Where can the Metroid Series go From Here?

Rumors aplenty are flying around before next week’s Nintendo Switch presentation, with at least one instance of wondering whether a potential Metroid title could show up. Regardless of whether it’s true, however, it’s now worth bringing up the directions the series can go both story and gameplay-wise. Call it an early prediction, if you will.

Now, I’m not Nintendo, and they may or may not do as I’m inclined to predict here. But with everything that we know, there are several logical guesses that can potentially happen on the Switch at some point in it’s lifespan.

Story

The most recent game in the franchise, as you know, was Federation Force, a part of the Prime subseries. Regardless of one’s stance on the game, it’s a part of the Metroid canon given its specific placement in the timeline and revelations, with a deliberately unresolved plot point in particular; the as-of-yet unseen story of Samus vs Sylux.

 

Which will likely involve tons of red shirt deaths in the Federation. [Source]
Let’s go back in time for a moment here. Anyone following Metroid news since mid-2015 is well aware of the statements said when Federation Force was revealed, detailing what series producer Kensuke Tanabe wanted in a proper Prime sequel, that being the aforementioned Samus vs Sylux story (bridging from the 100% completion rate ending in Corruption) with the Federation involved somehow, implicitly describing Federation Force as a game that builds up the latter faction beforehand. The game itself in its secret ending shows off an individual very heavily implied if not outright confirmed to be Sylux itself possibly stealing a baby Metroid, leaving Federation Force on a cliffhanger. These individual factors all tie together to point towards this story thread being a potential next step the series takes in the future (though despite being talked about for a while it is not necessarily the next one).

Of course, that’s hardly the only potential idea for another game. Within the series itself, it’s story following the events of Fusion has gone largely unexplored (largely due to Yoshio Sakamoto’s hiatus from the series after Fusion, after which Kensuke Tanabe took over for the Prime subseries), and there was no real continuation to that game’s ending.

To briefly recap, the endgame of Fusion had Samus going against the Galactic Federation and their (illegal) experimentation on Metroids by destroying the B.S.L where these were happening after eliminating the other imminent danger that was the S.A.X, escaping via her ship in the aftermath.

As the CD-i judge says, ‘this is illegal you know’.

 

Turning on the organization that she took missions from across many games in the series is a big deal and one that leaves open a wealth of possibilities to continue the plot. Whether it will actually happen is another matter altogether, given that there’s not enough evidence at this point in time to accurately guess what story branch the series would tackle next.

Gameplay

The base formulas of both styles of Metroid titles are things that don’t necessarily need to change in order to make a good game. The 2D era is still seen favorably despite minimal changes to the gameplay style between games, and the Prime series maintains its first person aesthetic regardless of the game, barring the pinball spinoff (but then again that’s pinball). Primes gameplay has changed over time, though in a subtle way, like the 2D games. Little changes here and there. Motion controls, touch screen controls, mech mods in Federation Force (as well as leaving the mech), the works. Changes to the overall gameplay also occurred between games, but none so drastic so as to raise eyebrows.

That being said, it’s not like changes to the gameplay are necessarily out of the question if they are handled properly. Other M’s critics are quick to deride the restricted use of the singular Wii Remote for the clunky gameplay, a deliberate decision by Yoshio Sakamoto and the team. A third person Metroid game can work, and Other M’s gameplay likely would not have seen as much backlash had the controller option been more comfortable and accessible. An argument can even be made that a third person Metroid without Other Ms flaws is possible given the unanimous acclaim that the Dark Souls trilogy (something that people are not shy about comparing to Metroid) has garnered. Other M also had the distinction of being the team’s first attempt at a traditional 3D title in the series, akin to Super Mario 3D Land, with a mix of 2D and 3D gameplay. The response was definitely critical, but it’s entirely feasible for them to try again with the same style, ironing out the flaws with the system, the controls in particular.

WarioWare, this is not.

A last but noteworthy factor to consider is the developer, which can significantly alter how the game will play based on their previous work. Other M was the first attempt at a traditional 3D Metroid title, but it was also the only title from Team Ninja, a third party developer, and it shows with the similarities to Ninja Gaiden. Another title by Next Level Games could lead to a Prime title, given their work on Federation Force (albeit not with the same mechanics). A title by WayForward would more than likely be entirely 2D given their work on games such as Ducktales Remastered and Shantae. Obviously there are many more 3rd party developers out there, and it’s hard to say that their attachment to a Metroid title would be unlikely given the fact that Team Ninja of all developers made Other M.

Ultimately, there’s a lot to consider these days for a new Metroid game. Will it come sooner or later? Who knows.

 

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19 comments

  1. While I’d very much love another entry in the Metroid Prime series focusing on some kind of standoff between Samus and Sylux, it seems what the series needs right now is a simple return-to-form with a 2D (or 2.5D) Metroid game. It’s been nearly 15 years since Metroid Fusion, the last original 2D entry and I think it’s also the best way to assuage fan concerns while also being a bit more budget-friendly(?) on the development side of things.

    As for the developer, since I guess Nintendo themselves can’t quite do it, I think they should outsource it to Good-Feel.

    (…I’m only half-kidding.)

    But for a Good-Feel developed Metroid title, I’d love to see something similar to their work on WarioLand Shake Dimension, but instead of being in an anime style, maybe something that looks a bit more gritty (like in the style of a graphic novel).

  2. Let’s be real, Federation Force was the biggest mistake that ever happened to Metroid.

    Bobble headed, generic fodder is the last thing I’d want to play as.

      1. Yeah, Federation Force is only a poorly timed spin-off, regardless of one’s stance on its aesthetics or gameplay.

        Other M was supposed to be the latest, greatest mainline game which would also help set up events after Fusion, but it was received so badly that it shocked the entire franchise back into hibernation until the aforementioned spin-off.

      2. Well you aren’t wrong, that game is definitely far worse as far as what they did with Samus and Adam’s characters.

        Then there’s the writing of the plot itself…

    1. Other M would like to have a word with you.

      At least Federation Force made sense in a bit of a business perspective – Take a series not popular in Japan (Metroid), make a game that incorporates elements of online co-op gameplay inspired by a more frantically successful and popular franchise (Monster Hunter), mix in a chibi art style to not only ease the game engine but attract the target demographic to play the game (Japanese), and you get Federation Force.

      As for the Federation Force soldiers being playable – how exactly would you like to explain a CO-OP game in the Metroid universe with Samus being the main character when she works best alone?

      Even if I’m wrong, if you push your seat back and look at it from that kind of perspective, it makes sense. Metroid wasn’t slapped onto Federation Force to sell Federation Force, Metroid was slapped onto Federation Force to sell Metroid.

      Now Other M on the other hand… That was the biggest mistake to ever happen to Metroid. Oh sure, the 2D in 3D gameplay wasn’t bad, but…

      – It was linear which destroys everything Metroid is known for
      – It was linear because they wanted to tell a TERRIBLE STORY and they have no clue how to force you to see said story without dumping you into linear hallways
      – The authorization system completely removed skill and gameplay from the player, instead locking it away by progress (And story) throughout the game instead of allowing the player’s ingenuity to encounter and discover on their own (there is little reason to backtrack into early areas for sake of explanation, only when the game tells you to)
      – Story didn’t treat the main character with respect, which in turn didn’t treat the player with respect. We’re supposed to empathize with these guys when they get killed? We’re supposed to respect Adam? I’m sorry, I liked Adam more as an AI.
      – The whole thing with Ridley is bupkis, I understand PSTD and all of that, but Samus has had plenty of encounters with Ridley where it’s been a non-issue – even if Other M ignores the Prime sub-series, if that point of Samus’ character was that important, they could’ve easily established that in previous titles by making the boss battles harder with Ridley (like setting a flag that makes Samus unable to use certain weapons until a set time has passed)

      And the worst part of all, Other M didn’t seem to be made with the idea of selling the franchise to boost popularity.

      Metroid may be popular, but it is far from being one of Nintendo’s best selling franchises, especially when you line them all up – and it’s not very popular in Japan – but I can easily see Federation Force being made for the sole reason to make the franchise sell better, especially when you have the abomination called Other M failed.

      1. “At least Federation Force made sense in a bit of a business perspective”
        “Metroid was slapped onto Federation Force to sell Metroid.”
        “but I can easily see Federation Force being made for the sole reason to make the franchise sell better”

        If the plan was to change everything Metroid fans love about the series to alienate most of the people who would have bought it, then it backfired horribly. I highly doubt that was the plan, especially since it started development on the DSi back when Metroid wasn’t in a horrible state.

        1. Do note that Metroid is still not really a popular franchise in Japan, which again makes sense why they would make the game more suited to sell the series to a demographic where it’s unpopular.

    1. Yeah, I’m really hoping there’s a two-sided campaign rather than just Samus the whole time. I mean, we’ve played as Sylux before in Hunters (multiplayer only though) so it’s not that far-fetched.

      1. That’s a neat Idea! I’d love to have a dual story line Metroid game. Sylux in particular is good choice, since he’s both not an unknown character, and could reasonably function different from Samus. Plus, it’d be neat to delve into his character more.

          1. IGN: Is there a chance players will control Dark Samus during the course of the game?
            Kelbaugh: That’s a good question. You’re going to have to wait and see.

            I don’t get why they’d say something like that for what was never gonna happen.

  3. I think there needs to be a new 2D and 3D Metroid title for each series; a Fusion sequel and the afore-mentioned Prime 4. Both series are stuck on cliffhangers and it’d only be right to appease the fans of both games after each of them received a not so great game. Metroid can’t afford anymore bad/mediocre games otherwise it will be killed off for good. Or maybe that’s what Nintendo wants…

  4. I think it’s worth mentioning how Nintendo’s restructurings have affected Metroid, and what it could mean for the future.

    Sakamoto made the Metroid games through Zero Mission with Nintendo R&D1. Shortly after that, a restructuring eliminated that group, and Sakamoto was made deputy manager of the Software Planning and Development Group, which primarily co-produced games with outside companies. Hence working with Retro and Team Ninja.

    Nintendo restructured again in September 2015, merging the divisions that worked with outside groups and internal developers, so Sakamoto is again in a position where he could make a game with an internal team.

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