Could Metroid and Samus be losing relevance with younger gamers?
So the other day I was at a Moe's, waiting for a half-off burrito, when I noticed a little kid around the age of eleven staring at my shirt. The shirt had a Metroid on it with the outline of Samus Aran at the bottom. I tried to pretend to not notice the kid with curiosity to see where this was going. It was the conversation he had with his friend that interested me the most. The kid didn’t know what a Metroid was or who Samus was – but he recognized her as being a video game character. His exact quote was, “isn’t that the guy in the game with Kirby?” This is the moment it hit me.
While I understand this is just one single instance and not all eleven-year-olds are going to recognize Samus, it still disturbed me. First off, he didn’t recognize Samus for any Metroid title, but from Super Smash Brothers. Secondly, he referred to Samus as a "guy," which proves to me that he truly knew nothing about the character of Samus Aran or the blonde-hair, blue-eyes woman behind the suit. This whole scenario posed the question in my brain, "What's happened to Metroid?"
I grew up with a Nintendo, and SNES’s Super Metroid is still one of my favorite games of all time. Fun fact: Samus is considered to be "the first playable human female character in a mainstream videogame" by the Guinness World Records 2013 Video Games Edition. The new generation of gamer is missing out on this iconic Nintendo character. She is a historic figure! But where has she gone?
In no way do I blame the eleven-year-old; Samus has been out of the limelight for some time now. The last major title was Metroid: Other M back in 2010. Most the people I know either didn’t finish it or didn’t enjoy it overall, and I definitely belong to the camp that does not enjoy this game. While I appreciate the majority of it being the more traditional style with less FPS elements and it focusing on character development, it just didn’t come off very well. The dangerous and mysterious character of Samus Aran was practically broken down before my very eyes – why did they have to make her so whiny with near-daddy issues? Nintendo doesn’t give Mario or Link personality because they are too iconic – they don’t want to mess with the system that works. Luigi isn’t as iconic, thus Nintendo doesn’t mind giving him personality and emotion. While I thought Samus would be under "the Mario rules" as well, Other M proved that her personality can be tampered with.
My feelings toward Other M don’t reflect my feelings toward the rest of the franchise though; it’s just that it was the last one and it left a poor taste in my mouth. It has nearly been three years now, and Nintendo has even released a brand new console with no word of a new Metroid title. The Nintendo Wii U has been out for over a year, E3 2013 would have been the perfect time to announce a new game, but instead Nintendo remains silent about the whole affair. Where is Metroid? Why has there been no new announcement, a tease, or even a glimpse of a new title to the franchise?
The Prime games are nearly ALL about scanning things. Nintendo has created a console that has a gamepad that is ideal hardware for 360 degree scanning but they haven’t jumped all over that yet. The Wii U screams scanning potential to me. I refuse to believe Nintendo hasn't at least thought about that.
The eleven-year-old kid made a valid point though: Samus will be in the Smash Bros. game on Wii U. Is this how this gaming generation will know one of video games most iconic female protagonists – “the guy in the game with Kirby?” All I’m asking, Nintendo, is to put Samus Aran and the Metroid series back into the spotlight. Give this generation of gamers a Metroid title to draw them into the franchise while paying tribute to the fans that have been there the whole time. Sure, that’s a huge order to fill, but at this point it may just be what’s necessary to keep the franchise alive and relevant.
The die-hard fans will wait, it’s all we can do. Until a true new Metroid game is announced, I guess we can look forward to some Samus action in the new Super Smash…