What is Metroid: Samus Returns?
Set on a distant alien planet, Metroid: Samus Returns is a 2D adventure game that's all about exploration. When the Galactic Federation detect signs of the parasitic alien lifeform known as Metroids on the planet SR388, they send you, the bounty hunter Samus Aran, to investigate with just one mission - eradicate the Metroid, and get out alive.
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How do you play Metroid: Samus Returns?
Metroid: Samus Returns is a game that rewards the explorers. Starting out on a hostile alien world, it's up to you to journey deep inside the planet, dealing with any alien wildlife you come across along the way, as you hunt down the 40 Metroid (and some even tougher enemies) that are lurking in the complex tunnel network that sits beneath the planet's surface. With a handy map on the Touch Screen that'll fill itself in as you explore, you'll want to be sure you check every door, nook or cranny as you go, as there's often power ups, health pick ups, extra ammo, and even all new moves hidden off the beaten track - and the more abilities and power ups you can find, the easier the game will become.
While you're free to explore as you want, there's also more structure to this than an "open world" game. As you make your way across the maze-like planet, Metroid: Samus Returns will always be surreptitiously nudging you (or leading you) in the right direction, making sure you're never too far away from next key room or boss fight. With certain doors only able to be unlocked with certain abilities, you'll often find whole areas locked off until you've unlocked the relevant equipment. In fact, much of the fun here comes from spotting an area you haven't already been to on your map, and figuring out how to get there. Some of these puzzle-like sections have some pretty unorthodox (yet incredibly clever) solutions - like having to freeze an enemy in mid-flight, before jumping on it to reach a higher ledge - with the game really pushing you to experiment with all your abilities, and even mix them together.
How easy is Metroid: Samus Returns to pick up and play?
With no adjustable difficulty level, and some really tough enemies to face off against, Metroid: Samus Returns is a game aimed at experienced players. Enemies are both numerous and powerful, taking a substantial number of hits to defeat (often half a dozen or more), whilst doing substantial amounts of damage should they come into contact with you. The titular Metroids work as mini-bosses, and are particularly tricky to beat, as they can only be damaged by certain weapons, yet are able to kill you in only a few hits.
In terms of general ease of pick-up-and-play, there's very little in the way of tutorials or prompts here, especially when it comes to figuring out how to open doors for the first time (some can only be opened with rockets, for example, but you'll need to experiment for yourself to figure out which). Luckily, as mentioned above, the more you try and explore and venture off the beaten path, the easier the game will become, as you'll find power ups that boost your total health, give you more weapons, or at the very least, restore your health and energy. A handy scanner can also be used to highlight any destructible blocks in the walls or floors, which can come in really handy when you're stuck and aren't really sure where to go next - often, a well placed bomb will open a tunnel to a whole new cave network, and you're back on track again.
While the game does have manual save points scattered across the map, it does also regularly make checkpoints in the background, meaning you'll never lose too much progress should you die.
For the youngest of players, a reading ability is a requirement here, as the game's tutorials, explanations and story are delivered through text only, with many being key to understanding how the game works.
Sample sentences include:
- "Their intention was to use the Metroids as a weapon, one powerful enough to conquer the entire galaxy."
- "A Bomb specifically designed to be used with the Morph Ball. While in Morph Ball form, press Y to set a Bomb."
- "The Ice Beam freezes enemies. Frozen foes can be used as platforms. Charge before firing to keep enemies frozen longer."
With nothing in the way of bad language, sexual content, or blood/gore, there's little in the way of mature content in Metroid: Samus Returns. While you'll be shooting enemies with a laser gun, rockets or bombs, enemies simply flash when hit before vanishing and giving off a few sparks when defeated.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS