AM2R is an excellent fan-remake of the second Metroid game that improves many aspects of the original but falls flat in other ways, which makes it hard to recommend it over the original. For a fan-game, it’s an impressive achievement. The controls are slick and it plays like the SNES or the GBA Metroids.
Gameplay-wise, its pretty similar to the original, to the point that if you played the original recently, you won’t get lost despite some minor changes to the map (even if you wouldn’t use the included automap). You go into the bowels of SR388 to hunt Metroids, and each time you kill a certain number of them, lava that blocked your path before goes down and opens new ways. The further down you go, the more dangerous the Metroids get, as you encounter more and more advanced mutations until you find the hive mother.
One major change to the original is the inclusion of new bosses, which are more or less appropriate, though none of them really feel like they needed to be there. They are a nice addition, nothing more.
Another change was to re-interpret each of the old levels and give them a unique identity, which I liked, though the execution tied into one of the major problems the remake had. The original game was done in the GameBoy monochrome color palette and together with the screen size lead to a game that felt claustrophobic and dark. Since the game had no automap, it was easy to get lost and part of the appeal was to find your way around. The remake showed much more of the game on each screen (like the SNES game), had an automap and had a colorful and often-times completely inappropriate visual style that completely erased the dark and disturbing nature of the original and just killed the mood.
One minor thing that irked me was the design of the Metroids themselves (both the visual one and from a mechanical viewpoint), which just didn’t work for me. In the original, finding a Metroid always felt like a reward, here it felt more like a chore. They looked ugly, and not the slimy, alien-like ugly, just badly designed ugly. Also, the whole hit-the-weak point approach was annoying.
Overall I wish the remake had gone for a dark and brooding mood like the original, instead of the almost happy and colorful approach it went for. It’s nice if you already played the original to death and want to see another interpretation of the game, but sadly it doesn’t surpass its inspiration.