Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Another Metroid 2 Remake

For the 30th Anniversary the fan project Another Metroid 2 Remake produced by Milton 'DoctorM64' Guasti has been released in its first full version. Nintendo already has taken actions against it and you can't really blame them, since it's their IP, but you still might be able to find it somewhere. It's out in the public.

And I can only encourage every Metroid fan to play it, because it remakes Metroid II - Return of Samus in the 16-bit graphics and play style of Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion and Zero Mission. It also adds beam stacking and some items such as Super Missiles, Power Bombs and the Speed Booster that weren't featured in the original game.

You can easily compare this to Zero Mission, where they re-imagined the first game in a wonderful way, just without that terrible Zero Suit part - which is a good thing. I hated the parts in both Fusion and Zero Mission, where you have to run away from foes. In AM2R it's all about confrontation and hunting down all the Metroid in their various forms.

The game can still be very challenging, particularly the later Metroid forms and some of the mid boss fights can be very tough and might need you to retry a couple of times. I remembered the Torizo fight to be especially troublesome and also the final boss fight against the Metroid Queen. You really need to master these fights and you can't just expect to randomly survive them.

This is also, where you realize that you might want to backtrack and find these last Energy Tanks and Super Missile Packs to help you with the battle. And Metroid II wasn't particularly suited for back tracking, quite the opposite. The world was following a long tunnel through the planet SR388, where you have larger areas at the sidelines that are explored one by another. Going all the way back to the first area is not something that you'd want to do. Luckily AM2R provides a series of tubes that connect all the areas with each other, which gets accessible towards the end. The only problem is that the final area doesn't seem to be connected in such a way, while that's probably where you realize that you're still missing stuff (Update: version 1.1 added a shortcut to the final area as well). And then you have to follow a loooong tunnel to get back to the areas...

And it's easy to miss something, because the items are all very well hidden in creative ways - there is even an entirely optional area to be found that wasn't there in the original game. You also need some slight skill and have to use Shinesparking for a couple of items, where it might even feel overused at some points. You discover a secret item somewhere only to realize that yet again you need the Speed Booster to get it. But it never turns to the extremes of Fusion and Zero Mission, luckily, where you had to shinespark through multiple hallways and similar nonsense. Going for the 100% in AM2R was quite doable and enjoyable.

The areas are also all very well done. Metroid II kind of provides a blank canvas, because the theme of the game pretty much was "spelunking". You explore caves and hunt Metroids. AM2R tries to stay faithful to the original world design, while at the same time it adds "themes" to the individual areas, like technological stuff or underwater sections. Some of it doesn't feel all too original, but it's certainly better than what the original had and still fits the original game world nicely.

And the music is just wonderful. There are some new themes, which are really good, as well as remixes not only from Metroid II, but also other Metroid games such as Super Metroid and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. The soundtrack alone makes this worthwhile and is a massive improvement over the original.

If you like fan fictions, there's also a massive logbook about all the major enemies and areas that you can study. It also never gets in the way, you can press "Start" whenever a new log entry gets recorded to read it or just ignore it and keep playing, because it's non-canon anyway.

Controls are also spot on and provide options for the Metroid playstyle that you like best. For example you can switch between items in the same way as in Super Metroid or you can hold a button for Super Missiles and Power Bombs, as it was done Zero Mission. You can activate or deactivate auto grapple and auto Morph Ball functions. And more. It fully supports joypads and lets you customize everything in the way you prefer it.

There are still some issues and bugs, e.g. it happened to me that I fell through the entire world, which was pretty crazy. Some of the boss fights may need some further balancing and the later enemy design was all about "running into Samus", which gets annoying easily. The vertical transition between areas can also be troublesome, if you're in the middle of space jumps, because then it just keeps switching between the screens and it's hard to land. So, it's not perfect yet, where it's a shame that it might be difficult to find the updated versions of the game in the future.

But overall this is a very fine product and a true masterpiece of fan games that doesn't have to hide from anything that Nintendo has done with the franchise. Nintendo wouldn't be ill advised to hire the people from the AM2R team and have them work on an eShop version of the game. I would gladly buy it!

1 comment:

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

While I have issues with the Zero Suit section of Zero Mission, I always adored being hunted by the SA-X on Fusion. The feeling of powerlessness really gets to me, especially during the section where the station's power goes down and you're really helpless. It feels like a haunted house. You only start becoming truly powerful once you defeat the Nightmare and acquire the Gravity Suit. Afterwards, you really feel like the tables have turned. It's a nice feeling.