Sunshine in space
From the very first interviews, both Sakamoto and Mercury Steam’s vertices underlined the importance of recreating the original game feeling and the sense of strangeness and solitude that characterized all of Samus Aran’s two-dimensional adventures, and the words followed the facts : Metroid Samus Returns carries the sensation of being dirty, which no one else would have done, and having to head on a hostile, inhospitable planet that, if he had teeth, would bite.
In the timeline of the series, Metroid Samus Returns is located exactly where Metroid II was located, and then after the first episode and just before those talked about in that timeless masterpiece that was Super Metroid: after sending the pirate plans up spacecraft in the parent, the blonde size hunter is sent by the Galactic Federation on planet SR388, which is supposed to be the birthday of the Metroid.
Prior to her, other specialized teams had been sent to the systematical extermination of the dangerous alien life form, but, as a script, when they arrived on the site, contacts with the mother planet had been interrupted.
References to Ridley Scott’s first Alien are even more evident at the time of the release, and perhaps the charm of the franchise also comes from his ability to mix ideas and topoi among the most beloved of contemporary pop culture. After the events of the first Metroid, then, in Samus, the Federation recognizes the role of a woman army, and our heroine does not pull back if we have to sniff some hostile aliens.
Upon his arrival at SR388, however, Samus notices a number of discrepancies between information on the Metroid’s possession of the Federation and the mutations in the species he encounters on his way, so as to doubt the true purpose of his mission and its course of conduct.
Without revealing further details, it is enough to know that fiction, even more thorough than Metroid II, remains dry and at times cryptic, prompting the player to interpret and increase the aura of mystery and incommunicability that have contributed to characterizing this franchise in the years.
As in the original (though the choice was also due to technical limitations), almost always in the absolute silence, with no major indications and in the almost total absence of texts on screen, abandoned to themselves and the ability to explore bottom the planet. Played in the dark, with the volume at its best and a pair of good quality earbuds, Metroid Samus Returns immerses the player into the star of the protagonist, providing an atmosphere that few other titles, in the endless Nintendo 3DS library boast.
Taking in Hand Samus Returns is like giving away a bicycle at a distance of years or coming home after a long journey: Mercury Steam and Nintendo have operated chisel instead of picking, refining, diving and modernizing a gameplay that, despite the three abundant shades on the rump, he is able to eat dust to so many congeners.
Not surprisingly, metroidvania neologism (cacophonic but effective) is the son of products like the original Metroid II, where the real protagonist was the map, a deadly labyrinth filled with enemies as well as environmental puzzles, bonuses to discover and secret passages.
Initially disappointed that a version for Switch was not in development, we must admit that 3DS is fine for this review because its peculiar double-screen design keeps the map under control on the touchscreen, where it is possible enlarge it at will and add markers to mark particular points of interest. Right from the beginning it is clear that the original scheme, although enriched and adapted to certain today’s standards (the overall difficulty, for example