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A mysterious bounty hunter battling scores of fanged aliens in the cold, dark reaches of the galaxy. A nonlinear platformer with special tools and abilities to unlock new and thrilling spaces. A terrifying adventure with a looming sense of calamity.
Metroid has pioneered the way for countless video games since its first installment, even lending its name to an entire subgenre. With Metroid Dread arriving soon, a celebration of this critically-acclaimed series is in order.
For some, Metroid may have been a relatively obscure title that we only came to know because Samus was so freaking cool in Super Smash Brothers N64. But this is a franchise rich with history and quality.
The Original Trilogy
Metroid was born out of competition, among other things. Producer Gunpei Yokoi and his team in Nintendo’s R&D1 division set out to design a game that could rival the success of Mario and Zelda, created by Yokoi’s contemporary, Shigeru Miyamoto.
But they intentionally made artistic choices that were opposite to Mario at every turn. Everything about the project was punk rock, from its nonlinear structure to its immersive, brooding atmosphere. But the biggest shock was the surprise ending that no one saw coming…
Metroid tells the story of Samus Aran, who travels to the planet Zebes to prevent space pirates from using aliens called Metroids to create biological weapons. Creators were famously influenced by Ridley Scott’s Alien film, and even named a dragon-like boss Ridley. At the end of the game, our hero takes off that iconic red robot suit to reveal… bum bum bum! She’s a woman.
Dramatic surprise endings (as well as long intervals between releases) became a calling card for the series. Metroid II, released in ‘91 on the Yokoi-designed Game Boy, ended with Samus annihilating all Metroids on the planet SR388, but taking one baby Metroid at the very end.
While Metroid and Metroid II were well reviewed, the team at R&D1 hadn’t quite delivered a hit for Nintendo. Super Metroid finally delivered that homerun. Created for the Super Nintendo in 1994, Super Metroid blew away expectations. To this day, it’s regarded as one of the greatest games of all time. Then, Metroid disappeared.
Metroid Prime & Beyond
Reasons for Metroid’s vanishing are shrouded in theories and questions, but the franchise remained mostly absent for the better part of the ‘90s. Metroid skipped the N64 almost completely, with the exception of Samus’ (insanely cool) appearance in Super Smash Bros. Unsure how to move forward with the franchise, Nintendo took a chance on a team in Austin, Tx called Retro Studios to bring Metroid back.
Metroid Prime was released on Nintendo’s new console, the GameCube, alongside a handheld title for the Game Boy Advance called Metroid Fusion. Prime (not to be confused with online shopping) brought Metroid into the age of 3D, and Nintendo insisted upon its description as a “first-person adventure”.
Set between Metroid and Metroid II in the series timeline, Prime follows Samus as she travels to a new planet to once again handle those pesky space pirates, who are trying to use a substance called Phazon to their own dastardly ends.
It was a masterpiece. Metroid Prime became an enormous success, selling well and winning game of the year awards from almost every publication. Retro was tasked with a trilogy right away. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes explored the series’ famed Dark Samus baddie, and MP3 brought Metroid to the Wii console. With Metroid Prime 4 in development, the Prime series hangs before us like a carrot on a stick.
While other iterations of the games have been released, including the multiplayer Metroid Prime Hunters and the unfortunately lackluster Metroid: Other M, Nintendo had a project in development for the Nintendo DS in 2006 called Metroid Dread. It was put on hold – until now.
Metroid Dread releases on the Switch October 8, and will be the first side-scrolling Metroid in almost two decades. The game will mark the end of the Metroid storyline, and honor the character of this masterful series. A series that has swum upstream from its inception to become an unstoppable force in the world of gaming.
5 Cool Things You Can Do With Your Nintendo Switch
So maybe you’ve just bought a Nintendo Switch. Maybe you’ve had one for a while. Nintendo’s enormously successful hybrid console can do more than just “switch” from docked to handheld mode. Try out some of these hacks to get the most out of your Switch. Some are basic tips, while others might surprise you!
1. Find lost Joy-Cons for your Nintendo Switch.
Controllers > Search for Controllers
Those versatile little controllers can be pretty easy to lose under the couch or across the room. If you happen to misplace one, not to worry! Just go to the Switch’s home screen and select the grey Controllers icon (it looks like a Joy-Con). Then select Search for Controllers. From here, you can select the lost controller and make it vibrate. Walk around the house, listen for that vibration, and find your Joy-Con! Reunited, and it feels so good.
2. Skip the user profile select screen when turning on your Nintendo Switch.
Settings > Users > Skip Selection Screen
Old-school gamers used to put in a cartridge, turn on the machine, and see their game. As gaming systems have become more advanced, they’ve added more steps to walk through before you’re ready to play.
Selecting your user is one of these steps. But if you’re the only one who uses your Switch (there aren’t multiple profiles), you can skip this step altogether! From your Nintendo Switch’s home screen, select Settings (the gear icon). From there, select Users, then click on Skip Selection Screen to toggle it on.
Skip this step, and save precious gaming time. Because every second counts.
3. Recalibrate your Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons.
Settings > Controllers and Sensors > Calibrate Control Sticks
Ah, the dreaded Joy-Con drift. While the Switch is a solid console, not even the best equipment is impervious to wear and tear. After playing for several months/years, you might find that the Joy-Cons aren’t responding to you like you want, or they’re just a bit laggy.
Before you go taking apart your controllers and putting tiny pieces of cardboard inside, try the basics first. Navigate to Settings, then scroll down to Controllers and Sensors. Finally, select Calibrate Control Sticks. You’ll be guided through steps to recalibrate. And like other tech devices, Joy-Cons have software updates, so make sure you keep them updated.
If you’re up to date, and you’ve tried calibrating to no avail, Nintendo has actually agreed to fix your broken Joy-Con, free of charge. Just go to support.nintendo.com/joyconrepair and create a ticket.
4. Check your battery while playing a game on Nintendo Switch.
Hold down home button
What did we say already? Gaming time is precious. You’re in the middle of nailing a dungeon in Breath of the Wild, but you also want to check your battery life. You don’t want to navigate back to the main menu and lose your groove – what’s a gamer to do?!
This simple trick lets you quickly check the battery – just hold down the home button for a few moments. A mini menu pops up, allowing you to check battery life and adjust basic settings like volume and brightness.
To display exact battery percentage on the top right of your Nintendo Switch, hold down ZL + ZR, or toggle it to stay on all the time in Settings > System > Console Battery (%).
5. Play region-restricted games by changing your region on the Nintendo Switch eShop.
Settings > System > Region
Why does Japan get to have all the good games? To be fair, most titles are released globally these days, but some games drop first in certain countries/areas. Fortunately, Nintendo has made it insanely simple to change your region on the Switch. Simply go to Settings, select System, then Region. Yes, it’s that easy.
Perks abound, beyond just allowing you to play games from different regions. You can access that region’s eShop, check out different versions of game art, and even make new users for each region if you want!
Essential Game Boy Games That Should Be Added to Nintendo Switch Online
By now, you’ve likely heard the rumors that Game Boy games could be coming to Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo’s subscription-based online gaming service. First of all: it’s about time!
Handheld gaming has been integral to Nintendo’s identity since the company’s beginnings.
The fact that the Switch is a hybrid docked/handheld console would make the addition of games from Nintendo’s classic handheld device perfectly fitting – and oh so sweet. Here are some Game Boy games that would be essential entries in a Nintendo Switch Online collection:
Super Mario Land – Nintendo R&D1, 1989
Of course, Super Mario Land will be near the top of every Game Boy wishlist for Nintendo Switch Online. It was the Game Boy’s debut title (along with Tetris), so a GB collection would have to include at least the first Super Mario Land game, if not all three.
They were genuinely entertaining and innovative games (not to mention that bomb soundtrack). And the Super Mario Land trilogy made significant contributions to the Mario franchise, including Princess Daisy and Wario’s first appearances.
Pokémon Red and Blue – Game Freak, 1998
Take me back to Kanto, where it all began. The Red and Blue games were quality RPGs. Iconic generation one Pokémon like Mewtwo captured the imaginations of gamers everywhere, and characters like the infamous Team Rocket created a rich plot and rewarding gameplay. Grueling gym challenges and rivalry with Blue made for a satisfyingly high degree of difficulty.
The historical significance of Red and Blue can’t be overstated, considering what Pokémon has grown to be (TV shows! Trading cards! Movies! Toys!). To think that it all started with this little Game Boy game…
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons – Flagship, 2001
The Oracle games have been sitting on the shelf for too long! These dual Game Boy Color titles haven’t yet received big makeovers or major re-releases. So Oracle of Ages/Seasons have a special nostalgic draw. Dungeons and puzzles stay true to the franchise’s high quality expectations. And the fact that beating both games unlocks a secret final scene is too enticing to ignore.
While we’re at it, why not throw in Link’s Awakening? Yes, it already got a remake for the Switch. And yes, it was great. But we want the OG too!
Metroid II: Return of Samus – Nintendo R&D1, 1991
This GB title is pivotal to the Metroid story, and cemented the franchise’s bad boy rep. With Metroid Dread coming in October, the chance to play through the entire Metroid story would be a pure delight. And not a bad marketing strategy either.
I hope Nintendo considers including Game Boy Advance titles on Nintendo Switch Online as well. Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission were GBA games that were meant to precede Metroid Dread. But Dread was shelved back in 2006 – until now. Letting fans relive the 2D side scrolling journey of Samus would build massive hype for the arrival of Metroid Dread.
Tetris – Nintendo R&D1, 1989
Tetris is a staple of gaming. The Game Boy version represents an intersection of one of the greatest games of all time and a groundbreaking handheld console. It marks a profound moment for a visionary company in the early days of its tremendous history. The planets aligned to make Tetris on the Game Boy a giant huge massive intensely significant game.
So, yeah it should be on NSO. It’s kind of a given.
Should You Buy the Nintendo Switch OLED Model?
After months of rumors piling up like flapjacks as fans anxiously waited for a new Switch, Nintendo finally came through with a new console announcement. However, it wasn’t the announcement we expected. Instead of the rumored Switch “Pro”, the Japanese gaming giant came out with the Nintendo Switch OLED Model.
Rather than upgrading everything about the console in one fell swoop, it seems Nintendo opted for incremental changes. While the OLED Model doesn’t quite fulfill every rumored enhancement, it still features worthwhile improvements.
So is the Switch OLED Model right for you? With the new console dropping October 8 (along with Metroid Dread), we’ll help you decide whether to shell out your hard-earned cash for Nintendo’s shiny new toy.
Nintendo Switch OLED Model New Features and Specs
For brand new gamers/non-gamers: The Nintendo Switch is Nintendo’s latest video game console, first released in 2017. It’s a hybrid, meaning you can play with the Switch plugged into your TV (aka docked), or handheld. Hence the name. It’s one of Nintendo’s highest-selling consoles, and boasts a deep catalog of excellent games. The Switch has its own screen for handheld mode. Controllers on the side, called Joy-Cons, can be removed when the console is docked.
Like its name suggests, that OLED screen is definitely the biggest benefit of this new model. Without getting too technical, it displays more vibrant colors and darker blacks for contrast. It’s also a bit bigger – the OLED Model is a 7-inch, while the standard is a 6.2-inch screen. Here are all the upgrades:
- 7-inch OLED screen (duh)
- New dock with LAN port built-in (better for online gaming)
- Enhanced audio in handheld mode
- 64GB of storage (the standard storage is 32)
- Wider kickstand for better stability in tabletop mode
- Beautiful new white color dock and Joy-Cons
The white dock and Joy-Cons might just be enough to sell you on it. But if you’re into specs, and you’ve been following alleged “Switch Pro” rumors, you may notice some key upgrades that are not on this list. In fact, Nintendo admitted that besides the screen, the guts of the machine are identical to the standard Switch.
But that screen, tho…
Price Comparison: Switch, Switch Lite, and Switch OLED Model
- The Switch costs $299.99
- The Switch OLED Model costs $349.99
- The Switch Lite (handheld only) costs $199.99
When considering which Switch to buy, there is one overarching question – how much do you play in handheld mode? The answer to that question will clear up a good bit of uncertainty for you.
The OLED’s primary upgrade is for handheld/tabletop mode, after all. If you play handheld a lot, you have more incentive to nab the OLED Model. If you rarely play in handheld mode, the OLED Model is almost pointless. So let’s get more specific:
What If I Don’t Have a Switch? Should I Get the OLED Model?
Absolutely yes. If you don’t have Switch in your life, you need some Switch in your life. Since it’s only $50 more, you might as well go for the OLED.
The only reason you’d choose not to get the OLED Model is if you know you will only be playing in handheld mode, and don’t even want to dock. In that case, it comes down to price. The OLED Model looks and sounds better in handheld mode, but the much lower price of the handheld-only Switch Lite may be a key factor in your decision. An extra $150 in your pocket goes a long way in building your game library.
What If I Already Have a Switch? Should I Upgrade to the OLED Model?
That depends. How old is your Switch? If you have the release model from 2017, chances are it’s looking long in the tooth. You might want a fresh machine with a slightly better battery anyway. And the OLED screen would be quite the cherry on top. Especially if you’re a frequent handheld player.
If you never play in handheld mode, your Switch is always charged and you’re using your TV screen, so there’s really no need for a new console.
Finally, if you have a more recent Switch with an improved battery, you should hang onto it and skip the OLED. There’s always another console on the horizon. You can upgrade when the alleged “Switch Pro” or “SwitchCube 2” or “Console to Demolish All Competition” (or whatever it will be called) comes out.