Skip to main content

Samus Returns is a confident throwback to Metroid’s roots

Samus Returns is a confident throwback to Metroid’s roots


A new coat of paint but that same old feeling

Share this story

Metroid: Samus Returns

After years of neglect, Metroid is back: yesterday Nintendo revealed two new entries in the iconic sci-fi exploration series. One, Metroid Prime 4 on Switch, isn’t due for some time. But the Nintendo 3DS title Samus Returns is launching on September 15th, and it’s not just the first proper Metroid game since 2010 — it’s also a return to the series’s roots. Samus Returns is a remake of Metroid II on the original Game Boy, and it’s the first traditional 2D Metroid release in over a decade. The announcement may have come as a surprise to many, but it’s far from a new idea for series co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto. “I’ve been wanting to create a 2D Metroid for a while,” he says.

“I’ve been wanting to create a 2D Metroid for a while.”

I had a chance to play through a 20-minute demo that represented the opening sequence of the game. Just like in the original Metroid IISamus Returns opens with the titular bounty hunter landing on the desolate planet SR388, and then exploring hostile caves home to angry aliens, including energy-sucking metroids. As in most Metroid games, you start pretty powerless; you need to seek out abilities like the morph ball and charge shot, which in turn help you open up new areas to explore. Samus Returns is a 2D game that features three-dimensional graphics, but the more detailed visuals don’t slow down the pace at all. In fact, Samus Returns is a much tighter action experience compared to the now-ancient Metroid II. Samus can now aim in any direction, and chain together attacks; if you time it right you can bat away an enemy and then immediately blast it with a critical laser shot. It feels fast and fluid, with a sense of immediacy that fits well with the series.

Outside of its tighter action and more detailed visuals, Samus Returns also includes a number of enhancements based around the 3DS hardware. For one thing, it’s the rare game that actually makes great use of the handheld’s glasses-free 3D effect, lending a sense of depth to the world. I found myself stopping to catch details in the background, like the corpses of unlucky cave explorers, and — unlike almost every other 3DS game I’ve played — I didn’t want to turn the 3D effect off. Meanwhile, the second screen is also put to use by displaying the in-game map at all times, making exploration a little easier. You can even place pins on the map, just like in Breath of the Wild, to remember areas you might want to explore later. (Sakamoto says he “wasn’t actually aware” of that feature being in the latest Legend of Zelda game.)

Sakamoto served as the designer on the original Metroid, and he directed its successor, Super Metroid. But he didn’t actually work on Metroid II. That said, he believes the portable game has an important place within the series — which is one of the main reasons he wanted to remake it. “In terms of Metroid II, that was a Game Boy game. It was quite a while back, and it hadn’t been revisited,” he explains. “Metroid II I feel has a really important place in the Metroid franchise’s history. It introduces us to baby metroid for the first time, and there are a lot of important elements in that title.” While Sakamoto is helming the production, the game is actually being developed as a collaboration between Nintendo and Spanish studio Mercury Steam, whose best-known work is arguably the Castlevania reboot Lords of Shadow in 2010. “It’s this really nice meld of each company’s experience and ideas, and the flavors that we bring to the series,” Sakamoto says of the collaborative process between the two developers.

“What do we do to preserve some of that originality yet add to it?”

Of course, as with any reimagining, there’s always the potential that any new features in Samus Returns could dilute the essence of the original experience. Metroid is known for its challenging gameplay and moody atmosphere, and with better aiming, faster action, and a more useful map, it’s possible that some of that feeling will be lost in Samus Returns. It’s a question the development team struggled with when they started working on the game two years ago. “What do we do to preserve some of that originality yet add to it?” asks Sakamoto. “I think the key is that you’re only adding things that improve upon that core concept. You’re not changing things just to change things. It’s really not that different from creating a game from scratch — you’re just looking to build something fun and enjoyable.”

Metroid: Samus Returns is a game that fans have been asking for for quite some time. And for Sakamoto, announcing the title yesterday provided a profound sense of relief — it’s both a game fans were clamoring for and a game he yearned to make. “I’ve had this sense of anticipation,” he says of the E3 reveal. “I wanted to talk about it, I wanted to tell people that we’re doing this.”

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 36 minutes ago Not just you

Emma Roth36 minutes ago
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.

Emma RothAn hour ago
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.

External Link
Emma Roth5:52 PM UTC
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.

External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.

Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.

The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.

Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.