Metroid, Where Have You Been?

With all the Star Wars news and excitement for sci-fi in several genres of entertainment, I get nostalgic for a series that captured the eerie nature of space with the imagination in gaming: Metroid.

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When you boot up games in this series, you’re chilled to the core that reminds you of alien encounters, zero distraction, and the loneliness of space. As the Wii U hits the 3-year mark, it is shocking to have to write an article about the franchise’s absence, as the last game released was Metroid: Other M on Wii.

Why Has It Been Missing?

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Well,  that is a question without concrete answers. The 2-D side-scrolling, exploration focused titles have found the genre nestled in independent titles like Shadow ComplexAxiom Verge, Guacamelee, and Cave Story. On the opposite side, the first-person shooter adventure of the Metroid Prime sub-series is a unique creature that has helped influenced great titles like Fallout, Bioshock, Dark Souls, and even Destiny. The best attempt to blend the two styles was Metroid: Other M, which sacrificed exploration for characterization, fleshing out the world we all know and love. It’s hard to imagine why Metroid has been missing: the franchise’s appearance in NintendoLand was filled with tight controls, accessible gameplay, and a home on the Wii U. The popularity of Zero Suit Samus in Super Smash Bros for Wii U/ 3DS and Ridley making a bigger appearance in the game is getting the franchise out there to many Wii U owners. As is the wait for big titles like the upcoming Legend of Zelda, another entry in the Mario Galaxy series, and the upcoming Star Fox Zero title, the wait for a new Metroid is grueling but will only come when Nintendo feels it is ready to release another epic space thriller.

What could be in the future?

Another loaded question. The announcement of Metroid Prime: Federation Force feels like a slap in the face to most fans.

Not that the game looks terrible or has faulty mechanics, but attaching the Metroid title to the game takes away from the atmospheric entries in series we all know so well. The game promotes teamwork, is very bright, and even has sport-related sub-games, all of which are things usually absent in Metroid. Samus is a one-woman army who learns, adapts and strikes while being mostly self-sufficient. The worlds and aliens are not funny or colorful, but are parasitic savages bent on defending their own kind against the famed bounty hunter. And the only “sub-game” being played in Metroid is how fast one can escape the planet. The bigger problem is that the wait for a new Metroid and the growth on independent developer studios has caused copy-cats, imitations, and, more received, tributes to the series. 2-D inspired games that were mentioned above were all created with a great admiration for Metroid. Nintendo can not simply create things it has done and expect something to be as visionary and experimental all at once, like Super Metroid or Metroid Prime.  Hopefully, like Star Fox 3D, this game will be put into the market as Nintendo works to create something entirely new for Samus Aran to explore. I am excited for the possibility of trying something new; Metroid Prime opened the world of Metroid into 3D beautifully, and working back towards isolation and exploration, a new entry into the Metroid franchise could be the foundation of the biggest sandbox game yet. Metroid Prime had many open areas, but allowig her to grow means removing doors altogether and letting Samus shift from bounty hunter to explorer. I think less story would be helpful and letting the bizarre world of space, the silence of Samus, and the creatures she encounters set the tone for the game. It would just be great to see something new and fresh from a character who has made such an impact on the industry.

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