Last week, during Nintendo’s E3 2017 video conference, I cried. I’ll admit it.

I’m a 23-year-old guy, with a checkbook and a LinkedIn page, and I shed a few solemn tears because of a video no longer than 40 seconds. In a move expected by few and hoped for by many, Nintendo revealed that Metroid Prime 4 was in development for the Nintendo Switch. There was no release date, nor was there gameplay or even a mention of the studio that would be developing it. All this trailer did was acknowledge the existence of something many gamers have been waiting for feverishly since Metroid Prime 3: Corruption in 2007: The next real — and I mean real — installment to the Metroid series.

To say I am a Metroid fan is like saying lions are ‘fans’ of slow antelope. Metroid is, for me, the benchmark of gaming excellence. My time playing Super Metroid as a boy is perhaps the most reliable source of joy and nostalgia I have. That game is, and will always be, my favorite of all time.

And yet, Metroid is also a source of pain, like a mean canker sore. That’s really why people are so excited about Metroid Prime 4. Unlike the fandom surrounding Nintendo flagships like Mario or Donkey Kong, Metroid fandom is one defined by disappointment, founded not only on the idea that the series is excellent, but also on the notion that it has it has been mistreated or, at the very least, ignored.

To understand why I am so excited for Metroid Prime 4, you have to know how we got here in the first place.

Look, we have history

Metroid has, historically, kept its fans waiting. It was five years between 1986’s original Metroid and the series’ second installment, Metroid II: Return of Samus. The beloved Metroid Prime released on the Gamecube a whole eight years after the release of 1993’s Super Metroid, skipping the N64 generation entirely. Even though 2002 to 2008 offered gamers a handful of Metroid titles, including classics like Metroid Fusion and disappointments like Metroid Prime Pinball, Metroid has always held a reputation for being the forgotten child in Nintendo’s flagship family.

It’s interesting if you ask a Metroid fan about the series. Consistently, what you’ll get back is a mix of joy, frustration, and confusion, and that’s because the Metroid franchise has been just that: Joyous, frustrating and confusing.

It’s my opinion that Metroid has been the lame guinea pig among the flagship Nintendo franchises, of those including The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Kirby and Donkey Kong. Surely, all of these titles have seen their fair share of change in the past decade, but Metroid has arguably suffered the most, or at the very least had the most inconsistent record. Some risks paid off momentously. For instance, Metroid Prime’s jump to first-person on the Gamecube was handled exceedingly well by Retro Studios. The game is an absolute gem, and it draws a stark contrast against some of Metroid’s other oddities.

2002’s Metroid Prime was one of the Gamecube’s best titles, and a true return to form for the Metroid series after a long hiatus.

2005’s Metroid Prime Pinball was by no means a heinous pinball game. It was, however, a puzzling offshoot for the universe, presumably chosen for name recognition and the series’ often ball-shaped protagonist. Metroid Prime: Hunters, which hit DS systems in 2006, marketed itself more as a multiplayer shooter than a Metroid title, which again clashed with both Nintendo’s direction as a company and with the core principles of the Metroid brand. This was a series founded on atmosphere, thought, and isolation. Why was Nintendo trying to make me blow up my friends?

By 2010, the excellent Prime trilogy had concluded, and gamers were gearing up, albeit cautiously, for Metroid: Other M. It was the next installment in the series, developed by both Team Ninja and Nintendo. I was already a bit peeved with Nintendo for giving a game like Metroid, one known for its lonely exploration and strong female protagonist, to a development studio known best for Ninja Gaiden’s gratuitous gore and Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball. On paper, it made no sense. Off paper, it still makes no sense.

Ultimately, if it hadn’t been a Metroid game, Other M would have been just fine. It would have been a solid sci-fi action game for the Wii and people would have been pleasantly surprised. But it was Metroid, and it had always been Metroid. When fans got a hold of the game and were greeted by a Samus Aran that had shed all of her previous badassery and become a diminutive shadow of herself, it was heartbreaking. Even more agonizing was that it was eventually revealed that the truly egregious parts of Other M were never even Team Ninja’s doing — they were Nintendo’s.

While Metroid: Other M excelled in combat, it stumbled in the narrative department.

Right then it became crystal clear that, with the main Prime trilogy done with, Metroid was up in the air again, and even Nintendo was fumbling it. There was nothing stopping the series from diving into mediocrity, or even worse, vanishing again.

Then, it vanished. Again. Five years pass and gamers began to wonder what would happen to this often-forgotten Nintendo flagship.

After Other M, I had begun to think Nintendo had simply forgotten how to make a Metroid game. Then, Metroid Prime: Federation Force, a first-person co-op shooter set in the Metroid universe, was revealed during E3 2015, and I became certain that Nintendo had entirely lost the plot. A Metroid game where we didn’t even play as Samus? Was it even a Metroid game? And a multiplayer shooter, no less? Critics panned the title, many just as disappointed as I was. After so many years waiting, this felt like a slap in the face for a fanbase that already wondered if it had been abandoned. For the franchise, the future looked bleak.

Here we are

In the years since Federation Force, I have simply stopped expecting anything from Nintendo. The entire experience has disillusioned me to what was once my favorite developer in the industry. I know that may seem a bit hyperbolic, but I can’t shake it.

Deep down, I have always been waiting for a new, legitimate Metroid to round the bend or come over the horizon. Eventually, you have to stop holding your breath. I had been down that road before, and I sure wasn’t getting my hopes up again.

I think Nintendo knew what it was doing this E3, revealing Metroid Prime 4 to the menu music of Metroid Prime. To be greeted again by a tune that, almost 15 years ago, welcomed me into one of the best adventures on the Gamecube felt like a solemn acknowledgment of their mistakes. Revealing an updated version of Metroid II: Return of Samus with Metroid: Samus Returns was an amazing little surprise as well, and a well-deserved gift for a fanbase that could use some new content.

An update of 1991’s Metroid II: Return of Samus, Metroid: Samus Returns is a seriously nice surprise.

For a minute, I really believed in Nintendo again. Then, I reeled it in.

See, I really want to believe in Nintendo, but I can’t do that just yet. I do believe that Nintendo knows how badly they screwed up Metroid these last few years. I hope they know how much is riding on this next game, and I really hope they realize that Metroid fans are far past rose-colored glasses. The quality of Metroid Prime 4 will write the future of this series. This one has to be good. Rest assured, I’m going to be there, sticking it to them the whole way. Until then, anything but skepticism is a free pass.

So thank you, Nintendo, for confirming that my favorite series is coming back, for real this time. It’s the best gaming news I have heard in years. Now don’t screw it up.

  • Clay

    I’m with you. Super Metroid was my favorite game as a 13 year old kid, and I absolutely adored Metroid Prime. You hit upon exactly what makes the franchise so absorbing: atmosphere, thought, and isolation. Let’s hope they deliver.

  • Ben Ruiz

    “In the years since Federation Force, I have simply stopped expecting anything from Nintendo.”

    Wut? FF came out LAST YEAR. For goodness sake this reeks of melodrama more than anything. Yes I get that there are long gaps between games, but to act like that they hadn’t planned MP4 or Samus Returns since FF is pure self-serving rhetoric in order to gain pity points from everyone. Especially since if you were a fan, you would have read the interviews that heavy implications that the next games were coming. The only mistake that Nintendo made with FF is that they didn’t announce it along with MP4 to shut up the crybabies that wouldn’t give the game a chance anyway, seeing how they want to develop and flesh out a much larger world in the series.

    This sort of melodrama that everyone has toward Metroid makes me ashamed to be a fan of Metroid.

  • Soda Popinski

    I think being a new studio on the franchise… rather than try to TOP Retro’s outstanding FPS Prime series work, they’re going to surprise us with something different…..3rd person. In series history its never been done before in 3D yet. Calling it now 😉

    • heavenshitman1

      Metroid Other M?

      Mind you, as all agree that game was way outta character. But I still liked the 3rd person concept, but I think they’ll go 1st cause of the 3DS game running along side

      • Soda Popinski

        That’s essentially 2D. I said 3rd person 3D.

        • heavenshitman1

          🤔
          Slightly loose term of 2D no?
          In any room you could transverse in any direction.

          I actually liked the 3rd person (3Dish 2D whatever) style of Other M.
          But I am a mega fan of classic Super Metroid, I’d even enjoy seeing that re created in 3D

          • Soda Popinski

            Ok, “Other M” is 2.5D ish, borderline “very limited” 3D.

            I’m thinking more along the lines of GTAV, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Breath of the Wild, Batman Arkham series OPEN WORLD 3D, yet still done in classic Super “Metroidvania” style ofcourse. That would be bad a$$.

            Besides, if “Other M” is the ONLY 3rd person “3D” (2.5) contender in the Metroid franchise as far as slightly similar camera perspective, I think that bar should be relatively easy to rise above.

            (And yes I would LOVE a modern recreation of Super Metroid HD in vein of:)
            http://www.dsogaming.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/super_metroid___depths_of_tourian_by_elemental79-d5z66m9.jpg