The adventures of intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran continue in “Metroid Fusion,” picking up where “Super Metroid” for the Super Nintendo left off in 1994. “Fusion” is the direct heir to the classic 2-D gameplay that is synonymous with the “Metroid” name.

Todd Weiser
Courtesy of Nintendo
What? No way, Samus is a chick?

What sets “Fusion” apart from previous entries in the “Metroid” series is its immersive storyline that includes more insight into Samus’ personality and motivation than any game before. The plot even features some unexpected twists, which are a pleasant surprise, coming from a series that has never been very story-driven.

The style of play in “Metroid Fusion” is the same exploration-based adventure that fans of the series have come to expect, but, for the first time, the action takes place entirely in a space station rather than on an alien planet.

Despite this difference, the derelict Biologic space station contains a variety of simulated environments from a deep sea area to a volcanic landscape.

There is also a wide array of abilities to earn in these areas, both new and old, from ice missiles to the screw attack. Each new ability Samus gains allows access to previously- blocked areas containing hidden power ups. Needless to say, detailed exploration and backtracking are key to “Metroid Fusion.”

Boss battles in “Fusion” are both challenging and abundant, featuring monsters such as a massive security robot, a new incarnation of old nemesis Ridley and even an overgrown plant boss highly reminiscent of Mother Brain. The huge and intimidating bosses and narrative cutscenes look great, showcasing some of the best graphics displayed on Game Boy Advance to date.

“Fusion” even includes some special features that can be accessed using the Game Boy Advance to GameCube link cable and “Metroid Prime” for the GameCube. By finishing the games and then connecting both systems, players can unlock the ability to play “Metroid Prime” wearing Samus’ new fusion suit. Players can also unlock the original 1986 “Metroid” and play it on GameCube.

“Metroid Fusion” revamps the side-scrolling “Metroid” series, proving once again the 2-D platformer is still alive and well.

Although the game is relatively short, every minute is worthwhile and challenging without being overly frustrating.

“Fusion” adds depth to the continuing story of Samus, making the anticipation for the next “Metroid” game even greater than it was after “Super Metroid.” Not only is “Fusion” a phenomenal addition to the highly regarded “Metroid” franchise, it is easily one of the best games currently available for Game Boy Advance.

4 Stars

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