Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

Metroid Dread has a lot of other M DNA, but that’s not a bad thing

Image: Nintendo

Editor’s Note: This article describes the moments of an audio-based character near the end of Metroid Dread. If you’re sensitive to spoilers, quit the game and return to this article later …


For 15 years, Metroid Dread was just a rumor. Now it’s real, it’s been out for over a month, and it’s great. Samus Aran’s latest adventures are packed with almost everything Metroid fans can ask for, from wild boss battles to maps of giant labyrinths.

As the fifth and apparently final entry in the series’ 2D “Ark,” Dread is obsessed with the history of the franchise and draws a lot of inspiration from its 2002 predecessor, Metroid Fusion. But while playing dreads, we had no choice but to find another Metroid game flash-Wii’s Eternally Divided Metroid: Other M.

If you’ve played another M, you might see it too. It became popular on social media a while back, and it has experienced something of re-evaluation from some players in recent years. Dread’s brutal close quarters battle and cinematic camera are instantly reminiscent of the highly malicious 2010 spin-off title. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice how Dread continues to be another M’s interest in Samus’s life and relationships, and how he continues to pay attention to the series’ folklore in cutscenes and dialogue.

Of course, Dread had a lot, throwing away the other M’s worst ideas. The famous silent protagonist utters only one line in the dread, in stark contrast to the rambling monologues that tickled the other M scripts. Players follow their curiosity through tunnels and towers on the planet ZDR, rather than waiting for instructions from a barbaric commander.

Wii Metroid Other M 03
Image: Nintendo

It’s been 11 years, but for Metroid, the other Ms left an impression on me. Metroid Dread stands in 2021 as a response to the Wii’s predecessor, whether it was intended or not. This is the result of Nintendo carefully cutting the other Ms into their best elements and quietly cutting out the controversial cause.

It may seem like a strange comparison, but both games share DNA. The other Ms and dreads were developed by different studios (Team Ninja and Mercury Steam respectively), but the clear throughline between them is Yoshio Sakamoto, the series leader who produced the latest title.

Nintendo gave Sakamoto Carte Blanche to make a big and noisy AAA Metroid game for the glowing Wii. It will be the last Metroid game in 6 years

One of Nintendo’s oldest staff, Sakamoto dates back to the company’s early days in the video game industry. And since Super Metroid in 1994, he has been the brain of the mother behind the series. Sakamoto set aside the popular first-person spin-off Metroid Prime and its sequels, but was instrumental in the 2000s franchise 2D games. When the series culminated in the 2000s, using online multiplayer shooters When As the name implies, pinball games — Nintendo asked Sakamoto Carte Blanche to make a big, loud AAA Metroid game for the bright red Wii. This will be the last Metroid game in 6 years.

Sakamoto has positioned Metroid: Other M as a game of big ideas. In it, Samus spoke long for the first time. Blending the styles of 2D Metroid and Metroid Prime, it fills part of the vast sky universe of the series and uses groundbreaking control schemes. He gathered a huge team to achieve this, inviting staff from Nintendo, action game specialist Team Ninja, and CG studio D-Rockets, and a script he wrote, including nearly two hours of cutscenes. Brought to life.

Metroid: Other M
Image: Nintendo

The finished product was a brilliant mess, according to many players’ estimates. The control required to use one Wii remote that was held sideways, had to navigate in 3D using the four-way controller, and point the remote at the screen to use the missile. The movie was dragged in and the dialogue was monotonous. Critics blamed other Ms for portraying Samus as naive, sentimental, frightened, and unsuitable for her own work.

To make matters worse, Metroid’s famous nonlinear upgrade system was tied to the whims of Samus’ former military CO, Adam Markovich. Instead of discovering the heat-resistant Varia suit himself, he had to sprint through dangerous lava lands that would burn Samus’ health before Adam could “permit” the suit. The reason she tries to hurt herself in order to respect Adam’s authority is not well justified.

It’s hard to see all that junk to get a glimpse of the really great ideas at the heart of the other Ms.

The other M turned out to be the opposite of what many fans love about Metroid. Removed player-driven discoveries and replaced them with scripted plot beats. Samus’s persona was no longer incomprehensible. She now has a strict and clear personality, which many find difficult to accept.

It’s hard to see all that gunk to get a glimpse of the really great ideas at the heart of the other Ms. Team Ninja has made a clear approach to gameplay with deep appreciation for the series. They brought their signature brand action into combat, injecting the encounter of Metroid’s former fleet of monsters into a tense duel with Slow Moddge and Parry Move. Samus tears off the creature’s tail, freezes his feet on the floor, flips his back up and fires the laser straight at his face. The camera enjoys a complete jump to third person 3D. Sweep from room to room, pull Samus firmly to finish the blow, and pull back a wide shot in brightly burning lava fields and muddy swamps.

It’s funny to see that many of the other M’s ideas are what fans are trying to confront head-on with Metroid Dread. Intense and protracted boss battles, their dynamic cameras, and even folklore-immersed stories all return to the other Ms.

Mercury Steam Metroid: Samus Returns to 3DS
Mercury Steam Metroid: Samus Returns to 3DS (Image: Nintendo)

Mercury Steam’s criminally underrated Metroid: Samus Returns (2017) provided a hint of this direction. The game, also produced by Sakamoto, featured Samus’ new melee counter. -Pumping the battle of the bosses in the series. Even on the small screen of the Nintendo 3DS, the camera closes when Samus steps into a save station or counters Metroid at the right time.

Mercury Steam and Sakamoto used Dread to combine these elements into an elegant package. Samus is more zippered than ever, gaining new slide movements and air evasion. Nintendo Switch’s HD visuals allow you to actually zoom out the camera to provide even wider shots of the game’s huge corridors, rain-smooth rail terminals, and overheated caves. Inheriting Samus Returns’ interactive boss fight cutscene, with proper landing of the melee counter, you can launch missiles into the space monster Galette.

For every sci-fi action that goes beyond Mercury Steam’s Metroid game, Samus himself is written with amazing restraints. Bounty hunters are not completely stoic. Her eyes and body language quietly convey all emotions. And when she speaks in the climax scene, it’s her adopted son’s long-standing language. Players are invited again to imagine what Samus is thinking, rather than being told through narration.

Nintendo is well aware that other Ms come to people’s minds until the release of the dreads. During a live dread demo after the E3 was released, Nintendo staff Teresa Aporinario will play a far greater role in this new game with the overwhelming Adam Markovich-based Samus ship AI ADAM. I carefully pointed out that it was small. “He hasn’t given Samus any instructions. It’s up to the player to navigate and explore.” And in September Nintendo Power Podcast Episode, Chris Slate has explicitly excluded other Ms from the story arcs that lead to dreads.

Nintendo doesn’t want other M-enthusiastic fans to dismiss the dreads, but it’s clear that Sakamoto thinks there’s still money left in the hybrid entry. Metroid Dread does not restore the reputation of other Ms, but it does not actually need to. For some, the other M will always be disappointing. For others, it remains a misunderstood classic. No matter how people feel about it today, its legacy is shaping the future of the Metroid series.

Don’t hold your breath for a remake.