It feels like the cycle had repeated for years – because it has. Year after year, fans and gamers clamour to see a new Metroid at E3, fevered in anticipation that hasn’t been rewarded yet. We get big reveals, of course – Super Smash Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox – but that Metroid itch that wasn’t quite scratched by Metroid: Other M is still there.
Luckily, evidence and timing suggests 2015 could be the year. A good place to start is Retro Studios, the studio behind the fantastic Metroid Prime Trilogy. Now, go back to 2013; after their work on Donkey Kong Country Returns for Wii and help on Mario Kart 7 for 3DS, everyone was excited to see their next project. We got it, in the form of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Now, this was a good game (perhaps hurt by the similarity of the recent re-release of its prequel), but I wasn’t the only one who was underwhelmed. We want fresh projects from Nintendo’s western second-party (an anomaly in Nintendo’s empire).
But Retro have been – mainly – quiet since last February’s launch of Tropical Freeze. I say that because nintendolife uncovered job listings from Retro Studios last August. Some of these jobs heavily hinted towards console (and therefore, presumably Wii U) development. For example, the FX Artist listing stated “next-gen shader technical expertise preferred”, while also being able to “produce FX with a strong and appropriate sense of timing, color and drama”. In addition, the Gameplay Engineer role asks for “prior experience working on game-play systems for AAA video games”. This points towards a possible Wii U game; a possible Metroid Wii U game.
Also, a Kotaku interview with Nintendo game developers after E3 last year gave more clues. Shinya Takahashi, who runs Nintendo’s SPD group and would be looking over any possible Metroid game, was asked about the status of Metroid. He gave this response:
…We feel that we do need to take care of both of these styles of play. And the hope is that at some point in the near future we’ll be able to share something about them.
Further on in the same Kotaku interview, Shigeru Miyamoto (who runs Nintendo’s EAD development group) gave this reply when questioned over which type of Metroid he preferred – the 2D or 3D styles:
I have the New Super Mario Bros. series [for 2D], so I like Prime. I think there’s still a lot of new things that could be done with the Prime series.
This revealing interview certainly proves that Metroid is in the minds of Nintendo’s developers. But it brings up the next question over Metroid: Wii U or 3DS? There are fans of both Samus’ 3D and 2D adventures, and that may have had an influence on Other M’s 2D/3D hybrid style back in 2010. As much as a 2D game could be superb, you feel a Wii U Metroid is needed more, however. A space-based shooter that really pushes the system would fill a gap that third-parties have voided on Wii U. Or. Even better, they go back a decade and emulate the dual launch of Metroid Fusion on Game Boy Advance and Metroid Prime on GameCube. A Wii U/3DS duplicate of that would please everyone!
Let’s go back to Retro for a second, however. Often they are – for good reason – associated with any new rumour of a Metroid game. I mean, they made Metroid Prime Trilogy, perhaps the best Metroid games. But could anyone else do it? We know Next Level Games, who were behind Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (one of the 3DS’ many superb games), pitched a Metroid game with a very abstract art style; ultimately, the game was in fact put aside to work on Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. This shows that another developer(s) would and have approached Nintendo with the idea of a new Metroid game.
It may also be a case of caution on Nintendo’s part. Reception to Metroid: Other M, Samus’ last major outing and a collaboration with Team Ninja was mixed to say the least. Nintendo, while partial to a team-up nowadays (Hyrule Warriors, anyone?), may want to approach Metroid more cautiously this time.
So, what other clues do we have of Metroid’s incoming? Well, Nintendo have been teasing us about Samus’ possible return for a while now. Reggie’s talks with queuing Nintendo fans. Reggie’s Metroid pin at VGX in 2013 (above image). The Prime-visor-style intro to their Xenoblade Chronicles X trailer last year, even (what a tease)!
Moreso is Nintendo’s repeated acknowledgement that the series actually exists (sorry, Ice Climbers and, therefore, Josh). The Metroid attraction in Nintendo Land. Super Smash Bros. (Samus is even front and centre on the cover of the brawler). The house of Mario knows we want more from our favourite bounty hunter, and they are dropping breadcrumbs.
Perhaps more importantly, it’s arguable that Nintendo really needs Samus this E3. It’s hard to imagine what other huge hitters Nintendo can bring, especially with The Legend of Zelda for Wii U being delayed out of 2015 AND absent from E3 2015. With the competition bringing out their big guns, Nintendo needs a game to battle against the Destinys, Mass Effects and Star Wars Battlefronts of the world (with those titles all but certainly missing Wii U). As major third-parties almost completely abandon the Wii U, Nintendo has to fill those software genre gaps – as aforementioned, Wii U doesn’t really have a Metroid Prime-type game. Right now, it needs one.
What do you think? Will Nintendo roll out Samus in June, and do they need to? Tell us in the comments!