Metroid Dread


With one month shy of 19 years between the release of Metroids Fusion and Dread, I’m fairly certain this is currently the longest I’ve ever waited for a sequel to a video game (Half-Life 3 is, at the time of this post, at 14 years and counting). It’s also a very, very rare instance of a game I bought on release day, heading out immediately after work to purchase a physical copy. No waiting around on a digital sale event for this one; I had to own it and hold it in my sweaty hands. I think the last time I did that was Super Smash Bros Brawl in 2008, to give context to the weight of this moment. And so, yes, technically it entirely skipped the backlog and doesn’t count, but on the other hand I’ve been waiting for nineteen years so it totally, totally does count.

Yes, I am a terminal Metroid fan, abuzz with anticipation and speculation since the cheeky little hint found in Prime 3. But after all this time spent yearning, was it worth the wait?


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Sorry to keep it brief, but why be coy? The atmosphere is rich, the controls obey your thoughts more than your button presses, the movement is super-fast and satisfying, the world feels dangerous but not insurmountable, melee-counter on the move feels great, and the cheerful chimes of the EMMIs will join the opening piano trill of BOTW’s Guardians and the distant howl of Ravenholm’s fast zombies in the list of sounds that will immediately void your bowels. The sense of dread fear that permeates throughout the EMMI zones matches the SA-X from Fusion, an incredible feat in itself; making a player feel utterly powerless without frustrating them is a very delicate balancing act that the series has pulled off twice now. Also impressive is the design of these areas- somehow always funneling me to the correct destination even when I’m running in a blind panic without any thought to direction. Yeah, this game’s great. Can’t wait to Finish it, and then Finish it again and again until I’m finally fast enough for Metroid to take his helmet off at the end.

Metroid: Rogue Dawn


If you’re not familiar with the original NES Metroid, go look up some screenshots or videos for a minute, then come back. That’s important, because this is a romhack, and you need to know how mindboggling that is.

Romhacks are supposed to just be graphical changes and a re-arranged map! This is madness! They’ve added slopes, and new upgrades, and a fully-functional map interface, and atmospheric effects like the rain shown above! How!?

A fan-made prequel to the first Metroid, Rogue Dawn is played from the antagonist’s POV, and shows how Ridley first came into posession of the Metroids. (Spoiler- he sent the player to do it.)

It’s an incredible piece of work, and I would imagine the amount of effort that went into it would probably be enough to produce a full game by itself.

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The most impressive part is how they’ve managed to turn Metroid into an actually good game. (Listen, don’t @ me. OG Metroid has aged horrendously and isn’t any fun at all. It’s historically significant, but that doesn’t mean it’s good.) Considering this and AM2R, it seems Metroid fans are on another level. I’d be doing them a disservice if I didn’t Finish this one.

Metroid: Samus Returns

For clarity, I’m talking about the 3DS remake of Metroid 2, which was titled Return Of Samus. I will never, ever get those the correct way around again on the first attempt.

Having been rather unceremoniously announced in the Treehouse segment at E3, outside of Nintendo’s main event which announced Metroid Prime 4, this had always felt like a very stop-gap game. Metroid Prime 4 is coming, but here’s something to sate your appetite until the main course is delivered.

Now having played it, that same feeling is still prevalent. Metroid 2 was already a very ‘Other’ kind of game, taking the sprawling environments and kinda squishing them down into miniature segments which you tackled one at a time rather than running back and forth through each. Samus Returns retains that oddball feeling, but tries to inject some of the more traditional Metroidiness into the mix, with several areas being blocked off until later upgrades make them accessible.

Where that feels a bit strange, is that in other Metroid games I might have to walk past such an obstable 3 or 4 times before I can clear it- with one of those times being the “a-ha!” moment that a recently acquired upgrade proves its function and I get my sweet sweet missile pack. In Samus Returns, once I’m done with an area there’s no reason to come back to it, meaning all those tantalisingly teased hidden areas just get to wait until an end-of-game sweep and feel a bit tacked-on (which, in fairness, they are- the GB original didn’t really bother with any of that stuff).

However, the controls typically feel very smooth and satisfying, with Samus flipping around and wall-jumping and somersaulting all over the place with ease. 2.5D games have always struggled with this, especially using an analogue stick to control 2D space, but Samus Returns performs admirably. The Free Aim and Melee Counter moves are a little too heavily relied on and make the game far more combat focused than Metroid games usually are, but they get the job done and don’t interrupt the flow of gameplay too much.

Fin or Bin:

I’m a big-time Metroid fan and I’ve 100% cleared every game in the series so far (except Other M, but… come on, who can blame me). I can’t shake the feeling of Side Project from this one, but it’s well put-together and I look forward to the extra hidden challenges that await my 100% Finish.