Video Game / Metroid II: Return of Samus

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Samus' confrontation with the Metroids has started again. You must help Samus save the Galaxy from the Metroids!
—- The game's instruction booklet

Metroid II: Return of Samus is an action-adventure video game, the second game in the Metroid series, and the only one developed for the Nintendo Game Boy. The seventh installment in the overall series story (the later Metroid Prime Trilogy games serving as Interquels between Metroid 1 and this game), the game was developed and published by Nintendo in North America in November 1991, in Japan in January 1992, and in Europe in May 1992.

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 yet again. 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.

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 game also introduces elements that would become franchise staples, such as the Space Jump, the gunship used by Samus, and Save Stations (which replace the password system from the first game).

Also note that there is no definite article in the title. It's Return of Samus, not The Return of Samus.

In 2017, Nintendo released a 2D remake for the Nintendo 3DS: Metroid: Samus Returns, which now has its very own page.


Return of Samus contains examples of:

  • After Boss Recovery: The metroid queen is the only boss to give Samus energy and missile refills, and is of course the only boss where she almost certainly would not need them, not that a first time player would know this for sure.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: First game in the series to avert this.
  • Armless Biped: Hornoads, skreeks and motos show this isn't just a thing on Zebes.
  • Art Evolution
    • Enforced, since the game's monochrome nature prevented the designers from using Palette Swap to differentiate some aspects of the suit. This resulted in changes to Samus's suit that carried forward into later titles. First, the barrel of Samus's Arm Cannon visibly opened when switching to missiles. Second, the Varia Suit looked significantly different from the baseline Power Suit (including larger shoulders). In the original Metroid, both the missiles and Varia Suit were represented by color changes. All flashbacks to the first game depict the redesigned armor, though Zero Mission's Varia Suit lacked the shoulders (the Gravity Suit had them, though).
    • There are no more air tubes that look like literal tubes, though that could be the result of SR388 being a different place than Zebes.
    • Arachnus is much smaller than it was in Metroid Fusion, although that could just be a different arachnus, given that one can be hurt by beams and missiles, can't jump, and has more powerful projectile attacks.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Turns out there's a massive blind spot for Zeta Metroid attacks, as this video demonstrates. If Samus rolls into morph ball form and sits underneath the Zeta, its attacks won't hit Samus. This allows Samus to attack the Zeta with impunity.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Blob throwers must be destroyed from the top down, unless Samus is using the ice or wave beams. It counters by throwing floating "blobs" to try and stop her from getting above it.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Plasma Beam is the most powerful gun you get, but it fires a straight shot that can't penetrate certain enemies' armor, unlike the Wave Beam. The plasma beam and the spazer are close together, so getting rid of it isn't too hard if you think it's too impractical.
  • Bag of Spilling: You start off with about 30 missiles, since they're needed to even damage the Metroids she's hunting, and the Morph Ball and Long Beam. Everything else from the previous chronological games are lost.
  • Big Bad: The Queen Metroid.
  • Bat Out of Hell: Seerook sprites look like bats that don't flap their wings, though official art makes them look like Samus's visor, the "ears", "wings" and "teeth" all being spikes. Drivel sprites look even more like bats given they do flap their wings, although official art makes them look much more alien. By contrast, gulluggs do have bat like wings in their official art, but not their sprites, which look like mosquitoes. Samus Returns give them models that are even more batty.
  • Black Out Basement: Once the Metroid counter hits thirteen you gain access to one that has a missile expansion, although given that it's in the roof, it's really more of a Blackout Attic. The manual claimed there was an infrared ray scope that would allow Samus to see in the dark, but no such item existed until Metroid Prime.
  • Blob Monster: The indestructible flitt, the pathetically weak meboid, and the blobs thrown by the blob thrower.
  • Broken Bridge: A hazardous liquid drains from the caverns via periodic earthquakes (in one case, it actually fills in a cavern). The trigger? Killing all the Metroids in a section. One section of liquid near the end of the game even has a set of spikes added to the end of the tunnel to prevent a Dungeon Bypass.
  • Color Wash: When played on a Super Game Boy, the game defaults to using a red, black, green, and yellow palette, befitting the "alien" nature of SR388. Because this game was released before the Super Game Boy started development, however, this default palette is precoded into the SGB's hardware (as with numerous other pre-SGB games), and does not feature any of the more advanced color trickery seen in SGB-optimized titles.
  • Convection Schmonvection: One of only two games to play it straight, the other being the original Metroid—if that damaging liquid in the main tunnels is lava. The manual never calls that liquid "lava", only a "hazardous liquid", so for all we know it could be Hollywood Acid instead. This is actually supported by the 3DS remake, which has a deadly purple liquid in its place.
  • Critical Annoyance: As your shield energy gets lower, the low-health beeping sound will get faster.
  • Cycle of Hurting: Samus hangs in air for a bit whether by falling, jumping or getting knocked into it, suffers noticeable knock back but has a very short Mercy Invincibility window. The small screen means you usually can't see much ahead, below or above her, Samus's weapons can't hit enemies off screen, and some areas are very cramped, meaning otherwise weak enemies can easily juggle her to death if you're not careful. Once you find an energy tank and the varia suit you can probably avoid outright death, provided you take care to keep that tank close to full.
  • Cyclops: Senjoo, seerook, mumbo, halzyn, gravitt, yumme and ramulken all have one eye, although they are also much smaller than the mythological cyclops. Autoad and autom are Cyber Cyclops while pincher fly takes it to Oculothorax.
  • Depth Perplexion: Remember how getting the more aggressive green metroids stuck on bits of scenery was viable tactic in the first game? This time around it's turned against you, as several enemy types can pass through material Samus is hindered by, including the metroids, who are all immune to your fancy shoot through walls weaponry. Although larval metroids are not among them, it seems they are still required to play by Samus's rules until they grow up a little.
  • Developers' Foresight: In most sections of the game, you won't be able to traverse the hazardous liquid without dying a horrible death. At one point near the end, though, you would have enough armor and energy tanks to attempt it normally—if the dev team hadn't added a set of spikes blocking that part of the tunnel. The spikes go away after you destroy the Omega Metroids in the previous section, as does the liquid. Further, the various beam items respawn after you collect them, so unless you somehow screw with this aspect, you can never get an Unwinnable by Insanity by overwriting your Ice Beam permanently, as you will always be able to collect an Ice Beam at the end.
  • Double Jump: This is the first appearance of the Space Jump, which can let Samus double jump (or rather, infinite jump if timed correctly).
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Being only the second game in the franchise, Metroid II has some oddities that would be rectified by the time its remake, Metroid: Samus Returns, was released:
    • Samus's ship doesn't save the game or refill health, only missiles, and even that's manual rather than automatic.
    • You have to be on the ground to initiate morph ball and space jump. If you switch back to biped mode in air you'll stay that way until Samus's feet touch the ground.
    • You're still one installment away from that precious diagonal aim or the ability to carry multiple beam types at once.
    • This is the only game in the entire franchise that does not feature the series's six-note main theme nor the iconic Samus introduction fanfare. Both of these were added in Samus Returns.
    • In this game, all Metroids past the larval stage are immune to the Ice Beam. In Metroid: Fusion, the Omega Metroid is weak to the Ice Beam, and Samus Returns extends this weakness to the Alpha, Gamma, and Zeta stages as well.
    • Speaking of the Omega Metroid, here it is only slightly taller than Samus, able to fly, and depicted with a hairy mane in official artwork. In Fusion and Samus Returns, the Omega Metroid is giant, unable to fly, and completely hairless.
    • In this game, the Queen Metroid can extend her neck, and she spits out undefined projectiles that can be rendered harmless with the Screw Attack. In Other M and Samus Returns, the Queen Metroid's neck is a fixed length, and she breathes fire that is dangerous even while using the Screw Attack. She is also vulnerable to standard Morph Bombs in this game, but that is because the Power Bomb was not yet introduced in the series.
  • Endangered Species: The entire Metroid species apparently consists of 47 Metroids that you kill (including their queen) and one infant Metroid, and Samus herself is the reason that the species is almost driven to extinction. Left alone, the Metroids are definitely dangerous, but are far too small in number to be a true threat to the whole Galaxy—the real problem is that the Space Pirates want to clone them using Beta Rays and exploit their abilities, just like they did in the first game, thus forcing the Galactic Federation to hire Samus to exterminate them all to prevent this from happening.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: The Space Jump causes Samus's spin jump to spin extremely fast. With the Screw Attack, everything is even better with spinning.
  • Expy
    • Tsumuris are zoomers in function, only you see their profile rather than their mugshot. Official art makes them more snail like.
    • The Metroids already cribbed a page from Facehuggers(although in this game they hug Samus's belly) and this game makes the similarities even more blatant by having the Metroid phases of evolution crib a page from the Xenomorphs. They even have a Queen Metroid that lays eggs!
  • Fireballs: Wallfires puff these at Samus, though they seem to use some sort of flammable substance, as they can be frozen with the ice beam.
  • Firebreathing Weapon: Automs have flame throwers of the sucky video game variety. They can't do much damage to Samus, especially not with the Varia suit, but are still best avoided.
  • Four-Legged Insect: Most arthropod looking creatures have one less set of legs than the Earth variety, but do not forget SR388 is not Earth.
  • Flying Sea Food Special: Octrolls and chute leeches, although they can only glide rather than fly. Also, chute leeches don't look much like leeches.
  • Gotta Kill Em All: An ever-present counter shows how many Metroids are left to kill. This becomes more disconcerting as the Metroids start to mutate, resulting in a mini-boss encounter with each one. At one point, the counter jumps from one to nine (The fourty-seventh and final Metroid is, of course, the dreaded Queen). Ironically, the game concludes with Samus adopting a Metroid hatchling; rather than snuff out the hated race once and for all ("Have I the right?"), Samus takes it under her wing and begins a peaceful climb back to the surface.
  • He Was Right There All Along: Arachnus looks like a power up Samus usually gets from Chozo statues but attacks Samus if you try to acquire it. It does jump around a lot and beating it does yield the spring ball for Samus, meaning it was meant to "defend" the power up or was just a hostile explorer who found it first.
  • Hopping Machine: They are your enemies, but they're also nice to see if you're running low on missiles (in fact, hopping anything usually yield missiles).
  • I Believe I Can Fly: At least half of the creatures encountered in this game can fly, including all but maybe one type of metroid, even those with legs. Samus herself gets a flight mode of sorts in the space jump.
  • Insectoid Aliens: Pincher flies, glow flies, gulluggs are also vaguely mosquito looking, although they don't suck blood(or don't attempt to such blood from an armored being). Yumbo sprites look like flying chainsaws but official art makes them look like mosquitoes with feathers. Motos have beetle like sprites but official art makes them look more like mask wearing reptiles. Mumbo sprites look like blobs but official art makes them look like insectoid versions of Samus's helmet. Skorps look like scorpions with two buzz saws where they head should be, in official art anyway.
  • Invincible Minor Minion: Automs cannot be destroyed, only avoided. Steptoggs, flitts and proboscum are invincible too, but they can't hurt Samus.
  • Jump Scare: The player will encounter a few of these simply with how Samus will be walking along, then the sudden change in music announces the presence of a Metroid, often without more than a split-second warning as it appears onscreen.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook Halzyn, moto and ramulken shells are impervious to anything Samus can shoot at them, except for the wave beam.
  • Last of His Kind: The baby Metroid at the end of the game.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Averted; killing the Queen Metroid doesn't cause the place to collapse—though it does result in an earthquake which prevents Samus from returning to prior parts of the game.
  • Lone Wolf Boss: Arachnus, an optional mini-boss that gives you the Spring Ball power up. It's the only non-Metroid boss fight in the entire game.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Wallfires, autoads, automs, autracks, TPO, shirk, gunzoo. Shirk in particular act like smaller, slower, weaker, stupider versions of alpha metroids. Subverted with yumees, who are said to be purely biological despite flying with flames erupting form their feet.
  • Metamorphosis Monster: The first Metroid you're likely to encounter is finishing its metamorphosis from the larval to alpha stage. Shed Metroid husks are scattered throughout the caves and tunnels you traverse.
  • Minus World: The Secret Worlds from the first game make a reappearance in this one. They can be accessed by spamming the select button but moving up and down or left and right quickly, despawning tiles and allowing Samus to sneak by the walls.
  • Mook Chivalry: Subverted, the manual says gawrons will only defend their colony from Samus one at a time, but that doesn't stop multiple gawrons from different colonies from ganging up on her. Ditto yumees.
  • Multiple Endings: The timer is hidden from the player but the game is taking note of how long it takes you to beat it. Take seven hours or longer and all you get is a still of Samus facing the screen. Do take five hours or longer but not quite seven and Samus will be running. Take less than five but not less than three and Samus will run, jump and strike a pose. Beat it in under three hours and Samus will jump, remove her powered armor, and let her hair down, posing in a tank top.
  • Nintendo Hard: Not as much as the original game since you have more abilities, can crouch, can shoot while crouching, can shoot downwards in air, plus you're not given much room to get lost, but it still qualifies. You still lack a map and Metroids you encounter can really drain your missile count. There are also a lot of fake walls which can make getting to some of the Metroids you need to kill frustrating. Some of these fake walls are indicated by a Metroid's shed skin but most of them are guess work and some of them are one way, forcing Back Tracking if there was something left to do on the other side.
  • Non-Indicative Name
    • Arachnus, which doesn't look remotely spider like, but like an alien mashup of an armadillo and Cthulhu.
    • Autracks do not move on tracks, nor do they track Samus's movement, and although official art does give them tank like treads they are almost totally stationary in game, only extending their necks to attack.
    • Chute leeches don't act much like leeches, although it's possible they lack the ability to feed on someone covered in metal and are simply trying to ram Samus because they are territorial
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Most of the game, you aren't even fighting the Metroids. Instead, you're completely isolated on the abandoned planet SR388, fighting the sporadic local wildlife or just working through the environment and ruins. And most of the music is surprisingly atmospheric for a Game Boy game—a lot of the tracks rely on ambience or scrambling alien like sound effects in lieu of any familiar melody. And on top of all that, you have no map, so for all you know, a Metroid could literally be lurking just around the corner. It adds a lot of suspense and tension between the battles. And then you get to the final area with the standard Metroids, and before you even encounter them, the player will notice the entire area is almost completely devoid of enemies (save a handful of flying platform creatures), a visual red flag that its a hot spot for the life-sucking parasites.
  • Oh, Crap!: When you enter the final area and the Metroid counter starts going back up.
  • One Bullet at a Time
    • Only one missile can be on screen at a time, can't make your Metroid hunt too easy.
    • The first and so far only 2D Metroid (not including the 3DS remake) where Samus's basic beam can have as many shots on screen as the player can fire. It's semiautomatic, though hitting the fire button quickly will produce more shots than merely holding it down. This may be a mistake, as hitting the fire button too fast will push it back down to three shots a screen.
    • It's still three bombs on screen at a time, though, and they need to be on screen to work. And its a small screen, moving too much can render bombs you laid useless.
    • The wave beam is also limited to three shots on screen, no matter the speed you press the button. But given that it goes through walls, this is understandable.
    • The Spazer also shoots through walls and is almost literally one bullet at a time, except that it shoots three at once.
    • The plasma beam is literally one bullet at a time, however, that one shot counts for as much as all three spazer shots, if you can hit anything with it, and it also goes through walls.
  • Plant Aliens: Blob throwers look like flowers on top of tree trunks anyway, although it can move almost like rubber to throw its blobs. Moheeks are said to be but do not look the part. Skorp sprites make them look like flowery cacti but official art makes them look more like arthropods. Official art makes septoggs look like dirt monsters with grass growing on them.
  • Punny Name: Moheeks look like fish with sea anemone Mohawks. Although the manual describes it as "tendrils", suggesting they are part plant.
  • Puzzle Boss:
    • Arachnus. While he's a pushover of a fight, it's up to the player to figure out that you can only damage him with the Morph Ball Bombs. The game gives a vague clue to it due to the Arachnus curling up and bouncing around like a Morph Ball.
    • The only way to damage the Metroid Queen's hide is with missiles, and she takes a really long time to kill, not only because it takes a lot of shots but because she doesn't give Samus many openings to shoot. However, if you can hit her while her neck is extending enough times she might leave her mouth open long enough for Samus to morph ball in and do some internal damage. Even then the damage from bombs will be negligible unless Samus has enough energy to make it to the queen's stomach.
  • Railroading
    • The game is deliberately designed to downplay exploration in favor of combat and a more linear approach to gameplay. The main obstacle to progress is that the caverns you have to traverse are flooded by acid, and the only way to lower it is to kill a certain number of Metroids in each area. And because you need abilities like the Spider Ball and the Space Jump to find the Metroids, you have to thoroughly explore whatever of the world you can before you can make any more progress.
    • If you spider ball or space jump high enough in area without a ceiling, Samus will take damage and fall back towards the ground. One can only speculate why the sky turns hostile.
  • Rapid Aging: Eight hatched metroids progress from infant to larval stage in the time it takes Samus to move from one room to another but the final infant stays an infant in the time it takes for Samus to leave the planet and fly to a research station.
  • Sequence Breaking: Not to the extent of the original game due to this games more linear nature, but there are some spots in the game where you can pull this off due to some useful tricks:
    • Just like the first game, Samus can roll off a ledge in Morph Ball form and uncurl, and then jump in midair.
    • If Samus jumps into an enemy, she will be knocked back, and can jump higher than normal in the air. This has particular use when she is trying to climb a wall of Autracks. Further, if Samus is damaged while she is in midair, the game will allow the player to jump again off nothing.
    • Samus can make an indefinite Bomb Jump if you have very good timing. She must lay a Bomb, and before it explodes, lay another one, and so forth.
    • If Samus has two Energy Tanks at the very least and the Varia Suit, she can run through the acid to reach Phase 3.
    • Samus can rapidly fire her weapons when in an enemy-filled room, to slow their movement down.
  • Shows Damage: Audibly, at least. As you chip away at the Queen Metroid's health, her digitized grunts gradually go into more agonized shrieking.
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: Near the end of the game, when Samus discovers a new batch of Metroids have just hatched (shooting the counter up from 1 to 9) , the already tense song playing raises an octave for the whole final level.
  • Sound of No Damage: A clanking sound plays if your missile, beam, or bomb hits something without damaging it. Also, if you try and Screw Attack a Metroid, you get a grinding sound as you and it bounce off each other.
  • Spikes of Doom
    • The most common variety may as well be more hazardous liquid, because it serves the same fall in and keep getting damaged until jumping out purpose as an obstacle. It does allow for more variation in terrain and doesn't get "drained" by the regular quakes.
    • Others cause Knock Back, serving to get in the way of particularly intrepid explorers. Some of these are destructible but most can only be avoided
  • Spike Balls of Doom: Subverted with needlers, which look the part but are non aggressive.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Averted with rock icicles. They come out of their burrows to attack when Samus passes by but if she kills one no more will come out.
  • Super Spit
    • Drivels have explosive spit
    • Skreeks spit arrows, which are described as "bullets" by the manual
    • Zeta and Omega metroids launch projectiles from their mouths, the latter's goes farther and creates damaging shock waves on the surfaces. The queen metroid has something in between Homing Projectile, Spread Shot and Pinball Projectile that will block Samus's missiles.
  • Toothy Bird: Senjoo are loaded with spikes which are patterned in such a way to make them look like teeth protruding from a beak. Skreeks sprites are an unmistakable case of biting auk heads, though official art goes back and forth between depicting them with honest to goodness teeth and more "realistic" spiny beaks.
  • Trick Boss: After you've destroyed 33 Metroids, you'll need to traverse a looping tunnel and fight a Metroid in the middle in order to clear the lava blocking off progress. The Metroid in question is just a simple Alpha Metroid. After destroying it, the usual earthquake occurs, but upon returning to the main tunnel, you'll discover that instead of sinking, it has instead risen, trapping you in the looping tunnel. Backtracking to where you fought the Alpha Metroid, you end up having to battle the first Omega Metroid in the game before you can progress for real.
  • Underground Level: All of the action in Metroid II takes place in the caverns of SR388. The only part of the surface the player sees is the immediate area around Samus' ship, and the hills behind it at the end of the game.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The nest of the Queen Metroid.
  • Video Game Remake: Double Subverted. "Metroid 2" was originally going to get a DX Remake for the Game Boy Color like The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, but the project was canceled. And then, over twenty years later, Nintendo announced Metroid Samus Returns.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: The Alpha and Gamma Metroids weren't all that difficult to deal with; one reliable way to deal with them was to get below them and shoot up. That's not an option with the Zeta Metroid; shooting it from below results in a Sound of No Damage. Also, you can't run from it unless you leave the room—the Zeta scrolls with you. Add the fact that it's actually smaller than a Gamma Metroid, moves faster and more aggressively, and has a ranged attack, and you have the toughest foe in the game except for the Final Boss.
  • Walk, Don't Swim: This game introduces a non hazardous liquid to the Metroid series; water. You can tell it's not hazardous because you'll find a hornoad jumping towards you in it. All it does is slightly slow down Samus's running speed and even more slightly hinder her jump. Not all the non hazardous liquid may be water though, as some of it doesn't slow Samus down at all, basically being there for aesthetic reasons.
  • Wall Crawl
    • Once again there are plenty of crotch monsters(tsumuri, moheek, needler, glow flies), although this time around you don't have to wait for them to craw to within your gun's range or use morph ball bombs, as Samus can crouch now. Except gravitts, which can duck down even lower than Samus, although she can just jump over them and shoot down, or use the wave beam.
    • This game features the debut of the Spider Ball, which allows Samus to crawl along any wall, giving her incredible exploration opportunities. Metroid II was the only 2D Metroid game up until its remake to feature this upgrade.
  • Weak Turret Gun: There are quite a few that look like eyeless bird busts in an area that can be presumed to have been a Chozo habitation. Some of them are harmless unless Samus touches one, some of them shoot periodically when motion is detected, all can be wrecked with a single beam shot. However, if they are shooting at you. The Knock Back from their shots can knock you off screen and keep you from retaliating but since they're not actually aiming at Samus all you have to do is wait for an opening. After the second 388 quake you'll start encountering stronger gun mounts with extendable "necks" but by then you should have the ice beam, which can freeze them and their shots, or the wave beam, which lets you whittle them down behind cover. And in the event you meet one on level ground, you can just duck.

Alternative Title(s): Metroid 2, Metroid 2 Return Of Samus

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