Sakamoto on why it’s taken so long for Metroid Dread, Samus’ character, SA-X’s influence, more
Following the reveal of Metroid Dread, producer Yoshio Sakamoto held a Q&A session with members of the media. Bits and pieces have surfaced from that event, but not the full transcript. Thanks to Famitsu, we now have the entire discussion in full.
Sakamoto addressed a variety of topics, including the very long wait for Metroid Dread, Samus’ character in the game, being influenced by Metroid Fusion’s SA-X, and more. Continue on below for our translation.
Q: There have been rumors surrounding Metroid Dread for many years. Why did it take this long to make the game? Has it been in development this whole time?
That wasn’t the case, no. The concept for the game has been around for 15 years, but technology at that time limited how much we could develop the idea. We tried at one point, but it got cancelled halfway through. When we gave it another shot further down the line, the game ended up completely different to what we imagined and it got cancelled once again. Following all of that, we developed Metroid: Samus Returns with MercurySteam. Working with them on that project, we recognized the immense talent on that team and believed that if we worked together with them again on Metroid Dread, we could strive towards the game’s original vision. In the end, it took 15 years for the right development circumstances around Metroid Dread to appear.
Q: It’s been a long time since the last 2D Metroid title. Was there a reason why you brought back that style with this game?
Metroid Dread is a sequel to the last 2D Metroid, Metroid Fusion, and like I mentioned earlier, working with MercurySteam on Metroid: Samus Returns created the right environment to finally start developing the game.
Q: What technological hurdles did you have when you initially tried to develop Metroid Dread?
15 years ago was the Nintendo DS era. The biggest issue we faced then was that it was impossible to create Metroid Dread the way we envisioned it with the specs on that system. As game hardware progressed, the problem became a lack of resources to develop the game. I keep repeating myself, but ultimately meeting MercurySteam was what made development possible. Switch also happens to be the most popular console at the moment, which is why we decided to develop for that platform.
Q: Metroid Dread gives the impression that was influenced by older 2D entries in the series, but was there anything in particular that shaped the game?
We were influenced a lot by Metroid Fusion’s SA-X. We referred to that part of the game a lot and wanted to expand on its gameplay.
Q: What kind of character is Samus in Metroid Dread?
She’s the same Samus everyone knows. You can’t go wrong with a stoic, pro bounty hunter.
Q: Some games in the Metroid series have a lot of cutscenes and others don’t. Where does Metroid Dread fall?
In Samus Returns, we implemented cutscenes like the grab sequence (a special melee counter against bosses with a follow-up attack accompanied by a cutscene) in different parts of the game. We learned that using seamlessly 3D cutscenes in a 2D game can enhance the ability to express things in-game. We used the same techniques in Metroid Dread to create tension and build scenes. Metroid Dread’s storyline is very important and cutscenes play an essential role in expressing that.
Q: Where did the idea of making Metroid into a horror game originate?
We never thought of Metroid Dread as a horror game. It might look like one because of the fear that surrounds Samus, but if anything, I think it’s more about portraying Samus moving forward and overcoming her fears. Taking the tense atmosphere and gameplay around Metroid Fusion’s SA-X, I think we can produce something with more variety and excitement. Metroid Dread was made with that in mind.
Q: Considering many younger players today may not have played a Metroid game, did you structure anything different in the game to appeal to a younger audience?
I think that’s accurate. We’re always trying to make the best Metroid game and luckily for us, E.M.M.I. makes Metroid a little different to how it has appeared up until now. We hope that entices younger gamers who might not be familiar with Metroid to try the game out.
Q: As the latest installment in the Metroid series, what motivated you to develop Dread? Could you share us the most exciting part of developing the game?
The motivation comes from aiming to provide the best gaming experience to players and that feeling hasn’t faded at all. We wanted to create E.M.M.I for so long, the most exciting part of development was seeing that gameplay exceed our expectation. I’m ecstatic with how things turned out; I want the release day to come quickly so that everyone can finally get their hands on the game and play it for themselves.
Q: You mentioned that Metroid Dread will round off the series’ story. Does this make it the final chapter in the five-part saga?
This is the last chapter in the series so far, the final chapter about the shared fate and adversarial relationship Samus shares with the Metroid. This isn’t the end of the Metroid series. We don’t want that, I’m sure fans don’t want that, and we hope you’ll look forward to what’s coming in future episodes.
Q: Why do you think Samus and the Metroid franchise has been beloved for such a long time? Why do you think it’s as popular as it is?
This is a tough one (laughs). I think because you get to experience playing as the great warrior Samus. Players take in her thoughts, learn about her nature, and end up supporting Samus as a result.
Q: Do you think making Samus move as quickly as she does in Metroid Dread runs counter to the game’s dark theme?
I don’t think so. The atmosphere of the game and Samus’ actions bear no influence on each other, and I think it’s a huge plus seeing Samus move around as stylishly as she does in all the environments.
Q: In Metroid Dread, E.M.M.I. relentlessly stalks Samus. What was the biggest inspiration when creating this part of the game? How was this horror experience born?
We didn’t take inspiration from anything external and instead wanted to depict something along the lines of SA-X – a powerful enemy in pursuit of Samus. We came up with the design through a desire to express a sense of eeriness, to emphasize the merciless and inorganic horror of E.M.M.I. and the fact that it doesn’t have any emotions – it moves only to capture Samus.
Q: As producer for Metroid Dread, how were you involved in development? And how did you work with MercurySteam?
Like Samus Returns, even though Nintendo and MercurySteam are different companies, we worked together as one team to develop this game. We talked to MercurySteam on a regular basis to assess what was good and bad. I think my role as a producer was more on the creative side.
Q: Was there anything left over from the original project 15 years ago that made it into Metroid Dread?
The concept itself has not changed in the last 15 years. The idea of a fearsome enemy hunting down Samus, the strongest warrior, never changed.
Q: In Metroid Dread, is there anything in the game tailored to speedrunning like in previous games?
It’s safe to say that those elements remain basically as they were in previous Metroid games.
Q: With Metroid Dread being a 2D exploration game, some think it suits the Switch’s handheld mode the most. Did you optimize the game for handheld mode at all during development?
The game can be played in a variety of ways to suit different playstyles – the game was not optimized specifically with the handheld mode in mind. If anything, we want the game to be played on a large TV. If people want to play on-the-go though, that’s completely fine too. The game had been made to be played in both modes easily.
Q: Given the many hardware restrictions you faced, are there any action elements from Metroid Dread or Metroid: Samus Returns that you wish you could have included in Metroid Fusion?
I think good game design means only developing the things necessary for each game. While there are certainly things we could have been implemented, I think each game is complete in its own way. Metroid Dread is comprised of things that Metroid Dread needed the most.
Q: Any final words for everyone looking forward to the game?
We’re incredibly proud of Metroid Dread and hope many people will pick it up and enjoy it. Like I mentioned earlier, you’ll understand what’s going on just by watching the opening of Metroid Dread, so you’ll be able to enjoy it even if you’ve never played the series before. It might actually be better to start with this game because of what E.M.M.I. brings to the table, so we hope you’ll enjoy it!
Metroid Dread launches for Switch on October 8.
Translation provided by centurionnugget and Jarop on behalf of Nintendo Everything.
If you use any of this translation, please be sure to source Nintendo Everything and please do not copy its full contents.