DoctorM64 spent over ten years remaking Metroid II: Samus Return in his free time, only to have Nintendo send him a DMCA and have to take the project down. Now that Nintendo has announced their own reimagining of the same game, he's just as pumped as everyone else is.
When DoctorM64 was working on Another Metroid 2 Remake (AM2R), he saw it as a service to the fans, updating a Metroid game that was out of date by updating the graphics, adding a map system, updating the enemy AI, among other things. If he had known that Nintendo was planning on a remake, he wouldn't have bothered.
"I wanted to remake something that needed to be remade," he told Kotaku over email, "and at the time it looked like a good option."
"Metroid is the only Nintendo universe with a cohesive story, with a well defined continuity," DoctorM64 said. "People could enjoy most chapters of that story while playing great solid games. The only chapter that felt outdated was Metroid 2. So finally releasing AM2R added that last piece that was missing."
Unfortunately, shortly after the release of AM2R, Nintendo sent DoctorM64 a DMCA. This week's announcement of Nintendo's own remake of Metroid II sheds some light on why. Kotaku news editor Jason Schreier talked to longtime Nintendo game producer Yoshio Sakamoto about AM2R at E3 -- it turns they were aware of the project.
"We heard about it first after we had already started development," Sakamoto told Jason. "We know it exists, the fact that a fan is out there and really likes the series this much." Sakamoto hasn't personally seen AM2R, but did also say that he knows that Nintendo asked DoctorM64 to take it down.
— DoctorM64 (@AM2Rgame) June 13, 2017
Despite all this, DoctorM64 seems excited for Nintendo's Metroid: Samus Returns, even if it took a different approach to remaking the game than he did. "It departs quite a lot from the source material, and the new abilities seem to add some depth to the combat," he said.
"It's really interesting to see what an entire dev team can do with the same source material, compared to my humble rendition. … I'm very curious about what the Metroid Queen (the final boss) will play like. I'm sure it will be epic."
DoctorM64 appreciates the difference between Nintendo's vision and his own. While AM2R used revamped pixel art, Nintendo's reimagining will use low poly 3D models. While it's a huge departure, DoctorM64 doesn't have a problem with it. "It looks more dynamic. … 3D gives you a lot of freedom to develop environments and action set pieces better, if you have a decent poly count. The overall action view looks great, the backgrounds are very varied."
In a situation like this, it would be very easy to be bitter. Having a decade of work removed from the world and then replaced by a different version of what you were working on seems like it would be frustrating. But DoctorM64 started AM2R to plug a hole in the Metroid franchise, and even without his game, the franchise will one day feel complete.
Even if you can't get AM2R anywhere legitimately, DoctorM64 hopes that the two approaches to remaking Metroid II can coexist. "Given how different both games are," he said, "I'm sure many people will see my game as more than just Another Metroid 2 Remake."