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Metroid Prime was released in 2002 for the GameCube, the first Metroid game in eight years. It introduced a radical change to the Metroid series series by being the first to be a First-person shooter and in 3-D, when all other Metroid games were 2D platformers. It was met with critical and financial success, cementing the rookie developer, Retro Studios, as a major company.
The version released in North America has several storyline differences with the one released in Europe. The versions released in Japan, Europe, and the North American Player's Choice versions have also had a number of gameplay modifications implemented to prevent players from using certain tricks to play the game out of sequence. Certain aspects of difficulty have also been increased. The general story takes place between Metroid and Metroid II, according to the official Metroid timeline.
An important part of the Metroid Prime storyline is a highly mutagenic radioactive substance of unknown origin known as Phazon. Direct exposure to this electric blue-coloured substance results in either a violent death or the rapid addition of new abilities and/or organs. Another, more powerful, Phazon is bright orange and is only found in Tallon IV's core. It seems to exist naturally as a solid and sometimes as a liquid, but its solid form may be considered more common---and possibly a metal---as many Space Pirate log entries call for mining of Phazon ore.
Phazon was spread throughout Tallon IV when a meteorite containing it crashed into the planet's surface. The Phazon immediately began negatively influencing the indigenous flora and fauna �?¢â�??¬â�?��? it either killed them or severely mutated them. A group of Chozo colonists tried to seal away the Phazon source with a mystic seal called the Cipher, which was an enormous temple linked to twelve artifacts, which they then spread across the planet. Some Chozo lore texts suggest that Chozo who were exposed to Phazon became violent and destructive wraiths. A long time after the Chozo contained the source of the Phazon, the Space Pirates picked up on an unknown and powerful energy signature. After their first defeat on Zebes at the hands of bounty hunter Samus Aran, they were eager to find a powerful energy source to rebuild their army, and so tracked the energy signature back to Tallon IV. The Space Pirates tried to use the substance, now dubbed Phazon, to mutate various species for use as biological weapons, including some of their own people and even some native materials. Scans of Space Pirate computer terminals verified a high death rate in many subjects, especially when the descendants of the original Phazon-exposed creatures were exposed to the substance.
Most of the items from previous Metroid games make appearances here; however, the functions of many of them have been altered.
Glitches can allow knowledgeable players to receive items much earlier than intended, or to bypass collecting them altogether. The current world record for lowest item pickup percentage at the end of the game is 22%.
- Power Suit - A smaller suit from the original Metroid
- Varia Suit - An upgrade to the Power Suit, this upgrades the suit's shielding and allows Samus to survive in extreme temperatures. This suit resembles Samus' usual look.
- Gravity Suit - Allows Samus to move in liquid environments unhindered. Allows her to see properly underwater.
- Phazon Suit - Renders Samus immune to damage from Phazon. This upgrade comes coupled with the Phazon Beam.
- Combat Visor - This is the default visor. The major things that this visor has that the others lack are a crude radar system that allows her to see where enemies are around her and a map of the room she is in. Samus has this visor from the start.
- Scan Visor - Allows Samus to scan certain creatures and objects and get information on them. This is the only visor that Samus cannot fight in; pressing the attack button will cause her to revert back to the Combat Visor. Samus also has this visor from the start. The scan visor is often used solving puzzles, and it can be used to activate certain machines.
- Thermal Visor It allows Samus to see in the infra-red spectrum, letting her see enemies and power conduits that she cannot see in normal human vision. This is extremely useful on invisible enemies, or in areas of exceptionally poor light.
- X-Ray Visor - It gives Samus the ability to see in the X-ray spectrum, allowing her to see otherwise invisible creatures and platforms. It should be noted that not all invisible enemies can be detected with this visor.
Unlike Super Metroid, Metroid Prime does not allow the player to combine separate beams into one, due to the fact that each of the four main beams has a unique use. Also, each beam has a Charge Combo that can be acquired that utilizes Missiles to perform a more powerful attack.
- Charge Beam - The charge beam is an add-on for all of Samus' primary beams; holding down the A button causes Samus to build up energy which is fired when the button is released, creating a much more powerful attack than would normally result. It also allows access to the various Charge Combos.
- Power Beam - This is the default beam that Samus begins the game with. It has the highest rate of fire of all the beams. While notably weaker than any other weapon, it is the only beam which can damage certain enemies. Its Charge Combo, Super Missiles, fires more powerful Missiles.
- Wave Beam - This beam fires three blasts of electricity with limited homing ability. Its charged shot usually stuns stronger enemies for a short period of time. It can also re-energize power conduits (required to open many doors) and open purple doors. Its Charge Combo, Wave Buster, automatically locks on to enemies.
- Ice Beam - This beam fires slow-moving blasts of ice that can freeze enemies. Its individual blasts are notably more powerful than the Wave Beam's, but its slow rate of fire makes it somewhat unwieldy. Frozen enemies can be shattered with a single Missile. It also opens white doors. The Ice Beam's Charge Combo, the Ice Spreader, spreads ice over a wide area where it hits and is somewhat limited against aerial and fast targets.
- Plasma Beam - This is the most powerful beam in terms of raw offensive power. It fires blasts of intense heat, which either kill instantly or set enemies aflame until they die. It cannot home in on targets and it has a short range. It can also open red doors and melt thick ice. Its Charge Combo, Flamethrower, shoots a stream of flame.
- Phazon Beam - This beam can only be used during the final boss battle. Samus receives this item along with the Phazon Suit.
- Missiles - A Metroid series mainstay, Missiles fire homing concussive blasts that cause more damage than most beam attacks. Missiles can break certain door locks and other obstacles. Each Missile expansion increases Samus' missile holding capacity by five.
The Morph Ball is another Metroid trademark. After finding this item Samus can roll into a ball and access narrow passages that she could not otherwise access. There are a number of upgrades Samus finds for the Morph Ball.
Allows Samus to break certain objects, activate some devices, and damage enemies. The force from the bomb can also catapult her up a short distance in Morph Ball form. Samus has an infinite number of these, but can only use three every few seconds.
Replacing Super Metroid's Speed Booster to a certain extent, this item allows Samus to build up energy and release it in Morph Ball form, resulting in a burst of speed that can, when applied correctly, allow her to travel up half-pipe structures and activate certain machines.
Metroid Prime is the second game to use this item (the first being Metroid 2: Return of Samus); however, where Metroid 2's spider ball allowed Samus to go up any wall, Prime's spider ball can only travel up designated magnetic rails.
These are a more powerful version of Samus' normal Bombs. While she only gets a finite number of these and must replace them as she does with Missiles, Power Bombs have a much greater destructive ability.
- Space Jump - The Space Jump is another returning item with a different purpose. As opposed to allowing Samus to jump infinitely, this item allows Samus to double-jump.
- Grapple Beam - Allows Samus to latch on to certain objects and swing on them.
- Energy Tank - Increases Samus' shielding's energy (health) capacity by 100 units.
- 12 Artifacts - The artifacts of Truth, Strength, Elder, Wild, Lifegiver, Warrior, Chozo, Nature, Sun, World, Spirit, and Newborn are spread throughout the planet, and must be collected in order for Samus to gain entry to the final area.
- Nintendo's official Metroid website
- Metroid 2002 - contains speed breaking tips for all Metroid games.
- Metroid Prime speed runs at archive.org
- GameFAQs entry for Metroid Prime
- GameForms—Metroid Prime Weapon Locations