Metroid: Samus Returns Hands-On Impressions
This past weekend I had the opportunity to play some Metroid: Samus Returns on a New Nintendo 3DS XL. I’ve been following this game closely and was one of the thousands of people excited to see it announced during Nintendo’s E3 2017 Treehouse Live segment.
As most readers no doubt know, this new game is a remake of the classic Metroid II on the original Game Boy. That game remains one of the few Metroid games I haven’t completed. This is mostly due to its insanely large characters that make exploring the game somewhat cumbersome. Plus, the lack of visual fidelity, blurry green screen be damned, meant I never made it through more than half of the world.
Luckily, the game has been completely revamped for the 3DS. Not only are the visuals completely overhauled, but so are the gameplay mechanics, and music. It has so many improvements that it almost doesn’t resemble the game it’s based on. Knowing that Mercury Steam is the developer behind this new remake I had some lingering doubts about whether or not they’d be able to pull Metroid off. Their Castlevania game on the 3DS left much to be desired, with its slow progression and almost brawler-type enemy interactions that took way too long to dispatch the various monsters. Metroid games are all about the exploration, but also Samus’s agility to kick some alien butt. Two seconds with the game alleviated all of my worries.
Metroid: Samus Returns is the real deal. From the moment Samus appeared out of her ship I was in love. The first thing I noticed was that this game is smooth. She moves around with a certain elegant grace that just fits so perfectly in a 2D world. The first thing I did was crank the 3D slider up to max to take in the stereoscopic visuals, and boy do they deliver. The 3D is something special here, with the world coming to life in ways not seen in a side scrolling Metroid adventure yet. The graphics are certainly some of the best on the system and really do a fantastic job of giving you a desolate feeling of being alone on an alien world with hazards around every corner.
To move Samus you must use the Circle Pad – you can’t use the D-Pad like you might want to. This didn’t pose any problems in my play session, but I could see some give pause. The only issue I encountered was that it was sometimes difficult to crouch into the morph ball, but it really didn’t become a recurring issue that bothered me. The D-Pad is reserved for activating special Aeon powers that you will acquire throughout your adventure.
Samus is equipped with a wide variety of weaponry and moves. If you’ve played the more recent games on the Game Boy Advance, she can once again wall jump and hold onto ledges to climb up to new areas. You can also have her plant her feet on the ground, which will allow you to then aim freely with her blaster to take out enemies at any angle. The big game changer this time around is that Samus can initiate a melee block move that will stun incoming enemies so she can easily shoot them down. This really changes up the flow of the game and adds another layer of strategy when fighting creatures.
It’s hard to believe it’s taken this long, but this is the first classic style Metroid game with a map on the bottom screen. Games like Castlevania have done this way back on the original DS, but we haven’t had a portable game of Metroid in the mainline series since the GBA. It’s so nice to have that down there to glance at and make decisions on where to explore next. This will come in handy since the basis for the game is to go out and hunt down the 40 different Metroids that are hiding out on the planet.
Even though I only had a brief encounter with Metroid: Samus Returns, I’m very impressed with just how great it seems to have turned out. I can’t wait to play through the entire game when it launches next Friday. This one is going to be something special!
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He’s currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.