Also available on Wii U via Virtual Console
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/04/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Metroid Fusion, also known as Metroid 4, is the furthest point in the Metroid timeline up until the release of Metroid Dread later in 2021 (allegedly). It was also the first Metroid game to appear on the Game Boy Advance. The game’s story is told through dialogue cut scenes and sheds some light onto Samus’s military background and her former CO, Adam.
The basic premise of Metroid Fusion is that Samus is acting as a bodyguard for a research team researching SR388, the Metroid homeworld. While on the planet, she’s attacked by an entity she’d never encountered previously. She later finds out that this entity, the parasite known as X, had infected her, integrating with her nervous systems, corrupting her Power Suit, and infesting her body. Parts of her suit had to be surgically removed, hence the change to her appearance. Unfortunately, an explosion occurred at the research station that had her infested suit, and her new computer CO has ordered her to investigate the incident.
Visually, Fusion and Zero Mission are about on par. They look fantastic, and the sprites are gorgeous. The lighting effects seen in parts of the game look extremely good, and I didn’t notice any slowdown whatsoever during my playthrough. While the whole series has excellent music, I found Fusion’s music to be especially good as it perfectly complements the foreboding and perilous tone of the game. The controls are about on par with Zero Missions, as well; space jump and wall jumping still feel a bit awkward, but they’re perfectly serviceable a big step up from the older games.
The difficulty in Fusion is interesting. There is an Easy and a Normal mode (and a Hard mode in Japan that can be unlocked), but as far as just general difficulty, it’s kind of mixed. On the one hand, I found navigation to be hands down the easiest of the series to this point. Your computer CO tells you pretty much exactly where you need to go most of the time, and the few times it doesn’t, it’s not too hard to find on your own. On the other hand, Samus takes more damage per hit than in previous Metroid games. This is balanced, however, with the fact that there are more total energy tanks than in previous Metroid games, as well. All things considered, I found it much easier than Metroid, Metroid II, or Super Metroid, but more difficult than Zero Mission.
Metroid Fusion is an excellent example of why this series has such a strong following. With beautiful visuals, tight controls, addicting exploration, and varied and interesting bosses, this is peak Game Boy Advance action. It definitely feels a little like it holds your hand with the exploration by telling you where you need to go on the map, but with how frustratingly hidden some of the paths can be, I think that’s a minor gripe at best, and I personally loved that feature. It’s a shame that Game Boy Advance games never saw a 3DS release outside of the Ambassador program (of which Metroid Fusion was a part), but if you’ve got a Wii U, definitely check this game out before Metroid Dread comes out. It’s apparently the cool thing to do as this game almost instantly shot to the top of the eShop sales charts after Dread was announced.