Much to the delight of those that follow the beloved Nintendo science-fiction property, Metroid: Samus Returns is being praised as a wonderful return to form for the franchise. Our review of Samus Returns pointed to the newest entry’s laser focus on enhancing longstanding qualities of the exploration-heavy platforming series, and the man playing a large role in the quality of the final product was none other than franchise co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto.
I was recently given the opportunity to interview the aforementioned Metroid co-creator/Samus Returns producer, learning more about his latest title and the future of the series in the process. Those eager to see the interview can check it out below:
GR: Were there other studios considered to develop Metroid: Samus Returns before deciding on MercurySteam? Were there other studios considered to develop Metroid: Samus Returns before deciding on MercurySteam?
“When I was first thinking about creating a remake of Metroid II for the 3DS, I heard there was a Spanish developer called MercurySteam that wanted to try remaking [the Gameboy Advance title] Metroid Fusion. Hearing their name reminded me they were the ones who had recently made a Castlevania game, and that sparked my interest. When I sat down and played their 3DS title Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, I could tell they were a developer with real skills and a good design sensibility, and decided to go to Spain to talk things over with them. During that visit to MercurySteam, I saw firsthand the sincerity they bring to the task of game development. Their respect for and understanding of Metroid was also clear, and so we decided to start creating a prototype. I suppose that’s part of the reason we never really considered working with another developer.”
GR: Why did you decide to keep Metroid: Samus Returns as a side-scrolling game rather than reboot it as a first-person shooter?
“ I’ve never been a producer for the Metroid Prime games, and by this point it’s sort of understood that I’ll leave the first-person shooter entries in the series to other producers. But even aside from that, I’d always thought a remake of Metroid II like Samus Returns would best be done as a 2D side-scroller, and I’ve never really doubted that.”
GR: Are there any plans to continue making side-scrolling Metroid games in the future or is this just a one-off deal?
“Personally, I’m constantly exploring the possibilities and the future of the Metroid series, and part of that means not imposing any limits on ourselves when it comes to game design or hardware platforms.”
GR: Why did the team opt to bring the game to 3DS rather than the Nintendo Switch?
“ One of the themes we chose to stick with this time was utilizing both 3D visuals and a dual screen setup. In fact, I’d been interested in creating a Metroid title that allowed you display the map constantly on a second screen and interact with the elements of the UI by touching them since the time of the original DS. The 3DS made the 3D visuals possible of course, and the more powerful hardware allows for a higher fidelity experience—both are reasons we felt this was the right choice.”
GR: Why did you decide to revisit Metroid II and not the original Metroid that debuted on NES or even Super Metroid on SNES? Is it because the story of Metroid II holds more relevance to future installments like Metroid Prime 4?
“ Metroid II was released more than 20 years ago, and it chronicles the first meeting between Samus and the Baby Metroid. That event is crucial to the story of the series, and I’ve thought for some time that the best way to retell that tale for a new audience of gamers would be via a remake.”
GR: Would you personally like to remaster/re-imagine other Metroid titles in a similar way?
“It really depends on the reasons you have for undertaking such a challenge, whether there’s a need for it, and your own motivation, but at the moment I have no plans for another remake. I think we need to spend time considering whether fans are only wanting remakes going forward, and what that might mean.”
GR: The producer behind the animated Castlevania series, Adi Shankar, stated that he’d love to take on a mature Metroid animated series next. Would you have any interest in seeing this happen with Metroid or is a mature take a little too violent for the property?
“ It’s an honor to hear of that sort of interest, but when it comes to expanding the Metroid franchise beyond the medium of games, I feel the position I’m in now doesn’t make me the best person to tell that tale.”
GR: A lot of fans would love to see a live-action Metroid movie. Do you think this is a possibility and if so then who would you like to see direct it?
“As I mentioned above, I don’t feel I’m in the best position to tell the tale of Metroid when it comes to expanding the franchise beyond the province of games.”
Metroid: Samus Returns is available now, exclusively on Nintendo 2DS and Nintendo 3DS handhelds.