Other Other M
The Wii U has officially launched in North America, and though it doesnt hit with an absolute deluge of games, it had a fairly respectable number of launch titles. But still, despite launching with another New Super Mario Bros. game, other major Nintendo franchises were MIA.
For instance, the only taste of Metroid we have on the system is in Nintendo Land, and thats far from a full release. But while a Metroid game on the Wii U seems inevitable, the direction of the franchise is anything but certain. Its somehow been a staggering 10 years since Metroid Prime took the franchise 3D but only two since Metroid: Other M shifted the series focus more towards character-driven narrative. We wouldnt necessarily call Other M a misstep, but it definitely makes us wonder whats next for Samus. So, here are 10 things we think Metroid needs to deliver in order to succeed on the Wii U.
Adapt Metroid to the modern gaming landscape
Now that the Wii U can compete with other current-gen consoles, its time to upgrade from Other Ms simplistic Wiimote controls and Primes aging mechanics. Sure, the motion controls implemented in Metroid Prime: Trilogy actually functioned amazingly well, but if the game really wants to move forward it needs to abandon them. If Nintendo wants to capture a broader audience, theyll need to deliver on hardcore gamers unspoken expectations, with full-analog controls and full utilization of the Wii U GamePad.
But we want them to evolve even more. Why not implement a BioShock-esque upgrade system that allows players to strategically invest in their favorite beams? Or perhaps give Samus some sort of regenerating health to help maintain the games atmosphere? Without changing to meet the standards of a new decade of gaming, Metroid risks feeling dated and irrelevant. Change is scary, but also necessary.
but dont turn Metroid into a first-person shooter
Yeah yeah, we know we just finished advocating for more accessible controls and used dirty phrases like broader audience, but that doesnt mean we want Nintendo to turn Metroid into Call of Duty. While certain concessions like dual-analog controls just make sense, kowtowing to the collective whims of some mysterious target demographic would spell the death of Metroids unique appeal. We want/> backtracking fueled by item acquisition. We want extended exploration and puzzle solving. We even want that sense of isolation conveyed in Metroids earliest (and most beloved) games.
In short: we want Metroid Prime back. Its not that we didnt enjoy Other Ms bloated cast or Corruptions multitude of new ideas. Its just that Prime epitomizes everything that makes Metroid, well, Metroid. Nintendo doesnt need to erase the past decade of the franchises history (Echoes dark world was actually pretty cool), but a back-to-basics approach could help preserve the essence of the franchise.
Make the in-game map optional
Speaking of the early games, longtime fans know darn well that the first two Metroid games did not provide players with a map, which made exploration feel that much more challenging and rewarding. Ever since, industrious modders have created no map hacks that allow players to--you guessed it--remove all forms of guidance from the more modern Metroid games (basically Super Metroid and beyond). Going in blind has become a point of pride for hardcore players, so while this clearly wouldnt appeal to all players, its something Nintendo should embrace as fan service for the truly devoted.
And hey, if Nintendos feeling extra ambitious, maybe it could borrow a page from Dark Souls book and implement a hint system that allows players to leave asynchronous notes for each other. Not that the next Metroid should be as difficult as Dark Souls. Come on, we wouldnt wish that on you guys.
Turn the GamePad screen into a sci-fi multi-tool
Seriously, the possibility are endless: a 3D map that players can manipulate by hand, a secondary visor display for alternate vision modes, a one-touch inventory system--the GamePads screen is basically one step away from being a real-life Pip-Boy 3000. It couldnt possibly be a better match for a science fiction universe.
True, the idea of placing the in-game map on the GamePad is already becoming clich, but it just makes so much sense it hurts, especially if the game world is one giant interconnected area rather than a series of more discrete locations (HINT HINT). Its not only useful, it actually makes the entire world feel more believable.
Deliver a souped-up version of Hunters multiplayer
Outside of the single-player campaign, the GamePads screen would actually be a perfect match for a next-gen version of Metroid Prime: Hunters multiplayer, which used the DSs two screens to provide a unique interface for each of the seven characters. With a stunning 26 maps, seven modes, and different special weapons and alternate forms for every character, Hunters was both ambitious and remarkably fun. The only problem? Only four players could compete per match. Also, playing online on the DS. So, uh, two problems.
But never fear: the Wii Us online capabilities far outstrip those of the DS (or even the Wii, for that matter), so Hunters multiplayer could finally get the full treatment it deserves. This could be Nintendos chance to inject something genuinely fresh and distinctly Nintendo into the online shooter space, which desperately needs a shot in the armsorry.
...or ditch multiplayer altogether
We genuinely believe that a Metroid-flavored online shooter could be excellent, but you know what? We could live without it. The single-player campaign is far, far more important to us, and if we had to choose between a decent campaign with an enjoyable multiplayer component and truly remarkable campaign that stands alone, wed choose the latter 11 out of 10 times. When publishers force their developers to include multiplayer in a game that really doesnt call for it, gamers can always, always tell. And we will always be a little salty about it.
There are only so many resources to go around, guys. Follow the BioShock model and use them wisely. In the words of Ron Swanson, dont half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.
Keep Samus classy, brave, and bold
Part of the reason no one seemed too keen on Other Ms story: it portrayed longtime heroine Samus Aran as petulant and incapable, two adjectives that wouldnt have appeared within 100 miles of her name prior to that game. But Metroid has a bit of a sordid history when it comes to its leading lady, even before Other M turned the brave bounty hunter in our minds into the fragile malcontent on the screen (see: Justin Bailey).
Samus was one of the earliest strong female leads in gaming, and if theres one thing gaming culture needs, its more strong female characters. There are already more than enough game babes for us to ogle. Nintendo needs to seize this opportunity to recast Samus as the capable, nuanced character she deserves to be.
Scale back Other Ms narrative elements
Weve already expressed our deep appreciation for Primes heavily adventure-influenced gameplay, but as it turns out, we love its approach to storytelling just as much. In Prime, atmosphere is king. Rather than burdening players with endless exposition, it simply lets the world speak for itself. The results are tense and mysterious and oddly inviting, all while allowing us to simply fill in the blanks for ourselves.
Compared to the subtle elegance of Prime, Other Ms overwrought narrative feels ham-fisted and intrusive. Obviously its a very different sort of game with a very specific story to tell--which, you know, is fine we guess--but its insistence on bludgeoning players with obvious plot points detracted from the lonely platforming that used to define the franchise. Plus, the story just wasnt that great. If Nintendo wants its next Metroid to succeed, its going to need to do some serious soul searching.
Put the series back in Retro Studios hands
Sorry, Team Ninja. Its nothing personal. As much as we picked on Other M in this feature, it really could have been much, much worse. Its just that, well, we feel like Retro Studios has a stronger grasp on the fundamental elements that create Metroids magic: its focus on exploration, its solo adventuringyou know, all the stuff we just spent 1,600 words describing. We probably could have saved everyone a bunch of time if we had just put this entry first
But anyways! Assuming theyre not working on some other super secret project, Retro Studios has exactly the kind of track record wed want behind the next Metroid game. Mario Kart 7, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and four previous Metroid games? Thats experience we can believe in. And hey, theyve gotta be working on something for the Wii Uright?
What do you want from Metroid Wii U?
Do our hopes and dreams align with yours? Do you feel the franchise peaked with Prime? Are you an Other M apologist? Let us know if you agree with our list, and feel free to comment with your own thoughts!
While Metroid Wii U is still just speculation, weve got reviews of many of Wii Us actual games that totally exist for real! Be sure to check out our reviews of ZombiU, Darksiders II Wii U, and Scribblenauts Unlimited.