Metroid II: Return of Samus

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JaySevenZero
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Metroid II: Return of Samus

Post by JaySevenZero »

Here's where you can contribute your thoughts and opinions for Metroid II: Return of Samus for potential inclusion in the forthcoming podcast.

A friendly reminder that where the feedback for the podcast is concerned, we love it - but keeping it brief is appreciated. We do want to include a breadth of opinions where appropriate, but no-one wants a discussion podcast that’s mostly reading out essays. Better to save yourself time and cut to the chase if you can.

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Magical_Isopod
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Re: 490 - Metroid II: Return of Samus

Post by Magical_Isopod »

Question for clarification - is this going to cover the 3DS Remake and/or AM2R? Or just the GB original?

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ratsoalbion
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Re: 490 - Metroid II: Return of Samus

Post by ratsoalbion »

This show is just for the GB original.

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Belmont03
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Re: 490 - Metroid II: Return of Samus

Post by Belmont03 »

I played this game as a child. While I never completed it, I was maybe 7 at the time, I do have a clear memory of playing it in the car as my parents were shopping for whatever and having the sun dropping in the sky. What a bummer non backlit screens were back in the day.

That being said, I enjoyed the game as a child. It was an awesome portable game for a kid that loved Super Metroid more than pretty much any game.

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luke10123
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Re: 490 - Metroid II: Return of Samus

Post by luke10123 »

I remember nicking this game off of my older brother when I was a kid. I never knew what was going on or what I was supposed to do, I would get lost very easily and probably only made it about 1% of the way through before I’d give up and go back to Pokémon Blue or Link’s Awakening. But I was always curious about this alien world I’d only ever glimpsed and I loved the music, so it was something I’d occasionally return to, only to bounce off it again.

With the upcoming podcast I thought I’d have one last attempted playthough, using the same cartridge I played with some 25 years ago. However, this time I’d have the benefit of wisdom, the skills I’ve developed from many years of gaming, and most importantly, a map and a walkthrough because let’s face it, a lot of games from this era weren’t always great at signposting where you were supposed to go and what you were supposed to do. Although in this case, that was probably the point. I was also playing on my GameBoy Advance SP this time around, rather than the original Gameboy we had in the house and I have to admit the SP does wonders for this game. It runs much smoother and looks a lot better with basic colouring rather than the ugly green palette of the first GameBoy.

The only Metroidvania games I’ve played are Metroid: Fusion and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Knight. I’ve never played the original but I really struggled with controlling Samus on this one. The jumping feels very… ‘floaty’? If that makes sense? Admittedly the game takes place of a world that likely has different gravity to what I’d expect, but it made platforming and dodging enemies quite tricky. That, and how temperamental the space jump is. One thing I definitely missed from Fusion, was the ability to aim diagonally. I found having to either jump to the exact height of moving enemies or manoeuvre directly below them quite annoying and fiddly, and often led to me taking damage. Unfortunately the Metroid fights themselves can get a bit repetitive and it’s disappointing to discover a new stage of the life cycle only to find that the battle is nearly identical to the last one. The strategy never seems to change: tank hits, spam missiles. Combat against SR388’s local fauna isn’t great either, I often found myself shooting a millimetre too high or low and sometimes it’s impossible to drop down one of the game’s many shafts and pits without landing on some creature that means you harm. And if you take too much damage, you risk reaching the point of having to grind for health pick-ups or backtracking miles to a secret refill-area.

The main thing I missed, however, was a map. More so in my original attempts when I was young, as now I have the benefit of the internet to help out, but some of the environments look and feel very similar, so getting completely lost and unsure where the next upgrade or Metroid is feels like an inevitability. The small number of save points throughout the game doesn’t help matters. If you’re lost or far away from one and you need to put the game down, say if your battery was running out, you were scuppered. Even though I own the game, I wish now that I’d sought out an emulated version that could save the game state anywhere.

I love the sound design in Metroid II. From the music at the start that seems to denote the beginning of a grand adventure to the eerie silence that follows as you descend deep into the cavernous interior of SR388. A lot of the sound effects I still remember vividly from my first playthroughs. The Metroid battle music itself was also tense and unsettling.

The counter that is a permanent part of the UI telling you how many Metroids still infest the planet was a great piece of design. It adds this sense of foreboding as the Metroids get stronger and more dangerous all the while the game is telling you that you still have dozens ahead of you. Also the way the final areas feel desolate and lifeless as you approach the Omega and Queen Metroid's lairs give you a sense of foreboding as you realise the metroids have killed almost every living thing in the area, reinforcing how dangerous they are and why you need to finish the job. Combined with the sound design, bleak backgrounds and maze-like level design, Metroid II does an incredible job at making the player feel a sense of isolation and loneliness.

After 25 years, I finally beat Metroid II with a time of 3 hours and 7 minutes. Although I knew how the game ended I was actually surprised by the relief I felt as I finally reached the surface and the black background of the caves gave way to the stars above. But now I've done it, I really have no reason or desire to ever play it again. But I’m glad I’ve beaten it the once. I don’t think I would recommend seeking out the original game if you wanted to play today. Even with the fan remake, AM2R, shut down by Nintendo, emulated versions, or better yet, the 3DS remake would surely be a better option. There is however, a lot to admire about Metroid II. Considering the limitations of the hardware, it does a great job in creating a lonely, foreboding atmosphere and repackaging and upgrading the original Metroid framework into a handheld. However, the confusing level design, lack of save points and slightly janky combat mean I probably wouldn’t recommend this game to most people today. Amazing for its time, but even within the Metroid series, it’s been surpassed in every way since.

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Kasuga-san
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Re: 490 - Metroid II: Return of Samus

Post by Kasuga-san »

This was the first videogame my grandparents "bought" for me. It had been getting too difficult for them to keep up on getting presents for all of the grandkids, so they gave up and just gave us money to spend on gifts with the stipulation that we had to show them what we got with the money. My brother and I, of course, immediately used that for videogames. He got a copy of Kid Icarus for the GB, and I got my copy of Metroid II, and my love of the Metroid series began there. I had played the original Metroid, but at my young age it was a bit too obtuse for me. Despite the grayscale of the Game Boy, this game looked better to me and played better and it finally clicked. It could have also been helped a bit by Samus being a regular character in some of the Nintendo comics at the time as well. I remember spending hours combing every little nook and cranny of the game, hunting for secrets. I mastered bomb jumping to reach the ceilings of the wide open areas of the map. I know young me got stuck in a few areas trying to find the last metroid so I could delve deeper into SR388. It all paid off with that last battle with the Queen Metroid. The baby metroid at the end was a nice touch that stuck with me and paid off in Super Metroid. It always amazes me how early on Nintendo seemed to master building connections to its worlds and characters utilizing things as simple as making you care about a few pixels on a screen through clever animation and staging. I love that baby metroid and anyone that tries to hurt it will meet the business end of Samus' arsenal.

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DeadpoolNegative
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Re: Our next podcast recording (9.10.21): 490 - Metroid II: Return of Samus

Post by DeadpoolNegative »

I still remember seeing the announcement in Nintendo Power, with a big centerfold poster, of Metroid II: The Return of Samus. She's back! The Metroids are back! and they're on... Game Boy? Well, okay....

(also, this posts was the first and only time Samus Aran had boob armor)

I eagerly picked up the game in the fall of 1991, and was immediately thrilled to one of the best pieces of theme music I've ever heard since, well, the original Metroid theme. Seriously, that theme song in the early areas of the game is a serious banger.

However, the further I got into the more I felt disappointed. While the original Metroid isn't perfect, it has a visual imagination and the world of Zebes felt varied, or as varied as a NES game from 1987 could be. By contrast, the world of SR388 is bland and samey. Granted, I suppose I'm being unfair to a Game Boy game, but the structure of the world felt more... organized and simple compared to the strange mazes and nooks and crannies of Zebes. The game played well, but I never really felt the urge to finish it. 30 years ago I ranked it as one of my biggest gaming disappointments of all time.

However, plahing this again for the podcast on my trusty 3DS virtual console, I found myself warming to it quite a bit. As others have pointed out, the ticking clock of the Metroid counter adds to the tension, especially when the Metroid fights are more chaotic than they were in the original. Moving around felt better than it did on the Game Boy and while combat isn't quite as good as it was in the NES original it's solid enough. Or maybe I'm getting soft in my old age. I hope to actually beat it this time.

Granted, if you want to play this chapter in the history of metroid, I would definitely recommend you go with Mercury Steam's Samus Returns before The Return of Samus. But it's better than I remember.

(also, Mercury Steam did a great remake of that theme)

--Dan

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