While Nintendo continues to ignore the Metroid franchise, fans have kept it going, but you should play 'Metroid: Rogue Dawn' before Nintendo gets its lawyers involved.
If you’ve ever wanted to know what happened before Samus Aran’s “zero” mission in Metroid, you now have the chance to find out — unofficially. Metroid: Rogue Dawn, a fan-made prequel story, is available now.
The full-length prequel was created by a three-person team over the last two years. A post on the Metroid Construction forum details what to expect.
“The original Metroid manual tells us about a deep-space research spaceship that was attacked. Pirates seized a capsule said to contain a newly discovered life form in a state of suspended animation. Rogue Dawn surrounds the events that led up to the theft of the capsule which ultimately placed the Metroid’s under the control of Ridley and the Mother Brain.
The mission to acquire the capsule is placed in the hands of one of Ridley’s best-kept secrets: a rogue human agent trained and manipulated by Ridley from a young age.”
The rogue agent, Dawn Aran, embarks on a “zero” mission of her own to retrieve a biological specimen held on a Federation research ship. Throughout the game, players will notice an aesthetic similar to 8-bit Metroid titles, but with a few notable additions. Taking advantage of technological advancements, the screen scrolls instead of being broken off into separate panels.
Missiles have been upgraded, Dawn can jump while in her morph ball, and users can save their progress more frequently. Additionally, the game runs smoother than 8-bit Metroid titles, allowing it to fall somewhere between the NES and SNES eras in terms of performance.
Metroid: Rogue Dawn is another entry in the long line of Metroid fan games. Nintendo hasn’t been particularly gracious towards previous efforts. Just last year, an ambitious fan-made remake of Metroid 2, AM2R: Another Metroid 2 Remake, received a copyright claim by Nintendo shortly after its release.
We can’t really blame Metroid fans for trying, though. The last modern Metroid game with substance was Metroid Prime 3: Corruption in 2007, but the last side-scroller, the variety that hardcore fans adore, was Metroid: Zero Mission for Game Boy Advance in 2004.
Interestingly, Rogue Dawn isn’t a stand-alone download, it’s a ROM hack. To play it, you must load it onto a Metroid ROM. This method complicates the process a bit, but it may also keep a copyright claim from Nintendo at bay — at least for a while.