The road to Metroid Prime 4 has been an arduous one. Nearly two years after it was initially announced, the team at Nintendo provided a short Youtube message stating their intention to start it over from scratch. The biggest change would be the game’s leading developer: a return to Retro Studios. A year has passed since then, and the silence has gotten fans tense about its progression. Even so, expectations for Metroid Prime 4 have held steady since the reboot admission.
With the impact the Metroid Prime franchise has had and the recent track record of first-party Nintendo titles, there’s reason to be excited over its eventual release (it will release, right?). It got me thinking about what was good about Metroid Prime and what I’d like to see in subsequent sequels. As I wanted to be as concise as possible, I condensed it down to 6 major things. These are the things we want to see in Metroid Prime 4.
1. More Suit Variety
Here’s an unpopular opinion of mine: The Gravity Suit is pretty lame. It’s the Varia Suit, except purple. A little distinction was given to it in Metroid: Samus Returns, only not enough to give it that unique feel. The same can be said of the Phazon Suit in Metroid Prime, which was just another recolor of the same Varia/Gravity Suit. It wasn’t until Metroid Prime 2 that Retro began to implement more interesting visual designs for additional exoskeletons, and I adore them for it. The Light and Dark Suits, unoriginal as the concept may be, gave a vision of sci-fi aestheticism that’s to die for.
Metroid Prime 3 was less forgiving, as the PED Suit—while interesting thematically as opposed to visually—was one’s only option for a large majority of the game. In Metroid Prime 4, I would love to see a return to the intricate alternate suit designs that house interesting abilities. Perhaps something a la The Legend of Zelda, where one has the option to mix and match outfits to suit their playstyle? Imagine the expectations skyrocketing should a trailer for Metroid Prime 4 show Samus switching suits on the fly. I would certainly be hyped (even more than I already am).
2. A Mix of Old and New
Super Mario Odyssey. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Luigi’s Mansion 3. What do all of these titles have in common, besides being very good? They understand the qualities that make current games good and what made games good from their inception. A sweet fusion of old and new to suit those both living in modern times and the past. All those listed above did so, and Metroid Prime 4 would do well to follow suit.
My expectations are that Metroid Prime 4 will, in fact, do this, but better to get it in writing so that others can understand how important it is. Recently, Nintendo has banked on the concept of giving new life to historical gaming customs. Odyssey is structured similarly to Super Mario 64, while also establishing itself as a new experience all on its own. Breath of the Wild was an homage to the exploratory aspects of the debut game in its franchise, and it ended up so enormous that it became something unlike Nintendo had ever done before. Metroid Prime 4 will probably follow this same path, honoring the history of Metroid while also doing new, creative things. Perhaps implementing 2D sections into a 3D adventure? Whatever may happen, I trust the developers to know how to make magic happen again.
My boy Kraid has been a neglected child of the Metroid series as of late. While prominent in earlier titles, his last major appearance in a Metroid game was Metroid: Zero Mission in 2004(!). I am using this article to profess my love and affection for this scaly lad, and believe he deserves better!
With a reported cancelled appearance in Metroid Prime, most of Kraid’s appearances now exist in the form of references. So much disrespect for someone who, supposedly, is a high-ranking member of the Space Pirate threat. And with game technology as it is now, imagine facing Kraid, in all of his size, as a boss in a first-person perspective. The possibilities for strategy are endless. And what better way to pander to nostalgia than to bring back a classic baddie? I would be all for it… with no bias attached at all.
4. A Main Antagonist Not Named Dark Samus or Ridley
For all that I love about the Metroid Prime franchise, its variety in villains isn’t its strong suit. Part of what made the original Metroid Prime (and other games in the franchise) so interesting was the appeal to the unknown. Before traveling to Tallon IV, Meta Ridley was Samus’s target, though only by a sense of duty to stop whatever destruction he may cause—he never did anything prior to landing on Tallon IV. Metroid Prime ended up being the sole antagonist, gradually built up as a great calamity to the universe through Chozo lore and Space Pirate data. The final reveal paid dividends as a memorable and impactful final battle.
Since then, it’s been a recyclable plot of cleaning up after Dark Samus’s mess. In both Metroid Prime‘s 2 and 3, the only goal has been to simply defeat her, with little else to shake the narrative’s core. I think a good way to settle expectations for Metroid Prime 4 would be to introduce a new threat, something or someone that sets the same precedence of mystery and doom that Metroid Prime did in the game it called home. It would also bode well for the immersive exploration aspect that Metroid is known for. This isn’t to say Dark Samus was a bad villain, but at this point, she’s old news to the Prime series. I think I’d rather see Mother Brain return over her.
5. A Continuation to Metroid Prime 3’s Ending
To some, this point may seem dumb. “It’s a sequel. Of course it’s going to continue the story!” But consider the state of the gaming industry at this point. Reboots and prequels are hot, especially if a producer feels the story has become too convoluted. The possibilities for creativity are also too great, as sequels are generally trapped by the situational context provided by the previous entry. This isn’t to say Nintendo will make Metroid Prime 4 a prequel or reboot, all I’m saying is that one’s expectations shouldn’t be set in stone on a direct continuation. It’s possible they go another way (or outright ignore the previous entry’s ending as non-canon).
Personally, I like the idea of an aggressor giving Samus something to look over her shoulder for. This same quality was gracefully done in Metroid Fusion, a game I find to be among the franchise’s best. It likely won’t be framed in the same fashion, as Fusion had more of a horror quality to it; still, some explanation at all would suffice to gave fans that bit of closure after all these years. Is it Sylux, from Metroid Prime: Hunters? Is it Dark Samus, who somehow managed to take the form of spaceships? Please, don’t leave us hanging!
6. Equippable Item Slots, Expanded
Recall what I said earlier about switching suits on the fly? Imagine if you could switch, well, anything on the fly. Something present in only Super Metroid, equippable item slots allow the player to switch acquirable items on or off. Why they would do that of their own accord other than boredom or challenge, I’m unsure. Nevertheless, my idea would be to implement it for the modern age, in that some items aren’t necessary for progression, but rather adhere to certain playstyles that fans could experiment with. Think of it like the beam-missile combos from Metroid Prime, except expanded.
Perhaps a “Shield Suit” that dramatically boosts defense, but lowers offense? A “Sharp Suit” that does the opposite? Beam variety that ranges from ice, fire, electricity, poison, etc. Boots that increase speed while lowering aerial capacity? Picking and choosing at one’s leisure, providing endless amounts of replayability and action finesse. This spot is likely the most wishful of them all, and my time spent with A Robot Named Fight! has likely bloated my expectations. Still, if a Metroid game could provide that much freedom in this current age, I may never put it down again. It may very well be the perfect game for me… if only.
That will wrap it up! What do you think of my list? What do you want to see in Metroid Prime 4? Feel free to comment below and keep the discussion going until it finally reveals itself.