Sooooooooo, this is out! My copy should hopefully be arriving after work (if not, my weekend plans might change a bit!)
I've been really pumped for this, because Metroid II is the only main Metroid I've yet to play (I haven't played AM2R either), so this is for all intents a brand new Metroid game for me while also kinda filling in that last gap in the canon.
I agree that designing Metroid games with those sorts of areas is generally for the best, but I don't necessarily think it would work in the case of Metroid 2. I think it would conflict with the tone.
In Metroid 2, you're descending into the belly of the beast. You start at the surface and slowly make your way down to the deepest depths of the planet. As the environments become more hostile and the Metroids take on increasingly frightening forms, it can feel like you're descending into the depths of hell. You're constantly moving down, things are getting scarier, and Samus's chances of survival decrease. This sensation of making a deep descent into the most dangerous planet Samus has ever visited would be undermined if the player had to make a quick run back to the surface so samus can pick up a missle upgrade. If you can leave this oppressive pit at the push of a button, it loses its impact. The original game didn't have a fast travel and AM2R didn't introduce such a feature until very late in the game, and I think either of those options are superior to this versions warp system.
Sure, from a pure gameplay perspective it is better to let the player fast travel to early areas so they don't have to retrace their steps too much. And putting necessary upgrades in branches that extend off of older areas makes the player feel like they've progressed and discovered a new layer to a familiar zone. But for the sake of the overall experience of Metroid 2- what you get when you combine the visuals, the gameplay, the music, the story- I think it is for the best that progression is largely linear. Otherwise the tone, environmental design, setting, and story lose their teeth. I feel that keeping progression mostly linear makes it a stronger overall package.
Man, I'll have a lot of reading to catch up with once I finish this.
Currently at 68% with 4 Metroids left to go. Been doing a fair amount of backtracking for upgrades after every few new powerups and taking my time pushing ahead. I must say, I think because of the nature of some of the enemies, finally getting certain powerups feels more satisfying here than in other Metroid games. Most notably when you get the plasma beam. That really turns the tide as far as the combat is concerned.
And that boss in Area 6...wow! Definitely one of the better and more challenging 2D Metroid bosses. Although I was a little annoyed how arbitrary it felt that only bombs could damage it during its last form, when doing its Kirby suck. When I was trying to figure out what to do to damage it at that point, when I saw that it would suck up my missiles I suspected that was the right approach. I thought for sure that the key was going to be slowing down time and firing a barrage of missiles, but that wasn't it. So it was a little lame when I later tried using bombs and that did damage it. I think that part of the fight could have been better designed. That it still sucks in your missiles but they don't do any damage because reasons, I dunno...it was a bit of a blight on an otherwise terrific battle.
Yeah, this game is pretty awesome. There's a lot of game here, and most of it's really good.
I mean, I like this game, but I dunno why you guys are so ga-ga over the soundtrack! Can I have some links or something to the best songs? My favorite tunes in the game are probably a couple of really late ones against the last handful of Metroids. Most of the other songs are either the handful from past games, or just environmental noise.
I wanted to hear this janky-a song again!
(Although they do very subtlely remix it in some of the caverns, but it's a much more withdrawn take)
The soundtrack didn't stand out to me either. It served its role well enough, but I didn't find it noteworthy, especially by Metroid standards. I'm hard pressed to remember any tracks that weren't pretty much exactly as they were in another game.
I had a HOLY SHIT moment earlier today. At 80% and doing one more pass of the earlier areas before I push forward towards the last few Metroids. To get a few of the tough-to-get upgrades, I discovered something I didn't know I could do. There were a few spots where it felt like there was nothing I could do but shinespark to get there, but since I have all the upgrades, that seemed like a bit of an issue.
I was starting to think about waiting and seeing if I'd get another ability, when I discovered the power bomb boost by accident! Wow! What finally got me thinking is when I found one of these spiky areas, I knew that if I had to do some sort of shinespark, it would have to be in ball mode because there was no room to run. My original idea was that you could charge up some sort of boost (ala Sonic) while in spider ball, and as I'm doing that, I set off a power bomb by accident and I almost threw my 3DS in disbelief as I went flying right up to that elusive upgrade!
Now I have to go back and check a few other spots now that I have this new knowledge, although for a couple of items I am truly perplexed. I feel like there has to be a way to directly bypass those green rocks for a couple of them, but at the same time, I've felt that way before and I eventually found another way to the item. I'll revisit a few of those spots and maybe I'll discover something else amazing by accident.
I really enjoyed this it overall. I think it's definitely at the top of my list as far as 2D Metroid games go (I prefer the Prime games overall). While there are some things about this game that could be better, it does so many other things at a very high level. And while Super, Fusion and Zero Mission all have at least one thing about them that really infuriates me, Samus Returns does not; call that a tie-breaker.
I put about 20 hours into it, which is pretty crazy in and of itself. Generally speaking, I think the game hit a low point around Area 3. That area just isn't especially well designed from a map standpoint, and doesn't have you doing a whole lot that's compelling. One of my issues with the game is that each area doesn't really stand out much aesthetically from the others, and there are even a lot of similarities in some of the maps. So there was no real point where I was thinking about an item I wanted to go back to and thought, "Oh yeah, that was in Area 2". It all really blurs together on that front.
So where Samus Returns really needed to excel (and I feel it did) is making sure that the objectives in each area and the events coinciding with them were really memorable, and from Area 4 onward I felt the game did a great job of mixing things up beyond just "find and eliminate X Metroids." Some of the boss fights in this game were excellent, Retro Studios-level stuff. There were also some really cool set piece moments on top of that. Overall, I think the game got better and better as it went along, and outside of the aforementioned Area 3, everything was really well done throughout.
When it comes down to it, 2D Metroid has never looked, played or sounded better. Adding to that just the amount of content, some of the new abilities, the boss fights...just the entire package, it's a really great Metroid game. Big props to MercurySteam. Hopefully their partnership with Nintendo will continue after this. I think they've earned a shot at making a fully brand new one of these.
Haha, that's good because a small part of me wondered if it was something that the game explained at some point and I just missed it. But genius as I may be, I was purely an accidental one in this case. While I'll give myself credit for being on the right track with the spider ball, the part where I set off a power bomb was me pressing the wrong button. I'll take it, though! Also, I was very happy/relieved when the baby Metroid was the key to getting past those green rocks. 100% was a breeze after that.
Reached 100% yesterday, and I'm really pleased with the game. I think it feels too structured and linear to come near Super Metroid, and despite the great background work I don't think it's quite as atmospheric, but it's definitely a successful Metroid. Beats Other M, Zero Mission, and probably Fusion in my book.
At the end of the game, the Ridley fight felt shoe-horned in as very transparent fan service, and the boss mechanics weren't all that interesting either, but everything surrounding it was so epic that I find it hard to complain too much. The game also did a much better job of giving us a sense of Samus's relationship with the little Metroid tyke than friggin' Other M.