This year is the 35th anniversary for both Zelda and Metroid, and while a lot has been predicted and speculated on in terms of Zelda, Metroid hasn’t garnered the same amount of hype. Last year, in 2020 we got a slew of new, digital and physical Mario products to celebrate the 35th anniversary of that franchise. This included a 3D games collection, a remaster of a Wii U title (which is releasing this February 12), and Super Mario All-Stars, originally on Super Nintendo, being added to the online service. So what, if anything, can we expect for Metroid this year?
Metroid has traditionally had sporadic releases. There were no Metroid games for the N64, and often many years pass without a mainline release. Despite this, when Metroid does hit, it can be one of the best games of the generation. Take Metroid Prime or Super Metroid as an example.
In the last few years, we’ve had Metroid: Samus Returns on the 3DS – a remake of Metroid 2 on the GameBoy. While personally, I would have rather they went with a pixel art style, the game turned out fine and the developer MercurySteam (which also coincidentally developed a recent 3DS Castlevania game) did a good job translating it into a modern format.
Legacy of Metroid
Metroid has also had its failures. The spin-off, Metroid Prime: Federation Force had a terrible reveal via a soccer-esque mini-game at E3 a few years ago and it never recovered. The game wasn’t terrible in and of itself, but the style and format of a team-based shooter on 3DS didn’t resonate with fans. Metroid: Other M on Wii is another game that also had a mixed reception.
The Metroid Prime sub-series is what makes the most money and also is the most critically acclaimed. So, could the anticipated fourth entry hit this year for Metroid’s 35th anniversary? There’s a chance, even taking into account its complete developmental restart it’s still been in development for over two years. It would be a great holiday game, or even a summer release if it could come out alongside a “Switch Pro.” But, even if the title doesn’t make it this year, there are still other Metroid titles that could release.
A Metroid retro collection could be great. They might release all the 2D games for a budget price to get people into the series. Then have a full graphical and gameplay update for one of the 2D games, or better yet release a completely new title in the style of Super Metroid. The final option, that is if they celebrate the anniversary at all, is to release an HD version of the Metroid Prime Trilogy, which has been rumored for literally years now.
With all the Nintendo anniversaries this year, some franchises are going to be more in the spotlight than others. But for a series with such a legacy as Metroid, it should and might be a priority for Nintendo to get people excited for the potential release of Metroid Prime 4 in late 2021 or 2022.
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