Review by mikaa
Reviewed: 02/26/07 | Updated: 11/20/07
Eliminate the Metroids. Or Scurge. It's hard to tell...
When I first heard of Scurge: Hive, I could have cared less. Originally just a GBA project, I was turning a blind eye to any GBA project (except for Metroid and Final Fantasy) for the simple reason that I did not care to play GBA on my Nintendo DS Lite (due to the way the carts stick out). It sounded pretty good, but so what? There were a lot of great games on the GBA.
But then I heard that it was just shy of being a full Metroid clone.
I was tempted at this point, but the announcement that Scurge: Hive (henceforth referenced as Scurge) was hitting the Nintendo DS secured the deal. Now working at Target, the Game Stop outside hated me for the constant calls in regards to its presence.
When it arrived, I grabbed it immediately. I popped it into my DS Lite, and braced myself for a Metroid-type game.
At this point, let me back up: what IS Scurge?
Another question would be, what is Metroid, and why do I compare Scurge to it?
Metroid, for those unaware, is a Nintendo franchise that dates itself back to the old Nintendo system. The series is noted for its (normally) open-ended world, scores of power-ups and item upgrades. Also noted is the plot, which typically is far above that of its fellow action-oriented games. Also of note is the fact that Metroid's soundtrack is almost always of the highest quality, setting the mood be it a mad rush to escape, the heat of a firey chasm, or the impending doom of meeting a twisted copy of yourself.
Scurge: Hive takes inspiration from this, from music to the general game play. When you power up Scurge, the music actually made me think of Metroid Fusion, and for a moment I had to check to make sure that I did not insert the wrong game. Another simmilarity is the slew of foes, the numerous power ups, and the items to collect.
Differences are present, including the fact that you increase your HP not by E-tanks a la Metroid, but instead by killing infected critters (see plot) and collecting the Scurge within. Oh, and the game plays on an isometric plane.
Ever played Sonic Mega Collection, specifically Sonic 3D Blast? If so, skip down; if not, let me explain: picture an angle 3/4ths overhead of the action, not quite overhead, but at enough of an angle to show depth.
Scurge plays on an isometric perspective, and this becomes its biggest curse: isometric gaming can be fun, but when you need to make precise jumps, one wrong move and you could fall to your death. This would not be so bad if we had a good D-pad to use, but, sadly, the DS Lite (of which I now use instead of the DS) has a hard time hitting diagonals without hourse of practice. I have spent more time correcting some of my jumps than trying to go further.
This is made worse, actually, due to the fact that you are infected. The basic plot behind Scurge is not that different from Metroid Fusion: you answer a distress signal, you beat some things, you get infected with the Scurge (a parasitic lifeform that loves to absorb and kill), you get stranded on-planet with a suit that can protect you from dieing from Scurge (but not from the things they already control), and must try to stop it. The problem with being infected is that you are always one-minute away from death. At the top of the screen is a meter that shows your infected level. Once it hits 100%, your HP begins to drain like crazy, until you are either dead or hit a save point and purge the infection. Normally the bar fills up slowly, but certain things cause the infection to speed up (like the red goo on the floor).
The infection issue actually makes the game more intense, as you only have so long before you have to "regenerate" or die. On the otherside of the coin, this makes the game more tedious, as if you keep missing jumps (especially with the bungee-like "slingshot" item), you will be frustrated beyond the will to play.
Which is dissapoining, as Scurge is otherwise very good. A variety of weapons that vary in ability and effect, a nice selection of very well animated foes, a wonderful soundtrack, and creative bosses all add up to a very nice product. Sadly, the game was made by a company that was known by almost noone, and the fact that Scurge was constantly delayed and met with little fanfare probably did not help it at all (or the fact that it was released just prior to the big November rush of high-profile games).
You can probably find a copy of Scurge on either DS or GBA for around US$19.99 these days (choose a verison based on your system; except for the DS having the map on the bottom and the touch screen added to the menu interface, nothing is different), it's not a bad buy. Until Nintendo releases a true 2D Metroid on the DS, this is as close as we will get for now.
Final Score: 7 of 10
+ Best Features - Wonderful animations, sound track, Metroid-feel, character logs
- Worst Features - Controls, isometric view, infection may turn off some
* If You Liked - Metroid (NES, GBA), Metroid Fusion (GBA), Metroid Prime Hunters (DS), Metroid Prime 2 (NGC)
* Guilty Pleasure - The knowlege that the sales clerk at Game Stop pegged me as a gaming geek for going nuts over a "nothing" title, then seeing his face when I told him WHAT Scurge took inspiration from...
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Scurge: Hive (US, 11/01/06)
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