“See you next mission,” has been burned into my head and I’ve been waiting a long time to join Samus Aran in another adventure and Nintendo with developer MecurySteam have finally brought us Metroid: Samus Returns. A reimagining of Metroid 2: Return of Samus in which Samus is tasked by the Federation to head to SR388 to wipe out the forty remaining Metroids left over. And of course, the Federation sends Samus alone against the horrors of SR388.
While the story in Metroid: Samus Returns is rather wonky and somewhat thin, the gameplay more than makes up for the story’s shortcomings. Metroid: Samus Returns goes back to Samus’ roots in a side-scroller action shooter with a heavy emphasis on exploration. Instead of the standard shoot, missile, bomb, and jump gameplay, Metroid: Samus Returns added a counter ability. At certain moments enemies will flash a little, giving the player a slight chance to hit the counter button and allow Samus to swing her cannon to knock foes back and opening them up for massive damage and drop more loot when killed. The gameplay feels great. Samus also can aim in a full 360 giving players full control of how they approach any situation.
If the player is a little uneasy about searching sprawling caverns, don’t worry, Metroid: Samus Returns has you covered. There is a mysterious resource, “Aeion”, that fuels some of the more interesting powers in Samus’ arsenal. The most useful is the ability that shows a decent chuck of the map and illuminates the location of power-ups. This simple addition opens the game up to newcomers and makes the life of veterans slightly easier. And yup, like Super Metroid, Metroid: Samus Returns offers players multiple ending outfits depending on the speed and difficulty completed.
The soundtrack is phenomenal in Metroid: Samus Returns. During mini-boss fights, the music in pumping and full of adrenaline, but during exploration the music is haunting and chilling. While the music is great and all, but I have a few gripes. I love all the subtle and not-so-subtle nods to Super Metroid, but I want to hear more musical nods to Metroid 2: Return of Samus. I understand Super Metroid is a massive fan favorite, and not everyone played Metroid 2: Return of Samus, but I wanted more nods to the original game. Another issue I had was that the difficulty level swings wildly near the end of the game. For the first three fourths of the campaign, Metroid: Samus Returns kicks you in your teeth and isn’t afraid to make the player work for every power-up and every boss and mini-boss feels rewarding. Until you get most of the power-ups at the end that is. At that point, everything in the game becomes a simple walk in the park instead of an alien infested planet. Samus seems to just dance over the enemies, making her so overpowered and this doesn’t compliment the struggle the player went through in the first half of the game.
As easy as it becomes, Metroid: Samus Returns is an absolute blast from start to finish. This is the Metroid game hardcore fans have been waiting for. Responsive combat, fantastic exploration, and a strong sense of progression all throughout. If you’re either new to the franchise or a returning veteran, Metroid: Samus Returns is a game I would highly suggest to everyone. Hopefully Nintendo will get some new young fans who will love this series, and it’s star Samus, as much as I do.
Metroid: Samus Returns is available now on Nintendo 3DS. This review is based on a copy paid for by the reviewer.