As of September 15, 2022, it has been five years since the release of the game Metroid: Samus Returns on the Nintendo 3DS. At that time, the game caused a mixed reaction among veterans, but its fame gradually grew as the Metroid series returned to the public consciousness. It helps that Metroid: Samus Returns was the first major success of the series in a decade and the first official 2D Metroid game even before that. This collaboration between MercurySteam and Nintendo EPD marks the first steps towards bringing Metroid back to relevance.
Indeed, although many consider Metroid Dread to be a true revival of the franchise, much of what Dread has done has been tried out in Metroid: Samus Returns. The game wouldn’t have been such a hit if Samus Returns hadn’t tried on its new focus on action, not to mention giving new franchise developers a chance to develop the Metroid name. The community owes Samus Returns more than it realizes, and although Dread has essentially replaced it in their minds, there are still many reasons to celebrate what Metroid: Samus Returns did right.
Samus returns, having prepared the Metroid narrative for the next release
Metroid: Samus Returns is a remake of the original game Metroid 2: Return of Samus for the Game Boy. In it, the intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran receives a contract to visit SR388 and destroy dangerous Metroid species. Even in the early days, the franchise was still focused on research, but it didn’t yet have the interconnected world of Super Metroid. Instead, players are given a count of live Metroids, and are expected to find them and engage them in evolving boss battles. This is also true for the remake, which replaces the original Metroid 2 for all intents and purposes, as well as Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid 1.
It should be emphasized that, despite the fact that none of the 2D Metroid games no longer have numbers in their titles, their chronology still corresponds to the original release order. The stories of these games flowed into each other more than many could imagine, so Samus Returns had to refresh players in past games and at the same time deepen their knowledge. Unlockable images revealed the backstory of Chozo, Metroids and X-Parasites, and in the extended ending it was shown how X-Parasites begin their rampage without Metroids to stop it. The events of the narrative sequel and the real-life prequel Metroid Fusion were important to Metroid Dread, so it was imperative that Samus Returns reintroduce them.
Metroid Dread Wouldn’t be like This without Metroid: Samus Returns
The plot continuation was far from the only lype prepared by Metroid: Samus Returns for Metroid Dread. In particular, Samus Returns became the first 2D game of the Metroid series, in which the action elements of the franchise really intensified. In Metroid Prime Hunters and Metroid: Other M, this was done differently, but “The Return of Samus” marked the premiere of Melee Counter from Samus. This and the videos that followed it often interrupted the course of the battle, but Metroid Dread proved that this idea is worth refining.
Several gameplay elements, including free aiming, were introduced in Samus Returns and reused in Dread. Special abilities called Eion abilities also first appeared in Samus Returns, although they served as additions to the regular gameplay rather than as the vital mechanics they became in Dread. Ultimately, despite the fact that Metroid: Samus Returns was limited to a portable game and a remake of an old game, it was still a successful attempt to bring back both the 2D Metroid and the unusual Metroid 2. this, and it’s certainly a worthy addition to the marathon series while the wait for Metroid Prime 4 continues.
Metroid: Samus Returns is available on the Nintendo 3DS.