E3 2017 Dreams — I Want to See Nintendo’s Return to Metroid

In our ongoing list of E3 hopes and dreams, Ryan wishes for Nintendo to finally pull back the curtain on a proper return for Samus Aran and Metroid.

on June 7, 2017 10:00 AM

Look, first things first – I know everyone and their grandma (at least those with grandmas that play games) want a new, “proper” Metroid. Given the backlash against last year’s Metroid Prime: Federation Force and the even harsher words that fans had for Metroid: Other M on the Wii back in 2010, the series has had a pretty rocky road since the days of Retro Studio’s excellent Metroid Prime titles or the series’ last 2D incarnations on GBA with Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission.

For years, the series’ fans have banged the drum (online and off) for Nintendo to revisit Samus Aran and her space-faring adventures in some form or another – whether that is a revival of the Prime series or a return to the classic 2D Metroid titles of old. Nintendo has stayed mum on the prospects of a new Metroid which, in turn, has made the frustrations of fans grow over year over year, without a clear indication that a return to the series would be in sight.

E3 2017 Dreams -- I Want to See Nintendo's Return to Metroid

Hopefully at this year’s E3, we’ll see Nintendo come back to its iconic Metroid series and see Samus Aran return.

As much as the idea of a new installment in the series seems like yet another bout of wishful thinking on the part of Nintendo fans…I don’t really think that it’s a hope that’s long gone. On Nintendo’s part, it’s made (some) sense to bide its time with Metroid, as the series has never been a huge commercial success compared to the same level as The Legend of Zelda, Mario, or Pokemon – the three pillars that the company has relied on for larger sales success for well over two decades now.

While the series has occupied more of the “B-tier” level of notoriety alongside other Nintendo properties like Star Fox and Kirby, few other games pack the same level of influence and power that the Metroid has had in shaping many of today’s titles. Hardly a day goes by without a preview or coverage of 2D platformers that references “Metroidvania” gameplay, as Metroid (alongside Castlevania) has nearly singlehandedly helped in crafting an entire subgenre of games – and for good reason – in emphasizing exploration and a constant feeling of discovery within familiar environments.

E3 2017 Dreams -- I Want to See Nintendo's Return to Metroid

In the years since the conclusion of the Metroid Prime trilogy, the time feels right for a revival of the series on the Nintendo Switch.

Looking at the release calendar for the Nintendo Switch on the horizon, I just have the gut feeling that a new Metroid title has to be down the line at some point. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild carried the Nintendo Switch through its first few months to overwhelming critical and commercial success (truly earning the title of being a “system seller”), while Super Mario Odyssey is expected to arrive in the holiday season to make the Switch a hot item once again in the later part of the year. Pokemon on the Switch is still TBD, but with rumors rumbling on a possible Switch version of Pokemon Sun & Moon (and job listings from GameFreak that are presumably for a new game), it’s only inevitable that Nintendo’s biggest moneymaker will come to the Switch in some form or another soon, whether it’s a port or a new game.

With Zelda already out and Mario and Pokemon coming (presumably) within the next year or so, that’s where I feel Metroid comes in. While the Switch also has a mix of faces new and old coming to the system this year – such as this summer’s ARMS and Splatoon 2 – Nintendo is coming out swinging on the Switch with its three big heavy hitters relatively early in theE3 2017 Dreams -- I Want to See Nintendo's Return to Metroid system’s life cycle, and we all know that if it wants to avoid the same fate that befell the Wii U, it will need a steady stream of new games to keep it going – at least from the Nintendo side of things.

The Switch has already proven itself as a fairly capable console with some great games already out on the market, but what exists beyond 2017 is still a big, big question mark. The system has done well on the coattails of Breath of the Wild‘s staggering critical success and its great sales out of the gate, but if it wants to keep its hardcore fanbase interested and draw the attention of potential new Switch buyers (aside from the system’s rarity in stores), the return of a fan favorite Nintendo franchise like Metroid feels like the right move to sway longtime fans back to the company’s new system and provide an incredible surprise announcement that could give the announcements from Sony and Microsoft a run for their money.

Likewise, there’s a case to be made for the fact that Retro Studios – the makers of the acclaimed Metroid Prime trilogy – have been relatively quiet for some time. Aside from bringing back Donkey Kong in 2010’s Donkey Kong Country Returns (and co-developing its sequel, Tropical Freeze for the Wii U in 2014), Retro have been plugging away at an unannounced project, with the most recent news on the topic coming last month from a confirmation that Deux Ex and Torment: Tides of Numenera composer Alexander Brandon was involved with a project from the studio. Aside from Brandon’s Facebook post that confirmed his work on an “incredibly exciting” project with the team in Austin, there isn’t much to go by. But hopefully, given Brandon’s work on Deus Ex, that might just lean into the possibility that perhaps Retro is finally set to return to the Metroid series after its brave reinvention of the series with Metroid Prime 15 years ago.

What would that game look and feel like? I have no idea – whether it’s a return to Metroid‘s classic 2D roots or a venture back into the first-person exploration of Metroid Prime, I’d be completely happy with either. Given the control setup and motion controls available on the Switch, I feel like the first-person exploration and interaction that the Prime series could offer would be a nice fit for the system and makes the most sense. But if we’re talking purely fan desire, the overwhelming consensus leans toward a traditional, Super Metroid-style game firmly set in the series’ roots, which (personally) I would prefer above all else.

Whatever the case may be, I have high hopes – as crazy as it has sounded and always will sound – that Metroid will get a grand re-appearance sometime, and hopefully it’s at this year’s E3. The arguments against seeing a new Metroid game are just as strong as those for it, especially given Metroid: Other M‘s underwhelming take on the series and the fierce backlash against Federation Force on the 3DS last year (which even led to a petition looking for the game’s cancellation).

E3 2017 Dreams -- I Want to See Nintendo's Return to Metroid

Whether it’s a return to the classic 2D Metroid style or a revival of Metroid Prime, Samus Aran deserves a true return to form.

However, with the opportunity that Nintendo has had with the Switch in helping to revitalize the company’s struggling brand in the past few years, I can only hope that they also recognize the chance that they have to bring back some older franchises beyond just the company’s core reliance on ZeldaPokemon, and Mario to carry their system. As much as it’s more of a wish than anything else, I just hope that means Samus Aran will get her chance to take another ride for Nintendo Switch owners, and for Metroid to get a new adventure for a new generation of Nintendo fans.

As we near E3, what do you want to see the most at this year’s show? What’s your dream scenario? Be sure to let us know in the comments. Lastly, keep an eye out over the coming days as some fellow DualShockers writers will be sharing their biggest dreams for E3 2017 as well in our ongoing series.

 /  Features Editor
Ryan is the Features Editor at DualShockers, with over five years' experience in the world of video games culture and writing. He holds a BA in English & Cinema from Binghamton University, and lives in New York City.