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Virtual Console Essentials: Metroid 2

Not quite Prime condition...

You'll often hear Return Of Samus mentioned as the Metroid that's ripest for a remake.

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That's probably because it's the one game in the series most in need of an overhaul. Samus' enormo-sprite (she takes up over a quarter of the screen height) makes combat much fiddlier than before, as do annoying enemies that range from circling mosquito-like gits to what look like floating polystyrene chips.

Meanwhile, that all-important alien atmosphere is stifled by the Game Boy's limitations - you've seen one featureless green-grey tunnel, you've seen them all.

The dull environments also make pathfinding alittle tricky in places, and while the music conjures an oppressive sense of dread, it's more in the sense of "do I have to listen to any more of this bleeping racket?" And don't get us started on the low-health alert, an insistent squawk that could easily qualify as aform of torture if UN inspectors took a close look at it.

Battle through those niggles and there's a purity of purpose here that can make it hard to stop playing. The story simply has Samus rock up to planet SR388 to destroy all the Metroids in order to prevent the Space Pirates from harnessing their power, a kill tally ticking down from 39 to zero as you off the suckers.

Defeat a few and you'll burrow further into the bowels of the planet - though the environments don't change much, that gradually depleting Metroid total encourages you to keep digging. It's refreshing not to have objective arrows pointing you in the right direction all the time, too, although the lack of hand-holding can lead to a lot of aimless wandering.

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Not a great game, then, but an important one. This is, after all, where the crucial Metroid story arc began, as - spoiler alert - Samus forms a maternal bond with the hatchling whose mother she recently obliterated.

Otherwise, Return is probably the weakest entry to date, a promising idea stymied by wonky tech.

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