Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
|Metroid Prime 2: Echoes|
|Release date:||NA: November 15, 2004|
|Game modes:||Single player, multiplayer|
|ESRB rating:||Teen (T)|
|Media:||1.5 gigabyte optical disc|
The game takes place on the planet Aether, where an advanced race of moth-like creatures, the Luminoth, have been living off the natural energy of the planet, called the Light of Aether. A Phazon meteor struck the planet some 80 years previous, dividing the planet and its energy into light and dark dimensions. This new dark world is home to the Ing, a race of dark, liquid like creatures that can inhabit the bodies of the living and the dead. The Ing and Luminoth are locked in a bitter struggle for survival, as Aether's planetary energy cannot support both worlds. The Ing so far have been the victors, taking the energy from three of Light Aether's four temples. On top of this, the Space Pirates have invaded the planet, hoping to reap phazon lost in Tallon IV. A Galactic Federation Marine Corps ship was dispatched a week prior to the game, and contact with them was lost. Samus Aran has been sent into investigate, and meets and forms an alliance with U-Mos, the last of the Luminoth. She receives a container that will allow her to harvest all the energy from the temples on the dark side of the planet. By bringing the energy back, Samus can dissolve the Dark world into the Light world. Finally, a weakened Metroid Prime (creature), known as Dark Samus, is present on the world. It gains power by wearing a variant of Samus's Phazon Suit from Metroid Prime, which includes hugely upgraded, phazon-powered weapon capabilities. It seems to have no objective other than to absorb Phazon, and will destroy anything in its path.
Single-player is the primary focus of the game.
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, like the first Metroid Prime, is a 3-D game in a first-person style. This was a large departure from the series, which had been previously all 2-D sidescrollers. However, Metroid Prime was largely regarded as being true to the basic tenets of the Metroid series, including focuses on exploration and platforming rather than combat. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes uses this same gameplay style as its predecessor, yet features a number of improvements and changes. Of these, the most dramatic is probably the existence of two parallel dimensions, Light and Dark Aether. Changes in one dimension often reflect changes in the other, a concept presumably inspired by games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. While the maps themselves have the same basic layout, the rooms are often completely different, with new enemies and designs. Progress through the game requires that both dimensions be thoroughly explored. The atmosphere of the Dark World, however, is caustic and damages Samus' power suit, requiring the player to move between special "safe zones," at least initially.
There are more cutscenes than Metroid Prime, as well as characters that will talk to you through text displays, a first for the Metroid series. In some of the cutscenes there will also be text displays telling the story through the eyes of one of the cutscene's characters. Voice acting is limited to an invented alien language that will play at specific point in conversations with the Luminoth and briefs samples of English that are spoken by the Federation Troopers during select cutscenes.
The standard Power Beam is the default weapon and remains useful throughout the game; though weak, it has unlimited firing capacity and has the fastest firing rate of any beam. It also can charge safe zones.
Adding to the gameplay mechanic of opposites are the Light and Dark Beams, which are more effective against enemies of the opposite world and have other effects, but have limited ammunition (another first for the series). These beams are also used to open various portals in both of the worlds and activate certain crystals, therefore making the conservation of their ammo all the more pressing. The Light Beam is similar to the Plasma Beam from Prime, it has short range and can set enemies on fire, as well as charge safe zones. It's highly effective against dark enemies. The Dark Beam on the other hand is much like the Ice Beam. It can freeze enemies, allowing for missile shots to destroy them easily. It can snuff out safe zone crystals. The Charge Combos for the beams are the Sun Burst, creates a bright light and shoots off in five directions, and Dark burst, sucks enemies into its dark energy.
Finally, the fourth beam, the Annihilator, is a mixture of both energy types and is quite powerful, though it uses twice as much ammunition as the other two. It has the ability to automatically home in on any enemy target, even without locking on. It is regarded as a sonic weapon: it activates sonic keys. It has a fast firing rate as well. Its Charge Combo is known as the Sonic Boom, which destroys a wide area.
The standard Missiles return to this game, and can be upgraded with a new item to lock on to up to five objects to fire multiple Missiles at the same time. Several puzzles make use of this new ability. Finally, the mainly superfluous (with one exception, the Super Missile) Charge Combos, which fire a number of missiles in conjunction with the selected beam, return, though gameplay is not seriously affected by their acquisition.
One of the oddest parts of the Metroid series has been the Morph Ball function of Samus' Power Suit, which transforms the suit into a compact, mobile sphere. In Metroid Prime, the Morph Ball switched the camera to a third-person view, and several new features were added. These all return, with practically no changes, in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. The Bomb destroys certain objects and propels the ball into the air, and this is used to great effect in gameplay and boss battles. The Boost Ball provides a temporary increase in speed, and is useful for ascending half-pipes and rotating certain devices. New to Echoes is the ability to harm foes by boosting into them. The Spider Ball gives the ball a magnetic charge, allowing it to attach to magnetic rails in the environment. Furthermore, the Bomb and Boost features are usable on the rails, allowing for some extremely intricate platforming puzzles. Boost features were not usable on the rails in Metroid Prime. Finally, the appropriately named Power Bombs destroy even more types of objects and enemies in a very wide radius.
Since the game was shown from Samus' perspective, a new feature of Metroid Prime (though inspired by a feature of Super Metroid) was the inclusion of different visors, which showed the world in different ways. The most important of these was the Scan Visor, which could be used on practically every item of interest in the environment, and stored many different text entries, like creature morphologies and progress reports of your enemy. This returns to the new game, and has been streamlined by highlighting all scannable objects with different colors to indicate scanning status. The other two unique visors are new to this game: the Dark Visor, which reveals and highlights interdimensional objects, and the Echo Visor, which creates a visual representation of sound. Both of these are used in inventive puzzles.
A hallmark of the Metroid series has been the focus on platforming, with upgrades to extend the height and number of jumps possible. In this vein, Metroid Prime featured a double jump, called the Space Jump (though in all other games, the space jump was an infinite somersault power, this would obviously not transfer well to a first-person perspective). MP2:E includes this power, but now features a third-person series of horizontal spinning jumps, called the Screw Attack, as well. (Amusingly, the Screw Attack in all the 2-D games simply made somersaults damaging to enemies, while the Space Jump was the series of somersaults.) This new power dramatically extends the distance ability of Samus' jumps, and even damages enemies, should they get in the way. However, it is primarily an exploratory tool that can be used in conjunction with special walls to scale new heights. Finally, the Grapple Beam returns, allowing the player to swing from special points in the environment. One new aspect to this is that shooting is possible while swinging, which, while not crucial, is a nice touch.
The multiplayer mode allows for up to four person combat through a split screen, but no LAN or online support. It has two modes: the rather self-explanatory Deathmatch, and Bounty mode, which centers around collecting coins that injured players drop. In contrast to most first-person multiplayer games, MP2:E features the same control scheme as the singleplayer mode, including the morph ball and lock-on systems. This move, as well as the inclusion of multiplayer in the first place, has provoked some controversy from gamers, but Retro Studios maintains that this was to differentiate the game from the admittedly large number of multiplayer FPSs on the market. To make the system work better in multiplayer, use of the Boost Ball will throw off another player's lock, allowing an escape. Play is further livened up by different environments featuring grapple points, magnetic rails for the Spider Ball, Morph Ball cannons and water pits. All players start out with the Power Beam, Charge Beam, Morph Ball, Boost Ball, Spider Ball, Space Jump and Grapple Beam, and can pick up many of the single-player game's power-ups through crates or Randomizers scattered around. Critical reactions to the multiplayer mode are mainly mediocre, stating that the mode is simplistic fun, but is largely out of date when compared to other multiplayer games on the market. It certainly does not detract from the single player aspect, however.
Nintendo has made the curious decision not to convert the game into a PAL 50Hz mode for its European release. The game only supports a 60Hz PAL display, which is usually an option available in European game releases. As a result, the game will be unplayable or suffer from visual distortion (squashed, stretched, or rolling image) on televisions which do not support 60Hz modes. The game itself, and advertising, make this clear, although whether the average user will be aware of what the warning means is uncertain.
In the instruction manual for the game Nintendo claims it is to give a better gaming experience, as 60 Hz games are sharper. This is true; however, it is considered unusual for a console game not to support Europe's TV standard completely; the last major console title to be 60Hz-only was the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker bonus disk. It is speculated that the (often time-consuming) PAL50 conversion was omitted in order to have the game ready for the highly lucrative Christmas video game sales period, which the game's predecessor missed by several months.
Nintendo have not yet announced a PAL50 version for release a later date. However, given the tweaks to Metroid Prime for its Player's Choice re-release, it seems likely that a 50Hz mode will be available when Echoes makes its move to the budget range.
Alternate reality game
Channel 51 is modeled after conspiracy-theory websites. There are numerous connections with Metroid. For example, the author's pseudonym is "Samantha Manus;" this name takes its first three letters and last two from "Samus." Ms. Manus hails from a "Sumas, Washington"; "Sumas" is an anagram of "Samus", and Nintendo of America's headquarters are in Washington state. Also, the website offers grainy QuickTime videos that it dubs "The Rossler Transmission", which were taken from Metroid Prime 2.
Orbis Labs is a development firm of sorts. Their current project is the "Battle Sphere", which promises to have all the power of a tank and all the mobility of an infantry unit as it allows soldiers to morph into its shell. It seems to be based on the ubiquitous Morph Ball item from the Metroid series.
Athena Astronautics is a site that is pursuing sending women into space. There are mentions of suit, weapons, and combat training--references to Samus Aran's Power Suit. There is also a blog that dismisses Channel 51 (above) and Samantha Manus, but makes no mention of how the videos clearly show Metroid Prime 2 footage.
I Love Beams
There is also a number of sites that were most likely created in response to ilovebees.com, the hub for the promotional campaign of Halo 2. Someone bought dozens of domain names that all show that same thing: a closeup of Samus Aran with the caption "ALL YOUR BEES ARE BELONG TO US. NEVER SEND A MAN TO DO A WOMAN'S JOB."
The current list is:
- Cream cheese
- Metroid II: Return of Samus
- Super Metroid
- Metroid Fusion
- Metroid Zero Mission
- Metroid Prime: Hunters
- Gunpei Yokoi
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