In 2004, Nintendo published Metroid: Zero Mission - the original Metroid with modern graphics for the Game Boy Advance. The Zero remake adds an automap that helpfully indicates where you should go next, which means you finish the game in not much longer than 18 minutes, 35 seconds. (Okay, five hours.) When you complete the mission, you unlock the original NES Metroid, 1986 version, on the same cartridge.

Which makes it odd that Nintendo then reissued the original NES Metroid, 1986 version, as part of its Classic NES Series, also for the Game Boy Advance. They should have subtitled it "Generation Gap." If you're old enough to have played the original, the Classic reissue instantly recalls your halcyon youth. If you're younger, well.... Check this startling comment from one "big_tom_2k6" titled "rubbish RUBBISH": "sometimes nintendo can lack off and this my friends is one of them they brong out puzzle games for ds that are rubbish and bring out so called 'classics' but [...] its all in the past just like an embarrasing thing you done 2 years ago or setting an old womans house on fire and nobody knows it was you so please leave it all behind we dont want to see it again."

Given that Samus morphs into a ball, 2005's Metroid Prime Pinball is perhaps defensible. From Greg Kasavin's glowing GameSpot review: "Not since The Pinball of the Dead has a concept of Metroid Prime Pinball's caliber become a reality. Seriously. Well, sort of."

Newest in the growing family is Metroid Prime Hunters, just out for the Nintendo DS. A first-person shooter (unusual for the DS), Hunters introduces six new bounty hunters for four-player wi-fi deathmatches. You unlock the new characters by completing the single-player adventure.

Meanwhile, Retro Studios is working on Metroid Prime 3 for the next-gen Revolution console. According to the sparse Retro website, they're hiring. A former employee says, "From what I hear over there now, it's like night and day" from what it was.

Allen Varney designed the PARANOIA paper-and-dice roleplaying game (2004 edition) and has contributed to computer games from Sony Online, Origin, Interplay, and Looking Glass.

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