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One of the biggest disappointments coming out of E3 was the lack of what many people feel is a proper entry in Nintendo's Metroid series. Even Nintendo understands the complaints, but that doesn't mean we'll be getting the Metroid that everyone wants anytime soon. Thankfully, gamers no longer have to rely on Nintendo to scratch that itch. Over the years, there have been a number of great releases that have emulated Metroid's exploration-based gameplay in a variety of original ways. Here are some of the best non-Metroid, Metroid games that fans of Nintendo's series should add to their catalog.
[This story has been updated since its original publication in August of 2014]
Axiom Verge – PS4, PCThis one-man project is everything you love about Metroid wrapped up into a nearly perfect package. Indie developer Tom Happ spent nearly half a decade refining the gameplay of this opus and his love for Nintendo’s classic sci-fi adventure shines through. The game follows the journey of a scientist named Trace who suffers a fatal injury during an experiment only to awake centuries in the future in a world overrun by technology and devoid of human life. Throughout his adventure, players acquire a series of new weapons that help Trace unlock new environments and face towering bosses. We had a lot of fun controlling his remote drone and finding glitches in the environment that lead to entirely new areas. Everything about the game — from Axiom Verge’s haunting music to it’s painfully striking 8-bit visuals — screams old school fun.
Ori and the Blind Forest – Xbox One, PCMoon Studios tells a heartbreaking but engaging tale about a young guardian spirit who must face down the wild beasts of a corrupting force and ultimately help bring an ailing forest back to life. Moon Studio’s amazing hand-painted visuals help draw players into the gameplay, which is a clever cross between Rayman’s platforming and Metroid’s world exploration. Accompanied by a small sprite, Ori eventually learns to clamber up walls, use enemy projectiles to fling himself through the air, and even triple jump. Many of Ori’s platforming trials and puzzles offer a sizable challenge, but we found it hard to put the controller down until the closing credits.
Apotheon – PS4, PC, MacAlientrap's fast but brutal adventure features a clever art style based on ancient Greecian black-figure pottery. The game opens with a young warrior named Nikandreos trying to repel an invasion of his home town. After defeating the raid leader, Nikandreos joins forces with Zeus’ wife Hera to battler the rest of the Olympian gods. Apotheon may sound like God of War, but its twin-stick combat and unique stages built around each god’s theme really set it apart from other mortal titles. Whether you’re sailing along Poseidon’s seas, beating back Ares’s berserk inhabitants, or turning into a deer while hunting in Artemis’ forest, there is always something new to experience around every corner.
Guacamelee! – PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PS3, 360, Vita, PCFeaturing an emphasis on action and a Dia de los Muertos vibe, Guacamelee! is a great mix of a lot of different elements. The game features the traditional Metroid-style exploration, but a strong combat focus and dimension-switching mechanic mixes up the formula creating something new. As Juan, players battle their way through a world inspired by traditional Mexican culture and folklore in order to rescue El Presidente's daughter. Many of the new moves that you acquire throughout your journey are also the tools you need to traverse further into Guacamelee’s world.
Outland – PS3, 360Inspired by the arcade classic Ikaruga, Outland uses a light/dark swapping mechanic that allows players to change their energy and absorb hits from like colors. However, players can only damage monsters when they are switched over to the opposite color, creating an interested risk reward system. Combine this with Metroid’s 2D exploration, vibrant visuals, clever puzzles, and solid platforming, and you have a game that stands on its own.
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