After several years of radio silence from Nintendo, the Metroid series is back with not one, but two brand new titles. One will be a first-person, 3D adventure, continuing the Prime subseries with Metroid Prime 4. The other, Metroid: Samus Returns, is actually a souped-up enhanced remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus. Did you know what kind of impact this game had on the franchise?
Metroid II was, clearly, the sequel to the first Metroid, and marked the first handheld entry for the series, having been developed for the original Game Boy. It arrived in North America in November 1991 before making its way to Japan and Europe early the following year. The story chronicled Samus Aran as she sought to hunt down and destroy the titular Metroid creatures before the villainous Space Pirates could capture them and use them as weapons. Eventually, Samus destroys the Queen Metroid and begins returning to her ship; however, a small Metroid egg hatches and the newborn imprints on Samus, thinking she is its mother. Unable to destroy the hatchling, she takes it with her and leaves the planet, which in turns sets up the story of Super Metroid.
While Metroid II was considered a high point for graphics on the Game Boy at the time – it came extremely close to how the first game looked and played on the NES – the system’s limitations and black-and-white color palette meant some things clearly had to be changed. Most important was the fact that Samus’ Varia Suit needed to be given a more distinctive look; the big, rounded shoulders were added to the Varia Suit in order to give players a visual cue that the suit had been upgraded. This change became permanent for future entries, and has become Samus’ signature look.
The game sold well for a handheld entry – it moves 1.72 million units worldwide – but is considered by many to be one of the weaker entries in the franchise at large. However, many fans believed that the sequel expanded on the original in a nice way, and the fact that it blends perfectly into Super Metroid (easily the best and most influential game in the series) has given it some weight.
The official remake, Metroid: Samus Returns, will be adding a number of gameplay improvements to the original, plus an obvious huge graphical upgrade. It arrives September 15, 2017, and will introduce this story to a whole new generation of gamers.