Zero Mission is a remake of the original Metroid and, for the most part, a beautiful little gem. It retrofits features and upgrades and such from the later Metroid games into the framework of the original - all the stuff we wished we could have in the valiant little NES version, like an auto-map. It also has very pretty graphics, including spiffy little cinematic scenes at key points in the game. These are handled in good taste, as is the soundtrack, which is for the most part a careful and respectful grade-up of the original 8-bit chiptunes.

It's very nearly a flawless little game, but there's a small handful of problem areas. The new content is for the most part welcome and fits in well, the new areas and items and boss encounters and such, but there is an extended sequence tacked on to the end of the game that is piled with examples of shoddy level design and all-in-all is more of an added chore than a gift. The designers tried to incorporate a Metal Gear-ish "stealth sequence" (right down to music aping Harry Gregson-Williams' generic industrial-atmospheric technoslush) but did a piss-poor job of it, placing enemies and traps and such so that you are guaranteed to run face first into them and thus turning the whole thing into sort of an extended clunky (and frustrating) chase sequence. It's also kinda on the short side (probably 4 hours-ish unless you're rushing), with little reason to replay except for the usual obsessive-compulsiveness and a handful of Samus cheesecake shots. Along those same lines, it's a little more weighted to the hardcore nerd demographic as to get a 100% completion ratio you are required to use Shinesparking, which is an annoying technique that many of us really do not want to be bothered with. If you don't want to spend your time learning it, however, you have to forego one of the energy tanks and a number of missile upgrades.

These are fairly minor gripes on the whole, though, and this is really one of the best games on the GBA. Plus, when you beat the game you unlock the original NES Metroid, for those masochistic enough to want to take it on.

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