Nintendo Trying To Work Out What Went Wrong With New Metroid

Nintendo wanted to sell a million copies of Metroid: Other M, which wasn't a bad game. They won't, not by the end of the year in America, and now they're trying to figure out why.

Was it the quality of the game? Do people not care about Metroid? Was it really a problem, as some fans complained, that series heroine Samus Aran seemed to have transformed from the quiet bounty-hunter badass she had been in previous games to a subservient and insecure writer of space diaries?

"We believe that it could be, should be a million unit title," Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told Kotaku in an interview this morning. "We're not going to get there, not through the holiday. And we are doing a lot of thinking as to why. Because it's a great game. The consumer reaction because of the quality has been strong. We're doing a lot of thinking about why we didn't get there. I think the marketing was strong, advertising was very good, the social media we did was very positive."

Fils-Aime said the game is "getting close to half a million" copies sold in the US. That's no flop, but it's also not a blockbuster. I pushed him on the portrayal of Samus since that's the loudest criticism I've seen of the game. The graphics were very good, the gameplay was a throwback to earlier Metroid games. But Samus, some people just couldn't stand how she was portrayed and complained about it here in Kotaku's comments as well as in reviews in other outlets.

"First off, [I have]nothing but the greatest respect for the development team," Fils-Aime said. "Mr Sakamoto [co-creator of Metoid]did a wonderful job. His partnership with us in promoting the game was stellar. Team Ninja [is]absolutely fabulous. I'm not going to sit here and criticise a style of the game, but have I read the same feedback that said, broadly, that the portrayal of Samus felt different than how the player in the past had internalised the character? I've heard and read the same feedback. Do I think it's warranted or not? I'm not quite sure yet... I don't yet believe that that is the driving factor to the performance of the game."

I feel like we heard similar disappointment from Nintendo about the sales of the later Metroid Prime games, which, since I'm already linking to my Other M review, I might as well say I loved. Three of my favourite games.

I'll leave it to others to figure out what didn't go right. I just wanted to know from Fils-Aime if he thought the Metroid series has a future.

"I certainly hope so," he said. "I'm a passionate fan of Samus and the Metroid series."


Comments

    let's just say the great battle between Halo and Metroid is over. Spartans won

      They're two completely different types of games.

      I don't think there ever was a "battle".

      What great battle? They're two different genres. Might as well compare FIFA to Gran Turismo.

      Anyways, as Nintendo are having a little trouble understanding why Other M wasn't as successful as they thought it should have been, here are some easy to read bullet points.

      1. Samus is now whiny, annoying and needy as opposed to the independent badass she used to be. Remember, bounty hunters are supposed to be COOL.

      2. There's no freedom. Previous Metroids rewarded players for exploration, and it was fun finding secrets and upgrades on your own. Having them shoved in your face is not.

      3. Lack of replayability. Half the fun of Metroid is trying to see how quickly you can finish it, or how many/few pick-ups you can get, all for a simple shot of Samus at the end. It wasn't much, but we damn well earned those, so they were cool.

      4. First person moments. Metroid Prime was great. Scanning the screen for the one tiny pixel you're supposed to be looking at, or trying to fight a fast moving boss while you're frozen in place was not.

        Fifa won!

          Fifa did win!(by sheer volume of releases)

          And it was the loss of the strong silent type that dissallusioned me.

    The problem with this game, as has been stated before, is 100% on the portrayal of Samus, as well as the horrible, cheesy voice acting.

    The game was incredibly fun to play, and it looked visually impressive, but every time Samus opened her dumb, dopey mouth, I cringed.

    The biggest problem with this is that in a single game it undid decades of character build up. Samus went from hard-core no-nonsense bounty hunter to weak whiny bitch.

    The coup-de-grace was the scene in which Ridley first showed up. Ridley, an enemy Samus had fought countless times before in the other games without batting an eye, made Other M samus freeze up, and have to be saved by a man. Now i'm no feminist, but the Samus i knew never needed no man to save her.

    "Because it was a great game."

    No, not it wasn't. It doesn't even deserve the sales its gotten.

    "the gameplay was a throwback to earlier Metroid games."

    I feel like I'm taking crazy pills as I continue to see people saying this. To hell it was. The earlier Metroids dumped you in a large world and let you explore it. You were given great choice into where to go and had plenty of items to find and you had to be crafty to get to them. The world was open to you and the only things you needed to progress were skill and certain pickups.

    Other M is the complete opposite. You're strung along a linear pathway with cutscene after cutscene breaking up the flow. The game is almost entirely linear until AFTER you've already finished it. You're forced along specific routes with paths being opened through the story and you're often locked into rooms until you kill everything in them. The few times you get a choice of where to go you're just forced along one path to grab something and then come back to the other one later.
    Most pickups are in plain sight and you can only collect around 50% or 60% of them before you get to the post-game.
    The music is dull and the bosses are generic.
    The story itself needs no further derision.

    Other M is everything a Metroid game should never be. I wasn't a fan of the Prime series' loathing of sequence-breaking but at least they could comprehend the feeling of Metroid.
    The only thing Other M has in common is the name.

      Agreed 100%

      The feeling wasn't even remotely the same.

      The linear progression and the ham-fisted restriction of abilities were painful.

      IMO, the environment was too logical. It doesn't feel so much like exploring when the devs are obviously obsessed with depicting a space station. It would've made more sense if they'd simply built a research station on a remote planet, anyway, and then it could have that Zebesian atmosphere.

      Then again, the simplicity of the game was all wrong. They're trying to dumb down Metroid, which is entirely the opposite audience to its primary appeal. Metroid is not for the whole family to enjoy. Metroid is for gamers with highly refined motor skills and a self-sufficiency complex. Not only did the plot and the behavior of the characters take a good portion of that away, but the simplified gameplay did as well.

      M:OM isn't Metroid. It's Metroid for Dummies. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Metroid.

      I pretty much agree with everything you said. The only thing I disagree with is I loved everything about the Prime series but that's a matter of personal choice.

      I would also add that it's fine to add melee as a new feature in the game but it seems to me like 90% of the gameplay is melee based. On top of that a typical Metroid game should be about 50% explore and collect and 50% combat, whereas Other M seems like 90% combat.

      You're right there. Nintendo may have intended Other M to be a throwback to the beloved classics, especially the revered Super Metroid, but to do so they should NOT have given it to Team Ninja. I hate to say "I told you so" but I had a bad feeling about the game ever since it was announced that Team Ninja would be developing- and despite jokes about Samus being inflated to a double-D and spending half the game in her Zero Suit, my real concern was that the game would end up linear and lacking the "feel" of Metroid.

      The Prime trilogy was a totally different kind of game to the original 3 games, but they nailed the "feel" almost perfectly- the feeling of being along in a hostile environment with only your power suit to rely on, searching for power-ups and secrets to give yourself the tools you need. Other M completely missed this point, both the solitude and the search and basically doomed itself. Rather than a throwback from the FPS gameplay of Prime to the clasic gameplay of the originals, it ended up being a new, third type of Metroid game and this one unfortunately failed.

    What went wrong was that the game was much too simplistic.

    I mean, there's like only about 2 new items the rest you get by "authorisation" WTF.

    "Because it’s a great game. The consumer reaction because of the quality has been strong. We’re doing a lot of thinking about why we didn’t get there. I think the marketing was strong, advertising was very good, the social media we did was very positive.”

    If all of that was true it would have sold well, clearly something isn't. I personally didn't like the gameplay too much and would attribute it more to that than the difference in character in Samus, but then I haven't had enough experience with it to see much of her character or the storyline.

    Perhaps others will disagree.

    I think that basically all of the target market that aren't already Nintendo fanboys wouldn't own a Wii and the fans that do are the ones especially pissed off at the characters portrayal and lack of exploration.

    While the action is fun, the whole thing of Samus being a fragile flower and having her talk non stop about how scared she is ruined it for me. Man up woman, look what you do for a living and stop emoing out on us already.

    Also her not using weapons/armor despite there being a fatal need to because some dude on a microphone hasn't said she can was horse shit. Oh i'm burning to death in this hot room. If only someone would tell me to turn on my varia suit. Oh well looks like i'll just cook to death.

    bollocks.

    Not sure about everyone else but for me, it's a game I won't neccessarily ignore but just prefer to buy when it's cheaper/on sale. The change to Samus sort of put me off. I also have a bad history with Team Ninja games - never been great at them and that factor put me off as well. I know that they toned down their infamous punishing difficulty for Other M but a part of me was still very hesitant upon release.

      Just to let you know, Other M is laughably easy most of the time - it's difficulty is certainly far removed from Team Ninja's previous titles (and I wasn't particularly good at Ninja Gaiden, let me tell you). You might die once or twice against some of the later bosses, but it won't matter because you'll be put straight back in the fight. Just saying ;)

      On the topic at hand, yes, I believe that the biggest problem with this game was Samus' characterisation...along with the whole story in general. Obviously Reggie didn't pay attention to the Other M GameFAQs board during release (and even still now). There were literally hundreds of people refusing to buy the game because of what had been done to Samus. I've even seen people talking about how much they loathe Sakamoto. Besides this, though, the game was good, but it certainly wasn't great (some reasons have been covered above).

    Maybe it was just too long between drinks. Mario and co have appeared in what seems like 50% of the games released for the Wii and Zelda has had regular big game releases on the DS, but Metroid has been pretty scarce in its appearances.

    Besides the flaws of Samus everyone else is talking about, I just didn't like the gameplay. It was annoying to switch from one mode to another to do things.

    I have loved every Metroid game, and I've played them all. Except for Other M. Here's why:

    Stupid name. Really stupid name. Don't tell me that doesn't matter, that name is indicative to me of the quality of writing that will be contained with in. The fact that it has such a prominent story doesn't sit well with me (that was one of the most annoying things about Fusion). The gameplay seems entirely inappropriate for a Metroid game, all the showy Ninja Gaiden nonsense isn't a good fit. It just doesn't seem like enough of a Metroid game for me to put up with what appears and by all accounts is a childish and poorly written story. I'm not against a story being included, but this game has a bad one.

    Thus proving that the Japanese have still got game... oh, wait a minute.

    I was fortunate enough to loan a copy of this game from a pal, whom I thought was being generous. Apparently not, since he refuses to take it back.

    The story line was *atrocious* - to the point that, as soon as the tutorial was over, I installed someone's completed game save, just so I could skip the cut scenes. That made the game quite tolerable, until I got to the 6 hour mark. I.E game completed.

    I've been offered this game for free (hooray birthdays), and declined. I just don't feel this game is worth the money.

    Samus' crying as Ridley creeped ever closer got an emotional reaction out of me, entirely. I turned the console off, there and then, and left it for a few weeks.

    I didn't have an enormous gripe with the power suit upgrades being turned off, and I don't think anyone really did in the context of a metroid game. Regardless, she loses her powerups. We've all accepted that. It's only that it's perpetually being brought up that makes everyone mad.
    That we're playing along to get something we *should* already have access too is just poor thinking at best, because we already accept that it's part of Metroid to lose power ups, but this isn't "losing" so much as dangling the carrot out over a lava pit. The weirdest (and unexplained part) is why all her extra energy tanks are turned off (if they're trying to be canonical with Super Metroid.)

    On the note of Super Metroid, this is supposed to be a sequel. So it only does it justice to compare the two, or at least that's how my logic works. Super Metroid told an amazing story, with a brief introduction - yet no words OTHER than that. There was never a direct "tutorial" - which is one of my biggest gripes with nowadays, it's as though devs are too lazy to teach you in an intelligent, contextual manner, or are so condescending, that the only way you'd learn is to metaphorically have it beaten into you.

    For example, the Shinespark is no longer a hidden technique. Neither was the wall jump. They're beaten into you.

    The combat and maneouvering in Super Metroid required more skill - yes, MORE - than Other M. For the latter, you were safe if you held the charge button, and just repeatedly tapped any direction. If you took a hit, you were severely damaged later on.

    In Super Metroid, a single hit took a little damage depending on the enemy, yet bosses were still an absolute struggle. They required well placed and timed shots, and missiles. This created a more "well earned" victory, whereas Other M's boss fights were more a matter of "try and try again until you win". If you lost, it felt unfair. Agitating, even.

    In Other M, as previously mentioned, power ups didn't feel rewarding. They were dangled in front of us, and when recieved it was more an "about damn time!" than a "Oh, cool!".

    Super Metroid, of course being a predecessor, had a natural advantage here since most of the power ups were new - the original Metroid only contained a few of these, on a far more primitive level.

    Missile containers containing 5 whole missiles in Super Metroid was another big feeling of accomplishment, as opposed to 1 missile. I found myself skimming over these powerups in Other M, simply because I couldn't be bothered. And if i needed more in battle, I could just recharge.

    In Other M, save points were common, they healed, they gave you map data. No enemies dropped health, which I guess is the reasoning behind this.

    In Super Metroid, Save points were few and far between, harder to find (not along the main routes, you often needed to deviate), and seperate from health, missile, and map data rooms. Again, a sense of accomplishment was achieved.

    The list could go on and on (my next attack would be on map layout, I'd argue that Other M is a smaller map than Super Metroid, despite the 15 odd years difference), but at the fear of rambling I'll stop.

    Super Metroid was a great game, Other M was supposed to be a homage to it, yet despite the technological leaps and bounds, the game was inferior in just about every way (pro to Other M: it was awfully pretty!).

    TLDR; Other M had a horribly expressed storyline (speaking? really? What was the last Metroid to contain speaking? Oh right, Corruption - that sold poorly too, didn't it?), unrewarding powerups, unrewarding boss fights, and a linear map. What makes it deserve to sell over 1 million copys?

      food for thought thought. These days a game inst a huge investment of money and there are so many to choose from, and also there are many different platforms.

      If games these days were as hard as they were back in the day, only a small amount of people would ever finish a game because if they couldn't complete, they would just move on.

    I really want to play Other M, it's the only Wii game I've been interested in, but I'm not going to pay $300 for a Wii just to play one game.

    Despite never having played it I have an idea about why it might not have sold as many copies as Nintendo hoped.

    People are getting tired of the same old characters. Don't get me wrong I love Mario, Zelda, Kirby etc but I, and maybe other people, are getting bored of them and would like somthing new. This is one of the reasons I never got a Wii, because having almost every game on it feature Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Pokemon, Kirby or Samus is boring. I know that statement might sound strange considering I had said I want to play Other M but I've never played a Metroid game before so that franchise is all new to me and still has some interest.

    What went wrong? They allowed Team Ninja, the biggest perverts in the industry to develop their game. They then turned Samus into an incredibly sexist, pathetic and boring idiot (miles away from all her other incarnations). And then everyone acted surprised when it didn't sell as much as it should have. As far as I'm concerned, Team Ninja did what they usually do. It was Nintendo's mistake in contracting them.

    Had a demo play with it and loved it. Too bad I don't own a wii to even buy the game. Spent my money on a now dead 60gb ps3 and xbox 360. :(

    They changed the formula too much. Super metroid was all about exploration, getting awesome new power ups and speed running. Metroid prime was kind of like a first person shooter version of zelda and I personally loved this aspect.

    It would be go to area 1, mini boss or 2, power up or 2, then use your power ups to defeat boss, proceed to area 2, repeat. Boss fights were also awesome.

    Other M had none of these attributes of neither metroid prime nor super metroid. Its like it couldnt decide whether it wanted to focus on exploration or action. And the boss fights were very exciting either and there wasnt much exploration. Another thing that made prime such a great game was the atmosphere. The feeling of isolation.

    Other M was still pretty good though.

    As was the problem with FF13 recently and Super Mario Sunshine a few years back, it's not that it's a BAD game. But the pedigree is so high, anything less than mind-blowing is going to be disappointing.

    All up, yeah, I'd say I enjoyed Other M. Nowhere near as much as the 3 GC or 2 GBA games though. (Comparisons to Super Metroid would just be insulting)

    The main problems I had with it were:
    * Samus is weak and fragile. Should never have happened.
    * The switching between 1st and 3rd person sounds awesome on paper. In reality, it's awkward and frustrating, especially during boss battles.
    * It's sooooooo linear. Metroid Fusion had a sense of linearity about it, but it didn't bother me that much, because the game was freakin' amazing. This game just felt like Samus was running down a single path that would eventually lead her to the final boss. Completely counter-Metroid. (Hmmm... there was another much-criticized game came out recently where all of the exploration was removed and the experience was effectively reduced to a single corridor...) :-p

    That´s just silly. Metroid is a franchise with enough weight to pull blockbuster status on the first month /before/ all the bad reviews start to timpact its sells. If it didn´t seel as well it´s because Sony and Microsoft presented shiny new, must-try gadgets for their machines for this upcoming holiday season while the Wii remained old and unchanged. People only have so much money so if your competitors steal their monies with shinier things than yours, it doesn´t matter if your product is very good (or not, as apparently M:OM is,) you cannot expect to get top market shares.

    Perhaps it's just me looking back on the old NES and SNES days fondly and with the eyes of a 26 year old and not a 8 - 12 year old but I remember back when games like Metroid and Zelda were hard. It seems old classics like these 2 have been given a bit of a beating with the nerf bat and newbie friendly. Sure Twilight Princess had it's moments but for the most part was fairly easy and any kid could of finished it.

    Remember trying to finish Zelda 2? Holy jesus that thing was rough. If you ever managed to get to the final temple, after braving the near instant death pits of Death Mountain you usually only had 1 life left. Not to mention the temple was 2 or 3 times the size of any other you'd come across so far and littered with hard enemies like those shield carrying knights. No tutorial here. It threw you right into the game and let you work things for yourself. Mind you this was when games had 3 buttons... Start, A, B and that was enough.

    Now days you have like 12 buttons to deal with on top of combinations. I find it kind of sad really. I miss easy to pick up, epic games like Super Metroid and being able to waste hours in it and genuinely have a challenge. Remember the tension of when you were on low HP, and trying desperatly trying to find a heart or energy pellet? Do kids these days even know what a health bar is anymore?

    Oh and all of the games us older gamers grew up on were under 4mb. Take Secret of Mana 2 for the SNES. Sure it was never released outside of japan at the time but playing it today it eaisly runs over 25 hours. Easy. It's a tough ass game too. These days games are like 8gb minimum and most you are lucky to get 4 or 5 hours out of.

    Ok rant over. Kind of got a bit off track there but my points are valid!

    you reading all these comments reggie?

    i hope so

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