When I was a kid, my Game Boy went everywhere with me. And one of my favorite games at the time was Metroid II. It was a pretty amazing thing to be a Nintendo fan at that time. Think about it: we got a full on proper numbered sequel to one of the biggest NES games on the Game Boy. Not a spin-off. Not some butchered port. A proper sequel.
Of course I had no experience with the first Metroid at this time. I had seen a friend's dad play it one time and it looked like a dad game to my young mind. Too complicated, I guess. But by the time 1991 had rolled around, my body was ready. And I dug into that game for months. So it was news to me years later to find out that Metroid II wasn't as universally loved as it was in my mind. Of course I was just a kid. I also played way too much of that LNJ Spider-Man game on Game Boy. So what the hell did I know?
Fast forward to 2016 when some fans actually created a full on remake of Metroid II under the title AM2R. At the time I was pretty heavy into gaming on my PC so I went ahead and downloaded it and had a blast. It played just like I remembered Metroid II. And it looked more like Super Metroid. So all good. I don't think that the game itself held up quite as well as I had remembered, but I still had a good time.
And then something interesting happened: Nintendo announced that their own real deal remake of Metroid II was on its way. What a time to be alive!
I think it's kind of lame that they dropped the "II" from the title, but Samus Returns dropped on the 3DS and offered up a full 2.5D reimagining of Metroid II and I was more than happy to plunk down my dollars to give this one a try. I figured if some fans could get it pretty right, then certainly Nintendo could make this game stellar. Keep in mind how they remade the original Metroid as Zero Mission on GBA. That remake was absolutely amazing - and now my preferred way to experience the original game.
I waited a little while to actually play Samus Returns, though. Two years to be exact. And all the while I was looking forward to finally finding the time. Reviews seemed to be very positive. And people I knew that played it seemed to really enjoy it. But it makes me wonder how many of those people truly had loved the original game. Maybe some of them hated it so this felt new and different? Maybe some of them had never played Metroid II at all, so this was completely new to them?
What I'm getting at is that - to my own surprise - I kind of don't like Samus Returns. Like, at all really. I so totally want to love this remake. But... a lot feels off about it.
First of all, those graphics. Look, I know that 3DS can do 2.5D quite well. That doesn't mean every game needs it. I had the same feeling when I played Castlevania: Mirror Of Fate. Like the game would have played just as well - if not better - had it been fully 2D sprites instead of these polygons. It sure would have looked better.
But here's my biggest gripe - the one that takes away all of the little quality of life improvements that Nintendo made with this remake. I hate this whole new parry system. Why on earth would you completely revamp the combat in this game? It sucks. At least in my mind. But opinions aside, it doesn't make sense to me to change the way that the game actually plays. I can't really approach this remake the way I did the original game. Everything feels slower and more about parrying so that you can't approach it like EVERY OTHER 2D Metroid game. Ugh. I don't get it and I don't like it.