Metroid 2: Return of Samus
Reviewed by Dominic Cote
The original Metroid was an instant classic. With the popularity of the Game Boy,
so many classics have had spin-offs on the portable platform (i.e. Super Mario Land,
Final Fantasy Legend, etc.). However, it's quite rare to have a direct sequel published
on this platform. Many companies may not have been able to pull off this feat, but
Nintendo did so splendidly.
Graphically speaking, there aren't really any Game Boy games that will leave you in awe,
as the small black and green screen doesn't leave much room for innovation and/or
creativity. Basically, a good Game Boy game in terms of graphics is one that doesn't
blur and is clear enough that you know what's going on. Sporting a look similar to
that of its NES counterpart, Metroid 2 does a good job of this. A variety of weapons
and enemies aids this effort.
Metroid 2 follows its predecessor in terms of sound as well. Relatively little
music is present in this title (with a few exceptions such as the return of the
music at the start of gameplay). The lack of music is not something you'll notice,
as there's always shooting going on. Admittedly, the lack of music may make the
constant footsteps and sound effects of landing from a jump get on your nerves
after a while, but it's pulled off smoothly. Since Samus is fighting in an alien world,
there are a lot of eerie noises that occur with some frequency.
Gameplay in this one is the same as the original--horizontally and vertically
scrolling with platforms to aid you in getting across/up to the other side. What
you'll find in Metroid 2 is a lot of jumping and shooting at first. Samus' powers are
relatively limited at the start of the game, and the player must locate items to
make her be able to do other things, such as placing bombs, jumping better,
clinging to walls, increase max energy, etc.
The object of the game is to defeat all the metroids, and a number is listed at the
bottom of the screen to let you have an idea of your progress in that task. After
defeating an unknown number of metroids, every once in a while, there will be an
earthquake that allows you to pass through areas that were previously under lava
(I think it's lava, but you can't really tell on Game Boy). Unfortunately, when
these earthquakes happen, you never really know where the change took place,
which makes you have to search around aimlessly until you stumble across
uncharted territory. It's like those games that say "a door has opened somewhere
in the castle" when you hit a switch. This problem could have been solved with a map,
although one wasn't available in the original version, either. (Maybe I was just
spoiled by Super Metroid.)
Controlling Samus is simple, and each additional move you receive from the
various power-ups is just as simple. Nintendo managed to pack in quite a lot
of moves for a two button system. It's simple to go from standing position to
a ducking one to a ball without any hassle. Jumping as a rolled up ball, clinging
to a wall, utilizing missiles, and more is pulled off without any problems at all
and can be done by novice players as well as veterans.
While the concept is not exactly unique (it was done in the original), making a
direct sequel on the Game Boy is perhaps the most innovative idea of the whole
game. The idea of a portable Metroid is amazing because now players can take
it with them.
I found Metroid to be fun in some parts while boring in others. The exploration
and ability to encounter new items and enemies at every turn are great, but
you may find yourself going in circles a lot due to the nature of the game.
While the first time through Metroid 2 is cool, you may find it difficult to sit
through a second time. There will still be a lot of puzzles you don't know, as
some areas are solved by dumb luck rather than puzzle solving ability, but once
you beat it, you probably won't be coming back to it for a while. I found that
after not playing it for a few months, I was able to come back to it and start a
new adventure many times, but I've yet to beat it a second time.
Overall, Metroid 2 is an excellent sequel to a classic game. Anyone with a Game Boy
who enjoyed the original should pick this one up.