A week after the release of Metroid: Other M, Yoshio Sakamoto is still getting his share of the gaming spotlight. Other M has been getting decent to good reviews, yet the future of the series is up in the air. Only a couple days ago, Sakamoto expressed uncertainty as to what is next for Metroid. He explains the situation better in a more recent interview.
“Honestly speaking I do not have a particular project which I’m working on right now. But if it comes to game-making, I have to admit that I’m a rather greedy person. If someone asked if I would like to make another Metroid, I would say ‘yes, certainly’. But if someone was to ask me if I wanted to do something other than Metroid next, I’d also say ‘yes’. You know, I always want to do something new, something different. And now I’m trying to identify what I want to do and what I should do. So if we meet once again in the near future, I might give you a different answer. But right now I have to say ‘I don’t know.”
Sakamoto admits that he’s a little greedy when it comes to developing games, and that he would probably say, “yes” to any project put in front of him. He claims to not know what he wants to do, but I think his statements shows signs of wanting to move on, and work on something fresh.
Sakamoto went on to reveal several tidbits on the history of Metroid, his inspiration and insight into how Other M came to be. It turns out, many of the story elements and gameplay mechanics in the original Metroid were the result of hardware limitations, last minute ideas and mere coincidence.
“When we were almost done with the development of Metroid, one of our staffers casually suggested ‘Why don’t we make Samus Aran a female character to surprise the player?’ Back then I thought it was a nice idea, but I couldn’t foresee what a huge impact this would have on the future of the franchise. Up to this day, I’m thankful to the person that came up with this idea, although I honestly can’t recall who actually made the suggestion.”
“Almost all of the elements which now define the Metroid series were decided in the first Metroid game. Back then, we didn’t have enough time, we didn’t have enough resources, but we still had to make this game. And we had to work fast! A young designer came up with the very basic structure and we knew our game would come out for the Famicom Disc System. But even before we started working the launch date was decided. We weren’t able to increase the amount of memory we had for the game and we were not allowed to make major changes to the core engine — but we had freedom in terms of game structure. In a way, we were stuck; stuck between high walls and we had to think of a way out. This is the feeling we also put in the game. Maybe, you could blast a little hole in the wall? This might lead you to another room or corridor. This is how the basic structure of the game came about.
So we could blast a hole into a wall. That got us thinking — what else could we do, can we perhaps go up? So we came up with the ice-beam. The ice-beam is also the result of rational thinking. We had very limited memory. So we decided that Samus should be able to jump on frozen enemies and use them as a platform. And that was a great help for saving memory. All we had to do was change an object’s colour and by simply changing the so-called collision-check the former enemy suddenly becomes a stepping stone; a really nice gameplay element that hardly requires any memory at all. So the original Metroid was the result of a lot of hard work and many of the features were hit upon by coincidence.”
Here at GameRant, we have had several discussions on the implications of modern game development and Triple-A games. Also, some people fear that so called, “hardcore gamers” may be hurting the gaming community. Sakamoto shares his opinions on the positives and negatives of developing a game now compared to the ‘80s.
“Being able to have all these resources for any given project, sometimes it’s really nice, but there are also negative aspects to this new freedom. Of course, we have many, many possibilities with the current systems and were able to do almost anything we wanted. But still, as a developer, we have to keep our minds on the budget. And at the same time, being able to do anything you want is not necessarily a good thing. When we can do anything we can think of, it’s very important to remember what’s really necessary.”
“Until now, Nintendo has never made a game with such an expansive storyline and such elaborate storytelling as Metroid: Other M — but the first thing that came to my mind when I started thinking about a new Metroid for Wii was that Samus should really talk a lot. I wanted long, cinematic cut-scenes. These were necessary because in the new game I wanted to show Samus’ inner self, her personality and her history. What kind of person is Samus? What’s going on inside her? To achieve this, we needed the dialogue and the cut-scenes.
But at the same time, the new Metroid is of course a videogame, and as such it’s imperative to offer the highest possible quality in terms of playability and content. So I started to think about what kind of a team I would need to make all this happen. For the actual gameplay, I was very lucky to meet these splendid guys at Team Ninja. And for the cut-scenes, we struck a partnership with the very talented people at D-Rockets. So at the beginning of the development, I talked to these people and briefed them in detail on my ideas and concepts for the new Metroid. We quickly agreed on the direction we want to take with the development of Other M.”
In principal this was a good step for Nintendo, but the execution was handled completely wrong. Gamers like deep storylines and enthralling cut-scenes. However, in all honesty, I don’t think many people actually care about Samus’ feelings or her emotional struggle. Nintendo should stick to their guns and make quality, old school, gameplay centered games for their core franchises. Then, as a seperate venture, create new IP’s that incorporate rich stories and modern cut-scenes. I’ll be shocked if there is ever a new Mario or Zelda game with a story of the same caliber as something like Bioshock or Red Dead Redemption. That being said, I’m only an hour in to Metroid: Other M so I can’t officially weigh in on the situation.
What are your thoughts on future of the Metroid? Would you like to see Yoshio Sakamoto tackle a new IP? How has modern game development treated your treasured franchises?
Metroid: Other M was released last week for Nintendo Wii.