Unlike Zelda and Pokémon, you really can’t predict what direction a 3DS Metroid game will take. While the other two franchises already have a handheld foundation on which they can build their next installments (and, in the case of Pokémon, a template from which it rarely strays), a new Metroid game could either arrive in the form of a 2D side-scroller (a la the long-rumored Metroid Dread), or a first-person adventure (like Retro’s Prime sub-series). Either would certainly be a welcome addition to the console’s growing library, but for the sake of this article (and to indulge my own personal fancies), I’m going to predict that the next Metroid game will be Metroid Prime Hunters 2.
The reason for this should be fairly obvious; while a 2D Metroid game would no doubt appeal to hardcore fans of the series (and come as an apology for the critically-maligned Metroid: Other M), a sequel to Metroid Prime Hunters would help expand the system’s audience beyond the typical Nintendo demographic. As brilliant as the side-scrolling titles are, it’s clear they won’t do much in the way of attracting new gamers to the handheld, which hasn’t been performing quite as well in North America as Nintendo may have hoped. Hunters 2, while not necessarily as anticipated by the Metroid faithful as a new 2D game, would at least provide the console with a solid, competitive shooter that could make some headway in our FPS-dominated market.
Like the first Hunters, then, Hunters 2 would place a strong emphasis on frenetic action and online multiplayer. The latter, especially, would be an important component of its design, with a number of different characters and game modes– all drawn from the previous title (with a handful of new ones tossed in for good measure)– to choose from. I can see the game even incorporating a community feature of its own similar to the one in Mario Kart 7, where players can create and join specific groups for online play. They’d also be able to jump into quick Wi-Fi battles with strangers around the world, who would be matched up according to their hunter scorecards to ensure a fair fight. Top that all off with voice chat via the 3DS’s microphone (though this would likely be limited to people only on your friends list), and you’d have one of the most compelling online experiences on the platform.
Of course, that’s not to say that the game would completely alienate solo players (who make up the vast majority of Metroid’s fanbase); rather, I’d go as far as predict that Hunters 2, should that indeed be the direction the series takes on 3DS, will have a much more satisfying campaign than its predecessor. Rather than spreading the adventure out amongst a handful of different planets (as was the case in the first Hunters game), I’d like to see Hunters 2 focus on a single setting, be it a new planet or another derelict space station. Not only would this bring the experience closer to its console siblings, which were some of the finest single-player games that Nintendo’s ever produced, but it would help give the story (whichever path it takes) a better sense of cohesiveness. As compelling as it might seem to explore a handful of different planets (an allure which even Metroid Prime 3 couldn’t resist), this would only result in a disjointed adventure that bears little resemblance to the rest of the series. By reducing the number of locales to a single setting, the developers could focus on creating a memorable, interconnected world that better embodies the Metroid spirit than the more far-reaching attempts of the first Hunters.
I can also see Hunters 2 retaining the touch controls of the original game, though the recent criticism surrounding Kid Icarus: Uprising (which also bore a control scheme similar to the one in that title) may prompt Nintendo to include an alternate method for those who do not like stylus-based aiming. If this does indeed happen to be the case, then Hunters 2 would likely feature a second control scheme that’s more reminiscent of the GameCube titles (as opposed to one that mimics a traditional first-person shooter– sorry, dual analog fans) to appease these players. I’d imagine this scheme would look something like the following image:
Movement, naturally, would be handled by the Circle Pad, while the L and R buttons would allow you to lock onto enemies and free-aim, respectively. The D-Pad would once again be used to switch between Samus’ different visors, but given the lack of a second analog stick (which was used to change beams in the GameCube titles), each new beam you acquire would now stack atop the previous one, much like they did in Metroid Prime 3. Because of this, I’d imagine Ice Missiles would also make a return (if only to avoid any logistical conflicts that might arise from having the Plasma Beam stack atop the Ice one). This should make the game immediately familiar to anyone who has played either of the first two Prime titles, providing a nice alternative to the more difficult touch controls of the original Metroid Prime Hunters.
I also suspect that the game would incorporate some form of StreetPass functionality. Not only could you share basic information like your hunter scorecard and your completion percentage (including your completion time to perpetuate the Metroid tradition of speedrunning) with other 3DS owners, but you could even pass along friend vouchers which can then be used to purchase rare pieces of concept art and music from the game’s menu. This would help encourage players to collect as many vouchers as they can (by completing certain objectives in the game’s story), adding yet another incentive to carry the system around with you as you go about your daily routine.
Of course, even if this doesn’t turn out to be the direction that Nintendo takes with its first 3DS Metroid game, there’s still a lot that the developer can do to take advantage of the console’s unique features. Whatever course it does decide to pursue with the series, there’s no doubt that the resulting game will be one of the most beautiful to ever grace a handheld, thanks in part to Metroid’s distinctive art style (not to mention 3DS’s stereoscopic visuals, which would certainly make the adventure that much more immersive). Samus may be taking a little hiatus after her recent stint in the spotlight, but I have a feeling that this break won’t last for too long. After all, a bounty hunter can never resist a new mission.
That officially wraps up our mini See Me in 3D feature! What did you think of our ideas? Are there any other franchises you’d like to see reborn on 3DS? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!