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.
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.
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.
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.
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). Prime‘s 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 M’s 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.
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.