Another Metroid 2 Remake: An In-Depth ReviewHello all, I thought I might make a review today, so, that's what I'm going to do. I'll be reviewing AM2R, a fanmade game which completely remade Metroid II from top to bottom. Just a quick pointless warning, there will be a lot of reading. That and possible spoilers. With all that said and done, let's get right in.
Brief Introduction:The game starts with our iconic hero Samus Aran explaining the situation with the Metroids and the need to destroy them all. The cutscene is short, simple and effective. It ends with a shot of Samus's ship flying into the planet SR388. We land on a nice grassy plateau, covered in rock and strange plant life. It is made very apparent that the Metroids have not in fact completely eradicated the ecosystem of the planet, as stated by the Galactic Federation. In fact, this entire surface area is completely sprawling with plant life. But it's not just plants... SR388 still contains hostile life. With caution, our hero delves into SR388's intricate cave system.
Gameplay:The gameplay obviously sticks very closely to Metroid II's. However, Metroid II was in fact made 17 years ago, on a portable device. Obviously, the game ran into a lot of complications in the hardware preventing gimmicks that were too 'insane'. AM2R incorporates the modern day capabilities, and integrates a whole lot of new gameplay features.
Combat feels good, with many varying enemies. The enemies are actually unique, each one having their own move-sets and attacks. Each area seems to introduce a flood of new enemies, which really keeps you on your toes, continuously learning. Then you turn to the brand new boss fights, which have spectacular unique attacks and wonderful design.
The first true boss you'll encounter is the Ancient Guardian, right after you beat The Golden Temple area. This boss acts as a sort of 'dodging tutorial' for the player, and it has a variety of attacks.
- Blue: Shoots a blue laser directly underneath itself.
- Green: Drops green fire everywhere except directly underneath itself.
- Purple: Drops purple plasma balls that hover above the ground everywhere, forcing the player to duck.
- Yellow: Drops a ball of fire which combusts, sending out a wave of fire both left and right. Forces the player to jump.
Keeping the topic related to bosses, the most common one you will encounter is in fact Metroids. These Metroids, however, are slowly evolving. They have 4 stages, not including the final boss. The stages are as follows:
- Alpha (α): The first form of the evolving Metroids. Starts with no legs and a hard exoskeleton. It's membrane is exposed, and is the weak point of the Alpha Metroid. It's immune to Samus's conventional beam gun, so only rockets will damage it (This goes for all stages of the Metroid.). It flies around, with a basic moveset.
- Gamma (γ): The second form. The Metroid develops legs, but they are not capable of holding their weight yet. They develop horns for charging at the player and have a distinct electric arc attack that can temporarily disable Samus's arm cannon. The legs can also grab a hold of Samus and rapidly decrease her energy levels.
- Zeta (ζ): The third form. This Metroid's legs can finally support it's weight, but they're too heavy to fly. It can charge at the player, spit out highly corrosive substances and deliver powerful blows with it's newfound arms. It's membrane is still located under it's belly, but much heavily guarded.
- Omega (Ω): The final form. The Metroid has fully developed their exoskeleton, leaving their membrane only slightly unprotected. They are capable of delivering massive blows, and can leap extremely high. They often attempt to crush their foes. They are also capable of breathing immense amounts of fire, dealing hectic damage to the player.
There are a strewn of new bosses as mentioned before. The second one you'll encounter is Arachnus. This boss may sound familiar if you've played any other Metroid games... cough Metroid Fusion cough... Ok, enough joking around. Arachnus returns, somehow hiding within a Chozo statue. He bursts out, looking slicker than ever.
He has a flashy set of attacks this time around, too. He can drop fire bombs, crush the player and roll at high speed. However, once he takes enough damage, he'll lock himself into ball mode. This is when some electric pylons come out from the walls. The only way to damage him here is by placing bombs and blasting him into the pylons. This is an absolutely marvellous battle concept. Once defeated he drops the Spring Jump, for the morph ball.
Back on gameplay, almost all power-ups that have appeared in Metroid (With the exception of a few.) appear in this game. All the beams stack, as well. The game does a great job introducing them, however some of them aren't really used well.
- The Spider Ball feels really unnecessary as a large majority of items can be accessed without it. It's never really used from a puzzle standpoint, either.
- The Power Grip is, well, the Power Grip. It virtually has no true use but to pull yourself up onto ledges.
Talking about power-ups, you get the Space Jump pretty early, actually. But don't think it's a freebie. Once you take it... The statue shatters open. "What? Arachnus?! I killed you didn't I?" Ah, but it isn't Arachnus. It's a Torizo, this time fully decked out. It can swipe out blue arcs that arc both down and up, blast out a barrage of yellow plasma from it's mouth and hit hard with it's mechanical arms. It's legs are heavily protected, so aiming for the head and torso is the only way to damage it. Eventually, you'll destroy it...
It rebuilds itself, this time, WITH A JETPACK. Come on, what's cooler than that?! The room expands even more, coming to a 4x4 square tile arena. The floor you first fought it in becomes spikes, and you must jump and gun. Only three platforms are provided. The attacks vary even more this time. The Torizo can now spit out a multitude of drones that will actively chase the player until destroyed. It also continues to spit out yellow plasma, too. It also rushes the player by dive bombing them. Once defeated, you can leave the room with your newly acquired Space Jump.
Just want to quickly touch up on the Space Jump again, the controls are very smooth. It's so much easier to Space Jump now, and the animations are wonderful.
The fourth boss is located in the reactor core segment (Which I'll touch up on later.). The fight actually happens in the escape sequence, and this time it's the Tank Prototype. A giant robot towering over you as the red emergency lights flash and beep. This fight actually disappointed me, it was very easy and not much attacks were involved. It shoots out green plasma from it's arm, and spews out a consistent amount of rockets from it's back. It's weak spots are it's arm, tank tracks and torso, so shoot there to take it down. Once you destroy it's arm, it can no longer blast out green plasma. Once you destroy it's tank tracks, it can no longer move. Once you shoot it's torso, it's true weak spot is revealed. This boss was just too easy, because the rockets can be shot down and the plasma doesn't pass through blocks (Yes, there is cover.).
The fifth boss to swing around is aptly named The Tester. The Tester is a giant spherical robot with 4 missile launchers and heavy protective armour. The Tester, apparently, is a bullet hell boss. It has a wide variety of attacks. It has 4 side attached missile launchers (Which regenerate next time used.) which can disperse a barrage of missiles, emit 4 large cyan lasers which rotate and blast out blue ice shots which disband into smaller ice shots. The Tester's weak spot is hidden by the armour, which requires you to blow them up with rockets. Once the armour is disposed, you can pump bullets into it's weak spot.
You'll find the sea serpent (Sort of.) Serris appear. This boss was alright, it had a lack of attacks. It was easily forgettable in my opinion. His entire body is covered in scales which protect him. To hurt him, you must freeze the scales and pump rockets into them until they are destroyed. Once that is done, you can shoot the segments of his body. He gains speed the more damage he takes, however, so be weary.
On the topic of puzzles, they were very innovative and fun. In fact, the puzzle leading up to the super missiles was my favourite. You took control of a robot and jumped through an obstacle course carrying super missiles to dispose of blocks. I'm pretty sure late game opens up a few scattered puzzles revolving around blue and yellow spherical energy cells. Once you distribute them, they'll appear all over the map unlocking mini puzzles that allow you to obtain bonus pickup slots. The puzzles were very refreshing.
The final boss of AM2R is the Metroid Queen. Her exoskeleton is so strong her membrane is no longer located underneath her. Ironically enough, her head is the weak spot. Due to her massive size, her mobility is slow. She will often use her neck in order to lunge at the player. She will also release strange drones from her mouth which, if not destroyed quickly, will do massive damage to the player. Once she takes enough damage, she'll blast a fireball at the wall behind Samus, opening up the corridor by another square tile. Her attacks remain mostly the same as she progresses. Eventually you kill her.
Samus gets ready to escape SR388 but sees a final Metroid egg. It bursts open. SUPRISE! It's another Metroid Queen! Guess what? This time it has harder attacks! Just kidding. A Baby Metroid emerges, and instantly mistakens Samus as her mother. Nawwwww, how cute. The Baby Metroid helps Samus escape, destroying the strange crystal substances blocking the way. Samus makes it to the surface, and flies off with the Baby...
No vaporwave memes please.The design of this game is amazing. The style seems to be a mixture of Super Metroid and Metroid: Fusion (Super Metroid for the darker tone and Metroid: Fusion for the cartoonish style.) and it's a mixture I really like. All the areas have their own distinct properties and styles:
- The Golden Temple is an ancient sanctuary once built by the Chozo in a hollow mountain. Has an Aztec feel to it.
- The Hydro Station is a water treatment facility running off ancient Chozo technology.
- The Industrial Complex is a Chozo drone producing factory. The fact it is still intact suggests the Chozo were far ahead of their time.
- The Mining Facility is a deep, intricate set of tunnels filled with a green substance referred to as Cordite.
- The Tower is a large weapons research and development facility. Heavily armoured drones roam the high-tech tower.
- The Power Plant is a high-tech facility created by the Chozo to distribute power to the other facilities.
- The Distribution Centre is a centre that distributes emergency power cells through the facility. It also contains the piping systems used to fast travel around the intricate tunnels of SR388. The area is exclusive to AM2R.
- G.F.S Thoth is a new area only in AM2R. It contains the fate of the Research team and the Rescue team. The entire ship's power is down, and no enemies remain within it apart from one life form (Of which is a mini-boss.).
- The Nest is the true home of the Metroids. The entire place seems to resemble the Metroids, sporting strange green circular orbs that resemble eggs.
- The Genetics Laboratory is the final area. The Chozo created it to breed the Metroids. It's hinted here that the Chozo are responsible for the creation of Metroids.
Metroid II couldn't really express it's themes due to graphical and hardware capabilities. AM2R seizes the opportunity to create intricate themes and succeeds where Metroid II couldn't: the world building. Something that's been long running in the Metroid games is to show but not tell. The environments are often left to interpretation, leaving the only metaphorical limit, your imagination. AM2R keeps close to this Metroid game ritual but still builds the themes. It half builds them, leaving the rest up to interpretation.
Plot:The plot is the exact same as Metroid II. What more is there to say? It's simple and effective but I can't really compliment the AM2R development team for that because Nintendo are the true writers of Metroid II's plot. AM2R did however expand on it via log books. These are short but sweet logs that explain locations (Vaguely, on purpose. Refer to the theme building paragraph in the Aesthetics segment.), the Chozo and Metroids in detail. These are fun reads and completely optional, which is a smart move to prevent forceful reading. They just add a little more depth to the plot.
Final Thoughts:AM2R is an amazing game. It feels like a true Nintendo game the entire time, it sticks to the Metroid formula while at the same time not playing it too carefully. It takes a lot of risks, adding brand new content and areas. But all those risks definitely payed off. The graphics and gameplay are fresh and new, the plot is a classic, given more depth, and boy are those controls fantastic.
I recommend AM2R to anyone who is a fan of Metroid. I also recommend it to anyone who hasn't played Metroid before.
I rate AM2R...