In September of last year, Metroid: Samus Returns was released to the glee of Metroid fans everywhere. A remake of a game not prevalent in the minds of even diehard fans, the original Metroid II for the Game Boy is, from what I can gather, not a great game, regardless. Part of the reason for this, however, is that they tried to fit a Metroid-esque style of game, dedicated to atmosphere, (to some extent) cinematics, and fast-paced action, on an early-days handheld system that was neither powerful nor pretty. To remake this game in a day and age where handheld games are much more grandiose than they were twenty years ago, I was all for it. Convenient enough that it released a year after the infamous AM2R fan game hit the internet, but that only served to further my excitement in comparing the two games when Samus Returns inevitably landed in my lap.
The final cinematic of the game (obligatory spoiler warning for those who still care to protect themselves at this point) shows the arrival of the X parasite from Metroid Fusion transforming a basic creature from SR388 into a monstrous mutation of itself, fading to black in a sort of “OoOoOoOoOoOo!” fashion. Since this final cutscene, various gaming publication sites have taken it upon themselves to write one of two things:
- Metroid Fusion Remake Teased with Samus Returns Ending?
- We Need a Metroid Fusion Remake
Seeing all this hype for a remake of the 2002 title, I wanted to write my own opinions on whether or not it should get a remake, or for the sake of consistency, needs a remake. After all, “need” and “should” are very different things. What’s to follow are things that would be pros or cons for Nintendo as a company specifically, but also pros and cons for me, as a critical consumer, with what I believe should go into the mindset of why a certain game should (or needs) to be remade. I will also list (perhaps somewhat satirically) reasons why Nintendo should or shouldn’t invest in a remake for the sake of picking at low-hanging fruit.
There is already a Metroid Fusion review on this site (that may or may not be outdated), however for the sake of refreshing my memory with the mechanics and styling of the game, I replayed it for the umpteenth time in my life in the last few days as of writing this. Still really dig it.
Positive – North America Loves Metroid
According to VGChartz.com, which chronicles the sales numbers of various games based on reports, the target audience for Metroid titles is definitely North America, which consistently and overwhelmingly dominates other parts of the world in terms of sales. One can look up any Metroid title and they’ll most likely find that North America has much higher numbers in sales than even Japan, Nintendo’s country of origin. When considering whether or not to remake Metroid Fusion, Nintendo will likely try to sell the game hard via advertising through Nintendo of America and otherwise, so potential profit in what’s consistently been a popular area for Metroid games in the past
Negative – Japan Doesn’t Give a Shit
North America cares a lot more about this franchise than Japan does, and if VGChartz is any indication, Japan didn’t really care that the series went M.I.A. for six years between Other M and Federation Force. When I said before that North America’s sales numbers were much higher than Japan’s, I meant way higher. Scrolling through the list of Metroid games, Japan always has the lowest sales inputs among the categories listed (North America, Japan, Europe, All others). If Nintendo plans to invest in a Metroid Fusion remake, they’ll definitely need to double down on catering to its North American audience.
Negative – Metroid Isn’t a Money-Making Franchise
Another thing I noticed while browsing VGChartz is that Metroid as a franchise doesn’t make too much money. A respectable amount, for sure, but compared to the Nintendo money-making giants in Mario and Legend of Zelda? It’s not even close. Even compared to fellow Nintendo franchises it’s among the lowest-selling games. Kirby makes more money on average, Donkey Kong makes more money on average, Animal Crossing makes more money on average. Metroid’s sales figures are about on par with Fire Emblem, which has been gaining some popularity in recent years. Perhaps the reason for that six-year absence in games from Metroid isn’t from a lack of desire with the developers, but the people. Why do you think F-Zero hasn’t had a notable game in fifteen years?
Positive – It Would Renew Interest in the Original Game
How much do you want to bet that the moment the Samus Returns trailer dropped, a flock of people went to Google and looked up the game that inspired it? I was one of them. My interest in playing the original Metroid II skyrocketed due to curiosity—a curiosity with how much the new game would take from the original. While I never got around to it, both Samus Returns and AM2R made me look up a number of playthroughs concerning the game to see if I was missing anything. I’m probably not, but who knows? I’d be more willing to give it a shot than not.
Positive – They Could Make the Game Better
Not that I think there was much competition, but despite never playing Metroid II, based solely on what I’ve seen, I think Samus Returns was a vast improvement of the original game. Not only that, but Samus Returns was a great game in general, even if I had never known it was a remake. While Metroid Fusion was a game made well past the days of the flimsy Game Boy, it’s still fairly outdated in terms of what modern technology can do for gaming. Imagining a Metroid Fusion remake on the 3DS (or hey, maybe the Switch?) could definitely improve the focus on atmosphere and cinematics, things Fusion in particular would definitely improve with. Seeing as Fusion is a lot more sinister and eerie in its tone (I think), this update in technology and capabilities would make me more optimistic than otherwise.
Negative – They
Would Probably Could Make the Game Worse
There’s a difference between Metroid II and Metroid Fusion when it comes to me, personally: I have never played one, and I adore the other. Metroid Fusion is one of my favorite Metroid games, right up there with Metroid Prime. Nostalgic bias considering they came out around the same time and I played them both at an age where my mind was very impressionable and easy to please? Totally. Nevertheless, I genuinely feel the game has a lot of merit to it the likes Metroid II couldn’t have due to its technological limits. Metroid Fusion on its own is a very good game, albeit not quite a great one. There’s a difference to me between remaking a game because the original version is vastly outdated (Pokémon Red/Green → Pokémon FireRed/LeafGreen) and because whatever (Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire → Pokémon OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire). Not to mention, I feel the inclusion of one Adam Malkovich and (albeit limited) dialogue within Samus Aran to be a touchy area after Other M.
Negative – Samus Returns Didn’t Sell Well
Here’s a really sad fact: Metroid: Samus Returns, as of late January of 2018 (via VGChartz), has sold roughly 450,000 copies worldwide. For those not aware, that’s below par, especially for a franchise as recognizable as Metroid. To put this into more depressing terms, it’s sold more copies than only Metroid Prime Pinball, Metroid Prime: Federation Force, and the Game Boy Advance port of the original Metroid at this point in time. If Nintendo was trying to jumpstart interest in Metroid through this remake of the second game in franchise history (which actually sold fairly well), the shot was a substantial miss.
Positive – It’d Be Another Game
Also notable of the Metroid franchise is that it doesn’t have too many games to its name. Counting the six-year hiatus after Other M and not counting Samus Returns, the franchise has produced ten mainline games containing new content (so no Metroid Prime Trilogy, port of Metroid, etc.) in thirty-plus years. A remake of Metroid Fusion would be, at the very least, another game Metroid fans can look forward to playing. And with the current streak of one game in the past eight years that is still worth playing, I’ll take something that has potential based on the quality of the original title.
Negative – There’s No Point
With my final point, I make my answer to this post more obvious than perhaps what it was starting off. Unless they decide they want to reboot and tweak the history of the Metroid franchise and make some alterations to the events of Metroid Fusion, I see no reason for why Nintendo would feel compelled to have this remake come to life. The original game isn’t so outdated that the cinematics or writing or gameplay mechanics feel stiff or broken. While the buzz for a Fusion remake increased due to the X parasite appearing in Samus Returns‘ ending, I don’t think it’s enough to warrant putting the time and money into appeasing a pocket of enthusiasts. Like with many surprising twists, the effects only last so long, and now I wonder if those who wrote so earnestly for their desire of a Fusion remake are all that concerned anymore. At the same time, Metroid isn’t a guaranteed money-maker like Pokémon or Mario is. They can’t afford to make games that a great number of people may not care about, but in a ripe age for nostalgia, who knows?
I kind of already made my major points in the last negative point, but I think the negatives outweigh the positives in this case, especially from a fiscal point. Metroid games don’t typically make much money. It almost astounds me just how niche a franchise it is when compared to other Nintendo properties; I was always under the impression is was one of their most popular! Combined with the fact that Metroid Fusion on its own is fine as it is and an ensuing remake could tarnish its place in the franchise (especially if they decide to make the original non-canon after the fact), I don’t think it’s worth it.
Do I think Metroid Fusion needs a remake? No.
Do I think they should remake it? No.
Would I be upset if they did? Not likely. It depends on how the game fares if it ever comes into existence. Despite my negative leanings, there are good things that could come from a remake, and as a fan of the franchise, I wish the series the best success. Whether that comes in the form of a Metroid Fusion remake, Metroid Prime 4, or otherwise, it means little to me if it ensures the franchise’s safety.