top of page

Metroid Samus Returns Review - Hard or Soft?

I have played every mainline 2D Metroid game since the original on the NES. I remember fondly playing Metroid 2 on my Game Boy on many a car ride. As you can imagine, when Samus Returns was announced, i was excited...and worried. This is the first 2D Metroid with 3D rendered graphics, done by a different studio than the rest. How did it pan up?

Metroid Samus Returns Box

First off, an observation. The 3DS XL is not very...ergonomic. It seems the longer it has been as an owner and the more games I play, my wrists and hands hurt after not that much time playing. I feel this in games as complex and fast as Samus Returns, and as slow as Fire Emblem. Not related, but just wanted to hear your thoughts on it.


As I pointed above, this is the first 3D rendered 2D Metroid game. This makes it feel even more different than the original. We didn't even have color back then! The graphics remind me a lot of Metroid Other M, and are about as detailed as you'd expect for a 3DS game(No New 3DS enhancements). There are basic lighting effects, shadows, reflections, etc. The monsters and environments from Return of Samus are very well recreated, with additional detail throughout. It is nothing spectacular, but Metroid never focuses too much on graphics. I also felt the game ran a bit choppy compared to others. I wondered if maybe it's been too long, but after some research, I found that the game runs at 30 FPS, compared to the 60 FPS of every other 2D Metroid game. I honestly would have preferred the game being done in either the Super Metroid or Metroid Fusion engine with more details at 60 FPS, but it is still quite a marvel to look at a black and white Game Boy game being done like this.


The meat and potatoes. This game is the only one where your goal is to kill a certain number of Metroids, with a counter to help your genocide attempt. Samus Returns feels just like Super Metroid, with a few additions. A melee parry option was added to provide more depth to combat. It helps keeps the trek fresh, since you just can't keep shooting everything without much strategy. There is also a free aim option now, allowing you to easily hit anything on the screen easily. It even has a laser aim assist. Samus moves smoothly, and the controls are nice and tight. You use the analog stick to move, other than a few accidental ball transformations, it works well. You also now have "Aeion Abilities", separate from the usual upgrades. One of these allows you to scan a tiny area of the map, and it will show you breakable blocks, areas where upgrades are, etc. You may think that this takes away the wonder of exploration these games provides, but it doesn't.

That is one of the amazing things about Samus Returns. Every time you think that you are becoming too powerful or agile, the game presents a new monster or obstacle to remind you that this is a harsh world. Without the right power-up, you cannot progress or find certain upgrades. In previous games you could use tricks like the ball bomb bounce to reach areas you aren't supposed to, not here. Exploration and combat are consistently upgraded, with obstacles and abilities in perfect harmony. You can stick to walls in ball form now? Here are plants that damage you. Found an ability that lets you go through them? Here is goop that makes you slip off walls, etc. Know how to parry a monsters attack? Here is a higher damage variant with a different pattern. This makes the game really hard to put down, and really encourages you to explore.

Hearing the Metroid alarm brings about a sense of dread and excitement, as you know that, for the majority of the game anyway, these aren't throwaway fights. You have to focus and learn patterns, as you are pretty delicate. The boss fights are really enjoyable and difficult. You never feel like the game cheated you when you die, you feel motivated to try again and try other methods. The music throughout fits it very well. It is mostly remixes of the old songs. It works, but it is nothing spectacular. The game also adds in nods to the Chozo, sprinkling in details of their involvement in the Metroid debacle, but very few of them. If you don't already know about them, this game won't be your entry point.


Samus Returns is an amazing journey. There was a lot of love put into the game. You don't need to be a fan of the original to enjoy this remake. It has a lot of nods to those of us who played it, and added certain elements that are staples in every Metroid game. I won't spoil them by writing about them, all I'll say is that they were pleasant surprises.

Metroid Samus Returns carries a retail price of $39.99. I won't give scores of 1-10, you can go to Gamespot or IGN for those. I have something I consider better: is it worth your money? I won't count savings you should get on your purchases on these scores(You know I don't pay retail, and neither should you). Full retail, sale, clearance, rent/borrow. That being said, at 11 hours to finish at 50% completion for Metroid Samus Returns...

HARD recommendation - Full Retail Price

Get boning!

#Nintendo3DS #Blog #Gaming #Review

Who's Behind The Blog
Recommended Reading
Search By Tags
bottom of page