When asked about what franchises he would most like to see on the Wii U, legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto named Metroid as a favorite choice, and I couldn’t agree more. Although not as much of a blockbuster in terms of sales numbers, Metroid has consistently produced critically acclaimed games one after another. Metroid routinely takes full advantage of Nintendo’s hardware, bringing about some of the best possible experiences on each new console. Super Metroid, Metroid Prime, and Metroid: Other M were all some of the best-looking games on their respective consoles, and some of the best motion control gameplay on the Wii is found in the Metroid Prime Trilogy Edition.
The release of the Wii U is just around the corner, and it won’t be long before all of Nintendo’s major franchises gear up for the next generation. When I look at what the Wii U has to offer, it almost seems as if it was made with Metroid in mind. I believe if the right choices are made, Metroid could see the best entry in its franchise yet on the Wii U. Read on to find out what I want to see in this longstanding franchise’s next installment.
I’ve never been of the mindset that graphics are the most important thing in gaming, but Metroid has always been a franchise that has impressed me with its visuals. When I play Metroid Prime I’m always a little awestruck that this game is now a decade old and still looks pretty good. If it wasn’t for the Wii remote in my hand I would barely remember that Metroid: Other M is a Wii game because its visuals are above and beyond what I’ve become accustomed to on that platform.
The Wii U will be Nintendo’s first HD system, and has been said by some third party developers to be up to as much as 50% more powerful than the current generation of consoles. We’ve heard of multiple titles that will receive their “best-looking version” on the Wii U, but I want more than that out of Metroid Wii U. Metroid has consistently pushed Nintendo’s hardware to the max, and that trend needs to continue. When I play Metroid on the Wii U I want to know that these visuals aren’t something that can be achieved on the PS3 or Xbox360.
Creative Use Of The Gamepad
When the Wii U Gamepad was officially revealed for the first time at E3 2011 my mind immediately flew to Metroid. Since Prime, Metroid has frequently put you inside the helmet of Samus Aran. From beginning functions like Scanning Mode to upgrades like Thermal and X-Ray Vision, the Power Suit’s visor has become an integral part of the 3D Metroid experience. With the Gamepad there’s plenty of new ways they can improve on these ideas. Resident Evil: Revelations for the 3DS had a scanning device called the Genesis which functioned very similar to Samus’ Scanning Mode. In using gyroscope controls to scan rooms for enemies and items I got quite the Metroid vibe. It would be great to see the Gamepad used in a similar fashion, essentially having it become Samus’ visor.
Outside of emulating the Power Suit’s visor the Gamepad’s touch screen has plenty of other ways it can be utilized. Common Metroid elements like the map, inventory, and logbook could all benefit from the Gamepad. Meanwhile, there’s always room for introducing new ideas. For example, the Gamepad’s gyroscope could be used to control Samus in Morph Ball form.
Perhaps the biggest advantage the Wii U Gamepad has to offer Metroid over the Wii remote isn’t its innovation, but its conformity. By that I mean that while many of us enjoyed the motion controls of games like Metroid Prime 3, there are other who simply can’t stand these “point and shoot” style games. The Wii remote didn’t offer any alternative means of taking aim, but the Gamepad has a more traditional dual-analog stick set up in addition to its motion abilities. Those who don’t want to move their controller around in space to take aim shouldn’t have to with the Gamepad.
A Dark And Mature Atmosphere
I remember when Metroid: Other M was first announced at E3, and Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime referred to it as an “edgier” title developed by a team with experience in the “mature” world of gaming. Other M had a decent share of tense and mature moments, but overall it fell short of the mark that I believe the series is capable of reaching. Metroid, moreso than most first party Nintendo titles, is a perfect candidate to provide Nintendo players with a mature experience. And no, that doesn’t mean it has to be rated M and have lots of blood and swearing. It means it has to be a title that naturally draws older, more mature gamers in. It has to be an experience that feels like it was really created by a team that knows what they’re doing on a professional level, and knows how to cater to an audience that wants a deeper gaming experience.
As I said before, at times I got a Metroid-esque vibe from Resident Evil: Revelations, and I feel like Metroid can take more away from that than just ideas for how to improve visor utilization. As I discussed in my article on Revelation’s balance of old and new gameplay, the game blends environments, enemies, and story elements perfectly to provide an experience that keeps players on the edge of their seats, and Metroid can do the same.
Metroid has long employed a “me against the world” style, in which Samus is often seen as a lone bounty hunter taking on entire armies. While Metroid was never meant to be a survival-horror game like Resident Evil, the old formula could afford to be infused with a little more urgency and distress. In nearly ever Metroid title, some brief explanation is given for why Samus has to collect all of her upgrades again, but the player rarely feels like item recovery is a matter of life and death. Metroid Fusion for the GBA was the only title where I really felt like there was an air of fear in Metroid, with the deadly SA-X hunting down Samus with her own weapons. I’ve never felt that same kind of tense, driving energy in any 3D Metroid, and that needs to change for Metroid Wii U.
I believe that the current chronology of Metroid has actually set things in motion for a plot that goes hand in hand with these ideas. Early in the franchise, there was a clear sense of good versus evil, with the Samus working for the Galactic Federation to destroy the evil Space Pirates. As the series has progressed, the line between good and evil has thinned to the point where Samus has to question just who she is working for.
Other M, which is currently the second to last game chronologically, features an illegal operation to create biological weapons. Those who worked on the Bottle Ship went as far as to clone genetically altered Metroids who no longer have a weakness to extreme cold. In order to control these weaponized Metroids, they even re-created Mother Brain, an artificial intelligence entity who was responsible for the genocide of the Chozo on planet Zebes. While the Galactic Federation officially voted against this program, the funding had to have come from somewhere. In the game’s ending, Federation soldiers arrive on the spot just after Samus has cleaned up shop, and attempt to take the primary witness into their custody and blackmail Samus into secrecy about the issue.
Fusion, which occurs after Other M and is currently the last game in the chronology, again sees a Federation vessel performing genetic experiments with biological weapons in mind, including Metroids. This time around the project seems to be officially sanctioned by the Federation, showing that they’ve learned nothing from the disaster on the Bottle Ship. By the game’s ending, Samus is not on good terms with the Federation. Defying their orders, she destroys the research lab, and the dangerous X Parasites, which the Federation hoped to capture and weaponize, along with it. As Samus flies away, she fears that the Federation will not understand the choice she made, and that she will be held legally accountable for her actions.
What better way is there to achieve that “me against the world” feeling that Metroid has perpetuated than for Metroid Wii U to pit Samus against the all-powerful Galactic Federation? It’s time for Samus to decide who the “good guys” really are, and just who she’s been helping all this time.
An Addictive Online Multiplayer Mode
One of the biggest improvements the Wii U is supposed to have over its predecessor is its online capabilities. Given that today’s market practically necessitates that all FPS experiences need some kind of a multiplayer mode to be highly successful, it’s high time Metroid gets on board. Previous Metroid titles like Hunters for the DS and Prime 2 had multiplayer, but nothing that draws a crowd like any of the top-selling FPS titles. Metroid is always going to be far more focused on the actual campaign itself, but it should still have an online experience that keeps players coming back for more.
When I think of Metroid’s overworld, I think of interesting and diverse environments. Volcanic craters, jungles riddled with the ruins of ancient alien civilizations, poisonous swamps, and technologically advanced Space Pirate fortresses all come to mind. The Metroid universe offers all kinds of different environments to base multiplayer maps off of and provide players with an interesting and addictive online experience.
A marriage between the Wii U and Metroid is a match made in heaven. Everything from the system’s processing power to its unique controller and upgraded online experience caters to what we’ve seen from Metroid in the past. Metroid has long been one of my favorite franchises, and the Wii U just allows it to become that much better in every way. With Metroid Wii U, I’m hoping for a game that really pushes the limits of the Wii U and provides me with the kind of gaming experience that makes me not want to set my controller down till the last enemy has fallen.