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‘Time Flies’ turns the life of a housefly into a cute game about existential dread

I didn’t expect to laugh while playing Time Flies, but I did, out loud on the Summer Game Fest show floor. It’s a deceptively simple game with monochromatic, MS Paint-style visuals and a clear premise: You’re a fly and you have a short time to live a full life in a random house.

There are layers to the game’s main goal, as the fly has a bucket list filled with items like “learn an instrument”, “read a book”, “make a friend” and “get drunk.” Each of these tasks is completed in a delightfully surprising way — for instance, getting drunk means landing on the base of a martini glass and sipping from the small droplet of alcohol there. Afterward, the screen becomes distorted, warped lines making it harder to fly through the house. Making a friend involves joining a trail of ants as they walk single-file through cracks in the kitchen walls. The fly lands on the back of an ant and it can hang out, disappearing into one small hole and reappearing from the other in a continuous, friendly loop.

And then the fly dies. Every round ends with the fly’s death, whether that’s caused by the inevitable progression of time or the player’s direct actions, such as getting too close to a strip of fly paper, touching a light bulb or drowning in the full martini glass. A timer ticks down constantly in the upper-left corner, starting with 80-odd seconds at most, and when it hits zero, the fly drops to the ground like a speck of dust.

The timer itself presents a compelling thought experiment at the beginning of every life cycle. The length of each round is determined by choosing a location from a dropdown menu of all the countries in the world, and it’s based on the life expectancy of each region. Selecting “United States,” for example, gives players 77.4 seconds because people there are expected to live 77.4 years, according to the database used by the game. This mechanic, beginning every round with a self-inflicted geographic death sentence, grounds the game in reality. It adds weight to whatever silly, pixelated mechanics may follow, mirroring the quiet way that existential dread constantly grips us all.

Knowing you’ll die doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while you’re alive — as the fly, that is. The house is packed with personal items like books, art, instruments and furniture, and to a buzzy little fly, it feels nearly endless. It’s possible to land on certain environments and the screen will zoom in to allow players to interact with the objects there, showing additional detail. The fly can flip the power switch on a phonograph and collect coins inside a bulbous light fixture, each of these new areas appearing as the fly buzzes past or into them.

Time Flies

Michael Frei and Raphaël Munoz

The scene that made me laugh out loud involved a headless mannequin sticking out of the ceiling. Yes, you read that correctly, but this isn’t where I laughed yet. Flying into the dummy’s open neck revealed a network of intestines to escape — funny, but I still hadn’t laughed — with an exit precisely where you’d expect it to be. When the screen shifted from a dark intestinal tract to show the fly popping out of the dangling mannequin’s butt cheeks, I couldn’t help myself. I laughed and heard people watching behind me chuckle, too. Together, we all enjoyed the surprising ridiculousness of this fly’s life, and then it dropped dead.

I had a good time with that fly in particular. I played a few rounds of Time Flies and crossed out a few items on the bucket list, but there’s still so much more to explore in that solitary house. I just need some more time.

Time Flies

Michael Frei and Raphaël Munoz

Time Flies is scheduled to hit PlayStation, Switch and Steam in 2023, developed by Michael Frei and Raphaël Munoz.

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Staff Picks: Why Metroid Dread is Our Game of the Year

Picking the “game of the year” is never easy. While every Digital Trends writer who helped deliberate is a gamer, their tastes differ wildly. I came out strong as an advocate for medium-defining indie darlings. Others are RPG enthusiasts who felt Tales of Arise deserved the top spot. Depending on who was in the conversation, we could have shuffled the deck a dozen different ways and come out with any number of winners. There’s an alternate universe somewhere where Forza Horizon 5 is our game of the year, I’m sure.

So when we do find common ground on a game, it’s truly special. It means that something has transcended its genre enough to win over a panel of gamers with disparate tastes. It’s always hard to predict what game in a given year will pull off that task. And even then, I was still shocked when Metroid Dread topped our voting sheet.

Long live the queen

Metroid Dread is a long-awaited sequel to Game Boy Advance classic Metroid Fusion. It brings the Metroid series back to its 2D roots while trading the sprite art for modern visuals. For longtime fans of the series (myself included), it was a cathartic release. Announced as a genuine E3 2021 surprise, it was a sequel no one really expected. The Metroid series seemed like it was dead in the water with Metroid Prime 4 currently languishing in development hell. The last thing any fan expected was a return to 2D.

While it was always going to be a significant game for fans, it was harder to predict how the general public would embrace it. In truth, Metroid is more of a cult hit for Nintendo, and one that hasn’t been truly great for over a decade. It doesn’t make the same kind of money as Mario or even Animal Crossing — it’s more of a “gamer’s game.” Fans of the industry revere it and the impact it’s had on the industry, but Samus Aran likely wouldn’t be a household name if it weren’t for Super Smash Bros.

Metroid Dread would become a pivotal game. It felt like the fate of the entire series was resting on it. If it failed, like Metroid Other M and Federation Force before it, that could be a nail in the coffin. Developers would continue to draw inspiration from it in the form of indie Metroidvania titles, but Samus’ reign as queen would reach an unsatisfying end.

Thank God that didn’t happen.

Using the Omega Cannon in Metroid Dread.

An instant classic

Rising to meet expectations, Metroid Dread gave the Nintendo Switch another instant classic. An increased emphasis on fast movement proved to be exactly what the series needed, buffing up both its exploration and combat encounters. Mechanical additions like the melee counter widened Samus’ moveset, making her feel more like her Super Smash Bros. counterpart. Battles are legitimately challenging, but always fair. Modernized visuals brought more detail to the 2D world, adding depth to each corridor. Oh, and the E.M.M.I. scared the ever-loving crud out of players, too. It’s the kind of genuine crowd-pleaser that Nintendo excels at.

What makes Dread stand out most, though, is its story. The secret truth about Metroid is that it’s always told one of gaming’s best stories. It’s a space epic where Samus’ history and decisions matter. When she saves the baby Metroid at the end of Metroid 2, it’s not just a stand-alone moment. It plays a major role in the events of Super Metroid, which makes it one of gaming’s most impactful moments.

Metroid Dread carries that narrative strength over by bringing decades worth of plot threads together in a dark crescendo. It’s a game where Samus’ recklessness as a bounty hunter finally catches up to her. We finally get to see the long-term consequences of her decision to eradicate an entire species for money. That plays out in a series of shocking plot twists that reward anyone who’s kept up with Metroid lore over the years. The David Cronenberg-esque conclusion still lingers in my head months later.

Samus melee attacks an enemy in Metroid Dread.

History matters

If you had to boil Metroid Dread down to one thematic takeaway, it’s “history matters.” The snap decisions we make can carry consequences that snowball in unexpected ways. In video games, we’re not usually punished for our actions. Kill 1,000 people in Uncharted and it won’t matter much by the start of Uncharted 2. Metroid Dread rejects the “video game reset” by turning decades’ worth of reckless mercenary work into a nightmare for the usually cool, collected Samus.

Metroid Dread isn’t devoid of hope. It doesn’t leave Samus to die haunted by her ghosts. Redemption is still possible, and the ending leaves the door open for that. By the final moments of Dread, Samus has transformed (in more ways than one). She’s snapped out of an apathetic trance and seems to understand that her power is corruptible. Perhaps she’ll stop accepting missions from a shady Galactic Federation that hires her to do their dirty work and become an actual force for good.

What’s exciting is that we won’t have to wonder for long, hopefully. With Metroid Dread garnering praise from critics and Switch owners alike, it feels like Saums is about to start a new chapter. She’ll continue to evolve, just as Nintendo has with the uneven series itself. History matters, but its repercussions aren’t always negative. Sometimes we learn from the unflattering parts of our past and use it to build a better future. Metroid Dread is a moment of growth and reinvention for the series, coming out of a dark decade of failure with an earned moment of redemption.

Mission accomplished.

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Metroid Dread Review – SlashGear

It’s been far too long since the last truly new 2D Metroid game. To find it, we have to go back nearly 20 years to the release of Metroid Fusion for the Game Boy Advance. In the time since then, we’ve had the excellent Metroid Prime trilogy and a pair of 2D remakes in Metroid Zero Mission and Metroid: Samus Returns, but those who were looking for a new 2D adventure had to wait until this year with Metroid Dread. In short: Metroid Dread is a game that’s been a long time coming, and now that it’s here, it has to measure up to the other games in the Metroid series, which is no small task.

Thankfully, Samus hasn’t lost any of her bite in the intervening 19 years. A short diversion into the 3D world for the Metroid Prime trilogy, a couple of revisits to past adventures, and now Metroid proper is back. Even though Metroid Dread was revealed just a few months before it was ultimately released, the game had a lot of hype to live up to since it’s now the new torchbearer for the classic Metroid series. It manages to live up to that hype and, in some cases, even exceed it as well.

Design and Narrative

Metroid Dread will feel instantly familiar to anyone who has played a 2D Metroid game before. For that matter, it’ll feel familiar to anyone who has ever played a non-linear platformer, otherwise known as a “Metroidvania” title. “Metroidvania” is the colloquial term for games made in the same vein as Metroid or Castlevania. These action-adventure games are defined by their large, secret-filled maps that start by limiting exploration and then open up as players explore and obtain new abilities, items, or weapons.

Boiled down to its essential gameplay loop, when you first start in Metroid Dread, much of the map will be inaccessible to you. As you play, you will unlock new areas of the map and gain entry to those previously-inaccessible areas thanks to the abilities you’ll obtain. Barring sequence breaks – some of which have already been discovered – it isn’t until the game’s later stages that the entire map will be fully accessible to players.

There have been countless games that have followed in the footsteps of Metroid and Castlevania throughout the years. Hollow Knight, Ori and the Blind Forest, Axiom Verge, Guacamelee, and Bloodstained are all modern examples of Metroidvania titles that have enjoyed positive reception. Metroidvania games are some of my favorites, and so to finally have a new Metroid after so many years is an exciting thing indeed.

Metroid Dread picks up shortly after Metroid Fusion ends. The Galactic Federation has found evidence of the X-parasite’s existence on Planet ZDR and sends EMMI robots to deal with them. Shortly after the EMMI arrive on ZDR, they lose contact with the Federation, which in turn sends Samus in to investigate and figure out why.

Without diving too much into the realm of story spoilers, those EMMI have been corrupted by what they encountered on ZDR, and when Samus arrives, she learns that they are hunting her. While the story does have some significant revelations for those who have followed the Metroid narrative so far – particularly those who played Metroid Fusion – we won’t get into those here.

While most people probably don’t play Metroid games for grand storytelling, there is a story to experience here, and while it’s good enough, it’s relatively sparse. There aren’t many other characters on Planet ZDR, and the ones you meet can often feel like exposition dispensers who exist primarily to give you background. The story picks up in the later stages, to the point of being engaging, but I wouldn’t have minded a little more along the way.

It isn’t necessary to play other games in the series before playing Metroid Dread, though knowledge of past games in the franchise will certainly give better context for some of the events in Dread. Interestingly enough, once players take the reins as Samus in Metroid Dread, they don’t have any other mission objective except to survive the dangers of ZDR and make it back to their ship alive, a chilling directive indeed.

Metroid Dread Gameplay

Surviving is easier said than done. Upon arrival on ZDR, a narrative event finds a way to strip Samus of her powers and abilities, and it’s up to players to explore the planet to find the tools they need to get back to the surface. Right away, the Metroid feel is present, though Metroid Dread feels faster than Metroid games I’ve played in the past. Maybe I just haven’t played a proper Metroid title in a long time, but Samus feels like she really moves in this game.

Samus, of course, has many of the abilities she’s had in previous games. From the start, she can shoot her arm cannon, fire missiles, run, jump, and slide, but throughout the game, you’ll unlock an entire slate of abilities, both new and old. I don’t want to spoil too many of those here because the joy is in discovering them, but rest assured that plenty of old favorites return.

You’ll also be able to increase Samus’s health and max missile count by finding energy and missile tanks dotted throughout the map. These comprise many of the secrets you’ll find, and by the end of the game, I had hundreds of health and could carry more than 150 missiles. I never felt like I wanted for missiles as I was playing Metroid Dread, but I imagine that’s because I didn’t use them nearly as often as I should have.

I have a good reason for that, however, and it’s the melee counter. Like in Samus Returns for the 3DS, Samus can parry certain enemy attacks with a melee counter. Enemies will flash briefly when they’re about to make an attack that can be countered, and successfully countering opens up a window for an instant-kill attack of your own (or at least it’s instant-kill in most cases). Dispatching opponents this way also seems to drop more health and missiles than usual, so you want to kill enemies off a melee counter when you can.

The map in Metroid Dread feels very well designed, with secrets to find everywhere. In the game’s opening stages, it can be a little frustrating to realize just how limited your exploration is, but that leads to numerous “aha!” moments as you unlock new abilities and remember the places they’ll allow you to explore.

That’s part of the joy of playing a game like this, and even though there will be places where you’ll get stuck as you play Metroid Dread, that’s only ever a temporary thing. I have to strongly recommend against looking up solutions when you’re stumped. Instead, shoot walls, explore someplace else for a little while, or even just put the game down and come back to it fresh later. It’s so much more rewarding to figure things out for yourself in Metroid Dread, especially after you’ve been stumped and feel like you can’t progress.

You are never truly stuck in this game; there were multiple instances where I couldn’t figure out what I needed to do to progress, only to come back later and figure out a way forward almost instantly after putting Metroid Dread down for a while.

Metroid Dread is also a challenging game, particularly when it comes to boss fights and the various EMMI zones you’ll have to navigate. Under normal circumstances, EMMI can’t be killed, which means that when you’re making your way through an EMMI zone, you have to be careful to avoid detection. If you’re discovered, your only recourse is to run and hope the EMMI loses you, because while EMMI have a lock on your position and are in full pursuit, the exits from their zones are locked.

If an EMMI catches you, you have a chance to escape, but it requires split-second timing and is not something most players will want to count on. Essentially, being discovered becomes a do-or-die situation where you either find some way to lose the EMMI that’s hunting you, or you’re quickly-yet-brutally dispatched.

It is far better not to get caught than it is to hope you can time an escape perfectly, and that really drives home the notion that this is a desperate situation for a hopelessly outmatched Samus. EMMI Zones add a lot of tension that would be missing from the game without them, and the first time you’re being chased through a zone by an EMMI, the reasoning behind naming this game “Metroid Dread” becomes crystal clear.

Many of the boss fights in this game are fantastic tests of pattern recognition and timing, and for the average player, most of them will take multiple attempts to complete. Even basic enemies pose a threat in the early stages of Metroid Dread, though that changes somewhat as you progress further and unlock new abilities.

Metroid Dread does an excellent job of making you feel like a butt-kicking bounty hunter one moment before cutting you down and reminding you that you aren’t the top dog on Planet ZDR the next. My initial thought is that Metroid Dread is probably a little too difficult for children, but on the other side of that coin, I know some kids who are savants with a controller and would love to turn this game inside-out.

Metroid Dread verdict

I love pretty much everything about this game. I love the feeling of speed present in pretty much every aspect of the title, and I love that there’s a good challenge to be found here. I love the satisfaction that comes with being stuck and discovering the way forward. I love getting rolled by bosses and slowly perfecting the fight as I get better at recognizing the opponent’s telegraphs and timings.

Metroid Dread is a very satisfying game to play, and it’s one of those games where I feel compelled to go back and discover all the secrets I missed so I can have a save file that shows 100% completion. I have very few complaints, other than the fact that your limited interactions with other characters tend to be pretty exposition-heavy. Unfortunately, players will also encounter some framerate drops as they play, so Metroid Dread seems to be another title that pushes Switch to the limit.

Beyond those complaints, there’s a lot to be excited about here. The graphics are solid, the map is a blast to explore, the combat is fun, and the core gameplay loop is as good as it’s ever been

Moreover, I’m excited about this game’s future. Like many of its predecessors, it’s evident from the moment you boot up Metroid Dread that it’s going to make for an exciting speedrun, and I look forward to seeing how the routes through this game are refined in the months and years to come.

Along with Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses, I count Metroid Dread as one of the essential games for Nintendo Switch. I am convinced that most players will find Metroid Dread instantly engaging, from Metroidvania newbies to those who have been fans of the sub-genre since the very first Metroid released on NES in 1986. Metroid Dread is a stellar return to form for the series, so here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another 19 years for a proper follow-up.

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‘Metroid Dread’ reminded me why Metroid is an essential series

Nintendo occasionally milks some of its big franchises, but Metroid is generally not one of them. In fact, Metroid Dread is the first all-new game in the series since the divisive Metroid: Other M arrived in 2010. As the fifth mainline, side-scrolling game in the series, Dread has a lot to live up to. And while it’s not a total reinvention of the franchise, like Metroid Prime was 19 years ago, it also does a great job of avoiding the pitfall of feeling like a retread, an issue that occasionally plagues Nintendo’s other flagship franchises.

If you’ve played any of the previous side-scrolling Metroid games, Dread will be familiar. As usual, Samus Aran loses all her powers and needs to escape an underworld maze, fighting baddies and retrieving power-ups that let you explore new sections (or old parts of the map you couldn’t get through before).

That’s a well-trodden path, but Nintendo flipped things this time with the E.M.M.I. encounters, terrifying robotic enemies that stalk you through specific parts of the map. They can’t be killed until you explore their area to find a weapon power-up that puts you on equal footing. At first, I was worried that these encounters would be too frequent, or too hard to escape, but developer MercurySteam did an excellent job balancing out the E.M.M.I. areas. Escaping from the dreaded robots by leaving the zones they patrol isn’t too tough, and you don’t have to spend so long in their areas that the whole game devolves into stealth tension.

On the other hand, if you get caught by an E.M.M.I., that’s pretty much it. You have one chance to block their lethal attack, and I’ve only done it right once. I’ve probably gotten caught several dozen times and have never made it out alive. Fortunately, the game just resets you to the door entering the E.M.M.I. zone if you fail, so you won’t lose much progress.

Metroid Dread

Nintendo

Meanwhile, I’ve had a blast exploring the dank tunnels and caverns that make up the world of Dread. As with most Nintendo games, the atmosphere and art style are top-notch, even if Dread doesn’t hold a candle to the more technologically advanced titles on the Xbox Series X or PS5. When I play a game that is this well-designed and thoughtful about what it does with the technology available to it, I don’t worry about counting pixels. That said, it also looks extremely impressive docked to my 4K TV.

Most of the gameplay hallmarks of Metroid titles are here, including power-ups like charged shots, the morph ball, the missile cannon and plenty of other returning favorites. But there’s enough new here, like the grapple beam and screw attack, to keep the game feeling fresh.

Maybe for people who have obsessively played the Metroid series before, Dread will feel like more of a retread. But while I’m familiar with the core components of these games, the first-person Metroid Prime is the game I know the best — I never beat the original game, or the highly-regarded Super Metroid on the Super NES. If you’re like me, don’t let that stop you from trying Metroid Dread. There’s a reason so-called Metroidvania games are still popular. 

And if you haven’t tried one before, getting the newest installment in the series that helped define the genre is a great way to get your feet wet. Most importantly, it doesn’t feel like MercurySteam and Nintendo just checked the boxes for this game. Indeed, the skill that MercurySteam brought to Samus Returns (a remake of 1991’s Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy) is on display here; Nintendo definitely picked the right developer to make the first mainline Metroid game since 2002. It’s an inspired addition to a series that already has an impressive legacy. Just don’t get cocky — run like hell if an E.M.M.I. tracks you down.

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Metroid Dread bug prevents game progression, but Nintendo has a workaround

Some Metroid Dread players are currently contending with a game-breaking bug that blocks progression. Even worse is the fact that this bug seems to surface in the later stages of the game when many players are likely approaching the end and want to see the Metroid Dread’s finale. Nintendo is aware of the bug, and while a fix is coming up in the next couple of weeks, the company has shared a workaround that can be used until then.

As Nintendo explains on its support site, this bug surfaces near the end of Metroid Dread and forces the game to close, leaving players with a message that reads, “The software was closed because an error occurred.” A fix for the bug will be included in a software update that “should be available in October 2021,” but until that patch arrives, there’s a workaround players can use to proceed to the end of the game.

Nintendo says this bug is caused by destroying a specific door while a map marker for that door exists on the map. If you encounter this bug, the way to fix it is to restart the game and remove the map marker before you play through the sequence that ultimately results in the crash back to the Switch’s home menu.

Doing that should prevent the error from occurring, so thankfully, this seems like a relatively simple fix that should get players back to progressing through the final stages of the game. Outside of saying that the update should be available before the end of the month, Nintendo hasn’t given us a specific idea of when the update fixing the bug should be available.

In any case, we’ll let you know when that update launches and if it contains anything other than this particular bug fix. In the meantime, those of you who have encountered this crashing issue should try the fix Nintendo outlines above, as it could get you playing again a lot sooner than waiting for the update will.

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New Metroid Dread teaser isn’t your typical Nintendo trailer

Generally speaking, Nintendo games are colorful, happy affairs, and the trailers for those games reflect that with bright visuals and upbeat music. However, it’s becoming more and more clear that Metroid Dread is not that game. If its dark and unsettling announcement trailer wasn’t enough to convince you of that, then perhaps the game’s latest teaser trailer will.

The teaser comes in at just over 30 seconds long, so it isn’t very lengthy by any stretch. It does give us some possible insight into Metroid Dread‘s narrative, but more than that, it’s also pretty creepy. Sadly, we don’t get to see any new gameplay, as this teaser is entirely cinematic.

Still, it could prove exciting for long-time Metroid fans. For Metroid‘s entire run, the Chozo species has been frequently referenced but draped in mystery. This trailer suggests that we’ll at least learn more about the fate of the Chozo in Metroid Dread, so fans of Metroid lore are probably going to want to pick this one up.

Metroid Dread was arguably the biggest surprise of Nintendo’s E3 2021. It’s been quite some time since we had a proper Metroid game that wasn’t a remake or a spin-off, and Metroid Dread could be a return to form for the series. While Metroid has always been one of Nintendo’s darker franchises, it seems that Metroid Dread may even be a more mature entry than most Metroid games.

We’ll just have to wait on Nintendo to reveal more about the title. Metroid Dread is out on Nintendo Switch on October 8th, 2021, the same day the Switch OLED launches.

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Nintendo Switch gets lit in October: Ori, Metroid Dread, Super Monkey Ball

The month of October, 2021 is a magical time for Nintendo Switch gamers. In that month, a wide variety of different sorts of games will launch. In that month, a set of top-tier exciting games will launch. In the month of October in the year 2021, Nintendo Switch will be the console to have if you’re all about the most awesome oddities and AAA games in the gaming universe.

Before we begin here, know now that not every title we’re talking about will be an absolute gem. There are some games that look great that might not turn out so hot. There are some games that you might not expect to enjoy that’ll turn into the most awesome surprise of the year for you, the Nintendo Switch gamer. Look and see, and keep an open mind as you do so.

Early October

Right away on October 1, 2021, Nintendo Switch gets the soccer game FIFA 22: Legacy Edition. That’s the sort of game you play and keep playing if you’ve played all previous releases. It’s more like a lifestyle than it is a game that you jump in on and expect improvements from past generations.

The game Exophobia launches on October 5 as a retro-inspired first person shooter (FPS) with so very many pixels. That same day, October 5, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania launches! This is another game where you’ll get max enjoyment if you’ve had a great time with any previous Super Monkey Ball installment.

Maybe the biggest game launch of the month is Metroid Dread! This is the “first new 2D Metroid story in 19 years.” The story of Samus Aran starts after the previous most recent title, Metroid Fusion! This game launched on October 8, 2021.

Closer to mid-October

On October 12, 2021 we’ll get Ori: The Collection. This game collects some of the most beautiful and beautifully simple games made in the past couple of decades in a single title. One buy, all the gameplay.

One of the most deceptively bland titles in the universe sits atop one of the most interesting set of mini-games. The title is “Time Management Game Collection,” and the release date is October 12, 2021, same as Ori. Six different Time Management games appear in one single title here – for many, many hours of gameplay.

For the Kids

If you’re looking for a way to occupy a child with a new game for Nintendo Switch, look to October 22, 2021. On that day, “My Friend Peppa Pig” will be released. Three days later, another release should fit the same situation: The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf. Then again on October 29, children rejoice as Nintendo Switch gets the game PJ Masks: Heroes of the Night.

Mario on the tail end

On October 29, 2021 we get Mario Party Superstars. This is a bit of an expansion, a bit of a reboot, and definitely a stand-alone game if you like. If you’ve never played a Mario Party game before, this is a good place to start.

It’ll be sold for the full price of a standard game, so it’s not just a sort of add-on to the Mario Party you’ve played before. This game has “100 Classic minigames” that’ll return from the Nintendo 64 and Nintendo GameCube games “and more.” There’ll be 5 Classic boards from Nintendo 64 Mario party games, too. Take a peek at the timeline below for more tips on what’s coming next!

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Everything We Know About Metroid Dread

Only the longest, most dedicated Metroid fans will remember the old announcement of Metroid Dread that came 15 years ago. With no word on the game in over a decade, Nintendo surprised everyone at E3 2021 when it re-revealed the game once again in their Treehouse Live showcase. Originally planned as a classic 2D entry in the series for the DS, this completely new version of Metroid Dread is finally coming to fruition.

Unlike Metroid Prime 4, which we saw and heard almost nothing about, Metroid Dread was announced with plenty of juicy details to dig into. Metroid has had a strange and troubled development history in the past, but with MercurySteam, developers of Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS in 2017, fans have a lot of faith in Metroid Dread living up to the high expectations the series has garnered over the years. This is going to be a major entry in the series, so read up on everything we know about Metroid Dread before Samus makes her return.

Further reading

Release date

As a rare treat, especially for a Metroid game, Nintendo hit us with a double whammy in revealing Metroid Dread and giving us a release date all at once. Well, unless you count the original reveal, in which case it took 15 years for a release date, but this is an entirely different game. Perhaps as a response to the long-delayed, and restarted, Metroid Prime 4, Metroid Dread was given a mercifully close release date of October 8, 2021. Considering the more horrific tones of the game, an October launch seems quite appropriate.

Platforms

You never have to wonder what platforms a Nintendo property will be on. Even though Metroid Dread isn’t being developed internally at Nintendo, they are absolutely going to keep it exclusive to their Nintendo Switch platform. Just like any Mario, Zelda, or Pokémon game, your only choice to get these games is on Nintendo hardware.

Trailer

Metroid Dread, also called Metroid 5, got a full trailer of story and gameplay to dissect ahead of launch later this year. The most exciting thing we learned from the trailer, at least for those of us who care about the story of the Metroid series, is that this game will be set after the events of Metroid Fusion. That game, which came out in 2002 for the GBA, was the latest game in the Metroid timeline. That means fans have been waiting an excruciating 19 years for the next installment in Samus’ adventures. Thankfully, Metroid Dread will finally tie up the story threads left open from that game as Yoshio Sakamoto, longtime Metroid director and producer on Metroid Dread, has stated, “The series has chronicled the uncanny relationship between these Metroids and the heroine Samus, but this game will mark an end to that story arc.”

For those who missed it, or just haven’t played it in nearly two decades, the plot of Metroid Fusion focused on Samus exploring a space station infected with a mysterious X parasite, which has also infected Samus and had to be cured with Metroid cells. This gives her the ability to absorb the X parasite, but her suit was also infected and placed on the station for observation. The parasite on her suit ends up forming as a clone of her, takes over her original armor, and learns all her abilities, becoming the “SA-X” that hunts you down throughout the game.

Metroid Dread features Samus in another new suit that appears to be a mix of her Fusion and classic designs. The trailer begins with her getting ambushed by a robotic enemy called the EMMI, which she fires on with blasts and missiles with no effect. As she’s forced to run, this new enemy seems to take on the role of the SA-X as a somewhat unstoppable force hunting you down throughout the game. After some gameplay, we see what looks like a fail state where Samus is caught, but the camera cuts to the title before she is finished off.

Sakamoto, who was the original creator of Metroid Dread 15 years ago, spoke about what the game’s title means. “It represents a relentless threat that pursues the seemingly invincible Samus Aran … Each robot roams within a specific zone, and when they sense the sounds Samus makes, they close in. And once it captures Samus on its visual sensor, it starts chasing after Samus at high speed.” Aside from simply running away, there will be ways you can avoid the EMMI’s detection altogether. “If you can avoid making a sound, the EMMI won’t notice you … You can also hide behind objects to avoid being visually recognized. And with her new main defensive move, Samus can use the optical camouflage known as the Phantom Cloak to render herself invisible to the EMMI.”

The last real bit of story information we got was that the computer A.I. from Fusion, Adam, will make a return in Metroid Dread.

Gameplay

If you played the 3DS remake Metroid: Samus Returns, then Metroid Dread will feel like a natural sequel to that game in many ways. Both of these titles are developed by MercurySteam, which has proven itself as a fantastic developer for classic 2D Metroid-style games. The trailer, while brief, did show off how this Metroid game will be similar, yet different, to past entries.

First and foremost, this is a classic 2D Metroid game. That means you’ll be running, jumping, and shooting your way through a sprawling map that uncovers as you explore. You will be finding and picking up different powerups and weapons that allow you to progress through previously blocked-off or inaccessible areas. One example we saw during the Nintendo Treehouse was the classic charge beam. The Metroidvania genre has seen a huge boom in popularity in the last decade or so, and Metroid Dread looks to be yet another take on the formula it itself helped pioneer.

In terms of new features, we already mentioned the Phantom Cloak, which is the first time Samus has had a stealth-oriented upgrade to her suit. In a game with nearly invincible pursuer-type enemies, the addition of a stealth option is not only appropriate, but also a fun alternative tactic that we’ve never seen in a Metroid game before.

Aside from running and hiding, another way to deal with the otherwise indestructible EMMI robots is to utilize central units that are found around the map. By interacting with them, you can transform the normal arm cannon into an omega cannon, which gives you a single shot capable of destroying an EMMI before reverting to the normal shot. This will make for some tense moments in deciding when and where to use these limited shots since we suspect that there won’t be enough to deal with every EMMI on the map.

One move that was introduced in Samus Returns was the counter-melee attack, which we see come back in Metroid DreadThis move can interrupt enemies, deal damage, and reveal weak points on enemies and bosses. The move is expanded upon in Metroid Dread with the melee dash attack, allowing it to be used purely offensively. We also saw a cool slide move that makes getting under small gaps faster than turning into the morph ball.

Probably the most exciting small addition that has yet to be in a 2D Metroid game is free aim. Now, thanks to the standard dual analog controls of the Switch, players can move and aim independently in a smooth 360-degree range instead of being stuck to cardinal directions or having to stop to aim precisely.

Multiplayer

Nope. Metroid Dread will be all single player. There have been multiplayer Metroids in the past, but the mainline 2D games have always stuck to being single-player adventures, and that’s just how the fans like it.

DLC

It isn’t impossible, but we find it very unlikely that there will ever be any DLC for Metroid Dread. Nintendo can be quite odd when it comes to post-launch content with some titles, but Metroid doesn’t seem like a good fit. The map will be fully designed and paced, and there’s never much in the way of side quests or optional content, aside from getting all the power-ups, so there’s no real reason for DLC to exist.

Pre-order

where-to-buy-metroid-dread-special-edition-and-amiibo

Pre-orders have gone up for Metroid Dreadwith two different versions to pick from. We have the standard and special editions.

The standard edition is your typical $60 pre-order that gets you the game and nothing extra.

The special edition, which is already selling out, costs $90. For that price, you get the game, a steelbook case, art book, and five art cards themed around the five 2D Metroid games.

While it’s not technically part of any pre-order bundle, you can also pick up a cool new pair of amiibo figures. The two-pack comes with Samus in her new armor and an EMMI. What functionality these two will have with the game itself has yet to be revealed. Either way, they will look great in anyone’s collection.

Editors’ Choice




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‘Metroid Dread’ is a dark rebirth for Samus Aran

This article contains spoilers for some Metroid lore, specifically from ‘Metroid Fusion,’ along with some wild theorizing about what’s going on in ‘Metroid Dread.’

Metroid Dread can be terrifying. At times, Samus Aran, Nintendo’s all-powerful heroine, is reduced to cowering in a corner, praying that the robot who’s hunting her moves on. It’s a strange tone for the fifth mainline game from one of Nintendo’s oldest series, which arrives on the Switch this October. But it’s a concept that Yoshio Sakamoto, who has guided the Metroid series since the early days and is producing Dread, has wanted to realize for over 15 years.

Sakamoto came up with the idea for Dread in the mid 2000s, following the release of Metroid Fusion, the last “proper” Metroid game. Various leaks (and even an in-game reference) brought the game to the public eye, but it never came to fruition. At a press event after Tuesday’s Nintendo Direct presentation, Sakamoto said this was due to what were then console-related limitations: “The hardware wasn’t there, the technological concepts weren’t working with our vision. So we had to put it on hold. And then sometime later, we started again, but then we stopped again, for pretty much the same reasons,” Sakamoto explained through a translator.

In fact, when Sakamoto first met with MercurySteam, the Spanish studio that’s developing the new Switch title, he went in with the hope “that they’d be able to realize the concepts I had for Metroid Dread.” Instead, MercurySteam went on to develop 2017’s Metroid: Samus Returns, an expanded remake of Metroid II, with Sakamoto acting as producer. After seeing what the team achieved with Samus Returns, Sakamoto decided he could work together with MercurySteam “towards a singular concept and realize this goal that I had in mind for Metroid Dread.”

The demo at Nintendo’s event was a 20-minute live playthrough of one of the game’s earlier segments. It showcased a number of elements first introduced in Samus Returns. Melee counter-attacks are back, as are free aiming and Aeion abilities that rely on a power gauge. New for Dread is a slide move that’s in Samus’ arsenal from the get-go, and an unlockable “Spider Magnet” ability for holding onto certain walls.

Metroid Dread

Nintendo

We’ll get into the story later, but Dread takes place after the events of Fusion and has Samus — surprise! — investigating a labyrinthine underground complex, with her ship up on the planet’s surface. Despite the tweaks each Metroid title has brought to the formula, the majority of gameplay is going to be what you expect: exploring, blasting, finding hidden areas, noting places you’ll need to return to once you have the requisite power-up and bumping up against a lot of dead ends.

While gameplay takes place on a flat plane, everything is rendered in 3D. I do miss the old pixel art, but the “2.5D” presentation lends a level of depth, fluidity and detail that just wouldn’t be practical without the modern rendering style. It’s the same basic presentation that debuted with Samus Returns, albeit with a much higher level, increased scene complexity and a smoother framerate. (One thing that unfortunately can’t be improved upon is Samus Returns’ excellent use of the 3DS’ unique stereoscopic display.)

For the next few minutes of Nintendo’s playthrough, Samus fought monsters and solved some basic environmental puzzles by redirecting fuel around the complex in order to create a path forward. Then came a pixelated doorway, and the “dread” began. As soon as Samus walks into one of these areas, she’s stalked by an “Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifier” (EMMI, for short) until leaving. These robots, which so far we’ve seen use noise and sight to hunt, are the main antagonists of Dread, and they’re hellbent on capturing Samus.

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Metroid Dread amiibo grant permanent in-game boosts

Metroid Dread was one of the surprise announcements of Nintendo’s E3 Direct, and the new game was revealed alongside a pair of amiibo. One of the amiibo depicts Samus in her new armor with the second depicting EMMI, the robot featured in Metroid Dread‘s reveal trailer. These amiibo will be offered together, and today, we’re learning what happens when you scan one of them while playing Metroid Dread.

Many retailers have published listings for this amiibo double pack that reveal the price ($30) and detail what the amiibo do. According to GameStop’s listing, the first time the Samus amiibo is scanned in Metroid Dread, it’ll grant players an extra Energy Tank, permanently increasing their health by 100. The first time the EMMI amiibo is scanned, it’ll grant a Missile+ Tank, increasing the total number of missiles Samus can carry by 10.

Players can then scan the Samus and EMMI amiibo once a day to replenish health and missiles, respectively. Nintendo often locks some in-game bonuses behind amiibo – Breath of the Wild, for instance, grants random items and food when a Legend of Zelda amiibo is scanned – but this habit of pairing in-game bonuses to amiibo hasn’t always gone over well with Nintendo’s player base.

For instance, Nintendo recently caused a stir among Switch owners when it was revealed that a Skyward Sword HD amiibo featuring Zelda and her Loftwing would enable fast travel from anywhere on the Surface to Skyloft. In the original game, players could only return to Skyloft from the Surface by finding specific travel points, but the amiibo alleviates the need for that.

For the most part, Nintendo’s amiibo bonuses seem to be centered around removing some of the tedium from games or making them slightly easier. At the end of the day, an extra Energy Tank or 10 more missiles aren’t going to make a huge difference for Metroid Dread players, but we’re still guessing there will be some players who aren’t happy with the fact that permanent in-game boosts are locked behind a $30 pair of amiibo.

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