Yesterday we brought back the Daily Delib by asking you guys what franchises you think could use a reboot. It's a common trend for TV shows, comic books, and movie franchises to be rebooted for a new generation, and the trend has spread to the video game world as well in recent years. Games like Tomb Raider, DMC: Devil May Cry, and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow have achieved success by starting a franchise over with a clean slate. Often many of the existing characters and themes return, but the story takes a new path and sometimes the gameplay differs as well.
If done poorly, reboots are harshly criticized as the last dying breath of a failing brand, or a desperate cash-grab that lacks innovation. However, if done successfully, a reboot can revitalize a franchise and create a new audience for itself. I think it's about time that one of my favorite franchises aims for the latter. Metroid could use a reboot.
Okay, Nintendo fans, put down the pitchforks and hear me out. Metroid is an outstanding series that has a lot to offer, and will hopefully continue to pump out great games for years to come. However, with the way the series is currently laid out, creativity is limited, and Metroid can't tap into its full potential. Couple that with the fact that Nintendo hasn't met their goal of making Wii U appealing to an older audience, and it makes a reboot advantageous for both Metroid and Wii U in general.
The Metroid series was originally intended as a trilogy, and there were no plans to continue with it after Super, but eventually the temptation to return to Samus Aran was too great, and Nintendo continued. Because Super ended with Metroids themselves being an extinct race, the next two games each had to come up with means of bringing them back. Fusion solved this problem by creating a plot wherein they were brought back to life through illegal cloning. Prime chose to set itself up as a prequel. This worked well at the time, but including Metroids in the series that claims their name has become increasingly difficult. The Prime Trilogy was wrapped up nicely (taking place before Super), which means that Metroids continue to be extinct in the current timeline. Other M was set between Super and Fusion, and also dealt with an illegal plot to clone Metroids. This plot twist was predictable and underwhelming, and there's now very little opportunity for the series to bring Metroids back without it seeming trivial or forced. Any game that wants to feature Metroids must either be a prequel (wedged into a very crowded gap in the series' history) or must yet again revive them through illegal cloning. Either way, Metroids have become mostly a novelty slapped on because of the franchise name.
Of course you could very well have a Metroid game with no Metroids, but that's a poor solution. Metroids themselves used to be a terrifying force that justified a game series being named after them. Who didn't tense up the first time they entered Tourian and found themselves under assault? The problem isn't that Metroids need to go, it's that the series needs to make them relevant and scary again. With the current established canon of the series, there's very little way to do that. However, starting fresh (while keeping most of the same themes and possibly some of the early story history in tact) gives Nintendo complete story freedom, and allows for Metroids to take a prominent and interesting role again, rather than just being an afterthought.
This is a great time to rebrand the series in general. Wii U is still looking for that killer "mature" title (sorry, ZombiU) to attract an older audience, and a reboot allows Nintendo to attract a new audience without feeling like they have to explain the existing story. The story would start afresh from square one. While I don't want to see an M rated Metroid, it could be the kind of darker, edgy experience for older gamers that Nintendo needs if they want Wii U to be seen as more than a family-oriented gaming console.
Metroid Prime shook up the series and attracted lots of new fans, greatly expanding its install base and selling around twice as many copies as Super Metroid had. A complete restart for the Metroid series that takes full advantage of what Wii U has to offer (HD graphics, free online, GamePad controls, etc.) and is geared towards an older audience is a smart move for Metroid, and it's a smart move for Wii U.
Note: The artist for the featured image is unknown. If you know who it is, let us know and we'll credit them.
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