While perusing my inbox the other day, a glorious word caught my eye: Metroid. It’s a word associated with exploration, atmosphere, and bounty hunters, and something the world has been missing for quite a while now. When I saw the message’s sender was Nintendo itself, I directed my gaze to the rest of the subject line, and, wouldn’t you know it, I was disappointed. Instead of “Metroid Zero Mission Now Available on Wii U” or “Metroid Prime Coming to Wii U”, it read “Metroid Fans: check out these new retro-style side scrollers”. Hell, I would have even taken a port of Metroid: Other M. Instead, I was greeted with shameless plugs for Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition and Shovel Knight. Two admittedly brilliant games, yes, but not quite the Metroid title I was looking for. Nintendo’s been neglecting fans of Metroid for what feels like forever now, and briefly acknowledging that fanbase only to shamelessly direct their attention to two vaguely similar indie titles is not the way to keep everyone happy.
If anything, it’s worrying. “Metroidvania” has become one of the most popuplar sub-genres of the modern age, yet we haven’t seen a new 2D Metroid title since Metroid Zero Mission in 2004. We’ve had several 3D Metroid games in the meantime, but after the tepid response to 2010’s Other M we’ve heard absolutely nothing about a new installment. Nintendo has subtly pushed the franchise and its characters into the public eye a few times since then, just as they did today, but every time an announcement feels like it’s just around the corner we’re instead met with games like Yoshi’s New Island and Tomodachi Life. Nintendo should be delighted to have influenced great new games like Guacamelee!, but they should also be looking to push the genre forward, blazing further down the trail they created back when Metroid launched in 1986. A content Nintendo is a vulnerable Nintendo, and we all know that’s a dangerous position for that company to be in right now. Whatever form a new Metroid game must take is less important than it being made in the first place, and this token acknowledgement only makes the public more anxious. I’ll play other games when I want to play other games, but when you mention Metroid, I want Metroid.
So is this Nintendo telling Metroid fans not to expect a new title anytime soon? Not quite. This seems more like an attempt to placate a fan base that grows more restless with each passing conference and Nintendo direct – a particularly half-baked attempt considering we’re still discontent despite seeing Samus in Smash Bros. every other week. It’s tiring to beat the Metroid drum all day, but we must persevere and pray that, somewhere in the deep, dark depths of space, someone at Nintendo will decide to defrost our beloved franchise.