Despite being one of Nintendo's most beloved and iconic characters, Samus Aran seems to have been getting the cold shoulder from the Big N. From the lackluster Metroid: Other M to the baffling Metroid Prime Federation Force, things aren't looking too bright for the Metroid series. However, if Nintendo won't make a good Metroid game, dedicated and talented fans will. Enter Another Metroid 2 Remake, a glorious fan remake of the often overlooked Metroid II: The Return of Samus for the Game Boy that takes the black sheep of the 2D entries and gracefully transforms it into a series highlight.
As to be expected, Another Metroid 2 Remake follows the plot of Metroid II: The Return of Samus to a T. After the events of the first Metroid and the Metroid Prime series, the Galactic Federation has sent research teams to the SR388, the homeworld of the parasitic Metroids. After losing contact with all teams, the federation turned to the only woman who had ever fought the titular aliens and won. Samus Aran, bounty hunter, and badass extraordinaire is on the case with one very lofty mission — travel to the Metroid homeworld and eradicate the species for good.
Like many titles in the Metroid franchise, Another Metroid 2 Remake thrusts Samus in an alien planet with no backup or contact to the outside world. The only thing between you and the carnivorous denizens of SR388 is your hulking arm cannon - and later, many more unique power-ups such as bombs, ice beams, and the wall-clinging Spider Ball. These items — much like the Metroids themselves — are scattered across the planet, and if you want any hope of completing your mission, you're going to need to pass a lot of platforming challenges and explore every square inch of the labyrinthine planet.
You know all this already. So what makes Another Metroid 2 Remake stand out?
The first, and most impressive addition is the gorgeous presentation. SR388 has been given a jaw-dropping makeover with sprites heavily (and most likely intentionally) reminiscent of the Game Boy Advance Metroid remake, Metroid: Zero Mission. What's even more impressive than the new sprites are how many new animations they're used for — making the title look much more fluid in action than just about anything the series has ever seen before. However, my personal favorite touch has to go to the introductions of some really neat particle effects, such as machines bursting into showers of metal sheets or rockets actually bouncing off heavy armor rather than simply vanishing. They're all little touches, sure, but it comes together to make Another Metroid 2 Remake look more polished than any other fan game I've ever laid eyes on.
While the graphics may be all-new, the gameplay should be instantly familiar to anyone who has played The Return of Samus in the past, with a few notable changes. The first of which comes in the form of movement — gone are the days of clunking awkwardly through dark halls. Now, Samus moves at a speed similar to that of Zero Mission, darting past projectiles and flipping through the air with ease. Another hindrance few will miss is sliding right past cliffs — if you nearly make a jump, Samus will simply reach up and grab onto it, allowing you to either climb up or blast away with your arm cannon. Of course, the game has controller support — and while I found that using an analog stick on my Xbox One controller was nothing short of a nightmare - Another Metroid 2 Remake is clearly made with a controller in mind.
Aside from the updated movement, Another Metroid 2 Remake includes the controversial addition of a Super Metroid-esque map, allowing you to check what areas you've visited and place waypoints on areas you want to keep track of. While I know some do enjoy blindly stumbling through the cramped caverns of SR388, I welcome this addition with open arms.
Out of all the changes, the one that has captured my heart the most has to be the addition of a Metroid Prime style log system. Now you can keep track of nearly everything you encounter — with helpful notes covering everything from the frequent earthquakes on SR388 to the native species you come across. Unlike Metroid Prime, each new discovery is instantly added to your log alongside a notification, removing the need to do any sort of scanning during the combat.
As a life-long fan of Metroid, Another Metroid 2 Remake has brought warmth into my cold, dead, post-Other M heart. It's the best sort of remake - one that capitalizes on all the strengths of the original, all while adding on the improvements the series has made since the game's 1991 release. If you've played Metroid 2 before, it's worth going back around to see how the team has improved the title, and if you've never taken a visit to SR388 before, there's never been a better way to experience the title.
Another Metroid 2 Remake is available as a free download at the game's website.