Metroid: What’s Next?

Posted: October 28, 2013 in Current Gaming
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Metroid

The Metroid Franchise has been idle since the release of Metroid: Other M in late 2010. Now, three years isn’t that long of a lapse, but up through Other M, Metroid had been on a three years per game run (console releases), going back to Metroid Prime on the Gamecube and spanning seven games over that time period, including both console and handheld games. Since the release of Other M, not only has there been no new game, there has also been no mention or word of development on the next game in the series. In this post, I want to speculate where the next game could take Samus Aran, in both gameplay and story.

Where are we now:
The timeline for the Metroid series is as follows:

– Metroid/Zero Mission
– Metroid Prime
– Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
– Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
– Metroid 2: Return of Samus
– Super Metroid
– Metroid: Other M
– Metroid Fusion

At the conclusion of Fusion, Samus Aran breaks the orders of the Galactic Federation and blows up the space station to destroy the Metroids being bred there by said Federation as biological weapons. As far as we know, this means that the Metroids, excepting any further biological engineering, are an extinct species. We’re also left to wonder, after the most recent game, if Samus will seek therapy after the completion of Fusion because she’s a woman and can’t deal with not having children (I kid!).

The Story:
Given that she destroyed an entire space station, disobeying direct orders to do so, it would seem most likely that Samus would now be a fugitive and that the Galactic Federation would be working to apprehend her. I would suspect that any story for a new game would treat this as a bit of a side story to a bigger mission for Samus. Throughout her mission, she would occasionally encounter Federation troops, either subduing or evading them (I can’t believe that she would kill them). As there has been heavier focus on the story in the most recent entries, especially Other M (no comment), I have to believe the developers would give great attention to where Fusion left her. It could also be that her next mission is done for the Federation, whereas a bigger threat causes an alliance between the two, and said mission will clear her record with the Federation.

One aspect that I think needs to be addressed is the title character of the franchise. As stated above, the Metroids have apparently been decimated. Yes, she could find them on another planet, but that’s been done a few times now. Part of me wonders if the franchise shouldn’t shift to a focus solely on Samus Aran, perhaps titled something like The Samus Aran Chronicles: [subtitle]. She’s a bounty hunter, so let us take control as she pursues a bounty. Obviously, there would be a problem with a brand shift here (imagine the Zelda franchise suddenly dropping the Zelda name), but I do wonder how much longer they can find ways to work Metroids into the story. The easiest cover for this is to claim that she is now part Metroid after the Metroid vaccine she received in Fusion (thanks to the baby!). I don’t think the title change will ever happen, but I would like to play a game in which she is searching for someone or something unrelated to the Metroids.

What will the next Metroid Samus faces look like?

What will the next Metroid Samus faces look like?

The Gameplay:
To date, the Metroid series has used three different play styles: side-scrolling, first person, and third person. Of those, both side-scrolling and first person have been used to great success. Third person has been used but one time, in Other M, and received mixed reactions, though I do wonder if some of the negativity hasn’t bled over from criticism of the story aspects of that game. Given Nintendo’s revival in recent years of the side-scroller, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Metroid take that route as well. It seems that most people regard Super Metroid as the pinnacle of the series, and one of the best games ever developed, so a return to that style would be a safe and, most likely, highly applauded move, especially if it were brought to the WiiU. It would be the first side-scroller in the series since 2004’s Metroid: Zero Mission and, if developed for the WiiU, the first console side-scroller in the franchise since Super Metroid in 1994. Of course, developing such a title and releasing it on both the 3DS and WiiU would be an interesting move, though I doubt that would ever happen.

The wildcard here is the gameplay of Other M. I’m not even remotely a fan of the story from that game, but the gameplay wasn’t bad. The main problem I had with it was the choice to go with a Wii Remote as opposed to a Wii Remote and Nunchuck. Moving a character in a 3-D space using only the D-pad just wasn’t comfortable for me. I also didn’t like how missiles and aiming were treated (shifting to first person, but being unable to move), but I suspect that this was a result of the control input rather than a true creative decision. I would be very interested to see this attempted again, but with controls more suited to moving in such a space. In the end, I strongly suspect a call back to the side-scrolling roots of the franchise is the most likely direction, though another first person outing equal to the quality of the Prime games would give the WiiU a strong, graphically powerful game that could be paired with Monolith Soft’s X to truly show off some serious sci-fi based gameplay on the system.

Samus Ship

Of course, this is all speculation and it could be some time before Nintendo revisits this series, especially after the relatively poor outing Other M experienced. When it is revisited, it could also be another entry that takes place in the current timeline, or a remake of the GameBoy outing, Metroid 2: Return of Samus, similar to Zero Mission. My biggest fear is that the Metroid franchise could be pushed into the same closet that currently holds Starfox and F-Zero hostage. I don’t truly believe this to be the case as Metroid has been a bigger name for Nintendo than those two franchises, but it is still a concern. Of their main franchises, Metroid has generally sat right behind Mario and Zelda as a top tier entry, the lack of a showing on the Nintendo 64 notwithstanding. My hope is that something will be spoken of on this at E3. Other M was a major surprise when it was unveiled at the conclusion of their conference in 2009. Perhaps we could be in for another such surprise in 2014. I will hardly be holding my breath though.

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Comments
  1. Brian says:

    The Prime series was a great run; proved that Nintendo properties, in the right hands, could flourish. Sure, there’s crap like Other M, but a least they tried something new. Better to come out of Nintendo’s closet and fail than never come out again.

    MAYBE they could cash in nostalgia for Starfox, F-Zero, et. al. But I think Nintendo is struggling to find and maintain an identity in the market. It’s a rough spot, and I don’t blame them for being choosy with what classic IPs they exploit. Maybe once Mario and Zelda have been used up, the others can get their turn as the town bicycle.

    • javgbadmin says:

      I just hope they realize that it was the game that failed with Other M, and not the franchise. I would think so, but the lack of any chatter about a new Metroid (or Star Fox, F-Zero) is odd and disconcerting for huge Metroid fan like me.

  2. brandonmc87 says:

    It couldn’t hurt to have Nintendo hand over the franchise to Retro Studios again or even Armature Studio (the ex-Prime guys who just worked on Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate). I feel like Nintendo themselves want nothing to do with Metroid because Japanese audiences couldn’t care less about Samus’ galactic struggles.

    As for wild ideas, I’m wondering if we’ll ever get a Metroid game starring someone other than Samus. In your post you mentioned how she’s part-Metroid due to the vaccine… now what if she developed some type of empathy or loyalty toward her adopted kin? Say she went rogue for the sake of the Metroids and the Galactic Federation sent someone to stop her, something like that (my memory of the series’ storyline is shaky).

    • javgbadmin says:

      I like the rogue idea, but fear it would be too close to Dark Samus from Prime or the SA-X from Fusion. But, based on your suggestion, what if she started developing a mutation and was starting to lose her humanity to the Metroid side of herself. She seeks out a remaining colony of living Chozo to help her, but succumbs before she finds them. Once that happens, a pre-recorded message is beamed to another bounty hunter (from Prime Hunters, maybe?) explaining her condition and you take control of them to find both her and the remaining Chozo to revert her back to her human self.

      • brandonmc87 says:

        I dig the idea of her losing her humanity to her Metroid-self, as well as the savior/redemption story that could follow.

        A Chozo-heavy world could work, too. There’s got to be more to them than statues and boss battles and Prime scans. Let’s flesh things out more. You can do this, Retro.

      • javgbadmin says:

        I’d love to see more exploration of the Chozo, or even the Luminoth, who are related to the Chozo themselves.

        As for Retro, after seeing what they did with Donkey Kong Country, I completely trust them with doing either a First Person or Side Scrolling Metroid. I just hope that’s their next project.

  3. brandonmc87 says:

    Another thing with Retro Studios: once they’re done with the new Donkey Kong, they’re gonna have their hands free. Hmmm…

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