Zero Mission is an enhanced remake of the original Metroid game from 1986. It was released in 2004 and was designed to retell the story of Metroid with a game play that is more like later Metroid games such as Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion. The story and the layout are heavily based on the original, with a lot of new things added in. This is why I have trouble saying that it is identical. The correct term would be as follows:
The story (like the original) finds Samus traveling to Planet Zebes after learning that the Space Pirates are experimenting with Metroids in order to duplicate them and use them as weapons. Samus must find Mother Brain (a mechanical life-form that controls the Space Pirates’ base) and destroy it. Unlike the original, even though you start in the exact same spot, the game gives context. There are words and images before you start playing. This is something that started in later Metroid games, but also really makes a difference in how you approach and think differently about the game. From there on out, the concept is the same as the original. Go around Brinstar, acquire powerups, find Kraid’s hideout, beat Kraid, go to Norfair, find Ridley’s hideout, beat Ridley, go to Tourian, find face the Metroids, find Mother Brain, destroy Mother Brian, and escape the planet before it explodes.
This is where the game drastically differs. Despite being the original ending, you are now faced with a whole new game. For those that haven’t played it, SPOILER ALERT!!!
On your way off of Zebes, your ship is shot down. You land near the Space Pirate’s Mothership. Samus decides to explore the ship, as well as the nearby Chozo Ruins. This portion of the story is extremely difficult, because you lose your power suit, and are left with only your “Zero” suit (as seen in Super Smash Brothers games). There is no arm cannon or defense. Space Pirates hurt, and you can only stun them for brief periods of time. This part of the game is about running, hiding, avoiding, and being quick as much as possible. You have to hide to advance, because gates close while Space Pirates see you. Eventually, you reach a part in the Ruins where you learn about Samus’s past. You prove your worth, and receive your suit again (with all possible power ups/variations). From there, you go back through the ruins and the spaceship as an unstoppable force (you can also find hidden ways to go back through the rest of the planet and retrieve all hidden power ups) before going back to the ship, to the top near the control room, and face the final boss: Mecha Ridley.
Having the ability to go back and journey through the rest of the game is a great idea because it really makes you appreciate all of the different areas, designs, and all of the secret pathways that you can travel in and out of.
After defeating him, you must hurry back through the ship, enter one of the space pirates smaller gun ships, and evacuate before the Mother Ship blows up.
The game is fun because of the two final bosses and two times that you have to race to the finish before time runs out. It is a nice addition with new areas such as Chozodia and the Chozo Ruins. The game is much smoother and is not as frustrating as the original. It is easier to jump around, avoid enemies, and not get trapped getting hit over and over. The graphics are great and really bring the features to life. The enemies look way more menacing and are harder to defeat. There are also several added mini bosses along the way.
Because you don’t receive missiles for beating the two bosses like you did in the original, there are more missiles to pick up along the way. The maps are virtually the same layout. Many of the items are even in the exact same spot. However, some items in certain spots may change between game to game.This is because of the addition of “power bombs” and “super missiles”. Where a missile may have been in the original, there is now a power bomb or a super missile. Then the missiles will be located in the new hidden pathways that have been added into this game.There is only one ice beam to pick up this time, as the “ice beam” and “wave beam” can work together like they did in Super Metroid. Many energy tanks, suits, boots, screw attacks, and other things like that are in the exact same spot.
It was a really great experience playing this game, especially right after playing the original, because you can see the attention to detail and how similar the two games really are. It makes you have more appreciation for the original, especially when thinking that it came out in 1986. It is makes you give the team who created the game a lot of credit for being able to remake the game and bring it up to speed in the year 2004. The advances are great, and it doesn’t feel outdated like the first one kind of does. It is definitely worth playing over and over again.
The only complaint I have, is that after playing this game, the original, and Super Metroid, I felt like I had played the same story over and over again so many times. Especially since Super Metroid was already basically an updated version of the original on a bigger scale. It feels like a little bit of a copout, but not enough for me to not enjoy the game and what they did here. Especially when Metroid Fusion and the Prime Trilogy are so different and unique. Super Metroid might still be my favorite game of the franchise, but this does a really great job of paying tribute to the original and bringing it to a whole new generation of fans.