'Metroid Dread' Is Stuck in the Past, But the Past Was Awesome

What does it mean for Nintendo to make a new Metroid game in 2021? Nintendo culturally co-owns the term "Metroidvania," but it no longer creatively directs the genre it helped inspire. Games like Hollow Knight, Ori and the Blind Forest, Cave Story, Dead Cells, and others have stretched and pulled the formula in wildly new directions during the Metroid series' various hiatus periods.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/y3dykm/metroid-dread-is-stuck-in-the-past-but-the-past-was-awesome

Metroid’s past is largely unknown to me so in some ways this is quite exciting. To seriously play a 2D metroid game for the first time, and avoid having to play it emulated or on a 3DS of all things, is a lot of what I wanted from Dread, the Switch is the perfect format for this kind of game without many of the hardware (i.e. controller, inability to play it on TV) limitations that comes with earlier handhelds.
(Also the melee parry from Samus Returns looked rad, I love myself a good parry)

I can see how this can end up feeling a bit rote to veterans but for a newcomer it sounds right up my alley, barring the expressed disappointments with the story.


I’m tentatively up for a good action game with difficult encounters. Judging from this and some other Twitter response, Dread seems to deliver on that front which I’m glad to hear.

But yeah, having played many a Metroid, Castlevania and alike game over the years I’ve grown more fond of good world exploration or story telling than immediate gameplay alike. From the current response I don’t hear enough about the exploration feeling interesting or pleasant enough to intrigue me. That’s hard to pull off, I know! Still, while the game sounds interesting enough I feel like I’ll hold off a bit. Games like Hollow Knight and many others have just raised the bar that high over the years.

I am about three hours into Dread, and I am absolutely loving it. I am a huge Metroid fan, so it feels great to get to play a new 2d Metroid game. Have other companies done the Metroidvania style of game better? Probably. But Im perfectly willing to admit that this is one of only a couple of series (the other being Zelda) where I will allow my nostalgia to completely color my experience and opinion.

Other companies may have done it better, but nothing makes me feel as happy as when I hop back into the suit and see what wild planet I’ve found myself on this time.

1 Like

Also, your experience will be so much better if you play this video while Samus is transitioning from area to area.

I don’t have much history with the Metroid franchise. And I’m probably more savvy with the ‘vania’ part of the equation thanks to Symphony of the Night. The only Metroid I’ve played through to completion was Metroid Prime on the gamecube, which admittedly is probably up there in my own personal pantheon of best games. In an age where Gordon Freeman and Master Chief were your archetypal first person heroes. The way that game puts you in the helmet of Samus and characterizes her in first person no less is really cool. I really hope Metroid Prime 4 is worth the wait, it feels like the game everyone wants, but I’m not sure it’s the series Nintendo ever wants to make.

I’m really enjoying Metroid Dread. I’ve already said on the watcha playing thread, but I love how everything feels in the game. Love the countering and the movement. I’ve just unlocked the double jump, and that’s not so good. It’s failed me on numerous occasions, not good when your trying to evade EMMIs.

Anyway, not only have I rooted out my 3DS to play Samus Returns, for when I finish Dread. I also got my Wii U out of hiding so that I could play Zero Mission and Fusion. I never had a GBA but these games still feel really good to play. Made it to Mother Brain on Zero Mission but am woefully underpowered in terms of healthbars to take it out.

1 Like

So I wrote about this in a much too wordy review on Backloggd, but I actually kinda disagree with the headline here. While Dread is filled to the brim with series staples, I actually think it’s far from stuck in the past; it’s design shows a clear dialogue with modern Metroidvanias that makes it different in some pretty dramatic ways from the series origins. It’s emphasis on combat, plot, and deliberate puzzle-like secrets feel like pretty modern adaptations to the series. (Also: I don’t care what Patrick says, the E.M.M.I are cool.) It’s less that Metroid is stuck in the past, and more that it is the past that others are stuck in. These games are venerated endlessly, so its once ambitious hallmarks now seem unremarkable. I do agree, in the end, that Dread is ultimately not much unique, but still a sublime game. I just come at it from a different angle.


Hey, your review is really good, and it helped me crystalize my thoughts on the game! The subtlety of the guidance the game gives you is great! When it’s working right, it can give you the same rush you get in Super Metroid. When you don’t know where to go, you open the map to find any areas that haven’t been fully explored yet, and then set out to see if that’s the way forward. In Dread you’re basically always going in the right direction, so you avoid the frustration of feeling like you’ve gone through the same rooms over and over without making any progress. That’s a good trade-off in my book!

I think that this game is clearly in dialogue with more recent entries in the genre as well! There are some really great boss fights in Dread that had me thinking this is as good as a Hollow Knight boss fight, which is superlative praise as far as I’m concerned.

There are bunch of other things I like about this game too! The little animations of animals and machines moving in the background as you explore rooms makes the game feel expansive in a way that 2-D Metroid haven’t in the past. The aesthetic in general is an exquisite homage to pulpy sci-fi tv shows and book covers, with some backgrounds looking like elaborate matte paintings. The game plays like a dream too, with everything feeling so kinetic and acrobatic. It’s just a great game!