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The June issue of Nintendo Power features a massive ten-page article on Other M that includes an in-depth interview with Mr. Yoshio Sakamoto regarding the game's design and development. There is also a timeline recapping the entire Metroid series. Mr. Sakamoto discusses the decisions behind Other M's design, such as its controls, perspective, level design, and narrative.
Central to this discussion was the reasoning behind Other M's reliance on the Wiimote alone and this control scheme's divergence from traditional 3D action games and the Prime series. Mr. Sakamoto emphasized his desire to stay true to his vision of simplified controls for ease of play over the complexity of buttons found in a modern 3D game. This would reflect the familiarity of the originals: "[W]e've grown up thinking that this is simply how Samus works."
Mr. Sakamoto declined suggestions to add alternate control schemes using the nunchuck with the idea that doing so would dilute this vision. Conceding to alternate control schemes, Mr. Sakamoto says, would have meant "accepting defeat as a game designer": designers should stay faithful to initial ideas if they are good and not lose sight of their ideals, a philosophy that seems more in line with Wii's Twilight Princess than Mario Kart Wii or Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Other M's design and control arose from the collaboration of Mr. Sakamoto's team and Team Ninja - no single group was responsible for the entire thing. Classic Metroid design combined with Team Ninja's expertise to create this unique blend.
Interestingly, Mr. Sakamoto seems to take a stab at the Prime series' level designs and the inherent differences that occurred with the move from a 2D sidescrolling perspective to a 3D first-person perspective:
"We tend to think of Metroid games as being very intricate mazes where you have to stay oriented and still not be so confused as to have the fun taken out of it. And that kind of gameplay is quite challenging to actualize from a first-person perspective."
This emphasis on exploration and navigation of space should be an encouragement to longtime fans who fondly remember being lost on Planet Zebes in the late 80s and early 90s. However, Mr. Sakamoto concedes to the accomplishments of Retro Studios, stating that if Other M continued with a full-on first person perspective, they would have had to push the format even further.
As for the future of the series, Mr. Sakamoto says that they may use ideas from Other M for a future 2-D game and that in order to move forward with the series, it was essential to further develop Samus' character and establish her past. "So please don't get the idea that this is the end of 2-D Metroid games."
Amen to that.
The June issue of Nintendo Power should be arriving to subscribers over the next couple weeks and should be in newsstands by the end of the month.
UPDATE: Scans added.
Until next time...