"Welcome to Planet Zebes. Population: exactly 800 words. "
Welcome to Planet Zebes. Population: exactly 800 words.
We are descending upon a seemingly barren wasteland. Look behind you and you'll see some fifty massive purple peaks looming in the distance. On either side lie entrances to mysterious, semi-illuminated caverns and to the front, the unsightly mug of a sleep-deprived video gamer. Planet Zebes may not strike you as a very hospitable environment, but over the past eighteen years - since the courageous intergalactic bounty hunter, Samus, took her first steps for mankind - more than a few significant improvements have been made. The subterranean caves are still quite the tourist hotspot. You'll notice that the simple 8-bit colour palette of the past is now but a fleeting memory. The long-winded tunnels that you'll be spending most of your time in have been redecorated with an attractive selection of crisp, highly chromatic sprites that any SNES console would be proud of. The community of beetles, burrowers, shriekbats and of course, the life-sucking Metroids is still as prominent as ever; please ensure that your cannon arm is fully operational before you enter.
Once inside, you'll encounter many forks and pitfalls with every few steps. Although the underground habitat is vast, encompassing five large and distinct areas, it is somewhat claustrophobic; most corridors are less than GBA-screen height and because of this, we only permit one person to enter at a time. Don't be afraid, though - there's plenty of help inside. You'll require a means to negotiate through some incredibly narrow canals if you hope to explore the deepest depths of Zebes' lair. We are well aware that your BMI is unlikely to be below 10 and as such, a morph ball power-up has been placed at the entrance for your own use. Turning into a near-indestructible ball and rolling around the place is a lot of fun - do try it. There are more surprises that await you further in. Although your cannon blaster may initially seem puny with a firing range equivalent to your height, upgrades are available that will allow you to shoot to the end of the screen, fire off a barrage of explosive missiles, and freeze biological entities in their tracks. Some regions are brutally hot, more scorching than the centre of the Earth in fact; you’ll need to enhance your suit in order to survive these isolated places. Again, everything you need can be found inside. If you have a keen sense of adventure, do look out for anything that looks out-of-place. Shoot it or bomb it and you may just discover a secret passageway that will lead to missile and/or health upgrades. We got a little bored while renovating.
With so much to uncover, I know you’re thinking “what if we get lost?” If worse comes to worst, no-one can hear you scream in outer-space. You might want to pack an FAQ along with your munchies. From my own experiences, however, there is no need. At all times, you have access to an electronic map that automatically constructs what areas you have already explored. Map stations are scattered throughout to make things even easier. We have learnt from our past mistake of Super proportions (who complained again?) and various Chozo (ancient bird) statues have been mounted in key locations to tell you exactly where your next destination is. Forgive us if you dislike the hand-holding; we had to cater for the young ones as well. We did leave some ingenious puzzle-solving scenarios, though, one of which involves an overgrown slug blocking the way; shooting at its armoured hide knocks it back temporarily, but just how will you damage its unexposed underbelly that always hugs the ground? As it wiggles its way towards you, think of explosive thoughts.
It looks like it’s time for your grand entrance. Bear in mind all the things we’ve discussed and be aware that there are many more surprises to come. Who knows? You may very well encounter two or three giant-sized monsters that have had a million too many Big Macs – don’t say I didn’t warn you. Keep your head up at all times too; I’ve been informed that Space Pirates have been running amuck as of late and they’re absolutely dying to bring a sexy blonde back with them to their home planet. Nevertheless, I’m sure you’ll thoroughly enjoy your tour of Planet Zebes and its underlying creepy-crawly city. It’s not very long; you’ll be out in about three hours or so. Returning visitors usually take just two hours and speed-runners can blast past within the one. But as I like to say, “Quality over quantity” - there’s a reason why so many people come back to visit us time after time again.
VERDICT – 9.0/10 Not the best, but it’s up there with the rest. ‘Til next time!
Community review by arkrex (October 14, 2007)
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