Metroid Samus Returns Review
After 13 years, we finally have another sidescrolling Metroid game. Ironically, that game and this one are remakes of the first and second Metroid games. However, this game, Metroid Samus Returns not only had to get the franchise back on its feet, but get people to enjoy one of the less liked Metroid games. So does this remake shoot the series back into the mainstream, or does it stick with the trend of crappy Metroid games?
Metroid Samus Returns takes place after the original, and the game summarizes those events for people who haven’t played it. Evil space pirates led by Mother Brain go to planet Zebes. They plan to use the parasitic Metroids to rule the Galaxy. She stops Mother Brain, but when Samus Returns starts, she is going to SR388. She was sent by the Galactic Federation, after a squad they sent out were all killed. Samus lands on the surface, and the adventure starts.
The Metroid series has two styles of games, sidescrollers and first-person shooters. Metroid Samus Returns uses the former, as it’s a remake of the series’s second game. Samus still has her normal traits, like running, using the morph ball, wall jumping, getting different equipment, etc. However, three new gameplay elements have been added that drastically change the game, which are 360 degree aiming, the melee counter, and Aeion abilities.
First is the most simple, which is the 360 degree aiming. It, as said in the name, lets you aim in all 360 by holding the L button. Using this does make you stop in your tracks, so it’s important to use it in smart places. Next is the melee counter, which drastically changes combat. By pressing the X button Samus swings her arm, which either knocks back an enemy, or makes them vulnerable. Most enemies have an attack where they charge at Samus, and they glow white when using it. If you counter then, that will leave the enemy open for an attack.
And finally, the aeion abilities. The aeion abilities are new to the series, and use consumable aeion for each ability. The first ability you get is the Scan Pulse, and what this does is scans a large area around Samus, showing different parts of the map, and breakable blocks. This is what I used most, because it was very helpful and it doesn’t take much aeion to use. Next is the Lightning Armor, which prevents taking physical damage, but each hit drains aeion. The third ability is the Beam Burst, which has a rapid fire spreadshot which can even pierce armor, but it rapidly drains aeion. And finally, Phase Drift which slows time, and slow enemies and blocks she breaks, but it uses lots of aeion.
Metroid has always been one of Nintendo’s darkest series, and has always relied on a sense of isolation to help put the player into the shoes of Samus. Luckily, Samus Returns excels in both fronts. Samus Returns is still a very dark entry, without being overly edgy. We see some bodies of Federation troops, along with the husks of ever evolving Metroids.
The atmosphere has been greatly increased in its isolation factor by the graphics. The original game couldn’t be super atmospheric, as it was on the 8-bit Gameboy, but Samus Returns is on the much stronger 3DS. The backgrounds are all detailed, but all of them look alien either by the unnatural colors or the malfunctioning alien technology. The enemies you face also help contribute to the dark and cavernous atmosphere of SR388, as the deeper down into the planet. The farther you go into the planet, the enemies will change colors, which is showing they’re stronger, but it also reflects the lack of nutrients as the colors aren’t as bright and rich as the enemies on the upper levels.
However, the visuals aren’t the only contributing factor to the perfect atmosphere. The music of Samus Returns is a hodgepodge of new and old tracks, including tracks from different games. Not only does that help Metroid veterans feel comfortable, it uses the well known tracks in appropriate locations. Songs like Brinstar and Norfair can appear out of nowhere, and they help make the adventure feel more grandiose, which helps because this is Samus’s second to last adventure in a timeline sense.
Metroid Samus Returns is not only a great game, but a perfect return to the Metroid series. It had the advantage of having a base game, because it’s a remake, and it used music from many different games in the series, which helped the game feel familiar for long time fans. This is also a great game to get into the series with, as it starts out fairly easy, and has a smooth difficulty curve. Outside of just the game, the great reception Samus Returns shows that the Metroid series has breathed its final breath, and this is getting me even more excited for the upcoming Metroid Prime 4.