Game review Metroid: Samus Returns

12 February of 2018 by

The influence of the Metroid series on the gaming industry is difficult to overestimate. After all, thanks to her, many modern game designers at one time took a great interest in the creation of game worlds, and popular franchises to this day actively use the elements of the gameplay presented by the original Metroid in the distant 80’s. Every new game of the series, the fans are waiting with a sinking heart. And the company Nintendo tries not to disappoint them. September 15 for a portable console Nintendo 3DS released a new game Metroid: Samus Returns, which I would like to tell you today.

Game: Metroid: Samus Returns
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Action-Adventure
Release Date: September 15, 2017
Developer: Mercury Steam, Nintendo EPD
Publisher: Nintendo

The first game of the series was released in 1986 for the 8-bit Famicom console. The directors of the game Yoshio Sakamoto and Satoru Okada could not even imagine that they were creating their own history with their own hands. Together with the Castlevania series, the games of the Metroid franchise have become the founders of a completely new genre of “metro-dating”, characterized by a large world that is accessible to research. The player’s path is blocked from time to time by obstacles that can be overcome only by acquiring new skills or by discovering a special object. This simple at first glance formula has forever changed the game industry and automatically built Metroid into the status of cult works.

Metroid: Samus Returns is the 1991 remake of the Metroid II: Return of Samus for the portable Game Boy console. According to the story, the space hunter after the heads of Samus Aran on the orders of the Galactic Federation arrives on the planet SR388, where she must find and destroy all, without exception, extraterrestrial life forms – the so-called metroids. Metroids pose a huge danger to the rest of the inhabitants of the universe, since they literally feed on the life force of other beings, eventually killing them. The fact that meteors are hunted by evil cosmic pirates who want to use these organisms as biological weapons adds to the fire.

For the development of the game, not only the internal division of Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development, but also the Spanish studio MercurySteam, famous for the games Clive Barker’s Jericho (2007), Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (2010) and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (2014). In fact, this is the only studio to date, which managed to work on the games of both the series of Metroid and Castlevania, which causes sincere respect. The Spaniards have long wanted to make a new Metroid, but they were not given such an opportunity. At some point, the creator of the series Yoshio Sakamoto realized that the more loyal Metroid fans among video game developers in the world can no longer be found, so he decided to entrust the Spaniards with the participation in the development of Metroid: Samus Returns. And he did not lose.

The basic formula of the gameplay, peculiar to the games of the Metroid series, was preserved in full. And now I’m talking about the classic platform 2D mechanics, and not about what we saw in three-dimensional branches like Metroid Prime or Metroid: Other M. The player sees a three-dimensional world from the side, while the main character moves on it only in one plane. But some bosses are quite capable of using voluminous backgrounds for their own mercenary purposes. Due to the transition from 2D graphics to 3D, it became possible to use a smart stereo effect in the game. The picture is impressive with its depth, which gives the event on the screen additional entertainment. Owners of Nintendo 3DS consoles will be very pleased.

The world of the game is divided into large locations, consisting of a variety of rooms, connected by tunnels, gateways and portals. Orient in this maze player helps a detailed map on the lower touch screen of the Nintendo 3DS console. Navigation is very important in the Metroid series, because all important objects, the location of conservation points, ammunition sources and much, much more are marked on the map. Moving between large locations the player can with the help of teleports found by him or on elevators. Do not forget that thanks to the map, it’s easiest to find and destroy metroids, because that’s why we flew to the planet SR388.

As soon as you get close to the room inside which the metroid hides, a sensor built into the Samus suit will start to emit a characteristic sound signal. Battles with metroids are gradually becoming more difficult due to the fact that they evolve, increase in size and acquire new abilities. For each destroyed metro, the main heroine gets a particle of his DNA. By loading collected biological data into special terminals, Samus unlocks access to the next location and dives deeper into the depths of the planet’s full dangers.

Traditionally, for the series, the exosuit of the main character continues to acquire new abilities as the game progresses. They can be found in numerous caches scattered throughout the levels. In addition to firing from a built-in cannon and launching missiles, Samus is able to fold into a ball of Morph Ball and thus penetrate narrow passages and crevices. Over time, this ball will get the opportunity to stick to vertical surfaces and even skate over the ceiling. The cannon can be charged with ice shells, freezing opponents and turning them into jump platforms. The energy whip Grapple Beam will allow Samus to pull up heavy stone blocks to himself, thereby unblocking the aisles. There are a lot of such adaptations, tricks and skills in the game.

The game’s innovation was completely new Aeion Abilities support abilities, which the player can assign to the four buttons of the D-Pad cross. The Scan Pulse skill allows you to emit an impulse scanning the surrounding terrain for hidden passages and caches. Armor Lightning Armor creates a force field around Samus, protecting it from attacks by opponents and adverse environmental influences. The mighty Beam Burst cannon blows everything in its path, and the Phase Drift skill literally slows the flow of time. Each of the four new abilities consumes Aeion energy (yellow scale on the touch screen), so use them wisely. Replenish the reserve of this energy can be, knocking out the enemies of yellow spheres.

Another innovation was the appearance in the arsenal of Samus physical counterattack Melee Counter. Some opponents, seeing the protagonist, try to attack her. In the event that the player in time manages to press the right button, Samus strikes the enemy, from which he falls into a stupor, for a second becoming vulnerable. And this mechanic works fine even during fights with metroids. The stunned metroid becomes open to missile attacks. It’s a sin not to use it. By the way, in Metroid: Samus Returns shooting at 360 degrees is now available. To do this, you just hold the left trigger, and select the direction you want to shoot with the analog stick. Unusually, but extremely effective, because in the original game of 1991, Samus was severely restricted in the direction of shooting.

Honestly, I do not consider myself a true fan of the Metroid series. After all, the branch of Metroid Prime disappointed me rather than impressed me. But, even so, I was very much looking forward to the release of a new 2D game. I remember with warmth the moments from my childhood, when I was playing with brilliant eyes in a superb 16-bit Super Metroid on the console of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Three-dimensional graphics have always repelled me, but 2D-sprites, drawn by hand, on the contrary, warmed my soul. In the new game, graphics can hardly be called outstanding, even despite the skilful use of stereoscopic 3D and remarkable level design. Muddy textures, low resolution, lack of smoothing and angular three-dimensional objects – here it is, a harsh reality.

Let’s be honest: the iron of the Nintendo 3DS pocket console is hopelessly outdated and it’s simply not possible to give out a really impressive picture, despite all the efforts of artists and programmers. This is almost the main minus of Metroid: Samus Returns. And this fact pushes us to a quite logical idea: why not to release this wonderful game in all other senses on the modern Nintendo Switch console? The thing is that Nintendo 3DS has a huge user base, and this is a great opportunity to earn a lot of money from the sales of the game. For Switch, at the moment, a new three-dimensional game of the Metroid Prime series is being created. This is somewhat sad, since personally I would give my preference to the beautiful and technological 2D version of the adventures Samus Aran.

Especially for the release of the game Nintendo released a couple of new collection figures Amiibo. Upon contact with the console, they unlock additional capacity for storing energy Aeion, concept art from the original game of 1991, music tracks, and also show you on the map the location of the remaining metroids. With the help of special Amiibo you will also be able to unlock the most complex game mode Fusion. As I understand it, it will be unlocked automatically after you have passed the game from start to finish. But if you do not want to wait – you have a wonderful opportunity to force events and immediately start the most hardcore game.

Music for the game was written by composer Daisuke Matsuoka under the supervision of veterans of the series Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano. The soundtrack includes numerous remixes of music themes familiar to fans of the franchise, including even compositions from games of Metroid Prime. What can I tell you about the music? I did not have any questions for her. This is all the same impressive electronic sound, creating a gloomy and mysterious atmosphere of someone else’s planet, where at every step the main character awaits incredible discoveries and eerie monsters.

Pros:

  • The long-awaited new 2D game in the Metroid universe!
  • A huge world full of dangers and hiding places.
  • Adjusted to the smallest detail of the design levels.
  • Aeion-abilities significantly different gameplay.
  • Samus got the opportunity to shoot 360 degrees.
  • Convenient and carefully thought out interface.
  • Modified and expanded gameplay.
  • Very high quality stereoscopic effect.
  • Excellent soundtrack from the veterans of the series.

Minuses:

  • The picture is frankly weak due to lack of power of the console.
  • I would like to see sprite graphics instead of angular 3D.
  • Management sometimes seems too overloaded.

Metroid: Samus Returns is a wonderful gift for fans of the series. If we close our eyes to the frankly weak graphic component of the project, which rests on the obsolete hardware of the Nintendo 3DS console, we can say that we have the best game of the main series from the time of Super Metroid for SNES. The angular graphics are partly compensated by the magnificent level design, smooth animation and excellent stereoscopic effect, which, unfortunately, can not be enjoyed by the owners of the Nintendo 2DS consoles . The proven mechanic was skillfully supplemented with new abilities of Samus, thanks to which the gameplay became almost perfect. I put the game 8 points out of 10 .

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