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.