Metroid Prime Is A Reminder That Gamers Shouldn’t Forget The Past
In gaming, we have a tendency to constantly look forward. Of all forms of popular art, none place an emphasis on technology the way gaming does, and even as games become more intricate and more intimate, there's still a sense that they haven't reached their ceiling yet. Onwards and upwards we must climb. The Game Awards is the most prestigious celebration gaming has, and even though it rattles through a lot of the quote-unquote 'smaller' awards in pre-show and rapid fire announcements, Most Anticipated Game gets centre stage and it's barely even a real award. Metroid Prime is a reminder that we should be looking backwards too.
Metroid Prime is one of the greatest video games of all time. That's not just my opinion (but I mean, sure, it's great), but is as close to a fact as a subjective statement like that could ever manage. The original GameCube title has a 97 on Metacritic with a nigh-unheard of 70 Positive reviews with zero in Mixed or Negative. That puts it at joint sixth with the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2 on the all-time list, and two of the games above it are different versions of GTA 4 (Ocarina of Time, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, and SoulCalibur are the others). Sixth best ever, and so many had never played it until it got a modern release. The same might be said of THPS 2 until it was remade a few years ago. And a few of you are probably thinking some combination of 'huh, I always meant to play Ocarina' and 'was SoulCalibur really that good?' right now.
I know it's exciting that we have some huge games coming out later this year, and I know older games can be tough to get your hands on sometimes, but if you love video games, you're missing out by only looking forwards. Older games sometimes have fewer features than new ones, but I don't like the idea that they have 'aged badly', and that this is therefore a reason to avoid them. To me they have aged well, because you can see the foundation they laid on which a legacy has been built. Tekken 7 has more to it than Tekken 3 but Tekken 3 will always be the greater game because it means so much more.
In some cases, that's not even the case – things were just plain old better in ye olden days. If you asked me to name the five best sports titles of all time, four of them would be Tony Hawk's games and the other one would be Wii Sports. That's a little biased to my personal taste, sure, but has there really been a sports game in the past five years (that wasn't the THPS remake) that you'd put anywhere near the all-time greats? The challengers would be the likes of SSX and the Jam/Street games, all of which are (in the forward-focussed industry of video games) all old too. Play old shit.
Sport is just a genre I chose because I feel the modern day scene is so pedestrian, but it's true of any type of game you care to pick. You can't celebrate platformers without the likes of Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, or Sonic the Hedgehog. You can't love the modern day focus on action heroes with fast combat in exciting locales without having a reverence for Tomb Raider. Do you like seeing modern video games tackle real-world issues in a grounded and meaningful way? Say thanks to Final Fantasy 7. Love all these open world games we have now? They're all built on GTA 3.
Even old classics you know well may be built on even older titles. I mentioned Metroid Prime was joint sixth earlier, and it's tied with Perfect Dark – a game that itself influenced the shape of Metroid Prime, and a game that exists in the first place because of the original Metroids and Tomb Raider. Also, because I haven't found a way to shoehorn them in elsewhere, everyone should also play: Resident Evil 4, Spyro the Dragon, Halo: Combat Evolved, Metal Gear Solid, Half-Life, Gran Turismo, Doom, Assassin's Creed 2, Devil May Cry, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Burnout 3: Takedown, Quake, and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
Of course, there are modern games which have earned the accolades they were showered with and in a decade or two will still be talked about as all-time greats. Breath of the Wild, Elden Ring, Red Dead Redemption 2, Hades… I'm not advocating that games have gotten worse or that you young whippersnappers should get off my lawn. It's fantastic that gaming is continuing to tread new ground and offer fresh, genre defining experiences. Just don't miss out on the experiences that have already been.
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