This year, Nintendo took it upon themselves to satisfy their fanbase in two different ways. First, they teased us that Metroid Prime 4 is currently in development for the Nintendo Switch, which honestly was enough in it’s own regard. Just confirming that a series that many fans complain about being “dead” is being brought to the hybrid console sometime in the future was all they needed to hear. Though, this fanbase has been divided somewhat due to the way the series has shifted from it’s 2D action-platformer roots towards the first-person Prime series.
So, in almost a preemptive way Nintendo decided to drop a second game starring the beloved bounty hunter, Metroid: Samus Returns. This 3DS exclusive is an updated, and upgraded remake of the game Metroid II: Return of Samus from the Game Boy. This allows all of the Metroid purists to not have to worry about the debate of what style of Metroid is superior, since everyone wins now. This return to Samus’ roots is a much welcomed adventure, seeing as how we haven’t gotten a 2D Metroid since Zero Mission back in 2004.
So, a Switch Metroid teased for the future and another Metroid coming to the Nintendo 3DS this September, in my mind this signifies that Nintendo is listening to their fans. Not in the sense that I think fan complaints are the only reason we are getting these games, it’s clear that Samus Returns was in development for some time since it’s releasing in three months, but Nintendo knows it’s fans want this series and they are choosing to show that they are doubling down for both camps in the Metroid fanbase. So this make me think, what else does Nintendo have up their sleeves?
I think it’s clear that Nintendo is moving towards a future that utilizes all of it’s franchises in ways that make sense for them and for the brands, whether it be on the Switch, 3DS, or iOS/Android. Allowing other trusted developers to take the reigns on some of their IPs is also a smart way for them to continue to help release new content for franchises that fans love– Hyrules Warriors and Fire Emblem Warriors for example. It’s important to note though, that Nintendo isn’t choosing to rely solely on their staple of legendary IPs, but they continue to create fresh new ideas such as Splatoon and ARMS which both also tackle genres Nintendo isn’t typically creating games in.
What this “new” Nintendo is showing us is that they are going to be giving fans what they want, and I’d expect to see more of this in the coming years. Not to mention, the onslaught of first party support for year one of the fledgling console’s life is something that the other two console makers can’t keep up with. This could really tip the scales in Nintendo’s favor and if they can continue to increase their install base, you will see more third party games by the 2018 holiday season. As far as other series that I think we will see this Metroid-level of support for in the near future F-Zero, Animal Crossing, Earthbound/Mother, and Kid Icarus are among the top of the list, and the most likely for Nintendo.