For the first time in thirteen years, Nintendo will be releasing a traditional 2D Metroid title. At the time of writing, we are just two weeks away from Metroid: Samus Returns arriving in North America and Europe. The initial response from the press has been fantastic and it looks like it will be the game that fans of the traditional Metroid games have dreamed of. Nintendo appear to have listened to the Metroid fan community with their criticism of Metroid: Other M and Metroid Prime: Federation Force over the years. Samus is back! Metroid seems to have returned to its roots. So why are some fans so angry and upset?
Since 2010, I have had the pleasure of running the Metroid fan community Shinesparkers, which focuses on the latest Metroid news and exclusive content. Over the past seven years, I have done my best to offer a respectful but fair approach to the franchise, and attempt to be a bridge between Nintendo and its community. While this has been mostly positive, and I have met some incredible people over the years, I am saddened by the vile nature of some fans who have tainted the community and tarnished the brand. They have gone above and beyond to make their feelings known about how much they hate Metroid: Other M and its producer, Yoshio Sakamoto. There are people passing judgement on Metroid Prime: Federation Force as if it had knocked at their family home and shot their families dead, despite never even playing the game once. Hating on the franchise and its creators have been common place.
Despite Nintendo announcing two brand new Metroid titles in the form of Metroid: Samus Returns, for the Nintendo 3DS, and Metroid Prime 4 for the Switch, there are still some fans who are calling for the game to be boycotted in response to Nintendo taking down the popular fan game AM2R. Even though Samus Returns appears to be everything traditionalists dream of, there are some who would rather moan at Nintendo for doing what they were legally obligated to do. People will have their opinions on whether Nintendo was right or wrong to do it, but despite this happening over a year ago, fans are still bitter towards Nintendo releasing their own take on the 1991 classic Metorid II: Return of Samus. It’s this bitterness that has caused a divide within the community and an embarrassment to those looking in, a fissure that seems unlikely to ever be repaired.
I have seen comments recently suggesting that Yoshio Sakamoto needs to step down, and that Samus Returns will be a failure in his hands. Do fans need to be reminded of Sakamoto-san’s track record in supporting the series from its birth? Metroid: Zero Mission, Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion are some examples of well respected Metroid games that Yoshio Sakamoto has had involvement in. I am a firm believer in a producer wanting to create something they’re passionate about and stand by their vision. I also believe that if that turns out to be the wrong decision, they need to listen. Fans of the series are quite right to disagree with the approach of a game, but to hold a seven year grudge and push their opinions on to others by telling people they’re not a true Metroid fan for those who did enjoy Other M? It’s extreme, unwanted and I would argue it is them who are not the true fans.
As a fan, I can see that there were problems with Other M. I know the story wasn’t brilliant and there were things that could have been explained better or fixed. I know that Federation Force wasn’t the traditional game that fans wanted after Other M. I respect that AM2R was a fantastic game and a true love letter to the Metroid franchise. I contributed to the damn thing! But it’s time to move on, fans need to accept that not every game in the series is going to be a stand out and respected title like Super Metroid or Metroid Prime.
On the horizon, we have two Metroid games that fans have been begging Nintendo to create for years, one is about to be in our hands in a couple of weeks. In my opinion, Nintendo are listening carefully to what fans want. If there is such a thing as a true Metroid fan, I think the definition of one should be a person that can see the faults, accept a game might not be for them and keep an open mind to future releases, and enjoy the games that originally brought them to the community.
Perhaps this isn’t a problem exclusive to the Metroid community, but it’s happening in a community that I am passionate and care for deeply. Despite this, I still think that this is a creative and passionate group who can rise above the negativity and look to the future. The series recently celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, which was received very well by the fan base. Many of them came together in support of its legacy showing me that there is still hope out there, a driving force that pushes me to continue doing what I do.