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Forums - Nintendo Discussion - What I Want to See With Metroid & What Could Push a Metroid Game to 20 Million Units?

The purpose of this thread is to discuss how to blow up Metroid's popularity to 20+ million. By extension, appeal to 17 million or more gamers that WEREN'T fans of the old Metroid Prime games. Those who don't find FPS dungeon crawler type games appealing.

I'm not sure how many players are like me, but I can only speak from my knowledge. Where I stand: a person who likes the old early 80s/90s Metroid and Zelda games, but didn't particularly enjoy the 3D era. Yet, fell in love with the Zelda franchise all over again with Breath of the Wild. I'm of the sort who has an interest in the Samus character, and likes the premise of the Metroid universe, but one who has little interest in playing the sort of game that Metroid Prime 1-3 happen to be.

So, this isn't necessarily what Metroid Prime 4 should be. It's also not whether or not Metroid should stick to the Metroid Prime 1 formula for all time. Consider it a hypothetical about what can be done with the Metroid franchise to give it Breath of the Wild levels of appeal.

In short, I think Metroid and Zelda have a lot of similarities, and can go down some very similar paths.

1. Remove the linearity, and make it an open world.

Recently, I played through the very first Metroid game, and enjoyed it quite a lot. One thing that really stood out to me was how open the game felt compared to other Metroid games I've played. You basically have your little opening area, and then BOOM, most of the Metroid 1 world is open. I spent a lot of time lost, exploring, figuring out my head map. I enjoyed the game DESPITE its terrible flaws - recovering energy is a nightmare, so much that I had to abuse the hell out of save states, redoing portions multiple times and avoiding damage unless it was necessary. So having fun, despite that nightmarish flaw, says something about the game design. Also, there was a lot of cut and paste sections - surprisingly, I hardly ever got lost, although it did happen a few times that I thought I was one place, but actually in another. Anyway, the freedom of moving around all over the place, really made the game feel fun. Zelda 1 and Metroid 1 had this openness in common, the ability to explore most of the world almost right away.

2. The Desolation is off-putting, make it much more lively.

One element, and I can't put my finger on it as to why, ALL the Metroid games are Samus alone in a maze. Something about Metroid Prime felt so much more empty than Metroid 1 or 2. Maybe the darker tones, the music. Either way, Breath of the Wild added a lot of towns. This isn't new to the franchise, but to have such distinct and important feeling towns, is new. Skyward Sword had a hub, Twilight Princess had more towns, but they felt very empty. I think Metroid Prime adding some kind of life to the world might fix the desolation problem, something beyond just flora and monsters. People with day to day activities, stuff they need Samus for. Breath of the Wild was FULL of this.

3. Emergent gameplay is an important element in Nintendo games these days.

Animal Crossing and Breath of the Wild have these two things in common, emergent gameplay. That is, gameplay that the players kind of invent themselves, but doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the goals of the game. This made Breath of the Wild a viral video sensation on youtube. The physics stuff in Breath of the Wild would fit in a Metroid game, using Samus's gun like magnesis, pull stuff around. Set traps for enemies. Give Samus the ability to take a bunch of pieces of stuff to make boats, flying devices, and that sort of stuff. Metroid 2 had a bit of this going on, and it was one of the best things about the game - not that Samus could build things, but that players could easily "break" the rules of the game with bombs and the spiderball, and fly around areas you normally shouldn't - Breath of the Wild did this way way way better. In short, give the player enough tools to do all sorts of fun goofy stuff to post to youtube.

Speaking of Emergent storytelling, it's a big part of Minecraft; and Minecraft is a vertical slice of the infamously inaccessible Dwarf Fortress (it's actually nowhere near as bad as its rep). Emergent storytelling is VASTLY more developed in Dwarf Fortress than Minecraft, and maybe any other game. If the concept appeals to you, it's getting an accessible Steam release soon.

4. Give Samus a real home that can be personalized.

A bit of a sandboxy element. This is the one thing Breath of the Wild can do better. I think many people felt that "I wanna do more with Link's House" or "I wanna live here instead" feeling. Animal Crossing already allows this. Turning Samus's ship into a home, altering the landscape around it. Maybe allow Samus to set up a homestead in many different areas of the map. I think this will create a TON of video fodder for youtube. Although, this is probably less necessary, it might be just a place to display certain trophies is enough. But imagine a place to store pieces of her suit, weapons, and other trophies. But if there was one thing I wanted more of in Breath of the Wild, it was stuff to build up, or the flexibility of where I could live.

5. Emergent Storytelling can make the game feel much more meaningful to players in different ways.

This is one of the elements that made Breath of the Wild Great. Basically, instead of having a linear narrative, players pick up bits of a cutsenes, gameplay, objectives/dialogue, and gameplay experiences and routines to shape their own story - basically, a story that isn't forged by the game for the player to experience, but a story forged by the player using what's in the game. Now, Metroid has never been a story based game before, but the 2020s is a good time to start. Emergent style storytelling will probably work a lot better for Metroid than a typical linear RPG style narrative, especially since games typically do the dialogue and such in much smaller chunks - even Crusader Kings 2, which is very dialogue heavy, has fairly minimal chunks of dialogue to add flavour to what you're doing with the gameplay. I think this sort of thing would help eliminate the desolation issue that players like me have with the Prime titles.

Of course, you'll have the "Why should I enjoy this when I have the engrossing blah blah blah of the Witcher series? Answer: Sure, I don't disagree, I'd LOVE to see a Witcher 3 style game. But that would be a different game than the one I'm describing above. Nintendo has one team that could make that: Monolithsoft. That said, I'd rather see a Xenoblade game in the Witcher 3 style. I'd still probably really like a Witcher 3 style Metroid too, I just don't think it'd have nearly as easy of a time selling 20+ million units on Switch/Nintendo consoles as a Breath of the Wild style Metroid/Samus game would.

What does the world look like? Metroid games are traditionally mainly set in maxes underground. One of the big changes that Breath of the Wild took was taking Zelda very heavily into the overworld with briefer stays in the underground... actually, only when compared to the 3D Zeldas, the average Shrine/dungeons are fairly close to the dungeon lengths of the 2D Zelda games, at least 1-3. Maybe Metroid's "overworld" is mostly in the "underworld." Metroid 1 was kind of like that, while there was a big underworld to travel through, there were smaller side-paths that led to the various objectives to make Samus more powerful with the minibosses being a somewhat bigger part. Underground can be fairly open too:

And the Kingdom of Uraya is really just the beginning of how big it can be be.

It's just a thought.

I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.

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Overall very good points. Open world will make wonders for Metroid, but I'm sure the fandom isn't exactly expecting this. They seem to like the more tight design of Prime series, I guess the best way to good is indeed something like original Zelda, where you have a nice open world to explore and fight enemies while still having dungeons with tight level design and puzzle solving. Metroid is also sci fi based, so the open worldness can easily incorporate elements of other genres such as driving, flying/spaceships battle, essentially making the gameplay more varied. Needless to point that most of those options have to be optional as not everyone enjoy them. Freedom is gameplay allow players to choose what they find nice about a game and ignore whatever they find boring 

I also like your idea for a non linear story, I would love something like Horizon, but with much less direct exposure and more focus on collecting. Let people collect the fragments of the story and watch them in a more optional way, you can even skip the story altogether if you don't care for it. 

On top of that, make the classical Metroidvania backtrack looks more seamless. I don't dislike the idea of getting access to certain areas of the map only after unlocking some skills, but those areas would be more nice if they were mostly optional (optional  but with high rewards). I can imagine some smaller dungeons scattered around the world that are fully accessible/explorable only after certain set of skills are unlocked, akin to shrines but looking more like Horizon's Facilities


Unfortunately not really feeling this will able to pull anything significantly bigger than 10 million regardless of the strategy used  

Mostly cause Metroid isn't coming anytime soon. The development was essentially reseted in 2019, my safe bet for a game with a Metroid scope would be 2023, probably closer to the final moments of Switch's life 

The IP doesn't have a flagship status to move an insane amount of software in launch, it would need to be based in a insanely great word of mouth and no matter how good word of mouth is, if a console is dying people will just ignore it and move forward

One way to put out 20 million would be make this game cross gen, or at least backwards compatible, making a remastered version a launch title for Switch sequel, then I can maybe see 20 million becoming here but still a crazy high expectation for an IP that never crossed 5 million copies, is Nintendo willing to taking the risk of have a game as costly as their biggest IPs even if this game has nowhere near the same sales potential? We have yet to see 

Everything you said makes me wonder if you have actually played and understood any Metroid games at all...

It's called Metroid INFINITE.

My prediction in 2021.

SW: 30m

PS5 16m

XBS: 7.5m

That's an interesting concept, I think this might work. Except for maybe point number 4. Other than that, yes. Not a bad idea!

Gameplay > Graphics

Substance > Style

Art Direction > Realism

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Well, idk about metroid,but your thread inspired me.I have an idea for kirby to sell 20 million: make it so it has a ton of friends that you can capture, but not only that, that you can use to battle other friends. But not only that, make it so the bosses are leaders of a tournament that is happening; a league if you will. Also, instead of kirby, you can choose between a boy or a girl in the main menu, a professor will let you.Let's also ditch that platforming, now its a turn based game.

May also ditch "kirby", what type of name is that. Name it pocket friends or something.

Last edited by Finale - on 09 May 2021

Man, the franchise is unable to cross the 3Million mark and you're aiming at 20M all for a sudden?

Metroid is not meant to be a giant seller like that. It's a solid performer, not a giant money maker. Only way 20+ mil is being sold is if you have demonstrable mind control.

...And IDK, feel like if you have that you had better things to do with it. If I had mind control I'd probably do things like fixing congressional gridlock, getting a DCAU-art style JLA-Avengers adaption made, and making Goh less of a spotlight stealing squad before Metroid.

The Democratic Nintendo that a paradox? I'm fond of one of the more conservative companies in the industry, but I vote Liberally and view myself that way 90% of the time?

I either think they need to change it up to be an open world experience, with virbantly colored worlds, and tons of buried mysteries to solve, or go fully the other way and make it a terrifying experience, like Fusion, and have you constantly hiding from some scary enemy while you slowly build up your arsenal. Personally I'd enjoy the first option more.

Jumpin makes some good points.  What made Breath of the Wild so successful is that it actually got back to the roots of the first game in philosophy.  The first Zelda was an open world game about exploration.  BotW took this philosophy but applied it to a modern looking 3D game.  One thing that really showed this was the right move was the fact that Zelda 1 was actually the most successful Zelda game before BotW (in relative terms).  If you look at only Japan + NA sales numbers and adjust for population Zelda 1 outsold every game before BotW.

It turns out that Metroid 1 was also the most successful Metroid game going by that same standard.  The real thing to ask is what was the underlying philosophy of Metroid 1?  Then apply it to a modern 3D Metroid.

1) Make the game open world - It was possible to explore most of Metroid very early on.  Later Metroid games threw up obvious hard gateways too frequently.  Metroid 1 let the player explore a large area and the "gateways" that later opened up were not always so obvious.

2) Make the game claustrophobic - Instead of a huge sprawling world like BotW, make Metroid a more modestly sized space to explore, but then you have to keep retreading the same areas to find secrets.  If you've played Dark Souls 1, I am thinking of a level design more like the main castle area.  So many parts of the game come back to and connect to this area.  However in this Metroid game I wouldn't make these hard barriers so much as secret barriers that can be bypassed through a combination of exploration and sometimes a key power up.  

3) Make the game a horror game in space - This is the most important thing to get right.  The first Metroid game was based on the first Alien movie.  A lot of elements that were put into the original game were meant to be unnerving to the player to give a kind of horror movie feeling.  Over time these elements have been diluted or lost.  Here is what I'd suggest to put this back:
A) Make the game T rated or M rated.  If Nintendo can scare people with a T rating that's ideal, but if not then bring on the M rating.  If nothing else, the game would get a lot of buzz simply because Nintendo made one of their classic franchises M rated.
B) Make the game hard. Original Metroid was the hardest first party game on the NES.  A challenging and deadly game would add to the horror feeling.  The metroid in the game should be at least as challenging as the guardians in BotW and ideally more challenging.  Essentially, they should be making something like a Dark Souls game in space.  The constant threat of death adds to the horror feeling.
C) Make the setting a high tech ghost town.  The player should be exploring some type of settlement where every person was killed by Metroid.  The more advanced the human civilization is the better.  The metroid need to have killed a group of people that are seemingly unkillable.
D) Mess with the player's head. I've heard people say that Metroid is supposed to give the player a feeling of isolation.  This is true, but it's just one aspect.  Metroid is supposed to be unnerving, and the isolation is part of that.  Have aliens sneak up on the player.  Have the lights go out suddenly.  Have the floor drop unexpectedly.  Lead the player to an impregnable safe spot and then show a bunch of dead bodies.  Have Mother Brain lead the player into a trap.  Have the player keep discovering things that are the opposite of what they expect.  Put the player in a zone where they get lost.  Keep the player feeling like they are on edge.
E) Make resources limited. I think they should take a cue from Resident Evil 1 here.  Limited resources make the game more intense.  The original game made you manually recharge your energy tanks and missiles by grinding through enemies.  I wouldn't go that far anymore, but it did add to the feeling of scarcity which made the game scarier and more challenging.  Instead I would have one key recharge spot and that's it.  The further you get from this key spot the more likely you are to run out of resources.

I have one more thing which is more a matter of personal preference:
4) Make the game a third person shooter - I personally hate FPS games.  The biggest reason is that I feel the controls in all FPS games are clunky (even Mirror's Edge).  A lot of the power ups in Metroid improve your movement capabilities, and I think this would work better in third person.

Last edited by The_Liquid_Laser - on 09 May 2021