Aside from a few minor tweaks and a new look, Metroid: Samus Returns doesn’t do anything new to the series; and that’s probably for the best. Metroid has made a few wrong turns since the Metroid Prime Trilogy, with sub-par spinoffs like Federation Force and disappointing games like Other M leaving fans like myself longing for a return to the Super Metroid-style 2D adventure. Samus Returns may technically be 3D, but its 2D platforming gameplay still looks and feels like classic Metroid, and it plays even better.
This should sound familiar to Metroid Fans: In Samus Returns you explore a mesmerizing subterranean cavern with interconnecting passages that lead to dead ends as often as they lead to exciting new areas. As you explore, you upgrade your arsenal with mostly rehashed mods and beams from previous games that allow you to shoot new blocks, open special doors, or roll up ceilings, and jump over other physical obstacles. Eventually, those dead ends won’t seem so dead anymore – a satisfying feeling that became the foundation for an entire genre of map design, from Castlevania to Cave Story. And like the best Metroid games, there are no other characters and no dialogue in Samus Returns. It’s just a lady, an arm cannon, and a bounty, avoiding the pitfalls of adding other bounty hunters, space marines, and (ugh) father figures that only hurt otherwise-good Metroid games. (I’m looking at you, Adam.)