Series co-creator Sakamoto talks shop about the increased dramatic focus and other aspects of the newest Wii Metroid title.
Whether you've already seen it or not, what I want to ask you about the following trailer is, "At what point while watching this did you realize it was a Metroid game?" But I shouldn't bother; the majority of you saw the trailer online, plastered with headlines or promotional graphics, fully aware of exactly what game it is. Your answer would be "Duh. Before I hit play."
My experience was more confusing. I saw the trailer at the Nintendo E3 press briefing with no preamble indicating what exactly the trailer was for, so it wasn't until I saw the blonde girl suddenly clad in the iconic Zero suit and red helmet that I realized, holy crap, this is Metroid! I bring up this context only to convey the brief but intense confusion I felt when that recognition kicked in. (Those of you watching the live stream of the press conference at home can identify.)
That this is a Metroid game shocked me because the first third of the video focuses on cinematic scenes, characters and dialogue--dramatic elements that are foreign (if not directly opposed) to the Metroid series' traditional focus on the lonely exploration of hostile alien worlds. I never came to a Metroid game looking for character development, unless those characters were Ridley and Kraid, and I was developing their nonexistence with my wave beam. Seeing multiple characters--with speaking roles!--in a game with the "Metroid" name still throws me for a loop.
This shift in focus for Other M is by design, of course. Wired's Chris Kohler did a good interview with Nintendo's Yoshio Sakamoto--director of the very first Metroid and the franchise's longtime steward--and newly anointed Team Ninja head Yousuke Hayashi about their strategy for making a new Metroid that diehard fans will accept. The most interesting part to me regards the presence of the storyline such as we've seen it so far.
Wired.com: So, then, what is your vision of the ultimate Metroid game?
Sakamoto: Within the greater Metroid series, the Other M story will tie together the stories that took place in Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion. One of my goals is to present Samus as an appealing human character, and that involves explaining a little bit about what happened in her past as well as the characters that influenced her. The story will play a big part.
I wouldn't want to be in Mr. Hayashi's shoes, shouldered with the dual burden of reviving Team Ninja and satisfying the fickle hardcore Nintendo fanbase. But he does seem to have both duties in mind.
Wired.com: Team Ninja’s games are really hard, but Metroid games have a gentler difficulty curve. Can Team Ninja make a game that doesn’t just kick you in the face with difficulty at every minute?
Hayashi: It’s not our goal to make a Team Ninja version of Metroid. We’re working as part of this larger group, and so as Mr. Sakamoto said earlier, it’s our goal not just to make a game that appeals to Metroid fans or fans of Team Ninja games. It should be a game for everyone.
The full interview goes into some more depth about the size of the respective teams working on the game, and who's doing what. Give it a read if you're looking forward to Other M; information on the game is likely to be scarce for a good long while as its 2010 release date approaches.
In general, is Other M the sort of thing you're looking for in a new Metroid game? If not, where do you think the series ought to be going instead?