Games I’ve Played Recently – Volume 1: Metroidmania!

I (Andrew) tend to play games in streaks. There will be times where I will go weeks without playing very much, and other times where I will beat entire game franchises in just a month. This makes writing down my thoughts/reviews of these games hard to put in their own article. So I have decided to make a new series of articles titled ‘Games I’ve played recently’ that will go over briefly around five or so games that I have finished.. well recently. I will still continue writing reviews, but expect this type of article from me to become more common. I’ll also give out a score to these games I talk about, but It wont be like a normal review score. Instead, each game will get a recommendation score on a 5 star scale. 1 star being a ‘don’t touch this game’ to 5 star being a ‘ play this at any cost’. Games that get a middle 3 star score will be like a ‘ play/don’t play this game if you think you will/won’t like it’.

Games that I consider to be retro (not sure exactly what constitutes a game being retro, going to say pre Wii era for now) will also get a separate score based on how they still hold up today. 1 star being a ‘doesn’t hold up at all’ and 5 star being a ‘could pretty much be released today and not feel outdated’. With that being said, lets get started with the first edition of this new series! And as you can tell (in prep for Metroid Dread in October) I’ve been playing lots of Metroidvania games (its good timing as well since its the 35th anniversary of Metroid) so Metroid fans unite!

1. METROID (NES) – PLAYED ON: NES SWITCH ONLINE APP

Inspired by the reveal of Metroid Dread I decided to play a bunch of Metroidvanias in celebration. This included the original Metroid for the good ole Nes. I was pretty wary about playing this as it is very old and know to be outdated, and well I was right. The game has you playing as Samus Aran (obvi) who is tasked with taking down Ridley and the space pirates on the planet Zebes. Aaaaand that’s it. The game literally just thrusts you into the world, no objectives, no goal, no freaking map for crying out loud. You will have nowhere to go, and the environment can be pretty hard to differentiate with one another. You will be lost, and you will also die a lot because the game isn’t easy (no saves just passwords as well). It is a frustrating time, but luckily we live in 2021 so most of that frustration is fixed. The Switch online app allows you to use four save states and rewind so enemies weren’t an issue. Then I also used a map from the internet, a walkthrough to boot, and badabing I beat the game without much to worry about.

So with that all in mind how was the rest of the game? Well, it’s pretty good actually. To think that Nintendo released this on the Nes in 1986 is actually pretty mindblowing. It had a huge world to explore, pretty tight combat for its time, incredible music and so on. To get an adventure as big as that in 1986 must have been crazy, and obviously it would spawn what would be the Metroidvania Genre. In conclusion then, It was a spectacle of its age, but your better off playing its remake, the sublime Metroid: Zero Mission.

Recommendation Score: 2 out of 5

Retro Score: 1 out of 5

2. METROID II: RETURN OF SAMUS (GB) – PLAYED ON: EMULATOR

Similar situation here for Metroid 2, like Metroid 1 no map or direction is given at all to the player. Metroid 2 is more linear, having you delve deeper and deeper into the Metroid home world SR388 (a task given to Samus to destroy all the Metroid on the planet). No big huge non linear world to explore this time, but its incredibly easy to get lost still, and the game is pretty cryptic still as well. It doesn’t help either that it’s on the Gameboy. The screen is very small and it being black and white makes it even harder to navigate. I again here had to use a map online to make my way through the game, and using rewind on an emulator helped with its tough difficulty.

Also like Metroid 1 though, 2 happens to also be a bit of a spectacle. A full fat Metroid game on the Gameboy is even more impressive then Metroid on the NES. The concept of destroying each and every Metroid (even if it gets tiring eventually) is a pretty neat one to. This game also introduced new power ups such as the spider ball, and space jump which are incredibly fun to use as well. Unfortunately, due to its outdatedness your better off playing one of its two remakes (or both) AM2R, or Metroid: Samus Returns.

Recommendation Score: 2 out of 5

Retro Score: 1 out of 5

3. AM2R (ANOTHER METROID 2 REMAKE) (FAN MADE)- PLAYED ON: PC

Speaking of AM2R, that is the next game on this list, and one I decided to play right after Metroid 2 on Gameboy to get a better comparison. AM2R was a fan made project that launched in 2016. Unfortunately, it got shutdown (though its still easy to find online) by Nintendo because as it would turn out they would be making their own Metroid 2 remake, Samus Returns (it would have gotten shutdown anyway because Nintendo is Nintendo).

Metroid: Samus Returns was actually the first Metroid game that I played, and it was fantastic, but for a fan made project AM2R might be just as good of a remake. It’s actually more faithful then Samus Returns, virtually being Metroid 2 with a Zero Mission like engine and having some other great additions (such as a scanner function kind of like Metroid Prime and a whole lot of added lore). The controls are very tight, we have a map now, and difficulty modes to boot give this Metroid 2 adventure a challenging, but fair bout that can’t be said for the original. It also looks great visually, and has stunningly good music. They remixed the originals music which is nice, but they also added some music that are remixed tracks from other Metroids as well, and they are bangers.

All in all, despite being fan made, AM2R is an incredible experience that every Metroidvania fan should try. If Nintendo were smart they would take AM2R and release it on Switch.

Recommendation Score: 5 out of 5

4. METROID: OTHER M (WII) – PLAYED ON EMULATOR

Metroid: Other M is a weird one. Made by Team Ninja back in 2010 for the Wii, the game takes 2D Metroid and puts it in 3D. On top of running and gunning in 3D now, you also have the option to point the Wii remote at the screen which puts Samus in a first person perspective. This allows you to point around the room your in and shoot enemies, missiles, and solve puzzles Metroid Prime style. Unfortunately, the game forces you to hold the Wii remote SIDEWAYS. This means that you have to move around in 3D using a friggin D-pad. This also means when aiming in first person you can’t move around which can make you vulnerable. These things combined can make controlling Samus an overall cumbersome hassle to deal with. You get used to it eventually, but it’s just really strange because they could have let you just plug a nunchuk in to fix both those issues.

The game takes place on some space station called the bottle ship that Samus must explore, or I mean run through. The reason I say run through instead of explore is because despite being a Metroid game, Other M has barely any exploration or Metroidvani-ing in general. There are some parts you can backtrack with new powers to find certain stat boosting items, but it felt rare in my playthrough. The game is very linear and its incredibly jarring considering this is supposed to be Metroid. They tried a more structured take with Fusion, but that game was still full of secrets and such, not here.

And don’t get me started on the story. The game is set inbetween Super and Fusion, but you’d think it was in some alternate universe. Samus’ character has been completely assassinated. Instead of being this really cool veteran bounty hunter, she is just some dumb scared girl who can’t get anywhere without her equally incompetent teammates. Her superior General Adam has to literally give his approval as the game carries on in order for her to use some of her abilities. Which is just effing dumb, both story and gameplay wise.

With all that said… I actually kind of liked Other M. I know this comes as quite as a shock, but if you can just deal with Other M being ‘Different’ it’s not too bad. The action (when the controls aren’t pissing you off) is quite fun, and there are a some satisfying boss fights as well. It might also be one of the best looking Wii games ever. I played it on Dolphin so I did get to see it in HD, but I’m telling you for a Wii game its graphical fidelity was pretty insane. In the end though, its issues might be too much for a lot of people to overcome, especially Metroid fans themselves.

Recommendation Score: 3 out of 5

5. ORI AND THE WILL OF THE WISPS (XBOX, PC, SWITCH) – PLAYED ON: SWITCH

I picked up the original Ori on the Switch almost right after it released for the platform. I had heard a ton of good things about it, and well I wasn’t disappointed. Ori and the Blind Forest was an incredible Metroidvania mixing platforming and puzzle elements (although it was lacking a bit in the combat department), throwing you in a beautiful world to explore, and experience an incredibly touching story.

So when I finally got my hands on its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, I was stoked. This time though, it was even better then I had imagined it to be. Now that Moon studios had a great game in their hands it was time to perfect it and perfect it they did. A whole new much bigger world to explore, more emphasis on combat (while keeping plenty of puzzle and platforming challenges), sidequests, new abilities, more collectables, an equally engrossing story, the list goes on and on. Seriously, I 100% the game during my first playthrough (which I normally don’t ever do with any games except Mario) because of how dang fun this game is.

The one thing that hampered the experience would be the Switch version’s performance. It crashed a lot and there were quite a few frame drops in there if I remember correctly. Visually it also isn’t going to look as good as the Xbox/PC version so unless you want it portably like I did I suggest playing it on Xbox or PC.

Other then that the game is sublime. No other Metroidvania I’ve played (I still have yet to play Hollow Knight) perfectly blends every cornerstone of the Metroidvania genre (puzzles, platforming, combat, and exploration) as well as Ori 2 has. Super Metroid and Zero Mission were probably tied for my favorite Vania game, but now that I have played Ori and the Will of the Wisps I’d say it’s a three way tie now. Get your hands on this game at any cost, and play the first one while you are at it.

Recommendation Score: 5 out of 5 (I’d also give the first game a 5 as well)

Until next time, peace!

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