On 6 August 1986, Nintendo would debut the lonesome adventures of a powerful space bounty hunter – which would go on to define a popular gaming genre of its own!
Indeed, the Metroid franchise is now 35 years old, with multiple titles under its wing to date. Following the many missions of Samus Aran, each Metroid game would see players traversing the depths of alien worlds, decrepit research facilities and more to snuff out nefarious forces. These adventures have subsequently seen Samus crossing fire with the bizarre Mother Brain, the Space Pirate horde, mimicking parasites known as the X – and of course, the titular Metroid species.
The series’ cult classic status would be cemented with Super Metroid (1994) on the SNES – which is widely regarded as the definitive Metroid game to play, thanks to its open-ended nature and tight platforming action. With the equally popular Castlevania franchise making waves as well, such platforming adventures with non-linear exploration would come to be affectionately known as “Metroidvania” games.
The Metroid series would eventually branch out into new territory with Metroid Prime (2002) by Retro Studios – which would be series’ debut into the first-person shooter genre. This adventure would pave the way for two more sequels up until 2007, with Samus Aran battling the nefarious Metroid Prime and more corrupted creatures throughout the cosmos.
However, the series would soon slip into a dark age of dormancy following the launch of Metroid: Other M (2010) by Team Ninja – which is still regarded today as being somewhat clunky and poorly-written despite its attempts to modernize Metroid into an action series. Many fans would argue that the series lost its sense of direction from this point onward, especially since it took 6 more years for Nintendo to cough up the critically-panned Metroid Prime Federation Force (2016) – which did not inspire further confidence in the franchise.
Since then, Nintendo has been slowly and painfully reviving the series from its slumber. While Metroid Prime 4 is still crawling along in its development, fans of the original Metroid platforming games are finally being granted Metroid Dread – a new adventure that has been 19 years in the making. With excitement for the series at an all-time high, it looks like Samus Aran may be on track to reclaiming her rightful place as the galaxy’s deadliest bounty hunter.
Happy 35th anniversary, Metroid!