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OPINION: Metroid Prime Remastered Is A Gorgeous Game Being Held Back by Clunky Controls

Metroid Prime Remastered came about when I least expected it. The rumors had been swirling for so long, that I believed where there was smoke, there was fire; I was hoping to see it at the last Nintendo Direct back in September, but when it no-showed, I wasn’t optimistic about seeing it ever again. Fast-forward to February’s Direct, and there it was in living color: Metroid Prime Remastered. I feel like for most of us, our heads are still spinning, and it’s for good reason. Metroid Prime is an incredible game and, finally, after 20 years, it returned in full HD glory.

I’ve been playing the remastered version since day 1, however, and I think my head has started to return to the usual settings. It was a lot of hype and dreams-come-true to come back from, but here I am giving it a closer look. The simplest way I could describe Metroid Prime Remastered is that it looks gorgeous but feels rough. Not bad–having dual analog is a god-send compared to all the other versions we’ve had. But the button mapping leaves much to be desired.

The Basics

Take for example the Spring Ball. Why in the name of Nintendo did they make your normal jump button different from your jump button as a ball? Seriously, what were they thinking? My other issue with the basic mapping is that they mapped the alternate Fire to the right of jump (A). Whether it was Dread, Fusion, or even Zero Mission, Fire has always been on the left (B or Y). Why the heck would they set it to A? It’s less of an issue with the GBA titles since they only had two buttons to begin with. With Dread, however, placing Fire on the Y button was a smart choice. Your thumb naturally covers both Y/A and X/B respectively. Since Fire and Jump are the two buttons you’re going to use the most, mapping them to Y/A maximizes their accessibility.

Beam and Visor Selection

The biggest issues that stand out for me though are the Visor and Weapon selections. These are set to the D-Pad. The problem here is that you have to stop moving to change them. Your left thumb is naturally both your Move and D-Pad finger; to do one, you have to let go of the other. You can try to reach over with your other hand; but it only solves for one of them; you still have to hold Y and press the D-Pad to select your secondary choice (Weapon by default).

Again, it’s an odd choice. I would have preferred to use the Right Analog (Look) to select visors and weapons, similar to the original Trilogy controls. You could hold L for Visors and R for Weapons (or vice versa); a 4-way selection wheel appears and BAM, use your Right analog to make a choice. You could do all of this while maintaining your in-game momentum with the Left stick.

If you’re curious, here’s my preferred layout. I ditched the D-Pad choices, though they could stick around as alternate selection options:

The Feeling of Control

These are all small details I admit, but they’re ones that will continue to hold the game back in the long-term. When I play Metroid Dread and other Metroidvania’s these days, I want fluidity in my movement. I want to glide through the environments, jumping through a series of platforms only to switch weapons mid jump to open the Wave Beam door, and continue on without missing a beat. It’s a feeling the Trilogy version delivers but has been lacking for me in the Remastered version.

And that takes me all the way back to where I started: it looks gorgeous but feels rough. It doesn’t provide that nice momentum it once did. My only hope is that they someday patch it with customizable controls. It’s unfortunate they didn’t come on day one, frankly.

I hope you’ll forgive my early slander of such a great title, but I had to bring it up. It’s been bothering me since release, and frankly, with so few flaws, you have to harp on something.

What do you think, do you agree or disagree? Do you think the controls could use some work? What would be your ideal mapping for the button layout? Share your thoughts below!