Nintendo has a lot of series under their monolithic umbrella of games. Mario and Zelda games get trotted out in a near yearly cycle. Fire Emblem has had a lot of success in a once per generation fashion. Pikmin and Star Fox skipped a generation but are still able to perform to current generation expectations.
But what about the old franchises that were Nintendo staples? Metroid had a handful of games in the previous generation but has no titles coming out in the near future. Kirby has had titles every so often, but has had to re-invent itself over the past few games to seem fresh in idea.
The problem, I think, is that Nintendo is setting their platform as the “fun” party platform. Previously exclusive titles like Rayman: Legends, Mario Kart, Wonderful 101, and the upcoming Splatoon all tote the emphasis of having a “fun” experience instead of a serious one and Metroid never fit this mold that well. The game is fun, but it was built more on the suspenseful atmosphere and tense surroundings rather than the carefree-bright colors of Mario Kart and Wonderful 101. This doesn’t mean these games are easier than Metroid, but that the packages don’t fit together. The two sets of games don’t have share the same aesthetic tone of vibrancy or cartoonish flare, so it might be a strategic move in the short term to leave Samus and the Metroids in the drawing board for now. It doesn’t help that the Team Ninja reboot of Metroid:Other M didn’t do that well, so the developers need to rethink their re-imagining of the series. But to be fair, the game does take itself a bit too serious, in that John Woo Twin Snakes-esque needlessly trying to look “cool”. You know what’s cool? A good game.
As a side note, I don’t think that the Metroid series sells as well as they’d like so Nintendo would rather devote their efforts into their console sellers like Mario Kart, Super Mario, Smash Bros and Zelda.
Kirby, however, is at a disadvantage because most of the cool new platforming ideas go to Mario, their breadwinner. Because of this, we get Super Mario Bros 2 versions of Kirby, where we take pre-existing game ideas that have been floating around the office and stick Kirby in them, aka Kirby’s Epic Yarn. That doesn’t mean that Kirby will be extinct any time soon, even Pit got another game after 20 years on the 3DS. Kirby just gets the fall-out from the loose change drawer because platforming ideas go to the series that needs a new game ever year. Mechanic ideas, however, are up for grabs. Mario Sunshine’s FLUDD could’ve easily been given to another mascot, not necessarily Kirby since he’s typically 2D world only. So games like Kirby’s Mass Attack, Squeak Squad and Canvas curse become the next kind of games to give Kirby. Again, these could’ve easily been given to Mario or another mascot, but Nintendo tends to only give Mario games that adhere to the same mold that he’s been working with for the past few generations. Will we ever see a proper platforming Kirby game again? Tough to say. The mechanic would really have to stand out as a “this only works with Kirby” mechanics, and platformers really don’t have many of those anymore, since the (static-platforming) space has been explored as long as Nintendo’s been around.
Let me know if you think there’s any other series that Nintendo has neglected or would like to see go back to their roots.