Metroid - Samus Returns (Part 3) - Baby, Come Back

By Brian • 28 June 2022

Nintendo 3DS
Justin Bailey is not an unlockable character in this game.

The end game is nigh. With the acquisitions of the Gravity Suit, Plasma Beam, Space Jump, and Screw Attack, Samus can now circumvent nearly every obstacle and stomp practically every predatory cave creature into a pile of unrecognizable slime. I feel good. Strong. I’m excited about my progress, like nothing can stand in my way.

In fact, just one of Samus’s key items remains undiscovered and, by all accounts, it appears to be Power Bombs. I’ve seen some yellow hatches (typically opened by Power Bombs in the series), and there are some blocks I can’t break with an icon on them that I don’t recognize. Oh, those blue crystals, too. Surely Power Bombs are the solution to all of these hindrances. And surely, with all of my powerful newfound equipment, I will have no issues recovering said Power Bombs and—

I'm baaaaaaaaack! [Image Credit: Wikitroid]

Hey, everybody! Diggernaut’s back! No longer content to chase Samus through a winding tunnel with one of its giant borer arms, Diggernaut is ready for a final, one-on-one confrontation. Already annoyed by this robot on account of the aforementioned chase scene (covered in detail in our previous entry), I was more than happy to finish off this hulk and get on with my business of eradicating an entire species from our fair universe.

What I wasn’t expecting, however, was the hardest boss fight to ever grace the Metroid franchise. No, I’m serious—at least among the Metroid games I have played, this is it. Diggernaut is the hardest boss I have faced, consisting of a 2-phase battle involving disabling both of its borer arms and then destroying the core, all of which must be done with precision Spider Ball movement and well-timed bombs laid in the right spots. In addition to that, there’s a lot of dodging of attacks from the drill arms, lasers, and this vacuum thing that sucks Samus into the core and crunches her into harvestable minerals (and depletes her health bar by an absurd amount).

But! This vacuum attack is important, as the vacuum will also suck up bombs dropped by Samus, damaging the core and triggering Diggernaut into rushing towards Samus with an energy attack from the core itself, which is her chance to finish it off with a few more well-placed bombs on weak points that I, unfortunately, was unable to identify without consulting the internet. Well, that’s not true—I could see them, but I couldn’t figure out how to attack them. I made it this far without help, but I’d died about a dozen times, patience was thin, and I got desperate. In hindsight, I wish I would have spent the extra five minutes it probably would have taken to figure it out. My thought process keeps defaulting to, Man, I NEVER die this much in Metroid games. What’s up?! But, to be fair, I’ve played all of them so many times that it’s difficult to remember my first time through any of them. I bet I had similar trouble with all of them—we just didn’t get a new 2D Metroid game for so long that I’ve grown accustomed to breezing through them.

The Diggernaut fight proved to be bourbon-inducing.

So I got the power bombs, which was great. They open the yellow doors. They break those blocks with the icon I didn’t recognize. The blue crystals? Still unbreakable. I’m at a loss. I have everything—there are no empty slots in Samus’s inventory. What am I missing?! Is there a Speed Booster still out there somewhere?

Also, I’m now dealing with omega metroids, which are the biggest, most evolved metroids yet. Strangely, I haven’t had many issues with them, other than taking a really long time to kill, even after catching them with a couple of parries. I’m sure there’s some quick kill trick I’m not getting. Speedrunners, help me out here. Regardless, with my boss-crushing abilities at an all-time high coming off my defeat of Diggernaut, these omega metroids aren’t much to discuss, other than a mention of their horrific size and appearance.

Bigger, faster, and uglier, too, he's the next member of the Metroid crew. [Image Credit: Wikitroid]

Eventually, I ran my metroid counter down to one, presumably the queen metroid lurking in the heart of the compound. I reached a large, mazelike vertical chamber and suddenly picked up strong final area vibes. Not much farther to go. However, it wouldn’t be a straightaway, uneventful trip to the queen’s lair, as my counter kicked itself back up to 11 metroid lifesigns, all of a sudden. The queen must have felt my nearing presence and squeezed out a batch of emergency ’troids to cut me off. It turns out it was a good idea—even these ordinary metroids had my number. While I find even vanilla metroids terrifying, I have enough experience fighting them that, at this point in my life, they’re not a big deal.

This batch, on the other hand? Wow. So we all know metroids are vulnerable to the ice beam, yes? Well, the problem with these metroids is that they recover from an ice beam shot almost instantly, so I had to constantly swap between missiles and ice beam while mashing the fire button to dispatch them. I don’t know if this was the proper technique or not—as usual, there was probably a parrying queue I missed, or something more practical. A lot of metroids sucked a lot of life energy out of poor Samus while I figured out this technique. Sorry, friend.

These hungry youngsters got their fair share of Samus-flavored life force. [Image Credit: Wikitroid]

At last, upon dispatching this final clutch of larvae, I came face to face with the metroid queen. In the original Metroid II, I’m pretty sure I just shot missiles at the queen until it died, not realizing that you could roll into the queen’s mouth and drop bombs in her gut to finish her off quicker. I read about that trick on the internet much later on. I suspected this little trick might come into play in a more mandatory way here, in the remake. And it does. I dodged a lot of attacks and pumped the queen full of missiles until I angered her enough to snap at me, giving me the opportunity to parry, smash her head into the ground with the grapple beam to stun her, and then roll on in and drop a power bomb in the breadbasket. Repeat a couple of times, and she was finished! We won! The fight was a bit tougher than I’m making it out to be here, but I only died a handful of times. The metroid queen was a mild annoyance versus the nigh-invulnerable might of the Diggernaut.

You are one ugly—no, wait, I'm mixing up my movie references. [Image Credit: The Metroid Database]

Upon defeating the queen, I found the baby metroid, made famous by its appearance in Super Metroid. It started following me and—oh! It started breaking the blue crystals. So THIS is what does it—this little metroid! But there are SO many of these crystals in the game. There’s also an elevator back to the surface here, putting me relatively close to the ship and (presumably) the end of the game.

Hey, a screenshot I could provide on my own! Disregard the fact that it's from the wrong game.

As I’m heading back to the ship, I’m thinking to myself, it seems strange to lock so many of the game’s goodies behind an item acquired at the very end of the game, doesn’t it? Why—

Oh. [Image Credit: Wikitroid]

Aw, crap, Ridley is here to cut me off just as I reach the ship. This didn’t happen in the original Metroid II! And, yes, this explains the possible need for all the backtracking to pick up items behind the blue crystals. They thought of everything, didn’t they, because this fight is hard. It’s a three-phase battle, and Ridley is vicious and quick, not leaving Samus a lot of time to react to his moves. There were some parry opportunities, but as usual, I didn’t notice them until after I died many times, and even then, I never actually landed a parry when the opportunities presented themselves. Luckily, baby metroid was there for an assist during this brutal battle. It’s an all-out brawl—not much strategy other than to kill Ridley before Ridley killed me. I dodged his attacks and pumped him full of plasma beam. There were no major weak points or tricks that I could find. I just killed him until he died.

We won! For real, this time! With the eradication of the metroids on the planet, as we left, we got a quick glimpse of an X parasite assimilating one of the planet’s basic frog monsters, setting up the events of Metroid Fusion.

So that’s Samus Retunrs! What a great time, and a great return to 2(.5)D Metroid! I got what appears to be the worst ending, taking 11+ hours to finish the game, and finding only 64 percent of the items. I guess I ought to take that baby metroid on a tour of SR-388 and help out that item percentage sometime.

If I have one complaint about Samus Returns (and maybe other, more recent games in the Metroid series), it’s that I had so many abilities by the end of the game that I couldn’t keep track of all of them. I HAVE the tools to solve every puzzle in the game—I just can’t remember to use them in the moment! But, that’s a pretty minor complaint. The games are great. Check out Samus Returns before the Nintendo 3DS and its library disappear into the digital ether forever!

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