Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda are undoubtedly some of Nintendo’s best franchises with consistently enormous sales and high-quality gameplay, but the company’s catalog is unfortunately filled with dozens of titles that can only claim the latter. Games like F-Zero and Earthbound are engaging, but those titles failed to meet sales demands and haven’t seen a new entry since. The Metroid series seemed to be locked somewhere in the middle, since it’s had many titles released, yet most of them haven’t broken the sales Nintendo likely wanted to see. Fans were relieved after Samus Returns and Metroid Prime 4 were announced, but there might be another 2D Metroid game coming to the Switch soon.
Even though it’s one of the studio’s most well-known series, Metroid has nearly always sold rather poorly in comparison to other Nintendo franchises. Even the legendary Super Metroid failed to meet Sales expectations back in the 90s. Metroid wouldn’t return until the GameCube with the release of Metroid Prime, which was praised by fans and critics alike. The series then saw many more releases, unfortunately followed by another extended drought after Metroid: Other M received poor scores and sales alike.
Fans were excited to see the return of the series announced with Metroid Prime 4, but Samus Returns was an even bigger surprise. It proved that Nintendo was not only still interested in the Metroid series as a whole, but also in the 2D counterpart that started it all. This remake of the second installment, made by MercurySteam, was a solid game that was filled with the atmosphere and exploration players expected from the series, but it still could use some improvement. There are some rumors floating around (via VGC) that a new 2D Metroid title is coming to the Switch made by the same studio, and there are multiple things the developers could do to make an even better game this time around.
One of the more lacking aspects of Samus Returns is its poor enemy variety. While most of the enemies are fun to fight, a lot of the time players spend their time encountering repeated versions of the same enemies. There are some original enemies scattered throughout the game, but even lots of the bosses are repeated versions of each other since, they are usually different versions of Metroids. Samus Returns introduced an excellent parry system that makes battles with these foes engaging, but a new Metroid game would get far more mileage out of combat mechanics with more fleshed-out enemy and boss variety.
Samus Returns was also one of the more linear entries in the franchise. A big part of what makes Metroid games compelling is how players can explore huge interconnected worlds and discover new ways forward by backtracking with newfound weapons. This was kept to a minimum in Samus Returns, but it should be done in a new title. Players haven’t played a brand-new Metroidvania game from the series that inspired that gameplay in a while, and the next installment should deliver that experience again, regardless of it turns out to be Metroid Prime 4 or a new 2D Metroid.
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