It was an agonising wait for Metroid fans. The classic Super Metroid had hit shelves in 1994 but by the time the millennium came around it seemed like the series had been forgotten about by its creators. While the Mario and Zelda franchises both received dazzling 3D makeovers during on Nintendo's N64 console, Metroid sat at the back of their broom cupboard slowly gathering dust.
Then news finally seeped out that the bounty hunter had been brought out of retirement. In contrast to the series' side-scrolling origins, the impending reinvention would reinvent Samus' world in full 3D and put you behind the visor of her space suit for the first time. Fans were concerned not only at this new gameplay direction, but also at the fact that development had been outsourced to a new, untested US team called Retro Studios. Were Nintendo about to drop the ball and ruin one of their best-loved creations?
Not a bit of it. When Metroid Prime finally saw the light of day on the GameCube in 2002 - eight years after Samus' last adventure - it was hailed as one of the greatest games ever made and was a huge commercial hit. Retro had retained the series' trademark elements of exploration, solitude and atmosphere but successfully brought the formula into the 21st Century, crafting an exciting, enormous and immersive adventure.
Two equally impressive sequels appeared - Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on the GameCube in 2004 and then the final part of the trilogy, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on the Wii in 2007. A handheld addition to the Prime canon also hit the DS. Metroid Prime Hunters was a technological marvel, cramming all the tried and tested Prime gameplay into a tiny DS cartridge.
Yet Nintendo hadn't forgotten about the series' 2D roots either. The Game Boy Advance's Metroid Fusion, released in the same year as the first Prime game, was a spiritual successor to Super Metroid in terms of gameplay and was every bit the equal of its SNES forefather. Buoyed by the success of that title, series creator Yoshio Sakamoto also remade the NES original, again for the GBA, as Metroid: Zero Mission in 2004.
And now, with Metroid: Other M on Wii, the classic gameplay of the 2D games and the bold innovations of the Prime series are set to converge in one supremely thrilling package. With Yoshio Sakamoto back on board for the first time since Zero Mission six years ago, Metroid has gone full circle.