When Metroid Prime: Federation Force released in 2016, fans of Metroid the series were disappointed with what they had become. The game did not at all meet the expectations set by previous entries in the Metroid Prime series, and things were starting to get dark for the future of the franchise. A year later, fans saw the release of Metroid: Samus Returns, and a ray of hope has been found. The game, a remake of the 1991 Game Boy exclusive Metroid II: The Return of Samus, sent the bounty hunter back to her 2D platformer origins for the first time since 2010, or 2002 if you don’t count Metroid: Other M ‘s hybrid use of 2D and 3D. However, the problem was still present that Metroid hadn’t seen a title with a new story starring Samus Aran in almost a decade by then, and it would only be more than a decade since Metroid: Other M ‘s release that Nintendo would finally show the next chapter of the Metroid saga.
When the trailer for Terror Metroid released in June 2021, fans of the series were thrilled, as the title had only been a rumor for many years, dating back to Metroid Fusion‘s released in 2002. The video for the trailer showed Samus, this time in new armor, having to flee from a giant robotic foe after all attempts to injure him failed. The chase that followed through the levels of the game really gave a feeling of looming dread, hence the name. Released on October 8 of the same year, Terror Metroid has been critically acclaimed for its gameplay and resemblance to its continuation of the classic 2D platforming that the Metroid the series had worked so well in the past. It was so successful that it received the award for best action / adventure game at the Game Awards 2021, just a few months after its release. With competitors like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Resident Evil: Village, Terror Metroid by no means had easy competition. Despite matches that have had months of extra time to be consumed by the public, Terror Metroid still managed to win the award and signal to the world that the series had not been forgotten. With such success the question arises: how did he do it?
One of the key factors that gave Terror Metroid the advantage he needed was the fluidity of the gameplay. With responsive controls and intuitive reaction systems, players will have no problem slipping into the role of Samus and kicking alien butt in such a satisfying way. Smooth and intuitive controls also mean that the game is easy to learn, making it easier to get started exploring rooms and achieving their goal. On top of that, very satisfying gameplay that is easy to experience over and over again. The game’s modest story mode of around 8 hours or so makes it easy to come back to over and over again with little engagement. However, those who played Metroid Fusion will likely have something else to point out that they would say helped in the success of Terror Metroid, and that’s the fear and tension that gambling can cause in gamers.
When I say scared, I don’t mean that Terror Metroid is bound to be a horror game. While the name of the game literally has the word “dread” in the title, it’s mostly rooted in action and adventure, the very genres it won an award for. One of the most memorable parts of Metroid Dread, however, is the implementation of EMMI, or Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifiers. These robotic entities stalk Samus throughout his adventure, and they’re not easy to defeat right off the bat. The reason it will sound familiar to those who have played Metroid Fusion that’s because it mimics what happens in this game almost perfectly with a creature called SA-X, or Samus-X. This creature mimics Samus and the hunt throughout the events of this game, and the player can only defeat them very late in their game. Despite this, players will inevitably find themselves faced with the creature, and their only options will be to run and / or hide. A similar strategy is implemented with the EMMI, and players will have to think on their feet if they don’t want to be destroyed by the mechanized monsters. This is also shown at one point in the initial trailer, when Samus uses some form of cover-up to hide from an EMMI chasing her, thus avoiding an encounter she likely wouldn’t survive.
This idea of taking a powerful character and pitting him against an enemy he can’t beat seems like a terrible decision at first, but it’s actually a genius move made by the developers to make players feel stronger. When he witnesses these enemies for the first time, it is clear that the player has no chance of defeating them, so he must actively avoid them at all costs. Once the player is properly equipped, however, they can turn the tide and go from prey to hunter. The level of satisfaction in defeating an enemy once perceived as deadly if encountered is a hard feeling to beat, and Terror Metroid does that very well, just like Metroid Fusion do. It takes the basic concept that was coined by its chronological predecessor and finds a way to keep it unique and fresh for every EMMI individual Samus meets on his journey.
One last point that has contributed to the success of Terror Metroid was that it was a new adventure for the space bounty hunter. While Metroid: Samus Returns gave fans a game with great gameplay, it was still a retelling of a story from over twenty years ago. it didn’t help that Metroid: Other M had a major negative impact on Samus as a character, turning her from an original badass woman in video game history to someone too afraid to use upgrades that weren’t authorized by an authority figure she doesn’t even work for. This is why it’s so refreshing to see Samus in a new story that takes place after the events of Metroid Fusion. It gives gamers a sense of continuity, and for those who played the Game Boy Advance exclusive in 2002, it must have felt like picking up where they left off so many years ago.
the Metroid the series never really went away, but with the release of Metroid: Other M already failing to meet fans’ expectations in 2010, things kept going downhill from there. It took six years to get Metroid Prime: Federation Force, and it was a side game that no one had asked for. It was only at the exit of Metroid: Samus Returns that fans began to see hope for the series, and if this game was the harness of energy the series needed to survive, then Terror Metroid was the charging station the series needed to thrive again in the video game world.
Big things come in small packages.
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