Please note: this is an opinion article.
With the advent of Super Smash Bros. DLC it’s clear that many series are primed for DLC with popular requests, with some less known than others. A lot of series are going neck to neck with their front runners such as Donkey Kong’s King K. Rool and Dixie Kong or Golden Sun’s Isaac.
There is one series, however, that seems to be lacking in that department: Metroid. As one of the more divisive Nintendo series, Metroid currently lacks the firepower for a DLC character to be likely. But what about other aspects of DLC? In this article, I will examine every possible component of DLC from characters to trophies.
The biggest selling point in regards to downloadable content is characters. Metroid’s viable characters for DLC share some things in common. All of them with the exception of the newly designed Marines are characters that have appeared in one game but have maintained some dark horse style of popularity. A notable flaw that brings them all down is lack of popularity in Japan. Since Metroid is more popular in the West, it’s very similar to Little Mac. While it doesn’t completely prevent them from joining the battle, it might be a big enough flaw to warrant possibly not being considered for DLC at all. Apart from this, each character is completely different in terms of positive and negative factors.
More popular characters not being playable
Prior to DLC, the Metroid series had two main contenders for potential newcomers: Dark Samus and Ridley. Dark Samus made its appearance in the Prime subseries and Ridley has appeared in almost every Metroid game. Both of these characters didn’t make the cut for their own reasons.
Dark Samus was delegated to the role of Assist Trophy. She uses a moveset reminiscent of her boss battle in Corruption. There is one possible reason for not being able to join the battle as a newcomer: non-hardcore Metroid fans. Some people may confuse Dark Samus as being the same character as Zero Suit Samus and Samus. Furthermore, Dark Samus would debatably play very similarly to Samus, which would not make her a unique newcomer, a factor that has been continually stressed by Sakurai in Smash for 3DS/ Wii U’s development. At the same time, making Dark Samus a character swap in the vein of Alph to Olimar could be seen as going against the character’s portrayal due to Dark Samus’ own wide variety of attacks in the Prime games that differ greatly from the established moveset for Samus, similar to the reasoning used for making Dark Pit a clone as opposed to character swap.
Ridley was the overwhelmingly wanted newcomer in Smash overall to represent Metroid. However, Ridley ended up not being included in the roster and was made into a stage hazard on the Pyrosphere stage (Wii U). A day before Smash Wii U’s release, Masahiro Sakurai explained his stance on Ridley, citing issues with character’s portrayal as a main factor in Ridley’s no-show, while acknowledging the character’s popularity.
“I definitely know that Ridley’s a much-anticipated name for fans, but if we made Ridley as a fighter, it wouldn’t be Ridley any longer,” Sakurai told IGN in an email interview. “It’d have to be shrunk down, or its wings reduced in size, or be unable to fly around freely.”
“Providing accurate portrayals of characters is something I want to pay ample attention to,” he continued. “If I don’t stick to that thought, then we’d have to lower the quality or break the balance of the game. Something that goes way off spec could break the entire game.”
As such, Metroid’s most popular candidates have fallen out of grace. Now, only lesser characters are viable for DLC at this time. But what separates them from the rest?
A bounty hunter from Corruption, Rundas was featured in Corruption’s more memorable moments. Rundas was featured as his boss battle and had higher interaction with Samus Aran than the other two bounty hunters. In addition, he is also a fan-favorite. While Rundas has canonically perished, a character’s death hasn’t stopped candidates from making it into fighting games; such as Marvel vs Capcom 3’s Albert Wesker. Nonetheless, as a character that is unlikely to receive a revival, Rundas remains a long-shot choice.
Galactic Federation Marine
The Galactic Federation Marines are generic soldiers that have sometimes aided Samus in battle with varied weaponry. With the recent reveal of Metroid Prime: Federation Force the characters were given unique designs and weaponry making them potentially more workable to Smash. However, the character may lack unique traits compared to other candidates due to being a generic soldier. It also hails from a game which despite not being released is quite controversial. Therefore, a Marine with this design might be be reviled by the community.
A bounty hunter from Hunters, very little is known about it other than it hating the Galactic Federation and Samus Aran. It’s species or gender was never listed. However, Sylux is a very popular fan favorite and subject of a lot speculation owing to its unique backstory and design. Unlike Rundas, it is slated to have a revival with its cameo at the end of Corruption being confirmed by Kensuke Tanabe, the director of the Prime trilogy. Kensuke Tanabe has also expressed a desire to expand on the character’s interactions with Samus. And unlike a Galactic Federation Marine, Sylux does have some uniqueness to itself; having a signature electricity weapon and a different alt mode. All these points in mind lead to Sylux being the most likely choice of these three; however it is still bogged down by the unpopularity of Metroid characters in Japan and Sylux’s relative obscurity.
Other Metroid characters
The rest of the characters in Metroid would most likely be deemed unsuitable for selection for the Smash roster for a variety of reasons. The other bounty hunters from Hunters: Weavel, Noxus, Spire, Kanden and Trace, have no current impact on the series, and were made to promote the multiplayer in the same game. From Other M, Adam Malkovich and Anthony Higgs have both only appeared in this game and they most likely would fight like typical marines with guns and weapons with some hand to hand combat. Their lack of popularity and being in only one Metroid game makes both characters unlikely. This same reasoning applies to the other two hunters from Corruption: Ghor and Gandrayda.
Overall, Metroid’s DLC characters boil down to three viable candidates. Three candidates that are marred by the same problems.
But what about other DLC?
As it has been seen with recent news, DLC stages are indeed a thing. However, the idea of stages being released by themselves may might be less likely than expected. Dream Land 64, the soon-to-be released Hyrule Castle and Mushroom Kingdom are most likely special exceptions to fill a nostalgia factor. The only new stage was Suzaku Castle, which was released alongside Ryu.
But in the event that there were new stages without characters alongside them, which area from Metroid could be picked for a stage? Sakurai had an elaborate process in designing Planet Zebes, detailed in an interview with Shigesato Itoi:
“Metroid is a game where the story unfolds in a cave. However in this game [Smash] we have floating islands, so we decided to have the restriction of having the background be as far as possible.
I think designing the stage was quite difficult.
In addition, we added the aggressive stage hazard “lava raising up”, which we had to balance the stage around that. We arranged the platforms in a way that wouldn’t cause the players to feel uncomfortable, and so that they could pass through the troubled areas.
It was a very different level at the start [of development]. Players would’ve fought on something like a satellite’s orbit, on a star. However, we wanted to capture the original Metroid atmosphere, so we decided on this current stage.”
There is a theme which Sakurai likes to follow for designing the Metroid stages. What areas in “classic” (Metroid, Return of Samus, Super Metroid, Fusion) or “modern” (Prime, Echoes, Hunters, Corruption) Metroid fit this criteria and how would they differ from the Metroid stages already in the game: Brinstar(3DS), Norfair (Wii U) and Pyrosphere(Wii U)?
Classic Metroid – Tourian(Super Metroid)
Tourian is an area in Metroid and Super Metroid where the final boss Mother Brain is fought in each game. The Super Metroid version in particular offers a greater sense of isolation. The area shows how it has aged since the events of the first Metroid game with destroyed backgrounds to emphasize this detail. Mother Brain and the Metroids can be safely omitted as stage hazards due to them both being Assist Trophies. As both versions of Tourian include lava, the stage would ideally have platforms for fighters to stand on to avoid the hazard, but unlike Planet Zebes the lava would not rise or fall. With correct platform placement, Tourian could end up being a walkoff stage.
Modern Metroid – Oubliette (Hunters)
The Oubliette is the final area in Metroid Prime Hunters. It serves as the area where the game’s main antagonist Gorea was imprisoned according to the lore. Even though the area itself consists of three parts, the ideal section to adapt is the area where Gorea’s first form is fought.
This boss room has a very enclosed design reminiscent of a cave, fitting in with the lore of Gorea being imprisoned there. As a stage it would ideally follow a design similar to Planet Zebes with the only difference being stationary as opposed to a moving stage. This flooring would also make the stage a walkoff type of stage as it is enclosed. The other main appeal of this area is the potential for another stage boss, being Gorea itself. Gorea is roughly Ridley’s size as a boss and has a variety of attacks to use directly from Hunters. Unlike Ridley, Gorea would be best served as a neutral entity akin to Gaur Plain’s Metal Face and the Yellow Devil from Wily Castle, only “allying” with the player by making the final explosion not damage the player who killed it.
Phaaze is the living planet which is the source of the Phazon, a radioactive substance with toxic properties which gave birth to Dark Samus. The planet is visited as the final level of Corruption. The area where Dark Samus is fought and defeated would be the best area to adapt in Smash.
When fully expanded, the Sanctum shows just how deep Samus is in Phaaze with tendrils swaying upwards and dark formations of Phazon in varying colors, capturing the dark feel of Zebes in a different way. With nowhere to fall, Phaaze would be another walkoff stage as well, but unlike Tourian and the Oubliette the flooring of the stage could have no hazard.
Minor content includes everything else. These add-ons would also be far easier to make compared to characters and stages, which is where their prime likelihood stems from. Music on its’ own would be unlikely, as new music seems to be only added with new stages.
The Smash development team has been making Mii costumes since the start of DLC. A lot of options have been made available, drawing from a number of series. However, what kind of content can we see from Metroid?
The single most likely possibility would be a Federation Force Galactic Federation Marine costume for the Mii Gunner. As a costume from a game that hasn’t been released yet, this has precedent as well; the Inkling costumes from Splatoon for Gunner classes were originally preorder bonuses for said game. The design of the Federation Force GF Marine also fits well with the style of Smash, so it’s not unreasonable to expect. Other less likely choices include armor inspired from Anthony Higgs and Adam Malkovich or armor from the eponymous Hunters.
DLC trophies have some precedent with the Inkling trophy, which may have been a special case. All of the DLC characters have had trophies added for All-Star and Classic Mode. Therefore, it is only likely to expect a new Metroid trophy if a new character joins the battle.
As it stands, Metroid is likely to receive miscellaneous content as DLC. However, there are surprises around every corner, so it’s possible that we may be surprised.