Metroid Samus Returns was released to much fanfare on September 17th 2017. It was like a welcome gulp of water to slack our thirst as float through time patiently waiting for Metroid Prime 4. Question is, did “Samus Returns” hit the mark, and does it truly stand on its own? This is not a review of the game, there are a million of those already, but more of a look of where does this belong from a game players stand point in the annals of Metroid history.
Before its release like many of the readers of this article, I had been patiently waiting for a Metroid follow up that was worthy of its history and prestige that the earlier releases represented. As an asterisk to this, I never played Other M, Federation Force, or Prime Pinball. Federation Force and Pinball aren’t true Metroid games IMHO, and judging by the reviews of Other M, many would say the same for that title. (I can already feel the Other M defenders readying their finger tips to slay me in the comment section). However the other handheld and system games have all graced me with hours upon hours of precious game play.
Samus Returns is a reimagining of The Return of Samus, a Game Boy title and second Metroid game in the series. (I do want to note that Nintendo really worked hard in the naming department). The original Metroid 2 was released on the Game Boy in November 1991. It was actually the first Metroid I had ever played. I can still look back and remember the burning sensation as my eyes literally destroyed themselves while gazing at the green unlit screen. That game was amazing, and so when I picked up “Samus Returns” my expectations were high.
After a lengthy replay and days of meditation focusing the energy of the universe, I realized finding where this title stacks in the series is all at once easy and difficult. Though I wanted only to compare it to the Metroid 2 the game that was its inspiration, I found how easily I was drawn to compare it to other 2D installments in the series. Puzzles, hidden rooms, compelling music. I found the size and scope to be far grander that previous hand held games, but then again that could be an issue of cartridge memory being much larger today then it in the early 90’s. It took the DNA of its predecessors and expanded the art style making exploration feel real giving the game a depth that previous 2D titles attempted, but never mastered. In art alone I would give it head and shoulders above its counterparts.
Abilities such as the “Scan Pulse” were a likely response to those who complained they couldn’t find power ups or hidden paths. It was done in such a way that it added to the game more then it took away. Scanning and area and finding a weak block did not mean you were instantly going to be given missiles or energy on the other side. More often then not it was an invitationto a puzzle to achieve such goodies. Portal Spots as well were likely a response to gamers complaining about having to back track long distances repeatedly.
So in my mind I would place it right behind Super Metroid. I will admit it is the picture of innovation pushing fresh ideas to modernize the franchise. However looking back from its era Super Metroid did it better, and with less processing power to work with. With that being said the Metroid franchise has had some highs and some lows, Samus Returns is certainly one its highest highs.
So what does everyone else think? A year later Samus Returns has sold roughly 480,000 copies according to VGCharts, which doesn’t include digital sales. By comparison the original Game Boy version sold 1.76 million, and the number one selling Metroid game Metroid Prime has sold 2.82 million copies according to VGCharts. The comparison doesn’t seem close. Even among 3DS game sales it doesn’t crack the top ten. Then again most of those titles have the name Mario or Pokemon attached to it. So why the disparity? Perhaps its the fact that Samus Returns has only been on the market a year, perhaps its a sign that the 3DS has begun its decent as the Switch has made its rise. Or perhaps there is the stain left by Other M, or the long draughts in between games has shoved Metroid to the background of the publics psyche. I myself hope that over time the sales will climb as well as that digital sales which aren’t tracked the same are making a larger impact.
In the end Samus Returns will likely be used as a marker to test the desire for Metroid titles particularly in the 2D arena. Based on how Nintendo perceives the games performance will dictate what they do in the future. The last thing I want is another shelving of the franchise for an entire systems life, or some random spinoff that uses the name Metroid for a cash grab. With this title Nintendo has shown they are willing to adapt. All we have to do to show appreciation is buy it.
If this article has given you the need to play Metroid and you have a 3DS, your in luck. You can grab the Metroid 2 for 3.99 as a download from the eShop, and Samus Returns for 39.99.
Tell me what you think! Am I over reacting on the sales of Samus Returns? How do you think Metroid as a franchise is fairing compared to the more flashy IP’s? If you are an Other M fan, let me know how I’ve made poor life decisions by not playing it in the comment section down below, or you can discuss in our wonderful forums.
Some say he is a leaf on the wind, others say he is the wind beneath their wings. Either way he is a huge Nintendo fan and has been gaming since the age of 8. One part Jedi Master, and two parts Starfleet Redshirt he has been known to quiet the ocean and make mountains sit. He comes to you now to share in all things Nintendo.