SPOILERS AHEAD! If you want relatively spoiler free impressions, please check out my earlier post, or check out my thoughts on the game on my Top 111 (which ought to give you an idea that I liked it a lot). Okay, so here we go!
Metroid: Samus Returns is an excellent game that, if it were its own entity, would probably be earning a lot more praise than it already has. It does a lot of things right, and the last third stands up there for me among the greatest within the entire series. It just feels marvelous once Samus is all powered up, and some of the more nitpicky elements of her moveset are polished beautifully here. Wall jumping is smooth, the Space Jump isn’t as finicky, the X-Ray option is a simple button press and Samus can move around while using it, she can free aim, the Spider Ball and Grapple Beam are wonderfully used in some puzzles and in boss fights, and the new Aeion abilities and melee counter give her an extra layer of depth. There may be a bit too many outputs to access all of her skills, given you have to switch between beam and missile types via the touch screen, Aeion powers through the D-pad and missiles/beams with the right shoulder button, which can easily get mixed up in the heat of battle. That being said, Samus’ personality in this game is AWESOME. I love love love how she reacts to some events in the game, like the Power Bombs being swiped by the giant robot or how she finished that particular boss off. It’s great shit.
And when you find the Baby Metroid, it freaking joins you and it’s the best thing. Like god damn, what a great little piece of fanservice (unlike Samus still showing off her Zero Suit clad body in the ending, which I was not fast enough to earn but I am totally okay with not actually unlocking that). Just…stop. To add on the good stuff from the last post, the bosses are all excellent, with a lot of challenge and pleasure figuring out how to best tackle them. Ridley coming back at the end is kind of a bummer, because why must you add him into one of the couple of games he wasn’t actually in, and it disrupts the original intent of the ending (which I’ll get back to in a sec). Great fight, but felt like padding. The Queen and the new Robot boss were awesome, though. Loved them both, especially when I found secrets. And the primary goal of Metroid hunting is mostly fantastic. A few of the Gammas do this hide-and-seek thing which gets really old after the first time, but otherwise I adored these fights, especially the Zetas, which had me screaming with delight when I realized I could grapple them off of the ceiling. Omegas were super tough and I walked away from each fight feeling a real sense of accomplishment.
So the game might be the best feeling Metroid, but it does have some issues. I mentioned the enemy HP and respawn before, and while those issues mellow out as Samus powers up, it still made the early to midgame go a little slow. The music is really well composed, but most of it comes from Super or Prime, not from the game that this is supposed to be remaking. And speaking of lost identity, Metroid II, perhaps the most atmospheric and claustrophobic of all of the games in the series, lost nearly all of that tension and dread in the transition. When M2 was mostly done, you didn’t have enemies all over the place; just Metroids and then an eerie absence of life when the Baby is all that remains. Here there’s still the same swarms of baddies. Now the nature of the game’s ending and emphasis on getting the remainder of the items might of necessitated the choice to keep the aliens around, but it did stand out as a curious and unfortunate tonal shift.
So overall Metroid: Samus Returns is an excellent Metroid but I feel it isn’t the most idealized way to have remade Metroid II. And that’s okay. It’s still great times and has wonderful moments and was a lot of fun…especially once you get into it a little ways.