I have been playing video games most of my life. Like many in my generation, I grew up on Nintendo. Anyone familiar with that generation of gaming know it’s where some Nintendo’s most memorable franchises first took to the screen. Super Mario and Zelda are the two that came to the forefront. However, there is another one that has a more niche fan base with fewer titles than their headlining counter parts; that is Metroid. I remember playing the original Metroid at a friend’s house, and then Metroid II: Return of Samus at a another friend’s house on the Gameboy. Both times I played Metroid it was only for an hour here or an hour there, I had not truly experienced a Metroid game. After that, I never played another Metroid game until recently. Having never owned of them, I never gave them the proper chance they deserved, which is too bad because I now know what I was missing.

I bought Metroid: Return of Samus on the 3DS the day it came out. I was always aware of the franchise and decided I should give the latest game it’s proper due.  For one reason or another, I waited to actually play it until a few weeks ago. It was well worth the wait!

The first thing I noticed when I started playing was how vibrant the colors are. This is no surprise as Nintendo has always used an extensive color palette in it’s games. The images pop off the screen (I realize the 3D screen helps with that), but the colors make the visuals that much more impressive! The neon hues in the weapons fire, some of the enemies and the background give the game a life of it’s own. For being a 2D platformer, it’s remarkable how much detail was put into the backgrounds that move as Samus does. I haven’t seen that level of detail in many 3DS games, especially for parts of the game that don’t directly affect gameplay. It is something I don’t normally expect from a 3DS game, so when I noticed it, I was impressed. The animations of Samus and the enemies are also smooth and well done. I haven’t noticed any framerate issues which is good since the game requires a lot of quick and frequent moves.

The combat is pretty fluid and overall good. The variety of ways you have to kill enemies is impressive. It’s not just using the main beam weapon to shoot creatures, but there are bombs and missiles that can be used to dispatch the creepy crawlers and flying monsters. There is also a melee attack that can be used to stun enemies, which I believe is a new feature. Fighting the Metroids themselves is increasingly difficult and varied. There are some Metroids that are less evolved than their brethren and they can be dispatched with less effort than the more advanced ones. As the game progressed, I was surprised that some of the easier Metroids reappeared as I was expecting more complex ones as the game progressed. Granted, they were stronger versions of the same ones that I faced earlier, but the complexity of the fights didn’t change, just the duration. Some of the battles with Metroids can be tough, but doable, and I like that! There are some that just fly back forth dive bombing Samus and those ones are relatively easy. There are others that will also dive bomb, but also walk on the ground, and spit fire or acid at Samus, or use circular AoE attacks that have to be avoided. In general, the variety of the Metroid battles helps keep the game fresh while reusing the same Metroid battles helps keep the game familiar. It is a nice combination of the two.

Exploring the environment is a lot of fun! Whenever I unlock a new item, such as the Grapple Beam or Super Missiles, I try and remember where I found a spot that my progress had been hindered so I can go back there and explore new rooms. Sometimes upon entering a new room, I get sidetracked from going to where I know the next Metroid is because I want to find every hidden path leading from off it. After exploring little tunnels leading off a room, or working my way up a rather tall cavern, I am like “Oh yeah, there is a Metroid at the bottom I need to kill” and I temporarily end my exploring. I constantly find myself revisiting old areas hoping I can find something that will either grant Samus a new ability of increase her reserves of missiles, health or Aeon energy.

I wish I hadn’t slept on the franchise before and I look forward to playing Super Metroid on the SNES classic and Metroid Prime 4 on the Switch when that comes out. If Nintendo releases the other Prime games on the Switch Virtual Console at some point, I will likely play them as well.

In conclusion, I think Metroid: Samus Returns is a great game! The visuals and gameplay drew me in. While the exploration, and enemy variety help keep the game from getting too monotonous. I highly recommend this game for anyone with a 3DS (or New 2DS) and don’t let not playing other Metroid games keep you from playing this. It is a highly enjoyable experience that has left me craving more games where I can shoot those gelatinous creatures with claws into bits!

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