Darren Kerwin, founder of Metroid fan website Shinesparkers, discusses his expectations for the series on Wii U.
It is inevitable that Nintendo will eventually add a new chapter in the Metroid series. For twenty five years, Metroid has been a core franchise for the company. Since Samus’ great reveal as the female bounty hunter in the original Metroid on NES back in 1986, the series has offered constant innovation.
In 1994 the series brought us Super Metroid, which is considered to be one of the finest games on the SNES by its fan base and regularly appears in polls listing some of the greatest games ever made. The series then took a questionable jump into the third dimension as a first-person adventure game in the form of Metroid Prime in 2002. Critics had their concerns, especially after an eight year hiatus, but Metroid Prime became one of the best selling titles on the GameCube, and the best selling Metroid game to date.
Recently, the series has taken a further twist in the form of Metroid: Other M, perhaps the most controversial addition to the series yet, which some people claim has caused a rift in the fan community, dividing loyal fans and leaving them with questions to the direction the series is taking. So what surprises could the future of Metroid hold and where should it go from here? Here are some of my own personal thoughts regarding the possibility of a new Metroid game for the upcoming Wii U console.
Ever since the system was shown at E3 in 2011, I have been excited at the possibilities of what the system could bring to future Metroid titles. When I saw The Legend of Zelda tech demo displaying what the Wii U was capable of graphically, the question “How awesome would a Metroid game like this be?” immediately came to my mind. The Wii U console is certainly capable of displaying games in a higher quality format than its predecessors and a HD Metroid would be visually stunning. Although many Nintendo gamers will argue that graphics don’t make a game, I feel that they can certainly help the overall experience. What’s wrong with having good game play AND graphics?
Metroid has constantly evolved over its twenty five year history but has always retained key elements such as exploration, atmosphere and hunting for secrets that has made the series appealing to me. I feel that a future title for the Wii U should retain these core elements and offer a fresh new experience that adapts well to the new hardware. I feel that a brand new first-person adventure Metroid game would be best suited for this platform, but should move away from the Metroid Prime series and the Phazon storyline.
It’s obvious to me that the Wii U controller is going to be the main feature of any new Metroid game; it could be used in multiple ways. The standout thought to me would be to use the screen of the Wii U controller as a scan visor, allowing the player to scan and explore the environments. For example, the player could hold the controller up to the screen and use it as a tool to collect data on surroundings. It could be used to find hidden power ups and weapon expansions, and could be used to scan creatures and major enemies and bosses to gather information on its weak points. The scan visor was a vital part of the Metroid Prime trilogy and as mentioned, exploration has always been present in the series. The X-ray visor could potentially return, along with others that could each make a good use of the Wii U controller’s many features.
I feel the Wii U controller could also add a great deal to the puzzle aspect of Metroid, with its gyro sensors and touch screen features. Consider for a moment, a morph ball puzzle in a third dimensional view where the controller is placed flat on a solid surface, or perhaps the player kneels which will activate morph ball mode. Samus has to traverse through a lava filled area with floating platforms that need to be moved in order to progress across. The touch screen could be used to interact with the environment on the small screen to pull platforms around so Samus could cross the area, while avoiding lava plumes as she progresses.
The morph ball would be controlled by the Circle Pads. Everything the player does will be seen on the main TV screen. Once out of the area, the player would simply hold up the Wii U controller to the TV to return to first person mode. The player could also pause the game, briefly stopping the action on the big screen while focusing on the Wii U controller screen to access menus and features such as a map, where you could draw or pinpoint a route.
Imagine a scenario with use of the gyro sensors in the Wii U controller, where the player has to turn switches in order to gain access to new areas, similar to how Samus could unlock doors and elevators in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. A prompt would appear on screen to ask if you want to interact directly with this feature, the player would then be able to turn the controller with 360 degree flexibility and accuracy to complete the required task. At a push you could incorporate voice commands through the built-in microphone and maybe even the camera with augmented reality.
But what if someone would like to use the TV for something other than gaming? Short of telling them to get lost, I feel that all the action of the Wii U Metroid experience could be contained within the controller quite easily. For example, scanning could be done via a menu and touch screen, while morph ball puzzles could be controlled in the same way as suggested above, without the view displaying on the big screen. It would handle like a portable version of Metroid Prime, without the additional features of using two screens. Additional menu’s could be enabled when playing in Wii U or controller mode. There’s certainly a lot of creative ways that the controller could be used to benefit the experience, but could be considered by the fans as a gimmick.
When it comes to the story and plot of the game, there are endless possibilities. Many fans would like to see a game taking place after the events of Metroid Fusion in a 2D side-scrolling format. A heavily rumoured game titled Metroid Dread that was apparently going to release on Nintendo DS was said to fit this criteria but didn’t surface. However I feel such a game would be more suited to the Nintendo 3DS as a 2D side-scroller, much different than what I think could be possible on the Wii U. I feel there is room for another chapter in the series prior to the events of Metroid II: Return of Samus. For the Galactic Federation to send Samus to planet SR388 to eliminate all Metroid life, there has to be a pretty good reason for doing it. Perhaps the game could focus on a terrible event that has affected humans and other species that are part of the Galactic Federation where the Metroids have destroyed colonies under Space Pirate command?
Introducing new characters and expanding the Metroid universe a little, offering reference to the Metroid manga and more of Samus’ back story could be a good idea too. I feel fans should be educated on the back story of Samus through cut scenes similar to that seen in Metroid: Other M. For that reason, D-Rockets would be an excellent choice to provide the cinematic scenes for this HD Metroid experience. Musically, Nintendo should bring back Kenji Yamamoto to provide the soundtrack to the game due to his work on Super Metroid and the Metroid Prime series, offering a part orchestrated, part electronic score, providing brand new themes that will be memorable for years to come, as well as classic themes from previous games that are still memorable today.
This and a million other possibilities can be speculated on, and with the endless amount of ideas that the team at Nintendo could come up with, it’d be unfair to say that this is the direction I want it to take. As long as the experience retains a lot of what I love about the Metroid games, I’m happy with what they throw at me.
Nintendo may feel as if they need to win back the trust of fans after Metroid: Other M, is a first-person adventure Metroid what they want? I would welcome such a move if it was done correctly. I would trust Retro Studios to develop the game and I am sure would do a great job if they were offered it, they’ve clearly proven it with the Metroid Prime Trilogy to me, and I feel they would add an excellent chapter to the Metroid legacy once again.
Darren Kerwin+ Darren is a 26-year old gamer from the United Kingdom, who has a strong interest in video games, writing, socialising and Parsnips. He runs a Metroid fan website called Shinesparkers, which he describes as being his main gaming obsession. He's also written and contributed to several websites and publications. You'll often find him on Twitter talking about random stuff - just smile, nod your head politely, then move on..