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."