During the E3 2021 Nintendo Direct, Nintendo revealed an upcoming title that appears to have come as a surprise and shock to many Nintendo fans. For the first time in nineteen years, they announced a brand new “2D” Metroid title in the long running series.
Metroid Dread, for those uninitiated, is a sequel to Metroid Fusion, which was released on the Game Boy Advance system in 2002. Dread is a direct sequel to this title, the fifth traditional game and the first new story for this style of game in almost two decades. In this feature, I will attempt to express why I feel the announcement of Dread is a massive deal for Metroid fans, Nintendo supporters and gamers of all kinds.
There were three points during the reveal of Metroid Dread that left me with my jaw wide open. The first was when Nintendo’s Shinya Takahashi confirmed Metroid Prime 4 was still in development, and followed up with how the company was working on a brand new Metroid title to tide us over until the release of the long confirmed game. Immediately I knew this had to be another traditional-style Metroid game, and suddenly my attention and anticipation heightened.
The second was when the words “Metroid 5” appeared on screen. Excuse me? Did I actually see that correctly? As a long time Metroid fan who first got into the series in 2004, I have never seen a continuation of the Metroid storyline, and for many years, I thought we never would. Could it live up to expectations and be the story I was expecting? Is it going to be a sequel to Fusion? Would Nintendo actually name drop THAT title?
DREAD! THEY ACTUALLY CALLED IT DREAD! This third and final point to make is what this title means to me and so many other Metroid fans. Since 2005, rumours of a 2D sequel to Metroid Fusion circulated in publications, which sadly, never appeared. Since then, this has been a name tied to any possible sequel, and to call the game anything other than Dread would have been unthinkable. The confirmation of Metroid Dread seals the deal, because I believe that people who have never even played a Metroid title before, knew the significance of this name and what it meant.
I don’t think there are any words that could fully express the excitement of this game announcement for me. There is no announcement, no title that could ever be revealed, that would be more anticipated than Metroid Dread. After years of waiting, after all those rumours, a whole nineteen years later, it’s finally happening.
The announcement checked all the right boxes, but it would appear that the story of Metroid Dread is also shaping up to meet expectations. Confirmation that it is a title that takes place after Metroid Fusion was welcome, but the announcements at the time of writing have confirmed that Samus uses the same ship, includes her ship’s computerised companion Adam, references the Galactic Federation, and gives a mention to the X Parasites, the threat Samus faced in her previous adventure.
But the story also appears to include characters that have been referenced throughout the entire series, but have never been seen in the flesh, until now?
The Chozo civilisation has been portrayed as statues, ghosts and in a wealth of lore and backstory throughout the series, and more recent imagery in Metroid: Samus Returns depict their presence on Planet SR388, the main setting for Returns and the original Metroid II: Return of Samus. But, Dread appears to show a living Chozo depicted for the first time in a game, fully animated, and not part of a cutscene or flashback. Whether this is an actual Chozo, or something taking on the form of a Chozo being, remains to be seen at the time of writing.
In the second story trailer, released six weeks prior to the game’s launch, footage from Dread’s introduction was shown, depicting a mysterious character that appears to be a Chozo. On closer inspection, it looks to be the same being depicted in the Chozo Memories from Metroid: Samus Returns, continuing the story-arc from Mercury Steam’s previous title. With glowing crimson eyes and a thirst for Samus’ blood, they lift her from the ground by her throat. It is not yet known why this Chozo in particular is out to hurt Samus, but what we do know is that she is left without her weapons and abilities, forcing her to traverse the planet and return to the surface.
Announcing a brand new title, especially one continuing the story of Metroid, couldn’t have been timed more perfectly for the Metroid community. For years, fans have wanted their favourite series to gain some recognition on a major anniversary, and that’s exactly what they got. Nintendo looked back at the Metroid story so far as part of a Metroid Dread Report, a series of articles that details information related to the upcoming game. We also received a new trailer for the upcoming game, and some recognition that the series was indeed celebrating its 35th anniversary via their social media channels. There was a lot of amazing fan-created content shared across the community too, such as artwork, animations, music and other cool content, showing evidence of how much love the series has from its fans.
Dread will feature some familiar characters, as well as completely new ones when it launches this October. Adam (the computer on board Samus’ ship) returns from Fusion, who will almost certainly be offering guidance and optional support throughout Samus’ mission. The Galactic Federation have some kind of role in the game, possibly guiding her towards planet ZDR to find out what has happened to their machines. The E.M.M.I robots (short for Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifier) were sent by the Federation to discover whether X Parasites have survived the events of the previous game, but appear to see Samus as a prime target. But why would they do this?
There also appears to be a central unit, with a striking familiarity to Mother Brain. Each E.M.M.I. Zone, the areas of planet ZDR that contain E.M.M.I. robots are controlled by one of these units. There are even some mysteries surrounding Samus’s suit, which appears to change as her mission progresses, almost as if it is ‘growing’ back into her iconic Varia Suit. There are also some characters which have yet to make an appearance, the Dachora and Etecoons, animals that were present in previous games. They were on board Samus’ ship after the events of Fusion, but have yet to be seen in Dread. What happened to them, and are they safe?
Also featured in the trailer mentioned above, a notable character from the past was confirmed to be making an appearance. Kraid, who we haven’t seen in a mainline Metroid title for seventeen years, will be in Metroid Dread! This reveal absolutely blew me away, and even caused me to involuntarily scream (my throat took a couple of days to fully recover as a result!), proving to myself that I probably love this series a bit too much.
It has been confirmed by series producer Yoshio Sakamoto that Metroid Dread will mark the end of the current story arc, an adventure thirty five years in the making. This is both an incredible moment, and terrifying one to me. While Sakamoto-san went on to confirm that more games are planned for the future, bringing such a long running series to a close is a terrifying prospect.
There are so many unanswered questions the series needs closure on, such as the Metroid Breeding Programme run by the Galactic Federation, the status of the Chozo race, whether or not the X Parasites are truly extinct, and the status of the animals on board Samus’ ship. Can Metroid Dread truly give us enough story to answer all of this, and set up future plots for us to enjoy?
With the story arc closing, my thoughts are already turning to the future. Will we ever see Metroid 6? If Dread wraps up the story we have all come to know and love, where do things go next for Samus? Will Samus even be a part of those adventures? My hope is that we will see brand new adventures involving the Chozo race, ensuring that we are moving into a new story arc with some familiarity.
Fans have patiently waited for a sequel to Fusion for the longest time, and it’s finally here. It serves as an example that while there are still passionate fans out there asking for it, there is still a glimmer of hope. Using Dread as an example, I would suggest to fans who are still waiting patiently for their dream games to be announced, to remain optimistic. I never imagined we would ever see Metroid Dread, but here we are! Perhaps one day, it will be the turn of F-Zero, the localisation of Mother 3, maybe we might even see Half Life 3! Reflecting on this notable title, I am thankful that in thirty five years, Nintendo has given us a heroine that is strong, powerful and respected, not just for Metroid, but for gaming as a whole. I consider Samus to be a great role model, and one of the greatest characters of all time. I am super hyped to see her next adventure, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds, and what the future of the series entails.
The announcement of Dread has filled me with hope.
Written by Darren