Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 29.11.2004

Review for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on GameCube

Metroid Prime is considered to be easily in the Top 5 GameCube games of all time, if not No.1. Therefore, there was always going to be a high amount of anticipation surrounding the production of its sequel, aptly title Metroid Prime 2. But with so many problems regarding the release of the first outing, can Retro Studios pull off a second miracle? Read on and all will be revealed...

Once more Samus Aran is on a galactic mission of major importance. She has travelled to the Planet Aether in the hope of lending support to Federation Troopers who managed to get trapped on the world whilst chasing a gang of evil Space Pirates. However, passing through an electrical storm causes Ms Aran's vessel to malfunction when struck by a charge and she subsequently has to crash-land. Deciding to find out what happened to the Troopers, Samus comes across a dark version of herself quickly heading through a strange portal. Upon following, she is transported to another dimension, where she is immediately ambushed, having all her gear stolen by a race called the Ing. Managing to escape, just, her adventure begins once more without her full array and she eventually teams up with the Luminoth of the planet, whilst also discovering more horrors in the logs of her dead comrades' log entries.

Metroid Prime was amazing, a true graphical masterpiece on the GameCube and a standard to which developers have desperately strived to match over the past two years, yet never quite surpassed. Therefore, who better than to one-up Retro, than Retro itself? Indeed, Echoes is a superior title on many levels, visuals included, with the dark overtones of the Metroid legacy being present in full effect. But, as most know by now, this is no 2D side-scroller like the past editions, pre-Prime, this is full-on 3D environments with breath-taking effects dripping from the jam-packed GameCube disc. An ultra-fast frame rate, no collision or clipping problems, rich, dark colours all around and eye-popping character models and locations that would have PC owners crying - Doom 3, never heard of it! Echoes is that...damn...good...

Screenshot for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on GameCube

This really is no slouch at all. We have all seen what pains Nintendo goes to include tiny little details that not many will really notice without looking that little bit closer than normal, but the fact that Retro has emulated this approach is highly commendable. The weapon effects are as spectacular as ever, Samus looks amazing (yes, even with her suit on) and the Dark World will give you the creeps, definitely. There is nothing twee here, it is all about the moodiness of the whole adventure series and Retro thankfully does not look like lifting that gloomy feeling. Go on, rub your eyes all you want - this is no dream, this is Nintendo Reality.

Sure, there are hundreds, if not thousands of games in the world that have memorable soundtracks, most stay with you because they are extremely catchy, whilst some stick in your mind for all the wrong reasons. Yet if you alter the search option here to 'soundtracks that scare the wits out of you', then you will see that figure quickly whittled down to a select few, the entire Metroid series included. Now Retro has succeeded in reproducing that feeling of dread all over again, with torturing silences, bass-trembling humming, frantic, fast-paced tunes and a pleasing variety of extra music that suits the mood of each location you visit. Sitting with the title's menu screen music on very loud through my stereo used to stop me from diving straight into the game in the first GC version and there are instances here that have me doing just that all over again - captivating music, the sort of stuff that really taps into your nervous system and filters all round your body. Shiver-inducing work from Kenji Yamamoto...

But music is not everything, especially in a game such as this. Without the proper sound effects then everything would seem rather lifeless and dull. Thankfully Retro has not skimped on this factor and delivers booming fire power, squelching enemies, terrifying screeches from those in the throes of death, computerised speech that passes on information to you and much more. There is nothing more ominous that the eerie silence that descends upon you at times, because it gets your adrenaline pumping automatically as you just know there is something little noise going to slip out somewhere soon, then all hell will let loose. Atmospheric? Echoes goes beyond that to a place that cannot be described! Heck, there is even the odd bout of human speech in the cut-scenes...

Screenshot for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on GameCube

Why criticise a game for being like its predecessor when the majority of the Industry deemed its prequel to be Game of the Year 2002? That would just be crazy, right? Exactly, hence you will not see any of that here. It is like telling folk to ignore Majora's Mask as it uses the same engine as Ocarina of Time. See what I mean? Now Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is clearly an evolution of the Prime world, rather than a revolution, but Retro has done wonders with what was a technically excellent game and what some would say a miracle production considering its development circumstances. What more can you ask for really, if an already excellent game is improved upon? Well, let us see if we can work that answer out...

You begin by your crash-landed ship, all your abilities intact and ready for usage. Therefore, you can space jump by pressing jump twice, morph into a ball with a quick ‘Y’ tap, then power boost as you roll and drop bombs to bounce yourself upwards and blow things up. However, very early on you are mugged and must survive with just the basic charge beam, morph ball ability and weakened power suit. By this point you have only been given a glimpse of the Dark World that awaits you later on. To tell you the truth, flicking to the scanning mode and looking round, you would not be criticised for thinking the only thing to change is the actual way you scan items! But that is only the beginning of the fine tuning. Forget all the talk of dual-analogue control, it really is not needed as you will be strafing, taking quick glances all over, rolling and jumping your way around with the greatest of ease thanks to the layout of controls – you would think the GC controller was Retro’s best friend it knows it so well!

The first basic task is to locate your stolen equipment as soon as possible, or else face annihilation at the hands of the enemy. Therefore you head off and everything is dead around you – life just is part of the equation, which goes on for such a while that you fall into complacency (all helped along by the music tone running in the background) and then BANG you get the shock of your life as the dead troopers around you spring to life and begin attacking you. And that goes on until the end of the game – surprise after surprise, shock after shock; Echoes never disappoints be it with the re-introduction of the wall jumping taught to Samus in Super Metroid, the heavy slant on puzzles of the Morph ball variety or even the return of the Grapple Beam that gives you that wonderful sense of freedom as you are flung through the air to heights once unreachable. That last point is why this is not a First-Person Shooter, folks. Retro never took the stalwart adventure series and changed its genre, it merely placed the ‘go fetch’ idea into the three-dimensional field. A new depth has been brought to the series, a depth that is emphasised even more in Echoes than ever before, with secrets a-plenty to be discovered, uncovered and then recovered!

Screenshot for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on GameCube

‘Go fetch’, meaning find and retread your steps. Please refrain from groaning as this is no boring linear experience, it is a test of the gameplaying mind. Stay sharp and you will not go wrong; just like in many great games over the years, you wander past something and think how annoying it is you cannot reach it or get through. Then all of a sudden you complete one of the Light/Dark World puzzles (which, for those not familiar with any of the Zelda games’ duo-world systems can lead to something being changed in one world and it directly affecting the other) or acquire the Light/Dark Beams (just think vice versa as much as you can and you will figure things out perfectly – Light kills Dark…) and something triggers in your head. Yes, finally you can uncover the secrets of that door! And to help you on your way are new functions like the Dark Visor (allows you to see creatures and objects in the other dimension), Echo Visor (changing sound waves into visuals, DareDevil-style) and others that you will take great pleasure in finding and more than make up for the exclusion of the Wave and Ice Beams. By the way, have you worked out the answer to the original question? The answer is quite obviously: nothing.

Metroid Prime lasted around fourteen-fifteen hours and that was without getting the full 100% of what was available, so people were quite happy considering the Metroid experience usually ends after about five hours. Retro really had managed to not only capture the feeling of the series and help it with the transition to 3D, but actually extended its lifespan far beyond people’s expectations. Guess what, though? Echoes takes this newly risen bar and lifts it even higher to the point of craziness. Even if you want to complete just the main adventure without doing anything to side-track your playtime, you will probably be looking at close to twenty five hours. No joking at all here, none in the slightest.

You see, everything is much more difficult overall. You heard me. Therefore, those who cried whilst facing some of the latter stages in Prime are going to be tearing their hair out in frustration and cowering behind their big fluffy cushions in the hope that the next big boss will just disappear if ignored for long enough. But there is no chance of that. Then, for the perfectionists out there, there is even more scanning to be done, with practically everything around you holding a tasty morsel of data (if anybody manages to not even miss one object they deserve a medal) and the collection of items to unlock extras is equally immense. But that is all on top of the extravagant puzzles, switching between Light and Dark worlds and, oh yeah, the multi-player side of things, where four of you can blast away at each other in what proves to be an enjoyable, if somewhat rudimentary addition. Variety? It sure is Retro’s spice of choice!

Screenshot for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

It is surprisingly difficult to criticise Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, which comes as quite a shock considering I was in the minority who felt its predecessor was slightly over-rated...Echoes still does not manage to touch the SNES' Super Metroid, but Retro has done a damn fine job in getting closer to the Nintendo classic than anyone ever has done before. Better than the original Prime? Yes. Worth getting even if you have the original? Definitely. Should you still be reading this? No, go get yourself a copy now...!






First Person Shooter



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (127 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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