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Talking Point: Super Metroid's 20th Anniversary Reminds Us Of What We Are Missing

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

New Metroid games must be coming, right?

Today brought us a notable landmark, with the much-loved Super Metroid celebrating its 20th Anniversary. It's enough to make some of us feel old, but more importantly acts as a testament to the title's exceptional quality; you can play it now on your still shiny Wii U and it stands up to scrutiny. Visually it's akin to the very-best pixel-based visuals a current download-only developer of the top order could produce, but its core design, gameplay and soundtrack have lost none of their lustre. It's a masterpiece of the Super NES and all eras.

It also reminds us that, in an unfortunate scenario getting increasingly frustrating with each passing month, it's a series that's been absent since the divisive Metroid: Other M on Wii; that was in Autumn / Fall 2010, and due to its presentation and design choices alienated some fans. To find the last broadly acclaimed Metroid title you have to go back to Metroid Prime 3: Corruption in 2007, which was the concluding part of Retro Studio's outstanding Metroid Prime Trilogy. So it's been over three-and-a-half years since a title that caused arguments throughout Nintendo communities, and we're approaching seven years since Corruption, five if you enjoyed the Trilogy edition on Wii. Without wanting to cause too many wails of despair, we can't help but observe that the absence of confirmed projects for the franchise leave us with a bit of a wait yet, unless Nintendo pulls a shock "out in 2014" announcement soon.

There's always hope, of course, with the rather fun Metroid Blast in Nintendo Land showing Nintendo hasn't forgotten about the brand, with later comments from Shigeru Miyamoto that the ideas in that mini-game may emerge in hypothetical future games pleasing some; yet the launch title also included Takamaru's Ninja Castle, so let's not get too carried away. It feels like an odd scenario that a franchise rich in lore and with terrific pedigree is sitting dormant, especially as it's typically been a strong performer in the West.

Perhaps that last point gets us to the core of the issue, as it's in Japan that this franchise doesn't blow up the sales charts. Let's not forget that despite its worldwide teams and brand power, Nintendo is very much a product of Japanese corporate culture, with its business decisions often reflective of its native environment. When breaking that down it's clear that this Japan-centric approach can be a positive in defying trends from elsewhere and surprising consumers, while on the flipside it can undoubtedly be a negative. At present, meanwhile, Nintendo is facing problems in the home console market, and is reacting with some of its safest franchises that cover as many territories as possible — though Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is struggling in Japan, it must be said.

Even beyond debates about Nintendo's desire to prioritise the most bankable franchises, which we'd argue Metroid can be outside of Japan, thinking about what makes Super Metroid resonate with so many even today brings us to its art-style, design and gameplay. As we suggested in our article directing your attention to the anniversary, Super Metroid did an outstanding job of evoking suspense, intrigue and an adventurous spirit. It's also wonderfully alien and dark, with some of us in Nintendo Life HQ saying it's the perfect game for classic movie Alien, not in terms of storyline — obviously! — but in the foreboding environments and tone that's set. What it delivers beyond what any movie can hope to achieve, also, is a diversity in locations and creatures that is a delight, with many moments from the game no doubt ingrained in some gamer's memories.

A reason that the first Metroid Prime earned such critical acclaim was that it successfully recreated the world of Super Metroid — indirectly at least — and transposed the best elements of the 2D classic into a 3D adventure. The Trilogy as a whole perhaps felt so complete, when all was said and done, as Retro Studios then went on to express itself with alternative ideas and approaches: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes was darker in its storytelling while incorporating two realities for the same world, while Corruption was infused with a little more bombast and a Hollywood blockbuster approach that took the adventure to multiple planets and locations.

As for Other M, there were objections to the control scheme but most of all — it seemed — to the space-opera storytelling and portrayal of Samus Aran. Comparisons to Metroid Fusion are surely valid, however, as a similar tone of narrative — not to mention a fairly linear approach — was also to be found in that Game Boy Advance title. Both were directed and written by Metroid co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto, which is illuminating in itself, and the Wii title perhaps simply gave Sakamoto-san the chance to incorporate the cinematic storytelling that was hinted upon in Fusion.

In any case, it's in considering Super Metroid and the Prime trilogy that we're left yearning for the overdue return — or at least an announcement — of a new entry in the series. What the sci-fi IP also gives Nintendo is a chance to remind gamers that there's a little more to its output than bright visuals and delightful fun. Those are excellent qualities to have, yet the Wii U library to date has lacked strong first-party content with a darker tone and more mature setting. We advocate and support the joy games like Super Mario 3D World can bring, yet much of Nintendo's output in HD has been accessible, cheerful content. It's understandable, but we'd love to delve into an alien world, be drawn in by its depth and stunning imagery, and at appropriate moments fire a blaster at a Space Pirate's face. A first-person adventure, in particular, would give an alternative flavour to the cornea-burning content already on the system. Variety is the spice of life, and some frankly mediocre third-party ports don't cut it.

In an ideal world we'd probably be willing to sacrifice a limb for a dual release. A common refrain from within the Nintendo Life community is that it'd love to see some Super NES games on the 3DS Virtual Console, and Super Metroid is always one of the first games to be mentioned. Perhaps it's from the frustration at the teasing and then disappearance of the ever-elusive Metroid Dread, a project that — in our dreams — is a 2D entry in the series to rival the 16-bit classic. If Nintendo could simultaneously release a 3D adventure on Wii U and a 2D 3DS game that serves as a prequel or accompaniment, we'd possibly lose our heads. Think of a Batman: Arkham Origins / Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate arrangement, only far superior.

Ultimately, we love that Nintendo continues to provide irreverent, colourful and, most importantly, fun entertainment, distinguishing itself with that approach. Yet we know that, in the right circumstances, it can create worlds full of alien beings, intimidating areas and engrossing suspense. It's time for that side of Nintendo — potentially via a second-party studio such as Retro Studios — to come back, and Metroid is the IP to make it happen.

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User Comments (71)

BLPs

#4

BLPs said:

New Metroid, yes, yes, yes.

I fell in love with the Metroid series once I played Prime 3 on a request, after which I got Super Metroid on my shiny Wii U, and also Other M for curiosities sake. I enjoy Metroid more than Zelda. I said it. Something about Metroid captivates me more. 3D Zelda especially just has yet to appeal to me, though I've only tried Ocarina of Time for 3D, as 2D Zelda is a good time too (And recommendations for 3D?)

Metroid though, from the titles I own, would be a rare day one purchase from me, not a week after launch like usual.

BigH88

#5

BigH88 said:

We all know Retro's not making a new Metriod. So I wonder if one is in development then who's doing it? I personally think the next Metriod game is on the 3ds.

BLPs

#6

BLPs said:

@BigH88 The might be...and they might not be. We don't know nor can we say for the future.

Hell, I'll take a 2D title too. Just look how A Link Between Worlds did! Why not do the same here?

FritzFrapp

#7

FritzFrapp said:

I'd prefer 2D and on 3DS, but I'd willingly take more Metroid Blast. Anything but that Prime guff.

Ryno

#8

Ryno said:

Just recently beat Metroid Prime and finishing up with Metroid Prime 2 (trilogy version) and then I will have beat every Metroid game except for Hunters. I am itching the play Super Metroid again and would absolutely love a Metroid Wii U.

rjejr

#10

rjejr said:

I guess I feel it's more a lack of new games in general than just Metroid. The Wii U has gotten Mario 2D, Mario 3D, Luigi 2D, DK 2D, but I feel like there is more missing than just Metroid.

I did a rough comparison last week of Wii and Wii U first 18 months and my Wii library was a lot happier at this point. Though a bunch of those were announced Mario games as well such as Strikers and Sluggers on the way, and Paper Mario. But Twilight Princes and yes Metroid Prime Corruption were new.

So I can't say I miss Metroid any more than I miss having just more games. I expect this empty feeling to pass by mid-June w/ some E3 announcements, and hopefully Nintendo can announce some games at E3 and actually get them out in a timely fashion. Still waiting for dates for SSB, B2 and X.

orocket333

#11

orocket333 said:

Metroid fills a roll that the wiiu desperately needs right now. It would also be easy to incorporate the gamepad by using it as the scanner or something.

Will-75

#12

Will-75 said:

Super Metriod is still one of the top 5 all time greats for me I remember getting it on my SNES and thinking just WoW it would be awesome if Nintendo would do a 3D Classics with it .

GalacticMario28

#13

GalacticMario28 said:

While I can't exactly call myself a big Metroid fan, I do agree that the Wii U could certainly benefit from a game of that sort. The Wii U does have at least one well-received (albeit not particularly well-selling) darker game in ZombiU, though that is definitely not the same as a big first-party title. I think the main concern is trying to find something new to do with the series while still making a game similar enough to older Metroid titles to please the people who didn't like how different Other M was, and I imagine that's easier said than done at this point.

Brown77

#15

Brown77 said:

Metroid is a staple of the Nintendo diet. We are starving but patiently waiting for our next dose...please deliver Nintendo!

Expa0

#16

Expa0 said:

Super Metroid, the best game ever made by Nintendo and my 5th favorite game of all time.

Happy Anniversary!

Rezalack

#17

Rezalack said:

I still haven't played this.. I love the Prime series, but after playing the original Metroid on NES again it left a bad taste in my mouth. It's discouraged me from playing this one. If they give it a sale like they did Mega Man X, I'll most likely buy it and give it a whirl. I'm not paying full price though.

MetalKingShield

#18

MetalKingShield said:

Great article, I think it sums up what's missing from Nintendo's line-up at the moment. There's something about Metroid that defines gaming at its best, in my opinion - the exploration, the way you get upgrades and the focus on tone and atmosphere rather than excessive storytelling. My vote would go for a 1st-person entry on Wii U and (even more so) a true 2D game on 3DS.

@BLPs - the 3D Zeldas I would recommend are Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker and (if you can get hold of it on GameCube) Twilight Princess. Majora's Mask is great as well, but it's one for when you've mastered OOT.

Bolt_Strike

#20

Bolt_Strike said:

It's kind of sad that they haven't made a Metroid U announcement for Wii U yet because Metroid is the answer to a lot of the Wii U's game library problems (even more so when Retro decided to pass it up in favor of another boring, predictable 2D platformer). As Tom said in the article, it appeals to western gamers and the game's tone and setting is a stark contrast to the happy, colorful "kiddie" platformers that Nintendo loves making. But also, it's a game that could benefit greatly from the Gamepad, especially in a Prime style game. Maps and inventory would be a given, it would be a lot more helpful to have those things at your fingertips. But more significantly, it would work well with the different visor abilities we saw in the Prime trilogy. The visor would be activated on the Gamepad, and you would scan the TV with it kind of like how you would use a magnifying glass. Bringing back the Command Visor would also allow you to control Samus' ship like you would in Metroid Blast, you set a target for it to reach, and then you control it on the Gamepad. This can also add a challenge in having to balance the action between what Samus is doing, and what Samus' ship is doing.

So really I think it was foolish that this wasn't one of the first franchises they came to, the Wii U might not be doing as badly as it is if they had released such a game earlier. Not that it would completely reverse the Wii U's failure, but it would definitely bump up sales a bit more and shut up the complaints about "too many kiddie games" and "the Gamepad is useless".

skjia

#21

skjia said:

@Bolt_Strike I'm sorry... did you just call Donkey Kong Country a boring, predictable 2D platformer? I agree I would love a new Metroid game on either Wii U or 3DS but DKCTF is an incredible game.

Anyway, I would love to see a 3D Metroid on Wii U (first or third person) and a 2.5D on 3DS.

BLPs

#22

BLPs said:

@MetalKingShield
Honestly, Ocarina of Time just...meh. I try playing it, I really do but...I can't. Something stops me from getting into it.

I don't think Zelda in 3D quite hits me the way Metroid does.

Alshain01

#23

Alshain01 said:

The problem with the Prime trilogy was simple, it was a first person shooter, not Metroid. It wasn't Metroid it 3D, it was just a 3D first person shooter (which is probably why it was so popular given peoples fantasizing over Call of Duty clones) Other M had the advantage of being more like Super Metroid in controls. Story asside it was much closer to the original 3 games (only in 3D) than the Prime Trillogy. I personally would love to see more Other M style Metroid games, maybe with a better story though.

FJOJR

#26

FJOJR said:

I think Samus will come back within the next 2 years outside of Super Smash Bros. At some point Nintendo will run out of their "safe" franchises and if Wii U sales still won't pick up beyond the Nintendo fans then do as they did in the N64 & GameCube days and make Nintendo games for the fans in the other franchises. At least until they are ready to release a console that truly takes advantage of the technology of the day and tries to innovate not just for the sake of being different.

K-Gamer

#27

K-Gamer said:

Might download soon, it seems to have the best SNES as neither Mario and especially Zelda impressed me.

2Sang

#28

2Sang said:

I'd much rather have a 2d metroid over a 3d one. in fact, I'd almost certainly buy a 2d one and probably not buy a 3d one.

darthllama

#29

darthllama said:

I'd love for a Metroid Anniversary Collection to be released. Metroid 1/2/Super, Prime Trilogy, Fusion! If only!

Bolt_Strike

#31

Bolt_Strike said:

@skjia And what did Tropical Freeze do that was actually new? Not much, basically playable Cranky Kong and 2.5D camera angles that were mostly used for useless graphical stuff (there's only one instance I can think of where the 2.5D had an actual effect on the level design, and that's 4-2).

@Alshain01 What exactly was wrong with going in a more FPS direction? IMO, it fits the series pretty well.

MeWario

#32

MeWario said:

@Alshain01 What are you talking about? Metroid Prime is a perfect representation of Metoid in 3D not just some ordinary FPS. You are the only person I have ever heard say that and I can tell you that you're completely wrong.

PvtOttobot

#33

PvtOttobot said:

@MeWario I agree @Alshain01 um, Metroid Prime is in NO way a 'call of duty clone' or in any way similar to any cod/bf FPS. It's a puzzle adventure FPS, the only other game that fits that description is Portal and you can't seriously be stupid enough to call THAT 'just a 3D first person shooter'! Prime is also as hard as nails, unlike every throwaway made-for-noobs story mode in cod/bf FPSs.

Giygas_95

#34

Giygas_95 said:

2.5D classic Metroid. Make it happen, Nintendo. In fact, you know how they took one of the best Zelda games, A Link to the Past, and made a sequel with updated visuals? I'd like to see that happen to Super Metroid (albeit with an entirely new map).

And could we maybe get a VC release of Zero Mission? :D

I can't believe it's been seven years since Corruption. O__o

Giygas_95

#36

Giygas_95 said:

@Bolt_Strike I wouldn't disagree with you there. Fusion is the last game chronologically, and I've been wanting to know what happens next in the series for a long time.

I-U

#37

I-U said:

"A reason that the first Metroid Prime earned such critical acclaim was that it successfully recreated the world of Super Metroid — indirectly at least — and transposed the best elements of the 2D classic into a 3D adventure."

There's a huge difference between Super's Zebes and Prime's Tallon IV, to me, in all aspects. But I'm curious, how is Tallon IV a recreation of Zebes and Prime a recreation of Super Metroid's best elements?

As far as Super Metroid goes, fantastic game. I first experienced the title through the Wii VC, and I could see why it was a fanbase favorite early on. Personally, it's just behind Metroid Prime Hunters as my second favorite Metroid game. Speaking of Hunters, today's Super's 20th, tomorrow's Hunters' 8th anniversary.

Kirk

#38

Kirk said:

I'd actually love to see another 2.5D Metroid game like Other M but just without the 3D movement and clunky controls etc. Basically, a classic Super Metroid style game in every way but with proper 2.5D graphics. That's all that is really needed imo. The 3D games are great but they're just not as good a Super Metroid as far as I'm concerned.

Dr_Corndog

#39

Dr_Corndog said:

It's a testament to how great the series is that a game as good as Metroid OM gets bashed so much (not that it doesn't have its issues). Anyway, Metroid Prime and Super Metroid are both in my personal top 5 of all time.

shigulicious

#40

shigulicious said:

The Metroid Prime games didn't sell well. I'm hoping Retro Studios is making a new IP. I enjoyed the Prime games but the Wiiu needs an attractive new IP. But Metroid Dread 2d on the 3ds? Yes please!!

kokirii

#41

kokirii said:

Just finished downloading Super Metroid on Wii U VC for my first ever playthrough!

As for the Prime trilogy, any hope in that appearing in an HD remake? Should I just get the Wii version that sells for so much on eBay?

torotoid64

#42

torotoid64 said:

I'll be picking up prime 3 soon I just saw it in my local game store for 10 dollars but I left my wallet at home xD played other m and loved it I didn't really mind the story besides the point of ridley scaring samus but I enjoyed the rest of the game pretty much can't wait for a new metroid!

EpicMegaman64

#43

EpicMegaman64 said:

I would like to see Nintendo play two sides of a risk coin. Play it a little safer on the Wii U by letting Retro Studios make Prime 4. They could bring many innovations to the series with the Wii U technology while guaranteeing top quality from a so-far consistent studio. Then, they could risk a little more with the 3DS and dive into a 2.5D Metroid Dread. The 3D could make for some really atmospheric environments if they handle the lighting properly. Admittedly, this is really just me being wishful for two things that may or may not be even in consideration at this point.

NintyMan

#45

NintyMan said:

I personally believe Metroid will come to 3DS first and be a 2D/2.5D game, especially since Retro Studio's next game for Wii U is not Metroid.

skjia

#46

skjia said:

@Bolt_Strike Well if you look at it like that, what does any game do that is actually new? Lol. Tropical freeze is a really well done platformer. I agree there are too many 2D platformers now but of all of them DKCTF is about the only one that actually does really interesting things and is legitimately challenging.

Also, I agree. I've always wanted to see the story after fusion since it was a huge game changer story wise.

Artwark

#48

Artwark said:

What about Star Fox?

Yes I too would love to see a new Metroid game even though I've only played the first three games and I agree that Super Metroid is the best of them all.

Nintendo needs to figure out what their audience really want and its because of that they suffer a lot.

Bolt_Strike

#49

Bolt_Strike said:

@skjia I can think of several games in the last few generations that did something new (Sunshine, Galaxy, Wind Waker, every game in Metroid Prime Trilogy). NSMBU, 3D World, and Tropical Freeze don't, they reuse the same gameplay without adding any significant new gameplay mechanic. It's not like it's impossible to do anything new with an established franchise.

unrandomsam

#52

unrandomsam said:

@Sweet16 By most definitions. By Miyamoto's you are not 1st party unless you are Japanese and in Kyoto. (If he coined the term then he gets to decide what it means.)

Sweet16

#53

Sweet16 said:

@unrandomsan The term was coined to refer to Rare, an external partner who functioned like an internal one. Retro Studios is 100% a division of Nintendo. Can you provide a citation of your claim about Miyamoto's definition?

LightSuitGuy

#54

LightSuitGuy said:

A new Metroid has to be announced at this year's E3.

Please make it happen Nintendo. Blow my socks off again like you and Retro did with the Prime trilogy!

Ichiban

#55

Ichiban said:

Brace yourselves for the announcement of Metroid: New M at the next direct! Complete with super guide and all upgrades unlocked from the start of the game!

mamp

#56

mamp said:

"What the sci-fi IP also gives Nintendo is a chance to remind gamers that there's a little more to its output than bright visuals and delightful fun. Those are excellent qualities to have, yet the Wii U library to date has lacked strong first-party content with a darker tone and more mature setting."
THIS!

audiobrainiac

#58

audiobrainiac said:

Agreed Thomas. A new Metroid or two is among my highest hope for my Wii U and/or 3DS. Nintendo MUST know how badly we want it. Heck i'll email them this article! lol jk

Nomad

#59

Nomad said:

I just hope the next Metroid is not a FPS, even though I did enjoy the Prime trilogy. 2D on 3DS would look great.

Shworange

#60

Shworange said:

The closest thing to a metroid game that I've played recently was steamworld dig. It felt very metroid. You explore a desolate world. You get numerous power ups as well. There were many differences of course, but at its heart was that of Samus'. I couldn't stop playing steamworld dig. I played right through the whole game within a couple of days (I think my ultimate time was 9ish hours). Upon completion, I was a little sad because I wanted more. What I really want however is more metroid!

AJWolfTill

#61

AJWolfTill said:

We will probably get a 2D3ds Metroid and an HD remake of Prime on Wii U. I just can't help but feel than Nintendo will continue to release hit after hit on the 3ds whilst doing the minimum possible on Wii U.
I really don't want to be right though.
Out of all the (s)Nes games I have played on VC only Super Metroid has come across as timeless and fresh. I haven't played Mother yet though...

Crimzen_Reign

#63

Crimzen_Reign said:

I loved the original Strider and the reboot on my PS4 is AMAZING! Therefore lets do the same with this masterpiece as I have played it several times on my Wii U. A proper reboot as they did Strider utilizing the gamepad would be wonderful.

Hyperion

#64

Hyperion said:

Much prefer the 2D Metroids to the 3D ones.
My first Metroid was Fusion which I love. Bought a SNES recently to play Super Metroid. Have dabbled with Metroid 1 & 2 and completed Zero Mission.
I've never really gotten anywhere on Prime and not played 2 or 3 or zero mission.

FullbringIchigo

#66

FullbringIchigo said:

you know I booted this game back up yesterday just to check the state of my SNES and I ended up playing it for hours

most modern games don't hold me like that, I miss the old days when games were fun and they took chances, now everything is to stale and safe :-(

AshFoxX

#67

AshFoxX said:

"in an unfortunate scenario getting increasingly frustrating with each passing month, it's a series that's been absent since the divisive Metroid: Other M on Wii; that was in Autumn / Fall 2010"

I do not weep for 3 1/2 years since the last new game. The last new Star Fox game was 2006. The last new F-Zero was 2004.There are numerous games people are really patiently waiting to hear even a glimmer of hope for, and Metroid has seen significant revival since it's original dormancy after Super Metroid, completely skipping over the N64 generation. I like Metroid just fine, but it's hard to feel sorry for a lack of a new title when it's only been a few years since the last one.

sevex

#68

sevex said:

This would be a great time to put Super Metroid on sale for Wii U, since I want it.

citizenerased

#69

citizenerased said:

Just seeing a screenshot of Metroid Prime makes me want to replay it.

While I'd love another 3D Metroid, I think it's time for a sprite-based 2D one. Although Nintendo hasn't made sprite-based games in ages, so I guess that won't happen.

Dreamz

#71

Dreamz said:

@Kirk I completely agree. Other M is my second favorite entry in the series, second only to Super Metroid. The Prime Trilogy was fun, but it honestly felt less like Metroid to me than Other M.

My only complaints about Other M were the over-reliance on Sense-Dodging mechanics and the cumbersome shifting between 1st and 3rd person modes.

Unlike many die hard fans, I really, really enjoyed the story of Other M, and feel that an unfair portion of the derision towards it is from players who were expecting an unflappable, balls of steel heroine like Lightning from Final Fantasy or Laura Croft of old but instead were given a heroine with more depth and nuance like the new Laura Craft reboot, or perhaps Terra/Tina Branford from the Final Fantasy series. And it's a very good move, in my opinion. Unflappable heroes are boring.

What I'd really love to see is a post-Fusion entry in the series in the style of Other M.

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