You might be thinking, “Improve? They don’t need to improve this boss fight!” and I agree! I love the Meta Ridley boss fight in Metroid Prime. Personally, it’s one of my favorite boss battles in not just the game, but the entire series. It’s such an exciting, and at times challenging, encounter in my opinion.
But some people don’t agree — in my experience, I’ve found opinions on this fight to be very polarizing. While many consider it to be a great battle or even one of their favorites, I’ve found many others who don’t just dislike the battle, but think its one of their least favorites.
This got me thinking — what if I had the means and opportunity to adjust the Meta Ridley encounter? What if Nintendo came to me and asked me, “how would you improve this boss fight?” How would I answer?
After a little thought, I came up with four ways I would change up the Meta Ridley boss fight. Although I think the fight is fine as is, I think there are some ways to address some fans’ complaints with it, and potentially max out the excitement of the fight even further.
Aside from the thinking exercise, I wanted to have goals in mind when thinking about these improvements. Changes for the sake of change can be unwieldy or potentially even unjustified, so I thought of specific objectives that these improvements would look to accomplish. And here are they are:
- Increase player agency and potential for additional decision making for the player
- Increase usage of secondary items that aren’t utilized in the boss battle already
- Incorporate elements of the developers’ original vision for the fight
- Reduce periods of “downtime” or otherwise lack of action or combat
1) Introduce an interactive mechanic during Ridley’s flight sequence in the first phase
The first complaint I always see with this boss fight is that there’s too much standing around, or “nothing happening,” while Ridley flies away from the temple in order to carpet bomb you at an incredible speed.
Admittedly, there is some truth in this. While I like the idea of Ridley’s attack, on most difficulties it requires little more action than waiting for Ridley to come back and side-stepping his projectiles. On Hard Mode, I found myself boost balling to safety just in case, but otherwise this sequence is still less action-packed than the others.
I have no problem with that – I don’t think every fight needs to be a mad dash to mash damage on the boss until they die. There’s some good ebb-and-flow incorporated into the pacing of the fight. But what if Samus had more to do during this sequence?
My introduced mechanic here would be the Laser Activators:
This mechanic would activate during Meta Ridley’s flight sequence in the first phase of the fight. When Meta Ridley flies away, three Morph Ball slots appear on the ground of the temple battlefield. Before Ridley returns, Samus must morph ball bomb into the slots in the correct order. The slots will be lit up with blue lighting to correspond which slot needs to be bombed into first, then second, and finally third.
If Samus gets to all three in time and in the correct order, the Artifact Temple’s lasers will activate (much like at the conclusion of the fight) and fire upon Ridley, stopping his bombing run and canceling his incoming attacks. However, if Samus fails, then Ridley not just unleashes his attack, but drops an attack that covers twice the size of the battlefield than it does in the current game, making it that much more difficult for Samus to avoid Ridley’s attempt.
In this version, the player has two options: wait around as they do in the current game, but then have to avoid a much larger attack; or take charge and attempt to shoot Ridley down before he’s able to get his attacks off in the first place. In this version, the player will be scrambling around from slot to slot, making sure to get to the slot that is lit up rather than into one of the two that are not, while keeping an eye on Ridley to see how much time they have.
Further, each instance of this mechanic would have the slots light up in different orders, so players would have to be on their toes and remember that the pattern won’t be the same each time.
It’s not a huge adjustment, but I think even a small mechanic to perform like this would not just make this part of the fight more interesting, but also introduces more agency to the player.
2) Ridley now summons Space Pirates
This I think would be an easy addition. I’ve always thought it was interesting how lower-level enemies spawn in for other bosses, but not for Meta Ridley. You would think Meta Ridley might order some lackeys to help him out or provide cover, or that the Space Pirates would want to protect their investment in their newly-rebuilt Ridley and give him some much-needed back-up.
Although Meta Ridley is mostly a lone wolf in his Metroid Prime appearance, it makes sense that his final stand at the Artifact Temple would warrant an assist from any available Space Pirate left in the area.
Ideally, Meta Ridley would summon these allies during the flying attacks of the first phase, and at times during the second phase when Meta Ridley is already grounded. Adding Space Pirates could be simpler alternative to my Laser Activator mechanic – have the Pirates appear so Samus has to fight them off before Ridley swoops in for his attack — or an extension of it.
At the end of the day, I wouldn’t be against more opportunities to farm some much needed missiles and health drops during the fight!
3) Introduce invisible platforms above and surrounding the Artifact Temple for Samus to utilize
Meta Ridley is one of the few late-game encounters that doesn’t require any usage of the Thermal or X-Ray visor. You only need to swap off your Combat Visor to collect a scan to complete your logbook, otherwise you’re locked into combat mode for the entirety of the fight.
What if Samus had some means to get some alternative positioning against Ridley? There could be some invisible platforms above Samus that she could get to in order to avoid Ridley’s attacks or get a better angle.
What if some of those invisible platforms were surrounding the Artifact Temple instead? Samus could jump to one of these to avoid Ridley’s attacks at the risk of being knocked off. Maybe Ridley could drop some resources as he’s getting attacked while hovering nearby the temple, giving Samus a reason to jump onto the platforms to collect those pickups when she has the opportunity. As such, she’d have to swap to her recently-acquired X-Ray Visor in order to navigate the platforms in the heat of battle.
I think this could be an interesting way to introduce a risk-reward element to Samus’ positioning, and to give some new, more dynamic angles for Samus to fight Ridley with.
4) Reintroduce the original fight concept as the “first phase” of the encounter
In Metroid Prime lead designer Mike Wikan’s interview with Kiwi Talkz, Mike mentions the original concept for Meta Ridley’s fight in Metroid Prime, where Samus would fight Meta Ridley atop her gunship in a horizontal canyon.
What if we could reintroduce elements of this fight somehow? If I could, I would bring back this fight as the first phase of the Meta Ridley boss encounter.
In the current game, the activity at the Artifact Temple causes a massive beam of light to reach to the heavens, which catches the attention of Meta Ridley. He notices the beam and approaches the Temple to investigate, finding Samus there. This works thematically with the current game as far as I’m concerned – Samus originally landed on Tallon IV in pursuit of Ridley, but ultimately starts on a larger adventure as she uncovers more of what’s going on in the planet. It isn’t until the near-end of the game that Samus’ initial purpose for being on the planet comes full-circle. This works as it is.
But what if we had a different approach? What if this part of the story came full circle in a different way?
Here’s my version: after collecting all the Artifacts, Samus heads back to Tallon Overworld. On her way, she sees Meta Ridley. At nearly full power, Samus decides to take this opportunity to put down Ridley once and for all (or so she thinks).
Samus gets in her gunship and pursues Meta Ridley, chasing him into a nearby canyon. This begins the boss encounter. The first phase would be just like Wikan describes, with Samus moving on top of her ship, raising defensive shields to block Meta Ridley’s attacks, and shooting down nearby rocks to damage Ridley.
As they fly through the canyon, both Samus and Meta Ridley begin to approach the Artifact Temple. Just before the end of the canyon, Samus nails Meta Ridley with a significant shot, sending him hurtling down to the depths of the canyon. Samus purses Meta Ridley, who has disappeared somewhere in the dark shadows at the bottom of the canyon. Samus gets out of her ship and attempts to follow on foot, but as she scales down, she realizes she’s lost track of her target.
Samus returns to her gunship and flies over to the Artifact Temple, activating the Temple. It is only now that Meta Ridley again appears, re-engaging Samus at the temple, and finishing the rest of their fight. In the end, Meta Ridley gets sent packing back down into the canyon one more time, with explosive flare.
This might be more of a fun, creative addition rather than an outright improvement. That said, I would love to see the original vision of the fight included, even if it’s just for a third of the overall encounter. It doesn’t have to be too long either, to avoid dragging out the entire fight and making it too lengthy. And it would be a different, and possibly more interesting, way to bring Samus and Ridley’s story in the game full circle.
What do you think?
Ultimately, the Meta Ridley fight is one I always look forward to. For its time, it’s a fantastically detailed and well-executed boss fight. But it might not be for everybody.
Would you be game for these additions to the Meta Ridley fight? Would you take some, all, or none of the above? Is the Meta Ridley fine as is, or does it need improvement in your eyes?
Let us know in the comments below, or in our Discord server!
Dak is Editor-in-Chief and Podcast Host at Omega Metroid. If he’s not playing Metroid Prime Remastered, he’s definitely playing Destiny 2.