This is not a drill. Nintendo has announced that Metroid Prime 4 is in production for the Nintendo Switch during their E3 presentation. After nearly a decade of Metroid drought, Samus Aran will finally return. This is huge news for fans who have been (im)patiently waiting for Nintendo to remember one of their biggest franchises existed. Maybe we can all finally wash the bad taste of Other M from our collective consciousness and get back to what Samus does best: blasting the ever-living heck out of metroids.
Not much (basically nothing) is known about Metroid Prime 4 at this time, but the sheer fact that it’s happening is a big deal. Fans have been asking for a traditional Metroid game for years, but thought our pleas were falling on deaf ears. Nintendo has not been known listening to their consumer base in the past. By its mere existence, Metroid Prime 4 — along with the announcement of a traditional Kirby game and a core Pokemon title for the Switch — signals a shift in Nintendo’s strategy. One that includes mining nostalgia from more than just Mario and Zelda. (Bonus: A second Metroid game has been announced on the 3DS!)
If you grew up in the 1980s, Metroid was a big deal. Released in 1986, the sci-fi, action platformer followed the Samus Aran through the travails of the planet Zebes. Samus fought off space pirates, parasitic alien life forms, and the Mother Brain. But the real buzz was around the twist ending. Samus Aran…was a girl. This was huge news! Suddenly boys who’d been playing this game for hours were reevaluating their opinions on women warriors. Girls finally had a major video game character as a role model. I mean, I love Princess Peach, but girlfriend isn’t exactly playable during recess reenactments on the jungle gym.
The game was also a smash success, selling over 2.73 million units worldwide and launching a franchise with thirteen installments and counting (if you include the pinball games). Metroid Prime revitalized the series in 2002 by putting the player in a Samus’ shoes, literally. Retro Studios designed their game from a first person perspective instead of a side-scroller. The gamble paid off: Metroid Prime was a critical and commercial success. That year Retro Studios took home the award for Game of the Year, Excellence in Level Design at the Game Developers Choice Awards, as well as being heaped with numerous “Game of the Year” honors from various gaming sites. The subsequent Metroid Prime 2 and Metroid Prime 3 also did well.
Then along came Metroid: Other M in 2010. Developed by Team Ninja, the Wii game managed to undo two decades worth of Samus being a stone-cold badass and turned her into a simpering teenager submissive to her male superior. Coupled with horrible soap opera dialogue in unskippable cutscenes and weak sales, Other M was the nail in Samus’ coffin for years.
With Metroid Prime 4, perhaps now the healing can begin.