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Nintendo at E3: Samus gets throwback side-scroller in Metroid Dread, new Zelda sequel trailer & more

By Benjamin Bullard
Metroid Dread

For a brief heart-stopping blip, fans didn’t know what to think as the words “Metroid 5” materialized on a black screen. But Nintendo didn’t leave anyone guessing for long at its E3 Direct showcase today, serving up a surprise announcement of a brand new Metroid game that takes Samus Aran back to her old-school, side-scrolling ways. Better still, it’s a completely new title that’s coming even sooner than the long-awaited Metroid Prime 4.

Fans online went into a Space Pirate frenzy at the news that Nintendo is heading back to the classic 2D, NES-era Metroid format that started it all — a format that, along with Castlevania, ended up spawning the entire “Metroidvania” side-scrolling and platforming genre that plenty of studios still emulate to this day. Yep, the next official entry in the hallowed Metroid gaming canon is coming this year — and Nintendo’s even brought a few new tricks to the retro-gaming table this time around.

Check out the Big N’s very first look at Metroid Dread:

The clip shows off a handful of new moves that Samus has picked up since her NES and SNES heyday, including a cool-looking dash attack and the ability to magnetically scale walls. As Nintendo itself pointed out, Dread marks the first Metroid outing that puts players back into classic 2D mode in almost 20 years. It’s a sequel to 2002’s Metroid Fusion for the Game Boy Advance, and here’s the best part: It’ll be ready to play as a full-scale Switch title this fall.

Dread’s first look hints at a fusion (pun intended) between techno and horror, with the relentless E.M.M.I. robot hot on our hero’s tail in the dark corridors of an alien craft. Developed by MercurySteam (the same team behind Metroid: Samus Returns, the 2017 remake of the original Metroid 2), Metroid Dread lands on the Switch on Oct. 8. And fret not: Nintendo paused to assure fans that Samus is still on track to return in 3D as development on Metroid Prime 4 forges ahead.

It’s been two years since Nintendo wowed Zelda fans by announcing a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Today, series producer Eiji Aonuma shared a long-awaited new look at the game — the very first new footage since BOTW2’s sensational first trailer dropped at 2019’s E3.

Link takes to the skies above Hyrule in the new clip, which frames the devastating events of the Great Calamity 100 years before the first game began. Ganon (we presume) takes Hyrule Castle in his grasp, suspending it above the landscape in an eerie, sky-darkening setting that casts Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule in a new, foreboding light. Link’s picked up some new skills, too, including a fire-wielding power and a mysterious new ability to merge through rock and other objects.

Aonuma didn’t reveal a specific release date, but said Nintendo’s working hard to get the new game finished in time for a 2022 release. In commemoration of the Zelda franchise’s 35th anniversary this year, he also pulled from his pocket a Link-themed version of Nintendo’s Game & Watch mini-console, which will come pre-loaded with three classic Zelda games (The Legend of Zelda, The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening), plus a new version of Game & Watch title Vermin that puts Link in action as a playable character. The Zelda-themed Game & Watch arrives on Nov. 12 of this year.