Nintendo nearly stole the show during E3 2017. Their showcase of technological advances for the Switch, and the heavy hitting lineup of future games, was enough to win praise from fans and journalists alike.
One title was somewhat overlooked, however: Metroid: Samus Returns. That's probably due to Metroid Prime 4 being announced to blow away the competition. But Metroid: Samus Returns should not be overlooked as it provides the subtle wave of nostalgia we all need before the big release of #Metroid4.
Want some even better news? It's essentially finished and should be released soon! Reviews have shown that the game looks and feels great. The essence is evidently very similar to the original 2D side scrolling experience, but with enhanced graphics and smoother gameplay. Of course, this falls into that ever expanding repertoire of video game titles that could be branded as being “needlessly remade.” But initial play throughs at E3 show that Samus Returns is worth the rebuild.
Yoshio Sakamoto, the longtime producer of the Metroid franchise, created the game with Jose Luis Marquez, a director at developer MercurySteam, and Tim O'Leary, a translator and member of Nintendo Treehouse.
MercurySteam has previously been responsible for the ever so successful Castlevania: Lord Of Shadow series, and has managed to make the new Metroid game run smoothly. Samus's weapons pack a punch and she has a range of new abilities and gear, including a visor that allows you to spot otherwise hidden walls. It has felt like a million years since the last 2D Metroid so it feels oh so good to welcome Samus back.
When asked about the ambitious project, Sakamoto explained that development started "about two years ago," and that it connected his desire to make a 2D Metroid game with MercurySteam's interest in remaking the original Metroid:
I heard MercurySteam and I knew they’d made some Castlevania titles, so I thought it was possible there was an affinity for our title as well. I said, ‘Well, man, I gotta meet these guys, let’s go to Spain.’ So we flew to Spain. MercurySteam had created a small prototype for me to take a look at. I looked at it, talked to them, got a sense of what their team was about, and said, ‘Yeah, let’s see what we can do together.’
Asked why it was on the 3DS rather than the Switch, Sakamoto said:
One of the big reasons for that is the 2DS/3DS family have two screens. That lent itself so well to the map screen functionality that I’ve been wanting to put into the game that we hadn’t seen before, the ability to have the map screen always on. So it was a very obvious choice.
I wanted to be able to have that free-aiming mechanic, and the analog stick allowed for us to do that. And Metroid, that series, that world-building, that feeling of where you’re at... that level design, all those things combined really make great use of the glasses-free 3D functionality.
So if I take that: the 3D functionality, analog stick, second screen, put that all together, and the 3DS [is the best fit].
This latest installment in the Metroid franchise is shaping up to look great. Sakamoto promises "an orthodox Metroid experience, plus new stuff" which will be a fine complement to Metroid Prime 4.
What are your thoughts on the game? Will you be grabbing a copy? Let us know in the comments!