It has been seven years since we received a Metroid game. I mean, Metroid Prime: Federation Force doesn’t really count, as it was a spin-off that didn’t contribute as much to the series’ lore as the major releases. When Metroid: Samus Returns, a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus was announced, it was absolutely a welcome prospect. But, it initially seemed like a revival of a good thing, rather than a means of delivering us new content and information to savor. Yet here it is, taking us into new realms by providing additional lore and a new ending that changes the future of the series. What we now know offers so many opportunities, giving Metroid Prime 4 a possible place to explore and referencing Metroid Fusion.
Editor’s Note: There will be spoilers ahead.
Much of Metroid: Samus Returns’ plot remains the same. Samus has been sent to SR388 to exterminate all of the Metroids on the planet. We see firsthand the threat they pose. As such, we wipe most of them. One is saved, as it sees Samus and imprints on her when it hatches. She decides to take it with her. Which normally led to the events of Super Metroid, where the baby Metroid was left with scientists at the Ceres Space Colony, Ridley takes it, and she ends up heading to fight the space pirates and foil their scheme. But things don’t exactly go that way here.
Things go quite differently here. Instead of a peaceful retreat, Samus has to deal with one last boss fight. It’s a major one against Ridley. It happens to be a highlight of the game and one of the most intimidating challenges, as well it should be. This is a three phase fight where at each portion, we get to not only dodge fireballs and systematically use our beam to beat him, but also get to see Samus save the Metroid. It not only acts as a capper where we get to have this amazing fight against what is probably Samus’ greatest foe, but watch the bond being formed between her and this baby creature. We watch as Samus makes Ridley drop the Metroid as the second phase begins, then see the Metroid take some of his energy and give it to Samus at the beginning of the third phase. It is all a wonderful use of foreshadowing.
There a number of reasons why this is great and works so well. For one, it doesn’t actually negate the existence of Super Metroid. We know Ridley always comes back badder and better than ever. His regenerative abilities and mechanical parts make that happen. In a way, it almost makes the events of Super Metroid more plausible. Of course the space pirates would come after that baby. He’s seen it with his own eyes and knows that Samus has it. It explains the speed with which the Metroid is taken. But the really great part is that this boss fight makes him the final boss of the game. Considering his role as Samus’ rival and the things he has done throughout the series, it is amazing to see him get this multipart battle at the very end of a game.
The Metroid: Samus Returns epilogue is just as enlightening. Metroid Fusion introduced X Parasites. As a reminder, these are deadly creatures that infect their hosts, copy them, then kill them. We learned in the Game Boy Advance game that these are SR388 natives, even though we didn’t see them in Metroid II: Return of Samus. But after the credits in this remake, we see one infect a Hornoad. It is a nod to something familiar, establishes that this was there even though we didn’t see it at the time, and perhaps suggests the X Parasite could show itself to be a fearsome force in future games.
Then, there are the Chozo Memories. This was the peaceful and wise race that inhabited multiple planets and raised Samus. We know they were travelers who visited many planets, exploring and interacting with their creatures. But now, but getting 100% completion on maps, we get to see their exact experiences on SR388. It shows Chozo realizing how devastating an X Parasite could be, creating the Metroid to fight and subdue them. While this did work, the Metroid then evolved and turned on the Chozo. The new menace is sealed away, But then, an ominous image shows a group of warriors coming to SR388 after the incident with the X Parasites and Metroids, suggesting people immediately came to use them for evil intentions. Again, it gives us all this backstory to savor and help us learn more about the importance of all these species.
Metroid: Samus Returns takes a game that is enjoyable and familiar and enhances it. The core story remains the same. Samus is still there to deal with the Metroid threat. But now, we have a better understanding of how the SR388 ecosystem works. We get an opportunity to face Ripley in an incredible battle, one that shows how the deep the bond between the baby Metroid and Samus is. We even get to learn more about the Chozo. All of this comes together to help us better understand the past, and perhaps the future as well.
Metroid: Samus Returns is available for the Nintendo 3DS.