There was a level in Metroid: Samus Returns where you constantly have to wade around in water, which limits your jumps and slows you down. It was really annoying, and removed the mobility that really defines this Metroid game. Then, partway through, I find the Gravity Suit upgrade, which lets you move around in water unhindered. Now, I felt powerful. The rooms that were giving me trouble previously were now a piece of cake. This is the positive feedback loop that is the mark of a great Metroid title.
Samus Returns,–a remake/reimagining of the second game in the series, Metroid II: Return of Samus–is a monster of a game. It’s been more than a decade since the release of the last side-scrolling Metroid, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I got my hands on this game. I’ll admit that when it was first announced, I was a little bummed that this game was coming to the 3DS and not the Switch, but if I have to pull out my 3DS again, at least it’s for a damn good game.
Note: In honor of the long overdue announcement of Metroid Prime 4, I will be playing and reviewing all three titles in the series! For context, I am replaying it via the 2009 Wii compilation Metroid Prime Trilogy, which features all three games with “enhanced” Wii pointer controls.
Metroid is a magnificent series of games. Even before Metroid Prime brought it into the 3D world, Metroid had made its mark, so much so that its name has come to define an entire genre of games (“Metroidvania”). However, after the release of Super Metroid, the series would go dormant for eight long years. In 2002, the series would return in full force with not one, but two new games, Metroid Fusion, a sequel that plays in a 2D perspective similar to the classic games, and Metroid Prime on the GameCube, which featured something surprising for a Nintendo title: a first-person perspective.
It would be Metroid Prime that would have the most impact on the series. Developed by a rookie developer from Texas, Retro Studios, Prime is today what we consider to be the equivalent of Super Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time to the Metroid series. Prime elegantly elevated the mechanics of its predecessors into a three-dimensional space, staying true to its roots, but simultaneously modernizing the series and making it achieve more than anyone thought was possible.