How Metroidvania is it? High Fit. Like the original Metroid II, progression is gated by lava that recedes as you kill bosses, however the ability gating is much more pronounced in this remake, and backtracking is highly recommended for the rewards.
Primary Challenge: Exploration Focus, Ranged Combat
Time to beat: ~6 hours
Review Info: AM2R - Another Metroid 2 Remake was played using the 1.1 patched Windows version
Buy AM2R - Another Metroid 2 Remake if you like…
- Atmospheric Horror
- Hunting for a Quarry
- Lore finding based story telling a la Metroid Prime
- Metroid Zero Mission's new mechanics
- The original Metroid II: Return of Samus
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Nothing shows truer passion for something than to create a product that is of higher quality than so many other commercial products without any chance of monetary return. Thanks to Nintendo exercising their rights to their IP, it’s difficult to find AM2R – Another Metroid 2 Remake. Whether AM2R should have ever existed or whether it should be supported in any way by playing it is a subject for another time. It does exist, and if nothing else there’s a lot that we can learn from it. AM2R strives to update a classic game in the same way the original Metroid was updated with Zero Mission. As outlined by myself in our Metroid II review, Metroid II was a game about horror and atmosphere more than anything, and in many ways the limitations of the original release was beneficial to that objective. Therefore, adding more color to the game, updated music, and more powers to the game’s protagonist runs the risk of losing the spirit of the original game. While AM2R certainly feels like it has a different approach to that horror – “different” was likely unavoidable – it is in every way a worthy update of Metroid II, and holds up remarkably to high standard the Metroid series had since established.
AM2R opens up with an actual intro, describing the Galactic Federation’s decision to exterminate the Metroids in an attempt to bring peace to the Galaxy, and how Samus was selected to resolve the situation. While this intro is only a few screens long, it’s more than enough to establish everything important you might have known from reading the manual for the original. The written story available in AM2R goes beyond cutscenes however. Taking a page from the Metroid Prime series approach to lore, as you play the game you will discover various log entries that add more flavor to the game’s world. It gives context to the enemies your fighting, and provides an imaginative take on what the locations within Planet SR388 might have been used for. Other details contained within the Metroid II manual, such as how a research team that was originally sent to SR388 before Samus, are included and revealed organically as you discover evidence of their presence by exploration. Some creative liberties are taken, adding content that was never part of the original story, but nothing seems out of place. It all fits together like it’s an authentic Metroid game, rather than like an amateur fan fiction.
The objective of the game is, of course, to kill Metroids. SR388 does not allow Samus to progress too far into its depths – a lava barrier blocks her way if she tries. Kill enough Metroids and the lava barrier recedes, giving more access to new areas. While this was completely unexplained in the original, there is actually a log entry describing this phenomena in AM2R, which basically says “for some reason the lava goes away” – so this contrived progression gate just needs to be accepted. Once the lava is gone, you’re free to wander into more corridors. Spend enough time in a new area and your Metroid Radar will trigger, letting you know there are more beasts in the area that need extermination, and telling you exactly how many there are. Clear this new number, the lava recedes some more, and the process repeats.
The Metroids themselves are formidable foes. They can only be damaged by hitting them with missiles, and even then, their bodies are covered in strong armor, causing the explosive ballistics to simply bounce off. However, each Metroid variant has a soft underbelly, so with careful aim they’re still vulnerable to your methods. This minor change sets AM2R apart from other Metroid games, where I would argue that combat is a weaker feature of the series. Now positioning is everything, and you’re forced to dodge and choose your openings, rather than simply picking an exploitative position and delivering your package while standing your ground. While you will be fighting the same four Metroid mutations throughout the game, just about every one has slightly different terrain surrounding them, changing up the fight in significant ways. The first Alpha variant you fight gives you plenty of room to jump over it or dash under it, giving you a chance to learn about its armor and how to overcome it. Later on, corridors become more cramped, filled with sand, or missile blocking foliage, so even though you may be fighting an Alpha Metroid once again, it has new advantages that you’re tasked to overcome. Regardless of how many times you see the same Metroid, they’ll still find new ways to surprise you – even startle you.
Even with all the ways the Metroids are used, AM2R still provides other bosses to enjoy just to keep combat fresh. It takes this opportunity to really explore Metroid’s mechanics in unique ways, although some hit harder than others. Thanks to the deeper combat, AM2R is more difficult than your standard Metroid game on its normal mode. Luckily for beginners, or those just interested in seeing the game’s content, there’s still an easy mode available. I think the normal mode is appropriate for more casual series veterans, but the hardcore Metroid player may be pleased to know there’s even a hard mode available.
While combat design is a marked improvement on the Metroid series as a whole, the Alpha and Gamma Metroid Variants still employ the same tactic of colliding into Samus to deal their damage. Samus is still wearing a heavy power suit, making her less than agile. If you’re caught off guard, you may find yourself cornered and forced to take frustrating unavoidable damage. Unfortunately not every situation allows you to survey the terrain before you’re thrust into a panic inducing fight. However, I’ll make the same argument here that I made for the original Metroid II – if one of the goals of the game is to inspire horror, then your titular monster needs to be an actual threat- and actual threats don’t always play fair.
Horror and atmosphere is established in AM2R with darkness and music, rather than ambience and limitation. In the original game the zoomed in camera combined with the black and white aesthetic was enough to give a cramped alien world feeling. This remake addresses this feeling by making it actually cramped, and actually dark when the situation calls for it. The early parts of the game seem bright and colorful, but the deeper you get the more dire the situation becomes – staying very true to the progression of the original vision. In AM2R, all the music has been remixed to more closely match something you’d hear in Metroid Prime, and music is pervasive, which is in contrast to the original’s usage of the quiet noise of creatures skittering around. The music however can be just as oppressive; Metroid Prime also has a reputation for atmosphere for a reason. Exploring SR388 invokes fear just as well, if not better, than the original.
While improved combat and graphics are great features, the true meat of any Metroid game is the exploration, even with the more linear Metroid II. This may be AM2R’s biggest improvement, since not only can you find important missile and health expansions, but the new lore logs provide further incentive and flavor to check out every corner of SR388. There’s a surprising amount of optional content, and even some major upgrades you may miss the first time you cover an area. There are even quality of life improvements that no other 2D Metroid game has, like a dedicated button for turning into a ball. One of the more interesting changes made to the game’s mechanics is now save points restore both health and missiles, making it fairly safe to use your full arsenal at any given time without having to grind out refills. This may have detracted from Metroid’s most famous collectable, but thanks to the new Metroid armor, having as many missiles as possible is still desirable. With the helpful new map, new areas, and general accessibility, AM2R’s exploration arguably matches up with the other titans of the Metroid series.
Combat is good, the atmosphere is great, and the exploration is excellent, so I then turn to a question I see asked often on internet forums; should you play the original Metroid II, or can AM2R adequately replace it? I hope I made it abundantly clear in my review of Metroid II that I most certainly have a nostalgic bias for that game, so of course I went into AM2R thinking that nothing could replace the classic. I started AM2R with an ironic cynicism, expecting a pretty good Metroid game that ultimately gets everything wrong about the spirit and message of the original. It turns out I was the one who was wrong. AM2R not only captures the feel and spirit of Metroid II, but it even does some aspects better. As a fan who has had his own ideas of what a Metroid II remake might look like, there are indeed some things I’d personally do differently – namely a couple of tweaks to the ending, maybe change a boss or two a little- but I’m never going to make a Metroid II remake, and in the end they’re just minor opinionated nitpicks. The original will still be valued for its impact on history, and it is a work of art on its own, but AM2R shows nothing but honor and respect for that legacy. By its nature AM2R invokes a different kind of feeling than the original, but if all you’re looking for is a bridge between Metroid Zero Mission and Super Metroid, AM2R is a nearly perfect way to complete the trilogy.
AM2R combines all of the best of 2D Metroid. The passion and love, and understanding, its creator has for the Metroid series is apparent in the tiniest detail, and it doesn’t even end there. Since its release in 2016, other fans have been adding additional patches, letting you play as Fusion Suit Samus in an even harder difficulty mode, adding a randomizer for infinite replayability, and even adds a mode where the lava barrier is removed giving you access to the whole planet at once. AM2R – Another Metroid 2 Remake is a game made by the fans for the fans; it stays true to every single thing that makes Metroid great, and it’s an absolute masterpiece.
Great improvements to the combat of the entire Metroid Series, although some Metroids will still corner you in ways that make the combat seem a little wonky
Much like the rest of the Metroid Series, general platforming isn't really used as a major challenge point, except to get certain upgrades with shine sparking which falls more under puzzle platforming
Even though AM2R follows the linear incremental progression that the original Metroid II had, it adds numerous secrets that make it even worth backtracking to earlier areas.
There are a few puzzle-ish aspects to the main progression, but the real headscratchers involve getting 100% using all of your powers combined. Not a major game focus
It tells the Metroid II story in a slightly different not-necessarily-better way, but its impact may be greater depending on how you appreciate storytelling. A lot of lore bits have also been added to add flavor and richness to the world as a whole.
Some of Samus' CG art feels a little ''off'' from the official art, but otherwise the graphics are professional and feel authentic
While the ambience of alien noises in the original Metroid II had a special charm to it, there's no denying that the remixes included in this game are incredible
Assuming you're playing with the latest 1.5 patch, there's a randomizer and additional modes to keep you busy for as long as you want. With the base 1.1 game there are speedrun achievements much like Zero Mission and the original Metroid II.