Review – Metroid: Samus Returns
Metroid: Samus Returns is the Metroid you’ve been waiting for since Fusion or Prime 3, depending on your preference. This is finally, another REAL entry in the Metroid franchise. Forget Other M, I sure have. Forget Federation Force. This is Metroid and goddamn it’s good.
A remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus, Samus Returns is more of a best of/remix than a straight remake. The gameplay has been changed to better suit modern tastes. Weapons and abilities have been added from other games in the franchise and the visuals have been given a 2.5D overhaul.
All in all, Metroid: Samus Returns is the complete package. It’s a game that will provide hours of entertainment and in true Nintendo fashion, one that you simply won’t be able to put down. Not that you’ll want to. It’s the must-play game on 3DS this year, it’s just a shame it wasn’t on Switch.
Nintendo’s true first lady of games
From the opening moments Metroid: Samus Returns boots up on your 3DS, you should be impressed by the overall quality. It may be a handheld game, but Nintendo and MercurySteam have poured love and effort into it. MercurySteam, funnily enough, has also worked on Castlevania. But I digress.
The visuals, sounds and gameplay are all of an incredibly high standard. Not that you would expect anything less from Nintendo. It does seem strange to only release Samus Returns on 3DS when it would have been perfect for Switch. If Nintendo could release two perfectly functioning versions of Smash Bros on both 3DS and Wii U, Metroid should have been a cinch.
Samus Returns takes place directly after Metroid. Samus is sent to the Metroid’s homeworld, SR388, to wipe out every last one. In order to save the galaxy, apparently, Samus is a glorified exterminator. In a perfectly old-school way, that’s all the story you’re really given. No long-winded cutscene here. Samus simply lands on SR388 and starts murdering wildlife with reckless abandon.
You’re powered up, get in there
Originally in Return of Samus, there were limitations due to the GameBoy’s hardware. The visuals were monochrome and pixellated. Samus could only fire in specific directions and there were much fewer abilities. Thanks to the power of the 3DS — and 26 years of game design evolution — Samus Returns feels fresh and new; even when it’s not.
New to Samus Returns is the ability to shoot in any direction. By pressing and holding L, Samus will be rooted to the spot and rotating the Circle Pad will aim her blaster. It’s a much faster and better version of Other M’s Wiimote pointing mechanic. This level of fine aiming helps fight enemies, bosses and also to find secrets. Samus also gains access to Super Missiles and Power Bombs. Both of which were introduced in Super Metroid. They feel right at home in Samus Returns and help to extend the life of the game and fun of exploration.
Entirely new to Samus Returns are the Aeion abilities. These are mapped to the D-Pad and give Samus the ability to send out sonar and map her surroundings, an electric shield and more. The Scan Pulse is the most useful as it reveals hidden rooms and destructible blocks, but still, doesn’t tell you how to get there. It doesn’t break the Metroid formula; it only adds to it. All enemies drop Aeion in the form of yellow orbs. Using any Aeion abilities depletes the Aeion gauge, but you’ll rarely if ever run out.
Finally, the biggest addition to Samus Returns is the melee. At first, I’ll be honest, I hated it. It didn’t feel like Metroid and I thought it was going to make the game much easier. However, like the Aeion abilities, it only adds to the experience. Of course, Samus is able to smack enemies away, she’s in a mechanical suit! By timing the melee right, you’ll knock back and stun an enemy as it charges, making for an easy kill. When there’s more than one enemy at a time though, shit gets hectic.
Hunting Metroids and fighting ’round the world
The goal of Samus Returns, plot and majority of gameplay is unchanged from the original, it’s just been remixed and updated. It’s been for the best too. Everything about Samus Returns is an improvement over the GameBoy original. Even controversial additions like the melee.
At its core, you’re still badass bounty hunter Samus Aran. Alone on an alien planet and tasked with killing a whole bunch of dangerous alien creatures. The more you kill, the stronger you become and the further you can explore. That way you can kill more aliens and become stronger and explore further, so you can… you get the idea.
Most enemies have a small element of puzzle solving, but bosses are by far the most fun. You’ll need to rely on all of your abilities and weapons to get through these fights. Even with a tonne of Energy Tanks, I was struggling to stay alive most of the time. The difficulty has not been dumbed down like most modern Nintendo releases.
Metroid: Samus Returns is the best 3DS game this year, hands-down. It’s the best Metroid game in almost a decade and it’s definitely the best way to spend your commute of a morning or evening.
If you own a 3DS (or 2DS) you owe it to yourself to play this game. Samus demands your respect and your respect you will give.
But seriously, it should have been on Switch.
Metroid: Samus Returns was reviewed on 3DS with a digital code provided to PowerUp! by Nintendo Australia.
Game title: Metroid: Samus Returns
Game description: A remake of the GameBoy classic Metroid II: Return of Samus
A REAL Metroid game - 10/10
The best of Metroid - 10/10
Should have been on Switch - 6/10
Punching Metroids - 10/10