Nintendo are notorious for winding up their fans and leaving franchises dormant for extended periods, but the Metroid series has upheld such a terrific standard throughout its history that it seems like only a matter of time until we see a new entry. And if recent events are anything to go off, that time could be closer than we think.
During last November’s VGX awards, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime showed up to talk about Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze. But even though it was a day to be devoted to the Kongs, Reggie curiously sported an 8-bit Samus pin on his lapel. When asked about its significance, specifically whether there was more Metroid in the works, Reggie wasn’t giving anything away. However, he didn’t deny it, and he was also adamant in communicating Metroid was one of his personal favorite franchises. And while Reggie may not have the biggest influence in deciding which games are developed, his public support is still very significant. Especially when he said it while standing with a member of Retro Studios, the same developer responsible for the spectacular Metroid Prime trilogy.
Fast forward to February’s Nintendo Direct and things get even more interesting. During the unveiling of the upcoming Super Smash Bros. games’ newest character, Little Mac, the Punch Out pugilist threw his first, drawn out punch against none other than Samus Aran, who was sent flying off screen into oblivion. She was then shown fighting the boxing star twice more throughout the ensuing combat montage, and as the Smash Bros. segment drew to a close and Little Mac enjoyed a protein bar with his coach, Samus rolled across the screen in her famous morph ball form in a completely unnecessary cameo. Clearly, Nintendo is trying to keep Metroid relevant in gamers’ minds and stoke the fires building on the internet demanding a new Metroid title. Little Mac was obviously the main attraction, but there is no doubt that Samus was given a significant supporting role, more so than any other character Little Mac pummeled during the demo.
The most interesting detail would come later in that same Nintendo Direct however, when Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced that GBA games would finally be coming to the Wii U’s Virtual Console. While this is terrific news on its own, the games Iwata revealed would be included in the first wave are especially intriguing. First we have Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3, which is clearly intended to support the March release of Yoshi’s New Island. Then, there’s Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the terrific first entry in the Mario & Luigi RPG series, with which Nintendo will hope to boost sales of last years’ Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. But the last game, the outstanding Metroid Fusion, has no relation to any previous or upcoming release. So, judging by the seemingly calculated selection demonstrated in the other games, the inclusion of Metroid Fusion must mean something is on the horizon for the franchise. Alternatively, it could be a case of Nintendo gauging Metroid’s current popularity to see how a new entry would fare. Regardless, it’s clear Nintendo is aware of fan demand, and at least Metroid isn’t showing any signs of falling into obscurity like F-Zero or Star Fox.
Nintendo like to play things close to the chest. For all we know, a new Metroid game could be well into development. On the other hand, they could just be winding up their fans. But Nintendo is a company full of pride, and it won’t let one of its most storied franchises be remembered by the controversial Metroid: Other M. Whether it’s 2D, 3D, on 3DS or Wii U, a new Metroid game will come. For now, we wait.