This week marks the release of Metroid: Samus Returns. It’s the first Metroid game to be released on the 3DS family of systems, the first Metroid game since Other M’s release in 2010, and the first 2D Metroid release since Metroid: Zero Mission in 2004. The development of the game falls on the shoulders of MercurySteam, known for their work on the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow series.
Metroid: Samus Returns is a new game in the series, but its foundation is built on Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy. This is not the first time a game in the series has been reimagined for a new era of hardware. The original Metroid was the base for Metroid: Zero Mission on the Game Boy Advance. I came to Metroid on NES after playing Super Metroid on SNES. For me, it was really hard to go back. Many of the areas tend to run together and navigation is difficult. Playing through Zero Mission was the first time I could successfully complete Metroid, in one way or another. I’ve wished for Metroid II to receive a similar remake since I first played it on Game Boy.
Metroid II is an important advancement in the series. It introduces the Space Jump and the Spider Ball, mechanics that remain in the series today. In addition to gameplay mechanics, it acts as the middle chapter of the original Metroid story. It would later get preceded by the Prime series, but at its time, Metroid II was the bridge between the NES story and Super Metroid. The entire beginning of Super Metroid makes no sense without Metroid II. It expands on the titular Metroid creatures and shows you more of their home planet. The downside is, even more than the original NES game, Metroid II tends to blur together and it’s easy to get lost. It’s not that the game doesn’t provide varying areas, but the hardware limitations of the Game Boy only allow for four colors on screen. The limited color palette makes it easy to get lost along the walls.
We’re tasked with eliminating the last of the Metroids on their home planet SR-388 but we’re equipped with many of the tools we gathered in Samus’ last mission. While I’m waiting for the release of Metroid: Samus Returns, for all that it means for the franchise, I’m happy to return to its roots on Game Boy.