Metroid: Samus Returns

Introduction

The 2000s was arguably the most prolific decade for a majority of Nintendo’s big-name franchises. The Zelda franchise issued several beloved installments such as Majora’s Mask, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess. At the same time, the Mario franchise became highly experimental; Super Mario Sunshine had the title character explore a tropical island with a highly pressurized water dispenser on his back while Super Mario Galaxy saw him explore the far reaches of space. However, Nintendo’s most unexpected move was in 2002 when the Metroid franchise saw not one, but two installments revitalize the franchise that had been dormant since the 1994 release of Super Metroid. One of these games, Metroid Prime, allowed the franchise to break into the third dimension. It was followed up with two sequels, forming what is considered one of the most solid trilogies in the medium. With the franchise proving its continued relevance in the face of their new competition, the future seemed bright for Metroid.

Indeed, going into the 2010s, enthusiasts were excited to play the upcoming Metroid: Other M. Retro Studios demonstrated the franchise’s flexibility with their imaginative scenarios, and Metroid: Other M would be a comparatively simplistic return to form courtesy of Yoshio Sakamoto, the man who directed Super Metroid. It seemed as though this new installment was geared to join Super Metroid and the Metroid Prime trilogy as one of the series’ hallmarks. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. In a shocking turn of events, the same game that topped countless lists regarding the most anticipated titles of 2010 received anomalously bad word-of-mouth. By the end of 2010, the game failed to sell one-million units. Only two years after its release would it pass the threshold. This was an unthinkably dismal performance for a first-party Nintendo game.

The point of contention among most independent critics concerned its story. Mr. Sakamoto had poured a lot of his soul into the project, wishing to provide a definitive characterization of series protagonist Samus Aran. However, said characterization proved problematic for a majority of the enthusiasts who played it – not only abroad, but domestically as well. Consequently, the scenario was universally panned to the point where many critiques failed to mention the gameplay. Depending on one’s perspective, said gameplay was either passable or outright bad. Though the exact quality of Metroid: Other M was hotly debated, its status as a commercial disappointment couldn’t be contested.

For many years, there was no word of a new Metroid installment. The only game bearing the franchise’s name saw the light of day in 2015 under the name Metroid Prime: Federation Force. Because players felt it had little to do with the franchise, the game received a monumental preemptive backlash that persisted once it was released. Many enthusiasts resigned themselves to the fact that the Metroid franchise was effectively dead.

Luckily, all hope was not lost. Developers led by Yoshio Sakamoto began work on a new project in 2015 codenamed Matadora. Joining them on this endeavor was the Spain-based developer MercurySteam. They had previously pitched a Metroid game for the 3DS and Wii U. It was ultimately rejected, but Mr. Sakamoto took note of their interest in the series, and decided to collaborate with them. MercurySteam wished to remake Metroid Fusion, but Mr. Sakamoto instead suggested reimagining the series’ second installment, Metroid II: Return of Samus. He himself did not work on the classic Game Boy title, but he was enthusiastic about remaking it, believing it to be a vital part of the series’ lore. With the knowledge he and his company had developing Castlevania: Lord of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, Jose Luis Márquez found himself in the director’s chair alongside veteran developer Takehiko Hosokawa.

As it turns out, their project couldn’t have been timed any better. Metroid fans had been clamoring for a Metroid II remake for many years. It was to the point where one enthusiast, who went by the alias DoctorM64, took it upon himself to develop an unofficial remake titled AM2R (Another Metroid 2 Remake). For his troubles, Nintendo issued a cease-and-desist notice, and the game was taken offline. While fans were understandably upset, they later learned the biggest reason why Nintendo did what they did when they announced their own official remake. For his part, Mr. Sakamoto stated that, though he hadn’t seen the game, he appreciated the fan for caring so much about the series. On that note, DoctorM64 was just as excited about Nintendo’s project as Mr. Sakamoto himself. In fact, he bought a New 3DS XL with the specific purpose to play Nintendo’s Metroid II remake.

After much speculation, the game was released in September of 2017 for the 3DS under the name Metroid: Samus Returns. The Nintendo Switch had been released six months prior, but Mr. Sakamoto had declined releasing it on that platform due to the 3DS’s larger consumer base at the time. He also felt the dual screens allowing players to view the map during gameplay would be of an immense help. Upon release, Samus Returns was well-received. After a lackluster showing for a majority of the decade, it was seen as the return to form the series needed to stay relevant in the eighth console generation. Mr. Sakamoto had spent a majority of this decade a laughing stock among long-time enthusiasts – especially on message boards. Was Samus Returns able to restore the goodwill he lost?

Analyzing the Experience

WARNING: This review will contained unmarked spoilers for the series thus far.

Being a remake of Metroid II, Samus Returns has an identical premise. It is the year 20X5 of the Cosmic Calendar. A Galactic Federation research team discovered a new species on an expedition to Planet SR388. These parasitic lifeforms were known as Metroids. Though they managed to obtain a living sample, their vessel was accosted by Space Pirates as they returned home. As it turns out, the Space Pirates themselves were interested in the Metroids. They aimed to exploit their ability to drain the energy of any lifeform to bring the galaxy to its knees.

The Galactic Federation’s attempts to retrieve the sample from the pirates’ stronghold on Planet Zebes were unsuccessful. Eventually, they turned to a bounty hunter – the one considered the best in the field. Her name was Samus Aran, and she lived up to her reputation when she eradicated the Metroids on Zebes. However, the Space Pirates were ultimately undaunted. Samus would find herself facing off against them again and again across the galaxy, even confronting them in their homeworld.

These developments left the Federation concerned. In the midst of these conflicts was one common factor: the Metroids. To determine how they could deal with such a threat, a team was set out on another expedition to SR388. The Federation quickly lost contact with them. Before the team disappeared, they sent a small data sample back to headquarters. Upon further analysis, a significant Metroid presence in the SR388’s interior was confirmed. Deciding that the galaxy couldn’t know true peace as long as Metroids existed, the Federation sends Samus Aran to SR388 with a solitary goal: exterminate the parasites once and for all.

Samus Returns stood out among its predecessors in that it returned to the familiar side-scrolling presentation of the classic installments while retaining a contemporary 3D presentation. In that regard, it is comparable to The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds in how it was a 3D game presented from a top-down perspective similar to the series’ 2D installments.

Samus’s Power Suit serves a twofold purpose. The most obvious one is that it protects her from the harsh environments of SR388. Its integrity is measured in units of energy. It is, for all intents and purposes, a health meter. If it’s depleted, her suit will permanently malfunction, leaving her at the mercy of the planet’s hostile fauna. Being a decidedly literal take on the adage that the best defense is a good offense, the Power Suit is also Samus’s primary means of defense. Mounted on her right arm is a cannon that shoots beams of pure energy. The beam is fired with a press of the “Y” button. By default, she shoots straight ahead of her, but by holding down the “L” button, you can lock Samus in place, allowing you to use the circle pad to aim the cannon. In the event that Samus requires a more percussive weapon, the player can hold down the “R” button. This allows her to fire missiles. Though slightly more damaging than the standard Power Beam, she is afforded a limited supply of them, so it’s advisable to conserve them whenever possible.

Samus Returns isn’t quite as focused on combat as Metroid: Other M, but the player will quickly discover that there is more to dispatching enemies than mindlessly shooting at them. In fact, enemies in Samus Returns are markedly more aggressive than their counterparts in Metroid II, for they often lunge directly at the bounty hunter. While they can be dodged by pressing the “B” button to jump out of their path, Samus has another way to deal with them.

By pressing the “X” button just before they strike Samus, she will physically hit the enemy with her Arm Cannon, stunning them for a few seconds. She can take advantage of the enemy’s temporary immobility and counterattack with an instantly charged Power Beam.

Metroid II differed from its predecessor in that it was, in practice, a slightly open-ended run-and-gun platformer than a true example of the subgenre it spawned. While Metroid turned players loose in an underground labyrinth that gradually opened up as they amassed power-ups, Metroid II was effectively divided into stages. The goal of each one was to rid the area of the titular Metroids. To prevent players from breaking the intended sequence, pools of an unidentifiable, yet verifiably hazardous liquid flooded the corridors leading to the next area. Once Samus succeed in her mission, the planet would begin to quake. Once Samus returned to the area with the hazardous liquid, she would discover that it had been drained, allowing her to proceed.

Appropriately, Samus Returns operates on a similar principle. Every area in the game with the obvious exception of the surface is blocked by a pool of purple liquid. The liquid is now drained with a machine rather than occurring spontaneously once the local Metroid population is eradicated. The machine only activates in response to Metroid DNA, which is procured upon defeating them. The statue tells Samus how many Metroids exist in her current area along with their relative locations. As with Metroid II, a counter informing the player of the total number of Metroids on SR388 is present on the interface.

Though Samus Returns considered is a remake of Metroid II, it is a bit more accurate to describe it as a complete reinterpretation of the original game. The areas in Samus Returns are vaguely shaped like their counterparts in Metroid II, but this is where the similarities end. The result is that Samus Returns is something a hybrid of Metroid II and Super Metroid. The purple liquid prevents sequence breaking, yet players are granted a significant degree of freedom when it comes to exploring each individual area. Because the goal is to eradicate all of the Metroids in a given area, you will often find yourself backtracking once you’ve explored a given section in its entirety.

Samus Returns handles power-ups in a similar manner as Metroid Fusion. That is, all of your standard upgrades are automatically installed, thus overriding the redundant features. This is especially noticeable when you obtain the beam upgrades. While Metroid II only allowed players to hold onto a single beam upgrade at a time, Samus Returns combines their individual functions in a manner similar to that of Super Metroid. For example, once you get the Wave Beam, Samus’s Power Beam gains the ability to pass through objects. After obtaining the Spazer and Plasma Beams, it splits off into three shots and can pierce enemies in addition to keeping the Wave Beam’s properties. The only noticeable exception is the Ice Beam. One of the problems with the Ice Beam manifested whenever you froze enemies you intended to destroy. Metroid Fusion mitigated this minor issue by introducing ice missiles, giving Samus’s two main means of defense distinct purposes. Samus Returns, on the other hand, took cues from Metroid Prime wherein the Ice Beam is a separate weapon.

The most notable addition to Samus Returns is the Aeion system. One of the first power-ups Samus will obtain on her journey through SR388 is the Scan Pulse. One press of the “A” button will allow her to scan the surrounding environment. This fills in the map for the immediate area and causes any destructible wall to glow for a brief duration. The Scan Pulse cannot be used every other step, however. Instead, it runs off of a fuel dubbed Aeion. Every use of the Scan Pulse requires a set amount of Aeion.

Later on in the game, Samus will obtain three other abilities that are also powered by Aeion. Because of the nature of Aeion, it could be seen as a Metroid analogue for mana or MP. The gauge is replenished with Aeion Orbs. They are sometimes dropped by enemies upon defeat, and there are stations littered throughout the planet that restores it automatically.

One of the greatest paradoxes of Metroid II lied in how it was both more linear and easier to get lost in than its direct predecessor. There were various reasons why this ended up being the case. Originally seeing its release on the Game Boy, the monochromatic hallways were exceptionally difficult to differentiate. On top of that, because areas generally lacked any kind of unifying theme, they came across less as alien environments and more as a set of video game levels pasted together. It especially became noticeable if you looked at a map of these areas in a strategy guide only to realize that several passageways should have logically gone through multiple solid walls.

This is not an issue in Samus Returns thanks to two factors. Just as Mr. Sakamoto predicted, being able to see the entire map without necessarily having to pause the game is immensely helpful. Though the maps don’t always reflect certain subtle, yet important features such as walls in the center of a corridor, they make navigation much easier. Moreover, Samus Returns sees fit to greatly mitigate the extensive backtracking one often had to perform in the average Metroid title by providing a fast travel feature of sorts. Specifically, Teleport Stations allow Samus to quickly move between different areas of SR388.

In fact, from a gameplay standpoint, the overall theme of Samus Returns is addressing many minor issues plaguing the series that players simply got used to. To wit, it was common for the planets Samus explored to have superheated areas that would damage her upon entry. To combat this, players would need the Varia Suit upgrade. This problem was at its worst in Super Metroid wherein players could easily wander into such an area by accident and begin taking damage immediately. If Samus’s suit was low on energy, this invariably resulted in the player losing the game. Later installments addressed this to varying degrees of success. Metroid Fusion prevented players from entering areas with extreme temperatures thanks to its linear design. Metroid Prime gave flashed a warning on the heads-up display. Finally, Metroid: Other M, the only game to require the player to trudge through a superheated area, merely reduced the damage the heat inflicted. Samus Returns takes cues from Metroid Prime in that doors to superheated areas are red and emitting smoke. On top of that, such rooms are highlighted in red on the map. This ensures the mistake of entering a superheated room without the Varia Suit is made, at most, once.

Even better, the Scan Pulse fixes the reoccurring problem the series had in that finding certain secret passageways was next to impossible. Certain longtime fans argued that it takes away much of the challenge, but I feel it’s a moot point. Most of these passageways, while not required to complete the game, were nonetheless uncovered by mindlessly bombing every square inch of a given wall until you either found it or learned what power-up was required. If nothing else, using the Scan Pulse extensively is optional, so if anyone wishes to play the game in the traditional manner, that too is an option.

One of the biggest problems with Metroid II took the form of the Spider Ball. This upgrade allowed Samus’s signature Morph Ball form to adhere to walls. While this allowed Samus to reach many areas she couldn’t otherwise, actually using it was very tricky. You had to press down a second time to activate it, the direction you had to press changed whenever you let go of the button on a wall or uneven surface, and getting attacked by an enemy canceled it out. Samus Returns vastly improves on this flawed mechanic by requiring players to hold the “L” button to activate the power-up. While this sounds annoying, with the vastly improved controls, 3D presentation, and superior engine, it’s much easier to gauge Samus’s location at a given moment. While using it doesn’t quite create a second game like it did in Metroid Prime, I applaud Mr. Márquez and his team for realizing it needed to be improved and making the necessary changes.

Though Samus Returns is, in broad strokes, an unequivocal improvement over Metroid II, it isn’t exactly a flawless experience. One of the biggest problems I had with this game was its dependence on the touch screen. By 2017, it was clear that the best DS and 3DS games employed the touch screen either exclusively or nominally. As early as Super Mario 64 DS, one of the system’s launch titles, players had to use the touch screen to select options from a menu. While this was intended to show off the DS’s touch screen functionality, it resulted in serious pacing issues. It was somewhat jarring having to remove the stylus when you had been using only the buttons up until that point. Obviously, this wasn’t an issue in games such as The World Ends with You or The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, which required the touch screen for every major action.

While not going as far as making players take out the stylus just to select an option from a menu, Samus Returns arguably has a worse problem. While Super Metroid allowed players to switch between weapons with a combination of the pause menu and “SELECT” button, Samus Returns requires players to use the touch screen instead. Switching between the standard Power Beam, Ice Beam, and Grapple Beam is accomplished by touching their respective icons. This is highly awkward because as you’re switching weapons, you’re leaving Samus vulnerable to enemy attacks. A right-handed person would need to forego Samus’s ability to jump for a few seconds to do this. A left-handed person wouldn’t have it any better, being unable to move Samus at all during the process. It’s even worse when you obtain Super Missiles later on. In such cases, the icon only appears as the “R” button is held down. This is a nightmare for a right-handed person; they would need to hold down the “R” button with their ring finger while gripping the stylus with their thumb and index finger. Though left-handed people would have a slight advantage performing this task, doing so still renders Samus functionally immobile.

There’s no excuse for not only forcing this annoying change on players, but also preventing them from mapping out the controls to their liking – especially considering that it was indeed possible in Super Metroid. While the “SELECT” button could have made this task much easier to perform, it instead is used to pause the game. I can’t think of a reason why the development team felt the game needed two pause buttons. It’s possible that they had the original 3DS model in mind when they created this game in which the “SELECT” and “START” buttons are in the center of the console and within equal reach of the player’s thumbs. This goodwill is lost when playing the game on a New 3DS XL model wherein the buttons are adjacent to each other on the right side. This isn’t a deal-breaker because it’s possible to equip the Super Missiles before a boss fight. However, if you forget to do so, you’ll either have to persevere without them or risk taking a hit equipping them.

I give MercurySteam a lot of credit for reimagining Metroid II rather than settling for a 1:1 remake. Indeed, one point for which I faulted Zero Mission was that it took the level design of the series’ debut title and added new areas on top of it. While the level design in Metroid was good by the standards of 1986, it began showing its age long before 2004. Because of this, it was painfully obvious where the old content ended and the new material began. In fact, said new material effectively gave the game two third acts, making for a somewhat poorly structured narrative. Samus Returns doesn’t do this; the shapes of the areas are recognizable, yet they have much more intricate designs to them. This allowed the design team to have the best of both worlds, being able to create new stages without compromising the narrative of the original.

Unfortunately, even after these efforts, trace amounts of the original’s problems remain. Though the areas have better overall design, it doesn’t change the fact that unlocking new areas is a mechanical process. Super Metroid remains a beloved classic partly because of the amount of freedom it gave players. While a contemporary effort would prevent players from entering forbidden areas with a locked door or a broken bridge, Super Metroid simply required them to find power-ups to reach new locations. There was an intended order to which players needed to discover these power-ups, yet its unobstructive narrative ensured the consequences for creatively breaking the game’s intended sequence were minimal.

The reason I say this is because Samus Returns doesn’t quite succeed in capturing what made Super Metroid work. While the game’s intended goal was to revisit Metroid II and improve upon it rather than recreate the essence of Super Metroid, it doesn’t prevent these problems from existing. As it stands, you will often find doors you cannot open or reach with your current loadout. This requires you clear the entire area of Metroids, retrieve the appropriate power-up from a later region, and come back just to collect whatever you left behind. In fact, this aspect is taken to a logical extreme in that you cannot obtain certain collectables until the very end when you’ve found the infant Metroid. Considering you had to complete a majority of the game just to get the privilege of obtaining these collectables, you’ve proven that you clearly didn’t need them to succeed.

This isn’t to say that Metroid has never succeeded at offering relatively linear experiences. Installments after Super Metroid such as Metroid Fusion and Metroid Prime 3 placed much more of an emphasis on narrative and therefore precluded most forms of sequence breaking. However, there was one key difference between those two games and Samus Returns: they ultimately didn’t attempt to be Metroidvanias. They had all of the surface elements accosted with the subgenre, but I would describe Metroid Fusion and Metroid Prime 3 as a science fiction-flavored survival horror and an action title wearing the Metroid mantle respectively. Samus Returns doesn’t quite succeed in crafting its own identity by comparison. It has all of the affectations of Super Metroid without a lot of what makes it such an enduring classic.

One minor complaint I have about Samus Returns concerns the countering system. While I do appreciate the idea of subtly telling players to adopt tactics more advanced than mindlessly shooting enemies until they’re fine dust, it does cause some pacing issues. Against a vast majority of the enemies, the most practical method of dealing with them is to let them attack first. Not only does countering them catch them off-guard, doing so typically results in you obtaining a greater amount of Aeion orbs. In the end, it becomes less practical once Samus obtains the Plasma Beam, which pierces enemies, making hitting their weak spots trivial. After she obtains the Screw Attack, which allows her to damage enemies with her spin jumps, it countering becomes even more redundant.

After making most of my personal grievances with the game known, I would say the biggest problem I have with Samus Returns concerns its boss fights. The original Metroid II didn’t have any boss encounters outside of the Metroids and Samus Returns doesn’t fare much better in this regard. This is a shame because starting with Super Metroid, the series offered many creative boss encounters – especially within Retro’s Metroid Prime trilogy. In Samus Returns, there are a grand total of three bosses outside of the Metroid encounters. While the Metroids themselves are much tougher than their original incarnations, it still causes the game to become monotonous very quickly. The game does throw the occasional curveball by having these fights take place in arenas that give the Metroids an advantage over Samus. Even so, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re still going through the same motions for each of their forms. Two of those boss fights are memorable to be sure, but they do little to assuage the game’s occasionally repetitive nature.

Even with these myriad flaws, there is one incontestably good thing Samus Returns does. Metroid: Other M proved to be the single most controversial game Nintendo had ever issued when it was released in 2010. The fans who analyzed the plot with a fine-toothed comb cited various reasons as to why it didn’t work. Some felt the story was too labyrinthine for its own good. Others noted that it introduced various plot elements only to offer no resolution to them. Yet others expressed that the cinematic storytelling did not fit in with the series, which always wore a “show, don’t tell” ethos as a badge of honor.

In spite of these disparate complaints, one singular facet ended up being the crux of every single one these arguments: the characterization of Samus Aran. Having spent most of her existence as a silent protagonist, many felt Samus’s gender was objectified. By the end of the game, she accomplished nothing, cowered at the sight of her archnemesis, and was completely and utterly subservient to her unofficial commanding officer. Though the internet had a bad reputation for exaggerating the negative aspects of a given work by 2010, one would have a difficult time arguing against the notion that Metroid: Other M was one of the most blatantly sexist games of its day.

After a seven-year absence, Samus Returns was Mr. Sakamoto’s chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the gaming enthusiasts who had spent a majority of the decade mocking him and restore the credibility of one of the medium’s most enduring female leads. I am pleased to say that he passed this test with flying colors. Samus returns to being a silent protagonist, letting her actions speak for themselves. The feats she pulls off during regular gameplay are impressive by themselves, but there are two cutscenes that told me the real Samus is back. After an excruciatingly difficult boss fight against large machine dubbed the Diggernaut, it looks as though it’s about to rise up and strike Samus down. She responds by shooting it one last time without bothering to look back at it.

Just to prove her reaction to the Diggernaut wasn’t an isolated incident, the final sequences in the game see fit to deviate slightly from the original Metroid II. After vanquishing the Queen Metroid, Samus happens upon one last egg. It quickly hatches and begins following Samus around. It has clearly imprinted upon her, and the bounty hunter, despite demonstrating her willingness to exterminate every other Metroid she came across, chooses to spare this infant.

When they arrive back at Samus’s gunship, they are besieged by her archnemesis, Ridley. This moment is incredible for one of two reasons. The first is that Ridley bears the cybernetic implants he gained in the Metroid Prime trilogy. After Metroid: Other M ignored those games and made their canonical status dubious, Samus Returns wholeheartedly embraces them. Secondly, and most importantly, Samus, in a stark contrast to one of the most infamous scenes from Metroid: Other M, is not paralyzed by fear when Ridley confronts her, taking on her persistent enemy head-on. In both gameplay and the ensuing cutscenes, she wastes no time vanquishing him once more.

One final compliment I must pay this game is that, cutscenes aside, it indulges in the rich environmental storytelling for which the series had become famous. If you revisit an area after clearing it of Metroids, you’ll find the once empty corridors are now teeming with wildlife. Thanks to Samus eradicating the planet’s apex predator, the prey population is allowed to flourish.

And as anyone who has played Metroid Fusion knows, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Drawing a Conclusion

Pros:

  • Returns to the familiar Metroid gameplay
  • Great remixed music
  • Samus’s credibility as a character is restored
  • Vastly improves upon original’s level design
  • Teleport stations expedite navigation
  • Aeion abilities are a nice addition
  • Spider Ball is much easier to use
  • Quite challenging
Cons:

  • Switching weapons requires touch screen
  • Gaining power-ups is a mechanical process
  • Certain collectables aren’t available until the very end
  • Countering interrupts flow of game
  • Repetitive boss fights

Given that Yoshio Sakamoto directed games such as Super Metroid and X, Metroid: Other M was, in reality, a significant outlier to an otherwise fine career – albeit a loud one. It’s important to remember that the decision to make Metroid: Other M more story-focused wasn’t his own. Because of this, it’s obvious in hindsight that he was not comfortable with the game’s dialogue-heavy presentation. Indeed, said decision was imposed upon him by the executives, who wanted the game to expand the Japanese fanbase. As it turns out, Japanese fans simply wanted another game like Super Metroid, and were subsequently just as disappointed as their Western counterparts. It remains to this day a classic example of why it doesn’t pay to try to please everyone – such an approach isolates existing fans while making potential new ones hesitant to dive in.

Though I have more than a few problems with Samus Returns, it’s a laudable effort because it marks one of the few instances in which a prominent creator took the criticism thrown their way to heart. Mr. Sakamoto could have easily doubled down, insisted that the displeased fans were a vocal minority, and point to Metroid: Other M as his be-all, end-all masterpiece. Instead, he had the humility to take several steps back, team up with a promising group of developers, and give the fans something equal parts familiar and new. In the process, Mr. Sakamoto restored much of his credibility, and MercurySteam, having divided Castlevania fans with their own efforts, could claim to have finally come into their own.

When it comes to remakes, I would go as far as saying that Samus Returns edges out Zero Mission by a slim margin. Completely redesigning the game from top to bottom was a much better idea than using the outdated design of the original as a template and completely adhering to it. Like Zero Mission before it, however, Samus Returns still falls into the same trap in it is effectively competing with Super Metroid. This is especially noticeable after Metroid Fusion and the Metroid Prime trilogy went in vastly different directions with the franchise thereby making them easier to judge on their own merits. Despite this, I can easily recommend it to fans of the franchise – particularly the ones who weren’t pleased with the first-person gameplay of the Metroid Prime trilogy. Furthermore, if someone wanted to experience the Metroid narrative from the beginning, I definitely recommend this game over Metroid II. For that matter, it honestly wouldn’t be a bad one to start with. Samus Returns, though a diamond in the rough, is the return to form both the franchise and Mr. Sakamoto desperately needed after their respective low points.

Final Score: 6/10

7 thoughts on “Metroid: Samus Returns

  1. The repetitive nature of the game dragged it down for me and I stopped about halfway through. I’m cautiously optimistic about Metroid Prime 4, as I don’t really enjoy the 3D Metroid games, but if Prime 4 fails to light the world on fire, it is quite possible going to be the nail in the coffin.

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    • I was able to endure the game’s repetitive nature and appreciate what it did well, but I can understand if you considered it a deal-breaker. That’s why I couldn’t give it a straight recommendation. Despite not being developed by Retro, I am looking forward to Metroid Prime 4; it’s difficult to say how it will turn out until it’s released. A lot of people weren’t expecting much out of this game, yet felt it was a major step up for MercurySteam, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Despite the different score we gave it (as I awarded it an 8), I am glad we agree on how great the game is and also on most of the flaws it has. I loved the remake for how it addressed the original’s flaws while also adding a few great twists of its own, and I am happy Sakamoto redeemed himself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it’s almost a completely different game. I may not have given it a higher score than Zero Mission, but I do feel Samus Returns is the better effort. Metroid: Other M would’ve been an extraordinarily bad note to end on, so I too am glad that Sakamoto redeemed himself; that’s just not something you see often enough in the entertainment industry.

      Liked by 1 person

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