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Hugh Likes Video Games: Metroid: Samus Returns

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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.

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Hugh Likes Video Games: Metroid II

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Hugh Likes Video Games-Metroid II
Metroid II: Return of Samus
Nintendo Game Boy
Published 1991
Metroid_II_US_boxart
The Nintendo Game Boy was a little system that could.  Propelled to success by its classic version of Tetris, the monochrome game system boasted a wide variety of games despite its low resolution and hunger for batteries.  Being a child of the 80’s and 90’s with a limited budget, most of my gaming nostalgia goes back to the original, which still holds a place of pride on my display of gaming systems that have since gone to pasture.
One of my favorite games of the era was Metroid II: Return of Samus.  This handheld sequel to the original NES game follows space bounty hunter Samus Aran as she traverses the caverns of an alien world to destroy weaponized aliens called Metroids.
While not narratively complex, the Metroid series offers plenty of exploration, tricky platforming, and the most badass woman in all of gaming as a protagonist.  II is a bit shrunk down and more linear than its 8-bit predecessor, but the thrill of actively hunting rather than simply exploring is an improvement on the original.
The maze-like interior of planet SR388 is divided into sections, each with a number of metroids.  Each section is cut off by ‘boiling acid’ which conveniently recedes when the required number of metroids have been killed.  This replaces the standard Metroid mechanic of requiring upgrades to proceed, although the game is still littered with toys for Samus to collect.  But the metroids Samus encounters aren’t simply the jellyfish-like floating aliens encountered in Metroid.  On their home planet they havea multi-stage life cycle, and become larger and more difficult as the game progresses.
While the game is a bit linear, and, if you collect everything, easier than other Metroid games, it is still a standout of the original Game Boy library.  You can find it fairly easily in used game stores, or digitally in the 3DS eshop.

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