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Metroid: Samus Returns - Page 2

GAMEPLAY (cont'd)

Metroid: Samus Returns
Screw this thing

The beam burst is useful, though, in boss battles, which is where Samus Returns really shines. In the original Metroid II, the bosses were just the increasingly large metroids, and they were all pretty similar and bland, with very few changes required to your strategy for defeating them. Samus Returns not only improves the variety of the metroids, but it also adds a handful of other boss battles, including the unforgettable Diggernaut, an enormous tunneling machine that has somehow gained sentience and attacks Samus on multiple occasions. In addition to their increased variety, these bosses are also remarkably difficult until you take the time to learn and master their attacks. You'll most likely die a few times during the more difficult fights (especially the last battle with the aforementioned Diggernaut), but with patience and practice, they're never too difficult.

Despite all these additions and changes to the fighting mechanics, the core adventuring the series is known for is almost untouched. The biggest additions are a handful of teleport stations, but rather than becoming a game-breaker, they remove some of the tedium of backtracking without being overly plentiful. I wouldn't want to see these teleport devices incorporated in all Metroid titles, but they help for this particular game, as SR-388's core design necessitates far less interconnectivity than other Metroid worlds like Zebes or Tallon IV. Other than that, exploration is pretty much the same, and while the map follows the same overall layout from Metroid II, it's far bigger and more varied here, offering plenty of room to find a sneaky missile upgrade or energy tank.

[Gameplay: 8 - Nintendo's willingness to toy with the formula has as many benefits as it does drawbacks, but the boss battles are a massive leap forward while the Metroid-vania adventure style hasn't lost its edge]



PRESENTATION

Metroid: Samus Returns
She's as cool as ever

While not the most beautiful game to be found on the 3DS, Samus Returns gives us an SR-388 that is far more interesting and colorful than ever before, with more variety in its environments and more places to explore. The music is also an enormous improvement, not only building upon the great overworld theme from the original Metroid II but also riffing on themes from various other games in the canon, including the Prime series. The handful of cutscenes and cinematic battle sequences are quite good, too, and they thankfully don't overstay their welcome like Other M's overwrought cinematics do.

The biggest weakness comes from the enemy variety, which is sorely lacking. There are essentially only six enemy types throughout the entire game, and they get boring long before you see every minor variation in color and attack to be had. There also aren't too many extras outside of an unlockable hard mode when you beat the game and a handful of static 3D images that serve as rewards for one-hundred-percenting the various areas of the map. There is also a "Fusion mode" (an incredibly high difficulty setting in which Samus wears her Fusion Suit), but it requires the use of a rare amiibo to unlock, which makes it no more relevant than DLC for the purposes of this review.

[Presentation: 8 - As an overhaul of a woefully outdated Game Boy game, Samus Returns is beautiful and cinematic in all the right ways, but it's pretty light on the extras]



CONCLUSIONS

Metroid: Samus Returns
There's plenty of metroids for your buck

I've been an outspoken fan of Metroid II: Return of Samus since 1991, and it's hard for me to be completely objective about any remake. That said, I applaud Nintendo for their efforts to both recreate such a great game and attempt to innovate such a well-worn formula. As a handheld Metroid game, Samus Returns manages to be slightly different without sacrificing any of the things that fans have come to expect. It won't be as divisive as Metroid: Fusion, but it also doesn't have quite as much polish as Metroid: Zero Mission (and--spoiler alert--while it does have an unexpected addition at the end, it's far smaller than the astonishing Zero Suit section of Zero Mission).

While lovingly created and deeply respectful of its roots, Metroid: Samus Returns is not a 3DS killer app like The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. It does its job, and it keeps the 2D legacy alive even as fans gear up for Prime 4 on the Switch. Fans of Metroid should absolutely check it out, and I daresay there's little reason for any Metroid fan to reject it.




FINAL TALLY
STORY: 8
GAMEPLAY: 8
PRESENTATION: 8
SOLO GAME SCORE: 10

TOTAL SCORE: 8.5

It'll give Metroid fans the fix they so desperately need and contains a lot of interesting innovations that will help the series continue to evolve in the future, but Metroid: Samus Returns isn't perfect.


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-e. magill 4/19/2018

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