Also available on 3DS via Virtual Console
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/02/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Metroid II: Return of Samus is the Game Boy sequel to the original Metroid on NES, and I have to admit that this one surprised me. Normally a game will feel like a definite downgrade when it starts on NES and gets a sequel on Game Boy – Super Mario Bros to Super Mario Land, for example. To my surprise, Metroid II didn’t feel like much of a downgrade at all. On the contrary, for the most part, it just felt like more Metroid but in black and white.
Metroid II takes place immediately following the events of Metroid. Knowing that the Metroids pose an existential risk to other life in the galaxy, the Galactic Federation determines that the species must be exterminated. After her success in the previous game, Samus is sent to see to the extinction of the Metroids. That’s the whole game here – you have to kill every single Metroid on their homeworld. In the bottom rights of the screen, there’s a running tally of how many Metroids remain. You’ll come into contact with a variety of different Metroids. There are, obviously, the regular Metroids that you encountered in the first game. There are also Alpha Metroids, the second stage in the Metroid development. They then turn to Gamma Metroids that gain the ability to shoot projectiles. Those turn into Zeta Metroids which can only be damaged from head-on. Then finally you’ve got the Omega Metroids which are like Zeta Metroids on steroids. Finally, you have the final boss, the Metroid Queen.
A handful of folks have said that they think that they think Metroid II is easier to navigate than the original, but I personally found this one to be at least as complicated to navigate as the first game. It definitely ended up feeling easier to navigate once I got a feel for the mazes, but at first, I was SO lost. The fact that you don’t have a map is a major hindrance, but that’s a pretty common thing with games this age especially for handhelds. Keep a map pulled up on your phone, and you’re probably okay. Or maybe you just generally suck less than I do.
Metroid II is definitely rough around the edges, but it’s a great follow-up from the first Metroid. I didn’t notice any of the sprite flicker from the NES original, and there wasn’t much noticeable slowdown, either. Still, though, the game is definitely as primitive as you would expect. That doesn’t mean that it’s not fun, though. On the contrary, while it’s an imperfect experience, it’s definitely a fun experience. I definitely recommend sticking to the 3DS remake, Samus Returns, if you want the Metroid story, but this is definitely a fun one to fire up and play a little of every now and then.