On April 3rd, Nintendo officially began putting major Game Boy Advance titles on the Wii U’s Virtual Console. This marked the first time that any Game Boy game has come to Nintendo’s immensely popular online store for home systems. One of the first games announced and released was the critically acclaimed Advance Wars. I wrote about Advance Wars two weeks ago and detailed exactly why that game deserved to be at the forefront of this new trend. If you recall though, Advance Wars only one of eight Game Boy Advance games making the transition. This week I’m going to talk about another game, a true classic that is a spectacular entry in one of Nintendo’s longest lasting franchises: Metroid Fusion.
The Metroid series has been a cornerstone in Nintendo’s lineup since 1986. Samus Aran was one of the original female protagonists and she has been destroying as many gender stereotypes as space pirates for nearly three decades. Metroid Fusion is naturally no exception. This 2002 handheld adventure saw our heroine at her most dire when she is infected by a highly contagious X Parasite. The virus attacks her nervous system and very nearly kills her, but Samus is quickly cured by a Galactic Federation vaccine and is given the ability to absorb other X Parasites. Armed with the brand new Fusion Suit, Samus is sent on a mission to investigate the outbreak and stop it by any means necessary. She is hunted throughout by a group of X Parasites that have fused with her old power suits to form the SA-X, an enemy that perfectly mimics her appearance and abilities.
Metroid Fusion is easily one of the best modern examples of the classic Metroid style. The entire game is a sidescrolling action-adventure filled with platforming elements in an open-ended world. While the game is a bit linear at times due its heavy focus on story, it still retains the same adventurous feel many people have come to expect from a Metroid game. It also just happens to be the last wholly original side-scrolling Samus adventure. Even though Metroid: Zero Mission came out in 2004, also for the GBA, it was actually a remake of the original game with some extra content added on. Every original title following Fusion was either a first-person shooter adventure or a hybridization of both first-person and third-person. Unless Nintendo chooses to go back to the classic look like Capcom did with the latest Mega Man games, Fusion was basically the end of a certain era for the Metroid series.
It’s also interesting to note where Fusion falls within the series chronologically. Despite only being the fourth Metroid game released (yes, it took Nintendo 16 years to create four main Samus games), it technically takes place after every single one. The Metroid Prime series started the exact same day as Fusion and that trilogy occurs entirely between the first Metroid/Zero Mission and 1991’s Metroid II: Return of Samus for Game Boy. After that comes 1994’s Super Metroid for the Super Nintendo, and even after THAT is 2010’s Metroid: Other M for the Wii. It has been 12 years and Nintendo has yet to progress this series beyond the events of Fusion.
This is a shame too because Fusion’s story is ripe for continuation in some form. The vaccine that saved Samus in the beginning is actually made from the same cells of an infant Metroid she rescued in Metroid II. That infant died rescuing Samus in Super Metroid, but even in death it kept its “mother” alive. Samus fusing her body with these cells caused her to develop certain traits Metroids have like absorbing X Parasites and a weakness to cold temperatures. This also made her the last living Metroid. Games that follow after Fusion could show Samus trying to start a new Metroid race or even being hunted down by the Galactic Federation for experimentation. Better yet, a new game could find Samus slowly becoming a Metroid and her entire journey is to purge those cells from her body forever. Anything after Fusion has the potential to be entirely unlike what we’ve seen before and it’s high time we saw what’s next.
Considering how immensely popular Samus is, I had known all about her by the time Fusion came out. While researching this subject though, I realized that I knew her mainly from her inclusion in Super Smash Bros. I played a little bit of Super Metroid but that game was way too difficult for me to beat. It never even dawned upon me that, while I was playing the many Super Mario and Legend of Zelda games, Samus just wasn’t getting the attention she rightfully deserved. Fusion is probably the very first Metroid game I actually beat and I absolutely loved it. It was a great way to reintroduce myself to this series that honestly went absent for way too long. How no one was able to make a Metroid game for the Nintendo 64 is absolutely beyond me.
Metroid Fusion combined with Metroid Prime brought on a brand resurgence for the series. Six main games came out over the course of 8 years following these, two more than what we got before in double that time. It’s amazing that Fusion is coming to the Wii U Virtual Console too because we are in dire need of another great Samus adventure. Metroid: Other M was a disappointment for many and it’s time to wash away the bad memories some people have. It would be great if Nintendo putting Fusion into the spotlight is sign of something more. Twelve years have passed and this is an easy way for old fans to refresh their memories. Even if it’s not a sign, Fusion is one of the best Metroid games out there. It absolutely deserves to be one of the first GBA games coming to a home console, and Samus deserves a new adventure like this one.