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Metroid: Samus Returns

Posted by GG Goblin On September - 22 - 2017

After a somewhat lengthy break, Samus Aran is back.

Metroid fans have been screaming for a new 2D Metroid game for far too many years now, and the series that at least partially began the Metroidvania videogame genre finally has a new entry worthy of the name. Well, almost new.


The thing is, Metroid: Samus Returns on 3DS is not a completely new game, being that it is based upon the Gameboy title Metroid II: Return of Samus. In this age of remasters and remakes, it should come as no surprise to find one of the most popular Gameboy titles getting a makeover for the modern audience. However, this is no mere remaster, or even a remake. Metroid: Samus Returns is a complete re-imagining of the classic game, offering both improved visuals and improved gameplay, not to mention additional content. In fact, it is pretty much a completely different game. Except it’s not. But it is. Yeah.

I know it is different because, and this may shock you, I have never been a fan of the Metroid games. Okay, break out the pitchforks and flaming torches. The games never really gelled with me back in the day. But now, with the release of Metroid: Samus Returns, I actually found a game that I could really enjoy. I finally get it. Is that because of all the new refinements and additions to the game that bring up to modern gaming standards? Or is it because my own gaming tastes have changed? Who knows. But I can quite confidently say that Metroid: Samus Returns is a great game.

The story, for what its worth, comes straight over from the original game. The enigmatic Samus pops over to planet SR388 to basically wipe out the Metroid race. It really is that simple. Wipe out an entire race to prevent it from being used for evil. In itself, that could be a bit dull were it not for the huge gameworld that the player will be free to explore in order to hunt down the Metroids.


The gameplay is as it ever is, aside from a few additions that I will discuss in a moment. Players get to explore a massive alien world, packed full of areas that cannot initially be accessed. Gradually, they will discover new powers that give access to these locked off areas, and the player continues to explore. There will be platforming, there will be aliens to shoot, there will be a large number of mini bosses to deal with, and maybe even something a bit bigger and more challenging. Players will find themselves having to clear the Metroids out of a given area before progressing onto the next, all the way until all of those damn jellyfish creatures are gone.

The main draw of the Metroid games, aside from the exploration of an atmospheric alien planet, has always been the abilities that Samus would unlock through her progression in the game. Many of these abilities are tied in with the lacation that the player is currently exploring, which is a great way of teaching the player how to use a new ability straight off the bat. From the well know morph ball, which allows players access to small spaces, and the self explanatory high jump boots, to the grapple beam and super missile, there are lots of recognizable abilities that player will know from either the previous game, or other games in the series.

But there are a selection of new abilities that players will not know, adding yet more allure to this re-imagining. Aeon abilities are powered by a yellow energy that players can gather through the game, and offer a selection of possibly game changing effects. One of these effects, for example, can show any hidden blocks in the players nearby area, potentially revealing hidden routes that the player would otherwise have to search quite relentlessly to find. For the purists, I can understand that the inclusion of such an ability would be upsetting. But the truth is that these new abilities do make the game that little bit more accessible to new players and, as the game is already quite difficult, that is quite welcome.


The new additions don’t stop there. Sometimes the little things can make all of the difference, such as the case of including free aim in Samus Returns. Before, players were limited to aiming along the horizontal, vertical and diagonal. Now, player can simply press a button and aim wherever the hell they want. No more having to move around to line up a shot. It is a great addition that not only brings the game up to date, but also makes it a whole lot more fun to play.

Another major new addition is Samus’ new melee counter. For this, the player waits for enemies to swoop down at them, and then they press a button at just the right moment, giving the enemy a good slap that stuns them. Once stunned, the player is already aiming at the enemy and so can shoot them quite easily. It is a really nice mechanic, one that makes dealing with many of the more basic enemies a breeze. However, the downside is that it seems to slow down the pace of the gameplay, in that players will find themselves standing around, waiting for the enemy to swoop so they can use the counter. Of course it is optional to use, so it will be down to the individual players whether they want to play this defensive style.

But what about that fresh coat of paint? Well, Samus Returns on 3DS couldn’t exactly have the monochrome look of the game it is based on, could it? The 3DS has its limitations when compared with other consoles, or even other handhelds, and as such expectations should be tempered when it comes to how Samus Returns actually looks. That being said, developers MercurySteam really have pushed the boat out. While Samus and the various enemies all look great on the little screen, the backdrops really are where the wow factor is. There is a sense of depth to the backgrounds that brings the entire game to life, and the 3D function further enhances the depth, which is quite impressive as I haven’t left the 3D on for ages on my machine.


While it is the hardcore Metroid fans that will get the most out of Metroid: Samus Returns, the various additions to the game (many of which are optional) make it perhaps the most accessible Metroid game for newcomers, and even grab the interest of the Metroid naysayers. Varying difficulty levels and plenty of secrets will ensure that players old and new will have plenty to do for many hours after their first run through. Despite this being based on an old game, Samus Returns is a fresh, new experience that will undoubtedly bring legions of new fans, which is quite handy considering a new Metroid game is on the way. While we wait, Metroid: Samus Returns will do nicely.




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