Metroid is one of Nintendo’s most iconic and long-running franchises, with over a dozen games in 35 years. Metroid Dread hits Switch on October 8, so now is a great time to dive into the series and see what makes it great. Or rather it would be if Nintendo made the games easily accessible to modern audiences. It’s time for Nintendo to bring the 2D Metroid games to Switch.
2D Metroid on Switch
In celebration of Metroid’s 35th anniversary, Nintendo has made numerous social media posts highlighting past games. Go to any one of these posts, and you’ll find numerous comments with the same complaint: Why can’t I play this game on Switch? Currently, you can only play the original Metroid and Super Metroid on Switch, and both are exclusive to the Nintendo Switch Online service. If you want to play a Metroid game made in the last 25 years, you’ll have to track down some older hardware.
This is especially frustrating with Dread on the horizon, as it’s meant to wrap up the overarching story of the 2D Metroid games thus far. Nintendo has stressed that Dread’s opening cinematic will catch you up on the important story bits, but it’s not the same as actually experiencing those key moments firsthand. First-time players (which Switch is sure to attract) just won’t get the full emotional payoff that Dread is working to deliver.
Beyond that, it feels like Nintendo is fumbling an opportunity to elevate the 2D Metroid series to new heights of popularity. Despite how influential Metroid has been to the gaming industry, none of the games have eclipsed 3 million sales, and most only sell around half that amount. Dread is the first all-new 2D Metroid in almost 20 years, and the Metroidvania genre has been thriving in its absence. There are plenty of young players out there who fell in love with games like Hollow Knight, Guacamelee, and Ori but have never played Metroid itself. Nintendo has a golden opportunity to expand the core Metroid fanbase like never before… but it’s not going to happen if the old games are hard to find.
Nintendo Switch Online to the rescue?
With Metroid Dread just over a month away, time is running out for Nintendo to do the right thing. But perhaps there’s a spark of hope? We recently reported on a rumor that suggests Game Boy and Game Boy Color games are headed to Nintendo Switch Online soon. While that would be nice, it doesn’t do enough to make 2D Metroid games accessible, as it would only add Metroid II: Return of Samus. However, if this expansion also includes Game Boy Advance games, that’s a different story. A combined GB/GBC/GBA library update on Nintendo Switch Online would effectively let players experience the whole 2D Metroid storyline by adding three games to the lineup.
Zero Mission is a remake of the NES original (already available) that fleshes out the story and gives more impact to the importance of the Legendary Power Suit. Return of Samus is the second game in the series and introduces the famous baby Metroid. The 3DS remake adds more to the story in the form of Chozo Memories, but it seems these will be included in Dread’s cutscenes, so it’s not absolutely essential. Super Metroid, which continues the baby’s story, is already available on the service. And finally, Fusion introduces the deadly X parasites and Adam, both of which factor into Dread’s story.
Not yet Prime time
While this article has focused exclusively on 2D Metroid games so far, there are plenty of other titles that deserve a Switch release as well. However, with Metroid Prime 4 on the way, it makes more sense for Nintendo to re-release the Prime Trilogy closer to the new 3D adventure. The Prime games, while a canon part of the Metroid universe, largely tell a self-contained story. All of the Prime games (including spin-offs like Hunters and Federation Force) take place in between Zero Mission and Samus Returns and have relatively little impact on the classic games. The marketing for Dread has paid little heed to them, so they won’t be crucial playing ahead of its release.
And speaking of games that have been largely ignored in Dread’s marketing… Metroid: Other M. Set between Super and Fusion, this game was poorly received at launch, and Nintendo has said little about it since. Although it provides more context to the relationship between Samus and Adam, it’s context a lot of fans would rather forget. It doesn’t seem like it will factor heavily into Dread’s plot, and I wouldn’t hold my breath for a re-release. But then again, I also wouldn’t run into a volcano without my Varia Suit activated.