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Wii U launch day is almost finished, so now it's time for impressions! I've managed to pick up my Wii U and try out Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U. First off, the Wii U controller is a lot lighter than I thought it would be, and the plastic case is almost toy-like and about as heavy as a small hardback novel. The initial system update took about 45 minutes (no doubt due to Nintendo's servers being slammed), and then another 15 waiting for Nintendo Land (Mario took about 6). As far as the Wii U controller screen goes, once I got in the cockpit of the Gunship, I spent my entire time looking at the Wii U controller screen - the TV was completely unnecessary, especially since nobody was watching (the TV displays a live cam of your gameplay). Thankfully, the Wii U controller has a TV remote button, so you can turn it off easily if that bothers you.
Metroid Blast has three different modes. There is Assault Mission, Surface-Air Combat (Gunship vs. Miis), and Ground Battle. Since I didn't have any friends over, I just played Assault Mission. Here you can play as either the Gunship or a Mii, and since I don't have a Wiimote and Nunchuck (recently moved), I just played as the Gunship.
Samus's Gunship is wonky to control at first. You fly using both analog sticks plus the Wii U controller gyro. The left stick is used for acceleration and deceleration while the right stick changes your altitude with up and down and turns with right and left (your Gunship's thrusters will also turn - nice detail!). Tilt the controller to fine-tune movement and aiming. Pressing down on the analog stick will send your gunship into a boost. Holding L will zoom, while R shoots. Hold R to fire a charge shot. As you can tell by the description, the controls are a bit complex, and the gyro in particular takes some getting used to - I didn't start to feel very confident until about two hours in.
There are 20 levels in Assault Mission to start, and it took me about two and a half hours to clear all of them (and there's more...). It will probably take another two or three hours each to go back and play them all on foot and co-op and another hour or two to get Mastery ribbons for each level. I think you could easily get a good six hours out of the single-player mode of just the Metroid Blast mini-game alone, and no doubt dozens more from multiplayer.
Missions consist of destroying all the enemies (sometimes in waves, in others with a time limit), collecting tokens (with time limits), and boss fights. Ridley was in one level, but defeating him was not the objective (however, defeating Ridley made the rest of the mission very easy). Ridley actually has three weak points: his stomach, tail, and mouth, and you have to destroy the orbs on all three to defeat him. The giant mechanical Kraid is another fun boss fight that recalls his appearance in Super Metroid. You have to aim a missile down his throat, which reminded me a little of the Death Star. The boss fights are a lot of fun, and a big draw for this game.
There are more areas than the two shown previously (the futuristic city and Norfair), and at least three different versions of the city level. I won't reveal what the other two areas are, but you might be able to guess one since it's an area we've seen in previous Metroid games. It's got a fantastic cameo, too. The city level plays a Brinstar remix that's quite good, while the Norfair Ancient Ruins Area remix played in the lava stage felt a bit generic. The music in the other maps are completely original, and some of it is quite good.
Each time you clear a level or defeat enough enemies, you earn coins. The coins can be spent in the main hub level by playing a pachinko minigame. The music for the game is annoying, and it consists of Monita flying back and forth above a series of pegs. You have to time the drop of your coins to get them into little holes. Touch all the holes, and you win a prize box. After clearing Metroid Blast once I had about 200 coins, but was only able to get about 15 trophies before I ran out. Prize boxes seem to only be for games you've played - I just played Metroid Blast, and all I got were Metroid trophies. Run into the trophies or tap them to hear a short description from Monita, and sometimes they can be pretty funny, like the Zebesian trophy:
The Zebeisans are a race of Space Pirates from the Planet Zebes. Though the skill is unnecessary for everyday life, they can fire beams from their scissor-like appendages. What a plus.
Overall, Metroid Blast is lots of fun, although as a minigame, it doesn't really have the depth of a Metroid adventure. Hopefully they can take ideas from this and make an all-new Metroid game for the Wii U.
Until next time...