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Five Wishes for ‘Metroid Prime 4’

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Nintendo shocked the world when it announced Metroid Prime 4 at its Nintendo Spotlight, surprising gamers who had been looking for a quality Metroid experience for almost ten years. Without any in-engine footage and absent veteran developer Retro Studios, there is little idea of how the final product will look and feel when compared to the other games in the series. However, with the pedigree that a series like Metroid typically carries and the high expectations that new games in the series evoke, here are five changes that Metroid Prime 4 would be wise to implement.

[Warning, post contains light spoilers]

5.) Give the Series a Fresh, Interesting Villain

Short of a retcon so contrived as to make even comic publishers blush, Metroid Prime 4 needs a new, interesting villain. While Dark Samus, Mother Brain, and Ridley have served as the antagonists for almost every game in the series, it’s long past time for a new villain to take center stage. If the secret endings of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Metroid Prime: Federation Force are any indication, then the bounty hunter Sylux from Metroid Prime: Hunters is the logical choice. Possessing both a stolen Federation suit and a virulent hatred for Samus, Sylux has both the means and the motive to serve as an intriguing foe. If implemented correctly, he could add a much needed personal element to Metroid Prime 4, giving Samus her first real human antagonist, a welcome change of pace for a series that has typically been defined by its one-dimensional, primal villains.

Sylux is the best candidate for the main villain in Metroid Prime 4.

4.) Return to Separate, Non-Stackable Weapons

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is one of the best games in the Metroid series, improving upon almost every aspect of its predecessors. However, if there was one major change that felt more like a step back and that irked long-time fans of the Prime series, it was the decision to stack, rather than separate, the different beams that Samus obtained in the game. While beam-stacking is by no means a new feature of the Metroid series, having been an integral part of every 2D Metroid, as well as Metroid: Other M, its inclusion in the Prime series felt odd, to say the least. Part of the appeal of obtaining new beams, especially powerful ones such as the Plasma Beam in Metroid Prime and the Annihilator Beam in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, was the feeling of choice it gave the player. It allowed for a more nuanced way to solve puzzles and defeat enemies, an element not as pronounced in Corruption. While not a necessity, a return to separate beams in Metroid Prime 4 could add creativity and flair to a combat system that, in Corruption, often didn’t measure up to the standards set in Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.

The Nova Beam was an awesome weapon in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, but without the ability to change beams, the game as a whole suffered.

3.) Adopt Smooth, Dual-Analog Controls

The original Metroid Prime is, no question, one of the greatest games of all time, aging well in almost every discernible way. Regardless, the controls in Metroid Prime, despite being mostly amenable, are far-and-above the weakest part of the game and a significant barrier of entry to gamers inoculated by nearly ten years of annualized, dual-analog first-person shooters. If, as their strategy has suggested, Nintendo is making the Switch as appealing as possible to core gamers as possible, then there is a need for one of their most popular franchises to adopt dual-analog controls. Without the Wii Remote to make firing as seamless an experience as in Metroid Prime: Trilogy and with the need for Prime 4 to run in the Switch’s handheld mode, dual-analog controls are the logical, if mundane, choice for Nintendo. While it would undoubtedly feel strange at first, adopting a familiar control scheme is a must for Nintendo, especially if they wish to use the latest Metroid Prime game as a means to reach out to fans of first person shooters on other consoles.

Metroid Prime‘s control scheme was workable back in 2002 but feels practically antediluvian today.

2.) Return to Isolation

Metroid Prime 3: CorruptionMetroid Fusion, and Metroid: Other M, while as dissimilar as games in the same franchise can be, all shared a similar flaw, disruptive dialogue. All three games were, for the most part, linear experiences that had Samus talking to and with others for a large part of each game, something not typically seen in the series. They all lacked a true sense of isolation, instead belaying the player with a litany of voices at any given time throughout the story. Despite how great almost all of those games were, isolation is one of the keys to an excellent Metroid experience and its absence lessened the games’ ambiance. In Metroid Prime, the lack of other voices provided the game with the atmosphere it needed. Neither the depths of the Phazon Mines nor the crevices of the Impact Crater would have felt as atmospheric with another voice around to interrupt the immersion and defuse the tension. Likewise, Super Metroid leaned heavily upon isolation to make the planet Zebes feel as threatening and atmospheric as possible. While some games in the series that leaned less heavily upon isolation, such as Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, were excellent games, the Metroid series needs isolation and the atmosphere it creates. It is as core to the series as the Power Suit, Wave Beam, and even Samus herself.

As long as we never have to hear from this guy again…

1.) Stick to the Metroid Formula

With games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo has given more creative leeway to developers making new entries in popular series. It worked for Breath of the Wild and seems poised to work again for Super Mario Odyssey. Despite the wishes of some fans, however, Nintendo cannot do that with the next Metroid PrimeMetroid can not be reworked into an open-ended adventure game because the series has never been about its huge worlds or its excellent sense of exploration. Rather, it has always emphasized two concepts that don’t work well with open-world games: speed-running and tight, measured progression. Metroid has never been a series to let players off at the beginning of games to explore to their heart’s content. In fact, it has done much the opposite, limiting player progression with doors, enemies, blocks, etc. that force the player to search for the items needed to progress in the game. Nintendo doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel for the next Metroid game, they simply need to perfect what has been working for the past thirty years, and deliver an experience as classic as the one that launched on the GameCube fifteen years ago.

Nintendo doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel with Metroid Prime 4, they simply need to keep making good games.

Although a gamer since before I can remember, there is not a better definition of me than these three words: Christian, moderate, and learner. I am steadfast in my Faith, my Beliefs, and in my Opinions, but I am always willing to hear the other side of the discussion. I love Nintendo, History, and the NBA. Currently a PhD Student at Liberty University.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Brent Middleton

    July 4, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    I wonder if they’ll release an HD Trilogy pack for the Switch next year (assuming Prime 4 is coming 2019) to build up some hype and introduce players to the trilogy who never played the originals 10 years ago.

    • Ricky D

      July 4, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      Nintendo clearly had the 3DS game planned for a while. I think they gave fans a shitty Photoshop title card of Metroid 4 because if they didn’t, fans would have lost their shit and made a fuss about Nintendo giving them a Metroid game for the 3ds and not the Switch, and worse, a remake.

      I’m willing to bet one hundred dollars they haven’t even written a single line of code yet. I don’t expect it out until 2020.

      • Izsak “Khane” Barnette

        July 5, 2017 at 10:57 am

        Thanks for commenting, Rick. I would honestly expect it to be out by Holiday 2018, barring an unforseen delay.

      • Brent Middleton

        July 5, 2017 at 9:34 pm

        There’s no way it’s coming 2020. Barring Zelda, Nintendo typically shows games close to when they’re released. I think we’ll see gameplay at next year’s E3, and then it’ll be 2019’s major release. Next year’s major release will probably be Pokemon Switch in Holiday 2018. It’s definitely already in the works.

        • Ricky D

          July 6, 2017 at 1:20 pm

          You guys are both crazy. There is no way, Metroid Prime 4 will be out in 2018. No way. There is just no way. Even if they work on the previous build, it will still take time to make. Late 2019 is the EARLIEST but I estimate 2020.

          • Izsak “Khane” Barnette

            July 6, 2017 at 2:10 pm

            I don’t know. They’ve surprised us before with releases. I personally never expected Xenoblade Chronicles 2 to come out this year.

    • Izsak “Khane” Barnette

      July 5, 2017 at 10:56 am

      Thanks for commenting, Brent. If they release an HD remaster for the Switch, I would totally buy that.

  2. Booski

    July 9, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    Exploration is a huge part of Metroid. I agree it’s always been less open, but I think the series can at least take a cue from BOTW and change up conventions a bit. In particular they need to rethink boss battles in the prime series. Most are very slow paced and formulaic. Battles usually end up losing tension quickly. Other M had many faults but the bosses were almost always exciting and never dragged on. Other M also had easily the best screw attack of a 3D Metroid, and a pretty decent shine spark! Anyway, I don’t want them to make the game similar to BOTW, but I want that feeling of playing something familiar but totally fresh and unexpected that BOTW gave me.

    • Izsak “Khane” Barnette

      July 12, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      Thanks for commenting! I don’t know if I would agree with your comment about Prime’s boss battles. Meta Ridley, the Omega Pirate, and the final boss were all pretty tense, in my opinion. Prime 2’s boss battles were even more intense as well. Remember the Boost Ball and Spider Ball Guardians?

      • Booski

        July 13, 2017 at 12:19 pm

        I agree about the first Prime’s bosses. Thardus is great too and the final boss might be my favorite in the whole series. But I think in the later games many either became tedious or dragged. Or maybe the pattern/repeat stuff just became played out to me. I actually hate the boost and spider guardians and the grapple guardian is awful too. Chykka from Echoes and Mogenar from from Corruption stick out to me as being unenjoyable as well. I guess I just want something fresh in the series. I kinda feel the Prime series was wrapped up after 3. One of the nice things about each new Zelda game is it’s not bound to the previous one. I know my post sounds super negative but I’m actually really excited for both new Metroid games.

        • Izsak “Khane” Barnette

          July 14, 2017 at 11:10 am

          Yeah, I understand. Chykka was probably the most tedious boss in the entire series. Metroid is prone to being more static than Zelda, but that’s honestly something I’m fine with. I don’t expect Prime 4 to relate the other Prime games except in gameplay design. Thanks again for commenting!

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‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

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Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

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