Metroid II: Return of Samus (Game Boy) Second Opinion Review

By Camilo Aránguiz González 08.08.2016 4

Review for Metroid II: Return of Samus on Game Boy

With the success of Metroid for the NES, it was the turn of the beloved Game Boy for continuing the young series. Far from the 8-bit home console technology and colours, though, the little portable system had the task of perpetuating the series toward the future, a vital step taken in the right direction in 1991, that helped at laying the foundations of the Metroidvania subgenre.

What are the elements that make a Metroid game a Metroid game? Probably, all the answers will be close to exploration, non-linearity, backtracking, and atmosphere. Then, keeping in mind those elements, is Metroid II: Return of Samus a Metroid game?

In terms of exploration, it is probably the aspect of Metroid II that will be confronted first, and that's because after hitting the Start button, the game immediately begins. No cut-scenes, no plot, just gameplay and some icons. With an enthusiastic tune, the player is cordially invited to find all the answers by their self.

Screenshot for Metroid II: Return of Samus on Game Boy

After a little exploration and some creatures are defeated - creatures that definitely give a feeling of being outside of the Earth - Samus will start to face multiple roads to take and places to visit in the depths of this foreign planet, and at this moment one of the first flaws arises: the lack of a map. Maybe in 1991 it wasn't a big deal not having an in-game map, but by today's standards, the game can become very frustrating and confusing on some occasions only because of this point.

The same problem is present when Samus has to return over her steps. Fortunately, though, that isn't a tedious experience because of the varied landscapes, well-placed enemies and the joy of the recently acquired power-up. The design of the planet SR388 is a good example of how to make the most of the hardware, because all the surroundings and habitats are varied and recognisable, despite not being in colour.

Samus' prime objective is to face and eliminate the fearsome native monsters of SR388 - the Metroids. The fights against them are some of the highest and most representative aspects of Metroid II because of the perfect execution: the sudden change of atmosphere with the apparition of the Metroid - one that can even make the player jump in surprise - and the battle itself, which implies managing Samus' energy and missiles, and entails a difficulty that creates suspense for the future.

Screenshot for Metroid II: Return of Samus on Game Boy

After some time playing, the aforementioned suspense joins the creepiness of the environments, and the music starts to become more silent and reflexive. In the same way, the exploration can become confusing, which gives a claustrophobic feeling that adds up to an absolutely fantastic startling atmosphere.

Metroid II never ceases to utilise this ambience while mixing it with a stellar pace. There isn't a second in the whole game that becomes boring or tedious. There's always one place to visit - with its impressively big world - or one power-up to use or discover. The sense of progression is very palpable, with Samus getting more powerful in one hand, and the number of Metroids getting smaller in the other.

Screenshot for Metroid II: Return of Samus on Game Boy

Answering the initial question: yes, Metroid II is a Metroid game, and a damn good and full-fledged one. Its amazing atmosphere and wonderful gameplay are perfectible in very little ways, like the hit detection for some enemies and the controls of some power-ups. Nevertheless, these problems are nothing when compared to all that Metroid II contributes for the series, and when compared to its NES predecessor.

To sum up, Metroid II is a fantastic Metroid instalment, surprisingly good for the Game Boy capabilities, being probably the best Metroid game that the Game Boy could've delivered, and one of the best games in its library. Even by today's standards, it is not only perfectly playable, but a must-play for every Metroidvania and Game Boy fan.

Screenshot for Metroid II: Return of Samus on Game Boy

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Metroid II's fascinating atmosphere and prodigious concept and gameplay add to a surprisingly wonderful portable experience. The minor flaws aren't a big headache, and are blurred by the overall fun and immersive experience. A mandatory game for all Game Boy and Metroid fans.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (1 Votes)

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I must be the only Metroid fan in the COSMOS who doesn't like this one.
Great review, though.

Can't a fella drink in peace?

Based on memory alone, it's not one I would rate so highly, either. Good memories of it, but it's far from anywhere close to the levels of Super Metroid. But then, what is?

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I love this game i totaly agree with your score. But one issue i have is getting lost. I need a map to figure out were i am going. What do i do ???? Do you have any suggestions ???? 


curtiscdragon said:
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I love this game i totaly agree with your score. But one issue i have is getting lost. I need a map to figure out were i am going. What do i do ???? Do you have any suggestions ???? 


If you're playing on 3DS/Wii U, the good thing about that is that you can access the internet during play to go online for a map, or even make notes with the notepad feature on 3DS.

Either way, this full map should help, if you are able to use a PC (which would be much easier) whilst you play:

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