Stop Pitting Metroid: Samus Returns Against AM2R: Another Metroid 2 Remake

"Both. Both is good."

Article by Nadia Oxford, .

Hey, there's a new Metroid game out. It's for the Nintendo 3DS, and it's called Metroid: Samus Returns. Maybe you're aware; it's the first Metroid game Nintendo's given us since 2010's much-disliked Metroid: Other M for the Wii (well, barring Federation Force, a cute side-game whose name is synonymous with Satan's amongst Metroid fans).

Kat adores Samus Returns. I'm a big fan of it, myself. The game commands a strong overall score on Metacritic, and most Metroid fans have latched onto it.

Key word: "Most." The game has a handful of vocal critics who aren't fans of how Samus Returns looks, sounds, and / or plays. For example, I've heard people call the game's visuals "ugly," its soundtrack "boring," and its counter-system "clumsy." Another common complaint is that the boss battles against the Metroid menace quickly becomes repetitive.

Giant bird mouth-gate, huh? I'm having Super Mario Bros 2 flashbacks over here.

While I disagree on all these points, I still think they're valid criticisms. However, there's one complaint I can't abide: "We don't need Samus Returns. We already have AM2R, and it's much better."

"AM2R" is the popular acronym for "Another Metroid 2 Remake." It's a fan re-construction of Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy by Milton "DoctorM64" Guasti. AM2R is excellent. I enjoyed every second I spent with it when it came out last August, before Nintendo pulled it down. Guasti's work attracted the attention of Moon Studios, and now he's working on the sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest. The team is richer for having him.

He just wants tummy rubs.

Guasti's talent doesn't change the fact AM2R is much different than Samus Returns, however. Neither game is a replacement for the other.

There are several reasons why it's pointless to pit the two games against one another:

  • Combat in Samus Returns is more involved than in AM2R – The counter system in Samus Returns is a new idea in the Metroid series. When an enemy comes directly at Samus (indicated by a gleam of light coupled with a satisfying "dog clicker" sound), that's Samus' cue to counter with a melee attack and a well-placed beam. By contrast, the combat in AM2R is more about pumping as many bullets and missiles into your foes as possible. Both attack methods are great. Fans of classic Metroid prefer the latter, but I personally love making an enemy reel when it tries to nab me. There's been some complaints about how Samus Returns' melee counter slows down gameplay, but I don't think that's the case. Once you have the Wave Beam and Plasma Beam (combined with Samus' ability to shoot in all directions), the counter becomes unnecessary against weaker enemies.
  • Boss fights in Samus Returns are likewise more involved compared to AM2R – I've seen complaints about the fights against the Metroids in Samus Returns, including accusations that the fights are too repetitive. Well, here's the thing about that: Hunting down and fighting Metroids is Metroid II's whole schtick. At least Samus Returns tries to mix things up by giving Metroids elemental attacks, and by treating us to little cinematics when Samus lands a melee counter against one of the space-parasites. I don't think I'll ever get tired of watching the bounty hunter pry open a Gamma Metroid's beak and feed it a barrage of missiles. Much as I love AM2R, its Metroid fights aren't nearly as cool – though I will admit I'm not a fan of how Samus Returns makes you go on a merry chase to deliver the finishing blow to some of its Metroids.
  • AM2R is the "Metroid II Zero Mission" we've wanted for ages; Samus Returns is another animal entirely – Zero Mission did an incredible job bringing the first Metroid game into the modern age. It's no wonder we spent years thumping our heels on the ground for a Metroid II remake. Thing is, Samus Returns doesn't modernize Metroid II so much as it retools the whole experience from the ground-up. AM2R, however, is more like what most of us had in mind for a Metroid II Zero Mission. It utilizes sprite-based graphics, it gussies up familiar landscapes, and it tells its story through non-invasive log entries and interludes (Samus Returns relies almost exclusively on visuals).
  • Samus Returns is an official game; AM2R isn't – Like it or not, this is an important point. However you feel about AM2R, supporting it over Samus Returns won't convince Nintendo people want to see more Metroid games. Though certain aspects of MercurySteam's project might not click with you, it's not a sub-par game by any means/

In a world that doesn't have nearly as much Metroid as it should, I'm glad Samus Returns and AM2R exist. They deliver very different looks, sounds, and experiences. There's no reason to fight over which one is "better."

If you're just unsure about which Metroid II game you ought to play, well –

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Comments 17

  • Avatar for Nuclear-Vomit #1 Nuclear-Vomit 4 months ago
    You must choose one! Those who are lukewarm will be spat out of Nintendo's mouth. There is only one right answer. Do not be deceived.
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  • Avatar for camchow #2 camchow 4 months ago
    I haven't finished Samus Returns but man I did love AM2R. It all boils down to opinion anyway obviously. It's too soon for me to pick a favorite but one thing I'll say for sure is damn I wish I could play this with my dual shock controller like I did AM2R, can't play too long on my 3DS before my hands start to hurt, guess my old hands aren't up to gaming on the little system as much as they used to.
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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #3 SargeSmash 4 months ago
    I played through both. Both are fantastic. And both are different enough that they both feel fresh. Don't shortchange yourself by not buying Samus Returns!
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #4 riderkicker 4 months ago
    I can choose neither, because my backlog!
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  • Avatar for mganai #5 mganai 4 months ago
    Haha. I'm just surprised you didn't post the "why not both?" gif closer to the top of the article.
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  • Avatar for CK20XX #6 CK20XX 4 months ago
    One thing I like about AM2R that Samus Returns doesn't do is how some Metroids just happen to show up in places you don't really expect them to, like in the corridors of Chozo ruins as you're closing in on a power-up room. There's even a room where you're ambushed by FIVE Alpha Metroids at once. Samus Returns sets up all encounters in specially arranged boss rooms and your Metroid tracker gives you plenty of warning before a fight begins, while in AM2R, there are quite a few instances where you go, "Whoa, tricky footing, but I bet this leads to somewhere neat--WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?! AHHHHHHHHH RUNRUNRUN I'm not ready to deal with you yet!"
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  • Avatar for matthewyoung47 #7 matthewyoung47 4 months ago
    I have beaten am2r 100% on hard and about halfway thru SR.

    1.Melee counters makes combat against the normal enemies have to much stop and start, because you have to wait alot for enemies to trigger it. The game seems balanced around it, because of their high hp or armor taking lot of hits to kill or blocking it totally. And because of the high amount of damage they do and your quick depleting aeon bar, you need to counter for refills which barely drop on kills to any amount worth wild. If you dont counter you will be starved of energy alot in my exp.

    2.No control configuration. am2r got this correct, wish more games would try for as much
    customization or even try at all. Making the controls feel comfortable for the player is important even more so if they have disabilities.

    I rather use the dpad for movement in 2d platformers, a stick just adds to much delay and uncertainty imo. And sense there is rarely more then 2 mobs on the screen a auto lockon might be a smoother idea unless there are no enemies around then have it go 360 mode.

    3. Locking stuff behind Amiibos which people with the original 3ds can not even use unless they want to pay scalpers big markups for the scanner because nintendo does not sell the thing anymore. Let call it what it is, on disk dlc.

    4. I have a eye/brain condition, where I have a lot of trouble playing many newer games that have alot of clutter in the environments and things like depth of field and bloom. This game has a lot of bloom that makes my head and eyes hurt after a few hours. Wish you could turn it off.

    5. Because of number 4 I generally find high detailed pixel or sprite work much easier to process then low rez polygons for 2d platforms. Maybe if this game was on the switch with a better resolution it would work better, not sure. The general fuzziness and lighting makes it harder on me then am2r with the pixel work it had. Was easier to separate samus, foreground,background and enemies as one example.

    6.SR has to many collectibles hard locked behind doors and impassable things. Unless a glitch is found to go thru solid walls there is only one correct way to get many things. Make things simpler to get if you have the right item but still possible if you play with the hole toolkit. Like the change to wall jumping to make it easier which is fine but you can not chain them off the same wall if skilled enough like in the past.

    For graphics and controls i wish consoles and handhelds would catch up with what the PC have been doing for decades. Might have to retry this game once a 3ds emulator supports it better and I can turn off bloom/rebind some keys, unless I can work thru these issues I have this weekend on my copy.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #8 MetManMas 4 months ago
    Not to knock the game or anything (I haven't played either M2SR or AM2R yet), but my main man Gogglebob did an analysis of Metroid II: Samus Returns (SPOILERS OBVIOUSLY) that's definitely worth a read.Edited September 2017 by MetManMas
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #9 Jonnyboy407 4 months ago
    Steak or lobster?

    Surf and turf. Duh.
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  • Avatar for Mooglepies #10 Mooglepies 4 months ago
    Both is nice but the fact that they both exist in the same timeframe trying to do the same thing invites comparison between them, particularly when they both took drastically different approaches with the source material. It is interesting to see where they do things similarly and where they diverge though.

    My chief complaint with Returns is that the controls are clunky and there's no way to remap them. If movement isn't even analogue, why force it onto the circle pad? Maddening. It boggles my mind that no one caught this.

    Less a complaint and more of a broad comment - AM2R did a fair amount of work to make progression more flexible, where Returns takes an approach more like Fusion. There are merits and downsides to both but, on a personal level, I much prefer the flexible design, as it's what I'm far more likely to replay in the future.
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  • Avatar for mouse-clicker #11 mouse-clicker 4 months ago
    I'm glad this article exists. And I'm glad we live in a world where we got both the Zero Mission style update to Metroid II AND the start-over-from-scratch remake.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #12 NiceGuyNeon 4 months ago

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  • Avatar for presidentcamacho #13 presidentcamacho 4 months ago
    I would advise anyone having issues with the controls in Samus Returns to get an aftermarket grip. The one I bought made my experience so much better, so much so that not being able to move with the D pad stopped bothering me.
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  • Avatar for SpoonyBardOL #14 SpoonyBardOL 4 months ago
    This is where I am on this too. Both games are good, and different enough that they're both worth playing. Some people will certainly prefer one over the other, and that's fine, just don't be one of 'those fans' and insist that your choice is the only possible correct one.

    I think I prefer the visuals of AM2R, but that's largely because I will always prefer a nice pixel style over 3D, particularly low-poly 3D. Though the models in Samus Returns are nice, the environments all feel really samey. The main thing the world has going for it to differentiate itself from area to area are the backgrounds. And, to be fair, some of the backgrounds in Samus Returns are gorgeous and creative. But, they're still just backgrounds, and it doesn't change the fact that all the actual tiles Samus is climbing and jumping around on are just either rock or vague Chozo tech. AM2R, on the other hand, had less impressive backgrounds overall, but the foreground tiles of each area felt far more distinct. Hell, just look at the AM2R screenshot here from the Omega Nest and compare it to the foreground of the Samus Returns counterpart, which features more drab tech tiles, it's no contest.

    AM2R is also probably more authentic to the original game. It does add a new area, and little bits here and there, but overall it the game lines up much more faithfully to the original compared to Samus Returns in every way but Metroid count (there's a few more than 40, I think). There's no unnecessary additional final battle against a foe that, while mechanically interesting, is conceptually troublesome.

    I also really dig the remix of 'The Tunnel' in AM2R, you barely hear it in Samus Returns, where it's so faint and barely there. On the other hand, Samus Returns does call back to a lot of the 'weird' sounds from the original on a number of its tracks, so audio-wise it's kind of a tossup.

    Overall though, if you want a more authentic Zero Mission-styled Metroid II remake then AM2R is your jam, if you want a largely new and modern Metroid game that mostly just uses Metroid II as a base to do its own thing, then go for Samus Returns. Both are good and worth your time.
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  • Avatar for Flipsider99 #15 Flipsider99 4 months ago
    Or better yet, go back and play the original, which I still prefer to both games! The original is still a fantastic game that really distinguishes itself from the modern Super Metroid style Metroids. The new ones are fine, but they'll never replace the original for me... just like I like Zero Mission but it will never replace the original Metroid, a game I'll always go back and replay.
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  • Avatar for Lonecow #16 Lonecow 4 months ago
    AM2R is more of an actual prequel to Super Metroid, in my opinion. It feels like a derivative of Super Metroid not Metroid II, which is what most people wanted. It doesn't feel like Metroid II to me. Which isn't a bad thing.

    Samus Retruns feels like they tried to capture what made Metroid II appealing when it came out and modernize it, which I think they did successfully. Both games were trying to accomplish different things and I think both succeeded in their goals.

    For me personally AM2R couldn't hold my attention. Samus Returns feels more like Metroid to me in that when I'm not playing it, I wish I was playing it. I had to force myself to keep playing Am2R eventually to the point where I stopped playing.
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #17 Funny_Colour_Blue 4 months ago
    Everyone in the comments is WRONG!
    There is only one TRUE choice!:

    ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
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