From the start, the Game Boy didn’t want to blow away the competition because of its graphical superiority. The handheld device faced stiff and shiny competition from the likes of Sega’s GameGear and the Atari Lynx. The press at the time of the Lynx’s release pointed to its graphical superiority, telling readers that the Atari “throws the Game Boy in the trash.”
So how did the Game Boy turn things around and become, in Nintendo’s words, “the most successful video game system ever released”? Great battery life helps, but in typical Nintendo fashion, an excellent selection of 1991-like games Metroid II: The Return of Samus did most of the hard work. And from early February 2023, it and many other Game Boy games will be available if you subscribe to the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack.
Although the original Metroid Game was a financial and critical success in 1987, but Nintendo didn’t step on the gas for a sequel. Between Metroid and its Game Boy sequel was released by Nintendo in 1991 Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3 as well Super Mario Land And Super Mario world. Four years was a long wait between sequels at the time, and it scaled down from a standard console experience to handheld.
As a by-product of this migration Metroid II doesn’t look great.
It’s not surprising that the game has undergone both official and fan remakes, and that Nintendo R&D has a “Metroid Palette” included with the Game Boy Color. There is clearly such a rich world that Samus is exploring on SR388, the Metroids’ home planet. The game’s setup sees Samus taking the fight to the eponymous Metroids as she attempts to destroy them before the hated space pirates can get their hands on the mysterious giant life suckers. So it’s a new planet and mostly the same fight.
However, during Metroid II lacking in originality, it remains a very solid game. Metroid II, like its predecessor, shares the difference between Mario’s side-scrolling platforming and Zelda’s dungeon exploration. The result is a game that may look small and restricted, but feels huge to play and needs remembering how to navigate. SR388 is full of big drops and secret paths galore, both of which give such a sense of space. The planet feels like a place, a feeling that only increases with the earthquakes.
Whenever Samus takes care of a certain number of Metroids, the planet will respond with earthquakes. More of the planet’s cave system is opening up as a result of the tremors, but they also make the planet feel alive. There are powers here greater than Samus Aran, and their reaction to their presence is mysterious and only slightly menacing.
But that’s part of the joy of one Metroid Game: You begin to navigate the world with a mixture of fear and curiosity, learning through upgrades as you conquer it. For example, putting Samus in spider mode makes the game so much easier. Difficult leap forward, or not sure how Samus got all the way there? Just roll!
Perhaps the most important factoid that people know about Metroid II is that it’s the only game in the series that depicts all of the Metroid’s evolutionary stages, from their jellyfish-like babies to their dino-dragon-like Omega stage. Wandering the world of SR388 and seeing the Metroids in their various states again reinforces the idea that they are real animals, despite how menacing they may seem.
What would you remember most? Metroid II Happens at the end of the game as Samus can’t bring himself to destroy the last Metroid baby. An act of kindness after so much bloodshed adds emotional weight to the game. There is a feeling of getting lost in it Metroid II, as well as the feeling of becoming stronger in the midst of an intricate maze of a planet. Then there’s the feeling of going with more than you expected, which is why the game transcends its poor graphics to become one of the most memorable entries in the series.