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My Metroid 2 remakes experience

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AM2R, Samus Returns; which one is better?  Well I'm not going to answer that question, but I am going to give my thoughts about both.  Having not played either remake, I thought I'd play them back to back.

Brief background: Metroid 2 was originally released on the Gameboy, it featured Samus on a mission to hunt down and exterminate the Metroids, genetically engineered super creatures created by the Chozo race, used by Space Pirates to threaten the galaxy in the first game.  The metroids transform several times in their lifecycle to become stronger, thus Samus will encounter progressively stronger variants of Metroid.

I played Samus returns first (11 hours 8 minutes, 62.7% items found), and then AM2R (5 hours, 6 minutes, 72% items found).  Both good games, but with different ideas about how to do a remake.  AM2R's goal is a Metroid 2 in the style of Super Metroid; retaining the original character of the game, but giving it a visual and control upgrade, making the Metroids more threatening, and adding some new content.  Samus Returns is less concerned with new content and maintaining the character of the original game, and more interested in revamping the game.  Metroid behavior is significantly changed, regular enemies have more health, do more damage, and are more aggressive, Samus has new abilities, and there's more focus on puzzles in the room layout and item locations.  While AM2R gives the original Metroid 2 a modern coat of paint; Samus Returns only maintains the outer appearance of the original while being completely different under the hood.

One example of these two approaches can be seen in the Spider Ball ability.  AM2R retains the original characteristics of Metroid 2's Spider Ball:  You can't jump in Spiderball, and bomb explosions force you out of Spider Ball.  Samus Returns revamps the spider ball and lets you jump, and stay in spider ball when propelled by a bomb.  It's not as restrictive, and moving around in spider ball is smoother in Samus Returns.

Exploration is a major point of difference, and is largely why Samus Returns took over twice as long for me to complete.  AM2R is more straight forward in its exploration, paths between major areas are simple hallways, items are usually just in hidden spots, or behind a single block you need the right weapon or ability to break.  Samus Returns asks you to make more use of your abilities to navigate and find items; but only because it gives you a powerful cheat called the Scan Pulse.  Scan Pulse fills in your surrounding map, but it also highlights all breakable blocks, and if a Metroid is nearby it will roar.  It's a completely optional ability which you can choose not to use, but it does a lot of the hard exploration work for the player.  Filling out the map to show room layouts is one thing, but highlighting blocks is, in many cases, equivalent to solving the puzzle for the player.  On paper I understand that Scan Pulse lets players adjust the difficulty of exploration to their abilities; but that doesn't stop it from annoying me.

Metroids are another big contrast between the two.  


AM2R's Alpha and Gamma metroids are incredibly similar to their original design.  Alphas try to kill you through contact damage, and Gammas get close to use their electric attack on you.  They are given a new attack each; but the most significant difference is their defenses.  Their weak spot is not as exposed as the original, and they can read your input to occasionally dodge an attack.  Zeta metroids can also read your input to guard their weak spot if you spam rockets at them.  Zeta and Omegas are completely different design from the original though, which is good because the original Zetas were assholes with a nearly unavoidable attack.  Both are large enemies that aggressively approach the player and try to get you into close quarters.  Although if they trap you in a corner they'll back off before going on the offensive again (but not right away).  Omegas can stun lock you with knock back and force you to take a lot of damage in the corner.  Their close range claw attack has a very long stun animation where you lie on the ground unable to move, but the knock back from simply touching them is large as well.

Samus Return's Metroids give you much more breathing room; the alphas stay at a distance and switch from lunging at you, and flying overhead dropping energy attacks on you.  Gammas uses long range energy attacks, fly overhead dropping attacks on you, or approach you on the ground (but they give you plenty of time to while they telegraph their attack).  Zetas are wall climbers that use long range attacks and hide their weak spot.  Omegas are the only Metroids that are similar on paper between the two remakes, but in practice they're very different fights.  The Omega does approach you, but doesn't have the leaping and charging attacks of AM2R's Omega (correcting an error, they can leap).  Samus is more agile than the Omega, and can keep her distance as you work at exposing its shielded weak-spot.

Battle arena is another difference; AM2R takes from the original and places alpha and gamma metroids in rooms with annoying hazard traps or tight spaces.  Samus returns has a more rigid boss room layout that it reuses, some might occasionally have pools of lava, but hazards aren't nearly as significant in these battles.  And if you do die to a Metroid or other boss, the game gives you a checkpoint right outside the boss door to let you refight them right away.  AM2R sends you back to the last save point.  One interesting thing Samus Returns does though, is Gamma Metroids eventually start running away from you.  They'll move between preset boss rooms, and you'll have to find the hidden passages to reach them.  You can kill them fast enough to avoid this, if you're good; but it's a great way to show how they've been demoted to mini-boss status now that you're stronger and more experienced.

While I'd say that Samus Return's Metroids are easier, they still do significant damage if you fail to dodge their attacks though.  I died to every type of Metroid on my first playthrough as I got used to their AI -- Alphas can do 60 damage at the start of the game with their fly over attack.  AM2R's more aggressive Metroids abuse contact damage, and are more hectic battles.  Reading your input to dodge attacks feels like fake difficulty. It does extend fights; but there's other ways to do that that don't infuriate the player when they waste a super missile because the metroid Matrix dodged it.

Well this post has gone on long enough.  As said, both are good games, and its interesting to see how they approached the same game with different goals in mind.

Edited by Satarack

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I'd give the official remake minus points for screwing with her "character" gameplay wise.
In every other game she blasts enemies with her beams and pumps them full of (Super) Missiles.
In this one she gains a melee attack that also functions as a counter of sorts, and is imo a tad overpowered.
Dunno, it just feels wrong somehow.


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