It has been seven years since we received a Metroid game. By which I mean, since we’ve seen an entry starring Samus Aran, since Metroid Prime: Federation Force doesn’t count. It hasn’t been on a console since the Wii, which is a shame. But why is it that, whenever a Nintendo Direct, E3, or Tokyo Game Show rolls around, people start talking about a new Metroid game? What is it about the series that causes people to obsessively investigate whatever Retro Studios, developer of the Metroid Prime trilogy, is working on?
Well, there are a lot of reasons people love and can’t forget the series. Here are a few that cover what makes Metroid so great.
Samus and Her Versatility
Samus is an incredibly strong heroine. She has all sorts of guns, missiles, bombs, and weapons available to her. She can find her way into narrow nooks and leap to higher platforms. In Metroid Fusion, she can absorb X Parasites to make herself stronger. In the Metroid Prime series, she gets a scanner that can be used to find enemy weaknesses and identify and interact with items in the environment. She has all these means of attacking enemies, solving puzzles, and interacting with the world, yet all of them feel absolutely in-character and believable.
The Balance Between Gameplay and Exploration
One of the wonderful things about Metroid is how versatile the combat is. Remember all those different weapons and abilities I mentioned earlier? Each of them could be used to obliterate opponents in different manners. You could formulate multiple strategies for defeating bosses, all by going through the different power-ups and bits of equipment in Samus’ arsenal at the time. Not to mention the Metroid Prime series’ first person perspective and scanner allows for both a different viewpoint and approach that makes you think more about each encounter, what with being able to see weaknesses and know more about your surroundings.
The element of exploration is equally important. The Metroid games are nonlinear. You’ll need certain power-ups to access certain areas, sure. But you usually have quite a bit of freedom in regards to what you do, where you go, and sometimes even how you do it. Combine that with a number of secret paths, some holding hidden items, and you’re constantly encouraged for thinking outside of the box.
Its Audio and Visuals
Part of Metroid’s glory is taking us to these new worlds. We’re exploring space stations and planets the likes of which we could hardly imagine. Every area is distinct, filled with enemies, wildlife, flora, and fauna that calls attention to the alien ecosystem. Things can be terrifying, yet hauntingly beautiful. They’re accompanied by music that is extraordinary, fits the music, and is memorable. I mean, Super Metroid is still one of the best looking and sounding games ever.
As you can see, there’s a lot to love about the Metroid series. Even when it bounces between 2D sidescroller and first-person shooter, it’s amazing. The worlds the games take us to, the capable heroine with a vast arsenal of growing abilities, and the opportunity to go around as we please and see otherworldly sights are all incredible series’ hallmarks. It’s no wonder people always want more. Hopefully, Nintendo will give us a new installment on the Switch.
Image Credit: Barrett Biggers