The Return of Samus

After many years, I finally invested again in portable gaming.
I bought a new 3DS XL, just in time to play Samus Returns.

I don't have any means to record 3DS footage, so I took notes instead. Every time something interesting happened, I paused the game and wrote down my thoughts.
This might look a bit random and unpolished, but they're pretty much my honest reactions to key moments in the game. I'll let you know my overall impressions later in this post.

SPOILER WARNING!!!!!



  • Ok, this is my first 3DS game, let's see what all the fuzz is about...
  • Holy shit, the cockpit of Samus's ship looks amazing in 3D. 
  • Alright... This is starting to hurt... Maybe using the 3D slider on 50% will work better.
  • Ah, seeing the intro artwork in 3D makes a lot more sense than what I saw on trailers. Specially the one with the pirates stealing the Metroid.
  • Wow. SR388 looks awesome in 3D. Oh. The effect looks fuzzy when the camera scrolls too fast, I'm having Avatar flashbacks. This would look perfect in 60FPS. Well, I guess all this post-processing must be expensive.
  • I really can't get used to this weird analog circle thingie. Even the most basic enemies are giving me trouble cause of this. The counter is pretty cool, though.
  • Having to press L so often made me realize how heavy this little console is. Maybe I shouldn't play in bed, my whole left arm is starting to hurt.
  • Very smooth introduction to everything, pretty much what I've seen before in trailers. The first Metroid was pretty straightforward. I always imagined that the mutation process towards an alpha would take quite some time. Here, it's right in front of Samus in a single cutscene. Looks a bit gamey, but showing is better than telling.
  • Onto Area 1, the temple looks awesome from the outside. 
  • Backgrounds look amazing, and I'm finding the overall layout of the place very similar to the original. For the most part.
  • A spiderball that doesn't lose its grip in random ceiling slopes! Yay!
  • And muddy walls and ceilings that immediately limit your spiderball use... yay?
  • This second Metroid killed me a couple times. The parry timing took a couple tries to learn. I hope the rest of the alphas don't give me this much trouble.
  • They didn't.
  • These chozo gates are a wonderful idea to justify the liquid draining. I'm kinda jealous I couldn't think of something like that.
  • The way to Area 2 was interesting. A couple of cool uses for the spiderball here. Enemies hurt a lot, I noticed. And having to use the counter so often starts to feel a bit tedious.
  • Got the electric barrier aeon thingie. Pretty cool setup. It's great to face all those tiny temporary varia suit obstacle courses.
  • The area 2 building looks like a hydro station. How cool is that.
  • A Metroid fight with shallow water... good idea.
  • Stumbled upon Arachnus! He does quite a lot of damage, but other than that it's a pretty straightforward fight. I like the jumpball-requiring fan puzzles. 
  • The varia suit looks amazing in this game. Even with the insanely huge shoulder pads. They really don't look that practical.
  • Huh. Gamma Metroids are electric flying spiders now. Pretty cool attacks, but the air electro beam doesn't telegraph properly, got me killed a lot. Getting tired of the trailer cutscene by now. Good thing it's skippable.
  • Found the wave beam!
    It's not wavey, but it's pretty powerful.
  • Lower area 2 started deviating a lot from the original. I did find hijump and an etank, but it took quite a lot of exploring.
  • Hunting down the last couple Metroids in area 2 was fun. Although the level design forces the player to pick up the wave beam, spring ball and varia to progress. No idea if low% runs are possible.
  • After a short break, I'm heading to area 3 now. Autracks are so annoying!!! Kinda like I'm going to stumble upon something cool to destroy them quick.
  • Nevermind, found the aeion machinegun.
  • Ah! I know this place, I'm surely gonna get the space ju- erm... grapple beam? Ok...
  • I just fought a gamma through several screens. That's pretty cool (if it's just this one gamma).
  • Ok... chasing gammas got old. I'm stuck with a green one, and doors lock me in the area, so no proper farming after a bad phase. Damn.
  • I missed a teleporter, so I had to do some backtracking. Even with all these cool items, I can't blaze through the levels. Enemies are so tedious, I have to stop an counter almost every time.
    Now, the circle thingie is analog, and yet Samus can't walk. I keep exploring places cautiously by running and stopping everywhere. Digital running controls feel awesome for action games, but this game is a bit too punishing to be played like so.
  • Area 3 clear. I'm kinda disappointed, I didn't find the overgrown plantlife of the original lower section. 
  • Ok, a one metroid intermission. I'm sure this will be quick. Hopefully there'll be some variety or special event to spice things up.
  • Spazer! It feels awesome!!!
  • Chasing a gamma is NOT FUN. And the location is random! How can speedrunners speedrun this if it's not predictable?
  • Ok, robot chase sequence! The big bot thingie is pretty challenging, and the breaks in the middle of the sequence are very welcome. 
  • Zetas look amazing. A bit different from the original artwork, but the way they walk on walls and ceilings make it very xenomorph-ish. A good fight, not too hard, not too easy.
  • Area 5 looks gorgeous. Vegetation looks great in 3D, finally some variety.
  • Got aeion bullet time!
    It's like a not so fun speedbooster replacement of sorts. Also, enemy projectiles look really choppy in slo-mo.
  • Ah, this is more like it. This remix of maridia sounds beautiful. And compared to the lower brinstar one, this one lasts for more than a couple rooms.
  • Dang it! Another laser based annoying robot! If only I could easily destr-Plasma Beam!!!
  • Gah! So much water! As if I'm about to stumble upon...
  • Gravity suit! It looks pretty neon! And badass.
  • Ok, got screw attack. All these items all of the sudden, I'm an unstoppable tank, compared to how I was half an hour ago.
  • Zetas are pretty tough even when fighting them with the gravity suit. Damage scaling?
  • Normal enemies also feel as annoying as ever, even with all the endgame items. 
  • Area 5 completed. Samus finally feels powerful, I'm finally kinda comfortable exploring around. I can't wait to get the speed booster and shinespark around some of these big rooms.
  • Cool, that must be the speed boost-hey! Why did you vacuum my item! Get over here!
  • The Omega battle was amazing. I got killed trying to pull off a counter a couple times, but it was worth it. Very flashy cutscene.
  • Holy fuck that boss finisher! That was really kickass!!!
    The rest of the boss fight was pretty boring, lots of waiting for attacks to finish. But it was a challenge to stay focused (and awake) and not fuck up once, it's very punishing.
    Took a lot of tries to figure out the last phase. 
  • Just entered the main part of area 7, this place looks and sounds awesome. The overall theme is excellent, and the 3 Omegas were a very nice challenge.
  • The final area is very creepy, and populated with enemies and secrets. Oh, normal Metroids are DEADLY, I like how little they stay frozen. 
  • The queen was frustrating, until I started using spiderball. Very awesome fight.
  • The baby!!!!
  • ... suddenly the way back to the ship isn't as peaceful as I remembered.
  • - So bebeh...
    - Skree?
    - We're still stumbling upon missile tanks, even if I already defeated the queen. This means we can still find the speed booster!
    - ... skree
    - There's no speed booster, right?
    - Skree...
    - FUCK!!!
  • How cool, there's a storm in the surface, and... what? WHAT!!!!!!!
    And I thought I was fanservicey...





Overall, I really enjoyed the game. I had to take several breaks, the 3DS isn't that ergonomic, specially if you're using both shoulder buttons all the time. Free aim with the right analog nub would've been great.

Now, I didn't find the game as difficult as they say. That is, I recently played Dark Souls 2 (my first Souls experience), so I adopted a cautious exploration attitude. MSR is very punishing, mistakes are paid with entire E-Tanks, so I had to be alert at all times to not screw up.

I'll definitely play it again. One of my main doubts is how low% can a run get, since in a casual run every item was pretty much needed to advance (except for the scan pulse).
The presentation is excellent, graphics look awesome with the 3D effect. I believe it would have been better to make the necessary technical sacrifices to get the game running at 60fps on such a limited hardware. Smooth gameplay is more important than trying to look nice on a 240p display, IMHO.

Is Metroid Samus Returns worth your time?
I think so. It's a very well realized action game that poses a decent challenge. And it's also a very good reinterpretation of the original Metroid 2. The vision that the devs had is extremely different to mine, but it was very well executed, and that's what matters.

Comments

netsendjoe said…
I still think AM2R is better in terms of gameplay, soundtrack, mapping and general design. I do like Nintendo's take on it, but some new gameplay elements feel a bit off to me, like the melee. It feels like the control isn't as fluid with Samus as it is with AM2R. The audio sounds in Nintendo's game are recycled... I mean upgraded directly from previous versions formats in some cases. I hear sounds from Super Metroid and Other M. The new maps, while welcome, are confusing and don't feel like you care run through the game as easily without knowing the secrets and routes. I like the 3D graphics sequences because they help establish a more 3D world graphically while still being a 2.5D based game. AM2R accomplished some graphical magic as well with graphics that looked better than most 16-bit SNES games.
DoctorM64, mandatory items do not contribute to the item percentage. You can do a 0 percent run since item percentage is calculated only on expansions and e-tanks. Someone has already beat the game on fusion mode with 0 percent and did it all under 4 hours. He posted the pics on gamefaqs.
Luke Aran said…
As much as I enjoy M:SR, I think AM2R has shown itself to be the better game. I'm definitely going to be going back to that one more frequently than MSR.
Game Master 1 said…
DoctorM64, if you had the chance, would you incorporate elements of the 3DS remake into AM2R. In other words, is it possible to merge the two remakes together into a complete 2d experience?

On that thought, I've been toying around with a idea. Do you think it's possible to make a remake that combines Metroid 1,2,3 & 4 into one giant game? A remake that takes elements of Zero mission, AM2R, Samus Returns(3DS), Super Metroid, Super Metroid redesign, and Metroid Fusion and combine it into one game?

What I'm saying is, can you turn AM2R into a completely different project?

DoctorM64, can you please make an enhanced remake of all 4 Metroid games into one game? A remake that incorporates all 2D Metroid elements introduced so far?
Anonymous said…
Ignore Game Master 1, this is not a fan request page.

I finished right now the game. It is not hard, just very punishing if you make a mistake. I'll 100% it and then start over to unlock all the endings/gallery.

Now, the game overused the counter mechanic. The enemies are damage sponges, you can't take them down without evading one of their attacks or countering them (And if you forget to release the targeting button, you'll probably get hit). It became annoying pretty quickly, and more when you backtracked and stumbled over enemies on the way down (I didn't had a chance to react). Besides, most bosses had a very boring wait-and-attack pattern, which was frustrating when you made a mistake and had to wait another round of attacks before ditching damage. I loved Zeta/Omega fights, Alpha's were nice and simple, but Gammas were headache because you had to pursue a lot of them.

Sequence breaking was severely hindered with those slimmy walls and spikes everywhere. I found myself smashing my head over the fact that I wasn't able to grab an upgrade just because the developers wanted me to first get other things...

The layout was somewhat confusing in some areas (if it wasn't for the map, I would had a hard time remembering if I was in a certain area). Yes, it's not as bad as the original, but the 3D environments weren't the most distinctive, at least in the first areas.

Only until the very end of the game I felt somewhat powerful, and even so I got my butt handled a couple of times by the Queen and you-know-who (Once you got down the patterns, they are easy).

It isn't a bad game, but a lot of stuff that I loved in Super Metroid/Zero Mission disappeared completely in MSR.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
did someone can fix Am2R control in the android version
Game Master 1 said…
I apologize if I sounded like I was requesting something from you. A fan game that combines multiple classic games together has been a idea floating around my head ever since Streets of Rage Remake (SORR) Verson 5 came out. SORR combined Streets of Rage 1, 2, 3, and some original content into one giant remade game. Look it up if you're curious.

I wasn't intentionally trying to make a fan request. I know I asked you, but I was just excited about the idea of combining games in general. It would be great if someone combines both Metroid 2 remakes together someday, or if someone combines all four classic Metroid games together, but it's not my place to ask you to execute those ideas since you have to worry about your own life. Not to mention the Cease and Deceased Order looming over your shoulder. I was just wondering what you thought about the idea of combining and remaking games in general. Nothing else. I was just trying to get the idea of a combined remake out there on the internet. I don't want to keep the idea to myself any longer. I just wanted people to think about the idea.


Anyways, both Metroid 2 remakes have their pros and cons. The 3DS remake doesn't remix all the soundtracks from the original gameboy game while AM2R has a more complete, remastered soundtrack. The 3Ds game on other hand reuses tracks from other classic Metroid games. Both soundtracks are good either way. On the flip side, the 3DS game has 360 degree aiming and a lazer pointer. That by itself would have made AM2R MUCH easier when it comes down to hunting metroids. Those are just examples of what both remakes did right.

Personally, I don't think one remake is better then the other. The are both great games. At the end of the day, it's a matter of preference. AM2R is the definitive classic experience while the 3DS remake is the definitive modern experience.

I wish Nintendo just asked you to work with MercurySteam to make the perfect Metroid 2 remake instead of shutting AM2R. The fact that AM2R was released just before the 3DS remake was announced was bad timing.

But I'm glad you had fun with the official Metroid 2 remake and I'm inspired by how satisfied you are with AM2R. It's a shame AM2R was released before the 3DS remake. If you had the chance, I'm sure you may or may not have incorporated the new features and environments that the 3DS remake introduced. Like the lazer pointer or the melee combat. Yet, AM2R does enough things right to stay out of the 3DS game's shadow.

I wish you luck on future projects DoctorM64! AM2R (Another Metroid 2 Remake) and SORR (Streets of Rage Remake) by Bomber Games has really inspired me to explore possible remake ideas. Thank you for this wonderful fan game and I hope you don't abandon making more fan games in the future!

Thank you for reading.
Desertskunk said…
Game Master, there's an interesting idea in what you propose, though I don't think it's even possible for a game like metroid. The point of each game in this style of genre is the slow permanent empowerment, combining all of the games posts a unique balance issue, do you keep your upgrades, or come up with some convoluted reason why you don't have them and restart between the flow of each game type, or just have a selection where you play each game on its own. It's not an easy, or consistent thing to try. While I think the idea is certainly cool, I just don't see a valid way to make it work to be honest with you .
MetroidFan1991 said…
Ich habe Samus Metroid Returns durchgespielt und finde das "Another Metroid 2 Remake" dass bessere Spiel ist. MSR zieht sich an manchen Stellen zu sehr in die länge. Das Level Design hat mir sher gut gefallen aber im Gegner Design gibt es keine Wow Momente es ist nur ein durchrennen und gegner besiegen mehr nicht. Ich hätte da mehr erwartet auch der Soundtrack ist nicht das beste.
Justin Hurowitz said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Hurowitz said…
I think they kinda botched the ending of the game hard. The Omega Nest is replaced by a lively research facility, which I think should've been one of the previous areas. Instead of the quiet ascent, the game throws even more enemies at you, expects you to backtrack for more items, and then tosses in an unnecessary boss. It really kills the tone of the ending. The build-up to the Queen and the ending fell flat because the developers just kept throwing more stuff in. I guess they saw the original game's moments of quiet ambience as a flaw. The density of wildlife doesn't change at all as you descend to convey how dangerous the Metroids are. Instead the whole game is very noisy and dense with combat, to the point that it often drowns out the music. You might not even hear the remix of the baby metroid's theme.

I also think a lot of the locks and keys the game puts in front of you are unecessary railroading. Why should the Spazer beam of all things be necessary for progression? I'm disappointed at the lack of opportunities to skip stuff.

The Diggernaut is just a really bad boss battle.

I think Samus Returns is a good game but AM2R is a lot better as a remake of Return of Samus, it showed a lot more attention toward the interesting aspects of the original game. AM2R also had a stronger narrative and sense of progression and tone while Samus Returns kinda feels loud and clumsy.
Justin Hurowitz said…
Also I liked it better without the statues that drained the liquid. The earthquakes felt mysterious and could surprise you. You were exploring an environment that was dangerous and that you didn't understand. The statues are just goofy and way too convenient.
Game Master 1 said…
Desertskunk, I've been wondering about that too.

Having maxed out equipment in one game and starting from square one in the next game...

There is no real solid way I can think of that can handle that aspect very well.

The cleanest way of transitioning from one game to another is coming up with scenarios for Samus to lose her armor in between each game.

It can work. Samus did lose her armor in the end of Zero mission and got it back again. It's only a matter of thinking up of scenario for Samus to lose her armor multiple times without it feeling cheap.

But is losing her armor five times in a row a good way of handling progression in a combined metroid game?

Or is keeping her armor from all 4 games a better alternative?

If Samus keeps her armor, Metroid 1, 2, 3, and 4 will probably have to have a major redesign to feel fresh and progressively harder. A combined remake will most likely become it's own game if Samus keeps her armor throughout the whole journey.

Well, I'll leave the armor problem up to anyone who can think of a better way of handling Samus's armor in between games.

What about the other idea? Combining AM2R with Samus Returns(3DS)? Is it possible?

Is it as simple as adding areas, environments, mechanics, bosses, enemies, enemy behavior, map layout, and content exclusive to the 3DS remake onto AM2R? Is it possible to expand AM2R by adding the content from the 3DS remake?

Obviously, some content will either have to be combined, added on to, removed or merged together to work.

It's a matter of what should be included. Should the combined remake be 3D like the 3DS remake or 2D like AM2R?

Personally, I would like a 2D version of AM2R that includes almost all the exclusive content from the 3DS remake.

A version that includes the artwork from the 3DS remake. Perhaps with some map layout and visuals being combined together as well? It would be nice to fight both versions of the metroids in the same game to break-up the repetition of hunting down metroids. A art gallery with all the extras and artwork from both AM2R and the 3DS remake would also be nice.

Both remakes are great games in their own right, but they also have their own pros and cons that comes with the package.

But is it possible to bring those pros and cons together? Is it possible to combine AM2R and Samus Returns into another 2D remake of Metroid 2?

I'm fine if something like that never happens. At the end of the day, it's all just wishful thinking. However, if someone does combine the two Metroid 2 remakes together, I would love to see HOW the two remakes work when they are merged together.
ano0maly said…
Just stop, please.

There's a reason why Metroids 1, 2, 3, 4 are four separate games. Each has its own structure, style, and story. At best Nintendo might have a collector's edition that contains the four.

And why combine two remakes of Metroid 2? You act like DoctorM64 is the owner of Samus Returns or something.

Game Master 1 said…
ano0maly, in my last comment, I agreed that combining all 4 games would be difficult and might not be a plausible Idea. If it does happen, great! But it probably won't happen. I agree that each game are their own thing.

I also apologize for giving the impression that DoctorM64 owns Samus Returns. I did not mean to sound like that.

I guess I didn't expressed myself very well.

Rage Inducer said…
I think you had a hand in this. The sheer amount of hype surrounding the game on launch, the critical acclaim and the outrage at nintendo shutting it down made those fools realize just how much we wanted a good 2D metroid.
Game Master 1 said…
I just found a video that does a good job on comparing the 3 versions of Metroid 2:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WkEoYvlUF0

It's not perfect, but it does a good job on comparing the strengths and weakness of all 3 games. I didn't realize there were some cool qualities in the original that didn't translate well to the remakes. The video also makes me wonder if it's possible to add on to, and combine the 3DS remake's re-imagined map to the AM2R map. Maybe the compressed screen from the Game Boy game could be emulated by a darkness feature. For example, in the beginning of the game, the caves could be too dark for Samus to see her surroundings. The surrounding darkness could constrict Samus's field of vision until she finds a upgrade that allows her to see the entire screen. I also agree that the ambience and lack of music is good when fighting the many different types of Metroids. I also feel that the action from the 3DS remake could be good for mid game.

I's stuff like this that makes me want a forth Metroid 2 remake that brings together all the qualities of the previous 3 versions into one definitive Metroid 2 experience. But at the end of the day, a complete version of Metroid 2 is only a dream. I do hope it comes true one day.

By the way, is there a way to mod, edit or hack AM2R? The AM2R engine shows potential for some really good games. I'm just curious.
Krakhan said…
I just finished AM2R lately myself after playing MSR.. And while I like both, I do like the approach that was taken to AM2R. Thanks a lot for putting in the time and effort DoctorM64, as well as all the other people who contributed to it.

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