The Metroid franchise has always stood out as distinctly different from the rest of Nintendo's other properties.
Though the dark tales of intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran have long been overshadowed by Mario's bittersweet romps through the Mushroom Kingdom, Metroid has quietly developed and maintained a loyal following.
To truly appreciate the changes Metroid: Other M brings to the series, it is worth exploring what, prior to the Wii game's release, were the most important titles in the Metroid canon: Metroid and Super Metroid.
The series started with the aptly named 'Metroid', which was released in Japan in August 1986 for the NES. The game was produced by Gunpei Yokoi and directed by Yoshio Sakamoto.
The first Metroid game was heavily inspired by Ridley Scott's Aliens movie, featuring similar sci-fi themes and imagery, an eerily unsettling atmosphere. The games' main antagonist was even named Ridley, in homage to the film's director.
Metroid gained popularity for its non-linear gameplay experience and deep character progression. The player was given control of Samus and was free to explore the nooks and crannies of the massive world, acquiring power-ups and suit enhancements to broaden Samus' reach.
The unique mixture of horror themes with action adventure and platforming conventions solidified Metroid as one of the most unique gaming debuts of all time.
Following the success of Super Metroid and the release of Metroid 2: Return of Samus, Nintendo's legendary R&D1 team began development on Super Metroid - an all-new title for the SNES.
The system's 24-megabit cartridge allowed the designers to create a huge world map and a more unique 'experience' to complement the stellar gameplay mechanics in its predessesors. Once again players took control of Samus and explored Planet Zebes, collecting upgrades and defeating Space Pirates.
Super Metroid is remembered as one of the most popular SNES titles - and commonly held up as an example of game design perfection. Not only did it provide exquisite platforming and action gameplay, but it revolutionised presentation, too.
The benefits provided by the powerful SNES allowed Nintendo to create high-quality audio and visuals to establish an unforgettable atmosphere. The intricately detailed audio and thoughtfully crafted visuals worked symbiotically to create a dark, oppressive atmosphere and successfully portray the feeling of abandonment, isolation and loneliness that Samus was undoubtedly feeling in the game.
Super Metroid's design has since been analysed, dissected and used to create not only more highly regarded 2D and 3D Metroid games, but also titles such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which added an RPG layer to the now distinctly established and widely recognised 'Metroid formula'.
With this week's release of Metroid: Other M, the series has taken another bold step in a new direction.
Although the game features the same idiosyncrasies that have come to define the series - and are key to recreating the unmistakable Metroid flavour - it presents a new Chapter in Samus' journey and does it with an unmatched cinematic flair.
Other M is developed by Team Ninja, famous for creating the Ninja Gaiden games. The studio is the second non-first-party studio to develop a mainline Metroid title, and has created a hybrid third-person and first-person perspective to suit the games high-octane action gameplay. It brings together the series' classic side-scrolling and Retro Studio's innovative first-person adventure gameplay.