Week #2: Metroid Fusion

The lazyhandheldman’s weekly handheld game recommendation is inspired by subreddit SBCGaming’s “Game of the Month”. Today, my recommendation is Metroid Fusion.

Metroid Fusion

Release: 2002

Original console: Game Boy Advance

Developer(s): Nintendo

Publisher(s): Nintendo

Genre(s): Action-adventure

Series: Metroid

Recommended handhelds to play: Game Boy Advance, RG351P, Miyoo Mini Plus

Best for

  • People who enjoy Metroidvania sub-genre

Metroid series, and the whole Metroidvania genre, was not really my type in the past. The whole concept behind the sub-genre Metroidvania is an action-adventure, platforming game focused on non-linearity and utility-gated exploration and progression. Usually when you are on the way to its end, you will hit a wall that you’re unable to overcome and you need to find another route, get the utility and come back to pass the wall. Two games that create the unique sub-genre are Super Metroid (1994) and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997).

In this regard, Metroid Fusion is always considered as one of the best Metroidvania game, especially when Metroid fans need to wait 8 years to get their hands on the next-gen Metroid game, on handheld especially. I remember it was one of the most played Game Boy Advance game, and was awarded as Handheld game of the year.

I will lump this gamer type the same as people who are true Metroid fans, although there are some games in the series that fall into FPS genre.

It is one of the best GBA games in terms of graphics
  • People who love open-world games

Metroid Fusion is a classic retro game that requires lots of exploration and immersion, which are really similar to an open-world game, or a big interconnected world. As a result, you should focus more on the world, because if you forget one thing, I believe you won’t be able to progress.

  • People who want to start Metroid series for the first time

I believe that if you want to start with the famous Metroid series of Nintendo, Metroid Fusion appears to be a great recommendation. It has great story with plot twist, an iconic Metroidvania style and difficult boss fights. If you enjoy Metroid Fusion, you will find other famous games like Super Metroid and Metroid Dread to be more enjoyable.

  • People who love Game Boy Advance system

I grew up playing Game Boy Advance as my most played gaming console, so I enjoy the nostalgia of playing popular GBA games, and again Metroid Fusion is certainly one. It is actually one of the best GBA games in terms of graphics, horror theme and great storytelling.

Nintendo fans who love Nintendo games on Nintendo consoles are certainly know about this game. If you aren’t afraid to shout out to be a Nintendo fanboy, let’s try this game.

Worst for

  • People who want an easy gaming experience

There is no wrong in asking for an easy gaming experience, especially when you’re an adult with not much time playing games. For me, I almost give up Metroid Fusion, the only thing can keep me playing is the convenient save states. There is no easy mode, and boss fights are nightmare. There are not many hints to walk you through the whole game, so expect countless of backtracking. If you don’t enjoy that, just skip this game.

One thing I should warn you, Metroid Fusion is generally considered as the “easy” Metroid game.

Boss fights are difficult, and you will die a lot
  • People who love linear games

You can easily think Metroid Fusion as a simple side scroller, but no, as I stated earlier, the whole Metroidvania series focuses on non-linearity gameplay. I find more and more gamers who enjoy a quick gaming session, however, Metroid Fusion will keep you hours of exploring and figuring how to progress.

Enemies and boss fights in Metroid Fusion are improved a lot from Super Metroid, to the point that people are talking about the giant spider a lot (I hate the spider). I really recommend you to use a retro handheld emulator to load states, because you will die a lot, and restart from the opening of the map is very annoying.

Recommended handhelds to play

I always recommend using the native handheld for its own system, unless you want convenient features like save states or fast forwarding. A Game Boy Advance and EZ-Flash Omega combination can give you the convenient save states, and I always consider using them as the top-tier handheld selection for a GBA game.

If you want a compact experience like the GBA, you can look for the Miyoo Mini Plus, which is even more convenient with save states and fast forward features. However, an intense action game like Metroid Fusion will hurt your hands a lot when playing with the Miyoo, so I advise not to play for a long time. The RG351P is a much better experience with its horizontal form factor, and the 3:2 screen is pixel-perfect for a GBA game. Still, if you own a more expensive retro handheld emulator that fits your hand better, don’t hesitate to play Metroid Fusion on your preferred device. You can also use a cheaper retro handheld than the Miyoo, but overall you need to trade off the display and unstable custom firmware for less money.

Without save states, the experience with Metroid Fusion on Nintendo 2DS is not really my suggestion, because I find the game difficult enough to play, and no save state means you will need a lot of tries to defeat one boss. Playing on Nintendo Switch with NSO is better, but I still stick with D-Pad buttons than analog sticks, so I don’t really recommend the Switch for this game.