank you. It's odd that despite not playing the game (I don't have a Wii) and not liking what I've seen, I've been most focused on discussion of this one more than any other. There's a lot to discuss, I guess.
I would have changed one of two things: either remove the loss of Concentration (ie., going suitless) or make it explicit that 1) Ridley killed her parents and whole colony right in front of her, and 2) she was caught emotionally off-guard by his appearance, as Super Metroid was his canonical death. If you don't know about those last two, or even just one or the other, her going catatonic with fear is hard to grasp.
That is a very complex reaction that goes beyond fear; seeing her parents killed could have just as easily inspired anger at this point in her life, and probably did in all her other encounters with him. The catch is that she's "resolved" her anger and sense of vengeance in Super Metroid, so while memories of the hatchling serves as the ghost of her past, Ridley's sudden appearance cements him as the boogeyman; the terrible specter that, not satisifed with haunting her, actively keeps coming back, and was the cause of the most vulnerable period in her life. And with no immediate sense of anger to draw on, all that's left is the instinctual fear.
This sort of reaction is perfect for novels, and the scene almost feels like it was originally described in a novel-styled narrative, then transcribed to the screen. Such direct adaptations never work, because the medium is different, so all the important information is left unspoken. Instead, players default to their base knowledge, which is typically past games where she faced him with no problems. Of all the times to give a quick info-dump with dialogue, that would have been the time.
On a similar note, is there any progress in Wii rom hacking? It might be feasible for a fan-version to be made if that were the case. Metroid: Another M if you prefer. Some things I'd add would be: skippable cutscenes (with a viewer on the title screen in case you accidentally skip), and switch the "pixel-hunt" sections to Theater Mode, so that the pre-recorded game footage is used for those sections.
I've ranted about Other M countless times. My disappointment with the game is well known. But, and I emphasize this, I do feel that Other M was born out of great ideas that just plain fell apart with bad execution. Fundamental issues, both story and gameplay, that prior games did so WELL are either ignored or forgotten about in this game.
I also tell people I am an avid video game designer myself. Creating games, good games, is not just an ambition, it is my career, and something I've had to dedicate myself to mastering. I'm no master, mind you, but I do think I've got the chops for it.
Mainly, I use the Art of Game Design as my bible for development.
For everything I think Other M did wrong, as a game, I would like to say what I'd have done to make it better.
This is about to get heavy... just warning ya.
By most accounts, Other M is one of the best-looking games on the system... technically. The models have a lot of detail and could offer a lot of animation and expression, and the world and creatures are competently made.
But there's a huge problem, and it's a problem my modeling instructors taught me in my first quarter of class. When you create something, anything, create it with "history". Nothing in reality is clean and pristine and perfect; it has wear and tear, dirt and scratches and dents and rust and chipped paint...
Everything in Other M is far too "clean". Soldiers' armor looks fresh off the assembly line. Walls are smooth and plain. Everything looks like it was created in a computer; it looks fake. Compare that to other games, from Bioshock to Halo to Arkham City, any game with a smidgen of "realism", and you see armor with peeling paint and scratches, walls with smudges and dirt and grime, environments that looked lived in, characters that look weathered, and creatures that seem natural to those environments. Other M, technically, is good... but there is so little history, so few special touches, that it's visuals are sterile and bland. Adding those special little touches would've gone a long way.
I know I'm not alone here, but a lot of the old-school Metroid sound effects were disappointingly missing. That's not exactly reason enough to be upset, but it does tie into a phrase from the book I mentioned that stuck with me: "Nintendo games excel at giving players auditory cues to let them know they're doing well: the sound of Mario growing taller, the sound of Link opening a chest and obtaining an item, the sound of Samus acquiring an upgrade."
Other M was strangely lacking in the special sounds department. Even ambient noise was rather limited, let alone all those special touches (again) that make great games great. I recently played Batman: Arkham City, Skyward Sword, Spirit Tracks, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution to test this theory out, but I noticed all of those games have dynamic sound. As you play the game, the audio cues the games give you shift and change in subtle ways to let you know whether you're playing well or not. They're subtle, almost subliminal, but if you heard someone playing these games and heard only the sounds, not even voices or music, you'd know how the person playing was faring.
Other M, by comparison, was almost stifling in its own quiet way, as if it didn't want sounds to detract from the experience... but even playing a game like Metroid Prime, I'm reminded of the way Samus's breath would fill my ears, the way steam would hiss and spray on my visor, of the way doors would unlock, switches would be flipped, scans would be found, shots would hit or miss, timers would activate, map and health stations would unlock, upgrades would be acquired, and even how the beam cannon sounded when you shifted to a new weapon to fire. The sound effects were brilliant, yet Other M's were lacking those little extra touches.
Not to be confused with the sound effects, which are intrinsically tied to direct gameplay, the score of a game is just as important as setting a mood... just as the absence of music can convey a similar sense of isolation and loneliness.
Other M had some huge, orchestral Hollywood-level pomp during certain scenes, but for most of the game it was awkwardly lacking. And that's... okay. I attest that the early-to-mid Silent Hill games are masterpieces of atmospheric melodies that are stirring and effective when you hear them... and MORE effect when you're not even aware they're there... or when they've stopped playing and let the world speak for itself.
The problem wasn't that, it was just that music was put to such poor use in Other M. Many areas are silent that would've thrived with a melodic tether, akin to the phenomenal Phenandra Drifts, Torvus Bog, Skytown, or even as far back as the eerie NES original or the alternative heroic/chilling Gameboy scores. Alternatively, many scenes filled with high-end bombastic music would've benefited far more with much less. Mentioning Silent Hill again, in SH2, there's a scene with an elevator that was one of the most gut-wrenching scenes in any medium ever... movie, game, comic... and the music that played was a simple, quiet, almost childish melody that went up, then down, then up, then down..... that was it, and it was effective.
I don't need a huge orchestra for a Metroid game. I don't even need a score, really. But I would also say that those long, boring, bland jogs down empty, bland hallways would've been more interesting if the music existed to inspire and spur me forward.
In the Art of Game Design, there's an entire chapter dedicated to puzzles and the battle of "heads" vs. "hands". Puzzles have been one of Metroid's strengths since the first game, tasking players with finding the right weapon or upgrade to progress pass previously impassable walls and barriers. Recent games have thrived on morph ball puzzles, or even puzzle-laden boss battles. But in the chapter I read, there was also big, bold risks: "Puzzles must be readily understood, they must serve both gameplay and narrative purposes, they must not be too easy as to be boring nor too difficult as to cause players frustration, and the player must enjoy analyzing a puzzle, the act of solving the puzzle, and the reward given for solving it."
Other M fails hard at this.
You could argue that the puzzles themselves, in general, took a backseat to the combat, but what does exist is poorly implemented. Look back at what I read, I can name puzzles of the game that violated all those rules. How many of us had the "puzzle" of trying to figure out where to go, got lost, and realized the game meant for us to run to a dead-end for no reason only to turn around and backtrack so that we could trigger a cutscene? How many utterly pointless pixel-hunts ground our enjoyment of the game to jolting halt and forced us to tiresomely look at dull smears for over ten minutes? How many times was our "reward" nothing more than a long-winded cutscene or, at times, nothing at all, making it nothing more than wasted filler that expected "solving the puzzle" to be the only reward in and of itself?
I would have either tied the puzzles to story and gameplay better ("You need to solve this puzzle to restore air to the ship before we suffocate!" "You need to turn down the heat in this sector before our heat shields give out!" "You need to restore power to this part of the ship by finding these missing components!"), I would have made the rewards for doing so much more satisfying (Prime games often gave very worthwhile and necessary expansions and upgrades), or I would have just cut many of them out entirely (pixel-hunts mostly).
Okay, so this game was action-heavy, with those Team Ninja fellas at the helm. Great combat, right? Lots of flashy moves and...
... And most of the combat boiled down to "mindlessly hit the fire button, let it auto-aim, then hit the finisher command". Rinse, repeat. It was actually, in my opinion, regressive. Compare this to a series like the Zelda franchise. Skyward Sword requires very particular focus and attention to aim your sword down the vulnerable section of an enemy. You have to be aware of not just your own abilities, but the enemy as well is ever-changing to your tactics and forces you to alter yours to come out on top.
I've had problems with the Prime games too, mind you. Strafe, strafe, fire, strafe, roll out of attack range, fire, strafe, strafe. But Other M is just as bad, only it really had a much higher pedigree from its developers to aspire towards.
Let's focus on Team Ninja's own "Ninja Gaiden". I've played it. Hard as nails. I hate the difficulty to the extreme, but I won't ever argue that their combat system isn't top-notch. Every enemy has a weakness, a "tell" sign. You have to find it, learn it, and master the correct counter-measure to take against even the lowliest of enemies. You have to know which enemies to fight in the air, which to fight at a distance, which to fight up close, which to separate from groups, which to dispatch in groups, whether to use shurikens, arrows, magic spells, swords, lances, claws, scythes... there was so much variety, but you had to do TWO things: master your own skills and master reading and countering the skills of every enemy.
Other M's combat, by comparison, is beyond rudimentary. I remember when people feared the Prime series would become a mindless button-mashing shooter, but enemies in Prime were pretty smart. Some couldn't even be damaged by normal shots. Many were invincible on the front and needed to be stunned in the back. Some needed you to go into morph ball mode and damage them on the inside with bombs. Other M had a few of them, but for every one unique enemy that tested your skills, you were met with room after room where you just needed to fire and auto-aim could kill them before you even saw them pop up on screen. It was shallow, and the scripted instant-kills she could do were flashy, but they served no gameplay reason (and in fact could be argued to run counter to her "weak" portrayal in the story).
How many invisible walls were in this game? How many empty hallways? How many pointless dead-ends? How many sterile labs? How many token elemental areas were there? Granted, this all took place on one (stupidly-named) ship, but the variety of levels was wholly generic. There was not a single level in the game that wasn't done in a prior game, and done better, either in design, mood, pacing, atmosphere, or personality. The ice level was no Phanandra Drifts, the laval level no Magmoor's Cavern, the labs, even, paled in comparison to Metroid Fusion. There was nothing wholly-original; it was very much a retread of Zebes, which is great for some cheap nostalgia, but I'm willing to venture people would've preferred something entirely new, bold, and exciting.
Zelda games routinely take place in vastly different landscapes, even if they share similar climates: Wind Waker is covered with oceans, yet it's nothing like Majora's Mask's Great Bay or Spirit Track's Ocean Realm. A Link to the Past's Lost Woods is hardly similar to Ocarina of Time's or Twilight Princess's. They shift and change and mutate into new worlds that keep the essentials of the old yet manifest themselves in entirely new forms and creative, lush designs and details. Beyond that, the manner of getting across these different, even similar, areas changes game-to-game; by a boat with a sail whose winds you yourself control, by horse, by train, by bird, by magic teleporting songs, by foot, by snowboard (loved the Yeti race), by long-jumps, by kangaroo, by bear, by dinosaur, by wolf form, by rabbit form, by Goron form, by Zora form, by Deku form...
Samus used to keep pace with Link in that regard. Morph ball, plasma beam, dash boots, shinesparking, screw attacking. But she's since STOPPED, pretty much dead in her tracks after Super Metroid. By limiting Samus's abilities to the same abilities she has had in the past and offering nothing more, the levels themselves only function in the same way we've seen them traversed before. Can you imagine a new power-up that lets you phase through certain doors (or enemies) like a ghost? Or an upgrade that lets you fire your ice beam at slopes and allows you to slide across the floor to reach new areas? Imagine if you were in a magnetic environment where you had new positive-and-negative beams or upgrades you had to fire or activate and disable to solve puzzles or to just make it through the level without being stuck to the floor? New, original, fun ways of traveling through the Metroid world.
Other M needed levels that demanded that. Something new. Something fun. Something fresh and memorable to give the game a personality and charm all its own, rather than decided to play it safe and retread decades-old ground.
Going back to the Art of Game Design, one of the foundational game rules in that book is "as the player plays the game, keep their interest by having them earn rewards that keeps them playing. A well-paced game continually empowers the player and makes them feel in control. Above all else, a player MUST feel in control of their own fate in the game."
Games like Super Mario Bros 3 empower the player. You break a brick, get a mushroom, get bigger, get a flower, get fire, and the game becomes easier. You earn more lives the better you play. You can endure longer, kill quicker, traverse levels easier... but all of this is by the player's OWN hands.
Zelda games often do this. You earn passageway into new areas by your own exploits. Dead-ends are eventually opened up by earning the appropriate item to open them. Bosses are felled by weapons you yourself discover. Even dungeon maps and compasses are items EARNED and not given, and they embolden and empower the player.
You know where I'm going with this. The "Authorization" system in Other M. Now, it's a good idea in theory to try something new, and if they had just been smarter about it it might even have worked. As is, it is the OPPOSITE of making the player feel in control. Weapons and upgrades are restored arbitrarily by Adam, which is already a gameplay sin, but Samus WILLINGLY de-empowers herself, a narrative sin and one that creates dissonance between avatar and player.
What I would have done, if I HAD to have this authorization system rather than "earning" upgrades, is I would have added a story mechanic that says that something on the ship activated an electro-magnetic pulse that has shut off all their weapons and armor systems. Adam volunteers to head to the control room to manually restore power. Then, at certain points in the game, Adam calls in to tell you he's succeeded in restoring "heat shield" functions or "you can probably use your grapple beam now" functions... This would 1) make Adam both useful AND a likeable ally that helps EMPOWER you rather than DEPOWER you and 2) would make the current system they used work in the game world, yet still make the player feel relief, not anger, once they realized a power was restored rather than "re-allowed".
The story. Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy.
The original poster said it best. "kill your darling." I read an interview at comic-con with Jim Lee (I think it was Jim Lee), where they asked him about a controversial decision he made and he was asked "don't you like this character? Why did you kill him off?" He responded (in gist), "I love these characters, but I must always distance myself from them. If I grow protective of them, I'll never take risks or go down new paths or do things that I feel would benefit the bigger picture. I want to be just as sad to see a character die as the reader, so to do that, as a creator, I must divorce myself from my protective feelings."
I will not pretend to know how Yoshio Sakamoto feels about Samus, but given his public statements about being protective of her, viewing her "as a daughter", jokingly saying she's his ideal woman and wishing she'd ask him out on a date, etc., I can tell he's someone that I feel doesn't know where to take Samus, or knows and decided to regress her instead of letting her boldly mature and evolve past his influence or understanding.
Samus means a lot of things to many people, but Other M gave most fans a completely different woman than the one we had seen in action before. I utterly reject the erroneous claims that "she had no personality before" or "this is the first time she had a voice", which all hardcore Metroid fans know to be incorrect, dating back to her speaking in Super Metroid & Fusion and her exhibiting very blatant and very memorable personality traits in nearly all prior games.
The folks from Extra Credits said it best: actions speak louder than words. We can deduce a great deal about Samus based on her behavior in-game (the mark of a good game character), her chosen occupation and the situations she throws herself into, and the way she handles herself in these situations. Metroid Prime 2 always stood out to me because, really, Samus has no personal reason to be there. Her ship was damaged, fine. She can just sit there and wait for it to be fixed. But, nope, she discovers a race of people in dire need of a hero to save them from darkness and evil. She dives into a mystery, overcomes great personal conflict and loss, and saves the day, becoming a legend to these creatures she barely knows and walks off into the light content with herself knowing that she did the best she could, all she could, when no one else was willing or able to lend a hand. I could write an entire thesis paper on her personality in that game, from the grand picture to the minutia of personal details in her body language to how she treats a dead soldier.
But the problems with Other M's story are well-known. The question: how would I improve it?
I'll be generic and encompassing.
1) Make the story ENHANCE the gameplay, not conflict with it. A good game uses story to support its gameplay, not hinder it. Other M's story got in the way of the game, often, in many ways. It gave us lengthy, unskippable cutscenes when we just wanted to play. Its reasons for events to happen destroyed players suspension of disbelief. It showed a certain Samus in cutscenes that was unlike the one in combat or solving puzzles. I can't really even name a single event, story-wise, in the game that made the GAME better.
2) Make the player CONNECT with the main heroine. After the Prime games literally put you behind Samus's visor, thinking, acting, BREATHING as her, Other M was especially jarring. But it was more jarring by constantly reminding the player that this was Samus's story, not THEIR story. They just moved her around, but the player, themselves, was just along for her ride, rather than making it his or her own personal Samus journey, to feel what she felt, to see what she saw, to think as she does, to struggle as she might. Samus constantly figures out things we already knew, repeats things we've already heard, tells us outright "what to feel" (I call this "Anakin Skywalker" syndrom... and it's terrible writing at its worst), and she, herself, seems entirely in the dark and dependent on everyone else around her, relying on others, rather than the PLAYERS, to help her understand and survive her ordeal.
I know I reference the Zelda games often (they're peerless in game design), but Link was called "Link" in the first game because he is the "link" between player and character on screen. A good game puts you in their shoes, makes YOU that character, be they Mario, Cloud, Master Chief, Link, Kratos, Batman, etc. Those games make you FEEL like those characters because they tap into the parts of ourselves we aspire to be. Other M Samus throws up a wall, a barrier, between what we want to be and what we want HER to be. Many people I know, even men, aspired to be like the Samus of old; few people I've spoken to feel any connection to her after Other M.
It's strange that the Prime games, despite having NO dialogue and very few cutscenes, created a bond and a passion between Samus and gamers that Other M's dialogue-heavy narrative and cutscene-laden script failed to do, even with its boastful "2 hour story mode". Sakamoto forgot the gaming principle that games thrive because they are "interactive" and they mean something to people because it is THEIR actions that cause the games interaction. I don't care about Samus's actions; I care about MY actions AS Samus.
3) Trim the fat. In my script-writing class, I was told this simple rule: "everything you write must have at least two reasons for being there. If not, cut it." Other M is full of bloat. So much wasted time is spent on characters we neither know nor care about (and the game doesn't care about them either, since most are killed off-screen). So much repetition of phrases and words. So much vague reminiscing and context-deprived encounters. It's odd that the game is so bloated, says so much over and over, yet it fails to answer vital questions about, say, the Ridley encounter or even make it clear what Samus and Adam's real relationship is. For the minor stuff, yeah, that's overflowing; but for the important stuff? Cryptic, vague half-answers at best. So much of the story would've been improved if the things that weren't working got scrapped (anybody going to miss the Deleter sub-plot? Anyone?) and things that needed real context got their due treatment (anybody going to mention the Chozo? Anyone?)
Lastly, the story failed on a cultural level. This is a personal bias, I admit, and people's tastes will vary, but I'll routinely groan anytime they mention Samus was picked on for "being a woman" when that was the LEAST interesting thing they could pick on her for. I'll groan about the whole "I'm a brat that thumbs down orders" when she used to follow every order as the Chozo trained her to do. I'll be disappointed by her sexualized portrayal with her running into combat in high-heels (I wear heels... no, no, no....), leering Zero-suit shots, and her having so many "emotional" girly melt-downs while the big, tough, stone-faced men scowl at her babbling and go about doing their jobs with fearless determination... the kind of determination I always saw her having in prior games (Prime 3 in particular has the military view her in the utmost respect and admiration due to how professional and effective she is.)
I would have seriously scrapped the plot almost in general, or at least found several highly professional and critical editors to go over it several more times. It was a poorly jumbled mess, and the game as a whole fails due to RELYING on that story to carry it through to the end. Granted, I say it was bad, but it did have some fantastic ideas in there at times (dealing with the aftermath of Super Metroid, the baby's sacrifice, tying up loose ends for Fusion).
My final rule though, again from the Art of Game Design, the Art Institute, and the lips of Shigeru Miyamoto, Sid Meier, and many others: "Gameplay comes FIRST". In Other M, it didn't. Not by a long shot. It wasn't bad, but the emphasis was not on making the best GAME possible, but rather on the story. It hurt. It hurt everything. The story did not mesh with the gameplay. The story dictated how the game was played and even contradicted the gameplay. The story got in the way of the player's enjoyment. It got in the way of rewarding and empowering the player. The story got in the way of everything a player might enjoy, from exploration to puzzle-solving to combat, because the story was there in the background, making our actions in the game confusing, conflicting, and cumbersome.
Gameplay MUST come first. It must. Say what you will about the Uncharted series, they know how to make a game. They even state they come up with wild ideas and action-events to play through FIRST and then make up excuses to fit them all together in a story. In Other M, it was the reverse. Story was written down and a game was adapted from it. That's not the way it should be. That's not the way the next game should be developed.
Gameplay first. If all my other "improvements" go ignored, fine, but gameplay MUST come first.
If you made it to the end, CONGRATS! You're awesome! You can have a cookie! Thanks for reading!
Last edited by Trishbot on 12.29.11 10:49pm, edited 1 time in total.
OMG! This is almost exactly what I thought up as a more believable game mechanic for regaining abilities during the game! In addition, I though Samus could get to specific areas to destroy 'jamming' devices in order to restore suit functions etc thereby putting some of your destiny in your hands and not all in Adam's. I also thought of having some areas filled with explosive atmospheres precluding the use of power bombs (until something like a boss fight meant that igniting the atmosphere was the way to win - i.e. a bit of puzzle solving ).
I may not have agreed with 100% of what you wrote but the cookie was nice
When you put it like this, I couldn't help but ask myself why they couldn't have designed new weapons and enemies to exploit their skills in this area better.
In times of crisis, weakness cannot survive. But be very careful how you define strength.
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security is a superstition. It does not exist in nature" - Hellen Keller
Aside from the whole you all said I would Liked to have seen a co-op mode or a mode where you played as James Pierce and had to stealthily kill off the characters.
This is going to hurt some Wii fans for me posting this....
- Let us use a real controller, the remote can't handle Metroid
- The BGM for a Metroid title should be just that, like an orchestral ridden mess.
(its a nice touch for a taste, but that's all some of us can stomach)
- Story flow should be something worth delving into, not a mess that Other M turned out to be.
- If there is to be another game like Other M, Samus can still talk but make it a feature that compells a player.
(honestly I didn't mind the voice actress that brought our fav heroine to life)
By making the next game better, because what's done is done.
Or make the next game worse to make the previous look good.
@Trishbot: you nailed everything on its weary brain. Seriously.
Being a classic M fan, I feel kinda mixed up in how to think Other M could help or hurt the series.
But I can understand what's shared from "The Art of Game Design". Even my old friend Tommy Tallarico commented on several things he would have done to tweak the soundtrack for Prime if he was given the helm. (he would have kept it the way it was, it worked before and it didn't need to change). Maybe the OM team should have consulted him this time around. Or a certain set of special talents to collaborate a soundtrack that would keep the M dream alive.
Plus when it comes to "aging" a background, the area has to tell a story too. I also wondered why nothing seemed out of the ordinary. If the GF team was battered, why not show it? Or the base has been through "heck and back".
Like many other fans here, we all want to see a solid M game again.
I don't have the game, or a Wii for that matter, but I've just finished watching an LP of Other M, and one thing that really struck me was how boring and generic the sectors looked. The sectors could best be described with nothing more than "Jungle Level" or "Lava Level". Not much variation going on within each sector and none of them looked like they had any history to them like in Prime. And yes, I know that they were simulated environments, but still.
While I don't have the game, I can definitely see how using the wiimote to aim would be problematic. The whole stop-and-shoot approach worked for a game like Resident Evil 5 because, it being the sole method of engaging enemies, the developers designed the game around the concept. Other M is primarily a fast-paced, Ninja Gaiden-esque game whose enemies are designed to attack an agile Samus. Sure, the Majini in RE5 can be pretty quick at times, but they come to a creeping halt when they're a few feet close to you, and you're also given a few other concessions to balance out not being able to move, like on-screen prompts should an enemy get a hold of you. No such thing in Other M.
If even strafing, for whatever reason, is out of the question when shooting missles, then why not allow for players to sense move out of the way of attacks?
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