Metroid II: The Return of Samus
By Zach Patterson Sunday, 11 Jul 2004

Metroid II featured the triumphant return of Samus, this time on the Game Boy. This was a huge deal back in the early 90’s, when even I desperately wanted this game, despite never really playing much of the first. The graphics were great and you could stick it in the Super Game Boy and it was all in color! WOW!

Despite the gimmick, this is a solid game. It packs story, challenge, and exploration all into one package. I won’t get too deep into the story, because it isn’t too terribly complicated. Samus goes to SR-388 to wipe out the metroids in their home. That’s about it. Progression in the game is made through killing metroids and having the poisonous water stuff lower so you can reach lower areas. The metroids can sometimes be fiercely tough, but I will get to that later.

Samus now looks a hell of a lot better than the first Metroid. She looks more like Samus from Super Metroid and less like that…thing in the first. Aside from her, the metroids and final boss are very well detailed, but the environments are very, very plain. It is very difficult to ascertain where you are and where you need to go because there is no map like recent games and many areas seem to repeat. It is pretty much up to you to discover your own way. The Super Game Boy’s coloring helps a little, but it’s still not that easy. On the plus side, the controls are top notch. Better than the Metroid, this game gives you tighter controls and more moves. Samus now has the spider ball and a few more attacks, though I think the spider ball and bouncy ball were by far the most fun.

What really bothered me about this game is that you never have any idea what to do next. The game has no short cutscenes to the next area or anything. Whenever you beat so many metroids you hear an earthquake and have to navigate your way back to the center hub. The game does pack a lot of exploration, but back in 1993, I played this game almost to completion but couldn’t get any further, so I gave up. Then, much like Super Mario Land, I picked it up recently and played the rest. Once I picked it back up, I had no clue where I was and it took quite a while to get back on track. I will tell you right now, do not attempt this game without a strategy guide of some sort, it’s very difficult without.

I did have a lot of fun with the game though, especially the ending where I was fighting metroids left and right, it felt so frantic. And then the final cavern, You encounter the Mother Metroid and all hell breaks loose. Never before have I worked so hard to beat a final boss. The attack is predictable but very hard to master. After about 20 mins, the bitch goes down and you get to see the ending, maybe the best part of the game. You see, the ending ties directly into Super Metroid. It is worth seeing for that alone.

A lot of people really hate this game for some legitimate reasons, but with a guide, this game is not only beatable, but also quite fun. I can see them maybe updating it on the GBA in the near future, and maybe then it will get its proper due from Metroid fans. As it is now, however, it still remains one of my better Game Boy games and holds up well today.

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