TUCSON, Arizona – The new “Metroid” game is called “Dread,” but it could also have been called “Metroid Delight” because it fulfills the desires of gamers who have been begging for a sequel since the Super Nintendo days.
Nintendo continued to make Metroid games, but never a real side-scrolling fashion. And as strong as the GameCube “Metroid Prime” trilogy was, it left fans with a nostalgic longing for the old-fashioned 2D style.
The longing for a new 2D Metroid was so great that a whole genre – called Metroidvania – emerged from the longing. Some of these games approached and even surpassed the best of the 2D Metroids.
But nobody does things like the OG, and Nintendo jumps back into the game with an all-encompassing sense of awe in its decidedly old-school throwback.
“Metroid Dread,” released October 8th on Switch, does just that with six to nine hours of hectic platform action. The game is an exclamation point for a stellar year of first-party Switch releases, with serpentine levels, plenty of power-ups, and a brutal gallery of villains.
Stand aside, Mario. Just a second, Pikachu. It’s Samus’ time to shine.
The game is brimming with fan service, but it doesn’t give players all of their favorites. A twist in the last act, which is predictable, corresponds not only to tradition, but also to the tropes of storytelling in the style of the 1980s.
Deprived of her powers at first, Samus makes his way through the caves of various realms and plunges his way down a linear path disguised as an open world laden with false walls, buried secrets, and enticingly inaccessible or impenetrable paths.
Fiendish guards known as EMMI are chasing you around in cat-and-mouse portions. The almost invulnerable monstrosities lurk for you with ominous persistence and add a spark of horror to the mix. You are quick to hate the EMMIs which will only increase feelings of satisfaction if you finally manage to turn them off.
While the saga is littered with anachronistic charm and an unforgiving manual storage system, there are innumerable quality of life improvements that are reminiscent of modern day gaming.
Nintendo also shows off its graphic skills in boss scenes, which develop into mini-cutscenes and expand the scope for moments of resounding triumph.
“Metroid Dread” can’t do much to help the franchise grow, but that’s exactly why it’s so successful at what it does.
It’s just as repeatable as the best 2D “Metroid” titles, and an accomplishment as majestic and exhilarating as blowing through a wall and finding a hidden upgrade.