Dear Nintendo, It’s Time to Reboot Metroid on the Wii U

Samus Aran

With any long-tenured series, developers eventually begin to run out of ideas for innovation. Whether it’s story or gameplay, developers find themselves unable to continue creating a fresh gaming experience inside the already-established guidelines of the video game universe that they’ve created. As innovation slips, so do game sales, and eventually it is no longer profitable to continue adding to the franchise.

An increasingly popular alternative to abandoning a stagnant franchise is rebooting. As aging IPs like Tomb Raider and Devil May Cry have recently shown, starting over from square one can give developers a chance to take a game in new directions that would not have been possible otherwise. By rebooting, developers can start fresh in terms of gameplay, story, and character development without completely ditching their well-recognized characters and game worlds.

With many of its characters and franchises approaching the ripe old age of 30, Nintendo has more well-established and beloved characters than any other video game company. While this gives Nintendo a rich library of first party content, it also means that many of Nintendo’s go-to franchises are at risk of lacking innovation as they age. Perhaps more so than any other Nintendo series, Metroid is primed (pun intended) for a reboot.

Super MEtroidMetroid began as a very gameplay-fueled series with little story needed to motivate the player onward. As the game market has evolved to place a higher emphasis on the importance of story-telling, Metroid has slowly followed suit. The increased story-telling helped to spice up Samus Aran’s adventures for a time, but it has become clear over time that the members of the Metroid development team have completely painted themselves into a corner creatively.

The original trilogy of Metroid games seemed to have wrapped up what little story that there was quite nicely. Samus had severely crippled the Space Pirate army, destroyed their base on planet Zebes, and completely exterminated the life-sucking parasitic Metroids. Due to there being an unspecified amount of time in between the first and second Metroid games, the Prime Trilogy was able to find a home without directly contradicting the established canon.

Metroid Fusion was tacked onto the end of the timeline with the presence of Metroids (believed to be extinct) being explained by the fact that the Galactic Federation was illegally cloning them. The most recent title, Metroid: Other M, found itself wedged between the third (Super Metroid) and fourth (Metroid Fusion) games, yet it also contained the monsters for which the series was named. To no one’s surprise, the “twist” in the story was that the Galactic Federation was illegally cloning Metroids.

When a series uses the exact same plot twist in two games that are supposed to occur consecutively in the overall chronology, there’s a problem. Metroids have de-evolved from an interesting and feared enemy to a creature that’s just slapped onto the end of every game because the developers feel obligated to include them for their name’s sake. There’s no real room to move forward with the story without ditching Metroids altogether, and it appears that the developers are unwilling to do that.

Thumbs downThen there’s the issue of Samus herself. For years Samus served as a mostly-silent protagonist, but series creator Yoshio Sakamoto decided to give a voice and a more fleshed out past to Samus in Other M. Unfortunately, the majority of the dedicated fanbase was extremely unhappy with his depiction of Samus.

The silent hero who took on entire planets single-handedly seemed entirely dependent on the approval of her superior officer and seemed to only have two ranges of emotion: painfully dull or on the verge of a mental breakdown. If Nintendo chose to give Samus a voice in future games, they would either have to ignore the way she was depicted in Other M completely (at which point they might as well just reboot her character anyway) or try to build her personality based off a depiction that most fans hated.

By rebooting Metroid, Nintendo could breath new life into a dying franchise. With a fresh start, Nintendo could make Metroids themselves relevant again, give Samus a proper personality (or choose to return her to silence), and open the story up to new directions that weren’t possible before. A reboot gives Nintendo the chance to give longtime fans of the series the proper new Metroid experience that they deserve while attracting an all-new fanbase.

In the past, I expressed my opinion that Metroid and the Wii U are a perfect match, and I still believe that. Nintendo needs exclusive “hardcore” titles for their struggling console, and a rebooted Metroid fits the bill nicely. How about it, Nintendo? Time to give Metroid a clean slate to work with.

  • Tensei

    I agree somewhat. I believe if the Metroid series was handled right, it could easily rival and surpass Halo.

    Make the productions values really high ala Tomb Raider. I want deep characterisations of Samus and other characters. Samus should be a female Batman. Make her a cold unrelenting ruthless killer, but show the pathos of losing her parents to Space Pirates so people can emphasise why she is that way. Scrap or re-purpose Ridley. Make the space pirates and other aliens races more distinct with memorable personalities (like mass effect).

    Most importantly, (and probably controversially) add multi-player. Make the multiplayer really innovative and something only Nintendo could come up with.

    Couple this with an epic story (i.e Samus vs Space Pirates and metroids but then must bring down the corrupt Galactic Federation etc etc) and innovative metroidvania gameplay.

    All this combined would be a strong systemseller for the west.

    • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

      I don’t think Samus should have any characterization whatsoever, outside of “deadly, efficient, and mysterious,” and the basic stuff from her history. We are Samus: we need to be the ones to imagine her character.

      • Tensei

        Why do we have to be Samus? Was Batman’s characterisation in the Arkham games unappealing? Doesnt Nintendo already have enough silent protagonists? If the Metroid series is inspired by Alien, why cant Samus be just as memorable as Ripley?

        I think lack of characterisation is a fan preference by conservatism. One that only traps Nintendo by its legacy.

        • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

          The real question is: why does Samus need characterization, and does giving her characterization make Metroid a better/more accepted game?

          If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” then I think pursuing characterization is probably unhealthy for the franchise.

          • Mystery Mystery

            I would think the real issue here is that they portrayed Samus in the wrong way. What made the original games so cool was the exploration, but why can’t we have exploration along with a deeper story and more showing off why Samus was so cool in the first place?
            Samus storming in to save the day? Yes, please.
            Samus storming in just to get pinned down by a beast and having to have someone else save her? No thanks.

          • Tensei

            The original article talks about reinvigorating Metroid series with creativity. Frankly by your logic why would you ever do anything new. For example, part of the draw of playing Batman was watching him interact with the Joker.

            Wouldnt you want to see how Samus would interact if she met the Pirate that killed her parents.

            Like MM says it is a matter of portrayal. Samus can still be a mysterious woman of few words while still having a voice and personality.

            • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

              That’s part of the draw for a Batman game…because it’s part of the draw of the characters themselves (who already existed in other dialogue-driven media).

              We’re talking about the Metroid series, where “character interactions” were never part of the gig originally, and history demonstrates that whenever they’ve appeared,they haven’t expanded the series to a wider audience.

              • Tensei

                It is no secret that Batman’s gameplay was inspired by Metroid (and for the better). Why cant Metroid borrow some of Batman’s more cinematic elements.

                The original article is talking about a reboot. Tomb Raider 2013 is very different from the original game. Reboots are inspired by the original but dont have to strictly adhere to its legacy (otherwise why reboot). So I dont think that argument holds water.

                And I do believe it would expand the audience.

              • DementedAvenger27

                maybe because they were poorly executed by out of touch japanese devs?

              • http://www.facebook.com/anthony.pappas Anthony Pappas

                I agree 100% with Alex here. I started playing with Super Metroid, and I appreciated that the Prime series continued to focus on the game play hook of exploration. Samus is at her best when she’s scouring an abandoned planet, and the plot is best revealed through lore she extracts from monuments and restored data banks. I’m not opposed to her bumping into refugees or adventurers or dealing with merchants on an orbiting trading station if she has to, but I think she should always be itching to get back on her own, to her mission–only nodding or shaking her head so that NPCs will have learned to deal with her without trying to communicate: “Haha, oh, shhh, quiet, here comes Samus Aran…. Hold that story until I get back, I’m just gonna sell her some missiles, gimme two minutes.”

            • Gilbert

              Samus has met the Space Pirate that killed her parents, it was Ridley.

          • DementedAvenger27

            why? That’s kind of cliche for Nintendo. Almost none of their characters have personality. Batman was used as an example above. Why can’t she be cold and deadly and yet have a personality? The tough, relentless killer is passe and cliche and getting annoying. Look at the new Tomb Raider. They made Lara Croft a scrappy, tough girl who can take care of herself, but at the same time has emotions. Other M attempted this with varying results. But how many “ruthless” killers do we need in the gaming world? Why can’t she be human at the same time?

            • http://www.gengame.net/ Alex Plant

              You’ll note I intentionally left out the word “ruthless.”

            • Aiddon

              the personality I can guess is probably “Paragon Commander Shepard.” And I have one word to describe that: BORING. I am sick and tired of escapist player avatars. I want CHARACTERS, not human-shaped cars for me to occupy.

          • Ghabulous Ghoti

            If the answer to the first question is “no”, then whoever answered needs a lesson on Yes or No Questions vs. Open Ended Questions.

    • Matthew Wesley

      Man, she already is a stoic, take-no-prisoner badass. They don’t need to spend up to 50 million on a game that’s never made nearly that much. Metroid is a solid franchise that needs a solid dev. team, and they have it with Retro. There is no need for a huge budget like that.

  • Aiddon

    and this is what I have to say: NO. The whole POINT of Metroid is that it’s the life story of Samus. The only way you could really reboot the series is when, well, Samus gives up the bounty hunting gig and that can only happen when Samus comes full circle as a character. And that probably won’t happen anytime soon. Rebooting is just lazy and Nintendo never, EVER does takes the easy way out. The Tomb Raider reboot was…okay, but it’s nothing groundbreaking in terms of writing or game design. And that’s before you get into the jarring dissonance when gameplay and characterization clash. As for the crappy DMC reboot, the less said about it the better (mostly because NT are complete morons when it comes to writing or designing)

    And that’s before you get into characterization. Samus is essentially Nintendo’s Batman: she’s driven by a SEVERE tragedy that defined her purpose early in life, as such she’s driven by that same tragedy and the load of angst she’s built up over the years whether it be the scorched earth treatment of her home, her complex relationship with Adam, or just the loads of people who have died alongside her. Which…this would logically lead to how she is in Other M. Mopey, introspective, and even self-loathing at times, so she’s a bit messed up as a human being. Which is how MOST characters are.

    • Erimgard

      Using the exact same plot in both Other M and Fusion is the definition of “taking the easy way out.” Creating a new interesting story from scratch requires more creativity than rehashing.

      • Aiddon

        …no it isn’t. Mostly because, let’s face it, Samus’ origins and journey are kind of intrinsic to her entire history. Reboots are just a lazy, gutless way for people out of ideas to try and pretend like the exact same bloody thing is somehow fresh.

        • Erimgard

          You’ve been playing some terrible reboots then. Starting fresh but incorporating similar themes to the original series gives them the ability to keep the same intrinsic values without being limited by a story in which all the Metroids are extinct (and have been brought back via cloning twice).

          • Aiddon

            yeah, let’s pretend that’s what reboots are meant for….time’s up, back to reality now. Reboots are a lazy deterrent for the inevitable. Fresh paint does not change what a house’s structure actually is. Putting on new clothes does change a person. There’s really no point to a reboot of Metroid other than pandering to a few people stamping their feet.

          • Nevan Lowe

            or we can simply have them discover a new planet that Metroids are on, or something, anything is better than wiping out the awesome franchise we currently have (minus other M of course). Why hasn’t anyone else thought of that?

            • Aiddon

              I think the whole point of having the Metroids in Fusion was as one last glance before they took Samus in another direction (again, Samus is THE Metroid) with different threats. Other M had the metroids due to Other M and Fusion essentially being separate acts of a story.

        • http://www.facebook.com/DarthDiclonius Alexander Tischler

          Based on this statement I must question if you ever even played the original Tomb Raider games. The new Tomb Raider is a complete revamp of the series. It brought in a new story, new origins, and a new Lara. Reboots aren’t lazy. They’re a way for creative artists to start a fresh story. Why do you think comics are occasionally rebooted? You can only do so much with a character before you’ve jumped the shark.

          • Aiddon

            eh, it was alright. I just found it hilarious how the writing was such a bragging point for the team, but ultimately it merely achieved narrative basics. Though this is Rhianna Pratchett after all and she doesn’t exactly have a stellar track record.

            • DementedAvenger27

              the writing wasn’t stellar, but they def. brought out a more human side in her. which I like. not all reboots are junk. some are, but not all and I don’t think the Tomb Raider reboot was junk. I think the metroid series needs to get away from the metroids. It can be called Metroid and not have them in the game. Or maybe they should call it Aran, or something completely different. the series needs evolution, not rebooting, so I agree with you there.

              • Aiddon

                They did get away from the Metroids. Prime 2 was about the Ing, while Fusion was about the X (though they did blow up both potential enemies at the climaxes of their games.) Heck, even Prime Hunters had a villain who barely involved the Metroids.

                And then there’s an interesting piece of lore that came up in Fusion. “Metroid” is the Chozo word for “ultimate warrior.” And who is the ultimate warrior in the series? SAMUS. The whole point of Fusion was to get away from the Metroids and introduce new threats, taking Samus into new directions.

                • Erimgard

                  And yet they still felt the need to include Metroids. Not that it was a bad thing then, since having cloned Metroids actually was a decent plot twist, but now that they’ve rehashed it again, it’s pretty apparent Nintendo feels that they can’t have Metroid games without Metroids.

                  • DementedAvenger27

                    Hate to stereotype but they need more Western blood. Retro needs more creative control outside of Myamoto and his team. They could make some amazing storylines with this lore that really opens up the Chozo.

                • DementedAvenger27

                  yep. Fusion was my favorite game of the series. Hell, that’s when Samus started her deep inner monologues (which most people give Other M crap about). They should continue that path. Samus having metroid DNA in her would be a fantastic story line to go through. Maybe X was the actual destroyer of the Chozo and they tried using the Metroid to combat them. The one thing I love about Nintendo is their lore is so deep it provides amazing stories. They just seem to rarely utilize it.

                  • Aiddon

                    actually that WAS the story of the X (minus wiping out the Chozo). They were an extremely dangerous viral life form that could wipe out populations in a short amount of time thus the metroids were designed to be their apex predator.

                    • DementedAvenger27

                      they should expand on it in a 3D game. I’d love to hear more about the Chozo even flashing back to their home world when they were thriving or meeting one a la Mass Effect 3.

  • Nevan Lowe

    I don’t want a clean slate. What Nintendo can do in a 3 step plan is:

    A: Remove Other M from the Timeline.

    B: Make more prequels

    C: Instead of Metroids returning because of the GF cloning, maybe Samus just finds a new planet that has Metroids

    Making a clean slate does remove all the bad of the series. But it also removes the good. Lets see what we are removing if we reboot:

    Metroid 1, this was a good game

    Metroid Prime, unbelievably great, possibly the greatest game ever

    Metroid Prime 2, great sequel, and did exceptionally well at not rehashing

    Metroid Prime 3, great sequel, and did exceptionally well at not rehashing

    Metroid 2, good game, gave the Metroids new forms

    Super Metroid, also great, took what Metroid 1 did and made it better, with bigger and awesomer world, and bosses

    Other M, deserves to be utterly destroyed. The only thing I think that can justify a reboot

    Fusion, haven’t played.

    Other than Other M, I don’t think anything can justify a reboot. Nintendo can just like, have them discover a new planet that Metroids are on, or something, anything is better than wiping out the awesome franchise we currently have (minus other M of course).

    • Erimgard

      That’s the thing though, it’s not like rebooting means you can’t go back and ever play the old series again. Nintendo starts fresh and makes a new legacy of great games alongside the old one.

      As for finding a new planet full of Metroids, I suppose it’s possible, but it wouldn’t really fit in well. Metroids aren’t a naturally occurring species. They were a lab experiment by the Chozo, and the Chozo are all dead. The planet they were created on was hunted to extinction by Samus and all the planets they were taken to were pretty much wiped clean as well.

      • Nevan Lowe

        What if there were other Chozo Planets infested with X Parasite. Then the Chozo could just use teleporter thingy, and put Metroids on a new planet. (When I talk about the timeline being good, I’m automatically excluding Other M), a reboot would have to make a new timeline, and I don’t like the idea of rebooting. It destroys what made a series, then makes a new timeline that we don’t know is good.

    • Aiddon

      Or, y’know, they could just pick things up with post-Fusion and set Samus against a new threat.

    • DementedAvenger27

      no more prequels. They should pick up after Fusion. Fusion was an amazing game and started pointing Metroid in a new direction.

      • Nevan Lowe

        Think about Metroid Prime and say that again. Fusion may be good, but if you look at Metroid Prime you CAN’T say they weren’t good.

        • DementedAvenger27

          I would never say the Primes games weren’t good. I just want them to advance the story.

          • Nevan Lowe

            I do too. I also want Metroid Prime 4. We both can agree, wiping out the entire franchise is NOT the solution.

          • K2L

            Same here. But hey, interquels (which the Primes as well as Other M actually are) are still preferable to ALWAYS going backwards in time (looking at you, ALTTP, OOT, TMC and SS; seriously, WTF is wrong with Zelda?)

  • Redlink444

    The bigger issue is that Nintendo needs to stay true to Nintendo. Which means silent, mysterious protagonist. There has been a lot of issues regarding Nintendo’s lack of “characterization”. However, Metroid, Zelda, and the likes all already have this. They have made an art depicting a character without opening them like a book.

    Compare this to seeing a movie before you read a book that it is based off of. You can still get the effect in deeper context but your imagination is crowded by someone else’s. And Nintendo has proven over and over again that voice and dialogue aren’t need to make a story great, all that is needed is a great imagination.

  • http://www.facebook.com/coolkangarooo Gabriel Gomez

    Did this website not post something about making Samus feel lonely and like as if the need to make her look like as if she is against the world and everybody is around her is her enemy? The Galactic Federation suddenly seems more cryptic than what it appears to be on the outside? Like it’s Samus vs the world? Samus alone in her journey? Needs to pick between being alone or letting the GF do what they want? Or maybe it was just me, but I don’t think the Metroid series needs a reboot. I think it just needs to add something… I just don’t know what yet. BTW I liked Other M. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/coolkangarooo Gabriel Gomez

      Now I understand why this website gets some people mad, they talk good about one thing and they turn on it a few articles later. Maybe it was different authors for both articles.

      • Erimgard

        I’m not really sure what article you’re referring to. Regardless, I don’t see how that topic goes against this one at all.

    • Aiddon

      I just get the feeling that this “reboot Metroid!” attitude reads more like “I don’t want Other Me to exist!”

      • DementedAvenger27

        i agree.

      • Erimgard

        As the writer of this article, I can assure you that I bought Other M on day one, played it non-stop till I beat it, and then played it again to get 100% on Hard Mode.

        That doesn’t mean I enjoyed the direction they took the story.

      • Erimgard

        As the writer of this article, I can assure you that I bought Other M on day one, played it non-stop till I beat it, and then played it again to get 100% on Hard Mode.

        That doesn’t mean I enjoyed the direction they took the story.

  • TwilightSword

    I wouldn’t mind seeing another Metroid Prime type game (mayhaps this is Retro’s current project, hopefully). There was a reference to “Metroid Dread” in Prime 3. They could do something with that involving the space pirates and metroids on another planet or planets. That way the Prime story could be continued without Phazon being involved. I am a little biased, though, as the Prime Trilogy are my favorite games that don’t have Zelda or Xenoblade in the title.

  • avalpsychicguy

    I think a good placement for the next title would be immediately following the events of Metroid Prime 3. Those of us who completed the game with 100% pickups were treated to a cliffhanging special ending, showing a mysterious ship following Samus’s ship into hyperspace (or warp speed, or whatever they call it in that universe). I kind of really want to know who that was, why they were following Samus, and WHAT THE FREAK HAPPENS!! They can’t just show us a suspenseful special ending and not elaborate on it EVER! Satisfy my curiosity, Nintendo! NOW!!! :D

  • zdog

    Ben, I agree that Metroid and Wii U are the perfect match, but not in the form of reboot. I would say it is much more REDO. Lets face it, Other M robbed everyone of the metroid we all wanted and thought we were going to get. Don’t reboot, redo and make the HD game that everyone wants. It doesn’t have to be retro, infact I’d be disappointed if that turned out to be their project. Nintendo doesn’t need to start over, they just need to do it right.

  • mackalackadancka

    Why reboot the series when they had five awesome sidescrollers and three great POVs?? I’ve only played a little of Other M, and it’s nowhere near series-destroying terrible.
    Here’s an idea: Metroid Prime 4 or the LONG-rumored Metroid Dread. No reboot needed.

  • Deborah King

    Enough of this reboot bullshit. if you, as the creator can’t move the story forward, it simply means you have to give it a rest and come back later to it. Reboots don’t solve anything. if they did, comic books would be not be the bloated, dry and idiotic cash milking industry it is now.

  • K2L

    Easy solution. Provide a chronological gap between Fusion and the next game. Solve the plot issues in the first half or third, and the rest of the adventure can focus on something entirely new. I was never a fan on rebooting franchises because they can go either very well or very wrong, but the results are always an extreme. DmC and Tomb Raider both suffered badly because of this. Mortal Kombat managed to restart without disregarding any games, good or bad, and it worked masterfully.

  • Griffion

    I really don’t know what they should do. I’m not the biggest metriod fan, but a reboot sounds reasonable, but now that Wii U is out that can give them the opportunity to innovate, and not have to do a reboot. What ever happens with metroid, I hope in the end it is the right decision.

  • http://www.facebook.com/doug.morey Doug Morey

    I STILL can’t understand the hate at Other M? What was bad about it exactly?
    The fact that it basically explains and sets up Fusion? This needed to be done because the story of Metroid 3 basically sets it up that Metroids and Space Pirates, including Ridley, are all dead. Then they show back up in Fusion with no explanation? Other M was great in explaining why that happened?
    How Samus sounded? You mean because a girl who witnessed her parents killed by space pirates and was raised by Chozos (not humans) can’t be an antisocial person that doesn’t know or understand how to interact around people? Again, Other M did great at explaining this as well. (You know if you actually took the time to UNDERSTAND the damn story) She has a complicated relationship with Adam because he is the only to care for like a father, since she never had one. And since she has been emotionally scarred and pretty much taking missions of isolation, she should totally know how to act around people.
    Or maybe the fact that they used the same story twice? Not really. The story of Other M was really more about her past and explaining the connection between her and Adam as well as, again, explaining how the story leads into Fusion, the fact that Metroids are cloned is a fact that Samus probably already knew going into Fusion but wasn’t expressed. I can on and one defending this game because, unlike PRIME 2 or HUNTERS, it actually had a story that made sense and wasn’t a complete bore fest.
    Now on to the point I WAS going to make: Metroid does not need a reboot. There is nothing wrong with the storyline and, as Retro proved, you can have a game take place anywhere in the history (Like Zelda) and still have it be a great game. Also there is plenty of story that can come AFTER Fusion since she now has a reason to go after the GF for trying to kill her. Not to mention that there is no telling no far the experiments on Metroid clones go (remember: Prime was an experiment of Metroid DNA) so with enough care, we can still have plenty of Metroid games that can do both lore and gameplay, can incorporate new ideas as well as keep the stables of the series intact.
    Now, let all naysayers STFU and THINK! That is all.

  • CarEnthusiast

    i would rename the whole series and call it: Samus Aran – Bounty Huntress or something like that and drop the metroid name completely.

  • ibis

    I agree 100% it needs to be new and fresh. and they have many directions to go in. they could work of off other M and Fusion. Have the federation be the villians trying to extract Metroid DNA from Samus. She will have to gain new ablities a hole new suit maybe even a new weapon type (Whip maybe) that works with her arm canon. The game will need to be more vicious and dark. The environment and the enemy must tell the story (let us have the imagination on who Samus is and how she acts).I would like to see the game be hard and a fight for survival on a gorgeous non linear, multi dimensional planet. also samus does not need groups of people with her, she is at her best when she is alone exploring a planet. But these just my ideas.

    I have feeling that there will not be a Metroid game for awhile. Nintendo will probably play it conservative since they lost money most likely with Other M (i do not no the facts, it was a great game, gamplay was a step in the right direction the story thing has to be thrown out) the next Metroid will be basic 2d side scrolling with some 3D on the 3DS i am guessing.

  • 1232233

    Another zero mission then? No thanks.