Retro Review – Metroid II: Return of Samus (GB)

First a little background information: Metroid II was my introduction to the Metroid franchise. My first time playing it was way back in the day on the original Game Boy as a kid. My parents gave me a Game Boy because every summer we would go on long road trips from Northern California to Southern California to visit my grandparents. Being in a car for 8 hours a day provides lots of free time for video games. And I played Metroid II a lot. Many years later I downloaded Metroid II on my 3DS as a Club Nintendo (RIP) reward and had a great time replaying it there too. With the upcoming remake of Metroid II, Metroid: Samus Returns, and looking to take a break from playing my Switch, I though now would be a great time to revisit the original before diving into the remake. Warning: the following is kinka spoiler-ish, but not really. Be warned!


Playing original Game Boy games on the 3DS Virtual Console is awesome. Because the top screen on the 3DS is larger than the original Game Boy the sprites are easy to see. It is also nice that they do not become pixelated because of the larger display. It also makes seeing the game much easier than playing on the Game Boy. The Samus sprite is big and detailed. It is a nice touch too that her suit changes once you find a certain power up. The aliens/monsters and backgrounds are also detailed. For the backgrounds it is easy to tell the location have changed when traveling from one area to the next. And finally the Metroids look great in all their forms. ‘Great’ may not be the best word to use because the Metroid evolutions are gross. But that is great too. As an additional feature to playing on the 3DS the game displays in grayscale, not that green-scale of the original Game Boy. But that can be turned on if authenticity is desired.

Bonus mention: I love the icons used for Game Boy games on the 3DS home screen. It is so awesome Nintendo chose to use what is basically the top half of the original Game Boy with the title screen to display the game.

Metroid II Vitrual Consol icon


The controls have not aged very well and is something I am looking forward to being updated with the remake. That is not to say that they are bad, because they are not. Samus controls pretty well. She is able to run and gun just fine. The issue I had with the controls came when fighting the Metroids, especially the later evolutions of the Metroid. In multiple fights it was easy for Samus to be facing the wrong way after being hit. Once hit by the Metroid she would flash and be knocked back with the Metroid often flying behind her. This could cause additional damage to Samus or any missiles fired during this time to miss. You are unable to turn when being knocked backwards. It just felt clunky. Also I had some minor issues controlling the spin jump once you find the ability to Space Jump. The various morph ball forms controlled well and it was great to have so many options with the morph ball to track down and find every energy tank or missile upgrade. Again, overall, I did not have any issues with the controls as the game is very playable, just a few issues.

Final thoughts:

Metroid II holds up very well as a bite sized Samus adventure. By no means is it a long game. My play through was a little under 5 hours. I would absolutely recommend playing this game. Especially if you are interested in either the remake or Metroid Prime 4 when that is eventually released. Also I feel that this version of Metroid II could be played either before or after the remake as an excellent companion to that game. Yes there are better games in the franchise but is a fun game and is worthy of the of the Metroid legacy.

Originally released on: Nintendo Game Boy

Reviewed on: Nintendo 3DS Vitural Console

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Matt Cudney is a gamer Dad who likes to write about video games and draw things from time to time. He can be found online here:

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