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Metroid Prime

Nintendo’s Kensuke Tanabe is working on Luigi’s Mansion 3. That’s not the only important project he’s involved with, however. Tanabe is also one of the key staffers helping to make Metroid Prime 4 happen.

At E3 last week, Eurogamer decided to ask if Tanabe had any sort of update on Metroid Prime 4. He gave a bit of an interesting answer, noting that he wants people to pay attention to Luigi’s Mansion 3 for now.

Shinesparkers has published a new interview with former Retro Studios staffer Jack Mathews. Matthews worked at the company as a former technical lead engineer on the initial Metroid Prime Trilogy.

During the discussion, Matthews had quite a bit to say about revised plans and cut ideas for the series. These include the initial idea to have Metroid Prime 2 be multiplayer focused, a more bounty hunter-like setup for Metroid Prime 3, and more. He also touched on some of the projects that were cancelled at Retro before Metroid Prime released.

You can find some notable excerpts from the interview below. Head on over here. for the full talk.

Metroid Prime has a pretty interesting development history. Before it was a Metroid game, Retro Studios was working on an original first-person shooter that had no ties to anything Nintendo-related. It was only when the big N stepped in and saw a level of the game that the game eventually morphed into Metroid Prime.

Speaking in the latest issue of Switch Player, senior designer Mike Wikan noted:

“When I came on board, the Engine group was significantly behind schedule and there was no way to create gameplay demonstrables in an effective fashion. I was told, quite literally, by leadership that designers would design the game on paper, then hand it off to engineering and art to create it. In my opinion that was insanity.”

“When Nintendo arrived suddenly, wanting to see demonstrables of all the games that the teams were working on, only our FPS had demonstrable real-time scriptable content. Nintendo liked what they saw and proposed we adapt that game and viewpoint, but restart it as a Metroid game.”

“The moral of the story is that if you see a problem, work to solve it; don’t assume someone else will take that responsibility on.”

Game Informer recently spoke with Mark Pacini from Armature Studio. Although some of the discussion touched on Batman: Arkham Origins – Blackgate and his new game ReCore, he also spoke quite a bit about his days at Retro and directing Metroid Prime.

One interesting anedcote was about when Retro was meeting with Shigeru Miyamoto and other folks from Nintendo’s main headquarters in Japan. After the meeting, Pacini’s boss said that they were upset with him. Why? Pacini didn’t have a pencil and paper at the meeting, so Nintendo felt he wasn’t listening. Pacini called it a “very noobie mistake” on his part, and wanted to make sure that wouldn’t happen again.

Making Metroid Prime was the toughest project for Pacini from a development standpoint and getting it completed. “I think it was just the amount of stuff we were trying to do in the time we were doing it,” he said.

Mark Pacini acted as director for Nintendo and Retro’s three Metroid Prime games. Then in 2008, he went on to co-found Armature Studio.

Pacini is now directing the Xbox One title ReCore – a game that actually takes a decent amount of inspiration from the Metroid Prime series. GamesBeat took a brief trip down memory lane with Pacini while interviewing him about his new game, and asked if he’s surprised by the longevity and how people still play the titles he made back with Retro.

He said in response:

“For sure. I was thankful to be part of the team that made those games. When we were making those, that was never one of our goals. We were just trying to make something cool. It was an unexpectedly great thing, that people started to do that. It’s awesome that people are still playing those games, but it’s a big surprise to us.”

Thanks to Jake for the tip.

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This information comes from Metroid Prime series producer Kensuke Tanabe…

“If we started for Wii U now, it would likely take three years or so. So it would likely now be on Nintendo’s NX console. It’s a long time but it would need to include a lot of content, which would take a lot of work on the development side.”

– Tanabe has plenty of ideas for the game
– This includes a focus on a single planet that has a time-shifting mechanic

“Instead of broadening it to more planets I would have one and would focus on the timeline, and being able to change that. That’s one interesting idea I have in mind… but I understand many people thought that [Echoes] was too difficult.”

Head past the break for more quotes, which may include Metroid Prime spoilers for some.

This information comes from Metroid Prime producer Kensuke Tanabe when if Metroid Prime Federation Force is the only Metroid Prime game he’s working on…

“I said this at the beginning, but I’m not involved in the 2D Metroid games that Mr. Sakamoto works on. I still feel like there’s a little more work left for me to do in the Metroid Prime series. I can’t say when, but I want to make another one.

– Tanabe reminded IGN about the ending of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
– After Samus’s ship flies off into the distance, another ship suddenly appears
– He said that players Metroid Prime Hunters should recognize that the ship belongs to a bounty hunter called Sylux.

“He’s actually chasing after Samus, and that’s where that game ends. There’s still more I want to build around the story of Sylux and Samus. There’s something going on between them. I want to make a game that touches upon [it].”

“I’m also thinking that, in that eventual game between Sylux and Samus that might get made, that I wants to involve the [Galactic] Federation as well. So it would be a good idea to release a game like Federation Forces to flesh out its role in the galaxy before moving on to that.”

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In Metroid Prime’s original GameCube version, players can unlock the original Metroid by connecting a GBA system. We’ve heard rumors about Retro Studios planning something similar with Super Metroid, but that’s only just now been confirmed.

It turns out that Retro did indeed have Super Metroid up and running. Sadly though, Nintendo wouldn’t allow for its inclusion since it was using a third-party emulator. That does make some sense, as it wasn’t a tool that the company personally owned.

Unseen64 recently updated its comprehensive article about the development of Metroid Prime. The site has plenty of details about what was cut and changed in the game, ranging from bosses to power-ups. There’s also information about various redesigns for Samus, the change from third-person to first-person perspective, and more.

Here’s one notable excerpt concerning a Kraid boss battle that was removed from Metroid Prime:

As mentioned above, Kraid was a part of the original plan for Metroid Prime. We understand that he was slated to be added to the last act, as he was cut towards the end of development. At the time, he had come a long way from the more traditional route that was first being considered.

In this 3D model by Gene Kohler, he was redone with a metal helmet, masking the majority of his face. Due to this feature, fans have taken to calling this infamous render ‘Meta Kraid’, although, in truth, no such title had been assigned.

Contrary to certain speculation, Kraid was, in fact, very early along when work on him ceased, as one ex Retro employee recounted:

“Kraid was really just some ideas and a first pass model. We were about to start work on him when he was cut. The overall idea was to have Kraid at one end of a large cavern, and some rickety platforms at the other end that Kraid could reach out to and tip over. He would also fire missiles at you from his belly ports. As I recall you would have to climb to the top and trigger something to collapse on him several times. There were probably other stages but I don’t remember them.”

Despite appearing in the Phazon Mines in Kohler’s image, it was never defined whereabouts in the game he would actually be encountered either. Speaking to MythicaHQ in 2004, he explained that Kraid’s absence was a casualty of time restrictions:

“I had completely finished modelling and texturing Kraid. The level that he was to be included in was well underway to being designed. There just was not enough development time remaining to fully implement all aspects of the scenario that were needed to pull off a highly polished\fun gaming experience… animations\effects\programming\etc. It was decided that Kraid was not imperative enough to the Metroid Prime project to run the risk of pushing up the release date in order to fit him in.”

Unseen64 also posted several clips of things such as cut creatures:

For plenty more on Metroid Prime’s development, head on over to Unseen64.