North American box art
|Release date(s)||Game Boy Advance
(3DS Ambassador Program)
Metroid Fusion (メトロイドフュージョン Metoroid Fyūjon?) is an action-adventure video game published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance. It was released in North America, Europe, and Australia in November 2002, and in Japan in February 2003. The game is considered to be the fourth main installment in the Metroid series; the intro alternatively refers to the game as Metroid 4. Metroid Fusion was developed by Nintendo Research & Development 1, the same development team that created the previous Super Metroid, to which Metroid Fusion bears heavy resemblance.
Chronologically, Metroid Fusion is the latest in the Metroid series. The story centers on bounty hunter Samus Aran, who is sent by the Galactic Federation to the Biologic Space Laboratories space station to investigate an explosion. There, she learns that the station is swarming with organisms infected with X Parasites, virions that can replicate their hosts' physical appearances and memories, killing them afterward. Learning that the Galactic Federation plans to capture the X Parasites for further study, Samus must destroy the space station to protect the Federation from the underestimated destructive power of the X Parasites.
The game was given near-universal acclaim, receiving an aggregated score of 92 out of 100 from Metacritic. Praise focused on the action-oriented gameplay, while criticism targeted towards the focus on objective based gameplay, thus making the game more linear compared to Super Metroid. Metroid Fusion received several awards, including Handheld Game of the Year at the 2002 Interactive Achievement Awards, Best Game Boy Advance Adventure Game from IGN, and Best Action Game on Game Boy Advance from GameSpot. In the United States, the game sold 199,723 copies in its first month with revenues of $5,590,768, making it the month's tenth bestselling game. By August 2006, 940,000 copies of the game were sold in North America, while by November 2004, 155,000 units were sold in Japan.
Metroid Fusion is an action-adventure platform shooter in which the player controls Samus Aran. Like previous games in the series, Metroid Fusion is set in a large open-ended world with elevators that connect regions, which each in turn contains rooms separated by doors. Samus opens most doors by shooting at them, while some only open after she reaches a certain point. Metroid Fusion unfolds in a more linear manner than previous Metroid games due to its focus on storyline; for example, Navigation Rooms are introduced in Metroid Fusion, which tell the player where to go. The gameplay revolves around solving puzzles to uncover secrets, platform jumping, and shooting enemies while searching for power-ups that allow Samus to reach new areas. Injected with a Metroid vaccine in Metroid Fusion, Samus can absorb X Parasites that restore health, missiles, and bombs. Power-ups can be obtained either by downloading them in Data Rooms, or absorbing a Core-X, which appears after defeating each boss. Metroid Fusion includes gameplay mechanics new to the series such as the ability to grab ledges and climb ladders.
Owners of both Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion can unlock new features in Metroid Prime using the Nintendo GameCube – Game Boy Advance link cable. After completing Metroid Prime, the player can unlock Samus's Fusion Suit for use in Metroid Prime, and if they complete Metroid Fusion, they can unlock an emulated version of the first Metroid game. Players can also link Metroid Fusion to Metroid: Zero Mission to unlock a Metroid Fusion picture gallery, which includes additional concept art and extra images from the Japanese version of Metroid Fusion which chronicle Samus's early years.
The game begins with Samus Aran acting as a bodyguard for the Biologic's research team on planet SR388. Eventually, a Hornoad confronts them and is killed by Samus. However, a globular yellow organism (an X) emerges from the Hornoad as it is destroyed and enters Samus's body.
Feeling no initial effects, Samus continues escorting the researchers and completes the assignment. On the way back to the laboratory, however, Samus loses consciousness, and her gunship crashes into an asteroid belt. The ship's emergency systems automatically ejected Samus' escape pod, saving her from the crash, but her gunship is completely destroyed. Samus is quickly attended to by a medical crew, who discover that the creature that entered her body on SR388 was actually a parasitic organism that they soon named X.
The organic components of Samus's Power Suit had become so integrated with her system that it could not be removed while she was unconscious. Large portions of her infected suit had to be surgically removed, dramatically altering its appearance. However, the X in Samus's central nervous system were too embedded to be removed safely; Samus's chances of survival were lower than one percent.
Metroids are the only known predator of the X; however, since Samus destroyed all the Metroids on SR388 in a previous mission, the X were able to multiply unchecked. Seeing this as the key to curing her, doctors proposed using a Metroid cell from Samus' dead Baby Metroid to make an anti-X vaccine. Apparently, the Federation had managed to preserve a cell culture from the Baby that saved Samus while she was on Zebes a second time. The serum was prepared and injected without delay, completely eradicating the X. There were, however, two side effects: Samus could no longer be hurt by normal X and could even absorb them to replenish health and ammunition, but she also inherited the Metroids' vulnerability to cold.
Upon recovering, Samus is sent to investigate an explosion on the Biologic Space Laboratories research station, where the specimens from SR388 and the infected pieces of her Power Suit are being held. Once she arrives at the station, Samus immediately heads to the Quarantine Bay, where she encounters and kills a Hornoad that has been infected by an X parasite. Samus speaks with her new gunship's computer (whom she has named "Adam", as it reminds her of a former CO) and learns that the specimens brought back by the field team have become infected by the X. The computer also reveals that the X can use the DNA of its prey to create a perfect copy, meaning any organic life on the station may also be infected.
As she continues to explore the station, Samus discovers that the X have created a copy of Samus herself, dubbed the SA-X (or Samus Aran-X). Since the SA-X arose from Samus while wearing her fully upgraded Power Suit, it has all of her powered-up abilities, as evidenced by it using a Power Bomb to escape the Quarantine Bay. By exploding the bomb, the SA-X also destroyed the capsules holding the X specimens, releasing them all into the station. Well into her investigation of the station, Samus stumbles upon the facility's Restricted Lab. Here, she finds dozens of infant Metroids and several more Metroids in various stages of maturity, all in stasis; these were the results of a cloning project of which Samus was not previously aware. Shortly after Samus discovers them, the SA-X attempts to destroy its predators, but its plan backfires: the Metroids break free and the emergency fail-safes are activated as a result. Samus barely escapes before the lab locks down completely and is jettisoned from the station, exploding over SR388.
After the incident at the Restricted Lab, Samus speaks with her ship's computer, who is angry about the discovery and subsequent destruction of the Metroids. The computer explains that the Federation had been secretly working on a Metroid breeding program, for "peaceful applications". The computer reveals that the station's SRX environment, a replica of the SR388 ecosystem, was ideal for raising Alpha, Gamma, Zeta, and even Omega Metroids. The research uncovered techniques for rapid growth, allowing an infant grow into an Omega Metroid in mere days. Unfortunately, the SA-X had been tracking Samus down and followed her to the lab's location. Much to Samus's surprise, the computer also mentions that the SA-X has been reproducing asexually and there are no fewer than 10 aboard the station.
Later, the computer tells Samus that she has caused enough damage and instructs her to leave the rest of the investigation to the Federation. Apparently, the Federation has taken an interest in the X and SA-X and believe that this life-form has endless applications. Samus, having seen the SA-X's destructive capabilities firsthand, is strongly against this. She is convinced that the X will overwhelm the Federation troops as soon as they land, absorbing their powers and knowledge in the process. If this happens, they could easily spread throughout the galaxy and "galactic civilization will end."
As an alternative, Samus decides to activate the station's self-destruct mechanism in order to destroy the X, risking her own life in the process. However, her ship's computer has locked Samus in a Navigation Room, as the Federation has ordered it to keep her confined until their arrival. Desperate, Samus yells at the computer: "Don't let them do this. Can't you see what will happen, Adam?" Puzzled at the use of the name, the computer inquires as to who this Adam was. Samus reveals that he had been her previous commanding officer and had died saving her life. Apparently moved by Samus's revelation, the computer agrees with the plan, and suggests that if Samus were to alter the station's orbit, then she might be able to include the planet in the explosion, thus ensuring the destruction of the X on planet SR388 as well as those on the station. At this point, Samus realizes that her ship's computer truly is Adam Malkovich, whose personality had been uploaded to a computer prior to his death.
Samus hurries to the Operations Room, where she is confronted by an SA-X. She manages to defeat it, but its Core-X escapes before she can absorb it. Ignoring its escape, Samus initiates the self-destruct sequence and hurries back to her ship. However, she finds the docking bay in ruins and her ship gone. Before she can react to the situation, an Omega Metroid appears, apparently having escaped from the Restricted Lab before its destruction and grown to full size in record time. Samus possesses no weapon capable of damaging the Metroid, and a single swipe of its claw reduces her energy reserves to one unit. As the Omega Metroid prepares to finish her off, the SA-X returns, and attacks the Metroid with its Ice Beam, injuring it. However, it was greatly weakened from its fight with Samus and is quickly defeated by the Metroid. This time, the Core-X hovers over Samus, allowing her to absorb it and obtain the Omega Suit as well as the Ice Beam and restoring her genetic condition to its pre-vaccine state. Using her regained abilities, Samus fights and kills the Omega Metroid after a fierce struggle. After the battle, Samus's ship reenters the bay, having been piloted by the computer, Adam, and the same Etecoons and Dachoras she saved on the previous mission to Zebes and later on the Habitation Deck.
As Samus leaves the station, it is shown crashing into SR388, destroying both the station and the planet, ridding the universe of the X forever.
Reflecting on her actions, Samus doubts people will understand why she destroyed the X, nor will they realize the danger that was barely averted. Samus believes she will be held responsible for defying the Federation, but Adam comforts her, telling her: "Do not worry. One of them will understand. One of them must." A final reflection, Samus goes on to say: "we are all bound by our experiences. They are the limits of our consciousness. But in the end, the human soul will ever reach for the truth... This is what Adam taught me."
Metroid Fusion was developed by Nintendo Research & Development 1, the same development team that created the 1994 video game Super Metroid for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which visually bears a resemblance to Metroid Fusion. Its gameplay, screen layout, and controls mimic those of Super Metroid, with minor enhancements. Metroid Fusion is the first 2D Metroid game with animated cut scenes; the game's story is revealed through text and visual close-ups. Nintendo announced on August 22, 2002, that the game can connect to Metroid Prime for the Nintendo GameCube, a Metroid game that was released on the same day as Metroid Fusion. While brainstorming for ideas to Metroid Fusion's plot, the game's lead designer, Yoshio Sakamoto, decided to create an original story instead of remaking a Metroid game because he "always [tries] to do something really unprecedented, something people have never played before". He continued, saying, "Many of our designers and creators want to challenge something new rather than simply porting over an old title. That's something I hope we'll always do. If you can challenge something new, you can look forward to the public response, be it good or bad." The game introduces gameplay mechanics that are new to the Metroid series. Metroid Fusion offers a more direct, almost mission-based structure that supports the player to explore areas. Objectives are also flexible in how they can be completed, acting "more as a guide for what the player should do instead of giving a completely blank map and saying 'Here you go, figure out what to do and how to do it'".
Nintendo first confirmed an unnamed Metroid title would be released for the Game Boy Advance handheld game console on March 23, 2001. Despite speculation that the game would be based on Super Metroid, Ken Lobb, Nintendo of America's Director of Game Development, quelled rumors by stating, "One of the things I wanted to get across in today's meeting is that Metroid is not Super Metroid. It's something new. [...] And that's something that will hopefully be seen at E3 for our sweet little Game Boy Advance." The first video footage from the game, a 10-second clip, was shown to the public on May 18, 2001, at the 2001 E3 convention; by then, the game was titled Metroid IV. At the E3 convention the following year, IGN awarded the game, titled Metroid Fusion, their Best of Show and Best Action Game awards. In August 2002, the game was scheduled for a release date of November 18, 2002.
Versions and sales
Metroid Fusion was released by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance in North America on November 17, 2002, in Europe on November 22, 2002, in Australia on November 29, 2002, in Japan on February 14, 2003, and in China on March 2, 2006. The Japanese release of Fusion contains additional features that were not included in the Western releases, such as a "Gallery" option for viewing the game's endings and adjustable difficulty levels, with each of three levels varying in the amount of damage caused by the enemies. Said version also offers a choice between hiragana and kanji syllabaries. Metroid Fusion was released worldwide for the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console on December 16, 2011, as part of the "3DS Ambassadors" program, which was announced by Nintendo on July 28, 2011. The game was one of ten Game Boy Advance games that can only be downloaded with 3DSs bought before a price-cut on August 11, 2011. During the Nintendo Direct on February 13, 2014, Nintendo announced Metroid Fusion would be among the first three Game Boy Advance games to be released on the Wii U's Virtual Console; the game was released for the service on April 3, 2014.
In its debut month of November 2002 in the United States, 199,723 copies of Metroid Fusion were sold, with total revenues of $5,590,768, making it the third bestselling Game Boy Advance game in that month, and the tenth bestselling game across all platforms. The game went on to sell over 1.08 million copies in North America by August 2006, with revenues more than $27 million. As of November 2004, the game has sold 180,000 units in Japan.
The critical reception for Metroid Fusion was very positive; it received an aggregated score of 92 out of 100 from Metacritic, which is considered "universal acclaim". The game was considered fun and satisfying by several reviewers. X-Play claimed that it was a "pleasure to play", and praised its "beautiful" graphics and audio. The game satisfied IGN, which appreciated the lengthy minimum of 10 to 12 hours of playtime required to complete the game, further hailing it as an "outstanding achievement on the Game Boy Advance". GamesRadar and GamePro, however, felt that the game was "a little short", but still "love[d] every minute of it", finding the hidden secrets and new power-ups "sublimely ingenious". The sentiment was shared with GameSpot, which was disappointed that the game ended so soon, but still stated, "Metroid fans should absolutely get it, as should anyone willing to trade off some quantity for some serious quality in their gaming time." Metroid Fusion received several accolades. It was named Handheld Game of the Year at the 2002 Interactive Achievement Awards. The game was also chosen as Best Game Boy Advance Adventure Game by IGN and Best Action Game on Game Boy Advance by GameSpot.
Nintendo World Report and Eurogamer were excited about the game, both calling it the best 2D Metroid game and the best Game Boy Advance game so far. Video game magazine Game Informer agreed, describing the game as "everything you could want from a Game Boy Advance game" from beginning to end, giving it a perfect review score. Play also enjoyed the game, describing it as a "magnified, modified, and improved" version of everything great from Metroid and Super Metroid.
Comparing the game to Super Metroid, GameSpot thought that Metroid Fusion offered that game's best qualities packaged in a new adventure. Nintendo Power heralded it as a return to the classic Metroid action gameplay style. The "perfect" controls were praised by Electronic Gaming Monthly, concluding its review by claiming "all games should feel this good." The game did not feel new to GameSpy, which complained that even the final enemy encounter draws heavy inspiration from Super Metroid. GameZone found that the small screen was a poor environment in which to play Metroid Fusion, but they ultimately still found it an exciting game.
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