You’re Our Only Hope, Samus! Or, Why We Need A New Metroid Game
Sterling thinks it's just about time for a new entry in one of the all-time great video game sagas...
The Metroid series is one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises often listed as one of the company’s defining series. The main character, Samus Aran, has been at the forefront of gaming history, providing us with one of the strongest female protagonists in gaming, as well as introducing the world to a new style of game structure revolving around exploration and a steady gain in power that is felt over the course of the game, now often called Metroidvania. While the original game lacked polish, it was revolutionary and the series quickly refined the formula; within 8 years, Super Metroid launched, and is often listed among the greatest games of all time.
This is a series that has brought us some of the most memorable boss battles, atmosphere, music, and power-ups in gaming history. It has had probably the best transition into 3D of any game series (Fallout gives it a run for its money though). The transition started with Metroid Prime on the Gamecube and boy, what a transition that was.
Many fans were ready for disappointment from the Metroid series after unknown developer Retro Studios took over to continue the series beyond Super Metroid. The game was originally slated to come out on the N64 but kept running into delays and idea scrapping. Nobody could have expected the product of their work to turn out so amazingly. It maintained the excellence in level design, aesthetics, and exploration that the series was known for while still branching out and expanding on the universe and gameplay in ways such as giving the space pirates fantastic personality and allowing almost anything in the game to be scanned for bites of information of the world around you.
Metroid Prime reinvigorated the gaming community to the Metroid series as sales went through the roof. The game also spawned two fantastic sequels and a couple of bizarre spin-offs, Metroid Prime Hunters, a DS title telling a story between Prime 1 and Prime 2, and Metroid Prime Pinball, a retelling of Prime 1 in a pinball game. The games to this day remain some of the best-looking games on their platforms and the attention to quality from such a small studio is nothing short of amazing.
For Nintendo, however, the Prime series had one major problem. It sold terribly in Japan, barely pushing 100,000 units while in the states it hit almost 2 million. Metroid has always been a series more popular in the states, but Nintendo wanted to do something to help the series gain traction back home. That’s when Nintendo paired up with Team Ninja to create the next Metroid game, the infamous Metroid: Other M.
I’m not going to go in depth here, I already eviscerated the game on my blog. Suffice it to say the game was very bad, disregarded Samus as a strong female character, and sold poorly, but better than Prime in Japan, which may both positively or negatively affect the future of the franchise. The worst case scenario is that Nintendo thinks that because Other M sold poorly, people don’t want more Metroid. Best case scenario, they learn from their mistakes and make a better Metroid game in the future.
It’s been 3 years since Other M came out and there has been almost no word on the future of the Metroid series since then. Retro Studios has been busy with the Donkey Kong Country games and Mario Kart 7, and Nintendo hasn’t released any information on any Metroid games for the Wii U, probably because they don’t see it as a console seller. For Japan it may not be, but in the states we still love the Metroid series and I still replay the Prime games occasionally. It disheartens me to think that Nintendo may see the franchise as something to get around to if they have the time, rather than a main focus.
As a gamer, what I want to see is the return of the beauty of the alien landscapes. I want to hear the otherworldly tunes that define this series. I want to add more bosses to my list of greatest bosses ever. I want another Metroid game and I fear that Nintendo has the blinders on in the wrong spot and that may prevent us from getting another for a while. If Nintendo really wants to play it safe in the series, I’m sure they could convince Retro Studios to do another Metroid game once they finish their latest Donkey Kong Country project. Retro could crank out another game that fans would love and guarantee more sales, but then they have to do what made the Metroid Prime games so great and hand over the reigns to someone completely new to the series to bring the series in a direction we never knew we would love.
Sure it’s risky, but if chosen right, such a group could help this series be even more influential and awesome than it already is and shake up the triple-A industry a bit. This series deserves some risks that well thought out. I only ask one thing to of whoever develops Metroid next: remember the power of silence. I don’t mind having voice acting, but given how atmospheric the games tend to be, remember that silence is a powerful tool. Just watch the intro to this battle from Dark Samus in Metroid Prime 2 and ask yourself what could actually be added with voice acting. Nothing good comes to mind for me. Please learn from Other M‘s mistakes and help this series reclaim its title.
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Gamer, comic reader, level 4 minotaur bard, jack of all geek trades. Check out his blog at thethoughtlandfill.tumblr.com.