Anyone who knows anything about me knows I love Samus. However, I am ashamed to admit I never played Metroid II. I know, I know… How can I possibly be a Metroid fan without having played (arguably) the best Metroid game made? One: I was not born. Two: never fear friends! Metroid: Samus Returns is a reimagining of this 1991 classic, anticipated by many gamers and fans of this Nintendo character (like me)!

A Re-imagined Classic

The storyline does not follow the events that occurred in the original game but rather retells it – something that I was initially not to keen on. Much like in the original, you play as Samus Aran, the intergalactic bounty hunter tasked with chasing Metroids on another planet in the hopes that this species will be wiped out and therefore keep Earth out of evil’s reach. This quest asks of you to explore a greatly expanded on map than the Gameboy game. Exploring different parts of the map introduces you to different gear and moves that will help you through other levels. Although a tad simple and redundant, this type of gameplay works well. Every time you enter a new area, a shrine will request DNA (or, as I referred to it for the majority of the game, shrine goo) from a certain amount of Metroids. Once you have collected the shrine goo, you will return to the shrine, provide its goo, and are granted into new levels.

Metroid: Samus Returns screen shot. © Nintendo

Metroid: Samus Returns screen shot. © Nintendo

Metroid Hunting 101

Getting the shrine goo proved difficult for me at first but it was because I did not understand how to utilize Samus’ weapons to their full capacity. In a standard 2D platformer, shooting is often limited to a straight, horizontal line from left to right. By holding the left trigger, Samus is able to aim 360 degrees, allowing for the perfect shot. Be ready for enemies to charge right at you once you enter a given area, if you are not careful, you will face some serious damage (as I did). Some areas in the game surround Samus with purple lava and if you fall in, your health plummets. This can be especially dire when you are being attacked by several enemies concurrently. By pressing X as soon as an enemy begins to charge, Samus can counterattack! This leaves your enemy completely stunned and forced back, saving yourself from falling into the lava, as well as time to aim and shoot. Therefore, entering different areas slowly becomes essential to surviving. Given that the level will regenerate at your last save point (a personal pet peeve), you will want to give everything you’ve got when entering the area.

By activating Samus’ Scan Pulse ability, different information of the level’s maps is revealed – including some secret passages that might have been missed. Most importantly, it will temporarily show you which aspects of the map are breakable, including parts of walls. Of course, with some many abilities to juggle, I did forget to use this ability when entering a new part of the map. By doing so, it gave me the satisfaction of discovering these secret passages myself. However, sometimes it became a chore and I would be searching for secrets when there were none. By triggering the Scan Pulse (when I remembered to), I was able to waste less time in a specific area that I did not need to.

Additionally, the bosses get progressively difficult as the game moves forward. In the beginning, you will be locked into a room and cannot leave until you defeat the boss. As you begin to unlock more and more areas, different aspects of the environment will increase the difficulty (such as the aforementioned purple lava). Multi-staged battles occur towards the end of the game and the bosses’ attack patterns become far more difficult to memorize. Mastering both combat and exploration will definitely help further oneself in the game.

Much More Than a Remaster

Metroid: Samus Returns was facing a lot of high expectations when it was announced. I am happy to say that it is one of the best games I have played this year. Arguably, one of the best games I have ever played on my 3DS. The story is phenomenal – it expands much more towards the end of the narrative and you really feel for Samus’ struggle. I think the gameplay mechanics added depth to the game. Although I did forget to utilize on these additions, there was a noticeable missing link. The game perfectly enwraps the necessities of exploration, combat and a visually stunning setting that makes Samus Returns a masterpiece. Is it considered a remaster? Sure, but I think this game presents something fun all without relying on nostalgia to bring forth its strengths.

DISCLAIMER: Metroid: Samus Returns review code was provided by Nintendo of Canada. The opinions expressed in the article above have not be affected by, dictated or edited in any way by the provider. For more information please see Girls on Games’ Code of Journalistic Ethics.