(GB / Game Boy)

Metroid II: Return of Samus (GB / Game Boy)

Game Review

Metroid II: Return of Samus Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Exploring colourless lands

When Metroid was first released it was a unique game: with a lot of exploring to do across a giant map and with plenty of hidden items and paths, those willing to spend the time to find everything were well rewarded. The original title has aged fairly poorly though — the game lacks many things we take for granted nowadays, one being that there is no map, so your only options are to try and remember every path or draw a crude map yourself.

You'd expect it to be well known whether the sequel rectifies these issues, but for some reason Metroid II: Return of Samus seems to be the most overlooked entry in the series. Is that because it's a bad game, or just because not a lot of people know about it? This release on the 3DS Virtual Console gives this title another chance to make its case.

Taking place after Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and before Super Metroid in the series timeline, Samus has been ordered to travel to SR388, the Metroid home planet, to exterminate every remaining specimen once and for all and prevent the Space Pirates from using them again. With that basic premise in hand, it becomes clear that this game is much, much more linear than the first. SR388 is divided into different levels — progress into the planet's deeper regions is blocked by a huge vertical tunnel filled with lava, with exits to the sides leading off to relatively small separate areas housing Metroid nests. Killing a certain number of Metroids will (somehow) cause the lava to lower, granting you access to deeper, more challenging sections of the planet.

As with most titles in the series, the most famous "regular" Metroids don't actually appear until near the end of the game. Before that, you'll mostly be killing Metroids in different stages of their evolution — Alpha, Gamma, Zeta and Omega. Naturally, they become much stronger and faster as you progress, so when you encounter stronger types you need to have some spare lives ready. There's a total of 39 Metroids to kill to eliminate the species, with the last naturally being the biggest test.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Metroid game without various power-ups. Aside from the collectible Missile Expansions and Energy Tanks, you'll get pretty much every single thing which was also in the first game — Morph Ball Bombs, Ice and Wave Beams, the Varia Suit, High Jump Boots, the Screw Attack and more. This title also introduces many more power-ups which have since returned for other games in the series - the Space Jump Boots, Spider Ball and Plasma Beam, to name a few. Not all equipment is necessary to beat the game, but it'll certainly make it a lot easier.

One of the biggest issues with the first Metroid game was the immense difficulty you'd face after dying; there was no easy way to restore life and missiles, meaning you'd have to keep killing enemies in the hopes of them dropping health and ammo for you. Metroid II seriously improves on this, although it's still not exactly perfect. Scattered around the various locales of SR388 are energy and missile-restoring "hot spots". Running into either of these icons will fully restore the thing they represent. They're still a far cry from Super Metroid's health-restoring save points, but anything is better than spending an hour regaining life and ammo. Metroid II also features save points, made possible by a battery backup in the original Game Boy cart. When these are combined with the Virtual Console restore point and suspend state functions, there are plenty of save options to help you through the game.

Graphically this title is fine: the background in almost every area is entirely black, but the platforms in the foreground and the enemies on and around them are all quite detailed, so you can easily identify what you're trying to kill. Perhaps the game's only bad point is the music. Some of the areas have basic tunes which, although not really good, are somewhat catchy, but most places seem to have what sounds like an attempt at ambient sounds — random bleeps and bloops which are supposed to be environmental tones. Sadly, this doesn't really work and they tend to get annoying after hearing them again and again.


Metroid II expands on the original title quite nicely. There's still no map for the game's giant world, but because it's fairly linear it shouldn't really be a problem most of the time. There's still a decent amount of exploration and hidden items to find, and the hunt to find and kill the 39 Metroids is fairly fun. Although nowhere near the 2D masterpiece that is Super Metroid, Metroid II has held up better than the original game and as such is still very much worth playing.

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User Comments (46)



EarthboundBenjy said:

Play the Game Boy cartridge an GBC or a GBA, and you get colour! Samus is orange, environments are blue, and missile doors are red. If you have access to the cartridge, it's a much nicer experience that way.



Link79 said:

I didn't really get into Metroid until I played this one.
It's the game that got me hooked on the series.



TikiTong said:

Heres what they should do for this game. Just like Link's Awakening, make a version of this called....i dunno something like Mettroid II: Return of Samus DX, which is the same game with color and a couple new features.



grumblebuzzz said:

I played a bit of this yesterday. It's okay but almost sort of boring considering there's no real bosses and the overworld enemies are somewhat bland. I like the bleepy-boopy quality of the music though and the graphics, although monochromatic, are pretty nice for a Gameboy title. I feel like this score of 7 is pretty accurate.



rogue_agent said:

Marcel, As far as I remember, Super Metroid had save points but they were not health-restoring - just standard save points.



Kid_A said:

I haven't played very much of the game, but so far I'm surprised at how much this game improved upon its predecessor's controls.



Link245 said:

@4 Actually, Nintendo was planning on making a color version like Link's Awakening, but it got cancelled.



Hokori said:

this game is fun, but hard.... I cant find any more metroids and ive only killed 1



MeloMan said:

Time to play the only Metroid left I have never played... oh, and Metroid Other M, once I get a Wii U... stupid dual layered disc read issue (or I may finally break down and send my Wii in for repair).



arrmixer said:

@thomas I remember that!! I used "nintendo Power" . It was my game guide back in the day for tons of games....

good game



TKOWL said:

I'll probably really enjoy this one. 2D Metroid is definitely my thing.



Geonjaha said:

It's pretty good. No colour is a big letdown for this game, but for a gameboy colour game it's still 8/10.



Adam said:

The black and white goes with the slight horror vibe you get as you are constantly unsure when you will happen upon another Metroid... and of course you always hear that creepy music that lets you know right when you're low on energy.



Deviant_Mugen said:

An excellent game. While I do own the original cart (and have for a while), I'll definitely re-purchase it once I own a 3DS. A 10/10 in my book (but I'm very biased when it comes to Metroid)...

@Marcel: As rogue_agent said, Super Metroid did have save points, but they didn't restore your health. Super Metroid also had health and missile restoring stations like this game...



Henmii said:

Nice review! Not a massive score, but still worth a download someday for a Metroid fan such as myself!



Kage_88 said:

Benn playing a bit of it, and I'm enjoying it.

Still, the lack of colour can make traversing the environments quite difficult, as it's hard to differentiate areas. Overall, though, this is an impressive Game Boy game!



TheGreenSpiny said:

7/10? Are you kidding me? This game deserves no less than an 8/10, and that's only because of the hardware restrictions (lack of color, ect.). I'm not sure why Metroid 1 & 2 always get the shaft and Zelda 1 & 2 are still so highly reguarded. These games have held up far better than the NES Zelda games.

@Bass_XO: Thanks for the link... Now I can finally finish the game. lol

@Link245: The game is in color, as somebody pointed out. This is a Super Game Boy Game Pak. Until Nintendo releases color options for the Super Game Boy Paks I'm not going to by this one.



Tryken said:

I agree with you, TheDarkness. Metroid is almost always jipped by the game community and many journalists. I think the NES Metroid had one of the best NES soundtracks and was enjoyable. The difficulty IS a turn off in it, as it's brutal, but there were many NES games I've never beaten that were still a blast.

Then again, I also think Metroid Other M is an amazing title that explores a very human Samus. Most gamer guys were mad because they didn't want their crazy stoic BA woman to be human.



Wolfpacleader1986 said:

Linear my ! I spent FOUR HOURS trying to figure out where I had to go next, until I went to my ship and used a map to get where I needed to be.

To give a better example, I had 200 missiles, five energy tanks(which for some reason is the max you can carry as I picked up a sixth and it didn't credit me as such), the Plasma Beam, and all power ups except the Screw Attack and I STILL had 18 Metroids remaining.....



grumblegrumble said:

@TheDarkness totally agree with you 110%! This game deserves a 8/10, I would give it a 9/10 simply because it's greyscale, but other than that, its an awesome gaming achievement on the device it was intended to be played on, and as an avid retro gaming fan and player, this game is on one of my top 10 all time 'best' gameboy games list. A+



joco127 said:

Definitely deserves better than a 7. It has virtually no weaknesses that aren't directly related to its age and the capabilities of the hardware at the time. Remember, back when Metroid II came out, it was a pretty creepy game. As a kid, it took me days to get over my fear of Gamma Metroids.

And the opening music track that begins once you start the game is absolutely one of the best of all time.



kurtasbestos said:

Maaaaaaaaaan, I loved this game. The best was how it managed to scare the crap out of me as a kid when I'd enter a room expecting to fight a Metroid I've already killed, but then the thing turns into some gigantic hideous beast that was way tougher than the last one. I love all the Metroid games, but that alone makes it the most memorable to me.



mayhem13 said:

This got me into the Metroid series, I remember renting Metroid on the NES and I probably got like 3% complete in the week that I had it. Brutal...Brutal. Too brutal. This was much easier but it made me a fan because of that. Since I never beat the Metroid on NES or read any game magazines when I was younger, I did not know Samus was a girl until many years later. And I called her Metroid not Samus. I also called Link, Zelda. Anyway to me its a classic and a 10 out of 10. I think it has dated well, its still fun, I'd say 9 out of 10. Its one of those Gameboy games that MADE the Gameboy.



Spagem said:

lol i called samus metroid to when i got my NES metroid. i couldnt beat the game either so i didnt know samus was a girl until i got super smash bros brawl



Nilkad_Naquada said:

@tryken: actually, i was upset because i didn't want my crazy Stoic BA woman To be a wuss who breaks down at the sight of ridley despite the fact that she's beaten him 3 or 4 times.



naut said:

Being a small-scale, mapless Metroid title, making the game more linear was a wise choice on the dev's part. I have fond memories of playing this on an emulator with my cousin at my grandma's house.



noxusprime06 said:

i didnt care for this one cause like the first game it didnt have a map so i got lost very very easily XD



CrimsonMoonMist said:

This one is up there with Wario Land 2 and Link's Awakening as some of my favorite GB games. the way you gradually traverse the planet makes the lack of a map less of an issue than the original without having the areas be too small a la Fusion. The control is undeniably more solid and the powerups are ballin'. Graphics are pretty dang good as well for what it is.
The hunting for Metroids are quite addictive as well in the 'just gonna find one more' way.
The few issues I do have are the lack of music, bosses and that one too many missile expansion is outright given to you. I assume this is deliberate since you live and die by missiles in this game, but still.



SLiM said:

I finally got this as a download from Club Nintendo. I could not stop playing this game once I started. I recommend pulling up the map from Nintendo Power to make the game more enjoyable. A great game from start to finish!



Capt_N said:

@TheGreenSpiny: Metroid II was not a SGB enhanced game pak. However, in an issue of, I believe, Nintendo Power, there was a color screenshot of this on a purple Gameboy Color. It's unknown if the image was a mock-up, or really getting the Color treatment, like Link's Awakening did.

Yeah, it is easy to get lost in this game. But, much like others have said, & I will paraphrase, pretty much the lack of color, making it incredibly easy to get lost quick, combined w/ the fact that as an early GB title, the game over-reuses design structures, making areas identical, & very hard to differentiate. Plus, the music/sfx, or lack of. Yes, I would also say this score is very accurate.

Due to the lack of color options, if I will d/l this, I will do so using my Club Nintendo coins this month. I just tonight typed in a CN survey that until Nintendo allow us to 1.play GB games w/ Super Gameboy customizations options, 2.play Super Gameboy game paks with the on-cartridge enhancements, & 3.allow us to play multi-mode carts in the mode we want, then most of my VC purchases will not include any of the Gameboy line prior to the GBC.

I also told Nintendo I'd buy more, if they implemented a decent, & working account-based system.



MC808 said:

Surely was a mock-up.
For a Metroid game this is kind of weak.
Super, Fusion, Zero, Prime has spoiled me. Perhaps I'd feel differently if this was the first Metroid game I played.



Magrane said:

I like how one of the reviewer's main gripes was that there's a lack of a "map" feature. And that you have to draw the map yourself.

..........Really? This kid just gave his age away. This is just one of the cool features of Metroid in general, or any expansive adventure game in those times. You have to work at it to finish it, even if it means drawing a 'crude' map or waiting for the latest issue of EGM or Nintendo Power.

I don't think it's a reason to complain at all. Today's gaming generation seriously has their Master Swords handed to them......smh



Sherman said:

I came here to see if I should get this as a Club Nintendo reward, and then I see over there you being quoted, @Drake


Great job, by the way

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