Metroid II: Return of Samus

More Metroid is always a good thing.

Review Date: May 12, 2021

Release Date: November 1, 1991

Platform: Game Boy

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Nonlinear Platformer

Anecdotes: Having played Super Metroid (review coming June 14) extensively, I was always curious about the opening cutscenes. They show Samus with a baby Metroid. I was thinking, “Wait a minute. Where did that baby Metroid come from? NES Metroid didn’t have any of that.” Samus didn’t encounter any baby Metroid in that game; she essentially killed Mother Brain and fled as Zebes exploded. Obviously, there was a gap in my knowledge, so I went to this invention that exploded with popularity starting in 1995. We call it the Internet. By 1999, even though the mainstream Internet was in its early years, it helped me a ton. I had found out that I was missing a game, so I wanted to go back and play it. I already had a Game Boy Color so I could play Shamus for the first time in years. I knew Metroid II existed due to Super Metroid’s title sequence saying Metroid 3 at one point, but I had discovered more details of Metroid II after that. I learned the game was compatible with my GBC, so now I just had to find the cartridge. After checking out various stores, I finally found at a Funco Land one town over. Metroid II was mine. I was quite surprised at how different the gameplay was.

Description: Samus is given a new bounty to hunt. She has to eradicate the Metroids off of SR388 and eventually finish off the Queen Metroid at the end. Samus already has the Morph Ball and 30 missiles to start the game. Along the way, she’ll find about 40 items to use, some of which are brand new to the series.


-Speaking of items new to the series, let’s have a look. The biggest addition that stuck around is the Space Jump, which allows Samus to jump to infinite heights. Essentially, she can fly. This game also introduced the Spazer, Spring Ball, and the magnificent Plasma Beam. All four of those items, including the Space Jump, found their way into the next game. The only new item that didn’t make it to Super Metroid is the Spider Ball. That’s unfortunate because I thought the Spider Ball was a cool item.

Samus grabs the Spider Ball. She can now roll up walls and along ceilings.

-The game has an open world layout, but it uses acid pools to block off areas Samus shouldn’t be in yet. Generally, Samus will visit an area. She’ll defeat the Metroids in the area. As a result, the screen shakes a bit as the acid level drops. This allows Samus to access new areas.

-Nintendo did a nice job expanding the role of and focusing on the titular Metroids. This time, they appear throughout the game and Samus must find and defeat all of them to complete the game. In addition to the standard Metroids, there are Alpha, Gamma, Zeta, and Omega Metroids placed throughout the game. Each type has its own attack patterns and HP totals. As a nod to the first game, the standard Metroids appear in the final area of the game, and they are defeated in the same way as before.

Is it just me, or does this Metroid resemble Ridley?


-Throughout the game, I had serious issues keeping my missile supply up. Outside of the final area, Metroids can take up to 30 missiles to kill, plus one for each miss. There are only two ways to fix the situation. First, I could go find a missile recharger. That involves often going to previous areas and it’s a long journey in both directions. That’s WITH a map; players didn’t have that luxury back then and the game has no mapping system. The other option is to farm them from enemy drops, which takes forever. It’s tough enough to find enemies that can drop missiles at all, but once they’re found, then the low drop rate kicks in. It’s really frustrating. The game could have been better with drops.

-Samus takes up nearly a quarter of the screen’s height. This is rough on players because of a tight “zoom.” It’s hard to see anything more than 5 tiles away on any direction. This adds to the feeling of getting lost, which sometimes can be all right, but when areas all have similar appearances, it gets annoying as players have no idea where they are.

-There is an area in the game I like to call the “Tower of Beams.” It’s four rooms stacked up, each with a different beam inside. It sounds great and all, but players will quickly realize that each beam collected just replaces the previous one. Beams don’t get stacked, so the last one obtained is what Samus will use. Players can forget about combining them up. Each has its benefits, so players can pick what they like, but they have to get the Ice Beam later on to complete the game.


Hey, look at that huge ship!
The first Metroid hatches. This one is an Alpha.
Metroid II uses these pools of acid to block progress. After defeating more Metroids, it will lower and Samus can advance.
Because the game is actually on a black and white system, the Varia Suit needed a distinct shape when Samus has it on, so it started the classic shoulders the suit has.
The cracked shell is a hint that there’s a Metroid nearby.
El Supersalto, or in English, Space Jump! Come on let’s fly!
Here’s a random enemy for my readers to enjoy.
So many Metroids.
There’s the Metroid huevo that sets up Super Metroid.
The Queen Metroid blocks the path. An odd quirk here is that Samus can leave the battle through the hole at the bottom and come back later.

Final Opinion: I like this game, but the lack of a mapping feature combined with a zoomed in “camera” knocks it down a bit.

Grade: B

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