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Metroid: Samus Returns delivers a hardcore action-adventure for all

Samus Aran, an intergalactic bounty hunter, has fought her way across a variety of planets in the Metroid series, according to nintendo.com.

Samus Aran, an intergalactic bounty hunter, has fought her way across a variety of planets in the Metroid series, according to nintendo.com.

DeviantArt.com by AJDiSpirito

DeviantArt.com by AJDiSpirito

Samus Aran, an intergalactic bounty hunter, has fought her way across a variety of planets in the Metroid series, according to nintendo.com.

John Brenalvirez, Staff Writer

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The past few years have been rough on Samus and her now 31-year-old series. Following 2007’s critically acclaimed “Metroid Prime 3: Corruption,” the series took a bit of a nose-dive after the controversial “Metroid: Other M” (2010) and the reviled “Metroid Prime: Federation Force” (2016). With Nintendo appearing to have given up on the series, fans were left with little hope until this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, where two new Metroid games were announced. “Metroid Prime 4” has been announced to be in development for the newly released Nintendo Switch. “Metroid: Samus Returns” was announced and released on Sept. 15 for the Nintendo 2DS and 3DS systems. I am extremely happy to say that “Samus Returns” does not disappoint.
“Metroid: Samus Returns” is a remake of the 1991 game “Metroid II: Return of Samus,” but newcomers to the series won’t be lost. The game explains the events of the original Metroid in a minute-long prologue video before the game starts. The plot revolves around the bounty hunter Samus Aran being sent to the planet SR388 to exterminate the Metroid species (think Xenomorphs from the “Alien” series) after the Galactic Federation deems them too large of a threat to all of galactic civilization. Following the intro, the game rarely ever focuses on any sort of narrative, which is good, as stories in Metroid games when expanded upon are decent at best and confusingly awful at worst.
2D Metroid games are typically structured as platformers where the player explores a large alien planet alone with only hostile alien life to greet them, and “Samus Returns” is no exception. Combat typically involves the player shooting enemies with a variety of weapons. Progression through these games requires players to find power ups that enhance Samus’ abilities, such as the ability to shrink into a ball-shaped form, armor that protects the player from extreme heat or new weapons such as the Ice Beam. The player can use these power-ups to reach areas that were previously unreachable. While many power-ups from previous games return, Samus does have a few new tricks up her sleeve. First, she has a new melee attack that can knock back enemies or when used at the right time can stun enemies. Second, Samus is now able to aim in a full 360 degrees around her, though this requires her to stand still. Finally, a new selection of powers called Aeion allows Samus to reveal a portion of the map on the bottom screen, fortify her armor for extra protection, slow down time or supercharge her weapons. These Aeion powers function off an energy meter that can be refilled by defeating enemies so their use is limited.
“Samus Returns” is all about hunting those Metroids and they serve as the toughest encounters in the game. As you progress through the game, the Metroids evolve into different forms, changing from their iconic jellyfish look to dinosaur looking beasts. “Samus Returns” also adds a couple new encounters such as a rogue mining robot and an encounter with an enemy that hardcore Metroid fans will be delighted to see.
The presentation looks pretty good for the aging hand-helds that are the 2DS and 3DS. The graphics have shifted from traditional 2D sprites to 3D models, and while the environments look beautiful, the models for Samus and some of her enemies look a bit dated and blocky. The music is very good, having a good combination of ambient and energetic tunes. Unfortunately, many of the tracks in the game are remixes from previous entries in the series, with only a handful of new themes that are only used sparingly.
The game is fantastic; it has excellent gameplay, visuals and music with a simple but solid plot to rely on. Yet “Samus Returns” is not without its problems. The encounters with Metroids can get repetitive, as there are 50 (the interface will tell you there 40, but it adds 9 to the in-game counter later) to eliminate. The controls can take a bit of time to get used to and you cannot customize them. Some techniques are not taught to the player such as wall jumping and the power bomb jump. Finally, the game is difficult even for a Metroid game, and there is no easy mode. As such, I do not recommend this game as a starting point for newcomers to the Metroid series.
“Samus Returns” took me about 10 hours to collect every item and finish the game. At a price of $40, you will definitely get your money’s worth and a harder difficulty is unlocked after the player finishes the game once. “Samus Returns” also supports the Amiibo figurines, which unlocks additional content such as concept art, an option to the listen to game’s soundtrack, and an even harder difficulty mode. Despite a few flaws “Metroid: Samus Returns” is still a fantastic game that I recommend to Metroid fans or anybody who wants a hardcore action-adventure game.

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Metroid: Samus Returns delivers a hardcore action-adventure for all