Metroid IV

   While the flashier Metroid Prime has been receiving the lion's share of the attention, a second new Metroid title is also sneaking up on gamers. In the works at Intelligent Systems, the Nintendo subsidiary responsible for the original Metroid trilogy, Metroid IV will take the series back to portable territory.

 CG sequence
Samus' new look

   As indicated by its name, Metroid IV is the true "next" installment in the franchise and picks up after the conclusion of Super Metroid. Samus' armor has somehow fused with a Metroid, though it's not yet known whether any other living Metroids will appear. (In the current series timeline, the last known Metroid died in Super Metroid.)

   The game seems to begin on a spaceship on which Samus performs the fusion process. The brief E3 trailer starts with Samus emerging from the fusion chamber in a new transparent blue suit. Later scenes show Samus exploring the ship -- now back in her red armor -- and battling familiar enemies such as the bouncing Side-Hoppers. Moves seen in the trailer include the classic Screw Attack, Ice Beam, and Speed Booster dash, as well as a new power that enables Samus to walk on the walls and ceiling. (A similar move was featured in Metroid II, but it required Samus to be in ball form.) Only the ship areas were seen in the trailer, though there may be other locations planned for the final game.

Screw Attack
Graphics by the Unlit Room team

   While the E3 footage demonstrated the traditional Metroid game style, it came up decidedly short in graphics. The backgrounds were were lacking in both detail and color. The sprites were equally simplistic; Samus, for instance, was almost a solid red shade. The trailer did include a number of rendered sequences, however. While these may have been just for show at the expo, there's also a chance that they will be used as FMV sequences in the game.

   Metroid IV's lackluster look and confining ship environments have drawn fire from some series fans. However, the title is still in a very early form and reportedly won't ship until the summer of 2002, giving Intelligent Systems plenty of time to polish the title into a worthy new installment of one of gaming's most beloved franchises.

Preview by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA.
Metroid IV
Developer Nintendo
Publisher Nintendo
Genre Adventure
Medium Cartridge
Platform Game Boy Advance
Release Date  Unknown
E3: Metroid IV screens
E3: 7 screenshots