Spoilers here. I know that most everybody knows the big twist to Metroid Zero. But I once blurted it out on a forum a day or so before the game’s release and got penalized. Even though the box ruined the twist I was still considered to have spoiled the game. It remains a sore spot. So here is your warning. If you don’t know about the ending stop reading. You’ve got a game to play.
Okay so. After defeating Mother Brain and escaping from Zebus the game does not end. Samus’ ship gets shot down and her power-suit is destroyed. She must then infiltrate a Space Pirate ship armed with nothing but a stun-gun.
Set phasers for fun? Maybe not. Some people complained that a stealth section “just wasn’t Metroid” and thought that the ending was inappropriate. I don’t see how as the ending still has the defining Metroid traits (exploration and new abilities). But stealth they cried! Stealth!
On this playthrough I was struck by how not-stealthy this section is. Compared to other sneaking games like Metal Gear and Splinter Cell there is very little actual sneaking going on. Sure, you crawl through air-ducts and avoid electronic eyes but much more often than not there’s no way to avoid being seen by the Space Pirate guards. In fact it’s impossible to sneak by the very first S. Pirate you come across. Instead you must run and avoid perusing baddies until you can make it to a safe spot to hide.
It’s reminiscent of the SA-X sequences in Metroid Fusion. You’re weak and underpowered. The enemies are strong and relentless. There’s no way to fight back, there’s no time to think, you’ve got to just keep moving forward and hope that you can survive. It’s thrilling. So this first half of the ending is less sneaking-mission than a series of chases and close calls. It’s less about a new type of Metroid gameplay and more a set up for the second part of the ending.
Eventually the player will reach the Chozo ruins where Samus grew up and will obtain the iconic power-suit with the big shoulder turbines. What follows next is basically a revenge scenario as the Spacers are no match for Samus’ extensive firepower. And while it’s a lot of fun at first to tear through the threats that were so dangers just a little bit before this sequence lasts too long. At this point Samus is unstoppable and nothing is a threat. Ho-hum. (Though in a neat continuity nod it’s understandable why the Space Pirates call Samus The Demon in Metroid Prime after this massacre.)
This all leads up to a limp lass boss, a prototype for Mecha Ridley who is neither difficult or interesting. Then it’s another escape sequence back through the ship before Samus steals a Space Pirate fighter and escapes to the credit sequence.
The extended ending is a good addition to the main game and is fun in its own right (though I like the first half a lot more than the second) but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the larva sequence. One twist I did enjoy is that it’s possible to escape the ship via a clever nod to Super Metroid and use the upgraded suit to explore all the areas from the main game. It’s especially neat to return to Turian to see the remains of Mother Brain’s explosion.
Zero turred out to be a better game than I remembered. I think it does a lot of unique things that help it stand out in the series (especially considering that it’s a remake). I’d like to see more like it. It tells effective mini-stories using gameplay rather than cut-scenes. Something we’d all like to see more of. I’ve got to be honest. I don’t have high expectations for Other M. I mean, Samus IS a girl and Team Ninja does love their breast physics so.
But then again Nintendo isn’t above exploiting Samus themselves so who knows.
See you next mission!