If you know me or my gaming history, you know I have been a fan of Metroid for about as long as the series existed. While I didn’t own the NES cart till much later, I was as often as not borrowing it from a close friend of mine, and when Metroid 2 launched for Gameboy, there was suddenly no gaming system I wanted more.
Even after abandoning console for the PC when DOS games reached their final peak, it was Metroid Prime that brought me back with a copy that included a demo of the then upcoming Metroid Prime 2 in a GameCube bundle. Yes this franchise and I go a long ways back.
But despite this, I never actually played a cart version of the second game. You see until the DS, I never got any of the Nintendo portable machines, so when I finally did play it, it was by PC emulation years later with the European regioned cart on my shelf (which I still have) that was the best I could get my hands on via Ebay. I had a controller, but it was an old Gravis Gamepad Pro which was very loose on the rocker-switch, and the whole situation just felt clunky and old. I bought the game again when it became available on the 3DS, but even as I did, I knew I was just trying to catch up with something that clearly didn’t age well… and then this happened.
Project AM2R is a fan-project made with the intention to update what is arguably the worst aged Metroid game of the franchise to play like a much more modern addition to the series. Think of it doing for Metroid 2: Return of Samus like Metroid: Zero Mission did for the original title… having been announced back as erly as 2009 with demos that ultimately became a new small unofficial Metroid game of their own, yesterday became the big announcement: the first release of AM2R in its full form is now out.
Having hit 1.0, the game is now downloadable for free on Windows machine with a Linux port promised to arrive soon. As I speak, the game is finishing downloading on my living room media center and, once I put it through it’s paces (even if it’s a game made for love of the franchise, I want to scan the living hell out of it before I open it up), it’s probably going to become the next “must play” game in my list. Please feel free to check out the project for yourself. The site for it is here, the page for this game is here, and for those less patient, the entry about the game launching is here. User beware when downloading (and I would avoid the Media-fire source, even if the Metroid-database may take a long time to download), but this has been a long-time coming, and I'm really glad to see that once again, the fans will do what Nintendo won’t.
Update: Well Nintendo also will do something the fans won’t and that’s stop anyone else from doing what they won’t do. As of yesterday, AM2R has been hit with a C&D order over the fan-made project. The Metroid-Database was ordered to stop hosting it and the site itself has been forced to take down both the release post and the download page for the project. At this point if you did not download the game, you are pretty much stuck looking for torrents of it (which do exist) if you want to play Metroid 2 with the same treatment the original game got when Nintendo released Metroid: Zero Mission.
Now, part of me wants to rant on Nintendo for this. After all, Nintendo has all but ignored Metroid in recent years, with the last titles we got being Prime 3 in 2007 and Other M in 2010. Add to that the fact that if ANY game in the franchise needs an update to modern times it was Return of Samus and how good Zero Mission was, any fan has a right to be disappointed in Nintendo right now, basically for neither acting on the demand that gave rise to this or letting the fans do it for them. But on the other hand, Nintendo does in this case, not only own the franchise, but the very game being remade… so they kinda have to act (even if they are REALLY late to the party) to protect that ownership. So, reasonably, I can’t.
What I can do is hope that more then Nintendo’s lawyers are paying attention. If the fans want this enough to make it themselves, maybe it’s time to give Metroid 2 the proper update treatment.