Nintendo We Volume 2: Metroid Prime 4: Dread
Much to my dismay, the Metroid series is one that has been somewhat neglected by Nintendo in recent years. Starting out life on the original Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1986, Metroid has since become a huge influence on games putting focus on the element of exploration. Indeed, the map system from Super Metroid for the Super Nintendo was so influential that Konami continues to incorporate it in many instalments of their Castlevania series, starting with Symphony of the Night; and thus, the overall style of play came to be known across the industry as Metroidvania.
However, since the release of the 2010 instalment, Metroid: Other M, there hasn’t been sight or sound of a new game, with the series’ main character Samus Aran only appearing in other Nintendo games such as Nintendo Land and Super Smash Bros. The reason I believe this happened is because Other M was far too much of a radical departure from the elements of what made the rest of the series so enjoyable in terms of gameplay. The developers behind the title, Team Ninja, tried to effectively combine elements of both the 2D side scrolling Metroid games and the first-person open world games in the Metroid Prime series; and in my opinion, despite varied fan reaction, they failed miserably.
The Metroid game that I most want to see released next is a continuation of the Metroid Prime saga, and by proxy, its immersing first-person exploration-heavy style of play. Metroid Prime was the first game in the series I played through, and it remains one of my favourite titles to this day. But there are elements from all three games in the original Metroid Prime trilogy that I would incorporate into a fourth game. Collaborating developers I have in mind are Visceral Games; the team currently behind the Dead Space franchise. However, I would implement their talents as excellent writers and concept designers as opposed to them influencing how the game itself plays out. I would want the developers of the original trilogy, Retro Studios, taking care of that aspect.
The reason why I would want Visceral Games involved is because the Metroid series has always had a plethora of creepy aspects throughout each game; in particular Metroid Fusion. But I watched a YouTube video a while ago published by the user Rabbid Luigi, who drew comparisons with the GFS Valhalla stage of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Dead Space. Indeed, he described the stage itself as being as if Dead Space takes over for a whole part of the game. It made me think about what kind of experience players would possibly be given if Dead Space took over for a whole game, and not just part of one. So for this week’s volume, I will be outlining how I’d like to see all these different ideas come together in a game I call Metroid Prime 4: Dread.
The reason why I’d call it Dread is not just because the title sounds threatening and sadistically compelling, but also because there was a Metroid game in the works after Other M called Metroid Dread bring developed by Intelligent Systems until Nintendo pulled the plug on it. That being said, there isn’t a whole lot that I would want to actually change regarding the overall Metroid Prime trilogy gameplay formula. The main things I would implement would be a bigger open world, more side quests and a whole new story with new settings, characters and the enemies; and of course, a whole new series of creepy boss fights. Aspects that I would keep from the three previous games would be the sense of eerie isolation and element of gamers having to figure out most of everything for themselves from the original Metroid Prime game, the element of both light and darkness (mostly darkness) from Metroid Prime 2, and the utilisation of Samus’s spaceship from Metroid Prime 3; indeed, i believe the spaceship could be operated with the Wii U GamePad like it was the ship’s control panel, adding a nice touch of realism to the overall game.
I would want the story of the game to be much darker and grittier than any other entry in the Metroid series; if only to help dispel the common misconception many people have about Nintendo being exclusively for kids. Maybe Samus could crash-land on a new vast and monster-ridden planet to find herself in a one-woman fight for survival, whilst in the process, discovering a new and more dangerous breed of Metroid to try and take out and prevent a new Metroid Prime from causing any havoc to the galaxy. One character I would also like to see make a return is Kraid. I happen to think that there are plenty of possibilities for how a boss fight with Kraid could be designed within a Metroid Prime game. One such idea I have is that Kraid could have to be climbed on like a boss from the game Shadow of the Colossus in order to reach the monster’s weak spot and deal damage to him.
But to make the game as scary as can be, I would considerably tone down the violence associated with Dead Space, ironically, because I think if games or films start showing too much explicit violence, it slowly decreases the fear factor bit by bit. Other far more elaborate techniques are normally used in the greatest of horror films and before that, classic literature; techniques such as the build-up of tension and creating an appropriate atmosphere throughout.
For the longest time, I have had a lot of reservations about the survival horror genre, thinking that developers like to put more effort into scaring gamers as opposed to delivering a full experience in terms of gameplay. But every time a game like Batman: Arkham Asylum, Majora’s Mask and Blood Omen come along, it reminds me that a video game can be satisfying to play, but I can so have a lot of horror and creepiness to it; its just a matter of developers being able to not obtain a equilibrium between excellent gameplay and effective scare tactics, but to put gameplay above all else. The Metroid Prime series is always immensely satisfying to play, and I believe all they would have to do to convert it into a great survival horror is keep the same basic gameplay formula, albeit with separate elements from all three titles in the trilogy, and to call on the writers at Visceral Games to write a whole new and spine-chilling narrative, which I think would help to re-establish the Metroid series as one of the most prolific that Nintendo has to offer.