Metroid is one of those franchises that is immediately identifiable as Nintendo thanks to Samus Aran’s iconic design, but despite the love that she gets in the Smash Bros. games, we haven’t seen a proper Metroid title starring her since 2010's Metroid: Other M. That’s seven years since we’ve gotten a mainline Metroid title and in my honest opinion things were starting to look up for the series considering they were finally treating Samus as an actual character and presenting the story in a cinematic way. Sure, Other M itself was a hit or miss game for many and Samus’ characterization wasn’t perfect, but I felt that it was a step in the right direction.
Recently we’ve gotten a few teases/hints that Metroid will be resurfacing soon and more than likely on the Nintendo Switch. Metroid Prime: Federation Force for the 3DS had a post-credits scene that suggested a follow-up, and Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime recently stated in an interview that, with regards to Metroid, we should come back in a year and see what’s happened. He basically implied that we will see at the very least the reveal of a brand new Metroid title this year. We’re talking a full-fledged console Metroid too since that was what the question pertained to. But obviously we don’t really know anything about it other than the fact that it will probably feature the character Sylux, a powerful bounty hunter first introduced in Metroid Prime: Hunters, due to his cameo in the 100% completion ending of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and an ending scene in Federation Force as I mentioned above. So from that we can at least surmise that the next game is likely a new entry in the Prime series. But lets assume for a moment that it won’t entirely be the same as the previous games in the Prime series, lets say they revamp it, here is what I would like to see:
Something I seemed to notice when talking with some people about Metroid is that they view Samus as nothing more than an avatar to insert themselves into. This belief stemmed from the fact that, prior to Other M, she didn’t really talk a whole lot and rarely left her suit. She was kind of like Halo’s Master Chief from the original trilogy where you never saw what he looked like and his only notable personality trait was his snappy one liners, letting players just sort of inject themselves into him. People viewed Samus the same way, but from what I could gather the Japanese see it differently. Over there they have many supplementary materials for the franchise that weren’t released stateside, and these materials flesh out Samus’ character and the general world that she inhabits. More than the games themselves touch on. Other M attempted to bring a lot of that into the games, but if you’re familiar with the game then you know how well that went over, which could partly be blamed on Team Ninja I imagine.
But that was one game that failed, and I want Nintendo to try again. Samus is an amazing and strong character that deserves to be more than a stoic avatar.
The Metroid franchise occupies a large galaxy as its setting so there shouldn’t be a shortage of new and old locations to explore. However, in the past these environments were usually corridors for you to walk down with the occasional section that would require you to do some platforming every time you passed through it, not to mention puzzle solving. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter two, but not every planet you visit should be claustrophobic. What they should do is take the Halo approach to level design where you open the environments so that they can explored, be more than just something to pass through on your way to the next objective. Hide goodies in little nooks that you have to find a way to get too or naturally discover as you explore the area of your own accord.
And if we’re talking about a Prime game, it needs to have scanning, but make it so that there are a lot more things to scan and fill out a codex with. Scan every new kind of plant you discover, scan ancient structures, scan enemies and/or their corpses, scan indigenous animals, make it feel like we’re on a living, breathing world with things we’ve never seen before and want to learn more about.
This goes hand in hand with my first point where I want to see more emphasis on trying to tell a story and not relying so much on gameplay alone to tell it or text boxes. As seen with the most recent trailers for both The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo seems to really be pushing their storytelling methods further, bringing them closer to what we see with major IP’s on other platforms. There’s an emphasis on cinematography and voice acting. I want to see that carry over to a Metroid game even if Nintendo hands it off to another developer. Metroid is ripe with storytelling opportunities and could be much bigger than its ever been in that regard.
This is definitely more of a “want” than a “need” since I’m completely fine with whatever it turns out to be. I just remember reading something that suggested that Platinum Games could potentially be involved with the next Metroid. I don’t remember where I read that at though. But if there’s anything I’ve learned by now it’s that they know what they’re doing when it comes to intense action gameplay and set piece moments. Samus is a badass and that is not an understatement. Even Other M, a Wii game by Team Ninja, showcased this very well. Nintendo already has an RPG, Mario is a 3D platformer, Fire Emblem is a strategy game, everything has its own genre to fill, but Metroid has bounced around a bit. The original games were 2D platformers, and then the Prime series made it into an FPS with platforming elements, and then it went to a 2.5D action game that I can’t recall if it had platforming or not. So really the only part of Metroids identity that has more or less remained consistent is that of being a platformer of some type, but all the other details change. And having played Other M, it felt like a modernization of the original 2D games and I rather liked that. Completely going back to 2D I don’t think would be right, but 2.5D or 3D would be fine by me. Just give it awesome action to go with a great story and I’ll be satisfied.
This one is a pipe dream because really I feel like Metroid is a more focused kind of game where downtime isn’t really a thing, but I figure I’ll mention it anyway. I’d love a hub area that you can return to at any time using Samus’ ship and you can buy ammo and maybe upgrades here, or perhaps get side quests that will take you to a planet and have you search for a hidden object in the area like I mentioned earlier with the more open levels. This would encourage players to explore places that they haven’t ventured to yet. Plus it would present an opportunity to let Samus out of her suit for once. I personally would love to see her in civvies. Seriously, her zero suit could probably use a good wash considering she never seems to leave it.