Was it worth the wait? A resounding yes.
Taking the template of Super Metroid, developers Retro Studios and Nintendo pulled Samus into the 21st Century and gave fans an excellent 3D first-person adventure that gives you impressive graphics, vast areas to explore and great game play.
The game starts with Samus landing and exploring a Space Station and it's the exploring that plays a huge part in Metroid Prime. One of the first things that you will notice when learning the controls is the option to select a different Visor for Samus, a Visor that was new to the series at the time but one that now plays a huge part in the series, the Scan Visor.
The Scan Visor does exactly as it says and allows for you to scan certain objects in nearly every room that you enter. They are items that are different colours with the Visor on with Green being items that have been previously scanned, Orange coloured items are ones that offer information and hints about the story and game. Red coloured items are the most important items to scan as the information from these are collected into the log book and count towards the 100% needed to complete the game and be awarded the special ending. Red coloured scans include the likes of enemies, bosses and collectable items such as missiles and energy. The scanning of bosses is particularly important as it provides information on how to destroy the enemy, especially helpful when the boss has multiple forms.
Once the first boss has been scanned and killed it's time a familiar sight to Metroid fans which is the countdown. Samus has seven minutes to return to her ship before the Station explodes killing everyone and everything aboard. It's here where everything starts to really kick in as the game play and the start of the plot is set-up as an explosion causes Samus's suit to malfunction leaving the player with everything unavailable except for the Power Beam. It's also the first time in the game that you get to see Meta Ridley in full 3D glory.
Once Samus has returned to her ship and has landed on Tallon IV you really start to realise and appreciate just how graphically wonderful Metroid Prime really is. From the forests and barren wastes of of Chozo Ruins to the lava pits of Magmoor Caverns and the snowy plains of Phendrana Drifts, every area and every room has so much details poured into it. Some areas/rooms you will find yourself just standing and looking, absorbing the detail. A special mention has to go to Samus's Visor which just looks amazing when hit by rain drops or when covered by steam, making it hard to see through, just superb. Another superb bit is the cut-scene that happens in the Phendrana Drifts when after stepping through door the shadow of Meta Ridley appears overhead as he flies across the Drifts.
The sound and music are another aspect of the game that are absolutely fantastic with a special mention going to Phendrana Drifts where the music is so serene, a complete contrast to the bombastic technoesque style of music when working your way through the almost claustrphobic tunnels of the Magmoor Caverns. The sound also deserves a mention as each and every noise is distinct and perfect, from the hissing of steam coming from pipes to the screeching of enemies as they come flying towards you.
Due to the design of viewing the game through Samus's visor this allows for changes to be made with four different versions of the visor being available. These are the standard and scanning visors that you start the game with and after collection the thermal imaging and X-Ray visors that allow for enemies, platforms and items to be spotted a lot easily. Like the visor there are also four beams that Samus collects through out the game with the charge beam being the standard at the beginning of the game with the wave, ice and plasma beams being collected later on. There is a fifth beam which is the phazon beam that is used very briefly near the end of the game but plays a major part later on in the trilogy.
Cycling between the visors and beams is simple enough with the c-stick and d-pad being used to toggle between them. In fact the entire lay-out of the controls is pretty much perfect and simple to use with every button being utilised and the Cube pad being easy to use.
Alongside the visors and beams there are the numerous amounts of upgrades to acquire including the obligatory missile expansions and energy tanks to collect and various different suits that are needed to progress through out the game. There are also upgrades such as the Spider Ball (first seen in Metroid II: Return of Samus but used slightly differently here), the power bomb and the grapple beam. All needed to progress.
So to sum up. Following on from Super Metroid was always going to be tough and with Prime Retro Studios and Nintendo produced an absolutely brilliant game that not only kept everything that made Super Metroid brilliant but also added lots of new layers and abilities to make this stand on it's own two feet. Simply put, Metroid Prime should be in your collection and with the ability to play it on both the GameCube and the Wii and with prices being so cheap to buy it, there really is no excuse why it's not in your collection.
Final score: 9/10