Metroid 2 Was Unique Among Metroid Games

Metroid: Samus Returns comes out this week, a full overhaul of the very dated Metroid 2. Released for the Gameboy, the original is a challenge to play due to tricky controls and flat black-and-white graphics. Yet despite the limitations of its platform, Metroid 2 introduced many elements that were — and still are — unique to the Metroid series.

Metroid: Samus Returns: The Kotaku Review

There was a time, so many years ago now, when it felt like we had too much Metroid. The simultaneous launch of Prime and Fusion in 2002, followed up with another one-two volley of Metroids two years later. "Slow down!" we cried. "We can't keep up with all this Metroid!"

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I would hazard to guess that Metroid 2 is one of the least-played Metroid games, yet it added so much to the series, some of which was completely unique to this game. Here are some of the best things Metroid 2 introduced.


The Classic Varia Suit

It's not hard to conjure up an image of Samus's signature Varia Suit — bright orange, green visor, huge round shoulders. Only the original Varia Suit never had those round shoulders. The now iconic round shoulder armour was in fact added in Metroid 2. Because the original on the Gameboy was entirely monochrome, the designers had to add the round shoulder shape to visually indicate the suit upgrade, unable to use a simple colour swap.


The Spiderball

When I first found the spiderball in Metroid 2, it blew my mind. The upgrade turns your morph ball sticky, lending Samus the ability to trundle up walls, across ceilings and generally across almost any surface you want.

It's just behind the space jump in terms of opening up huge areas of the map to explore — and speaking of, Metroid 2 was the first game to introduce that ability, too.

The spiderball changed everything — but then it disappeared from Metroid games for more than ten years. It finally returned, albeit in 3D form, for Metroid Prime and its two sequels.

Now with Samus Returns we're finally getting the chance to spiderball again, in its full, unadulterated 2D form. This means you won't have to look for any special tracks to cling to — just roll straight up any wall you want.


The Queen Metroid

Many players may have (unfortunately) been introduced to the Queen Metroid, the penultimate stage of the metroid life cycle, in Metroid: Other M. If this was you, I'm sorry.

Despite the general terribleness of that game, the queen metroid battle was still one of the highlights, an interesting, fast-paced boss battle. Yet many who picked up Metroid: Other M may not have known that this battle had its roots all the way back in the final battle of Metroid 2.

Being a 2D game, fighting the queen metroid was far different in Metroid 2, but it still introduced some interesting ideas — to do damage to the queen, for one, you had to jump into its mouth in morph ball form and leave a bunch of ticking bombs in its stomach. Gross.


The Metroid Hatchling

You know, the baby. Almost all the 2D Metroid games have used the hatchling as a plot point — from Ridley stealing it in Super Metroid to the hatchling's DNA being used to save Samus's life in Metroid fusion.

Samus's bond with the hatchling didn't happen offscreen, however — it was an integral, if simply animated, cutscene in the end of Metroid 2. Despite the grainy graphics, lack of dialogue and simple soundtrack, I'd still probably count it as one of the most heartwarming scenes in any Metroid game.


A Different Ending

You know how Metroid games end, right? Samus achieves her goal, beats the boss, and then the planet starts exploding while she makes a mad run to her ship. Metroid 2, surprisingly, doesn't follow this formula at all.

Samus still has to return to her ship from the site of the final battle, but this time it's to a cheery upbeat soundtrack with a just-hatched metroid circling her and making chirpy little noises of contentment. Cute.


Comments

    Metroid 2 was the first Metroid game I ever finished, the first Metroid lacked direction so I struggled with it when I was younger but Metroid 2 felt smaller and more confined with obvious routes when I unlocked a new ability. I'm glad I played it before jumping into Super, it made Super Metroid and Fusion all the more enjoyable knowing that I had actually found the baby Metroid and its attachment to Samus.

      That's interesting! Did you play Metroid 2 closer to when it came out? I played both Metroid and Metroid 2 more recently but I have to admit for both I needed printed maps and occasional hints to navigate haha. Some of the routes in the original were really hard to find.

        I was a little older when I played Metroid 2, maybe around the age of 12? so about 6yrs after its release. I dunno, I felt the areas were far less repetitive than Metroid so it was easier to remember a location, so finding a new ability and seeing what it does it kind of just clicked that I had to find my way back that previous area.
        I'm 30 now and I still haven't finished the Original Metroid, everything just looks the same and I get lost so easily haha.

    Samus Returns comes out tomorrow. Not today.

      Otherwise a fun read, didn't mean to be a Negative Nancy. AM2R was a fantastic way to experience Metroid 2 for the first time as well, clearly made from fans with a love of the original. Super keen to play Samus Returns

        Ahh I don't know why I got it in my head that the 15th was the release date in Australia too. AM2R looked interesting! I haven't played it but from what I saw seemed to be very much based around Super Metroid over the more recent ones.

        I'm really keen for Samus Returns though, from what little I've played!

          Apparently 15th is the US release date, it's tripped up a few of my friends too.

    Metroid 2 was the first game I purchased for myself after getting a Gameboy for Christmas in what I think was 1998? The packaging sold me on "Tearing through enemies in a Buzz saw blur" I cannot think how much I tore through that game (Enough to get the swimsuit ending first time) But I still hold a fond place in my heart, and it's where my love for Samus comes from. (Ironically the one time the gay guy accidentally chose to play as a lady and not intentionally).

    Having it on the 3DS was a huge moment of excitement for me, but I must admit I do miss the console and cartridge that were so unfortunately stolen from my parents car one night :(

      I'm trying to find a boxed PAL version of this game, they rarely come up and if they do the asking price is insane. The box art is dang nice though that it'd be worth it... I think.

      I really wish AUS got that awesome collectors edition the UK got.

        I don't know about the box, but I am pretty sure a manual still exists in a Sandwich bag at my parents house. If I ever find it I'll happily mail it to ya man :)

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