Jeremy Parish is at it again with his The Anatomy Of Games series, this time turning the microscope to 2002's Metroid Fusion for the Game Boy Advance. After tackling the previous three games in the series, Parish is ready to dig into Samus Aran's last traditional 2D adventure and isn't afraid to offer up criticism where criticism is deserved. Right off the bat he lays out how Fusion differs in tone from its beloved predecessor, Super Metroid:
Metroid Fusion came into a world that had little patience for its predecessor’s style. Super Metroid expected observation and patience and mental synthesis of its players; it offered copious clues, and its design nudged players in the proper direction, but it was rarely explicit about directions or even expectations. Masterful as Super Metroid‘s design was, its subtlety was no match for a new generation of gamers who preferred telling to showing, explanation to experimentation. Fusion had to be different — and, as Sakamoto has explained, the team wanted it to be different. Nintendo R&D1 was always about playing around with new ideas, and they’d already made the best possible Super Metroid imaginable with Super Metroid. The sequel needed to be something separate.
So even before the game begins, it throws you off guard by nearly killing Samus Aran.
I missed out on Fusion when it was first released, choosing Metroid Prime for my GameCube as I didn't have a GBA at the time. Prime eventually wore me down and I wished I could've gone for the more traditionally structured title instead. It wasn't until years later when I bought a used GBA SP that I finally experienced Fusion and while it has its flaws and isn't the same kind of Metroid game that fans were accustomed to exploring, it has its charms and is worth playing. Oddly enough, it's also the last game in the Metroid timeline as of this moment; the Metroid Prime games and Other M are interquels staggered around Super Metroid's place in the story. We still have no idea what happens to Samus now that she's part metroid and on the run from the Galactic Federation. No wonder fans demand a sequel — we have to know what happens next!