AM2R (2016)

AM2R or also know as “Another Metroid 2 Remake” is a bit weird to review, being that it’s not an official game; it’s a fan made remake that only is available on PC and actually received a DMCA notice from Nintendo making sure that the creator stopped working on it and removed it from being able to be downloaded. But once something gets posted online, there is no way to remove it completely, so luckily it’s fairly easy to get a hold of years later.

I’m not one to really mess around with fan games or rom hacks. Most of the time they are very lazily made, change one minor thing or just straight up suck, but that’s not the case with AM2R, and let’s get the biggest issue out of the way right now. AM2R or Another Metroid 2 Remake is a absolutely dumb and stupid name for a game. Saying right off the bat that this is just another fan remake immediately makes it sound uninteresting. Since the real name of the original GameBoy game is called Metroid II: The Return of Samus; it could have easily been called Samus Returns, or The Return of Metroid: Samus is Back or something else… literally anything would have been better than “Another Metroid 2 Remake”.

With the naming issue out of the way, now I can actually focus on this game, and how unbelievably well this game is put together. For a game made in the Game Maker 2 engine, I couldn’t believe that it was a fan game. There were plenty of times where I completely forgot this wasn’t a real metroid game, and actually was some random game that some dude on the internet put together in his spare time.

After completing Metroid: Zero Mission, I was looking forward to playing more of the games, and knowing that the second game was an original Game Boy game, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to spend time with a small game like that. And I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to get the official Nintendo Remake of it that came out in 2017 called Samus Returns either. Luckily I remembered that even though I wasn’t a Metroid fan at all, I do recall the release of AM2R and that it was a remake of the second Metroid game made for Nintendo’s handheld system.

Since I have never played the Metroid series before, and I didn’t play the two official Metroid II games from Nintendo, I don’t know what the changes are between the three different games, and what is official and not official canon. But since I played through all of AM2R, I’m going to take this game and make it canon for my playthrough.

Starting out after the events of the first game, Samus shows up to a planet called SR-388, which is the home of the Metroids, the weird floating alien lifeforms that attach themselves to hosts and leech off their health until the host is dead. They remind me a bit of facehuggers from the Alien franchise. Samus has two main goals, one is to find out what happened to a missing team of scientists and military personnel that were conducting research on the Metroids; and secondly to eradicate all of the Metroids on the planet.

Immediately right from the start, the game feels exactly like it felt at the end of Zero Mission, but without all the powerups. Like with most sequels to games; you’ll get stripped of all the great abilities that you had with the previous game, but get them back and also some new ones as well throughout the game. Finding the different items to allow for Samus to progress further is just as fun as it was through the first game, and I never felt truly overpowered for long.

Each new item provided a bit of ease to deal with enemies that were giving me trouble earlier, but after starting a new area that I wasn’t able to visit before, the difficulty of the enemies started to ratchet up again, and really made the game feel extremely balanced all the way through.While most enemies could be just bypassed, I tried to make it a point to at least kill everyone on the screen at least once before I moved on to the next area. Maybe it was to justify the length, or maybe it was that simple fact that I was just having fun with the game and everything about the game felt enjoyable.

While the game had most of its assets taken from other Metroid games, the simple fact that this game exists and turned out as well as it did just really goes to show that when someone puts in the time and effort to make something as good as it can be, it’s worth it in the long run. The atmosphere of the caves underneath the planet’s surface seems to be evoking the same cold alone feeling of the original game. Knowing that there is no other humans on the entire planet brings the sense that there is a possibility of something bigger that no other person has seen before just around each corner.

The progression of the game flows naturally and each new powerup helps Samus to get further into new areas. There was a few times where I had to scan the map to find out where to go, but nothing too bad to make the game feel frustrating. While backtracking in most games makes me feel like the developers were intentionally padding the games length; if you pay attention and remember where certain blocks that you couldn’t move passed before are, it makes it much easier to not waste as much time searching for the next area.

While some of the bosses did give me a bit of difficulty and I died on a couple of them, after that first death I knew what I did wrong and course corrected. The final boss, the Queen Metroid is the only one I struggled with, mainly because I fought it wrong (after looking up a really old playthrough and seeing a bad run). The final boss on my first attempt clocked in around a half hour or more. The second time I attempted it, I beat it fairly quickly, but did end up beating The Queen with a small amount of health left in my meter.

I don’t have much to say for the review of this game, as it really is just another Metroid game, one that took a small handheld Game Boy game from 1991 and gave it new life with a lot of time and care. Allowing it to look like what I imagine the creators wanted it to look like originally. Quality of Life improvements that go along with modern hardware, like maps and better graphics and saving… these are all nice, but the core gameplay of exploring and destroying aliens is all still underneath, as the backbone of the game.

And what a Metroid game means to me now, is something that I hope continues to get better with every game. Samus isn’t just some random video game hero, she is a awesome bounty hunter who has a backstory that continues to evolve and change as I progress throughout the series and I’ve fallen in love with a new genre of game thanks to the help of these games.