Metroid Fusion Screenshot Metroid Fusion Screenshot

While I can understand Erin's criticism of Metroid Fusion's limited exploratory freedom and overly ushered structure, she doesn't take into consideration that this is a portable title. Gaming-on-the-go has unique design requirements. I played Fusion mostly on my daily commutes to work on the NYC subway system amidst constant distractions like train transfers and jousting with fellow strap hangers. I appreciated the sleep mode that enabled me to unexpectedly suspend play in an instant and resume later. The navigation computer made the start-and-stop transitions easier. Fusion's design favors play in short bursts over marathon sessions.

Nonetheless, I agree that Fusion doesn't reach pure gaming Nirvana, but for another reason. The greatest fault I can attribute to Fusion isn't its restrictive form, but its overly predictable progression. I've never played any previous Metroids extensively and I could still sense where the game was taking me a mile away. Fusion doesn't put much effort into disguising its gameplay devices. The landscapes in the game leave little doubt to a player that they lack the abilities to access an area and must return later. Gaps are obviously way too far to leap, ledges too tall to grasp, impenetrable walls kindly indicate which weapons will destroy it. Once a player does obtain a new ability, an 'educational testing' area always follows so the player clearly understands the function of the newfound skill or weapon. The only thing missing was a Nintendo Power counselor holding my hand.

Yet this complaint does not overshadow Fusion's overall experience. Nintendo always prefers visceral over context heavy narratives and Fusion is another disciple of the tradition. As soon players enter into the research facility, the aural elements, stage design, and character dialogue work seamlessly to create a genuine sense of isolation and mystery. While the game mechanics are too literal, the emotional interaction is wonderfully subtle and a textbook example of Nintendo's school of effective audio-visual design. Until the gameplay design achieves the same heights as the sensory design, Fusion will remain a student and not the master. Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Chi Kong Lui

Chi Kong Lui

In the 1980s, Chi grew up in small town on the outskirts of New York City called Jackson Heights. Latino actor, John Leguizamo referred to the town as the "melting pot of the world," and while living there, Chi was exposed to many diverse cultures, as well as a bevy of arcade classics such as Pac-Man, Space Ace, Space Harrier and Double Dragon. Chi's love of videogames only seemed to grow as his parents finally caved and bought him an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (after being the only kid in the block without one). In the 1990s, Chi finagled his way into the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts.

Somewhere between all the gaming, Chi some how managed to finish high school and get into the New York Institute of Technology. At the same time, Chi also interned at Virtual Frontiers, an Internet software consultancy where he learned the ways of HTML. Soon after acquiring his BFA, Chi went on to become the lead Web designer of the Anti-Defamation League. During his tenure there, Chi was instrumental in redesigning and relaunching the non-profit organization's Web site.

Today, Chi is the webmaster of the American Red Cross in Greater New York and somehow managed to work through the tragic events of September 11th without losing his sanity. Chi considers his life's work and continues to be amazed that the web site is still standing after the recent dotcom fallout. It is his dream that will accomplish two things: 1) Redefine the grammar of videogames much the same way French film critic Andre Bazin did for the art of cinema and 2) bring game criticism to the forefront of mainstream culture much the same way Siskel & Ebert did for film criticism.
Chi Kong Lui
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