Metroid II: Return of Samus was released for the original Game Boy handheld system back in 1991 (in the US, anyway). It was a phenomenal release for the limited system and a worthy sequel to the original NES game. Sure, the game was limited by its black and white host and didn’t have the enormous scope of the SNES successor, but it was good. I became very addicted to the little game and was able to win the game. Controls were tight, the game was well designed, and it all just worked beautifuly.
Flash forward to the early 2010s (teens? 10s? Naming the last couple of decades has sure been awkward), where someone known as “DoctorM64” started a personal project to remake Metroid II using modern graphics and borrowing gameplay elements from versions of Metroid after II. A couple of weeks ago, the project, known as “AM2R” (Another Metroid II Remake) was released.
Unsurprisingly, it was swiftly struck down by Nintendo’s legal department.
I managed to grab a copy of it before it was taken away from the brighter corners of the internet (the download still lurks out there, in the shadows, if someone wishes to find it; the developer has even privately and quietly released an update fixing a few bugs). Despite the updates and modernization of Metroid II, using many of the elements that I disliked from the Game Boy Advance versions, I was hoping that at least the spirit of the original remained.
Unfortunately, mine is not a popular opinion; gaming press and players seem to be universally praising this remake, finding very little or nothing wrong with any of it. It makes me feel bad that this remake will now be the “standard” version of Metroid II and will call the old, black and white, less detailed version with fewer features on the Game Boy “inferior”. This makes me sad.
The original Metroid II had fair bosses that got more challenging over time in a natural progression. The controls were simple yet effective. The world was built around such simplicity and didn’t try to be pretentious or tell a story. AM2R gets none of that right, as its bosses are the typical modern “artificial difficulty” cheap to fight and cheap to defeat variety, the controls paste on the Game Boy Advance moveset and build the world around the use of them (and even though you can disable some of those moves, the game still seems to be designed with them in mind, making movement unnecessarily awkward without them), controls are horribly stiff and feel off, it pastes in some Prime-like attempt at explaining the world around you via logs instead of simply letting the world speak for itself, there are tons of silly little unnecessary “hidden” aspects to the game that were either not hidden or didn’t exist in the original, and the overdone graphics make it difficult to navigate precisely at times.
It is yet another example of how remaking games is generally a bad idea. You want to play a game? Play the original. There are so many ways to play the original copy of a game these days, both legally and otherwise, that there is no excuse not to. And any remake is just going to pollute and co-opt the original vision of the game for its own, and just because it has “better graphics” means that modern gamers are going to flock to the new one, because they don’t understand a fundamental truth of gaming: graphics do not matter that much. Especially when you add graphical complexity for absolutely no reason.
In my heart, I hoped that Nintendo shut this project down not just because it was infringing on their property, but also for the same reasons I find the game distasteful. Of course, this is probably not true, but I can hope. Please, internet. Go play the original Metroid II and remove this bastardized copy from existence. We will all be much better off.