Reviews from

in the past

While I wouldn’t consider it as great as future installments, and while it is definitely outshined by its remake, the original Metroid is still a classic of the NES library, and it still holds up somewhat to this day. And of course, Nintendo being Nintendo, after seeing the success of the original Metroid, they went right ahead to developing a sequel. Unlike the sequels to Nintendo’s other games, however, this one would be released after a five-year gap of no games (which, let’s be real, Metroid fans are pretty used to at this point), and it would be developed for exclusively for the Game Boy. Makes sense, considering the producer of Metroid 1 and 2, Gunpei Yokoi, was the main creator of the system in the first place. So, after plenty of time, Nintendo then released Metroid II: Return of Samus.
As a follow-up to the original Metroid, as well as the first handheld title in the series, it manages to do a pretty damn good job at improving on the formula of the original, as well as being a great game all in its own right. Sure, I wouldn’t say it is too great, as certain problems still linger, along with new ones popping up in this installment, but it is still a pretty good continuation for the series.
The story is similar to the first, while also changing it up to where it feels unique, and makes the player want to dive right in and eliminate every Metroid in sight, the graphics are Game Boy graphics, but the sprite work is some of the best that the system offers, and it holds up extremely well, the music (and by that, I mean like the two to three real music tracks in the game) is not only pretty good, but also provides a great sense of atmosphere that not too many other Game Boy games can provide, the control is pretty good, even if it still feels a bit stiff, and the gameplay improves upon the original while keeping the same style and flow as the original, which I appreciate for a game like this.
The game follows a pretty similar formula to that of the original Metroid, where you travel through numerous caverns in the planet SR388, defeating enemies and bosses, taking out every Metroid you can find, collecting new items and upgrades to make yourself stronger, with minor beats of storytelling also present to keep the player intrigued as they keep going, such as Metroid carcasses lying around the environment, as well as the many different mutations that the Metroids can take. The selection of items this time around is pretty good, bringing back a lot of the same powerups from the original, as well as adding more that will become staples in the series, such as the Space Jump, the Spider Ball, and the Varia Suit, and with these new items and upgrades comes new changes to Samus herself, which are a welcome change from the original. Not only is her suit upgraded to what would become her most iconic version, but also you can now crouch, aim up and aim down in this game, making taking on enemies MUCH easier, and more satisfying overall.
In addition, the bosses this time around are also pretty memorable. While there aren’t that many, with the Metroids taking center stage for most of the game, the few that we fight are fun to fight, while also providing a good amount of challenge, especially with the Queen Metroid at the end of the game, with her design being the best in the entire game. Alongside her, the many different Metroids that you fight in the game are definitely the highlights of the game in terms of designs, which are amplified with you being able to witness them “evolve” into these forms as you encounter them, making them a more menacing and memorable threat.
Finally, if there is one thing that I will give this game a lot of props for, it is how it guides the player through the game. While there are no waypoints or maps, the game is structured in a way to where you will never get truly lost whenever you maneuver through the caverns, and if you just dedicate enough time to exploration, you will find your way to finding the Metroids that you need to eliminate. Thankfully, this is also aided with how a lot of the upgrades and items aren’t too out in the open, so it still encourages you to search around and explore more, to benefit the most from what you could find in the caverns. Yes, it is still a bit of a guide game, but it isn’t quite as bad as the original, at least in my opinion.
Now, with all that said, some problems are fixed in this installments, and with those out the door, new problems arise, with my main new issue being the main method of progression through the game. As I have mentioned plenty of times, you need to eliminate all of the Metroids not only to beat the game, but to also explore more of the planet to find more items, upgrades, and Metroids. However, as you would expect, this gets extremely repetitive and tiring after a while. Sure, the new Metroids you encounter keep you on your toes and keep you guessing as you play, but that doesn’t stop the game from getting repetitive, even after encountering these new Metroids.
Not just that, but there is still the problem of where you cannot carry all items at once. Sure, there are plenty of improvements in terms of Samus’s arsenal, such as having the Long Beam, missiles, and the Morph Ball immediately from the start, but you still cannot hold the Wave Beam, Plasma Beam, Spazer Beam, and Ice Beam all at once. You can only have one, and considering how the entire game is about killing Metroids, there should only be one beam that you would need throughout the entire game, making most of the other beams worthless in the long run. There are other minor issues that I have with the game, such as me taking a lot of damage at once a lot of times in the game, but that is just a skill issue, not something wrong with the game.
Overall, while it does still have its issues, this is a great improvement over the original Metroid, and a great sequel and continuation of the series. With that being said though, you would still be better off playing the remakes of the game rather than the original, fan-made or official.
Game #151

Released on : GameBoy
played on : PC (Mesen)
What i liked :
I was looking foward to playing this one, hoping it would be a improvement at the so-so first game, and in some aspects it very much is.
once again venturing with a fan map to guide me through its smaller dungeon felt just as fun.
the planet is a bit smaller, and thats not a bad thing, its done before it becomes infuriating.
i like samus more chunky armored look, everything got that little unf in the height and art area, even the power ups received an upgrade, tho some are a bit clunky to use, and the beams still are worthless at the final boss.
i like how the creatures evolve, tho it comes to bite my ass at the end.
ThE bAbY !
What i didn't liked :
this is indeed an improvement of the first game but by god, some areas got even worse, you can and will softlock yourself in some areas if you don't have enough missiles or health to deal with it.
the last form of the metroids can go touch grass, how are people supposed to deal with it.
the bigger sprites do look nice, but they come at the expense of the camera sometimes hiding things coming straight towards you most of the time.
Overall : This is an improvement to the first game but still a meh experience that if you don't seek outside help like a map or guide, it will give you a very hard time, its frustrating but not in a fair way, but i somehow can't bring myself to dislike it like i do for the first game, both i respect, but don't have to enjoy, if that makes any sense, this one i like a bit better however, i can't wait to try super metroid and the remakes, specially AM2R

(This is the 48th game in my challenge to go through many known games in chronological order starting in 1990. The spreadsheet is in my bio.)
I think if you're looking to get into the much-beloved Metroid series for the first time, Metroid II: Return of Samus (Dev: Nintendo R&D1 / Pub: Nintendo) won't be the best place to start. The game released in November 1991 for the Game Boy, unlike the original which came out for the NES, and if you really don't want to pass by this game, you would probably be best served going for its remake from 2017 for the Nintendo 3DS.
The game isn't 'objectively bad', not even close actually, but it suffers from pretty much all the lack of QoL features that you'd expect from games of this time. This makes it tough to play unless you don't mind looking for the way forward for, potentially, hours at a time, and even then, the future releases will serve you with much more enjoyable gameplay in pretty much every way. But all of that I talk about in detail below.
As in the original, you play Samus Aran, who is a Space Hunter working for the Galactic Federation. Her goal is once again to go to the planet SR388, where she is to exterminate the remaining Metroids after both a ship full of researchers and armed soldiers went missing. All of this can be found in the manual. In the game, you press START and are immediately loaded in and stand in front of your ship and are not given any further information.
The main things you will take away from this game in terms of story/characters are the following
Samus is a badass character just simply based on design and she gets shit done when others can't (not unlike many other one hero vs the world games, but effective)
The fact that there was no color for the Game Boy meant that the devs had to add the round metal shoulder pads to differentiate between her Power Suit and Varia Suit, a feature that has stayed with Samus ever since
POSSIBLE SPOILER: The ending cliffhanger, without dialogue and voice acting, is really well done. Samus finds an egg of a Metroid hatchling, which follows her to her ship. What will this cause in the sequel?
So Metroid II doesn't really do much different from many other platformers / Action Adventure types like this in terms of story, but it does manage to stand out a bit thanks to its ending and its main character.
You will most likely be familiar with the Metroid formula by now. Start with limited abilities, explore multi-pathed levels multiple times by leveraging new abilities that you gain constantly as you progress. It's a pretty popular genre, and Metroid games pretty much pioneered them. Unfortunately, early iterations come with some growing pains as the developers looked to find a balance of their vision and what they could realistically expect players to be willing to push through.
Before we get there, here is the gist of how this game plays. You control Samus in a 2D side-scrolling game where you can shoot projectiles, jump and even roll up into a ball to squeeze through holes. Your goal is to traverse this map and find all Metroids, which are parasitic creatures that, unsurprisingly, form the main enemy types in this series. Throughout your journey you get access to new skills and attacks, which not only allow you to stand a chance against later bosses, but to also unlock areas that were previously inaccessible.
I personally have a mixed relationship with Metroidvanias, though "utility-gated progression" usually isn't my main issue but rather the convoluted design of the maps and/or the gameplay itself, and both creep up their ugly heads here as well, though I can excuse it much more for a 30 year old game rather than some of the newer entries into the genre.
Firstly, this is a Game Boy game, and unlike the NES version, Samus covers 1/4 of the screen here, which from the get-go makes for an awkward affair when trying to dodge enemies reliably. Her jumps are not sensitive to button presses at all, so you need to press JUMP quite a while in order to make a long jump, and in areas where platforms are separated by some sort of health-evaporating substance in between, these jumps can become quite unreliable and hence frustrating.
Frustrating is actually a big thing with this game. The reason why you want to take hits as few times as possible is because there are few save points here and they are pretty far from each other, so you will constantly find yourself warp all the way back to the checkpoint whenever you die. And due to the level amount of health you're playing with, you'll find yourself die a lot. There are no immediate do-overs. Die and you go all the way back.
The worst part however is the fact that there is no map. So you either have to draw the map along as you play or have great memory. Plus, progress forward isn't as cut and dry as moving forward. Sometimes, progressing means finding some randomly placed hole in a wall that you can only reach by turning into the balled-up shape I was just talking about. It doesn't help that many areas look exactly the same in this game, adding to the confusion of it all.
Overall, the concept of this series I definitely like. This one just didn't age well and I don't know how children at the time could possibly beat this unless they'd spend dozens and dozens of hours of running through walls and having to rely on magazine guides, and whether it's fun to have to use those sources to beat a game is in the eye of the beholder I suppose.
No voice acting. There is an interesting that happens from time to time where the music simply cuts off and you're left playing for a while whilst just listening to the sound effects. It's odd on the one hand, but satisfying on the other because I actually like the various sound effects that you hear, whether it's shooting your projectiles, the sound of each step you take, collecting items and some beep sounds that play that apparently are part of the "Caverns 1 Theme". Whenever the music does play, you've got to understand the limitations of the Game Boy sound engine. So what they managed to do with that is pretty impressive. Obviously, if you give a listen to the 3DS remake OST, you'll see what increased technical capabilities will allow you to do, but the soundtrack here plays into the atmosphere of the levels very well here, and gets downright eerie whenever you get into a boss fight. In contrast, the surface of SR388 theme sounded a bit too playful to me, but I get it considering that's the music that kids will spend most of their time listening to. Do you dare and get further into the game than you're expected to? That's where you are met with tracks that match the increased tension and where this gets a lot more atmospheric.
If you rate this based on the capabilities of the Game Boy, the game doesn't look all too bad. If you rate it compared to what you would have gotten had this been an SNES game, it doesn't rate quite well. If you go somewhere down the middle, you can appreciate that this game was the reason that the Samus sprite got changes to it that would last until today, that the Metroids look positively disgusting and .. well yeah, that's pretty much it. The blackground is simply black, levels look very similar in design, the sprite size of Samus looks kind of awkward and creating holes in walls that hide progress and not giving any graphical indicator that something might be behind there is just an odd choice. And overall, the game simply doesn't look so good due to being a Game Boy game, which you might like yourself but is what I'd call an "acquired/nostalgic taste".
The game does a pretty good job actually of throwing you into hostile territory filled with vile and disgusting creatures. Whenever the non-music track plays or the tracks that hit the eerie tones of the graphical presentation play, this can become quite atmospheric and immersive, and downright scary I'd imagine for young gamers whenever a Metroid is chasing you down.
CONTENT | 5/10
Many different abilities that you can get your hands on as you play the game. The journey there can be rough however, as you will spend many hours trying to figure out where to go next, which some might call intentional and I'd call boring and not well executed here. Apart from that, there isn't much content here, but if you enjoy the bashing your head against walls aspect of it, this will be enough to keep you occupied for a dozen hours+.
I appreciate the idea behind this game of having to traverse a hostile environment and find your way through it without any hand-holding. Unfortunately, my idea of a fun game is in contrast to what the game design philosophy of Metroid's creators is, at least for the early entries in the series. No map is tough on its own, but progress hidden in walls (forcing you to check every wall), same looking areas and abilities that don't control all that well (the spider ability) makes for too many (subjective) issues here.
The concept remains intriguing, though I'd say the sequel has not yet gotten it to where it will eventually go in this series.
There isn't really any particular reason/motivation given for replaying this. Chances are, if you somehow beat this, you'll be satisfied and ready to move on.
The game worked well at all times.
OVERALL | 53/100
Unless you really enjoyed the original or really, really enjoyed the later entries in the Metroid series, I think this game is very skippable. Even if you did enjoy later Metroid games, you will likely miss the QoL features that will be introduced later. What this game does well is create a tense atmosphere, but I would agree that that's the gist of it, unless you are a big fan of the concept of hitting early wall to see if you can go through some of them, or if you enjoy drawing a map as you go. Otherwise, you will likely have to rely on guides to make progress, and have to do so many times. So right now I would call this a good proof on concept, just like the original, but the next step hasn't really been taken yet in my opinion.

be sure to play it on the game boy color palette, NOT the super game boy palette.

i, for one, am very impressed they managed to make a game that is both too confusing AND too linear