It’s been a busy day for E3 2021, with the biggest announcement probably being Nintendo’s revival of the long-rumored Metroid Dread title for the series’ fifth mainline installment. Metroid Dread, coming to Switch on October 8, again follows Samus Aran on her planetary explorations, but also features an appearance by Adam Malkovich, a controversial figure among Metroid fans.
Nintendo, for its part, seems to be aware that Adam is a touchy subject, and made sure to let folks know that he won’t be playing a large role in Metroid Dread—at least when it comes to giving Samus orders—during a recent Treehouse demo.
“Adam is just a point for lore,” Nintendo’s Theresa Apolinario told viewers earlier today. “He doesn’t give any direction to Samus, it’s up to the player where they want to navigate and explore.”
The average viewer likely paid no mind to this little disclaimer, but for those familiar with Adam’s history in the Metroid series, it felt obvious that Nintendo was getting out ahead of any drama by performing some damage control.
So why the fuss?
After first being mentioned in 2002’s Metroid Fusion for the Game Boy Advance, Adam made his on-screen debut in 2010’s Metroid: Other M on the Wii. A prequel to the handheld game, Other M focused heavily on Samus and Adam’s personal relationship, specifically the tensions that arose between them due to Samus’ role as an independent bounty hunter rather than an enlisted soldier under Adam’s command.
Still, Samus spent a lot of time in Other M taking orders from Adam. Whether it was about which weapons she was allowed to use or the areas she should explore, Adam felt like a constant, demanding presence, which felt at odds with Samus’ legacy as a powerful, self-reliant woman. While there were certainly other issues with the game, this dynamic played a large role in Other M’s critical failure and has remained its most enduring legacy in the otherwise-lauded Metroid franchise.
Since dying in Other M, Adam’s mind was used as the basis for an AI that filled a similar role in Metroid Fusion and now functions as the computer for Samus’ gunship in Metroid Dread. It’s unclear if he’ll play a larger role in the upcoming game’s story, but one thing is for sure: He won’t be bossing Samus (and, by extension, the player) around anymore.