Metroid II: Return of Samus

Metroid II: Return of Samus
Metroid II: Return of Samus
A person in a powered exoskeleton is kneeling while facing the viewer.
European box art
Developer(s) Nintendo R&D1
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Hiroji Kiyotake
Hiroyuki Kimura
Producer(s) Gunpei Yokoi
Designer(s) Makoto Kano
Masafumi Sakashita
Tomoyoshi Yamane
Takehiko Hosokawa
Yasuo Inoue
Composer(s) Ryoji Yoshitomi
Series Metroid
Platform(s) Game Boy, 3DS Virtual Console
Release date(s) Game Boy
  • NA November 1991
  • JP January 21, 1992
  • EU May 21, 1992
3DS Virtual Console
  • JP September 28, 2011
  • EU Q4 2011
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

Metroid II: Return of Samus (メトロイドII RETURN OF SAMUS Metoroido Tsū Ritān Obu Samusu?) is an action-adventure video game, the second game in the Metroid series, and the only one developed for the Nintendo Game Boy. The sixth installment in the overall series story, the game was developed by Nintendo Research & Development 1 (Nintendo R&D1), and published by Nintendo in North America in November 1991, in Japan in January 1992, and in Europe in May 1992. In Metroid II, the developers added round metal shoulders on Samus's Varia Suit to differentiate it from her Power Suit, since both looked similar on the Game Boy's limited greyscale display. The updated suit has since been a staple of the series, appearing in all subsequent games.

The story of Metroid II follows the protagonist and playable character Samus Aran, who is sent on a mission to exterminate the Metroid creatures from their home planet SR388 before the antagonistic Space Pirates obtain and use them. On the planet, Samus encounters Metroids in different stages of their evolution cycle, ranging in forms from small jellyfish-like creatures to large, hovering, reptilian beasts. Eventually, Samus reaches the Queen Metroid and kills it. Continuing through the planet's caverns, Samus finds a Metroid egg, which hatches in front of her. The creature forms a bond with Samus and follows her to her gunship, setting the plot for Super Metroid (1994).

Although not as well received as the original Metroid on the Nintendo Entertainment System, the game was still given generally favorable reviews, receiving an aggregated score of 80% from Game Rankings. Praise focused on the game's story and settings, while criticism targeted its graphics and audio. Video game magazine Nintendo Power ranked the game as the 102nd-best game on a Nintendo console in their list of the Top 200 Games. Tim Jones of IGN found Metroid II a refreshing departure from the norm, and praised its replay value, while's Jeremy Parish felt that the game's visuals were bland and monotonous, noting that the music was not up to par with what the series is known for.



A video game screenshot. A person in a powered exoskeleton stands at the mouth of a cave.
Samus enters the caverns of the planet SR388. The figures on the bottom of the screen indicate her energy, stock of missiles, and remaining number of Metroids she must eliminate.

Metroid II is an action-adventure video game[1] in which the player controls the protagonist Samus Aran on the fictional planet SR388. In this side-scroller, players advance through the game by using Samus's weapons to kill a fixed number of Metroid creatures. The player is given a detector that displays the number of Metroids remaining in the area. Once all the creatures are eliminated, an earthquake occurs and the planet's lava levels decrease, allowing Samus to travel deeper through its tunnels. Metroid II features save modules located around the planet, which allow players to save their progress and continue in another session. After the game's end credits are displayed, the total time taken to complete the game is shown, which determines whether Samus poses with or without her suit.[2][3]

The game features two weapons new to the Metroid series: the tri-splitting Spazer Laser Beam, and the Plasma Beam, which passes through enemies when shot. Samus can only equip one beam at a time; however, she can switch between them by returning to where they are first found. Metroid II features the Space Jump, a new suit enhancement that allows Samus to access otherwise unreachable areas. The game also sees the return of Samus's Morph Ball, a mode in which she curls up into a ball to travel through small tunnels. In addition, the game is the first in the series to feature the Spider Ball and Spring Ball. The Spider Ball allows Samus to climb most walls or ceilings, giving her freedom to explore both the surfaces and ceilings of caverns, and the Spring Ball gives Samus the ability to jump while curled up into a ball in the Morph Ball form.[2][3]


Metroid series
fictional chronology

Metroid (Zero Mission)
Metroid Prime
Return of Samus
Super Metroid
Other M

Chronologically, Metroid II: Return of Samus takes place sixth in the Metroid fictional universe. In the previous Metroid, bounty hunter Samus Aran ruined the Space Pirates' plans to use the newly discovered lifeform known as Metroid. To ensure that the Space Pirates can never obtain any more Metroids, the Galactic Federation sends several teams to the Metroids' home planet, SR388, to destroy them once and for all. However, when none of the teams survive, the Galactic Federation contracts Samus to finish the mission.

While exploring the planet, Samus encounters Metroids and destroys them, slowly decreasing the planet's Metroid population. During her mission, she notices the mutations that each creature exhibits: the Metroids grow from small jellyfish-like creatures into large, hovering, lizard-like beasts. After destroying most of the planet's Metroids, Samus encounters and battles the Metroid Queen. Killing it, Samus proceeds to return to her gunship through the planet's tunnels.

Along the way, she finds a Metroid egg that hatches in front of her. A Metroid hatchling floats out of the broken shell and imprints onto Samus, thinking that she is its mother. Unable to commit to her mission of extermination, Samus spares its life. She exits the tunnels while the Metroid helps clear the way. Reaching the planet's surface, the Metroid and Samus board the gunship together.[4]


Metroid II marked a "new high point" for handheld game consoles, with graphics that were almost as good as the 8-bit graphics in games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The game featured a battery backup to allow players to continue their games from a previously saved point.[5] Metroid II was designed by Nintendo R&D1 and produced by Gunpei Yokoi; they both also worked on the previous Metroid game. The game features enhancements from its predecessor that include easier controls which allow Samus to crouch while firing at the same time, and jump while shooting straight down to attack anything below her.[3]

The Game Boy's black and white graphics limited the detail in each area of the game, which led to changes to Samus's gear that eventually became permanent. In the original Metroid on the Nintendo Entertainment System, color was used to differentiate between Samus's Power Suit and her Varia Suit, an upgraded version. However, without color on the Game Boy, the two suits appeared similar, forcing the developers to develop a visual indicator for players to determine which suit Samus is wearing. They updated her Varia Suit, adding round metal shoulders that have been a part of the suit in every game in the series since then. The game allowed players to save their progress for the first time in the series outside Japan. To save the game, players entered special portals, which have appeared in every Metroid game since. Metroid II is the only game in the series to show every stage of the Metroid creature's development cycle; the evolution stages that they go through are: Original, Alpha, Gamma, Zeta, Omega, and Queen. The more developed the organism is, the stronger its attack. Because of the Game Boy's small screen, the developers made Samus's model bigger compared to her surroundings, to give more detail in her appearance using limited graphics capabilities. While improving Samus's design, the change also made the environments feel cramped.[3]

Metroid II's designer, Nintendo R&D1, was also involved in developing the Game Boy Color, a device similar to the Game Boy but with a color screen. Nintendo's Dan Owsen acknowledged in an interview that the company planned to release a color version of Metroid II. He believed that Nintendo R&D1 included a special "Metroid palette" in the Game Boy Color's hardware, which "makes Metroid II look really, really nice on Game Boy Color", and remarked that the release should have graphics comparable to the original Metroid on the Nintendo Entertainment System. However, the project was eventually canceled.[6]

Due to the black and white color palette used in Metroid II, and because of the canceled Game Boy Color version, there have been attempts to create colored versions of Metroid II. A programmer using the pseudonym DoctorM64 created Project AM2R, also known as Another Metroid 2 Remake. The project aims to update the game's appearance by emulating, and in some cases, trumping the visual design of Super Metroid (1994) and Metroid: Zero Mission (2004). The game is in working beta as of March 2008. Ars Technica claims that it features "incredible graphics" and they consider it a "painstaking recreation of the original level design". They observed, "The animations are incredibly smooth, colors vibrant, and backgrounds well-detailed."[7] As of February 6, 2011, Project AM2R appears to be nearing its final stages of development. Because of this, DoctorM64 has put out a what would amount to a minigame, called Metroid: Confrontation, to test the game's engine and acquire feedback from his fanbase.[8]



Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 80%[1]
Review scores
Publication Score D+[9]
Allgame 4.5 of 5[10]
IGN 9.0 of 10[11]

Nintendo released Metroid II in North America in November 1991,[12] in Japan on January 21, 1992, and in Europe on May 21, 1992.[13] Critics preferred the Nintendo Entertainment System counterpart. Although considered by a few to be the weakest game in the franchise,[3] Metroid II still received generally favorable reviews, receiving an aggregated score of 80% from Game Rankings.[1] Nintendo included the game in its Player's Choice marketing label.[13] Praise for Metroid II focused on its story and settings, while criticism targeted the game's graphics and audio. In their Top 200 Games list, Nintendo Power ranked the game as the 85th best game on a Nintendo console,[14] and included it in their list of the best Game Boy games.[15] Nintendo Power listed it as the 12th-best Game Boy/Game Boy Color video game, praising it for introducing several staple abilities to the series.[16]

Because Metroid II has a single large level instead of multiple small ones, IGN's Tim Jones found the game a "refreshing departure from the norm", which made him feel claustrophobic the further into the game he ventured. He considered the graphics average, however, and noted that the walls appeared mostly the same, which confuses players when wandering through identical tunnels. Jones was also dismayed by the game's audio, commenting "A lot of the time there is no music, just a steady beat, but when you get into certain areas a slow, moody tune begins to play in the background." He praised Metroid II's replay value, considering its non-linearity as the primary reason for this. Summarizing his review, Jones stated, "This is a very good game, full of the renowned Nintendo magic: a classic in many ways. It is also very cheap, so if you manage to find a copy then there is no excuse not to buy it. It has great gameplay, heightened by the superb suspense and tension, and a lot of replay value. Go get it!"[11]

Jeremy Parish of was particularly critical of the game. Disappointed by its graphics, he complained that aside from Samus, the visuals for the environment are "bland and repetitive, full of monotonous rocks and sand with few details to differentiate the various areas, and the enemies are mostly simple and boxy". He also criticized the "downright painful" music, which he compared with the "moody, atmospheric compositions" the series was known for. Parish found the game's premise a saving grace, though; considering it "ambitious", he added that it also provided the series a vital crux: "Samus' actions in Metroid II fuel the plots of both its sequels: Super Metroid [and] Metroid Fusion." Reminding that the game was not without its charms, Parish still found the game painful to play, and described it as "something of a dark spot on a brilliant series' reputation".[9]

GameTrailers noted that Metroid II is too linear and was unimpressed with its audio and visuals. Despite those shortcomings, the publication believed that the game still maintained the high standards set by its predecessor and noted that it also introduced new methods of exploration to the series that have become staples. GameTrailers also commented that it told one of the most pivotal chapters in the series' overall plot.[3] Ars Technica called Metroid II a "rather bland and ugly game, even for its time".[7] Allgame believed that Metroid II would please fans of the original Metroid, and they noticed that the backgrounds were more detailed in this Game Boy iteration.[10] GamesRadar listed Metroid II: Return of Samus as one of the titles they want in the Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console.[17]


Nintendo announced on August 17, 2011, that Metroid II, along with other Game Boy games such as Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (1992), Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge (1991), and several others would be released on the Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console platform at the end of the year.[18] It was later released in Japan on September 28, 2011.


  1. ^ a b c "Metroid II: Return of Samus – GB". Game Rankings. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  2. ^ a b Metroid II instruction manual. Nintendo. 1992-01-20. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "The Metroid Retrospective – Part 1". GameTrailers. 2007-07-25. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  4. ^ Intelligent Systems. Metroid II: Return of Samus. (Nintendo). (1992-01-20)
  5. ^ Kent, Steven L. (1994-05-05). "Inside Moves". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  6. ^ "The MDb Interviews Dan Owsen". 1998. Retrieved 2009-02-21. 
  7. ^ a b Caron, Frank (2008-03-19). "Not just Another Metroid 2 Remake". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  8. ^ DoctorM64 (2011-02-06). "Project AM2R Development blog". DoctorM64. Retrieved 2011-02-06. 
  9. ^ a b Parish, Jeremy (2000-01-01). "Metroid II: The Return of Samus (Game Boy)". Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  10. ^ a b Weiss, Brett Alan. "Metroid II: The Return of Samus (Overview)". Allgame. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  11. ^ a b Jones, Tim (1999-06-14). "Metroid 2: Return of Samus". IGN. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  12. ^ Sora Ltd.. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (in English). (Nintendo). Wii, (v1.0). Level/area: Nintendo Chronicle. (2008-03-09) "Game Boy — 11/1991 Metroid II: Return of Samus"
  13. ^ a b "Release Summary". GameSpot. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  14. ^ Michaud, Pete (December 2005). "NP Top 200". Nintendo Power 198: 74. 
  15. ^ Davis, Cameron (1998-11-11). "'s The 50 Best Game Boy Games: Classic Essentials". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2000-01-26. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  16. ^ (Magazine) Nintendo Power – The 20th Anniversary Issue!. Nintendo Power. 231. San Francisco, California: Future US. August 2008. p. 72. 
  17. ^ "12 classic Game Boy and Game Boy Color games we want on 3DS". GamesRadar. Jan 19, 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  18. ^ Elston, Brett (2011-08-17). "Metroid II, Mario Land 2, Mega Man and more coming to 3DS eShop this year". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2011-08-19. 

External links

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