Return of the Queen.
Samus. Is. Back. It’s very fitting that the game she returns with is a 3DS remake of the game titled Return of Samus, AKA Metroid II. This was a great decision as Return of Samus really needed a remake. It felt slow and clunky and did not include key features such as a map. Samus Returns fixes all of this.
The map is my favorite out of all the 2D games, as it is very easy to see what you need to progress in a certain area. And if you can see a tank of some sort, your map will be marked with what tank it is. If you cannot see the item, but there is one in that room, then there will be a circle on your map. Once an item is obtained, a dot will be put on the map. It’s a really simple but helpful way of displaying where to go to get extra items. But this isn’t the only help that the map provides. You can also mark the map yourself with different colored pins. This is best used when you find an area that requires a certain item to progress. If you do not have this item yet, just put a pin where you are on the map. There is a limit of 10 pins for each area’s map, but I personally did not find this problematic, as I rarely had more than 5 pins down at once.
Normally, a new square of the map is filled out when Samus goes into that square in the game. However, more parts of the map can be found without exploring it first when you use the Scan Pulse. The Scan Pulse is an Aeion Ability. There are a total of 4 Aeion Abilities total. There is the Scan Pulse, armor that drains your Aeion Meter instead of your health, one that makes your beam rapid fire, and one that slows time around Samus. None of these felt overpowered but instead felt like they belonged. Selecting which Aeion Ability you want to use is set to the D-Pad, and activating it is on A. Having the activation on A was a bit annoying as I kept accidentally hitting it and using my Aeion Ability in the middle of the fight.
Besides that problem, I loved the controls. Everything felt snappy and responsive, so Samus is perfect to control. Some things have been improved from previous Metroid games, such as entering the Morph Ball and wall jumping. Entering the Morph Ball used to be done by pressing down twice, and you can still do that in this game, but it’s a lot faster to just tap the bottom screen to do it. Wall jumping has been simplified as well. In previously, in order to wall jump you had to jump towards a wall, turn around and press jump almost immediately after. This took a bit of learning to get down, but it Samus Returns, all you need to do is jump towards a wall and jump again.
The controls aren’t the only thing that makes the game feel great. I absolutely love the melee counter and the free aim. They both feel like they fit and belong, without feeling overpowered. They both felt natural after a couple minutes, and they feel essential to all 2D Metroid games in the future.
None of the new additions to the game feel easy. Not at all. It’s actually rather hard, so expect to die a lot. You can no longer just ignore enemies to go somewhere because unlike in previous 2D Metroid games, almost all the enemies will target you instead of simply moving on a set path. It’s really refreshing and adds a lot more depth to the combat. I never encountered a part where the game was so hard I was beginning to get frustrated because I was still able to make progress. Personally, I find it to be just the right difficulty, but it may be a little more challenging to people who have never played a 2D Metroid game before.
Another thing that may be difficult to newcomers is some of the challenges that are required to get most bonus tanks of energy or an item. I found most of these challenges enjoyable, especially when they made me think. It’s also nice that the items are usually in an obvious location, but require these challenges, instead of simply being hidden like in previous Metroid games.
One more major thing that I loved: the 3D. Normally I never use the 3D on my 3DS because I end up getting headaches, but Samus Returns doesn’t do that to me. The 3D is absolutely stunning, as well. When you break something or counter certain enemies, chunks of rock or such will go flying outwards towards the screen. The depth it adds to the background is also amazing. Samus Returns looks gorgeous in general, especially for a 3DS game.
I really liked the bosses in this game, especially Diggernaught. The main bosses are cleverly designed and fun to fight. However, the mini-bosses of the game can get a bit tiring as you have to fight the same ones a lot. The mini-bosses I’m referring to are the Metroids. There is 40 total in the game that you have to try the exterminate, which is the main goal of the game. You will have to fight 40 Metroids, but they have different forms which help a lot with variety. There are often a lot of different areas you fight them in, so the variety of platforms help make fighting the same Metroids a little less repetitive. This wasn’t much of an issue in my first playthrough, but it can be annoying to others or when doing multiple playthroughs.
Now, I loved so many things about Samus Returns, but there are some things I disliked. One of those things being the linearity of the areas. Each area had only one entrance and one exit, which isn’t something I like as I find it fun to go back to previously explored areas and see what new locations I can unlock with new items I recently acquired. There are places like this, but they usually lead to only one or two new rooms with a single item tank.
Speaking of different areas, they could use more variety. Most of them look the same, and based on one screenshot I’m not able to say, “hey, that’s Area _,” simply because they don’t look varied enough. I’d love to see some plant areas or simply even areas with different colored rocks. Small differences can go a long way.
Something else that could help with variety is different types of music. Most of the music in Samus Returns is just atmospheric tunes that don’t really have a melody. It’s something I miss because there have been many songs in previous Metroid games that both set a good atmosphere and are just a great song in general. For example, Lower Brinstar and Magmoor Caverns (both of which have remixes in Samus Returns) both set a great mood and were great songs to listen to. I just wish most of the songs were like that because it’s worked perfectly in previous games.
Metroid: Samus Returns is a must have for all 3DS owners. It is definitely worth buying even though it’s not on the Switch. Please don’t pass on the game simply because of the console it’s on. It’s incredibly fun and the gameplay is addicting. I couldn’t wait to be able to play it again whenever I took a break. It’s truly amazing. I have decided it deserves a 10 out of 10. A glorious return for the Metroid series.