Nintendo filled our hearts (and emptied our wallets) with their Nintendo Direct showcase, stunning the online audience with some serious surprises to close E3 2021. From an unexpected Super Smash Bros. brawler and the heart-warming news that Life is Strange is on its way to Switch, to an unlikely new Game & Watch console and the breath-taking second teaser for Breath of the Wild 2, it’s got the whole world talking.
But it was the reveal of Metroid: Dread, the first 2D platform outing for Samus Aran in almost 20 years, that really caught fans off guard. It was at E3 2017 that Nintendo first made mention of Metroid 4, the next instalment of the flagship first-person shooter, but very little has been announced in the four years that followed. Screw-attack back to the 2021, and a totally different game staring the galactic bounty hunter took to the stage – and what a triumph it’s looking to be!
In a spine-shatteringly suspenseful trailer (rocking a Brinstar Depths-style soundtrack to kick-off proceedings), we see Samus scrambling away from an imposing E.M.M.I robot that will play a key role in the game’s narrative. Able to track Samus using any sound she might make (and being seemingly invulnerable to her multitude of missiles and laser blasts), they certainly lend credence to the titular use of the word Dread.
For those unfamiliar with Samus and her war against the Space Pirates, this trailer may still have resonated as looking fairly similar to more recent and beloved video game platformers such as the gorgeous Ori series, Hollow Knight and Axiom Verge – and with good reason. Originating way back in 1986, Metroid and Castlevania led the way for so many of today’s modern platform-adventure games (now lovingly referred to as Metroidvania games).
Much like the more modern iterations of the Metroidvania-style spectacles, Metroid: Dread will feature all of the same features: sprawling interconnected maps, impassable passageways requiring unlockable power-ups to bypass, and secret areas for the most eagle-eyed of players – and that’s just for starters.
In the trailer alone, we see Samus sliding through tight spaces, clambering up caverns and wall-jumping her way through the labyrinthine layers of ZDR, the planet that hosts the game’s story. The player’s mettle will no doubt be put through its paces, especially when being hunted by the E.M.M.I operatives, rewarding the skill level and quick thinking of those holding the Joy-Cons.
Dread is a direct sequel to the Game Boy Advance’s Metroid Fusion from all the way back in 2002, but even if you’re completely new to the world of Metroid, I urge you to start your space-age journey here.
The original games took inspiration from Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda, combining the best of both worlds: pinpoint-platforming fun mixed with extensive exploration. Add the modern-day sheen of glorious graphical output and the astonishing array of Miss Aran’s power-ups, and there’s so much here to enjoy. While the original games may feel a little dated by a contemporary gamer’s standards, Dread looks to be leading the charge for one of Nintendo’s lesser-known heroes.
Despite Nintendo being able to keep a lid on all news surrounding this title until E3 2021, Metroid: Dread is set for release on 8th October this year. Boasting a brilliant special edition bundle and compatible Amiibo double pack (offering in-game energy- and missile-replenishment), Ninty clearly aren’t holding back on this brilliant blast-and-dash release.
Metroid’s 35th anniversary is coming next year, which makes this release’s timing all the more intriguing – is this a way to whet everyone’s appetite ready for the big Metroid 4 reveal in 2022? Only time will tell, but what better way to fill those hours than by zapping through this seminal return to Samus’ roots.
Can’t wait until October? Why not pick up a Switch Online membership and give the original games a go on the NES and SNES emulators right now!
And if you love learning more about the history of gaming and celebrating all things Nintendo, go show Glitchqraft some love – there’s plenty more content where this came from!
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