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What's Next For Metroid?

3/14/12 11:40pm
tl;dr

 The Metroid franchise is in need of some change. What kind of change? Maybe a new developer or narrative? Heck, maybe a new gameplay style? The Metroid franchise needs more noteriety to stay alive sales-wise and needs a new direction to stay alive critcally.

 Metroid. What hasn't already been said for this incredible franchise? Hell, some gamers named a whole website off of a power-up from the series. It obviously has a fan-base, but recently, it hasn't been going in the right direction. Metroid: Other M is one of the most controversial games ever created and has split the fans into two half's. Those who think the franchise should go back to it's roots and stay in Prime or 2D, and those who think the franchise should experiment more and try new styles of gameplay and design. Either way, the series is in need of some kind of change to make it feel more relevant and better.

New Developer

Team Ninja, a developer best well known for their work on the "Ninja Gaiden" franchise worked on the last game and incorporated a lot more action then exploration in their take on the Metroid series. The series is in desperate need of a new developer, but who? Well, I have some suggestions.

Wayforward

This developer has been in the buiss for a while and has been making some fantastic 2D platforming and exploration games. If you'd played Mighty Switch Force on the 3DS, you'll know what I mean. The 3D graphics are beautifully done and the gameplay is well crafted. Seriously, the game revolves around speed running. One of the biggest Metroid features is speed running.

    

Not only that, this group has even created a Metroid-style game that is actually really good. "Aliens: Infestation" on the Nintendo DS has exploration and a weapon system that closely mirrored Metroid. Also, the game's atmosphere is just like something you'd find in Super Metroid. Something is always watching you but you still feel alone and scared of you fate.

The developer has also made some great games like, "Shantae: Risky's Revenge,"  and "A Boy and His Blob". The way I see it, the developer would not only nail gameplay and design, but also could add an art style or graphical  features.

If you ask me, this is THE studio to develop the next Metroid game. Everything they've done just screams "METROID"! If any NEW developer deserves to make the next Metroid game, it would be Wayforward.

Retro Studios... again

This makes a whole crap load of sense. These are developers who made  great Metroid Prime games. How can you say no to that? Personally, I would love to see what these guys would do with the WiiU's HD graphics. Or even the 3DS's stereoscopic 3D. With every control scheme, they've seemed to make it work perfectly, so worry knot about gameplay. They obviously already know how to deal with design. The 3 Prime games were designed perfectly with incredible isolation and atmosphere. 

Retro Studios is probably making the next Metroid game right now, so its best to think that we'll being seeing one of the best developers in the industry behind the wheel of the Metroid Prime 4.

Intelligent Systems

Yah, I know it's another Nintendo property, but who cares? With the recent work they've been doing with Fire Emblem, Paper Mario and the all new Pushmo puzzle game, I think they could make any game creative and successful. Not to mention, these guys collaborated on the original Super Metroid on Super Nintendo. Enough evidence for you yet?

Intelligent Systems know one or two things about design. These guys know how to make gameplay revolve around the environment the game takes place in. Their immense imagination makes them perfect to create the next Metroid game. Not only that, but their experience on the series with Super Metroid also makes them familiar with series traditions. If anyone can make a great Metroid game, but bring a creativity from other franchises, such as a bit more strategy from Fire Emblem or puzzles from Wario Land. They would make a great Super Metroid 2.

Nintendo R&D 1

I don't think I need to explain myself here. These guys developed all of the 2D Metroid games. That would be the original on NES all the way to the remake "Zero Mission" on GBA. 

These guys created Metroid and have had a hand in every single game made. Why not develop an entire new game on their own again. You know that they could create the next fantastic 2D Metroid game, which IS something the fans have been craving. 

Another possibility is what they could do with a 3D design. These guys invented the fundamentals of Metroid, if anyone would know how to adapt the franchise into 3D environments in a new way, it would be the guys at R&D 1.

Mass Appeal

 It's not hard to make a sci-fi franchise likeable and popular, just look at Mass Effect. But, the latest Metroid game didn't sell to well. Why is this? This is more-or-less likely due to the fact that the series, while having a strong and loyal fanbase, isn't as widely recognized as Mario or Call of Duty. So how do you make the series as popular as Zelda or Diablo? 

Finding a broader range

You may be asking yourself, "Well, thats ridiculous, tons of people know about Metroid!" No, you know about Metroids because you're probably inter-connected to the gaming community. Although, people who aren't as interested in gaming as we are probably don't know that much about Metroid, and for good reason. 

Metroid has never been the most simplistic game to get into, mainly because of its exploration gameplay and design. Instead of a simple, path to follow, you are given wide open areas to explore and to investigate in. The most recent games have limited those features,  but still no dice. Mario games however treat us like 3 year olds. "This is the way to go, now go that way." That is fundamentally what every 2D Mario level is. It's easy to pick up, play and understand. (On a side note, I love Mario, so if it comes off as insulting, it's not intentional.) Mario games are easy to comprehend. Metroid games don't tend to have a main objective that is clearly laid out for you. Your basically dropped in a planet or area and said, "Go." Its pretty simplistic, but it works for those who enjoy exploration. 

I'm not exactly saying that Metroid has to dumb itself down for a mass audience, what I am saying, is that the games should be more directed. No map destinations, just better directed, whether this be with symbols or with having a better understanding of the environment one is going into before they enter and have no idea what they are doing. Basically, eliminate confusion without sacrificing exploration and discovery on one's own.

Advertising 

Yes, I'll be the one to say it. Metroid isn't advertised well at ALL! Last year was the Metroid franchise's 25th anniversary and nothing was done to celebrate. Oh, and don't say a re-release of Metroid NES on 3DS Virtual Console was a means of celebration. Nothing was done and it annoys me considering a crap load was done for Zelda's 25th. Granted Skyward Sword was releasing but still, I find it a major disappointment and it made it seem like Nintendo doesn't care about Metroid anymore. I know, "There was no Metroid game releasing last year anyway so OF COURSE there would be no advertising". Okay, I understand that, but still, a little recognition wouldn't hurt. 

But what about past advertising for Metroid games? Metroid: Other M had little to no advertising that would catch a larger audience's attention. Granted, Other M did need to grasp the Metroid Fanbase as well as new people because of it's different gameplay styles but still... the advertisements just ended up capturing an audience who already knew and loved the series.

So, does anyone remember seeing a commercial for Metroid Prime 3? No one? Good, because the only one I saw was more of an advertisement for the Wii than the actual game. Metroid Prime 3 didn't sell nearly as well as the first two Prime games mainly because of advertising and simply getting the word out on a new Prime game releasing.

In other words, Metroid would reach the broader, sci-fi loving audience that would love the series if they had had better ads and general spread of information. Now-a-days, it's all about brand recognition, and if Metroid doesn't have that, then the series can consider itself dead.

 

Nintendo has to realize that they can't rely on the hardcore Metroid fans forever. They have to realize that to survive, you are going to have to find a new developer that understands the franchise better and can add their own creativity to it, but not to the point where we can't recognize the franchise anymore. The are also going to have to make it more available, advertise more and plug the series just like they did with Zelda. Make people aware of the franchise and aim to make Samus just as popular as Link or Solid Snake. Not only that, they'll have to make it more accessible to the masses without sacrificing what makes Metroid cool, the exploration and discovery.

If Nintendo can pull this off, (which we all should know, they can) Metroid will be back up pleasing the people it aims to please. Let's just hope we don't get another pinball spin-off.

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