Nintendo didn’t just reveal a new Metroid Prime, it is also making a side-scrolling sequel for the 3DS.
Metroid: Samus Returns is a 2.5-D exploration game for Nintendo’s last-generation handheld. Nintendo announced the new game as part of its ongoing Nintendo Treehouse Live broadcast from the Electronic Entertainment Expo show floor in Los Angeles. Nintendo used the 1991 Metroid II: Return of Samus as the foundation for this new reimagining. Fans should expect a similar map and familiar bosses, but the publisher also showed off new features like a melee counter as well as the upgraded 3D visuals.
Samus can also get new Aeion abilities that enable her to do special moves like scanning the entire environment. So this is clearly not a straight remake. Instead, Nintendo is building on the Game Boy game from more than a quarter of a decade ago.
For Samus Returns, Nintendo partnered with developer MercurySteam, which has previously developed Castlevania: Lords of Shadow for consoles as well as the 3DS.
The Metroid series, and its fans, have languished in recent history. Nintendo hasn’t released Metroid: Federation Force for the 3DS last year, but fans complained that game — which featured weird co-op missions — wasn’t a traditional Metroid. Prior to that, Nintendo launched Metroid: Other M in 2010, which had similar problems with its third-person fighting action.
But now, Nintendo has both a new first-person Metroid Prime for the Switch and a 2D Metroid (with polygonal graphics) for the 3DS.
One of the reasons Metroid has suffered under Nintendo, however, is because the series doesn’t sell as well as its Mario and Zelda games. And that trend may continue with Samus Returns as many fans move onto the new Switch console and may not want to go back to buying 3DS games. Hopefully, however, the huge 3DS install base shows up for the return of both Samus and a classic game.
Finally, this Metroid II: Return of Samus reimagining explains why Nintendo shut down a recent, beloved fan project to update the game called Another Metroid 2 Remake (or AM2R). The publisher’s lawyers sent cease-and-desist orders to the developers of that game and forced them to stop distributing it. Fans were upset that Nintendo would treat a fan game with such a heavy hand, but clearly it was worried that it would hurt the release of Samus Returns.