If you followed the Metroid Prime rumors over what felt like the past 17 years, you probably knew that Metroid Prime Remastered had likely been finished and was sitting on a shelf somewhere waiting to be released for a long, long time. As you can imagine, this isn’t common practice in the game industry. These days, most games aren’t even finished by the time they’re shipped out the door, less the quarterly earning report shows anything other than a line forever traveling upward. So why then would Nintendo want to let a surefire hit like Metroid Prime Remastered collect dust when it could be making money?
People like to say that Metroid Prime Remastered is an advertisement for Metroid Prime 4, and while that’s a bit reductive – a lot of work went into making the remaster a great game in its own right – it’s pretty clear that Nintendo planned to release remastered versions of the original trilogy in the lead up the fourth entry in order to build anticipation. When development restarted in 2019, Metroid Prime Remastered’s release date was subsequently delayed. Its release earlier this year would seem to be an indication that Metroid Prime 4 is coming soon. Nintendo hasn’t confirmed any of this is true, but based on the timeline and rumors, it seems to be the strategy.
Whether intended or not, Metroid Prime Remastered definitely has people excited for Metroid Prime 4. Metroid Prime released on the GameCube in 2002, a 21 year old console that sold only one-tenth as well as the Switch. Most Switch owners under the age of 30 didn’t play the original Metroid Prime, and those of us who did can hardly remember it (or anything) anymore. Metroid Prime Remastered, which has sold over a million copies so far, created new Metroid Prime fans. It introduced the series to younger generations and those who missed out on it the first time. When Metroid Prime 4 eventually gets a release date, anyone who is curious about it will be able to play a modern, updated version of the original on the same console.
There’s an inherent risk to making legacy sequels in long-dormant franchises like Metroid Prime. When you launch a Call of Duty game every year you can make some reasonable assumptions about how many people will play it, but it’s been more than 15 years since the last Metroid Prime, and it’s a lot harder to gauge how many fans are left. No matter how much a sequel is advertised as a jumping-on point, people will always be skeptical about jumping into the fourth game in a series. Metroid Prime Remastered gives people a way to get into the series, and a reason to care about what comes next.
This should always be the way legacy sequels are handled. As a PlayStation kid, Fable 4 means nothing to me. But if Fable Remastered showed up on Game Pass a few months before it, there’s a good chance I could turn myself into a Fable fan before the next entry. Armored Core 6, Pikmin 4, and Dragon Age 4 would all get a significant boost from a well-timed remake or remaster too. It may be hard to quantify exactly how much Metroid Prime Remastered ends up buoying Metroid Prime 4 when it comes out, but it certainly put some positive energy around a series that no one is talking about much anymore, and that has to be invaluable for anyone trying to make an old franchise feel new again. If we ever end up getting that new BioShock, 2K would be foolish not to try to prop it up with a BioShock Remake.
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