A Preface To Our Metroid: Other M Playtest

By Ishaan . August 28, 2010 . 6:33pm

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Metroid: Other M is a game that I have personally been very, very excited for since it was shown off at E3 last year. Metroid is my single favourite game series ever, and when it came to our coverage, I wanted to do the game justice, not just for myself but for the extremely passionate following the franchise has in general.

 

As it got closer and closer to release, I found myself wondering how I would approach my playtest. What angle would I cover it from?

 

Despite the numerous previews throughout the course of this year, I still felt like I knew next to nothing about Other M until just three days ago. Sure, we knew how it would control and we had a vague idea of the story, but really, those are superficial facts. Taken out of context, they couldn’t, in any way, communicate the experience.

 

That’s the beauty of a Metroid title. Seeing it and playing it are two entirely different matters. Once I played it, I’d have it all figured out. No sweat. Or so I thought.

 

No, experiencing Other M for myself just made it harder to figure out how to write our playtest. And because of that, I found myself pushing further and further through the game in search of an answer.

 

And so I did. This is probably the fastest I’ve powered through a game, even for playtesting purposes. No matter how hard it got (and it is hard), and no matter how many times I died (a lot), I pushed on and on, taking breaks only to deal with things like classes and updating the site and sleeping…but never because I was frustrated. And trust me, I have a super-low tolerance for frustrating games.

 

So, before I post my thoughts on Other M, here’s something to chew on: throughout the majority of the experience, I didn’t feel like I wasn’t enjoying the game. And despite its flaws (of which there are many), I never once said to myself, “Metroid would be better off without this.” Because for every flaw Other M has, there’s enough of boldness in the game’s design to feel like it will contribute to the series in a positive manner.

 

Now that I’ve completed the game, I know how I’m going to playtest it. It won’t be a “should you buy it” piece. We tend not to do that at Siliconera and leave those choices for our readers to figure out.

 

Instead, I’ll try to tackle the game from two perspectives — first, as the “ultimate Metroid game” (because this is what we were promised) and then, as just a game being judged on its pros and cons. I don’t think there’s any other way to write about a game like Other M, which is so experimental, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

 

The other thing I made it a point to do after completing the game was to play it a second time, not in its entirety, but at least for a couple hours so I could see how well it held up. In my book, the defining trait of any Metroid game is its replay value, and their tendency to be more fun when you play them the second or third time around.

 

I hope that makes the angle I’m approaching Other M from a little clearer. The biggest disconnect between a reader and a writer can be a miscommunication of perspective, and that results in people taking things out of context. I very much wanted to get that problem out of the way, first and foremost.

 

Hope you look forward to reading our playtest! It’ll go live tomorrow night.


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