Metroid Samus Returns: The Veteran vs The Rookie
We put a seasoned bounty hunter up against a new blood and gauge their reactions to Metroid: Samus Returns.
We recently had the pleasure of sitting down for a good 90 minutes with Metroid: Samus Returns, the shiny 3DS remake of 1991's Metroid II: The Return of Samus. With two players in the office at very opposite ends of the spectrum, we decided to put the seasoned Vetroid and retro gaming aficionado Alex Kidman up against Daniel Rindfleish, a year 10 student on work experience with finder who is about as old as Metroid II itself.
Alex has a long history writing about video games. From Gamespot to CNET to PlayStation Magazine Australia, you can find Alex's musings across just about every tech and gaming publication in Australia. Still to this day, you can find his ramblings on everything retro over at his personal blog Fat Duck Tech.
In the other corner, we have Daniel. Dan is an aspiring journalist with a fondness for modern day FPS who admits he was totally oblivious to the Metroid series before getting his hands on Metroid: Samus Returns (the horror!).
Nonetheless, we put a 3DS in the hands of both the seasoned veteran and the bushy-tailed newcomer to see if Samus Returns lives up to Metroid's 2D legacy, and if it has enough polish to appeal to the younger generation of gamers. Here are their thoughts.
Metroid: Samus Returns: A veteran's impressions by Alex Kidman
Samus Aran and I are old friends. I don't mean that she turns up for family BBQs, although her charge beam would be handy to give the steaks some sizzle from time to time.
No, what I mean is that I've been playing Metroid games for a very long time now, all the way back to the NES original, which still sits on my games shelf to this day, as does every other Metroid game. Yep, even the rather pale Metroid title in NintendoLand, but the less said about that the better.
My familiarity means that I've been responsible for countless deaths of Samus Aran, whether it's from being dropped in lava, eaten alive by alien beasties or, of course, conquered by Metroids over and over again. Frankly, it's surprising that she still responds when I tap on a D-Pad because she must truly hate me for all I've done to her.
Still, it's that intense difficulty curve and passion for exploration that makes the 2D Metroid games my particular favourites. The 3D Metroids are great games, no doubt, but I'll always return to the series' 2D roots, and especially Super Metroid whenever I need a "satisfyingly tough game" fix.
When Nintendo announced that it was remaking Metroid II, my interest was piqued, but then so too was my apprehension. Nintendo loves making money by selling the same games to gamers over and over again. If all Metroid Returns was going to be was a fresh coat of paint over the same game design that's existed for (gulp) 26 years now, I was less keen.
Having spent an hour rushing through the game's introductory sequence, my enthusiasm was fired up all over again. In order to reacquaint myself properly, I grabbed my copy of Metroid II off the shelf and fired up a Gameboy the night before to remind myself of the basics of the series at that point in time.
While there's plenty in Metroid: Samus Returns that's broadly evocative of Metroid II, and you'd think it was a rip off if it were any other publisher, there's also plenty of new content here. If it were just Metroid II in a fancy new skin, I should have been able to roar through much of it with ease, but instead, I was exploring an entirely new planet, with new challenges, hidden routes and a refined control methodology.
Nintendo doesn't want me spoiling too many of the surprises, but it has already announced the ability to counter attack. This changes the way the game plays in a very marked fashion. It's not just a block move, but also one that leaves enemies stunned temporarily. What's more, for just a split second, Samus will automatically aim at a countered foe no matter their relative position, allowing you to potentially pick them off with a single shot. It's neat and emergent gameplay that makes me feel like I'm in control beyond the usual jumping and shooting.
Naturally, I'm not, and that's because Metroid: Samus Returns, at least in its introductory phases, shows serious signs of getting what it is that makes the 2D Metroid games so very special. I'm alone on a dark, hostile alien planet, fighting for every inch of exploration and gradually improving my abilities, whether it's the classic morph ball or charge shot, not to mention the [REDACTED].
Which I wouldn't do anyway because some surprises are best left for the gamer involved to find out. It's only a month or so before Metroid: Samus Returns hits the 3DS and 2DS, and I for one cannot wait.
Metroid: Samus Returns: A rookie's impressions by Daniel Rindfleish
I’d never touched a Metroid game before; in fact, I had not even heard of the series before. However, I have spent countless hours playing my fair share of FPS titles. Most recently, I have been breaking controllers thanks to the Crash Bandicoot remake. So when the opportunity to play the side-scrolling Metroid: Samus Returns arose, I was fairly confident thanks to my experience with platforming and shooting things.
Sitting next to a veteran player, I felt slightly out of place. Frankly, I was a bundle of nerves and excitement.
I was worried that I wouldn’t understand the story that I was about to immerse myself in and a little concerned that I wouldn't be able to adapt to the controls on the 3DS (being a console gamer).
After a swift introduction and spending around an hour playing through the game, most of my concerns were thrown out the window. The controls were easy to figure out and I had grown comfortable with Metroid’s unique button layout within a few minutes. There was no challenge in discovering your basic jump and shoot buttons. The real task was in swiftly combining buttons and sequences to effectively defeat enemies. On numerous occasions, I came within moments of death, an experience I didn’t want to endure in the company of a seasoned Metroid fan like Alex. But I managed to slug my way through it by spamming my primary attack, countering melee attacks at opportune times and running for it whenever necessary.
Although I only had the opportunity to play the game for around an hour, I managed to gain a brief understanding of the story of Samus Aran. I can’t reveal too much information around what we experienced in Metroid: Samus Return’s opening moments, but it did provide enough context for a newcomer like me to eagerly take up the challenge.
If I’m honest, I wasn’t expecting very much from a remake of a 16-year old platformer, but I was pleasantly surprised by Metroid: Samus Returns. I had never thought too much about older games that came before my time, but this has left me wondering about what I’ve been missing out on.
Whether I was mastering the button combinations or cowardly running from enemies, I was constantly having fun with Samus Returns. As a newcomer to the series, I was impressed. Samus Returns provides a subtle but intriguing story, a solid challenge and, most importantly, some intense platforming action.
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