Kicking off a new series on TheDallasProspect.com, Plus/Minus serves as a written review of sorts for a game once it’s completed on the channel -whether by beating it or simply discontinuing. To be clear, we won’t be issuing an actual score in these reviews. What we will do is highlight its pros and cons to let you, the reader, decide whether or not it’s a title you’d be interested in picking up. So let’s get going!

First Impression
AM2R opens with a short series of captioned panels explaining how the Metroids have become such a threat to all life that the Galatic Federation has ordered their eradication from their homeworld, SR388. The top candidate for the job? Samus Aran, a renowned bounty hunter and former soldier within the Galatic Federation. To be honest, this opening narrative, while simple enough in conveying the plot of the game, leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, it’s skippable, and that’s great, but the panels are fan-made illustrations and feature some strange anatomically inaccurate depictions of the characters -I’m looking at you, baby hand! The text could also use a little revising. And the animation for Samu’s gunship landing? Ehhhhh. Minus

 

Controls
The controls of AM2R are tight and super responsive, feeling like a cross between Zero Mission and Super Metroid -two excellent titles to take model yourself after. What’s more, players are 100% free to go into the controls menu and customize them however they wish, making this a huge plus. Plus

 

Graphics
The graphics really shine as the game not only resembles other 2D Metroid titles but also goes a step beyond by integrating some breathtaking backgrounds and sprite physics. Water droplets burst when they hit Samus’s armor! Not just the ground, but her actual, freaking armor! What’s more, you can actually see the power ball turn as Samus changes directions! The stock footage explosions might leap out a bit since they’re so realistic rather than graphically matching, but it is oddly satisfying to watch a robotic sentry explode into nuts and bolts when you shoot it. Plus

 

Atmosphere
This entry here is what really tells me this was a true passion project for DoctorM64 and his team as the atmosphere feels like it’s ripped straight out of Super Metroid. It’s isolated, dark and dreary. You legitimately feel like you’re deep underground at any given moment. This attention to detail and nailing of the Metroid tone makes this fan game feel like an official Nintendo title. Plus

 

Sound Design
Given a lot of the sound design from this game is lifted straight from previous Metroid games, it’s not surprising its sound further lends to its official feel. However, the development team did include several unique sound effects of their own creation as well, which does offer a sliver of uniqueness. Plus

 

Replayability
This game was released just over a year ago and was only able to release one round of patches before Nintendo officially shut it down. Even still, I’ve played the entire game through to completion 4-5 times now and have specifically replayed the final boss fight 7-8 times just to rewatch the beautiful ending. What’s more, I can easily see playing it another 4-5 times at least. PLUS

 

Now for some specifics. This is the part where we delve deeper than the general overview to assess the highlights and flaws of a title.

 

The Omega Metroid is a big brute, but easily defeated with super missiles
The Omega Metroid is considered the pinnacle of the Metroid species as only one Queen Metroid was every bred by the Chozo, and then later cloned or something in Metroid: Other M (but we won’t discuss that disaster). Samus’s own scan log identifies this beast as the Apex predator of planet SR388, and considering how insanely dangerous the planet’s ecosystem is, that’s saying something! But I feel like the Omega Metroid was introduced too late in the game. Sure, if it corners you, it’ll do some crazy damage. It nearly wiped the floor with me more than once, but that was only when I was either short on, or flat out lacking super missiles. And then the fight is just annoying. You know it’s going to take about 10-12 minutes of single-round shots on the Omega’s membrane belly and screw attack/space jump flipping over the creature’s head when it strikes. Or… if you have super missiles, it’ll take about 5 or 6 shots and then it’s over in 20 seconds. MINUS

 

Boss battles can feel repetitive
This one is more so being a product of the very game it’s trying to remake. Metroid II: Samus Returns was more or less a release title for the original Gameboy and as a result was severely limited in what processing power it could tout. Because of this, you would simply face one of four Metroid forms and kill them until you eventually reached the Queen, the one unique boss in the game. AM2R works to balance this was its own unique bosses and well-thought-out cameos for other bosses from previous titles, but since the Metroids are the main objective, their own repetitive combat nature cannot be ignored. Minus

 

Speaking of those other boss fights…

 

Original boss fights and level design
AM2R, as mentioned above, does a wonderful job balancing the monotony of early Metroid Alpha and Gamma fights. Things don’t really pick up until you encounter your first Zeta Metroid. But thankfully we get interesting fights like The Guardian, Arachnus, Torizo, the Chozo Tank Prototype, The Tester, Serris, and the not-required but rather badass Easter Egg boss fight on the Research team’s abandoned ship, Genesis. Without these boss fights, the game would become more than a little boring and would undoubtedly leave little replayability. What’s more, the developers avoided the bland surroundings of the original by only having one Chozo temple in their remake and instead turning the others into a water facility, power plant, and more. This fleshing out of the infrastructure on a planet the Chozo would’ve inhabited for countless decades if not centuries does wonders for its world-building. Hell, they even thought to have them create a (somewhat) narcissistic monument to themselves atop The Tower. PLUS

 

Ending
This one, as I said before, gets me every time. The tone of the closing moments of this game, after your brutal battle with the Queen Metroid that quite literally ends in explosive fashion, is unrivaled for me. Whenever I play through it, I can’t help but smile stupidly. It’s not like I feel any sort of attachment to the baby Metroid. It speaks more so to the beautiful music and slow wind down as you make your way, calmly, back to your ship. Metroid games almost always end with a race against the clock but AM2R bucks that trend by simply granting the player a chance to breathe and thus, to soak in the moment. PLUS

 

AM2R Final Count
7 Pluses – 3 Minuses

 


Darreck W. Kirby

Founder of The Dallas Prospect, Darreck took a love for writing, analysis, and sports and brought them together in one site. Whether tracking the latest Cowboys stats and trends or breaking down film analysis for the latest flick, Darreck does it all.