A new Metroid would be amazing right now. But I hope they don't go so over-the-top action like Other M did and actually keep the traditional scary parts of the game. The creepy, dark atmospheric parts defined Metroid for me, which made it stand out among other Nintendo franchises. Metroid has always managed to creep me out. Nice read!
At the gates of the dawn of a new generation of Nintendo gaming, it is only natural that we, as huge fans of the company's major franchises, start wondering where they will be taken next. And, like all other Nintendo properties, Metroid and Samus are faced with some quite interesting paths ahead of them. The number of possibilities is vast, and making the right choice as to which road to follow is very critical for a franchise, which after stunning the gaming world with a series of flawless masterpieces that date way back to Super Metroid, stumbled on Metroid: Other M: a game that caused a considerable split on the fanbase, and that was arguably one of Nintendo's most polemic games ever. Samus is most certainly ready to set off on some new adventure on new planets previously inhabited by some intriguing civilizations, but it is up to Nintendo, or whoever ends up handling the development of the next installment of the franchise, to choose with which perspective we will be a part of the upcoming epic.
When it comes to gameplay styles, Nintendo is faced with three basic options: they could embrace the sidescrolling tendency that was very visible on many Wii games and produce a highly artistic, glorious HD companion to Super Metroid; they could, once more, bet on the curious blend of action and more linear exploration found in Other M; or they could simply go back to the seemingly fail-proof first-person gameplay boldly pioneered by Retro on Metroid Prime. As appealing as the first option sounds, it could, in a smaller scale, be pulled off on the Nintendo 3DS. In addition, it would be a terribly awful shame to waste the opportunity to give Metroid the chance to extend the tentacles of its immersive world to gargantuan degrees on a platform with as much power as the Nintendo Wii U. Metroid Other M's take on the series, while a nice little detour, was not entirely successful in delivering what the average player expects from a Metroid game, which is heavy exploration and revealing backtracking moments.
The most interesting option for the Nintendo Wii U is, then, going back to what Metroid Prime offered: which is a very immersive first-person take on Metroid's bizarre alien worlds. Arguably, it can be qualified as a tired formula, given how it has been used three times - four, if you count the decent Metroid Prime: Hunters - during the past decade. However, the fact that we are five years removed from Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is a considerable variable that might indicate that, one or more years from now, on the release of the next Metroid game, there might be a huge audience out there that is either thirsty for more first-person action or that has never gotten the chance to enjoy a Metroid game of that kind right on the context of its release. With a few tweaks here and there, some of which will naturally be provided by the tablet controller, Nintendo could make the gameplay refreshing enough to warrant the development of another game of that kind.
However, gameplay is, by a considerable margin, not the most interesting point of discussion. That award surely goes to the game's storyline treatment. Out of all Nintendo franchises, there is no other that comes remotely close to Metroid when it comes to storytelling potential. Samus, more than an iconic character, is - or at least was until Other M - a woman with generally obscure thoughts, emotions and intentions. Other M was extremely valid as the first attempt to build an actual personality for the character, but there is clearly much more that can be done to turn the resounding silence of Metroid into a more cinematic experience when it comes to plot development. The negative part of a focus on voiced cutscenes is that, nowadays, that is the boring norm of the industry, and Nintendo is usually at their best when they go against the flow; however, it would still be somewhat sad to see another chance to infuse more character into Samus be thrown away.
Between total silence and too much talking, lies Metroid Prime's unique take on storytelling, which consisted in making the player an active part of plot-discovery, instead of a passive cinematic-watching one. Scanning objects, scenario parts and, especially, computers with valuable log not only was a lot of fun, but it was also a very engaging and rewarding method for revealing the plot, and, to top it all off, it also pushed gamers further into exploration of their surroundings, something that played right into the hands of Retro Studios' downright mesmerizing attention to detail. As if mute Samus, active storytelling and cinematic plot development were not enough, there is also the question of whether or not Samus should receive external interference on her adventure. The original Metroid Prime, like the early Metroid games, was extremely radical in that sense, placing Samus absolutely alone in a weird hostile planet. Ever since then, though, the scale of external contacts has steeply grown, with Echoes having a small amount of it, Corruption featuring fellow hunters and a little participation of the galactic federation, and Other M completely blowing it up by making Samus part of a team exploring a ship.
If both extremes have already been explored, then, maybe, the best option is finding the balance between both. The scanning of the surroundings was just too fitting for the franchise for it to be done away with, and Samus remains a very intriguing character. Then, perhaps Nintendo could find some nice results in making players scan for story and extra information regarding the context of the adventure or of the location, and, at the same time, punctuate the game's run with moments where Samus' thoughts are somehow revealed to the player, whether through distant interaction with some absent character - like it was effectively done in Metroid Fusion - or through lonely character development through texts or monologues, for which the tablet may come into play at some level.
One thing is for sure, regardless of the decision of which way Metroid must go next, the series is most likely destined to be a key component to the Wii U's success, and Nintendo will certainly find a way for the game to make some relevant and unique use of the capabilities of the system. Everybody certainly has an idea of how their perfect next Metroid game would be, but one thing is shared among all Nintendo fans: our wish to be surprised by Samus' next adventure and that Metroid's next installment becomes another remarkable entry for a franchise that in Super Metroid and Metroid Prime has two titles that are invariably ranked among the best games of all time.
"One thing is for sure, regardless of the decision of which way Metroid must go next, the series is most likely destined to be a key component to the Wii U's success."
I wouldn't be so sure about that. Neither Other M and Metroid Prime 3 were anywhere near amongst the best games on the platform. I hope that doesn't happen again, though.
Great read, I love Metroid. I'm waiting until both Legend of Zelda and Metroid are on the Wii U before buying one.
I completely agree with almost everything you said! I loved the prime series and would be happy to see the return of the first person view in Metroid. The whole way of making the player discover the plot by themselves is pure genius, as you said.
Although I would prefer if they made something new, like something none of us would expect but it would still be amazing! Metroid Prime is an example of that. To keep the feeling that your actually playing a Metroid game but still the whole system is revamped.
I hope they make the right decision! :)
Great write up.
To me, Metroid has and will always be about exploration on a desolate, strange and foreign world(s) in complete solitude. That being said, I thought those most fundamental elements of Metroid were stripped away in Other M. One, the squad removed the psyche from solitude. Two, it wasn't technically a world at all. And finally, it was very linear, which downplayed the exploration substantially. But, in the end, I still enjoyed the game. Although, "enjoyed" is a relative term. Relatively, did I enjoy Other M as much as any previous Metroid? Simple answer, no. Other M is the worst game in the franchise, but, again, "worst" is a relative term when comparing one game next to the other stellar Metroid entries into gaming history.
I don't know what the future of Metroid holds. I do know that I want Metroid to be a strong contender, it's basically the only reason I'll ever pick up a Wii U. I may not know what the future holds, but I do have some ideas on what I'd like to see.
I'd like to see Metroid head back to it's Metroidvania roots as far as layout and exploration format is concerned. I want to hit dead ends due to the fact that I don't have the required gear yet, I want tons of secrets, and I want suit/visor/arm cannon progression as I play through the alien environments while defeating many challenging bosses.
I do believe the best current example of this mentality that I and the Metroid franchise used to be so fond of -- exploration on a desolate, strange and foreign world while in complete solitude -- can only be found in titles like Dark Souls nowadays. And since Other M took a pseudo stab at third-person-esque Metroid, it makes me wonder if a 'Metroid meets Dark Souls' idea would be tangible - possibly incorporating some (just a touch) of Mass Effect's properties. For example, some cover elements and cross-status effects like the ice beam that does nearly no damage, but, when used in tandem with a missile the cross effect would cause amplified damage. I don't know, I'm just spitballing.
I do know that I want Metroid's mentality to return to exploration of alien desolation and progressive yet backtracking gameplay. And if Samus is going to be as weak and complacent as she was in Other M, then leave her silent, or replace her, the game is called Metroid, not Samus. Either way, get some new writers, Metroid is too fantastic of a franchise to receive anything less than Nintendo's full attention.
@TerraMantis Wow you hit it spot on, super metroid was playing in my head while reading this
@TerraMantis I would be excited for a 'Metroid meets Dark Souls' game with Mass Effect elements. It could be very interesting.
One thing that you mentioned that I found interesting is that you said that Other M did not have world at all, so I assume you are talking about the fact that it takes place inside a ship. But Metroid Fusion also went down that way, do you feel that game also suffered because of that?
@Pierst179 No, I didn't feel as though Fusion suffered as much as Other M. As a matter of fact, I didn't think Fusion suffered at all, it was awesome. In Fusion's case though, removing one element from the Metroid equation still made it equal the sum of its parts. Other M, on the other hand, removed 2-3 things from the formula and tried a few new things that were a swing and a miss, ultimately making it the weakest Metroid title to date.
At the end of the day though, there is something more interesting/suspenseful about an alien world compared to a man-made bio space station.
"At the end of the day though, there is something more interesting/suspenseful about an alien world compared to a man-made bio space station. "
I completely agree,
I am cool with sticking with the Prime formula. Though Super Metroid will always have a place in my all time top 10 favorite games. Good article.
Nice article, i was just thinking about metroid yesterday, and how they would make the game for wii u.
You know, i always like metroid for the exploration aspect but, i think metroid could be just amazing as a first person shooter action game similar to halo or resistance, it could have a nice campaign and a great multiplayer, i think nintendo should give it a try, would be perfect for the wii u. I know that miyamoto said recently that he believes there were too much gun games, but I think a metroid gun game would be different, because it would be more fictionnal than something like COD, and doesn't have to be full bloody violent.
I dont know, could be a great idea to adapt metroid into a competitive multiplayer game...dont you think ?
@franksmoothfat I think Metroid fans would go crazy, in a bad way, if that happened. :P
Weird. cause i am a metroid fan, but i may be more opened to new possibilities, new ideas.
@franksmoothfat Personally, I think the market is already too crowded with that genre for Metroid to follow suit.
It would indeed be a tad different from the average shooter, but it would not be different enough for a Nintendo game.
I think a Metroid Prime type title could be a winner. Prime 1 and 3 were great and really captured that lonely feel of exploration.
I personally thought that the attempts at story and emotion in Other M were terrible but the gameplay definitely deserves another stab. The mix of third and first person was not just a novelty but really immersive.
idk whos making metroid on Wii U but I think Retro Studios is working on Star Fox right now. (A guess)
@Stonetowerghost I hope so, since that franchise needs help. And, as DKC and Metroid Prime proved, Retro Studios seems to know what to do with franchises in need of a new push.
It's pretty obvious the gamepad will be used as the scanner. And the game will be like Metroid Prime, not other M. Why would they follow the obviously wrong path?
@leoman1985 I would not call it the wrong path, but Nintendo does enjoy going places nobody expects them too.
I'd love a new Mertoid in the style of Prime. That was an amzing trilogy. But I'd play anything Retro does.
I don't think we'll see another Metroid Prime style Metroid again. I feel the nest will follow more in vein of Other M. But if it does it needs more traditional third-person shooter controls. Other M would have been a lot better had it's controls not being incompetent.
@widdowson91 The chance to the first-person view was a bit clunky, but other than that I think they did a fantastic job of mapping the controls of a 3-D game onto the modern equivalent of an NES controller.
I hope Nintendo will keep the console games 3d like Metroid Prime and re boot the 2d games on 3ds. nice Blog ;)