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.
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.
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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