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Metroid: Samus Returns – Preview

Last week I [NantenJex] got a chance to play the first hour and a half of Nintendo’s upcoming Nintendo 3DS title: Metroid: Samus Returns. Below is a video discussion I created with fellow writer Liquid12A but, for those who prefer reading you can find my written thoughts further below. Enjoy!

I’m gonna be straight forward with this: Samus is back. I only got to play 1 hour and a half but what I did play greatly impressed me. For those unaware, Nintendo’s latest instalment in the Metroid series is a remake of the second game in the franchise: Metroid 2 Return of Samus for the Game Boy. That game is fairly outdated today so a remake was something many fans hoped to see and Nintendo certainly delivered. Much like Metroid: Zero Mission, which remade the original game, Metroid: Samus Returns takes the initial idea and story of the second game and updates it with all the modern features you might hope to find inĀ Metroid, which already improves the original game immensely.

The game feels like a Metroid title where Samus has to run and gun her way through various environments while exploring for power-up and, specifically this time, Metroids. If you’ve played a Metroid before, all of Samus’ techniques return from ledge grabbing to morph ball. You even get secret techniques like Shine Sparking coming back which is great.

It’s not all old though, with the increase in power from Game Boy Advance to Nintendo 3DS (yes it has been that long since the last 2D Metroid) Samus now comes with some new techniques, most prominent of these is a straight-up uppercut attack where Samus paralyses foes temporarily by smacking them with her gun. This is incredibly useful to learn because enemies in this game are vicious. They dive straight at Samus when they can and that makes the game a lot harder than prior titles in the series. You really need to master this bunt.

Another simple ability that changes up the game is the free-aiming. This takes some getting used to as it bucks more traditional Metroid trends but once you get it down it makes shooting enemies much easier.

One new feature I’m not as convinced on is the Aieon abilities. I only got the option to use the scan ability which in itself is very useful. There is a map on the bottom screen that is very useful but, unlike previous games, secrets don’t appear on there; that is until Samus uses the scan visor and then the traditional map features appear in a radius around her. It also helps in telegraphing which blocks need destroying, something not as obvious as in past games. My issue with the Aieon abilities is that I did not feel like it was clear when I could use them. You have a bar that needs filling but I almost always had it at full yet sometimes the scan would not work. Perhaps it is a problem only the scan visor has, like an invisible cooldown, but until I try more I can’t say for sure.

Another issue, or rather just a bit of a let-down, is that you can’t move with the d-pad. I know a lot of platforming fans would prefer that option but here it is mapped to the Aieon abilities and so the circle pad is your only form of movement. It’s not a big issue and maybe there will be options to change this in the final game but for now, be warned.

Aesthetically the game looks very nice. Mercury Steam, who previously made Castlevania Lords of Shadows Mirror of Fates (‘inhales’), are the developers behind this title and because of this the game’s models and backgrounds are very reminiscent of that title. It plays and sounds like a Metroid game though so it is only really an aesthetic choice. The camera is more zoomed in here than in those games and the colours are brighter making it clearer to see. There are nice background touches that make the world feel alive and dynamic camera that keeps up the action.

The final point I wanted to make was how impressed I was with player convenience in this game, both minor and major. A big part of this game is the hunt for the Metroids and a new way of helping Samus with this is the Chozo Seal, a massive golden monolith that tells you how many Metroid are in an area. You always see it when you enter an area and is a good reminder for players. What more, if you are lost and struggling then you can take some Metroid DNA to the statue and it can help guide you to the nearest Metroid you haven’t acquired. Backtracking is also made easier now thanks to teleporter statues that can take you to each sector and save/ammo statues are no longer given their own rooms. They can be found organically when running through the level.

Overall, I was very impressed with Metroid: Samus Returns. It’s looking and feeling like the Metroid game we have been waiting years for. I cannot wait to get my hands on more this September when the game launches worldwide. I want to thank Nintendo for giving me the opportunity to play this game and I want to hear what all of our reader’s thoughts are in the comments.