Home

Hugh Likes Video Games: Metroid: Samus Returns

Leave a comment

Metroid: Samus Returns
Developed by MercurySteam and Nintendo EPD
Published by Nintendo
Played on New 3DS

The Skinny: Nintendo resurrects another classic with a gorgeous coat of 3D paint, tricky new puzzles, and intuitive new abilities.

Metroid: Samus Returns is the gold standard of remaking a classic video game. A retelling of the original game boy adventure Metroid II, it follows bounty hunter Samus Aran through the underground passages of planet SR388 as she attempts to eradicate the metroids, living bioweapons designed by a nearly lost alien civilization.
While the original game pushed the monochrome game boy to its technological limits, Metroid II doesn’t hold up well when separated from the gauzy veneer of nostalgia. The resolution brings the camera in very close, making the caves of SR388 claustrophobic and difficult to navigate, and the designs have an almost-cute goggle-eyed quality to them. This remake uses the advantages of the 3DS hardware to deliver huge chambers in high resolution polygons. The action is fast and responsive, and everything looks and sounds amazing. 2D Metroid fans have had to wait over 13 years since Zero Mission for another entry in the series, but Samus Returns certainly delivers.
Developed by MercurySteam, whose previous credits include the 3DS Castlevania entry Mirror of Fate, the game pays tribute to the original and updates it in fun and innovative ways. The most notable is the addition of a melee attack, which can usually only be used as a counter to charging enemies. The move stuns enemies and allows Samus to lock on for a quick kill. It’s a nice ability early in the game, when Samus’s arm cannon isn’t quite up to full power yet. She also picks up extra Aeon abilities over the course of the game, which are fun to use but require extra power. A scanning abilities takes the place of Super Metroid’s map room, and the ability to slow time replaces dash boots. Expanded Chozo technology like Warp points and Statues that control the level of the ‘radioactive acid’ from the original are welcome updates as well.
More so than any other Nintendo property, Metroid is a series that uses the design and atmosphere of the environment to tell a story, and MercurySteam does a great job continuing that tradition. Their version of SR388 is huge, and their ruins all feel unique and purposeful. The player gets a better feel for the abandoned ruins and machinery as they are slowly reclaimed by the wild. Daisuke Matsuoka’s music does an excellent job of updating and calling back to Metroid II’s 8-bit soundtrack as well.
Metroid Return of Samus takes the starting point of the original and blows it up to a huge modern adventure while still recalling the feel for the of the original. You can find it for the 3DS as a cartridge or digital download, and I highly recommend it.

Advertisements

Hugh Likes Video Games: Pokemon Red

Leave a comment

Pokemon Red Version
Nintendo
Nintendo 3DS/Game Boy
Pokémon_box_art_-_Red_Version
2016 is Pokemon’s 20th anniversary.  As such, Nintendo is pulling out all the stops for a year full of new games, giveaways, and other special events.  One of the first is a rerelease of the original gameboy Pokemon titles as downloads for the 3DS.
I played the original Pokemon Yellow as a teenager when it was originally released, admiring the rather deep strategic RPG gameplay beneath the cartoonish aesthetic.  This new version retains the style and the feel of the original on 3DS.  Like other Virtual Console releases, this is a pixel-perfect rendition, and the game looks great on the New 3DS XL screen.  Unlike other game boy rereleases, Pokemon retains its multiplayer capabilities.  Players can trade monsters and fight with their friends using local wireless in place of the Game Boy link cable.  This system is limited to players in the same room, and is functionally identical to its 90’s link-cable counterpart.
Pokemon is an early and easily the most popular entry in the ‘collectable monster’ sub-genre of RPGs.  Players take the role of a boy traveling across a large island to collect and raise Pokemon, monstrous animals that can be trained to fight.  Along the way, they assist a scientist working to classify the creatures, constantly foil a criminal organization, and battle all comers in hopes of being the best there ever was.
The strategic aspect of the game is basically a more complicated version of rock papers scissors.  Each monster has an elemental type, and its attacks are weaker or stronger against other types.  Fire is strong against Grass and weak against Water, for example.  Player raise their monsters with a fairly simple leveling system, but can teach certain moves to their team members to give them an advantage.  The game strikes a nice balance of being simple enough for a child to learn with deeper enough strategy for more experienced players.
Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow are currently available for 3DS from the Nintendo eshop.  While they don’t boast the dazzling 3D graphics of more recent entries, they are sure to delight nostalgic fans.

Thank you for reading this article.  If you enjoyed it, please share it.  You can also find more exclusive content on my Patreon feed!

Hugh Likes Video Games: Bravely Default

Leave a comment

Hugh Likes Video Games:  Bravely Default
Published by Square Enix
Nintendo 3DS

Bravely Default is a Playstation One or Super Nintendo era RPG that didn’t exist before.  It’s old school in all the right ways, with suprisingly deft use of 3DS features.
Why this wasn’t released as “Final Fantasy” is a mystery to me, because it is a beautiful love letter to the series.
“Bravely Default” is a fantasy role playing game following the journey of a sheltered, yet self-composed priestess and her friends.  Their goal is to reignite the power of four elemental crystals, saving them from the machinations of an evil empire bent on using they crystals to its own ends.  Along the way, they’ll fight enemies by changing classes, transforming from anything to black mages to spear-wielding fighters capable of jumping high into the air.  Let me know when it starts feeling familiar.
With absolutely gorgeous designs by Akihiko Yoshida and an engine clearly updated from the DS ports of Final Fantasy III and IV, It certainly belongs in that venerable pantheon of titles.  But as closely as it resembles Final Fantasy, there are also touches of Enix’s beloved franchise, “Dragon Warrior.”  Much like the Super Nintendo classic “Chrono Trigger,” it is a triumph greater than the sum of its parts, if they’re the sort of thing you’re into, of course.
As old-school as “Bravely Default” is, it incorporates a lot of neat touches that take advantage of the 3DS’s standby and Streetpass functions.  At the beginning of the game, one of the main characters’ village is destroyed.  By passing other players when your 3DS is in standby, and spending money on work orders, you can rebuild the town, which serves as an investment that really pays off as the game progresses.  The shops in the town will create special items that you can buy from traders throughout the game, and will send you free samples based when you rest the game.  There are even hidden bosses that can be exchanged and fought via Streetpass.  Players can also register friends to assist in battle or give characters bonuses.
The classic style of the game isn’t all great news, though.  The game is old-school tough, with lots of grinding and collecting to be done, even with the help of friends and townsfolk.  It’s also a very long game, so be prepared to invest some serious hours if you’re hoping to see the end credits.
“Bravely Default” is a master class in classic JRPG design and construction.  If you’re a long-time fan of the genre, or you were afraid that Square Enix had lost their touch, this is the game for you.  “Bravely Default” is available for the 3DS.