Other M And The Great Metroid Schism

While Metroid: Other M may feel like a departure for the series in the way it plays and the influences brought in by fabled designers Team Ninja, at its heart it is meant to be a unifying game for the series.

In fact, the unifying game for all things Metroid.

While Star Wars has its Holocron, a single index of the complete Star Wars canon lore and continuity, Metroid's story came to fans over 24 years of games, often in one Samus-defining moment a title.

But Other M is meant to become the Metroid's Holocron when it releases later this year, bringing together all of the major plot points and character development of the games that came before it for use in future Metroid game development.

The very first Metroid's big moment came at the end of the 1986 game when it was revealed that the space armoured Samus was a woman. The big reveal of the next game, Game Boy's Metroid II, was the imprinting of a baby Metroid imprinting on Samus as a mother.

"These are all very interesting experiences, especially considering that Metroids are this enemy that you have to kill to progress through the game," Yoshio Sakamoto, the game series co-creator, told Kotaku in a recent interview. "It's possible for Samus to feel a bit maternal toward a newborn as she did in this case. That kind of connection between the baby Metroid and Samus was one of the first dramatic opportunities that we really got to hang a lot of story on."

That maternal instinct is further explored in the third game in the series, Super Metroid, and with each subsequent game players were drip fed one new major development in Samus' character. By 2002's Metroid Fusion, the game was starting to further explore what Sakamoto describes as Samus' "human elements", even foreshadowing her relationship with Adam, the computer on a space station.

That relationship with "Adam" will be further explored in the upcoming release of Metroid: Other M, a game that takes place between the events of Super Metroid and Metroid Fustion.

"You are going to see a lot further development all of which is connected to this progression you see in the Samus character in the past," Sakamoto said. "So you get to learn what kind of person she is and how she is connected to the events in her past and how they have made her the person she is in the present moment."

More importantly, Sakamoto says, Other M will bring together everything known about Samus, exploring and expanding what we know about her.

"You saw in the original Metroid series titles and then through Prime there were different glimpses of the Samus character," he said. "But this is our best opportunity to date to present everything all together about Samus, to give the definitive character sketch and that is going to be something people can draw from as a resource as we pull them into the Metroid universe in the future as well."

The idea of a single cohesive Samus detailed in one Metroid game does have a flaw though: The Metroid Prime games.

Texas-based Retro Studios started creating a new series of Metroid games in 1999. Metroid Prime and its successors used 3D graphics and were played from a first-person perspective. Sakamoto had little say in their development.

When I asked Sakamoto about the future of Prime and whether other games in that series would use this definitive "character sketch" of Samus, he sort of danced around the question.

"I didn't have a lot of input on the Prime series, I still don't know much about the future of the Prime series as well, I haven't been involved in that either," he said. "As to whether our Samus is going to be used in the Prime series going forward. You really have to defer to the wishes of the creator in this regard. Maybe think of it as the same universe but a different world view.

"There are different emphases in the two series of games. The Samus that we present here is very much our own, but the creators of the Prime series might have different goals and different areas that they want to stress as they go forward."

Does that mean, I asked, that the Metroid series might do what other popular series have done in the past, essentially splitting the game's timeline between two versions of the same starring character? Prince of Persia created two separate takes on their hero with the release of Prince of Persia in 2008. The games of the popular Legend of Zelda series also don't rely on a single cohesive timeline.

"Of course in these two series the approach is a little bit different and that is something essentially unavoidable," Sakamoto answered, referring to the Prime and Metroid games. "Samus is a character that fights and she has a lot of deep backstory and a lot of emotional content. That is what is essential here."

"I can't say what will happen in the future with Prime but I can say there is no reboot planned as such. You just need to keep in mind that different creators, different producers have slightly different visions and the end product will differ slightly as a result."


    Let's see the Prime series' review scores, from Metacritic.

    Metroid Prime 1: 97/100
    Metroid Prime Hunters: 85/100
    Metroid Prime 2: 92/100
    Metroid Prime 3: 90/100

    If it's not broken, don't fix it. Being innovative is one thing, but Samus isn't some pubescent teenager that's dealing with emotional issues. Still, if there's another Prime game in the future, I couldn't really care less how many crappy Samus games are developed by other companies.

      The difference here being that the likelihood of this being a "crappy" game is quite small. Sakamoto has credits in a laundry list of Nintendo's best games. The man was a pioneer and has an excellent track record of turning out fantastic games. If he says he is proud of this, I trust him on his word as an artist and a professional that it will be worth my dollars.

      Note that Retro Studios IS the "other company". The fact that Sakamoto (a member of both R&D1 and the founding member of Team Shikamaru) should be tipping you off that this is a Nintendo In-house game and if anything is canon, it's this.

    Screw Prime and all 3D Metroid games. Give me back my 2D awesome.

      I liked the Prime games but yes gimme some more 2d-esqe games. Not this silicon filled, wax coated rubbish.

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