I am not proud to admit this, but I was completely uninterested in the Metroid series up until the release of Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion back in 2002. It never really appealed to me since the first game in the series that I played was Metroid II back in 2000. But thankfully all of that changed when I first played those glorious games on the Game Cube way back then. The gameplay, the creatures, the atmosphere, the lore, EVERYTHING about the games hit every high note for me and I was instantly hooked. So imagine how much patience I've lost waiting for another proper entry to the series, especially after Nintendo DMCA'ed that fan game AM2R... That being said, I was ecstatic when Nintendo revealed not one, but TWO brand new Metroid games at E3 this year. Metroid Prime 4 unfortunately won't be released for quite some time, but I think that the game I'm reviewing today, Metroid: Samus Returns which is a reimagining of Metroid II, will definitely fill the gap until then, I hope...
First off let's recap the lore of the game: Samus is a bounty hunter well known for her heroic exploits against a massive group of interstellar terrorists known as Space Pirates who in turn were most well known for using an alien species known as Metroids as both a bio-weapon and organic energy source. After her climactic battle with them and Mother Brain on the planet Zebes, she became the one the Galactic Federation turned to when things started to become too difficult to control; Think along the lines of a one man SWAT team. After a botched recon mission to the planet SR388 in order to collect a living Metroid sample, the federation concluded that the Metroids were too dangerous to be left alive and called for Samus to commit mass genocide against the entire species. Not overly complicated and just interesting enough to keep your attention.
Now the gameplay is easy to pick up, but difficult to master. You have your usual move, jump and shoot actions plus Samus's unique ability to curl into a ball, but in this entry you have three new abilities that alter the feel of the game quite significantly: free aiming in full 360 degrees, a melee counter-attack, and the brand new Aeion abilities. Aeion let Samus perform special skills like revealing breakable blocks or slowing down time. All of these new abilities are just what the series needed to evolve the gameplay of the 2D entries further. Plus once you get the hang of the melee counter, you feel like a real bad-ass, especially against the larger enemies.
As for everything else in this game, it hits all of the marks I was hoping for a remake of game that did not age well. The music is fantastic and captures the atmosphere of the world extremely well, the gameplay and exploration is top notch and incredibly responsive and I love how many classic abilities make a return with brand new functions like the Spider-Spark and Grapple Lasso, and as for the ultimate goal in the game, it is exactly the same as what it was in the original; slay every metroid on the planet. This can range from relatively easy to quite a hefty challenge, but if you're having trouble you can scan a compatible amiibo to give you reserve tanks or the location of the metroid nearest to you.
Overall, I was initially skeptical about Mercury Steam developing a game in one of my favorite game series, especially after the lukewarm reception that Castlevania Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate got from the fans. But my fears were eased when I played the game to 100% completion as this was probably one of the best 2D Metroid games I've played since I first experienced Super Metroid. Nintendo has successfully revived a series I long thought might be forever dormant and I can't wait for more in the coming years. But until then, I'll be seeing you.
Edited by Gilgamesh