Samus Returns Impressions

I promised to review Samus Returns by today but I’m only half done with it. Instead, I’ll give some impressions:

  • The graphics are good. Surprisingly done well, especially when using 3D mode. I was surprised at how SR-388 teems with life. It really feels like an immense planet interior.
  • The controls are alright. It takes some getting used to, as I haven’t played handheld platformers in a long time. Samus handles well enough, but sometimes you need more hand/thumb dexterity to complete harder moves.
  • The Metroid battles are pretty cool, especially when they start running from you midway.
  • Production values and presentation overall is good.
  • Despite being an entry in a series infamous for backtracking, this activity hasn’t been too obnoxious. Yet.
  • The “car chase” sequence with the Chozo mech was unexpected and tougher than I thought it could be (see point 2).

I have about 7 hours into the game at this point, with 16 metroids left, according to my counter. I’m guessing I’ll need another week or so to finish it all. When I’ve done that I’ll post an updated review. Thanks for reading!

Samus Returns: The Return of the Queen

I got my copy of Metroid Samus Returns early yesterday (thanks, Amazon and USPS). So far I’m really enjoying it. If you haven’t heard, this is a remake of the original Metroid II Return of Samus, a surprise announcement at this year’s E3. The visuals and the mechanics have been really upgraded and recrafted.

Photo of gameboy game Metroid II Return of Samus next to 3DS cartridge of Samus Returns
Return of Samus and Samus Returns

I’ve only managed to take out two Metroids so far, but already the melee mechanics – which I was skeptical about – are turning into my favorite improvement over the original. You hit X when enemies give you a visual cue before a big attack. Yes, they flash in the usual Nintendo way, but the timing required makes the mechanic not as simplistic as you would think. If you hit the melee counter at the right time, you can deal massive damage to the opponent, usually a one-shot kill for normal guys.

As for the Metroids, I can’t remember exactly how they were in the original Game Boy incarnation, but I think they’ve been upgraded themselves.

The modern exploration mechanics are a nice touch as well; so far I’ve only gotten the Scan sweep power, but it’s helped out a number of times already. It not only tells you when metroids are close (a really nice feature if you remember being lost in the caverns of green in the original) but it can reveal other secrets on the map as well. Cool addition.

SR-388 also got a big facelift and the map redesign. The alien environment teems with life, and the backgrounds give a depth that just wasn’t possible in the Game Boy version. Perfect ambiance for a game series famous for its mood setting, if nothing else.

I’ll post a review of the game once I’ve had a chance to play through.