Nintendo’s three core pillars of success are widely acknowledge to be Zelda, Mario, and just about anything Pokemon, but there is a peripheral of other games and franchises that make the Switch, and consoles before it, very compelling for gamers. Whether the uniquely designed Splatoon, everlasting Smash Bros, or meme-able Star Fox, Nintendo has a wide arsenal of games they can produce to entertain fans.
Inevitably however, some franchises receive less attention than others. It’s nearly impossible to be a fan of just one series (or even character) in the Nintendo-verse, and part of that is due to the fact that you could go decades without new installments, or even news. Yet it’s in the darkest hour that the sun rises, and at E3 2021, Nintendo has blown expectations away. Yes my friends, I am talking about the “where did this come from” announcement of Metroid: Dread.
Those who know Pikachu and Mario may not know Samus Aran of the Metroid universe, but her fandom is by no means small. The Metroid franchise has sold over eighteen million copies, both to high praise and harsh criticism. Unfortunately recent new games were failures, and the only successes in the last decade came from remakes.
The Metroid Prime series was widely praised and fans are eager for the 4th game. Image from Nintendo.
Hope sparked in 2017 with the announcement of Metroid Prime 4, yet fires of excitement were smoldered to coals as Nintendo announced in 2019 that development had been completely scrapped due to poor results under Bandai Namco. The game is undergoing a total restart under the supervision of Austin-based Retro Studios, who produced the first three in that same game line.
So we enter into 2021, where fans know that Prime 4 is many years out, yet hope for the smallest of teasers. An overview of a mysterious alien world? A ten second clip of an action scene? Box art? All eyes, ears, and hearts were on the upcoming Prime release.
With Nintendo’s livestream already speaking on Mario Party, Smash Bros, and a myriad of 3rd party games, they segmented to a new clip. “Before we show this next trailer, I’d like to say one thing: Currently, we are working hard on the latest game in the Metroid Prime series, Metroid Prime 4, which we previously announced. But today, we’d like to announce another, new entry in the Metroid franchise. Please take a look.” Across the globe, fans of Samus and her adventures through space held a collective breath and saw: Metroid 5.
A complete and entire new game played before our eyes. Not a remake, not a remaster, but a Metroid game as familiar as any other. Samus hopped across platforms, shot at aliens, and ran from a greater menace (that we will no doubt inevitably fight). Made from the same studio who re-made the classic Metroid 2, which was met with praise, the new Metroid: Dread was met with thunderous digital applause.
To have a game that was clearly designed around the base franchise systems is great. To have kept quiet on it for some time, surprising. But the most astounding part? Its release date of October 8th… this year.
The original Metroid game was released in August of 1986. Image from Nintendo.
Metroid fans who had waited on pins and needles for any drop of Prime 4 news, hopeful for a release maybe in a few years, would be waiting fewer than 4 months for an entirely brand new game that continues Samus’s story.
Social media has since blown up as fans rush to pick at details in the trailer, debate pros and cons of game system changes, or just plain cry out in happiness. Nintendo’s “Direct” (the complete stream with all announcements) concluded with news and footage on the also highly-anticipated Zelda sequel to Breath of the Wild, yet the online discussion has been largely focused on Metroid. So great is the surprise, so unexpected is the announcement, that people can’t stop talking about it above even some of the biggest names.
But with great hype, comes great opportunity for dismay. Exactly how good the game will be is entirely unknown until its release (cough 2077 cough) and some are still dismayed at a lack of Metroid Prime 4 news. But the optimism is strong in the community as pre-orders went live on the digital end, with physical copies (including a special edition) soon to follow.
Followers of Nintendo games know that there’s no promise you will ever get another game. Star Fox, F-Zero, and other franchises continue to wait on the side, hopeful that the next announcement will be theirs. But for today, Metroid fans realized a most unexpected dream. Just don’t pinch us, we don’t want to wake up.
Will you be getting Metroid: Dread? Are there other games from E3 that have your eye? Let us know in the comments!