Metroid II: Return of Samus Review

Let’s keep this flimsy excuse for a theme rolling with another Metroid title, namely the forgotten one.  Yes, out of all the Metroid titles, Metroid II is probably the least remembered, excluding the DS spin-offs, which I never played.  But we are keeping in the original Quadrilogy, so let’s follow the numbers into the black sheep title of this series.  And while this can be argued against being a Metroidvania title, I started this theme because I got this game as a reward for buying Nintendo games.

Metroid II: Return of Samus Review
Release Date: 24/11/2011
Platforms: Gameboy, eShop(Reviewed)
Price I Paid: Free, via Club Nintendo

Before I begin my actual review, I must ask why adding the features of the Super Gameboy is impossible for the 3DS?  I know that some people enjoy the grey coloring, same with those idiots who like their Gameboy games to be in letter box, meaning that you need to squint to know what the hell you are doing.  If you are willing to incorporate that, surely technology that is as old as me would be easy to add to a modern video game system.  Okay, I’m done.  

After 5 years in real life, the claustrophobic and maze-like Metroid got a more linear maze-like successor where the focus has shifted from exploration, to sheer extermination.  Without a map in tow, and with the amazing ability to crouch, Samus must go to the homeworld of the titular creatures, and commit genocide upon all 39 of them, well, 47 if you want to be technical.  Now, I played this title with a map, since navigating in a samey and repetitive area with no map, is a very stupid idea if you ask me.  But this game cost, about $50 back then, which inflates to about $80 now, so making your own maps was apparently the way people liked it back then.

But homemade maps would probably just screw you over, since there are multiple occurrences of terrain overlapping itself, meaning that there could be a path going up, to the right, and down, but there could be a path that just goes right, and should have been connected to the other path when it went down.  But even so, the maps are the simplest out of any 2D Metroid title, and the least diverse due to the color pallet and memory limitations of the Gameboy.  Although, as I stated before, upgrades are not your main goal, you just need to search for Metroids in a given area, kill them, and then go to another area to repeat the process.  But the Metroids are not as deadly as they were before.  Instead of being a jellyfish that had to be frozen, and then blown up with missiles, they are multiple forms that you just shoot with missiles.  This is part of their growth cycle, although it just makes them easier to fight, at least in theory.  The Metroids move around at very fast speeds, and not all of their body is a hitbox.  And since Smaus can only aim in 90 degree increments, they can very easily get you in a corner and juggle you while you lose half your HP.  

I am also not crazy about the designs of the Metroids, they’re very hard to describe, but why bother growing spikes that shoot electricity, when you just spit at  people in the next form in its evolution cycle?  Their programming make them feel like they have no desire to live, and will kamikaze themselves to try and bring you down, because you wear orange and yellow.  The other designs are not very memorable either, and showcase just how crude the Gameboy’s visuals could be at times.  I get the frogs and the giant rolling guy, but compared to their Metroid Fusion versions, they look like pixelated messes.  I try to keep system limitations in mind, but  the game does not look all that appealing, even when compared to other Gameboy games, like Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and Super Mario Land.  

Moving onto the upgrades, there are really only two new ones, the Spider Ball, which lets you climb on ceilings and fall off whenever you misplace a bomb by a bit.  And the Space Jump, which feels very stiff when you are jumping, since Samus needs to jump into a ball and be told to press A again to keep on jumping.  

However, the game does create a pretty good atmosphere, and I mean by modern conventions.  For 1991, this environment must’ve been incredible.  The electronic screeches emitted by the Metroids, and the music that plays when you are fighting one, are both wonderful at creating a tense environment, where you often have to fight an actual challenge.  While the transformations that you see when you encounter every Metroid is, well, like the transformation they used for Pokemon back in the first generations.  It might’ve been impressive back then, but it just look a bit silly in these modern times.

I could also forgive the stark and empty environments for just trying to be tense, but I am pretty sure that was a secondary concern, since they had to make room for the save function.  Oh, and the save rooms appear to be scattered randomly, ranging from 1 to 10 minutes to get from one save point to another.  I understand having a limited number, and hardware limitations, but I like having save points to have a consistent distance between them.  Not that it really matters, since you can use save states, but at least there’s only one, so you do need to be careful with saving, as if that’s a challenge.  

As a whole, Metroid II is a pretty solid title, but I am hesitant to call it more than that.  The goal of the game is too kill 47 of thing that are only in two or the six forms for over 65% of the encounters, and the controls can feel a little off at times, the jumping feels loose, and aiming is limited to four directions, when you are fighting enemies who like to ram into you. The game does have some nice atmosphere for a gameboy titles, but everywhere looks the same, so unless you use a map, it will become more annoying than anything.  But was this worth the $4 that I could have payed for it?  I say that it is, and while this might have been great back in the old days, it is only good in these modern times.

It’s held back by certain flaws, it manages to be a competently executed and fun product that is worth playing.

Leave a Reply