Metroid - Samus Returns (Part 2) - It's a Bug-Hunt

By Brian • 9 May 2022

Nintendo 3DS
I bought this with a 30% discount I received by redeeming My Nintendo platinum coins. Remember when the platinum coins had value and relevancy?

Last time on Bad Enough Dudes, metroid extermination commenced below the surface of planet SR-388, with some degree of difficulty. And while that’s still true, I feel as though I’m more able to hold my own against this onslaught of metroids. I’m better at parrying, lining up my missile shots, and finding opportunities to fire off a few bonus shots between the metroids’ attacks. It’s going so well that I defeated a big mess of them in one sitting—I want to say eight or ten! I’m bad! (But, in another, more accurate way, Samus is bad!)

Although, in addition to the alpha metroids, I’ve now encountered some gamma metroids, and these fights are a bit more tedious. Gamma metroids grow bigger than alphas, can fly and crawl, possess a wider and stronger variety of attacks, and habitually retreat from the fight and duck into these little tunnels that only they can enter, prompting a bug-hunt through a number of chambers until I corner them. Come on, stand up and fight!

“Is this going to be a stand-up fight, or another bug-hunt?”

Speaking of fighting, that’s exactly what I’m doing: taking the fight to the metroids. I keep diving deeper and deeper below the surface, oddly favoring the linear route to exploring every side chamber and narrow passage for power-ups. It feels wrong, out of place. At first, I felt a strong desire to backtrack for missile and energy tanks, as is the custom in this type of game. The problem is that there are so many types of gates blocking my way—hardened plants covering doors, big bulletproof blob monsters covering doors, doors that are obviously going to be opened by super missiles and power bombs later on, and so on—I honestly don’t see a point in backtracking until I have all of the game’s key items. My first instinct upon acquiring a new item in a typical Metroid game is to immediately go back and open all the gates it can unlock, to hoard the sweet power-ups within. In Samus Returns, I am content to follow the purple ooze wherever it leads. This ooze, which I failed to mention in my first entry, blocks Samus’s progress until she can defeat enough metroids in the designated area. By collecting their DNA and placing it in the nearest collector, the level of ooze lowers, allowing further progress into the planet.

BRB, harvesting more metroid DNA to influence slime levels below the surface. It's VERY scientific. [Image Credit: MobyGames]

The good news is that I don’t have to worry about losing track of all the locked doors I’m leaving behind. The minimap allows me to drop pins on it as reminders of what to investigate later—quite the handy feature for a game with such emphasis on backtracking. I’m also taking notes, of course (so I can blog about all of this), but the pins serve as my primary reminders.

In addition to the cramped corridors common in Metroid games, there are occasional huge chambers to traverse. They’re mostly empty, but my anxiety insists I explore as much of them as possible. I don’t want to miss anything! Occasionally, my persistence pays off with a missile tank pick-up, but otherwise, I typically just find damaging spikes that I can’t cross, especially on the ceilings while using the Spider Ball, which is a powerup that allows Samus to climb on walls and ceilings while in Morph Ball form.

Despite these big empty chambers, I don’t quite get the same sense of loneliness and isolation here in Samus Returns as I do from most Metroid games. There is always a big, benign creature meandering in the background or machines rumbling or something that gives SR-388 life. (I mean, other than the vicious creatures out for my blood.) The atmosphere is not bad, just different. And, to be fair, technology has come a long way since the last 2D Metroid game, presenting all kinds of opportunities to add more ambiance and background elements.

Samus about to acquire another power-up that I am sure to forget exists within 15 minutes. Sorry, friend. [Image Credit: MobyGames]

In terms of items, I acquired a lot since I last checked in, including the Wave Beam and Spazer. (Aha, there it is—three-eyed door blobs, beware!) The increase in firepower was much appreciated—I actually feel capable against some of these enemies now, after feeling underpowered throughout much of the game, for the most part (shoulda been backtracking for those missiles, I guess). I also acquired two more Aieon-fueled abilities, Lightning Armor and Rapid Fire. I forgot to mention Aieon in my last entry. It’s a secondary energy bar, similar to a magic meter, perhaps, that fuels the Scan Pulse, Lightning Armor, Rapid Fire, and one as-of-yet-unknown ability. The Lightning Armor allows Samus to walk or roll through certain damaging terrains, like these prolific red plants that look very barbed and poisonous. It also absorbs damage from certain types of enemies, like swarms of little bugs, or this purple cloud that follows Samus until she jumps in some water. The Rapid Fire, well, fires rapidly, and is needed to defeat certain types of enemies, particularly haywire mining robots.

Ah, geez. [Image Credit: MobyGames]

Oh…the mining robots. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one robot in particular, one that I came to learn is named Diggernaut—a giant, malfunctioning robot with two huge drilling arms. I first encountered Diggernaut shortly after acquiring the Grapple Beam, when I yanked at what I thought was a glowing red grapple point. No, it was Diggernaut’s eye, and I ended up freeing it from some rubble. It trundled off into the depths of the caves, and I kind of forgot about it. What a mistake, as Diggernaut returned later, mistook Samus for a rich vein of ore, apparently, and chased me through a series of narrow passages with one of its instant-kill drill arms. This sequence is a race against the drill arm, requiring much trial, error, and memorization, as Samus must navigate these aforementioned narrow passages using the Morph Ball, bombs, and Grapple Beam quickly enough to not be crushed by the rampaging Diggernaut. Sadly, it sounds better than it plays. I found this chase scene tedious, and lacking the finesse, urgency, and terror of the SA-X chase sequences from Metroid Fusion. More than anything, it felt out of place.

BUT, I survived. Eventually. It took ten tries or so to successfully string together all of the necessary movements. Hooray for persistence.

Here's the stand-up fight we were looking for! [Image Credit: MobyGames]

On the plus side, I defeated my first zeta metroid, the latest evolution of metroid. It only killed me once! I am definitely getting better at these fights, and the recent acquisition of super missiles sped up the termination process tremendously. This zeta metroid, unlike the gamma metroids before it, mercifully took the fight to me, rather than ducking me multiple times in a single encounter. Finally, an evil alien parasite you can hang your space hat on!

While I’m closing out this entry, our adventure with Samus is far from over! My metroidometer reads several more life signs in need of extermination, I’m still missing a few key items, and I still can’t break these blue crystals. What do I need? Power bombs? Screw Attack? What’s gonna take care of these things? Will I be bad enough to see Samus’s return through to the end? To be concluded in our next installment!