By: Shane Sacobie
The original Metroid was an instant classic. With the popularity of the GameBoy,
so many classics have had portable spin-offs (i.e. Super
Mario Land, Final Fantasy Legend, etc.). However, it's quite rare to have
a direct sequel published on this platform. Many companies may not have been
able to pull off this feat, but Nintendo did so splendidly.
There aren't really any GameBoy games that will leave
you in awe graphically, as the small black and green screen doesn't leave much room for
innovation and/or creativity. Basically, a good GameBoy game in terms of
graphics is one that doesn't blur and is clear enough that you know what's
happening. Sporting a look similar to that of its NES counterpart, Metroid
2 does a good job of this, with a variety of weapons and enemies aiding in this effort.
Metroid 2 follows its predecessor's sound as well. Relatively little
music is present (with a few exceptions such as the return
of the music at the start of gameplay). The lack of music is not something
you'll notice, as there's always shooting going on. Admittedly, the lack
of music may make the constant footsteps and sound effects of landing from
a jump get on your nerves after a while, but it's pulled off (relatively)
smoothly. Since Samus is fighting in an alien world, there are a lot of eerie
noises that occur with some frequency.
Gameplay is the same as the original: horizontally and vertically scrolling
with platforms to aid you in getting across/up to the other side. What you'll
find in Metroid 2 is a lot of jumping and shooting at first. Samus' powers
are relatively limited at the start of the game, and the player must locate
items to make her be able to do other things, such as placing bombs, jumping
better, clinging to walls, increase max energy, etc.
The object of the game is to defeat all the metroids, and a number is listed
at the bottom of the screen to give you an idea of your progress in that
task. After defeating an unknown number of metroids, every once in a while,
there will be an earthquake that allows you to pass through areas that were
previously under lava (I think it's lava, but you can't really tell on GameBoy).
Unfortunately, when these earthquakes happen, you never really know where
the change took place, which makes you have to search around aimlessly until
you stumble across uncharted territory. It's like those games that say "a
door has opened somewhere in the castle" when you hit a switch. This problem
could've been solved with a map, although one wasn't available in the original
version, either. (Maybe I was just spoiled by Super Metroid.)
Controlling Samus is simple, and learning each additional move you receive from the
various power-ups is just as easy. Nintendo managed to pack in quite a lot
of moves for a two button system. It's simple to go from standing position
to a ducking one to a ball without any hassle. Jumping as a rolled up ball,
clinging to a wall, utilizing missiles, and more is pulled off without any
problems at all and can be done by novice players and veterans alike.
While the concept is not exactly unique (it was done in the original), making
a direct sequel on the GameBoy is perhaps the most innovative idea of the
whole game. The concept of a portable Metroid is great because now players
can take it with them.
I found Metroid to be fun in some parts while boring in others. The exploration
and ability to encounter new items and enemies at every turn are great, but
you may find yourself going in circles a lot due to the nature of the game.
While the first time through Metroid 2 is cool, you may find it difficult
to sit through a second time. There will still be a lot of puzzles you don't
know, as some areas are solved by dumb luck rather than skill, but once you
beat it, you probably won't be coming back to it for a while. I found that
after not playing it for a few months, I was able to come back to it and
start a new adventure many times, but I've yet to beat it a second time.
Overall, Metroid 2 is an excellent sequel to a classic game. Anyone with
a GameBoy who enjoyed the original should pick this one up.