Metroid Prime Remastered Review (Switch)

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

It’s difficult to believe now, but there was once a time when the notion of a first-person Metroid game seemed unfathomable. Prior to the release of Metroid Prime back in 2002, the franchise had been confined to the 2D realm, with complex environments full of secrets and hidden equipment that bolstered your abilities and combat potential as you explored. The idea that Retro Studios, an entirely new entity at the time, could not only successfully reimagine the franchise in a 3D space but also implement a first-person perspective was frankly absurd. Yet the team accomplished it spectacularly, crafting what remains to this day one of the finest GameCube games of all time.

Now, more than 23 years later, Metroid Prime has been remastered for the Nintendo Switch, and Retro Studios has proven why it’s consistently considered one of the most talented developers in the business (though the studio did have help from a number of other devs for this one). This is a stunning revamp from top to bottom, and although there are a few minor niggles here and there, we feel confident enough to say that Metroid Prime Remastered is a bonafide masterpiece and an absolutely essential addition to your Switch library.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Right from the opening section as you watch Samus’ ship dock onto the abandoned Space Pirate frigate, it’s clear just how much thought and effort has gone into updating the game’s visuals. The original Metroid Prime was certainly no slouch, and we’d argue that it provided a more than solid foundation to work from here, but when compared side-by-side the differences are simply astounding. Everything has been given a significant lick of paint, from the environments to the enemies and even Samus herself. The essence of the original game remains firmly intact, but you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a brand new 2023 Switch release and not a remaster of a two-decade-old GameCube title.

The differences extend to the small details, too. When you enter the fiery tunnels of Magmoor Caverns, you can see Samus’ visor mist up with condensation, and while this effect has been toned down slightly from the original, the actual detail has been amplified; you can see every single little droplet of water in pristine detail. Not only that, but the rainfall in the opening world of Tallon IV has been given its own dose of TLC: here, you can make out the individual raindrops hitting Samus’s arm cannon in the foreground, and if you point your cannon up, the raindrops will cascade down the metallic casing. It’s such a minor thing and the devs could have easily bypassed it in favour of lower-hanging fruit, but the sheer effort that’s gone into tastefully enhancing every aspect of the visuals is mind-boggling.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Having said that, we do have a couple of minor niggles. First off, you might have seen that one of the original developers expressed dissatisfaction with how the door visuals have been handled in the new version, and we have to agree here; some of the beautiful detail in the original has definitely been lost. It’s a minor issue, but returning players will definitely notice.

Additionally, Phendrana Drifts, one of the most iconic locations in Metroid’s history, doesn’t pack the same visual punch as the original. We tried desperately to figure out why this might be, and when looking back at the original game, the effect of the snowfall has actually been toned down for the remastered version, and it doesn’t look quite so pretty, all told. For most players, however, these issues won’t be much of a problem at all, and newcomers obviously won’t even notice.

Moving onto gameplay, the remaster boasts multiple control schemes to suit your individual needs. The default method is a new twin-stick layout which leans closer to how a modern-day first-person shooter typically feels (and yes, you can invert the y-axis). It actually works wonderfully well and it’s likely the control scheme that most players will opt for.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

You’ve also got the ‘classic’ scheme, which looks to replicate the original GameCube controls. We’re not going to lie; unless you’ve been playing the original consistently over the intervening years, going back to this method of control might prove difficult. It feels pretty antiquated compared to the twin-stick method, as you’re unable to aim whilst moving. Incidentally, we tried using a GameCube pad with a USB adapter and, while it involves a fair amount of tweaking, you are able to remap things appropriately in-game (with the exception of the Pause menu) for a truly OG control experience.

Then you’ve got the motion controls, and unfortunately, we’re sad to say that these don’t really work as well as they did on the Wii. If you remember, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and the later Metroid Prime Trilogy offered up an ‘advanced’ mode for its motion controls, and this would effectively boost the sensitivity of your aiming and movement. Using the Wiimote’s IR pointer felt so natural and this was a big reason why the Wii version of Metroid Prime felt more definitive over the GameCube original, at least in the controls department. The gyro controls here, however, don’t offer the same responsive ‘advanced’ option as the Wii version, meaning the act of turning feels like more of a chore, even if you ramp up the sensitivity of the on-screen cursor. You also need to reset the pointer here when it gets lost — another downgrade compared to Wii’s infrared aiming. Our advice? Stick to the new twin-stick control scheme and you’ll be good to go.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

The true magic of Metroid Prime Remastered, however, lies in the moment-to-moment gameplay. If you’ve never played the original before, you’re in for a real treat. What Retro Studios did with this title is nothing short of miraculous, taking the essence of the franchise’s 2D roots and implementing it beautifully into a fully 3D environment. Like any great Metroid game, there’s a good dollop of backtracking as you navigate multiple unique biomes, and there’s truly no greater feeling than gaining a new ability or power-up and realising that you can now access a suite of new areas that were previously blocked off.

The high level of care and consideration also extends into the game’s fantastic combat. When compared to other titles from the early 2000s like Halo: Combat Evolved and Timesplitters 2, Metroid Prime cast aside the requirement for precision aiming in favour of an ingenious lock-on feature. By enabling the player to home in on one enemy at a time, a lot more emphasis was put on movement and dodging, allowing you to strafe around without losing sight of your target. Couple this with the ability to change weapons and visors on the fly, and Metroid Prime Remastered’s combat remains exceptional.

A huge shout-out goes to the game’s scanning feature, too. In the greater Metroid franchise, this is wholly unique to the Prime sub-series and allows Samus to get vital information on the environment’s fauna and flora. Simply select your scan visor, look for scannable objects with either an orange or red icon attached to them, and fill your noggin with juicy facts. Unlike cutscenes or audio logs, it’s a remarkably unintrusive feature; if you’re not fussed about it, you can make your way through the game without bothering with it beyond the occasional mandatory sections, but for those looking to learn anything and everything about the world of Tallon IV, it’s a great little mechanic that we sincerely hope makes a return in Metroid Prime 4.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Fans of the original game and its Wii counterpart will remember that Retro Studios included a fairly extensive gallery feature containing beautiful concept art from the title’s development. The Remastered version expands upon this considerably, adding a soundtrack gallery and a 3D model viewer. As you come across more and more enemies in the game, you can hop into the model viewer and check out their grotesque features in glorious detail — it’s really great stuff. With the concept art itself, the team has also generously supplied materials from the game’s original development for the GameCube and from the new remaster in separate galleries, so there’s plenty for Prime-lovers to sink their teeth into.


With Metroid Prime Remastered, the seemingly impossible has been achieved: a masterpiece has been made even better. The minor issues we have with the motion controls and the occasional visual hiccup pale in comparison to the enhancements that have been made here. The visual improvements are extensive, right through to the minor details, and it all comes together to create one of the best-looking games on Switch, remaster or not. The new twin-stick control setup works flawlessly for both veterans and newcomers, but if you’re itching to go back to the original GameCube controls, that option is there too. With an expanded gallery feature to round things out, Metroid Prime Remastered feels like a new benchmark in how older games can be thoughtfully revitalised for the modern age.

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