Samus Returns: The Morning After

After about a week of trying to eke out playtime here and there, I finished up my first run of Metroid: Samus Returns last night. For those who may not know, this is a complete remake of the Game Boy’s Metroid II: Return of Samus, which is generally regarded as the worst Metroid game. Metroid II was my first Metroid, and having never revisited it since (I was probably eight years old when I played it), it occupies a special, nostalgic place in my heart.

Anyway, like I said, I finished my first run of Samus Returns. I fully intend to go back for 100% completion, and then to run through at least twice more to play on the Hard and Fusion modes. For now, though, I’ve a few trace thoughts about the game that I’d like to share.

  • Samus Returns is hard as balls. I died lots and lots of times. It’s hard enough where the Hard Mode and even-harder Fusion Mode seem unnecessary. But I suppose they’re just more reason to replay the game.
  • The number one reason, of course, is that Samus Returns is friggin’ amazing. Like, it’s right up there with Super Metroid and Zero Mission.
  • There are a few things that drag it down, though. Like how some of the environmental puzzles are repeated so often that they get stale. It’s like, okay, I get it: use Spider Ball to go over the crumbling floor and grab the missile tank. I’ve only done this thirty times already.
  • The game gets slow between the point where the Spider Ball is introduced and when you finally get the Spring Ball. So much time spent tediously rolling your way around mazes…
  • There are two new major bosses: First, an excavation robot that is probably the most difficult boss in the game, who guards the Power Bombs. Secondly, the new final boss is… Ridley. Of course. Because he must be shoehorned into every Metroid game. Also he was weirdly easy after the very challenging fights against the robot and Queen Metroid.
  • In addition, all the various Metroid evolutions have been given crazy upgrades. There are 40ish of them throughout the game, and each encounter is intense enough to feel like a real boss battle. The few Omega Metroids in particular make for really great battles, and even the lesser Alphas are constantly learning new tricks to keep them interesting even after taking down roughly two dozen of them.
  • I rolled the credits for the first time with just under nine hours on the game clock. That’s a beefy Metroid! Samus didn’t even take off her helmet in my ending, so there’s clearly a lot of room for improvement.
  • And looking it up, there are a whopping nine endings, three for each difficulty mode. Looks like I’ll be playing this a lot…
  • I only got 66% of the power-ups on that first run. It’s going to be a long road to collect ’em all.
  • The stinger after the credits not-so-subtly suggests that MercurySteam would very much like to do a Metroid Fusion remake next. I would very much like that as well.
  • The final “power up” was a complete surprise to me and I love it. So good. So perfect.

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