Video Game Mondays – “Metroid II: Return of Samus” and “AM2R” Comparison: Part 3 – Lava, the First Metroid, and the Pause Screen

DISCLAIMER: All screenshots, stills, photography, and other images in this blogpost are credit to the creators of the graphics and figures within. Photography and Screenshots taken by Jesse Hecht, unless otherwise noted under the image. © Jesse Hecht C.R.E.A.T.I.V.E. 2016

Saving is a valid option right now, and Samus continues right.

Going right from the save point, lava and Seerooks are the new fatal flavor, with Seerooks being another enemy that is seldom seen, but given another great upgrade in size, threat, and power. They block the way forward sometimes by flying left and right, and after four or so shots or a missile, they go down, compared to the single-shot weaklings in the original.

Lava also poses a constant threat in this game. Progression is halted, and luckily convection isn’t an issue in this game or Samus would be damaged. A dip in the lava does not mean certain death, it means constantly sapped health.

But even if the player tried to brave the lava…

The way would be cut off, either by death, or a well-placed roadblock.

Whichever way, Samus gets a game over. She fades away in the original and the screen shows the upper left image, but the new game has Samus flash green as she centers herself to the screen, and then fade to white as her armor is destroyed. The new version shows no qualms about Samus’ true identity, and this design of the suitless Samus is true to the version from Metroid: Zero Mission. The game over screen in AM2R is red, and similar to the red core of a Metroid. It’s effectively scary, so let’s move on and go left.

Samus goes left, through a hallway and a hill in the original, and up a hill in AM2R. AM2R’s hill is more streamlined and tests jumping abilities while Metroid 2’s hill and hallway is incredibly boring. Again, another great Guasti decision.

The next room shows another vertical shaft, again boring in the original and more exciting in AM2R. The colors even change in AM2R, the rock becoming paler from lack of light shining off it.This also shows back in the lava and Seerook area, where the deeper Samus goes into the lava, the rock becomes pale. The attention to detail is wonderful. More enemies are added, such as some Tsumuri and a few Yumbos (Yumbos in the Gameboy version) with their bright colors add some more life to the room, unlike the black and white caverns of the Gameboy SR388.

Again, another shortcut. It’s debatable which is quicker. Killing the Tsumuri and dropping down the smaller shaft or Morph Ball Rolling down the larger shaft. Either way, getting down the shaft in the first place is up to the player.

At the bottom of both shafts is a pool of water. Water will later become prevalent, but until then, this is water. It slows down Samus and stunts her jumping height. Those square stones with the plants on them are meant for Samus to grip them in AM2R. Also note the dripping water. It makes one think that the entire pool was filled by that water. The water also drips off of Samus, the Tsumuri, the rocks, and the water with a tiny splash. Again, the level of detail is wonderful.

Another hallway, this time not that many differences. More water dripping, pools of water, and Hornoads. Getting through here quickly depends on shooting quick with missiles or beams. Also, in the original, but not in AM2R, Yumbos fly near the end of the hallway. They are somewhat annoying, in the way, and, personally, the less of them, the better.

At the end of the hallway lies an entryway into another room. At least, in the original game it does. In AM2R, the entryway is replaced by a red hatch with a bronze cylindrical portion backing it. New players may wonder what this is, but Metroid series veterans know that this is a Missile Door, unlocked with the power of a missile. The Metroid series is based mostly on shooting things, so why not blast your way through a door? Different kinds of doors are more commonplace but more on that later.

Shooting your way through this door in AM2R leads to the first major difference in versions: Extra rooms. Samus comes across a save room and then a room full of lava and some tricky jumping over said lava. Did I mention lava(?) because it becomes important soon. There also is some forced application of the Power Grip and I am personally glad that it is forced in a way. Wall Jumping is also recommended to get through this room quicker.

It is here that both versions catch up to each other. Strangely there seems to be something off about this room…

Oh. That’s why…

This, everyone, is a Metroid. But not just any Metroid, it’s an Alpha Metroid. Alpha Metroids fly in your general direction in both versions, using straighter flight paths in the original, and more wavy all-around movement in AM2R. Beam shots are not effective against them in both versions, so missiles it is! In the original, they can be harmed by a missile blast to the face directly, but only their underside is vulnerable in AM2R. Also, missiles will just “plink” against the top shell in AM2R as well as the original. In AM2R, to more effectively defeat the Alpha, the player should jump up, leading the Metroid higher for a cleaner shot. This is recommended with Alphas as they fly fast and bump Samus hard. They are accompanied by frantic battle music in the original and a more laid back battle music AM2R. In both versions they make screeching noises.

Shooting the Metroid successfully five times will defeat the Metroid in both cases. It explodes in the original, but sputters and gives a great death screech as it explodes in a flash of light, leaving some missiles and energy spheres behind. The Metroid Counter in the corner of the screen goes down by one.

Also to note that there are energy and missile refills available in the same room in the original, unneeded in AM2R due to the save room two rooms back.

As Samus leaves the area, the screen starts shaking. A small blurb appears on AM2R’s screen, notifying that a new logbook entry has been added. Pressing the pause button reveals that this is an earthquake. Every so often, usually after fighting a Metroid, the screen starts to shake. Moving forward, the lava also lowers in the area, allowing Samus to continue on to deeper areas of the caverns of SR388. Also to note that in AM2R, the lava pits are easy to leave if Samus accidentally falls in.

From here, Samus can make it back safely to that save point to the right of the mound with the Morph Ball Tunnel beneath it. The level is also carefully designed so that either jumping in the original version or Power Gripping in AM2R is sufficient to get to the top of each ledge.

This is where Video Game Mondays would usually say “watch for next week’s article” but here, we would like to delve into the Logbook more. One of the greatest additions to AM2R was a logbook that tracked locations, enemies, and missions. This is based off of the logbook from the critically acclaimed Metroid Prime series of games. Pressing pause during normal play will also access the pause screen, giving the player a selection screen. Logbooks, Samus’ status, the main map, and an options screen can all be viewed at the touch of a button. There is no in-game map in the original game, so these are all welcome additions that flesh out the world just that much more.

Samus’ Mission Log details her mission, details about the planet, and details on who she has to rescue.

Metroid data is also found in the logbook, as well as a sneak peek on what Larval Metroids look like.

Finally, and possibly most importantly, are the Chozo. For those who do not know about Metroid Lore, Samus was three years old when her village and family were destroyed by Space Pirates and their leader, the space dragon Ridley. She was then raised by the Chozo, a race of humanoid beings with the heads of birds, and given a suit of armor that she controls through the power of sheer will . She eventually became a bounty hunter, but all of that in-between will be covered another day.

Chozo-related anything becomes apparent in the next few parts, but we would be remiss not to give the reader a taste before moving on.

Next time on Video Game Mondays: More Caverns and the Chozo Temple…

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