Saturday, October 16, 2021

Another Metroid 2 Remake (PC, 2016)


I've gone into how important Metroid 2 was to me personally in the 90's. Looking back, it turns out Metroid 2 might actually be the most significant game in the series in terms of the effect it had on the rest of the games. And this, in my opinion, is the best version of it. Basically Zero Mission 2, and far more faithful to the Game Boy original than the Mercury Steam remake is. I can't say enough good about this game and I've been wanting to cover it for years. Not bad for a 100% fan-made project.

This somehow keeps getting revisions despite being cease and desisted long ago. Whoever the shadowy forces are that keep adding to this game, ya done good. We've got some great New Game Plus options here that unlock after you've beaten the game and achieved other various milestones:

8-Bit Shader: This gives the game a grayscale filter to look more like a Game Boy game.

Early Baby Metroid: This gives you the Baby Metroid during the normal game.

Extreme Lab Metroids: This increases the number of larval Metroids in the Chozo Lab (final area) from 9-ish to FORTY-SEVEN. Which is pretty cool and adds a ton of needed challenge to the final area.

Fusion Suit Style: This puts Samus in a blue Fusion Suit for the entire game so she takes more damage from everything. Essentially a super-hard mode on top of the game's already existing hard mode.

IGT Display: This...I'm not sure about, and Google isn't helping. It's the last one to unlock.

We get a sweet intro that uses the intro music from Super Metroid.

The Metroids are spreading fear? Maybe they're just chilling on their planet, and it is you the Federation News Network that is actually spreading said fear?

Alright alright, I'll stop. Today's post is a serious one. AM2R means a lot to me.

"In order to secure peace, we must exterminate a planet"

One thing is for sure, regardless of my feelings on the Federation, the fact is that Metroids are indeed a menace.

The game starts you out alongside your ship, like the original. It's worth noting that the Metroid Counter now only shows what's in your current area rather than the overall total.

The overworld music here is awesome, really awesome. I definitely prefer Samus Returns' version though. It's SO GOOD. But this is good too.

It's one of the very few things I prefer SR on. For the most part I find AM2R to be the superior game.

When I was a kid I used to wonder what was up in the sky here. The only games I'd played were Kirby's Dream Land and various NES side-scrollers, so the open-ness of this first room intrigued me. Maybe you could get back into space? So of course I tried to climb the wall, and eventually did with the Spider Ball. I think it was the first thing I did once I had the Spider Ball, run back to the first room to climb the wall and see what was up there. Turns out... there's nothing up there because the game blocks you off with an invisible wall in the Game Boy version. However, THIS version...

...lets you actually reach the top of this nearby mesa. There's nothing to find up here and the tunnel to the Queen is blocked off by the Metroid crystals. Still, it's pretty rad to see this version of the game finally realize my childhood dream of seeing if there was a way to climb the wall at the beginning.

Speaking of the Game Boy version, gonna take a moment to blast myself with a high-intensity dose of nostalgia here. This is the first thing you see when you open the instruction book (back in the day, games had those) and it tells quite a story.

The part that jumped out to me on here: Ancient ruins of some unknown civilization? Yeah, I was intrigued by this.

The first "boss", though Metroids are so common in this game that it's more of a miniboss. Alpha Metroids are much more of a threat here than they are in the original, but not as much as in Samus Returns. Which is the case with most of the fights in this game. The upper part of Alpha Metroids is missile-resistant here so you need to hit them from below or the lower-sides, unlike the original Game Boy game where they were fully vulnerable and way too easy.

Big improvement here: AM2R supplies a map. Also there's a full Metroid counter here, which shows us that there are a bunch more Metroids in this version.

The great lava pit that greets you after the first Metroid. This is the way forward, but it doesn't recede until you defeat the Metroids in the ruins to the east. Probably told this story before, but in 1993 I got lost around this point and ended up thinking I needed to run down through the lava to get to the next area, which resulted in a bunch of failed death runs.

Does that sound terrible? Nope, it was great. I thought anything was possible in this. It's cool to see it in color and otherwise just like I 'member it.

The ruins in this game are much more fleshed-out than the Game Boy version. That one had a lot of generic ruin sets, while this one gives each ruin its own distinct look.

The infamous room that had me stuck for like a week after I got this game. Now the block that you can bomb is super-obvious and so is the tunnel.

Speaking of Bombs, first statue has them. The Missile packs are super-plentiful in this game and it isn't uncommon to find 3 or 4 of them in one room.

The ruins have some differences from the original, like the first Energy Tank seemingly being unreachable here. In the original it just gave it to you. I couldn't figure that one out. Also, the Charge Beam actually exists in this game. It isn't as good as it is in most Metroid games, since for the most part this game is designed around using Missiles on tough enemies and it gives you so many of those that the Charge Beam is never really needed as a backup. Charged shots also don't work on any of the Metroids in this game, so... Still, it's nice to have the ability.

Spider Ball, in a room just like I remember. This thing really got the imagination going as a kid, since in theory it lets you climb anything. I ended up combing the ruins with it and probably bombed the entire ceiling of the cavern.

Here we see for sure that the "unknown ancient civilization" was indeed the Chozo, before their Metroid creation got out of hand.

NEW BOSS ALERT. Some sort of Chozo defense droid. This is a weird fight that doesn't really work that well (sadly the case with most of AM2R's new bosses, but By God they tried). Only thing to do here is unload Missiles as fast as possible while the walls close in. Can side-step its attacks once you figure out the telegraphs.

After beating the ruins Metroids, the lava is now gone. This was mind-blowing as a kid, given how much time I'd spent death-running. Funny thing is I almost made it to the second ruins a couple times even with the lava. It's impossible though. Pretty sure there's a rock wall in the way even if you get to the entrance.

The second ruins set is the Hydro-Electric Plant, which again has its own visual theme.

Here's Arachnus, the Spring Ball guardian. It's a little different here, just like in Samus Returns but not quite as mean. Not sure what the point of the wall spikes is.

NEW BOSS ALERT: Chozo statue, does Chozo statue things. BUT WAIT!

Do enough damage to it and after the room falls away, it sprouts a jetpack to attack from the air.

The first Gamma Metroid. They're basically Alpha Metroids on speed. While in Samus Returns every Metroid had its own attacks and attack patterns, in this game they're uniform across the board. So every Gamma fight is basically the same, every Alpha fight is basically the same. They were much more faithful to the Game Boy original here so there aren't many tricks or surprises in these fights.

Speed Booster charge never fails to be awesome. This is another new addition, and a much-welcome one.

The theme of the third area is darkness, which wasn't the case in the original. Here you get the Super Missiles, which weren't in the original either. Not sure if I agree with this because they really trivialize the weaker Metroid fights. Alpha Metroids have twice the HP they have in the original game, but you can still beat them in two shots with this.

I liked this Gamma fight a lot in the original because you drop into the room with it and it's up in the corner waiting for you like a spider. It freaked me out as a kid, and here it is faithfully recreated. Only now the room is also dark for added horror.

New addition to AM2R: You find campsites from the first Federation assault team, complete with the corpses of some of them. Here's one of the new Metroid encounters in this game, as two Alphas attack in the campsite.

Moving along briskly, here's the Xenomorph-esque Zeta Metroid. They even kept the animation where the first one you encounter is seen bursting out of a Gamma shell, and their eye count is correct unlike Samus Returns.

I wonder if I'd like SR more if I didn't have this game to compare it to.

Forgot to mention, save points in this game restore your health, which is a tremendous improvement. As a result, you can never really get trapped anywhere. Not that you really could in the original either, but this removes the need to farm energy from foes.

Elevators are definitely new here. This one takes you down to another new area, worth noting because...'s time for another NEW BOSS ALERT: Chozo Hunter-Killer Tank. Like the other new bosses, this one just comes down to how fast you can spam missiles.

After that is an escape sequence that ends up being one of the harder parts of the game. As long as you get to these gates by the time the temperature gauge maxes out, you're fine.

NEW BOSS ALERT: This one is interesting and requires you to use the Probiscus robots on the walls as steps to fire at the core. Always thought those "enemies" were underutilized in the original game. This is probably the best new boss so far.

The Plasma Beam is green (as is new tradition) and can be combined with the Spazer here.

One of the two things I don't like about Super Metroid is that you can't combine the Plasma and Spazer beams. The other thing? The final save point is in an area that you can't leave.

While I wouldn't put AM2R on the same level as Super Metroid, I do think it's the best version of Metroid II and there isn't really anything in this game that I don't like.

Screw Attack. While this existed in Metroid on the NES (and was easily the most powerful attack in that game) you couldn't combine it with the Space Jump until Metroid II. It's so OP when you put the two together.

Varia Suit. This puts you in the full-on power suit that Samus is known for. In the original canon of the series, Metroid II is where she got this look (and had it until Fusion). However Zero Mission retcons that by having her find the shoulderpads-suit in Chozodia on Zebes.

Prior to Metroid 2 and the finding of this suit, Samus' suit looked like this:

Also Chozo-made but not nearly as good. The Gravity Suit was specifically found on Zebes in Super Metroid and was more of a mobility enhancement than an actual new suit. However a bunch of games since then have also retconned the Gravity Suit into earlier in the timeline, including...

...this one. Yep, AM2R has a Gravity Suit. I wouldn't say this is something I "don't like" about this version, but I could have done without it. The Varia alone is such a milestone in Metroid II and it didn't really need another upgrade. Nor does the game necessitate it with water areas, as the only water areas in Metroid II tended to be escapable pits.

Power Bombs are another new late-game addition to this version. I'll never say no to Power Bombs, and they're a lot of fun to play around with while item-hunting. Think a room looks fishy? Drop a Power Bomb and see what gets revealed.

THIS IS NEW. An entire swarm of Alpha Metroids. This is the kind of innovation I like to see. It would have been cool if they'd pitted you up against two Omegas before the final battle or something. Like a Praetorian Guard right before the Queen.

You do, however, get to fight two Gammas at once, in a new underwater section (which is why you need the Gravity Suit at all).

NEW BOSS ALERT: Serris from Metroid Fusion makes an appearance here, pretty much identical to the fight in that game.

Probably the best new area in the game is this one: A surface area separate from the main starting surface area. As the game goes on, the sky goes from normal to red to night (like Bloodborne) and I happened to find this place during the red sky phase.

Here you can find a Federation ship, abandoned, with its occupants strewn about in various states of dead.

Zip around this large outdoor area a bit, and you'll find...

...a further staging area in the ship that has been taken over by Nemesis, this freakish humanoid monster. Nemesis is interesting because it has completely different programming than the rest of the enemies in the game, so it's more advanced with its movements. It's based off of an enemy from Metroid Fusion that could emulate the player's movements a bit, but it wasn't much of a threat there compared to here. This is one of the nastier fights in the game, and it's reasonable to assume that Nemesis murdered all of the Federation troopers on this ship after they were forced to retreat from the caverns by the Metroids.

Speaking of Federation troopers, soon after that we find the very last squadron of them on the planet as they attempt to subdue an Omega Metroid and get slaughtered one-by-one. It would have been awesome if they were the same troopers from Federation Force, meeting their end here after that poorly-received game.

The first Omega fight is very different from the Game Boy version. Like Samus Returns, they aren't airborne anymore for some reason. They're also most weak to shots to the back, which are super-hard to line up during the short windows where their back weak point shows itself.

The final area contains the destroyed Chozo statue that typically holds the Ice Beam. I bemoaned the absence of this room from Samus Returns. Well, here it is...but no Ice Beam because unlike the original you keep your beams as you acquire new ones.

Metroid Larva attack here, as is tradition. They look just like their Zero Mission counterparts, with extra brain-matter.

In the original Metroid II you could just run past them, but you'd find that the gateway to the Queen was shut. In this version there are metal doors throughout the lab so you can't even go from room to room without clearing them out, much like Super Metroid.

Here's the remains of the Chozo lab where the Metroids were created, another thing I bemoaned the lack of in Samus Returns. Here, they included it and captured the atmosphere.

Drop into the Queen's room and all you see at first is the front part, like the original game.

There's no escape from the room this time, and it's more claustrophobic than ever. Other than that they 100% got the look of this thing right.

The fight takes place in multiple stages where the boss knocks down various walls and doors, forcing you to retreat.

Finally the battle ends up in this room where the Queen descends a staircase and we can see the remnants of Chozo test tubes in the background.

TBH I think this might be the best version of this fight. The remixed music is tremendous here, the fight is difficult but not impossible, and the multiple stages of it are reminiscent of Metroid Prime's final fight taking place over multiple rooms. Difference is that this time you're the one being chased from room to room. Best of all, there's no melee counter in sight.

Acquire THE BABY and we're out.

I had some major issues with how Samus Returns handled this part, letting you run all around the planet to collect items and rendering the little guy a mere prop. But more so how these tunnels were full of enemies so you had to fight your way back to the surface. While the Ridley fight at the ship was a great idea, the tunnels shouldn't have been full of enemies.

This run back to the surface through calm tunnels with the Metroid in tow is a seriously iconic moment that shouldn't be messed with. It's a nice wind-down after such a tough final fight, and sets this game apart.

Back at the surface, no Ridley, just a calming walk back to the ship and we're outta here. Very faithful to the original, which is what people wanted from AM2R, I would think.

The incredible end credits from the original, yet again. The AM2R version is similar, but I prefer the instrumentation of the original. They did a whole hell of a lot with the 8-bit sound channels.

A lot of people brought this to us and I'm glad it exists. If any game in the series was in dire need of a remake it was Metroid II, and it's great that a more faithful adaptation of it exists alongside the full-on remake.

We also get shoutouts to the original staff, including noted genius Gunpei "God Among Men" Yokoi.

There we go, that's it for this one. Great game, probably belongs in the S-tier of Metroid games but I'd personally put it in A-tier. Could use a few adjustments and it's clear it isn't high-budget, but I'd rank it above like two-thirds of the "real" Metroid titles.

Great ending screen that captures the essence of why people loved the ending of the original. I just wish Samus were in her normal Varia colors here. I guess I'm a Varia Purist when it comes to Metroid II.

This game is considerably longer than Zero Mission, Super Metroid, or the original Metroid II, but it takes a lot less time than the newer 2D games like Dread and Samus Returns. I'd say 4 hours for a run is a perfect amount of time and makes you want to do replays. It never wears out its welcome, that's for sure. Would I rank this above Zero Mission? I don't know. There's enough heart in this one to want to, but Zero Mission has more polish. I'd probably put both in the A-tier together. what's in my S-tier, you ask? Super and the first Prime. Maybe also Prime 2. I don't know.

Samus cracks open a beer? and heads for Ceres Station to drop off the Metroid. It's showing an awful lot of trust to go helmet-less around a VICIOUS CREATURE like this, but I guess that's the whole point, they had mutual trust despite not speaking the same language. It's very Retro Star Trek-ian. Roddenberry would have liked this.

Here's the original ending screen. Since these games were heavily-inspired by Alien and Aliens (with a little bit of Star Wars), I wonder if this part was inspired by Ripley dropping trou and walking around in undergarments at the end of Alien. Basically this was the exact outfit. Of course, then the Alien turned out to still be on board with her, so it wasn't the end.

One final ending screen leads us right into Super Metroid.

Fantastic game here, a must-play for people who like Metroid. Don't let the lack of official support be a deterrent.

Check out the original Metroid II Game Boy post HERE.

Other Metroid Posts

1 comment:

  1. Whoa, early baby Metroid?

    I guess the area up top at the beginning is where you come out at the end?

    I'd still like to play this at some point.