For a time, it seemed that there was very little hope that a new Metroid game was going to be released, especially after the backlash from the debacle that was Metroid Prime: Federation Force. But Nintendo proved many fans wrong with announcing two new titles: Metroid: Samus Returns on the 3DS and the upcoming Metroid Prime 4 for Nintendo Switch. Fans of the series were obviously ecstatic with these announcements, as well they should be. Both games will appeal to the 2D and 3D fans of the series and so far things seem to be going well with Metroid: Samus Returns getting rave reviews, but what will be truly be a big test for Nintendo and the series is if they can open up Metroid to new players and push the series beyond its established fan-base.
Nobody would have thought that a new Metroid game was ever going to come after the last two flops in the franchise and people had a good reason to speculate. Metroid: Other M was a good action game, but offer little to no of the characteristics that fans have come to know from Samus, playing her as a dull and broken individual. And Federation Force was… how to put it… a horrible entry in the franchise. The quick turnaround re-energized fans and with already having a much more competent experience in Samus Returns over the last two mentioned titles has put people at ease that the series is in a good place.
The Metroid series has always been beloved by fans but never seemed to have caught well with a mainstream audience, which is odd given the success of both the original title on NES and the first installment in the Prime series having healthy sales that do not seem to compare with the rest of the other games. What puts this Nintendo franchise at odds with the Donkey Kong, Kirby and Yoshi series of games is the fact that Metroid is suited for an older and more mature audience, but still can’t get its stride in comparison to the others listed above.
You would think that a series less catered to a general demographic would be a top-selling franchise for Nintendo, especially that the company has stated that it would be part of the major three during the Wii era of gaming, but failed to captivate audiences the same way that Mario and Zelda were able to do. Those who play Metroid games truly love them, but the series has had a hard time bringing new people to experience the franchise as a whole, and it is apparent that Nintendo doesn’t want to give up on it so easily.
Franchises such as Star Fox and F-Zero will most likely be put on the shelf for a long time, but the fact that Nintendo decided to bring back Metroid with not only one, but two titles to their consoles speaks volume as to what the company thinks about the franchise. Not only that, but they made a push to promote Samus Returns and helped its release with new amiibos and a special edition New 3DS XL to go along with this new installment. It is hard to think back as to when was the last time Nintendo put this much attention on a Metroid game and try to sell it to a new audience, but without any sale figures out as of now, it is difficult to say this was a successful attempt in revitalizing the series or not.
Then there is Metroid Prime 4, that is coming sometime in the distant future for the Nintendo Switch. Truly the biggest surprise that they showed at E3, we still have yet to see any gameplay or visuals of the game and are left with only a brief teaser of the upcoming project. Still, this will surely garner interest from the already established fan base and will hopefully get the attention of new gamers as well. The Nintendo Switch is a vastly different console from its predecessors and makes it difficult to gauge its success as of now being only a few months on the market, but announcing a new Prime title once again shows the devotion by Nintendo for not letting this franchise go to waste.
It won’t be all too surprising to see if we get new additions to the series while waiting for Metroid Prime 4 as it is most likely going to be slated for a 2019-2020 release at the earliest. If we do happen to get a few other titles, in the meantime, it will most likely mean that we will get more amiibo and or other peripherals to garner the public’s interest. What isn’t expected to be seen is a full 180 that changes the franchises user base like what happened with Fire Emblem, but it won’t be surprising to see a slight increase in sales and in awareness.
A mobile title under the Metroid name would help in making this transition even easier. This could be a continuation of the Pinball series of games or something completely different, but what has been seen with Nintendo’s mobile front is that these titles are extremely popular, especially positioned closer to a console counterpart is near release. Nintendo may want to use a more potent franchise, but if they are ready to bring back Metroid in a big way, they would be fools not to look into the opportunity in making Samus go mobile.
Other options to help make Metroid stand out is by recreating past titles like they have done with Samus Returns. Mercurysteam did a fantastic job in revitalizing the 8-bit classic and could be in charge in returning to another classic Metroid game soon. Games such as Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion would be fan favorites, but the problem with those titles is the fact that they still look and play quite well to this day and could infuriate more people than they are pleasing.
Nintendo has been known in reusing assets for future titles and potentially creating a new side scrolling adventure with the Samus Returns engine could be a possibility while waiting for the next Prime installment. Many 3DS titles have taken this route such as Zelda and Kirby all going back to make new titles with a familiar look. It shouldn’t be overly difficult to make a new Metroid game, especially with the Mercury Steam engine that powers the recent installment and it would be a great buffer in-between the next release that will be on Nintendo Switch.
These are all spit-balling ideas as to what may or may not happen, but it is great to see Nintendo returning to its roots with the Metroid franchise. It will be quite some time before we see the next instalment in the franchise and one can only hope that the company will keep interest flowing and try to garner a new fan base for its upcoming title. We will surely have to wait and see as to what happens, but it is great to see that Metroid is back and hopefully this time, the series will stay as a staple for Nintendo moving forward.