In 2002, Nintendo was riding the successful tide of two major releases in their often ignored Metroid franchise: Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion. Both games came out to high acclaim and popularity. In fact, this may have been the best time for the franchise in it’s entire life. Knowing they had struck gold and wanting more, they began working on other games… the result in the 3D Metroid series was Metroid Prime 2, but a “new” 2D game was missing. Instead, Nintendo chose to remake the original title for their then current portable console as Metroid: Zero Mission.
Anyone who played this game (myself included) adored it, recognizing it as a proper game fore the series and the upgrade to the NES classic that it was. But that very idea got ideas buzzing. After all, if Nintendo was willing to do this for the original game, what about it’s sequel? After all, the NES version of Metroid was (and is) still very enjoyable as it has aged rather well. Sadly we can not say the same for the sequel which was limited right away by what the Gameboy could do, but Nintendo to date has not moved on this opening.
Then a few months ago, something wonderful happened and a project to do what Nintendo has yet to released in time for the 30th anniversary of the franchise. After a decade of work by one dedicated fan, AM2R was in the wild! And then Nintendo wasted no time pooping on the party by giving the project a DMCA.
Now I’m not blaming them for that action. After all, Metroid 2 is their game and this is a remake of the original, not a “spin-off” fan game. However, that does not mean I had any intention of missing this amazing title. And now as we come to the end of the 100 Days of Gaming for Extra Life, I put down my controller, happy to have the chance to complete what is arguably the best Metroid game we have seen since Metroid Prime 3 rolled around.
Story: The Galactic Federation now knows how dangerous Metroids can be. The space pirates of planet Zebes made that obvious when they attempted to use the creatures as a bio-weapon in their conquest of the galaxy. And while these plans were foiled and the base destroyed by the bounty hunter Samus Aran, these creatures still remained on the planet SR388 where they were first discovered, and anyone else with such ambitious goals could potentially attempt the same scheme.
With this knowledge, a decision was made and several teams were sent to SR388 to destroy the creatures. All of them were lost. With their options dwindling, the federation called on Samus’ services again. This time, she would be hired finish the mission of those sent to SR388 before her and if possible rescue them as well.
From this point, you will play as Samus as she explores the surface and caverns of SR388 on her mission to wipe out every single Metroid from the planet. Unlike the game this is a remake of, you will get some additional details about the world’s history and extra details about the enemies you face via the area and enemy scans as the game progresses, but you can ignore these just as easily. They are nice but have no influence on the game itself. And outside of one required and one optional area, there is literally nothing this game adds to the original story, which in itself is a relic of it’s time: front loaded before you begin and ultimately little more then to give the player a reason to be there.
Graphics: Much like the story of the game, this remake attempts to use the original as it’s base, but update and improve the game for a much more modern experience. Unlike the story however, this the game does a lot more then add additional touches and does so absolute mastery.
You will play this game from a side scrolling perspective in a world loving rendered in as you would expect if this game were playing on an SNES or a Gameboy Advance. Every character here has been lovingly remade (or made for the first time in the case of several boss battles) in the 16/32-bit era style you would expect to see if this game came out on the Gameboy Advance, and the loving care to upgrade shows in just about every one of them, from your first frog to the Metroid Queen at the end of the game. If anything the animations have gotten an additional upgrade due to the engine of this title being able to spin sprites rather then needing a new image for any direction, which plays a roll particularly in the way the early metroids move.
Nor is the world itself sacrificed for this beauty. Right from the very beginning, you are greeted with a wonderfully retro looking surface world, which will soon be hidden in the caves, each section of which contains it’s own complete look and feel, adding to the general expanse of world the game will show you.
And the end result combining everything is an amazing view into the world of SR388 in ways you have never and likely will never see again. Enjoy the views and epic vision Nintendo should have had for their own game.
Sound: Sadly this game could only do so much for the sound design of the game compared to the graphics, but the reason for that is understandable. The Gameboy release of the title only had so much it could do in the sound department, so while some of the music was rebuild based on the old notes, a lot of it was a lot less touched up and came from other better sounding Metroid titles. But this does not mean what is here sounds bad. In fact, it could stand up with the best the official franchise has to offer. Prepare to enjoy the sound track!
And while there is no voice acting sound effect are also pretty good. Keeping true to the Super Mertroid/Metroid Zero Mission sounds, all of Samus’ weapons sound absolutely perfect. Most of your enemies are generally silent, however, which is pretty much par for the course for this franchise where a few enemy types generally make all the noise… in this case, the metroids. Most of them only make screeing noises but they fit the creatures making them.
Gameplay: Almost every game to carry the name Metroid is an exploratory adventure game in which you wander a massive world looking for power-ups to increase your abilities to become more effective in combat and access more areas, and Metroid 2 was no exception. As such, AM2R carries the tradition as well, asking you to roam the world of SR388 on a mission to eradicate the entire species known as Metroid.
However, your upgrades in this case will only do so much to access new areas as you would think. Rather, acid pits will remain as barriers and be in your way preventing you from progressing more often then not until you finish killing the metroids currently within your reach. You will automatically scan when the area you are is infested to alert you to how many of the beasts are there, and once you finish this goal, an earthquake will drain away the acid, granting you access to more of the world. And that world itself is fairly large… a lot larger then one would expect from a game originally released on the original Gameboy. And by the time you finish you will have access to roam free across all of it.
And moving across this world is absolutely amazing feeling for the most part with tight controls that allow you to move Samus around very naturally, complete with upgrades to this system from later 2D titles in the game like hanging off corners and walljump as well as just about every weapon and armor that has become classic for the franchise since the original launched. It makes for a great package that feels more like Metroid should then anything Nintendo has released in the past decade. But be warned, this game also has some of the hardest encounters in any part of the series as well, so you will hit a barrier once in a while.
However, the only actual issue with this game is with controller support. The game recommends you use an Xbox 360 controller, but I do not… at all. The reason for this is that the game is very sensitive about the y-axis movement of the left analog stick, so if you use the controller as is most comfortable, you will find it VERY difficult to aim straight instead of diagonally up or down while moving around. And we all know the lack of quality in the rocker-switch on this controller, which will get in the way of opening secrets that require you to hold your running charge and launch it at specific places. Rather, I recommend you pick up a controller that focuses on the rocker switch first to play this game. It doesn’t need to be an expensive piece of hardware (I myself went with a logitech F310 gamepad) but you will be glad to have it.
Bugs: Personally I had no issues playing this game at all, and I played the original (v1.0) release. However, I have heard of three bugs that can happen if you are unlucky enough… one that is kinda funny but ignorable, while the others will break it.
- Samus turns invisible: If you are playing version 1.0, there is a chance that when you get the gravity suit, Samus will turn invisible as her sprite will refuse to draw on the screen while it’s active. You can turn it off, but this item is essential to completing the game, rendering the game unbeatable. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do while in the game to fix this as the only fix is to find, download, and continue playing your game in version 1.1 if this happens.
- Save game corruption: Which brings us to issue 2. No one knows the cause of this as development was forced to stop, but while version 1.1 is supposed to be completely compatible with the settings and save files from version 1.0, but there is a chance when you first open your old game after upgrading the game will delete it as corrupted. Once this happens, you are stuck with no choice but to start again from the beginning, but you can prevent the issue by backing up the files in C:\users\<username>\AppData\Local\AM2R before copying in the new version of the game. If the saves corrupt, you can copy them back in and try again. It has been reported this can fix the issue.
- Samus does a Jig while jumping: And the final reported bug can only happen in version 1.1. It’s apparently a lot more common then the other two, but while jumping without flipping in the gravity suit, the animation is a little glitched, resulting in her leg that she lifts in the jump to not stay up, but constantly go between standing and the leap. It looks like she’s doing a weird jig in the air before landing, but it does nothing to the game itself.
Overall: AM2R is simply put amazing. This is exactly what the fans of the franchise wanted to play for the 30th anniversary of the Metroid franchise and frankly it’s an absolute shame that the only thing like this came in the form of a fan game. It’s even more of shame as we can see Nintendo is capable of the level of TLC this game gives to what it’s remaking. They did it themselves with Metroid: Zero Mission to the original NES title. However, as things stand this is what we got. If you were lucky enough to get this game before Nintendo sent lawyers to stop it, enjoy. The game is absolutely fantastic. If not, I really hope you find a clean source and not miss out.
Source’s Listed System Requirements:
- None were listed, but the machine below ran it smooth as long as I did not turn on V-Sync
- AMD Athlon 5350 APU 2.05 GHz
- 8 GB RAM
- Radeon R3 (512MB VRAM minimum)
- Windows 10
Source: Tracking Forum - Since this game was hit with a DMCA, it is no longer officially available. HOWEVER that has not stopped the internet from trying to keep it out there fore new gamers to pick up. Download at your own risk.