Metroid: Samus Returns Is A Reminder Why The Franchise Is Here To Stay

8.5
  • 3DS
  • Action
  • Action-Adventure
2017-09-15
3DS_Metroid Samus Returns_illustration_01_FINAL
Samus Returns is coming to the Nintendo 3DS Nintendo

Nintendo surprised a lot of people by announcing not one, but two, Metroid games during E3 2017. While the upcoming Metroid Prime for Switch looks to the future, Samus Returns is a remake of the classic Metroid II title for the GameBoy. But Samus Returns isn’t just a retelling of the story; it updates the game for modern times and introduces new gameplay mechanics that allows it to be a wonderful escape for Metroid fans and 3DS owners. Samus Returns holds its own as a great 2D platformer, a 3DS game and as a Metroid title that fans will want to dive into.

PRESENTATION

I can’t talk about Samus Returns without mentioning the visuals and the music. MercuryStream does a great job of bringing the world of SR388 to life using the 3DS’ 3D capabilities. I don’t normally play with the 3D on, but Samus Returns really makes me think twice about shutting it off . While players won’t lose anything by playing the game with the slider off (or on a 2DS), I’d recommend turning the 3D on just to experience and appreciate the backgrounds.

The music of Samus Returns also gives it that classic Metroid feel, which has always been one of the best soundtracks of any Nintendo franchise. If you really want to engross yourself in this space adventure, plug in your headphones and enjoy.

GAMEPLAY

Samus Returns , the story of the titular character going to the Metroid home planet of SR388 to exterminate the new alien life form too dangerous to leave alive, is a welcome… return to the 2D platforming genre.  Fans of the Metroid games will feel right at home jumping on platforms, running and shooting, and traveling through caverns, underwater and all sorts of terrain. If you’re new to the Metroid series, or to 2D Metroid, the controls are simple to pick up and become second nature as you complete your mission.

Samus Returns continues the tradition of gaining new powerups and upgrades as you get further into the story. This works as not just a reward to taking down more powerful enemies, but as a teaching tool to avoid overloading newer players with too many weapons or controls. These new weapons and controls are an improvement over the original Metroid II. They give a bit more variety in your gameplay and help with finding the hidden energy tanks and missile upgrades that you’ll need to survive the entire adventure.

I really like the “quality of life” improvements they made for Samus Returns, particularly how the map is laid out and how you can access it. In Metroid II and older games in the franchise, you’d have to draw the maps yourselves on paper to figure out where you were and where you had to return to. In the Prime series, you can access the map with the START button or by looking at the map in the corner but the second screen on the 3DS allows for easy-to-read navigation. There’s also an option to pin certain points on the map to keep track of paths you couldn’t access before.

Some of Samus’ new abilities also make the game a lot more manageable. The Scan Pulse, which you get early in the game, briefly gives Samus the ability to see breakable objects to find items  and updates your map. Metroid purists may feel this makes the game too easy, but I feel Samus Returns achieves a good balance between easy and challenging, even with this new feature.

There’s also a new aiming controls that allow Samus to shoot her beam and missiles with full 360-degree control. At first, the aiming was too sensitive; I tried to hit airborne enemies and found myself unable to hold it steady, but eventually it became an invaluable asset to my arsenal. It doesn’t hurt that you’re forced to use this aiming feature with certain bosses.

 

 

Another new feature is the Melee Counter, similar to the combat in Metroid: Other M. This feature allows Samus to strike an enemy and stun them for a short while. It’s a great new feature that changes up the gameplay a bit, and it’s fun to get the timing down. It’s also awesome to see Samus perform some over-the-top combinations on bosses.

 

 

Speaking of bosses and enemies, the alien life you encounter are not that challenging. You can easily pick them off as you master the aiming and access stronger weapons. Bosses are a bit more challenging in the early game, when you’re still learning the aiming and the melee counter.

Still, Samus Returns does creep into “too easy” territory at times, given the sometimes repetitive nature of the game. You’ll encounter three to four bosses in a row with the same attack patterns and weak spots. As you get towards the end of the game, the bosses become exponentially tougher (there’s no shame in dying and trying again) and more fun.  

Samus Returns is definitely a game I enjoyed more in sporadic sessions of two hours or so, not extended sitdowns. After getting about 45 percent of the pickups and completing the story in about 15 hours (with plenty of replayability for those who want a challenge in hard mode or get 100 percent), I can say Samus Returns gives fans plenty to do and enjoy.

VERDICT

Anyone looking for their Metroid fix should look no further than Samus Returns. It’s a great example of why this franchise has been around for almost 30 years with amazing environments and awesome gameplay. The new weapons and features freshens up the gameplay of the original Metroid II while masterfully walking the line of being too easy and challenging. While admittedly the gameplay can get repetitive at times, the overall experience of Samus Returns is something Metroid fans and newbies will enjoy. If you haven’t discovered the greatness of Metroid, this will surely do it. 

REVIEW SUMMARY
Metroid: Samus Returns
8.5
A Reminder Why The Franchise Is Here To Stay
Anyone looking for their Metroid fix should look no further than Samus Returns. It’s a great example of why this franchise has been around for almost 30 years with amazing environments and awesome gameplay.
  • Visuals and Music are well done.
  • New features makes it kind to newcomers.
  • Challenging for both veterans and newcomers.
  • Can get repetitive.
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