Congratulations, you’re going to be blessed with… a Baby Metroid and a life of monotony

Metroid II: Return of Samus (1992)

Some men, and presumably some women, are born cynical, some become cynical, and some have cynicism thrust upon them. One becomes naturally more cynical towards modern trends as they become older. Actually, from what I’ve read online, a majority of people seem to become absolutely decrepit in their 30s, waking up in the morning with all kinds of new aches and pains which quickly become the norm, if they haven’t already woken up during the night to take a whizz.

These days you could probably measure how old you are, mentally, by pinpointing where in the social media tapestry you finally decided to bow out. I didn’t even go near TikTok, because I already knew I was a hundred years too old for it. But one of the more depressing trends that has grown lately, thanks mostly to how attention seeking it is, is gender reveal parties.

You’ll have seen these parties mentioned before, I’m sure, especially the ones that have gone badly wrong. I was reading about one where there was a full firework display, for God’s sake, all for another child born into a dying world. Well, unfortunately, on this occasion the fireworks quite literally backfired and took the expectant father down with them. Now I’d probably be looking for a way out if I found out I was gonna be a father, but nothing so extreme as that.

Then of course you had the gender reveal party that was, to use a social media term, fire – so fire that it set the nearby forests ablaze and they needed to bring in several fire engines to calm it all down, resulting in the death of a firefighter.  Forget about guns for home protection, that’s boring – hoard some home explosives instead, and even if you don’t ever have to grenade a burglar, you can at least bust them out at gender reveal parties.

Obviously this is all female led, which most trends on social media are – if you hate yourself enough to look at a video of a gender reveal party for people you barely even know, you’ll notice that the man is always acting, if not outright cringing. And every man out there, with no exception, feels their eyes glaze over when their partner starts giving them chapter and verse about their friends’ baby scans. Ever had to look through four hundred photos of some baby you’ve never even met? Men, you know what I mean. There’s only so many times you can avoid saying that, in actual fact, newborn babies are mostly pretty ugly.

Still, what a depressing indictment, this whole gender reveal fad. To whoever reads this, nobody cares what gender your baby is going to be, and although this may be alien to you, if you could please stop seeking attention and broadcasting your personal life for five minutes, we’d all appreciate it.

And it’s funny that we mention aliens, genders and depressiveness, because it brings me on neatly to Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy – and only the original Game Boy, because if any game cried out for a Deluxe treatment on the Game Boy Color with one O, it was this one. The first Metroid on NES was an absolute turkey, you know. It got a bit better if you had a map from a magazine or strategy guide, but otherwise you had to go down the graphing paper route, and that’s not a route worth going down.

That game was at least blessed with color, which Metroid II sadly lacks. The NES title also had a small library of decentish music to listen to, motifs that still get used today. There are a couple of tunes in Metroid II, if you know where to find them, but for the most part it’ll make your Game Boy speaker sound like it’s about to burst out of the shell, like a horrible giant spider bursting out of an egg. There’s still no map either, and overall the whole endeavour just drains your energy and happiness, so much so that the game begged for a remake – luckily, it received two of them.

Back in the day, you may have already been aware that Samus was a lady, but only if you were quick beating the NES game. It’s the same with Metroid II; beat the game quick enough and you’ll get yourself a look at Samus in her smalls, albeit in black and white. Again, that won’t do much to impress men out there, at least not men of a certain age – it used to be that if we wanted titillation, we’d either have to find a few grot mags in the bushes, an Argos catalogue with fitness equipment advertised… or best of all, an hour to yourself with the TV set to Channel 5. 

No, Metroid II is the dowdy old mother who’s had her kids now, and knows her figure ain’t never coming back. I suppose this is a game “of its time”. It wasn’t unheard of for middling NES games to receive even worse Game Boy renditions – Kid Icarus, to name one example, or the Game Boy’s attempt at Dr. Mario.

And having games like these was ideal for long car journeys, along with a healthy stock of batteries and preferably one of those clip-on backlights for the Game Boy that resembled a home sunbed. There’s something greatly intimate about portable devices where only you can see what’s going on. And that’s really amplified with the Game Boy, where not even you can make out what’s going on.

For that reason, I see Metroid II as less the game you’d play in the backseat of the car while staving off motion sickness, and more a game you’d play in the dead of night, under the blanket – so long as you have that backlight device handy. In that scenario, the dark, foreboding atmosphere of Metroid II might be exciting. If you bury yourself deep enough, you may even get to the end, rescuring the little Baby Metroid, with its relaxing theme song, in the wee hours of the morning. Do Metroids have genders?

But really, you’ll only get to the end of this game if you have a decent guide, or if you play it all in one sitting without having to remember everywhere you’ve been. Otherwise, you’re completely lost in a black-and-white interactive movie that doesn’t really go anywhere. You might as well just save yourself the aggro and watch Alien instead, if you’ve got the bottle. At least that’s in colour. It might still inflict assault on your ears, though.

To say the least, suffering through the depressing extents of Metroid II, less a game and more a gender reveal party in slow motion and in black-and-white (well, black, white and green), doesn’t really appeal. Play the remakes instead, or better still, get on Super Metroid – the game where the baby was taken away by the authorities, and life immediately became a whole lot better.

28 January 2022

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