Review by Bugs72740
"One of the best GameBoy games ever...period"
It may be eight years old, and its graphics are definitely less than state-of-the-art, but Metroid 2 is still a great game. This game is a classic of its genre (platformer), and it's definitely one of the very best GameBoy games ever released anywhere. Why? you might ask. Let's see....
Metroid (the original Metroid) is probably one of the best remembered NES games out there (it was definitely one of the harder NES games out there, too). In Japan, the game didn't do so hot, but in America, its popularity (and presumably sales) went through the roof. Fast forward five years. Nintendo is looking for a hot property for the GameBoy (at the time, the big thing was to release sequels of all their most popular 8- and 16-bit series on the GameBoy, and so we saw Super Mario Land, Kid Icarus 2, Zelda 4, etc., on up to Donkey Kong Land and Turok in the last couple of years). What did their eyes happen upon? Why, Metroid!
It should be noted that the late Gumpei Yokoi, who worked on the Metroid and Kid Icarus games, was also a (the?) designer of the GameBoy (and the Game and Watch devices even further back), and so, for the time, Metroid 2 had excellent graphics for the system (can I even call the GameBoy a system? Oh well).
But what about the game? you wail in anguish.
The story is still another knockoff of an Alien movie, this time Aliens: The homeworld of the Metroids (SR388) has been located, and explorer teams have been sent in to search it. When they don't come back, Samus is sent in to find them. (Naturally, and this spoils nothing, she doesn't find a single person, but then she's spending most of her time exterminating Metroids, not looking for victims.) Instead of a James Cameron feel, though, expect more of the atmosphere Ridley Scott gave the first Alien: creepy, claustrophobic, and all-around eerie.
Enough with the story. What of the gameplay?
Controls are centered around the GameBoy's two main buttons, plus the select button. No matter what way I've played the game over the years, whether on a GameBoy, GameBoy Pocket, or GameBoy Color (and let us not forget Super Game Boy), the Space Jump has been somewhat cantankerous, and aiming is a bit of a snit because Samus can only aim up or forward (she can shoot while crouched, but only forwards, and she can only aim down while jumping). In short, it's the sort of simple set-up you might expect out of an 8-bit game, and if you can live with that, you won't have any problems here.
As stated earlier, the graphics are excellent, considering the age of the game and the platform. Samus isn't terribly detailed, but she's decently animated; not many of her enemies are as well animated as Samus, but then their limited movements don't demand much animation.
AI for the enemies is pretty much nonexistent: They have their set patterns and their one set movement (hop up and down, fall from the ceiling, fly back and forth, etc.). The difficulty is provided by the sheer number of enemies in a few spots and the amount of damage they can do. However, the learning curve is pretty smooth, so you should be used to the controls by the time you're navigating through that second ruin. It doesn't stay too easy, but the curve never jumps steeply; you're never left with the desire to throw the damn thing across the room after you've died for the five hundred and eleventh time in the same stage.
In a hallmark of the Metroid series, the items are hidden away in bizarre and devilish places, ensuring that you won't find all of them on your first play, and there's also the requisite "secret ending." The music is pretty odd--it consists of odd sound effects for the most part, as well as about five themes that play in certain areas. You might not want the soundtrack, but it's different.
And then there's the intangibles. This game is just fun to play, period, in a way that games rarely are today. Maybe that's because gamers have forgotten what replay value actually means (big hint: It doesn't really have anything to do with how many secrets are hidden in a game). Give this game a spin; it looks especially good on GameBoy Color, but no matter how you play it, rest assured that this game is a total classic and deserving of your attention.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 11/01/99
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