One of the most exciting parts of a Metroid game is not just getting a new suit, but seeing how much it alters Samus’ appearance. Even further, it’s great to see an old suit come back with a new style or design. There are some Metroid games that drastically alter Samus’ external appearance through new suit upgrades, which has made for some of her most iconic looks throughout the franchise.
One of the most popular trends in gaming over the past couple of decades has been the focus on increased customization. The ability not just to craft your character’s stats and build, but their outward appearance – even down to facial features, the colors of your equipment, even your character’s voice. Nowadays, you can fine-tune your gaming experience down to your most specific desires, when it comes to your character, your gameplay, your visual and audio quality, even how you access the game and experience it as the player.
Metroid has seen similar advances in terms of accessibility, control customization, and similar departments, but customization within the game itself has lagged behind. You sometimes have the option to pick between weapons or using different upgrades, but generally speaking, Metroid games still intend to give you fixed upgrades that generally do not change without another fixed upgrade.
But, when it comes to Samus’ suits, there’s no customization at all. You get the upgrades you’re given and those upgrades do not change until they are overwritten with another upgrade. You start with the base suit, which is overwritten with the Varia Suit, then the Gravity Suit, and so on and so forth. Sometimes there’s some different suit upgrades, but process remains the same.
While I’m not necessarily saying that flow should change — what if we could insert some personalization into these suit upgrades?
What if you could tailor your suit to your gameplay style? You like to rush in and start blasting, getting up close and personal with enemies. What if you could change to an arm cannon that dishes out more damage from close range? Maybe you could go for lightweight armor to increase your mobility? Or maybe you like to engage from afar, and would prefer an arm cannon that increases your range? What about how you use the morph ball? What if you could increase your boost speed? Or your morph ball jump height?
Of course, these changes would come with drawbacks to keep things balanced — maybe huge-impact, close-range rounds would be less effective at long range, and long range weapons might have less accuracy or effectiveness at close range. What if you could add a ricochet effect or collateral effect at the expense of firing rate or damage output?
This could not only be a fun way to personalize towards your play style, but could also give you strategic ways to approach encounters. Switching between different upgrades and perks could open up whole new doors to get to new places or take down bosses.
Now, that’s just capability customization. But what if you could personalize the external appearance of your suit?
This might be a bit more blasphemous for dedicated Metroid fans. Maybe personalizing your appearance for a multiplayer mode is one thing, but in single player, in the main campaign? Should players be able to customize their appearance?
Personally — I’m not too sure.
If it’s just an option, why not? For anyone who doesn’t want to do it, they can keep the default looks for each suit upgrade. But for people who might want to get a bit creative, why not have some different color shader options for suit upgrades? What about a different arm cannon or shoulder pauldron style? What about unique visors or helmet shapes? There are so many possibilities.
Then again, I see the validity in wanting to keep Samus’ look consistent. You’re not playing as a player avatar, you’re controlling Samus, a unique, established character who is not of your own creation. It’s the difference between seeing your customizable player character in Halo: Reach or Destiny 2 — which is really cool when you see them in cutscenes — and seeing Master Chief, or Ikora or Commander Zavala in a cutscene. I don’t necessarily want or need to customize the Chief’s appearance in-game, he should keep his look, that’s part of what makes him who he is. If he was wearing different gear, then it doesn’t feel like it’s the same character. It’s like swapping Indiana Jones’ hat for a beanie.
In the end, I think I’m down for suit customization, when it comes to actual perks and upgrades. But I’m not so sure about changing Samus’ external appearance, at least in single player.
What do you think?
Should there be suit customization in Metroid? Are you okay with customizing perks and upgrades only? Or are you okay with external personalization as well? Let us know in the comments or in Discord!
Dak is Editor-in-Chief and Podcast Host at Omega Metroid. If he’s not playing Metroid Prime Remastered, he’s definitely playing Destiny 2.