News Article

Feature: Staff Roundtable - Metroid's Past, Present and Future

Posted by James Newton

Primed and ready

25 years ago, Nintendo released the original Metroid on the world, kicking off a franchise that has hit incredible highs and suffered the odd low point too. Here news editor James Newton is joined by reviewers Jacob Crites and Thomas Whitehead to discuss the series, its heritage and where it might go in the future.

James Newton: This week marks the 25th anniversary of the original Metroid, and I'm joined by two of Nintendo Life's writers to celebrate. Please introduce yourselves.

Jacob Crites: Hey, I'm Jacob Crites, and I do download reviews, features...stuff. I do stuff.

Thomas Whitehead: Hey, I'm Thomas, I write reviews and the occasional feature. I stare at dusty manuscripts and publish eBooks, the usual career choices.

James: Just briefly, can you both explain a little about the first time you remember encountering Metroid?

Jacob: My first memory of Metroid, and it's one of my earliest gaming memories in general, is Samus' ship lowering down in the rain at the beginning of Super Metroid. And then that music plays...God, that music...

Thomas: It's shameful, but my first experience was Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on Wii; we'd always had Sega consoles. It blew me away, and I've been working through the back catalogue and new releases since.

James: Don't worry Thomas, I'll hold the readers away from you! Talking about Prime though, that's what we're really here to touch on. What do you both remember about the original Metroid Prime at the time of its release?

Jacob: I was born in 1992 so I was still pretty young when it came out, but what I do remember distinctly is not being surprised. That sequence I talked about in Super Metroid? That's almost exactly how we're introduced to the world of Metroid Prime. I was just watching my uncle play, but seeing that ship lower down into the grassy alien terrain... it felt like Metroid to me.

Thomas: I remember reading about it, and the critical acclaim was deafening. It was almost enough for me to pack in PC gaming in that period and get a GameCube. It seemed that critical acclaim and commercial success weren't exactly in sync, though.

James: Well, it certainly did light up the world critically. What do you think it was about the game that got reviewers so entranced?

Jacob: Well I think expectations had a lot to do with it, because going back and reading the previews and headlines when that game was first announced, it seemed like almost everybody thought it was a bad idea. So when they picked up the controller and realized that not only did it feel exactly like Metroid, but it set a new standard in art direction, immersion and subtle, unobtrusive storytelling, they went berserk.

Thomas: That's absolutely right. The world that you play through is just so immersive. Not only does it look great, but the balancing and design of the environments just urges you to try the next room, or backtrack to that door that was locked. They just nailed the design, and misgivings about 3D Metroid just melt away as a result.

James: You both mention misgivings about a first-person Metroid game - bet those critics look fairly silly now. Jacob, why do you think people were so reluctant about the game's premise before launch?

Jacob: When people hear First Person, they're really thinking First Person Shooter. And, of course, you are in fact shooting things. Samus has a gun. So I guess people were just worried that action would take the front seat to the classic exploration. Plus, the GameCube hadn't really proven itself with the FPS genre in general, thanks to its weird controller.

Thomas: Also, us gamers can be strange creatures. We crave excitement and innovation, but cling to favourite styles and franchises and want to avoid change. I guess concerns about the console and controller played into that.

Jacob: Yeah. Well, look at Other M, not to jump the gun. People wanted something different. They got something different. They didn't like it.

James: I suppose the fact Retro Studios was hired to make the game didn't help either. An unproven studio with a fan-favourite franchise in a new genre? No wonder people were suspicious...

Thomas: That's a good point about Retro Studios. It's interesting to look back at some 'making of' videos that came out recently, and Nintendo themselves were apparently nervous about a new dev taking the franchise in a new direction.

Jacob: You know what really surprised me about all of that stuff, is that it was Miyamoto's idea to take the game into first person. It seems so blatantly against his typical design philosophies, but I guess it just goes to show you that the game was never going to be anything but a first person ADVENTURE. Shiggy knew it could work.

James: Knowing Miyamoto he probably decided on that about three weeks from launch. "Ah, to Hell with it, let's do FPS!"

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User Comments (60)



Retro_on_theGo said:

Some kind of 3DS Metroid would indeed be awesome! Hope it happens! Metroid is a great series filled with fun games. Awesome interview guys. It was a fun read. I really liked Jacob's feeling towards the Light worlds/Dark Worlds. He had a good explanation to defend his opinion.



MasterGraveheart said:

I know I'd love to see a 2D Metroid again. Although... I'd like to see it on the Wii U with HD visuals and a HUGE planet to explore. It'll break away from the speed running hex that it seems to build itself into and become a large-scale adventure capping around 20 hours with the collection of items determining your ending screen for replayability value.

Then again, 3D visuals in a 2D Metroid game are quite appealing.



Odnetnin said:

Staff roundtable?! STAFF ROUNDTABLE?! You guys just took the only thing I like about IGN and made it better. Thank you. I wish there was a little bit more Super Metroid/handheld talk though, and at least a mention of the original. You guys covered a lot considering the relatively short length of the article, though.

While I took think the Wii U controller could be a great fit for a Prime-style game, I don't know if the scan visor thing would work since the controller inexplicably lacks a rear camera.



Corbs said:

I too would love to see Metroid return to 2D for 3DS. Maybe keep the gameplay on a 2D plane, but use the 3D layers to give it depth. One can dream.



armoredghor said:

First off, you were stranded in the second one and on a mission in the first. Second, Echoes' light world isn't so pretty because it was struck by a meteor 60-80 years ago with an ongoing war ever since. The meteor turned plains and forests into deserts and swamps. The environment just makes more sense with the plot. You can't have a bright and pretty ground zero. Besides, the dark world was brightened up by the light beacons.
And plus before Other M Nintendo wasn't doing ANYTHING as a character with samus. They didn't change what Nintendo had set her up for because she hadn't been set up for anything. Not everyone becomes a hardened badass from war. Some get Post dramatic stress.



3DS said:

Nintendo said that might make something 2D for the 3DS so this could be that title but Metroid 3D would be awesome



FluttershyGuy said:

"Metroid Dread" and "2D" now that's what I like to hear, er uh, see in my Metroid articles! Music to my earholes, er uh, eyeballs! But my eyes can't hear music! Well, you get my point...



NESguy94 said:

@AlexHighwind I don't think Metroid Prime would look all that different on the 3DS, if any Metroid game was remade, it should be Super Metroid with Other M graphics. Since the 3DS really is lacking in good original titles, a brand new Metroid (hopefully a Prime) would be best.



MrMagpie said:

What's with the mystery ship at the end of corruption? Please resolve nintendo.



Meta-Rift said:

@armoredghor: "And plus before Other M Nintendo wasn't doing ANYTHING as a character with samus. They didn't change what Nintendo had set her up for because she hadn't been set up for anything."

Are you kidding? Other M is definitely not the first game that clearly portrays Samus's character.



LordTendoboy said:

Metroid Prime was my first Metroid game. The strange, ambient music, the graphics, atmosphere, presentation, controls, bosses, enemy designs, interconnected world, everything about the game is amazing. It really does seem like Super Metroid in 3D.

Since then, I've played through Corruption (on the Trilogy), and ALMOST beat Echoes (on the GameCube). In my opinion, Echoes is better than Corruption, by far. The feeling of isolation was perfected with Echoes, but Corruption didn't give me the same feeling (since you were running around with a bunch of other bounty hunters).

On the GBA I got my first taste of 2D Metroid. Fusion was extremely atmospheric and downright scary at times (SA-X chasing you from out of nowhere gave me the chills each time it happened). The final boss was a bit of a letdown. Nightmare and the spider boss were harder.

Zero Mission was fun. I never played the original Metroid, so the only thing I could compare it to was Super Metroid. It basically seemed like a mishmash of ideas from the original game and Super Metroid. Not bad, just somewhat confusing.

Then I downloaded Super Metroid on the VC and was completely immersed. I've never before experienced a game world that felt so alive. The gigantic planet just begs to be explored fully, and I didn't even find everything (I think I beat the game with around 82% collected items).

The most recent game I played through was Other M. Like many others, I hated the story and dialogue. The MB subplot was ridiculous and completely unnecessary, and Ridley and the Space Pirates seemed tacked on for fanservice. I noticed that Other M is like Metroid Fusion in 3D. Both games shared the same environments (stranded on a huge ship with different environmentally-themed sectors). Even some of the bosses were the same (Nightmare).

Now that I look back, I actually sort of liked Other M. The gameplay is unique, the bosses are fun and intense, and the graphics are superb, some of the best on Wii. If only the story and dialogue weren't so crappy... Too many plotholes.

Here's to a bright future Miss Aran.



Odnetnin said:

@tendoboy1984 Other M didn't have great writing, voice acting, or plot in general, but overall I think it's enjoyable and added to the series more than it subtracted from it.



LordTendoboy said:

Also, Metroid Prime 4 please. On Wii U.


  • Use the Wii U controller as a scan visor, and scanned objects appear on the controller's screen.
  • Samus tracks down the strange ship that appeared at the end of Corruption. It is being piloted by Space Pirates, who are travelling through a wormhole for an unknown reason.
  • The Space Pirates plan on taking Metroid DNA and combining it with their own species, resulting in a Space Pirate that can absorb energy fired from weapons. This means the Pirate can heal itself when you shoot it, so a new strategy is needed to take them down. (Yes it sounds similar to the Omega Pirate battle from Metroid Prime, but now they are "invincible")


LordTendoboy said:

More ideas for Metroid Wii U:

  • Power Suit data appears on the controller screen (number of missiles, weapons currently active, health status, etc.)
  • Controller displays a mini-map of your immediate surroundings. Clicking on the map zooms it in (much like in Metroid Prime), where you can rotate, pan, zoom in and out, etc.
  • Hold the controller up to the TV screen while in scan mode to actively scan the environment. The internal gyro sensors allow you to move the controller in relation to the TV, and scannable objects appear in red.


LordTendoboy said:


There are very few games with good story, voice acting, or dialogue. So just lump Other M in with them (cough Black Ops cough). The games play fine, but the story is forgettable.

There are a few exceptions (Halo, God of War, Portal), but by and large video game stories are unimaginative filler meant to complement the gameplay. A story should never be used as filler for a video game, unless the story is the game's main focus (like Heavy Rain). Most game stories are just a bunch of cutscenes cobbled together to make the game's objectives more clear, but that just distracts from the gameplay. I usually skip cutscenes, since they serve no purpose to me.



Odnetnin said:

@tendoboy1984 Agreed I guess for the most part. I believe there is amazing potential for storytelling in video games, but obviously a good story is not required for a great game. If it was, video games would be dead.



LordTendoboy said:

Watch the Wii U promo video that was shown at E3. There was an example of the controller interacting with the internet browser shown on the TV. The movement of the controller moved the image in tandem with the TV display. I think the gyro sensors did this.



LordTendoboy said:


I guess the point of cutscenes is to set the player up for the next objective or mission. But the more cutscenes a game has, the more anxious I am to get back to PLAYING the game. I play video games for the interactivity, not for the story (unless it's a main feature of the game, like in Zelda).



Odnetnin said:

@tendoboy1984 Good point about the Wii U.

Story is usually meant to provide motivation to play through a game, and cutscenes often don't do a very good job of this. Good thing gameplay and art and hold up games as well. And I think wherein lies the significance of story in video games is in interaction, where the player's conscious decisions affect the outcome of the story. This has been done, with a couple notable Nintendo examples being BIT.TRIP FLUX and Epic Mickey.



Meta-Rift said:

@Kid_Crono: Other M's story is basically Metroid Fusion without character depth or a coherent plot. I don't understand why people even bother defending the story when the real problem is the incredibly shallow gameplay and nonexistent level design.



TKOWL said:

A perfect successor to Super Metroid. The new games are way too fast, not giving you enough time to explore.



FonistofCruxis said:

@Tendoboy1984 I take it you haven't played many rpgs or none at all if you think the storyline of a game is that unimportant or game series like the Professor Layton series and the ace attorney series. Also do you really think that the Halo and God of war series have good storylines?



littlebigplanet said:

I kinda preffered Metroid as a FPS. I'd like to see a Metroid Prime 5 on the 3DS, but not with the same controls as Hunters. The 3DS can keep similar controls to the first 2.
Move-circle pad
Y-morph ball
L-lock on
R+cirle pad - move camera
then the D-pad could change visors and weapons
And the map could be on the touch screen.



Ren said:

I guess I'm too old to keep coming to a site like this. Don't you guys have any staff members over 25? Why the discussion of the merits of a classic series' 25th anniv when none of you was around for the first one?
Not a word about the simple design genius of the game that set the stage for all of it and so many other classics!
The interchangable weapon upgrade system, and map exploration that gave it the feel of an involved adventure almost on the level of an RPG without sacrificing the any firsthand action-shooting. The dark moody music and art direction. All huge pioneering milestones for even basic adventure game design thanks to the original Metroid and the couple 2D versions after that. Even those massive maps that you get lost in are part of what defined the purposefully confusing large scale of an adventure like Metroid. Prime also did what it could to simulate that feeling in those big melancholy worlds but very little is new in those games.
Don't get me wrong, the prime games are good, and did an amazing job of retaining that feeling for the modern FPS format, that could have been a disaster, but those games still don't at all define what made the series great. You all need to get yourself a NES and learn a little ancient gaming history, before you talk about what is "incredibly Metroid".



motang said:

I kinda want a 3rd person Metroid done by Retro, I like Metroid Other M, but it lacked the polish of Retro made Metroid games.



TheGreenSpiny said:

@27 Rift: I agree. For the most part I enjoyed Other M, but it was not what I wanted from a Metroid game. There was so little exploration and environmental puzzels that the game felt like Metroid lite for noobs.

@31 Ren: LOL, my feelings exactly. People seem to have so very little love for the first Metroid game. I also get tired of the Super Metroid noobs who missed out on the first two games. I think Super Metroid is way over rated. Not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination but deffinatly not the best in the series.



JGMR said:

What makes the Metroid games so memorable and so great? It's items. The items are (like in Zelda), the main stars in the game. Nothing matches the feeling of acquiring an item that let you explore previously unreachable's like discovering a whole new world within that world...



Scissors said:

Give me a 2D Metroid game for 3DS and I will love Nintendo forever. It's been 7 long years since Zero Mission, I need a new 2D Metroid stat.



grumblebuzzz said:

Me no likey da Prime games except for the first. Echoes had that frustrating "dying the whole time you're in the dark world" mechanic that I hate in games and the point-at-the-screen-to-shoot thing in Corruption killed that game for me. Could you even lock onto enemies in that? Cause if you could, I never figured out how.

I, like many of you have already said, would also really like to see a 2D sidescrolling revival with this series on 3DS. The 3D screen would add amazing depth to the caverns and alien landscapes of Metroid. I just wonder if the commercial "failure" and mixed reviews of Other M, not to mention the fact that Nintendo has barely even uttered a word about Metroid's 25th anniversary, could be an indicator that we're not gonna see a game in the series for a long time, if ever again? I really, really hope not.



pikku said:

This was a great read, and while I would love to see a new Prime game on either the Wii U or the 3DS (or heck, even the Wii, if Nintendo wants ) But I'd also love to see a new game either in the style of Other M or Super Metroid. Or perhaps they could try something new. I'm up for anything Metroid related actually



TheAmazingRaccoon said:

I want to see the next story in the timeline (as in what happens after fusion) the last 4 have been side stories between existing entries and it feels like the metroid story isn't going forward. I dont want the metroid series to turn into the zelda series in terms of having to try and figure out where the latest entry fits chronologically. I want them to go foward.

EDIT: I also wouldn't mind the next entry building on her history with the chozo and the massacre (for those of us who havent read the manga) I loved how Other M gave us more of her history and I would love for more of that.

EDIT2: As for the ship at the end of corruption. There is definitely a story to be told after the prime series, but it probably will not be called anything to do with metroid prime 4. The charactor of metroid prime is dead. Maybe it is Dread.

Oh yeah, I want the next one to have a 3D KRAID boss fight. I am getting sick of Ridley showing up over and over again. He is a cool charactor and all but come on. Why would the space pirates spend all of their energy fixing Ridley over and over again and not Kraid? He has to get resurrected for Super Metroid, so why didn't the space pirates do it during the prime trilogy. Maybe that is for the aforementioned post prime story, or something between II and Super. Also why do the research labs in Other M and Fusion clone Ridley and not Kraid? Maybe Kraid is more difficult to control, who knows. Ridley is in all but 2 main games, Kraid is only in 3 (and one is a remake). Poor Kraid, Kraid is sad



Meta-Rift said:

@TheAmazingRaccoon: I'm dying for a post-Fusion game as much as the next guy, but the Metroid games have never been released in chronological order. I don't think the timeline will ever be as confusing as Zelda, because nearly every game's placement is confirmed early on.



Kid_A said:

Hey, I resent that. We were just chatting about Metroid, so we weren't sure where the conversation would take us, really. I may not have been alive when Metroid 1 came out, but I still think it's one of the greatest games of all time. I've replayed it more times than I can count.



Chrono_Cross said:

Couldnt agree more. Beyond that it lacked innovation/creativity, switching to first person mode was a pain in the @$$, music was.... even present? 100%-ing Other M was a breeze due to the fact they literally show you where every expansion/tank is and um... yeah the boss fights were awful.



pikku said:

Actually, just give us '3D Classics: Super Metroid' and I'll love you forever.



CaPPa said:

That was a good roundtable.

While the WiiU pad seems like it would make for an awesome scan visor, if it was a first person Metroid then I would really miss the Wii remote style controls and it might even feel like a step backwards playing a Metroid Prime styled game with dual analogue. Not that it'd stop me playing it as Metroid is awesome in any form.

I'm really looking forward to playing Fusion on the 3DS and hope that Metroid 2 and Zero Mission get released too; as I've never played any of the GB or GBA Metroid games.

Any 3D Classics Metroid would be great, especially Super Metroid.



Blaze said:

I know loads of people want The Prime Series to stay dead, but I really want it to be revisited on 3DS and possibly Wii U. Being only 12, I missed out on most of the earlier Metroids and Prime was my first experience of the series, which I finished about a year ago. I finished Corruption as well, but never Echoes. I just really hope that it's decided to make a Prime 4, the secret ending in Corruption seemed to suggest there may be a sequel, as it was set up quite nicely with the Ship following Samus.



TheGreenSpiny said:

@Mully: Press the Z button to lock in Corruption and the trilogy. Not that hard. Corruption had the best controls in the franchise, they just took a little getting used too.

@MiracleBlaze: I don't know anyone who wants Prime to stay dead... after Other M everyone wants Retro back.



alLabouTandroiD said:

So this is the famous “James Newton Asks” feature Nintendo always talks about, huh.
Really cool stuff here. I couldn’t agree more on your thoughts about Corruption and Other M. Yout thoughts on Metroid’s future were really interesting too. And I’ve been smiling about the "Ah, to Hell with it, let's do FPS!" especially.

Corruption is my favourite entry in the Prime series. It had a great diversity in gameplay with bringing back series classics as the Wall Jump and Screw Attack while introducing great motion controls, Space Ship use and the characteristically interesting Hyper Mode. It's an all around blockbuster experience. At least until its final chapter which i won't play before i've beaten Echoes.

To me there was one special difference between Corruption and Other M. In Corruption Samus acts in a very cool way after defeating the boss of each region. Nearly Hollywood action star like. That made her personality seem even more out of place in Other M. And it seemed like Other M wanted to be too cool. All action + stereotypical, shallow characters (except for Samus and Adam), “stealth” portions and many, many cutscenes. It nearly seemed like they wanted it to be some kind of Metroid Gear Samus. And though I appreciate that approach it often felt strange and tacked on. I really liked its simple gameplay and the constant rollercoaster ride this games was though. In places it even felt more dynamic than the Prime series. Surroundings collapsing and stuff. Heck i even liked the story and it made me want to replay all the other Metroid games.

Actually i’ve got mixed feelings about the Scan Visor. While it sure is a very subtle way to learn more about the backstory and creatures it’s always been a pain in the a** for me to use. To me it felt like it was disturbing the gameflow. And while i am really interested in all the information it’s been to tedious for me. So I didn’t use it more often than needed.
I hope the Wii U’s controller can break that barrier. Maybe then I’d even be interested in yet another remake of the Trilogy. Though it would be hard to give up Corruption’s great use of Nunchuk motion controls.
And even if the Scan Visor will be included in another game it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be first person. The scan mode could be incorporated like in Other M.

@powderedtoast (30.): I also really liked the controls in the GCN games (even after playing Corruption) and think your control scheme could work on the 3DS.
But a great 2.5 D platformer would be the best way to create an amazing Metroid on the 3DS imo. A game in the vein of Prime would most likely end up like a bit watered down version of it. Maybe even akin to “Hunters”.

@90s_Gamer (34.) and @Rift (35. ): Well said gentlemen.

@Mully (37.): If I remember correctly it was on button Z. It was a bit more lose (than in Prime 1 and 2) to still make you aim with the Wiimote a bit.

@TheAmazingRaccoon (40.): I thought about that too and would also like a Metroid with a younger / teenage Samus. And while I’d really like it to be fresh I don’t know how much of classic Metroid gameplay or classic bosses i'd be willing to sacrifice.

James wrote:

Then of course Retro did something very traditional with Donkey Kong Country Returns, though we'll discuss that another time!

Can’t wait !



Meta-Rift said:

@MiracleBlaze: Metroid Prime is meant to be a trilogy. "Metroid Prime 4" will never happen because there's nothing left to link the story back to the first three games. When I say "Metroid Prime is dead", I mean that Samus killed the creature that the game is named after and got rid of Dark Samus along with all the Phazon in the universe.

I'm looking forward to a third-person Metroid game that doesn't resemble the Prime trilogy or Other M. Wii U is the perfect opportunity for a game like that.



HawkeyeWii said:

I think the ship in the secret 100% ending is actually still Metroid Prime (Dark Samus). So think there is a very good chance of there being a second trilogy. What if Dark Samus finally gave in and for the last trilogy both Smaus and Dark Samus work together to take down the space pirates. After all Dark Samus was never with the Space pirates. Oh and a little off topic but raise of hands if you think that there should finally be another character from the metroid series in Super Smash Bros.



armoredghor said:

@Hawkeye Wii well Dark Samus was never really a 'pawn of the space pirates. she was confused with phazon dust and enslaved the crew that she wound up on. I think she could have easily killed off the space pirates but I think it is possible that she is alive. and yes please another metroid character on SSB.
@RIft then what was the first point to really show samus's character?
@Kid_Crono All we saw in prime was startled reaction from the top half of her face and her laying by her ship in the 3rd reminiscing of killing her comrades. that's mourning and about how anyone would react.
I honestly can't think of a point the series before other M when you actually saw personality.



Meta-Rift said:

@armoredghor: Samus had much more character depth in Fusion than she did in Other M.

And about Prime 3's ending, Dark Samus wouldn't be able to exist after the destruction of Phaaze. She/it doesn't care about the Space Pirates, either. The only thing Dark Samus wants is for the universe to be consumed by phazon corruption. The ship at the end is most likely Sylux's, meant to lead into Metroid Prime Hunters.



BulbasaurusRex said:

I'd personally like to see a continuation of the 2D meets 3D gameplay of Other M (with much better dialog, if any, and a less controversial story, of course) on the 3DS. I think the gameplay of Other M worked out very well, and I prefer for 3DS games to use the 3D technology to improve the gameplay, not just provide eye candy.

Spolier Alert:
@LTD You admitted Samus and Adam aren't shallow, I don't think Anthony is shallow (and would love to see him return), MB is an android, Dr. Bergman doesn't show up until near the end of the game, and you don't get to see much of the personality of the other characters, so how is Other M full of shallow characters?



alLabouTandroiD said:

You're right, BulbasaurusRex.
When i wrote that comment i only thought about the soldiers and Anthony really is less shallow then he feels cliché to me , sorry fella. But since he plays a big role in the game that lends to my impression that Other M wanted te be a hip game.
Which didn't matter much to me on my first playthrough. The few gripes i had were compensated by all the strengths and i had a really great time with it. Yes i even liked the story.

Long story made short, i really have to find the time to beat the game a second time in Hard mode.



Disastrous said:

Like a few of the people in here, Prime was my first taste in the series and I didn't get into other games until after I had beaten it. I've played the first one, but never beaten it, however I did beat Zero Mission. I'm contemplating getting Other M, but I'm still not entirely sure I want to see the series take that turn.

Also, although I love the Prime series, I think that Corruption sealed it off. Maybe another strain of games in the same FPS style will emerge, possibly Dread?

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