With the imminent release of Metroid: Samus Returns, members of the team have gathered to express what they are most looking forward to from the upcoming title.
While I’m greatly treasuring the experience as a whole, I think what excites me most about Samus Returns is both its ambience and the new additions Nintendo has included with this remake.
The ambience of the Metroid series is easily one of its best qualities, in my opinion. Many adventure games and RPGs have the main protagonist meet a variety of people, often befriending them and receiving their aid during the game, but most Metroid games featured Samus and Samus alone. She’s always been this lone, no-nonsense, get-the-job-done bounty hunter, trekking through every kind of environment imaginable, her isolation adding to the gritty, dire situations in which she often finds herself. However, recent Metroid titles have shied away from that, with the Galactic Federation playing a much more prominent role. To be clear, I have nothing against this and welcome different experiences with Metroid games (I loved Fusion, for example), but I’m glad that my next adventure with Samus will be a solitary one, even if it is just a remake.
Speaking of the fact that it’s a remake, from the footage released so far, I’m quite happy with the new additions that Nintendo has supplemented to Samus’ arsenal. As much as I love Metroid II, it hasn’t aged the most gracefully and much of its gameplay could easily be considered archaic. The new additions, such as the Melee Counter, Free Aim, and the Aeion Abilities, help bring something fresh to the table without taking away from the core Metroid II experience. The brilliant thing about them is that many of the new features are optional; purists can simply opt not to use them if they so choose, while everyone who wishes to, can. Methods of fast travel, Save Stations, and Energy Stations will also help negate much of the redundancy featured in the original game. Even the fights with the various Metroid forms have been updated, with some of them sporting new abilities, so veterans of the game will also be kept on their toes.
Obviously, I can’t say for certain, but from what I’ve observed, it appears as if the core Metroid II experience is still present in full but with a shiny new coat of paint to boot. Is it September 15th yet?
As it was my first Metroid game, Fusion has had an impact on the tone and worldbuilding I imagine of the series, at least outside of the Prime trilogy. Fusion took elements of SR388 into its plot and part of its design, with Sector 1 being a recreation of SR388 environments. The connection was as clear as day, as many enemies from Metroid II were inserted into this artificial environment, the majority of which have never featured in any games besides these two. So, I must ask, how will Samus Returns take the continuity Fusion presented into mind?
The first and most obvious point is the Fusion suit, offered through a special unlock with the Metroid amiibo. This is largely a superficial visual nod, but it’s acknowledgement nonetheless. Designs of early enemies, such as the Hornoad, have also taken Fusion to heart. From the first trailer, closer examination of the music playing in the latter, more action-packed half bears resemblance to the Arachnus boss theme from Fusion too (fun fact: the Berserker Lord theme from Prime 3 also draws inspiration from this theme).
My hopes are that other musical themes from Fusion get the remix treatment too, an obvious pick being the Sector 1 theme. Lastly, I hope some plot elements are taken into consideration. Will the X feature in the story to any capacity? How much involvement will the Federation have with their research teams? Only time will tell.
Samus Returns… nothing could more appropriately describe it. Our Hunter has lain dormant for nearly seven years since our last adventure with her (barring a spinoff last year where you have to fight her), but now, she’s coming back with a vengeance. I am ecstatic. I look at my calendar every morning hoping it is September 15th already, when she and I will fight side by side once again. Since it was announced, I have planned to spend hours and hours hunting Metroids, collecting the power-ups, and tearing through any enemies that get in my way, all with the classic soundtrack from the good old days blasting in my ears. Speaking of tearing through enemies, Samus Returns lets us do precisely that without any cumbersome point-blank Arm Cannon action. The Melee Counter is a fantastic addition to this new take on Metroid II. Other M experimented with melee combat with mixed success, but this is different. Gone are the days of jumping or leaping over adversaries to avoid them. Now you can actually fight back when enemies get too close. I look forward to mastering the challenge of the Melee Counter and Samus Returns as a whole. I’ve missed you, Samus. Welcome back.
I know that it’s usually the lowest priority when it comes to classic 2D Metroid games, but I’m actually really curious to see how they can improve and expand on the story. The plot of Metroid II is pretty straightforward: kill all the Metroids, and that’s it. However, in a similar vein to Zero Mission, I’m hoping Samus Returns will flesh out the story a bit more. The fact that the introduction of the game actually mentions the Federation troops that were sent on SR388 (up until now, they’d only been briefly mentioned in the manual of the original game) makes me hope that they’ll do something with that plot point, for example. Maybe we can learn more about what happened to them. I mean, it’s pretty obvious what happened to them, yes, but, just like that unknown soldier found in Kraid’s lair in Super Metroid, maybe Samus Returns can acknowledge their presence on the planet and their tragic story with the use of environmental storytelling, something the Metroid series has always excelled at.
I’m also hoping for a playable epilogue in the same vein as Zero Mission’s. It doesn’t necessarily have to feature Zero Suit Samus, but I’ll be ecstatic if the game has a little surprise waiting for us right after (or right before!) our encounter with the Queen Metroid. That being said, maybe that’s just the part of me wanting this game to never end that’s speaking here! The mysterious Aeion energy also intrigues me. This energy and the abilities using it are new to this remake, and it’s never been properly explained where it comes from. Was it engineered by the Chozo living on SR388? Is it the work of a different race? Could it be tied to the X parasites, somehow? I also noticed a song called “Chozo Laboratory” on the game’s soundtrack… but I don’t recall there ever being one in the original Metroid II, so what if this was a new area? Could we be exploring a new part of SR388, learning more about the link between the Chozo, the Aeion energy, and the X parasites? The possibilities are endless!
I am very passionate about the music of Metroid and incredibly excited to hear the music of Metroid: Samus Returns. The original Metroid II: Return of Samus didn’t have a great deal in the way of memorable music, yet it served its purpose in creating an atmospheric experience despite the limitations of the Game Boy hardware. Based on the footage we have seen already, Samus Returns seems to nail the atmosphere. An example of this is a gentler approach to the planet SR388’s Depths theme heard near the beginning of the game, which is mysterious and beautiful. There is also an arrangement of Lower Norfair from Super Metroid with its familiar brass and choirs to complement a superheated area of the game.
Much to my delight, Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano return to provide the music to the game. Both musicians have been connected with the Metroid franchise as far back as Super Metroid and have made notable contributions to the series throughout the years. I’m thankful that the game will feature an unlockable sound test once the game is completed, and special editions of the game will come with a twenty-five-track album called Samus Archives, featuring music from across the series.
All in all, the producers of Metroid: Samus Returns seem to have placed a great deal of importance on the sound of the game, and I cannot wait to hear more when I finally go hands-on with it!
Published on 13th August 2017