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what unites Samus and Nintendo

An interplanetary spacecraft departs from the Zebes orbital base at 8.4 km / s. In turn, another ship leaves the atmosphere of Tallon IV with a constant speed of 11 km / s. Assuming both ships travel at a constant speed, and knowing that the approximate distance between Tallon IV and Zebes is 93 million kilometers, answer: what the hell is Nintendo doing with Metroid?

Technically, what you are about to read It is an article (the first one I publish in a magazine, by the way). Intentionally, since that’s why I started writing, it’s a love letter. But, objectively, I believe that the definition that most limits this text is that of historical analysis of Nintendo’s responsibility for Metroid. At first I wanted to talk about why Metroid Prime 4 is assuming a problematic development to the point of needing to restart in charge of another studio, but going back to my personal experience with the saga and what I know based on having been a true fanboy of Samus I have come to the conclusion that Prime 4’s problems are not exclusively his. The metroidea problem comes from afarIt is of enormous magnitude, and it grows with each game.

Needless to say, this is a subjective reflection. Let’s get started.


This article contains minor spoilers for various games in the Metroid saga,

as well as GRAY and The Legend of Zelda.

Child’s play

Since I am mature enough to understand the companies behind the games I consume (something relatively recent, because # almost30 but I have the mental scheme of a 3-year-old child), Nintendo has associated a label that not a few use to stigmatize it: the infantilism, the belief that their products are aimed at an immature or undemanding audience. What about “Nintendo is for kids”Is a maxim that is sufficiently extended for the competition to take advantage of it (see the beefeo it had with Sega) and even for its own collaborators to consider the viability of some titles on their consoles, but the truth is that Nintendo has not been unmarked of those accusations, but embraces and promotes them. The philosophy that drives them is creativity, limitless originality, and its marketing campaigns and advertising spots are very focused on inclusion, the fact that everyone, regardless of age, gender or origin, can have fun and share playing. This way of thinking allows Bayonetta to be friends with Mario, or for Travis Touchdown to have a must with Daisy and Captain Olimar, without conflicts, because the enormous size of a platform catalog in these times makes it very difficult for someone to stay. without finding an experience that meets your needs, and therefore that is pigeonholed in any way.

The debate here is not on whether or not Nintendo is childish based on the design or the gameplay, because without blood, Mortal Kombat controls are affordable so that a child under ten years old can play it with ease in the same way as the mechanics of Pokémon they can be attractive and demanding for those over forty. The crux of the matter, in this case, is related to the degree of depth that Nintendo gives to the works that depend directly on it. In the eyes of time, it is not exactly the same to play Mortal Kombat or Pokémon with five years of age than with twenty-five, but I would dare to say without much fear of being wrong that the feelings will be more similar in that case than if you play at those same ages, I don’t know, GRAY. I can’t be sure because I didn’t play GRAY when I was five years old, but I have been five years old (and ten and fifteen and twenty) and in none of those stages have I been able to fully understand concepts such as grief or loss, topics that They are cornerstones of this game and they do not limit the experience. A child could finish GRAY and enjoy it, because it presents an acceptable challenge, has a very sensitive soundtrack and is visually gorgeous, but is not prepared to understand why Gris has lost her voice or why silences and colors have meaning beyond of the ornament. That’s what maturity is about, to better understand emotions and to be able to empathize on a more intimate level, and that’s exactly where Nintendo is with Metroid. They are maturing together.

NESxtalgia Metroid

NESxtalgia Metroid

Metroid and maturity: a good story

Metroid has been telling us its story for 35 years. That a company wants to give continuity to a product that performs well on a commercial level is logical, and that an artist or team of artists wants to continue giving wings to their creation is also logical, that is why there are many sagas that are still alive decades after its original release. What distinguishes Metroid is that during these seven decades, and with the exception of spin-offs in the form of pinball, the story it told has always been the same. The Legend of ZeldaFor example, it has several timelines that encompass very different games, some more self-concluding than others but all articulated around independent narratives that start from different assumptions, while each Metroid game occupies a place on the same line. There is a metahistory. That artistic vision (art in video games is something I might really enjoy dealing with in future articles, so stay tunned) is commendable for the risk involved, since each new installment will be conditioned by what the previous ones narrated and will condition those that succeed it, and it is especially courageous if we take into account that the saga, through titles such as Echoes (Prime 2) or Hunters, has directly introduced the existence of alternative realities in their universe, which would have allowed them to lay a safety net under them (and have an excuse).

The theoretical implication of this narrative decision is enough by itself to demand a certain maturity from the player. When I played Prime 2 for the first time (I don’t remember how old I was, but young because it was on GameCube), the journey between the dimensions of Aether was fun and exciting, yes, but now I a-lu-ci-na like they translated the complexity of a plot full of space jumps into a work so fluid and comprehensible, and all this without being characterized by being too explicit. Metroid has not needed extreme gore, sex or violence to tell us a story not suitable for minors. Age rating agencies are usually relatively lenient, and rightly so, because Samus’s suffocating loneliness is no more dangerous than loot boxes or all-over nudity to the mind of an impressionable teenager, but yes it is more complicated. So I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the game with the highest PEGI rating, Other M (PEGI 16), is also the one that tried the hardest to talk about Samus, her past and her motivations. The title developed by Team Ninja wanted to blur the cliché of space heroine that we had hung on the bounty hunter so that we could meet the woman behind the exploits, so that we would understand that Metroid is not about gunning humanoid crustaceans, but about decline of civilizations (the chozo and the men themselves), of the inexorable force of destiny (the X or the Phazon), of loneliness and helplessness (the orphanhood of Samus), of justice (the salvation of the metroid baby) or , without knowing yet if it treats it in an obvious or subtle way, of motherhood. Maternity! It is very strong.

Metroid Other M

Metroid Other M

Metroidea problem

Arrived at this point, Retro Studios and Nintendo face a very, very big dilemma for Prime 4: build a narrative that meets the expectations that are placed on it, and that fits with the thematic line that the rest of the titles have advanced. As I see it, and from the brief data that we can intuit, the direction that this game is going to take necessarily goes through diversity (and if not, I think they should bring it up in the immediate post Prime 4).

See also

Monster Hunter Stories 2Monster Hunter Stories 2

This is not a personal thing, but a decision based on need. 35 years have passed and we all love Ridley and the connection between him and Samus, but a narrative that does not resort to multiverses (which can work, but in general I find them a very crude resource if they attend to any interest that is not the that they contribute to the adventure) as is the one of Metroid has it very difficult to justify that we’ve killed Ridley seventy-seven times already. And be careful, because up to now they have developed with a solvency worthy of admiration: we have beaten Ridley, Meta-Ridley, Omega-Ridley and Proteus-Ridley (all of them the same cybernetic ridley more and more organically regenerated), to a clone of Ridley created by the Federation that we watched grow from being a lovable little reptile until he tries to crush us in Other M, already another clone created by the X parasite in Fusion. It’s too much, and surely there are alternatives to resurrect Ridley one more time, but if so, the plausibility goes to hell. The same goes for Samus. We already have Dark Samus, which is the ultimate doppelgänger, and SA-X. Keeping pulling on that thread could turn epic villains into a simple cartoon.

Loneliness and oppression The environment that was the hallmark of the first games has been looser since the DS stage. Hunters introduced new bounty hunters; Corruption for Wii even more; Adam Malkovich, whose shadow was always present, was already an important character in Fusion for GBA and ended up being so in Other M, but it is even in Metroid Prime: Federation Force, which was completely separated from the franchise and is still canon , brushstrokes of what we can expect were introduced through a secret scene that involves secondary characters about whom we know almost nothing. Samus establishes more or less close relationships with all these characters, but regardless of the value they have for Samus’s development as a protagonist, the design and the emotional construction of these secondaries was sublime by itself, and super important at the level of narrative growth. We can talk about the enigmatic Sylux, the honorable Rundas, or Gandrayda, who is hilarious and kept teasing Samus with something that could resemble camaraderie. Gandrayda freaks me out, frankly.

Make Metroid Prime 4 a more choral game By introducing new characters it would be relatively easy. Making sense of your introduction is slightly more difficult. However, the secret endings and the extra scenes of the past titles could not be accidental, nor deceptive. The most complicated thing is what they have prepared to do: take up the past to face the future. I don’t think the story of Prime 4 was thought of yesterday. I don’t even think work was started on it after Federation Force. Sometimes I think that I love this saga so much that I am an optimist, and that at Nintendo they are releasing games when they are needed and they do not consider what to do until then, but the facts do not lean towards that deduction. Metroid is not an overly productive franchise. We have at least one Mario a year and a couple of Pokémon each generation, but Metroid cooks slowly and does not mind not going to his appointment with new consoles, as happened with Wii U or Nintendo 64. Also, there are clues in too many places like to make it a coincidence. I think this game has been around the Nintendo offices for many years, and that it needed to be restarted because the developer who took over the project at the beginning, whatever it was, did not understand the saga with the timeless love with which they understood it in Kyoto.

Nintendo listens to its fans. Slowly, certainly, but listen to us. I think your bet with this new game is important and daring. I think, in short, that we are facing what will be the biggest launch in the history of Metroid.