AM2R (Another Metroid 2 Remake) – 3rd Party Re-Materpiecing
Mother 3 (US), Star Fox 2, Super Mario 128, Zelda III…Nintendo has had many titles die on the vine. Things go wrong and games don’t come out, it happens. Nintendo has alot of teams making many games. Some of those teams are re-making games. Ocarina of Time, Link to the Past, Majora’s Mask, Super Mario Bros., Pikmin, Super Mario 64, Star Fox 64, Kirby’s Adventure…this goes on an on. Nintendo loves double and triple dipping their old games. That’s not even counting the virtual console releases.
What’s most surprising is the money left on the table in games that should be remade/updated but aren’t. Link’s Awakening, Donkey Kong 64, Star Fox Adventures, and Luigi’s Mansion are all stellar examples of games that would benefit from a hi-def remake. The most mythic of remakes that has not happened is one of the cult classic Metroid 2 on the original Game Boy. Following the warm reception of Metroid: Zero Mission the GBA remake of the original NES Metroid, it was assumed the same would happen to Metroid 2. Alas, it never has.
More than a decade after Zero Mission and absolutely no announcement of a remake, fans have taken matters into their own hands. Many different Metroid 2 remake projects have been bubbling for quite a while and all of them are met with the assumption that they will never be finished because of the mighty Nintendo Legal team and their fierce usage of Cease and Desist letters. Independent developer Milton Guasti, or DoctorM64, and his tiny team have done the unthinkable and actually finished their Metroid 2 remake after more than 5 years of work.
Of course, it was only online for about a month, but that was long enough for it to spread across the internet appropriately and with that, AM2R will exist in perpetuity. Let’s get down to brass-tax though, as a remake does AM2R do the original justice, and more importantly is it worth your time?
The original Metroid 2 was a mess, a charming mess, but still a hard-to-play mess. Hamstrung by the Game Boy platform and a 1992 release date, it was the younger brother of an iconic NES game that just didn’t get or hold your attention like it predecessor. It really didn’t help that Super Metroid was released 4 years later and revolutionized both the series, and the game industry as a whole. So, there’s Metroid 2 sandwiched between two beloved games, left to die.
The things that made Super Metroid amazing were rolled into the Zero Mission remake of the first game. The main thing that made both those games 100x more accessible was the integrated map and upgrade system, something that wasn’t even a thought in the quaint Game Boy game. AM2R gives Metroid 2 the Zero Mission treatment whole hog, and maintains both the atmospheric nature of the series and its A+ gameplay. Die-hard fans of the original might balk at the changes made to the map and the addition of some core gameplay features like diagonal aiming, but the changes were unquestionably smart.
Guasti had the privileged of adding color, backgrounds, and life to the game and he did a wonderful job making it feel at home in the series. Eerie unexplained corridors and dangerous pits that sometimes seem bottomless; if I didn’t know better, I’d assume AM2R was a Nintendo published and developed game. Frustrating but fair, with save points in all the right spots, the game is balanced and has the same ruthless sense of exploration present in all other entries of the series.
Getting each upgrade was just exciting as it was in Super Metroid, the story intrigue was enhanced by the new log system. The music, oh the music, AM2R’s best asset might be its soundtrack. Having never finished Metroid 2 on the Gameboy, AM2R actually has me upset at Nintendo. Not because they C & D’d it so quickly, but knowing that an amazing experience was lurking under the surface of a nearly impenetrable Metroid game, makes me doubly upset about the lack of a proper remake. Now, I’m not sure I would quickly jump to play a proper remake as I’ve as this one is more than enough.
Playing through this remake was thrilling. Finally experiencing a superior version of a classic game, and doing so knowing it was made by someone that cared so deeply for the source material that he did it for free in his spare time. Guasti did us all a favor, hell, they might have done Nintendo a favor. AM2R was the only positive news to surface about Metroid this year. Everything else was superbly negative.
If you have the means to track down AM2R and have enjoyed Metroid games in the past…play this game. If you haven’t played Metroid games and are looking to dip your toe in…play this game. If you played Metroid 2 and liked it…play this game. If you have a PC and 8 hours of free time…PLAY THIS GAME!
Verdict: In short…PLAY THIS GAME!!!!!