A Remake Worth Returning To
Back in my day, there existed this brick like device that people packed around with them. This brick was not for building, nor for throwing, but playing video games upon. And after you popped in those four AA batteries along with your game, you got some pixelated goodness upon an lcd screen with a monochrome background. We called this brick the Nintendo Gameboy. Many glorious games were brought to that tiny screen, from Super Mario Land to the debut of the Pokemon series, but we also got a sequel to the NES game Metroid titled Metroid II: Return of Samus.
In 1991, we see Samus after defeating Mother Brain and her space pirates. Deeming the Metroid threat beyond anything they have encountered, the Galactic Federation hires Samus to go to the Metroid home world to investigate and potentially wipe out the Metroids. This game was huge, featured multiple power ups to wipe out a certain number of Metroids that have mutated into different enemy types. Add in a little baby Metroid and a certain mecha-space dragon, and you had a game worth replaying over and over again to find all the secrets and power ups. The soundtrack was good for its time, but has some poor quality bleeps and bloops to try to listen to it now. But that’s okay, because now Samus has returned, to return again in a remake titled-
Metroid: Samus Returns is the remake we will be talking about now. Made for the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo tapped Mercury Steam(mainly known for the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow games) to give us a solid 2D remake with plenty of extras. To start off, you will notice some sleek 3D graphics that are being used to traverse this 2D game, similar to Castlevania: Lords of Shadow- Mirror of Fate. You get your map on the bottom screen, updated in real time, along with your weapons and abilities. Speaking of those extras, let’s talk about one now: The melee counter. A good number of enemies will have a split second for you to hit that X button, and perform a melee counter, leaving them stunned for high damage. This counter also works with the metroids you fight, and the bosses as well. So on top of using a certain weapon, Samus will have to use her countering abilities as well. Some will argue that this mechanic adds a layer of depth to the game. I agree, but it’s just not a very good mechanic. Especially at end game when you should be flying past everything instead of slowing down to melee things.
If you have ever played a Metroid game before, then you should know how this works. You explore, get blocked by not having a certain power up, and you travel off in a different direction until you find said power up to get through the previous area. Samus Returns adds in the option of teleporters to shorten the backtracking down a bit. These are optional, so you don’t have to use them if you want to do all of the backtracking your old school heart can handle. But I will say, this map is huge, opening up the biggest 2D Metriod game to date. After a while, I started to use them, not gonna lie. While using those, or elevators, you get a really neat cutscene that plays out, as well as little in game cutscenes for using a power up station or save station. All the while you get an upgraded soundtrack, letting you listen to those upgraded old themes while adding in some great atmospheric tones while exploring.
All of the favorites are here. The morph ball, morph ball bombs, missiles, the spider ball, moon jumping, etc… But for the remake, we also get some of the newer goodies like the ice and grapple beams, super missiles, and even power bombs. So with new abilities and weapons, we get new obstacles to move past on the map. It also makes battling the metroids and certain bosses a blast given the options you have to fight with. Near the end of the game, you feel almost invincible, due to the energy tanks being picked up to add to your health, the missile upgrades to carry more missiles, and of course your Aeion abilities like the scan pulse, showing you parts of the map and where the power up and hidden areas are. Wait, what? Yep, you read that right. You now have an Aeion power gauge, and with it the ability to unlock huge parts of the map on the fly. I guess this is the new map station, but also shows you the hidden stuff. I am not a huge fan of this feature, because the exploration is what makes a Metroid game. Use it if you must, but I urge you to try and explore for yourself. The other Aeion abilities are quite nice. The lightning armor gives you a glowy look that blocks all incoming damage for a very short burst, allowing you to once again traverse the map. There is even an Aeion ability that slows down time! You also have the option to hold down the L button and free aim your shots. Almost all of these changes are a warm welcome here, adding a lengthy time to get that 100 percent completion.
In case you were wondering about the story, well, like most older Metroid games, there isn’t much on the surface. And with the remake, there are some cutscenes that try to add in the Chozo and a few other slight nods, especially towards the end when a certain something shows up as the final boss of the game. But unless you have read a ton of Metroid lore from mainly the Metroid Prime series, you won’t even care. You have a job to do, and that is to wipe out those metroids! And yes, there are different “endings”. With that out of the way, we can talk about a hard mode that is unlocked, either from beating the game, or using a certain Zero Suit Samus Amiibo. So yes, there is Amiibo support for this game. Some open up options, some give you extra health and weapon reserves. Use them if you want, I opted not to.