thoughts on METROID FUSION

I just pulled my old game boy advance out of cold storage and played metroid fusion, a game I have not seen or played in 15 years or so oh God time is a flat circle

anyway, here are some random assorted thoughts on this little gem:

-it’s so short! my play-through included many, many stupid deaths because I’ve grown bad and lazy at video games, and I still beat it in under 4 hours.

-what’s interesting about the GBA 2D metroid games, in contrast to their three SNES/NES/GB counterparts, is that they have all the mechanics and visual flair of the series but almost none of its soul.

this isn’t really a bad thing — they have a different soul, really, which is that of narratively-driven linear video gaming with gated progress and clear interstitial objectives. exploration is limited to finding extra trinkets and not a fundamental aspect of game play or storytelling.

it’s more notable with Zero Mission, which took a game that was explicitly “you have no idea where you are or what you are doing. begin!” and turned it into a much more straightforward follow-the-objective platformer.

this is sort of the progression zelda was on, too, before BOTW pushed back hard on that trend.

-lord do I not care for the Navigation Room exposition; I’m not even talking about the spell-out-your-objective stuff, it’s the Adam storyline that grates on me. it doesn’t take up too much space, ultimately, but it’s still far more than I needed for something that never meant anything emotionally or narratively

this guy still sucks and I hate him and he’s gross

-switching to clear positives: the visual detail in this game is so awesome; it’s one of the real shining stars of the game boy advance hardware. full of visual storytelling and 16-bit sci-fi atmosphere

-cool little world-building detail: the ice X blobs attack you aggressively when you’re weak to them, and continue doing so for the first few rooms after you get the varia suit, but after a little while they start to realize they’re not hurting you anymore and then they try to run away after that.

-the whole “samus has been infected by X” thing is silly from a narrative standpoint but brilliant for the gameplay. it’s totally unnecessary to explain why/how power ups exist in a game like this, but having those power-ups simultaneously be living things that are your enemy but which you can absorb to heal yourself is a really cool dynamic

it adds a little dynamism to every room how they can re-form into enemies if you don’t absorb them quickly enough. the game even toys with this mechanic later on, though not as much as it probably could have

-so much of this game is just tweaking super metroid, which is both clever and a little disappointing. so many of the enemies are retreads, which is both sensible from the narrative premise and also means most of the climactic battles are hollow echoes of a much more intriguing game

like, the SA-X doing the metroid hatchling self-sacrifice thing is completely inexplicable except as a callback; ridley’s appearance is fun but gratuitous; for a game that starts by blowing up samus’s suit they really do not stray at all from the formula in terms of weaponry.

all that said, it’s a very polished take on the formula, and I still love it. it’s honestly hard to play the SNES game after all the refinement that’s come in its wake.

-the X themselves are a moderately interesting, if fairly tried-and-true, sci-fi villain. sort of a borg-flubber merger.

-it is so bizarre and Japanese-family-friendly that the game’s progressive reward system for beating it quickly, with all the stuff, etc. is to give you pictures of Samus that range from “person wearing a full-body spacesuit” to “mildest cheesecake”, but I guess this is pre-Zero Suit we’re talking about

Woke Me Up Inside – 10. MY LAST BREATH, WHISPER, and Coherent Mission Statements

All I wanted to say was I love you and I’m not afraid.

It would be nice if I could say it took me this long to write this, the final proper chapter in my series on Fallen and wokeness, because I was spending hours every day agonizing over each word, ensuring that the thesis and evidence provided therein would crystallize this whole ragged mess into something beautiful, singular, and focused.

Nope! Instead I’m inspired by my specific inability to do that.

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Woke Me Up Inside – 9. HELLO and Survival Mechanisms

seriously though this album cover is way better than Evanescence’s actual album covers

Hello: I’m your mind, giving you someone to talk to…

You’ve definitely heard “My Immortal,” but have you listened to “Hello,” otherwise known as the Evanescence piano ballad for real hardcore Evanescence fans? (we call ourselves “Evanesceheads”) (actually even better is the piano/instrumental ballad “Eternal” from Origin, you’ve probably never heard that one, I’m smarter and better than you because I have a functional grasp of Wikipedia and YouTube)

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Woke Me Up Inside – 7. IMAGINARY, aka In Defense of Safe Spaces

“I really hope that bird doesn’t poop on me”

(I lied! Here’s the next essay after all! You’re welcome!)

Where the raindrops as they’re falling tell a story…

Every time I hear “Imaginary” I get a little confused, because it’s never the version of the song I’m expecting to hear.

(content warning: discussion of triggers and psychological harm)

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Woke Me Up Inside – 4. MY IMMORTAL and Posthumous Emotional Labor

Now I’m bound by the life you left behind…

Fun fact: If you’ve listened to Evanescence’s pre-major-label EP Origin, you’ve heard exactly the same studio take for “My Immortal” that you’d heard the first time you listened to Fallen. Against Amy Lee’s wishes, Wind Up Records stuck with that demo recording through the band’s initial album release and the song’s music video; it wasn’t until later, when the song was re-released as a single after Fallen was a hit, that Lee had the clout to insist on a proper re-record.

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