When Nintendo first unveiled Metroid Prime, fans were skeptical (if not downright apeshit). For a 2D adventure game based on exploration, how could it possibly work in first person? Long story short, Metroid Prime was pretty much universally loved upon release, and now that the Metroid Prime trilogy has gone on to become something of a classic series, all is forgiven. And when Nintendo announced that it had handed off development of the latest Metroid game, Metroid: Other M to Team Ninja, many fans were, once again, walking around with clenched fists. But it was working so well in first person! And early videos showed the game looking much more action oriented. And Samus actually talks in the game. Why would Nintendo let this happen! Thankfully, things have calmed down since Nintendo has shown off more of the game, and the Other M’s 2D to 3D gameplay, along with a weird-yet-interesting NES/pointer control scheme — sans Nunchuk — seems to be whetting appetites something fierce. (Mine, anyway.)
In a talk with IGN, Metroid producer Yoshio Sakamoto talked more about the NES style control and lack of Nunchuk integration, saying that “…with the team I’ve been working with, we’ve been making the Metroid series in 2D up to this point. Even though we’ve been looking for a way to control Samus in 3D, we wanted to achieve the feeling that you had when Samus was in 2D. We decided that the traditional D-pad for movement plus jumping and shooting on buttons was the most appropriate control scheme for this direction. The second reason, and let me preface this by saying I don’t think bad games use the nunchuk because there are a lot of great games that do, there’s a certain image created with the nunchuk, it’s a bit of a barrier in accessibility because it’s a “different” control. The nunchuk I think is more appropriate for core audiences. At the same time, I feel that showing people a 3D game where you can control it using the remote really does stir the imagination, they’ll think “How’s it possible to control the character using the sideways remote in 3D?” I also think it’s attractive to those who grew up playing games using this kind of control.”
In some ways, this does seem like the logical evolution of the series: blending its 2D roots with some of the innovations of the Prime saga. Hopefully, they can pull it off. But I have one request: Please, Metroid Other M, tell me mid-game if I haven’t done or explored enough to get a good ending. I can’t invest another 20 hours in a Metroid game just to see the back of Samus for 0.37 seconds and then watch the credits roll.