Samus is back, and we want her to stick around.
Metroid is finally back after all these years with Metroid: Samus Returns, a full blown remake of Metroid II on the 3DS. It’s been a long time coming and it’s great to see one of the series’ most underlooked titles get a chance in the spotlight again. There’s no reason the remakes should stop here though, as there’s another title just begging to get another chance: Metroid Fusion.
Metroid Fusion is one of the more unique titles of the series beloved by diehard fans but overlooked by many. A remake would be the perfect opportunity to bring back the great ideas of the original while improving upon necessary aspects. Fusion holds much in common with other 2D Metroid titles, but introduced a number of new ideas or gameplay mechanics, including the ability to grab ledges and climb ladders. Metroid Fusion is really important, however, as it boasts some of the best storytelling and atmosphere a Metroid game has ever had, and that’s really saying something.
Fusion starts like most Metroid games, by completely stripping Samus of her powers and abilities, but it’s different this time. When exploring the surface of SR388 she comes into contact with a parasitic organism known as “X.” This organism ends up completely infecting Samus, and binding parts of her power suit directly to her body. From there, the game starts when Samus is sent to the BSL station her Power Armor was sent to, when an explosion rocks the station.
The brilliant twist that the game throws at you though is when you meet SA-X, the X Parasite near perfectly mimicking Samus herself. This beast stemmed from the infected pieces of her power suit and is the spitting image of the famous bounty hunter, along with the power of her infected Varia Suit. Throughout most of the game when you encounter SA-X you can do nothing more than desperately run from the creature. These are some of the most intensely terrifying segments in the entire series, even standing right up there with the best of horror games. Suddenly Samus becomes the hunted instead of the hunter, and it shows a different side of the character. She’s vulnerable, but still as talented and heroic as ever.
The SA-X is a hulking creature that’s faster and stronger than you, meaning you’ll have to use hidden routes and your wits to outrun it. Combined with the pulse-pounding music, these make for hair-raising encounters. I have distinct memories of playing Metroid Fusion when I was 11, gripping my Game Boy Advance so hard during these chase sequences that my knuckles were white. This speaks to the incredible quality of Metroid Fusion’s atmosphere. If this is what you could do on the Game Boy Advance, just think of what would be possible on 3DS, or even better a gorgeous Switch remake.
Metroid games are known for being incredibly unsettling with their atmospheric horror, and Metroid Fusion definitely takes the cake of the 2D entries. As soon as you set foot into the BSL station it’s deathly quiet, with nothing more than the eerie beeping of countless machines and systems. The dread slowly starts to build as bits and pieces of music pop in. This may have been due to hardware restrictions, but it turns out the sound capabilities of the Game Boy Advance were perfect for the tone of Metroid. The bad bitrate of the GBA actually makes Metroid Fusion’s music better, adding to the creepy, eerie feel of its sci-fi score. Remaking the game would change this, but nowadays there are tricks and tools you could use on 3DS or Switch to keep the soundtrack just as atmospheric and creepy, if not more so.
Since the release of Metroid Fusion we’ve had some not so stellar examples of adding characterization to Samus, *cough* Other M. Fusion gave a great example of how to add a voice and more character to Samus, finding the sweet spot. By no means is Samus a chatterbox, with the game instead opting for some brief pieces of monologue throughout. None of these sequences last more than a minute, and usually take place while Samus is riding an elevator or something similar.
This puts the speaking sequences in the frame of Samus reflecting on her life, her current situation, and the fact that she’s now fused with Metroids. She’s pensive, tense, and determined, a far cry from what we’ve seen in games like Other M. Fusion knew that Samus still needed to be a quiet character, opting to have her voiced sections take place for reflection, and nothing but fierce determination when she’s up against dangers and exploring.
This makes Fusion an important game, an important step forward, and an example for the series on how to flesh Samus out to be more than a silent protagonist. With Metroid gaining a future back, returning to Fusion to see how to really give Samus character would be an important step on the way to Metroid Prime 4 and whatever else comes.
Now, of course, Metroid Fusion isn’t without its flaws, with the most common complaint being how short and straightforward the game is. It feels a bit different from your usual Metroid game, as you’re usually told where to go and what to do, instead of the classic Metroidvania style of being free to explore and find the way forward. Fusion’s different style wasn’t necessarily bad, it was just different. However, it is a short game clocking in at roughly 5-6 hours. With a full-blown remake, there’s no reason you couldn’t add on completely new areas to the BSL station, lengthening the game and adding some interesting bits of story or lore onto the Metroid franchise and the X Parasite, while putting new gameplay mechanics into the mix too.
When Metroid Fusion came out it seemed like a revelation for the series, a new idea for 2D Metroids and a look to the future of the franchise. Unfortunately outside of the remake of the first Metroid, Zero Mission, we wouldn’t see another 2D entry in the series, until now. Now that Samus is finally back, it seems only fitting we’d get another chance at one of her most memorable 2D adventures with a remake of Metroid Fusion. It’s up in the air where 2D Metroid goes from here, and remaking the most recent “new” 2D title could be just the thing for Nintendo to figure out where they want to go.