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Retro Studios

We all know today that the Wii was one of Nintendo’s most successful consoles, but early on, the system garnered its fair share of doubters and people that were concerned about how it would perform – including Retro Studios.

Bryan Walker, who was with Retro starting with Metroid Prime 2 before going on to be a senior producer on Metroid Prime 3 and then the director on Donkey Kong Country Returns, revealed to Kiki Talkz that the company was “a little concerned” after seeing the console’s specs. It was only after Nintendo unveiled the Wii Remote and saw massive interest during its showing at E3 2006 that the staff at Retro Studios started to understand Nintendo’s approach.

According to Walker:

As part of a recent discussion with Kiki Talkz, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption senior producer Bryan Walker commented on how there was initially some consideration to make the game open world as well as the difficulties implementing Hypermode.

As for the open world, director Mark Pacini first came up with the idea to leverage Samus’ ship and make the game less linear. Walker is proud of what the team accomplished with Metroid Prime 3, but “would be very interested in seeing what the response was, especially the fan community to the expanded use of the ship and the more open world non-linear that we were touching upon with that pitch.”

Pacini’s full words:

In an interview with Kiki Talkz, former Retro Studios developer Bryan Walker discussed how the team ended up working on Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Walker worked on Metroid Prime 2 and 3 before directing the Wii title. Retro actually had some interest in moving on from the Prime series after the second entry, but after Donkey Kong was presented to late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, he instead wanted the team to come out with a third game. Then after Metroid Prime 3 launched and there was a lot of some key staff, the opportunity to work on the Donkey Kong Country IP came about.

Walker also talked about meeting with Shigeru Miyamoto early on and had much praise for him. After one conversation in Kyoto, Miyamoto asked Retro to take care of IP, stating: “Please take care of DK. He is my friend.”

Below is Walker’s full words:

During the Kiwi Talkz podcast, Metroid Prime senior game designer Mike Wikan touched on Metroid Prime Trilogy, including the insane amount of work that went into the scan logs.

Wikan started out by revealing that it was just a team of four “doing the entire trilogy recompile.” While the controls were adjusted, there were other changes as well – including modifications for the “notoriously difficult” Spider Ball and Boost Ball Guardian bosses. Co-producer Kensuke Tanabe actually led to these battles being tougher than Retro wanted them to be “in the last three days before we went gold.” For Metroid Prime Trilogy, Wikan was able to go back and adjust the difficulty.

In a new episode of the Kiwi Talkz podcast, former Retro Studios developer Mike Wikan spoke about early crunch at the company, which Nintendo put an end to.

Wikan said that Retro Studios experienced significant crunch during the development of Metroid Prime 1. He even spoke about a instances in which he “was there 48 hours straight with one hour of sleep, and then a couple of 36-hour days.” But despite what may have been previously reported about Metroid Prime 2, there wasn’t much crunch on the game after Nintendo came in and put Michael Kelbaugh – who is currently the president and CEO of Retro – in the main leadership role.

Below is Wikan’s full words:

With Metroid Prime 4 in the works for Switch, many fans have hoped that Nintendo would bring the series’ first three games to the platform. It’s unclear whether or not that will ever happen, but a former developer at Retro Studios has weighed in by sharing his own thoughts.

Michael Wikan spent many years at Retro having played a big role in all three mainline Metroid Prime titles as well as Donkey Kong Country Returns. In fact, he was a senior designer on each one of those projects.

Data published by US sales intelligence firm Intelligence360 has revealed that Metroid Prime 4 developer Retro Studios intends to move into a new headquarters by next summer. The company is investing $500,000 in the custom 40,000 square feet office.

In other news, Marisa Palumbo joined Retro Studios earlier this month. Palumbo previously spent close to a decade at Rockstar Games having worked in production and as a producer on Grand Theft Auto IV and V, L.A. Noire, Max Payne 3, Red Dead Redemption, and Manhunt 2. More recently, she was with Blizzard’s Overwatch team for six years.

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In July, Retro Studios added a longtime staffer from Sony Santa Monica. Jon Marcella, who worked on the most recent God of War games, is now with the Metroid Prime 4 developer as an environment designer.

Marcella was a designer on God of War: Ascension having been involved with elements such as game collision. Then for God of War on PlayStation 4, he was a senior game designer (level designer), and was involved with layouts, AI scripting, navigation sequences, fight spaces, puzzles design, and more. On the whole, Marcella spent over seven years with Sony Santa Monica.

Nintendo announced in January 2019 that it had completely rebooted the development on Metroid Prime 4, with Retro Studios taking the helm. The company previously created all other mainline entries in the series. Plenty of talent has joined the team since then, including a Halo artist, DICE art director, the director of Warhawk, among others.

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Earlier this year, Warhawk director Dylan Jobe joined Metroid Prime 4 developer Retro Studios. He’s on board as director of development.

Jobe has over 25 years of development experience in the gaming industry. Aside from Warhawk, he previously contributed to Doom, Twisted Metal: Black, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered.

As for his new role at Retro, VGC points out that Jobe “is responsible for Metroid Prime 4’s schedule, scope and product quality”. He’s additionally expected to “handle performance evaluations of development team members and act as the liaison between departments to meet production goals.”

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Metroid fans have been waiting a long time for Metroid Prime 4, and it seems that the game is still pretty far out. When Nintendo made the original announcement at E3 2017, there wasn’t much to see. We were just given a logo… and that’s basically it. It’s more than likely that development hadn’t reached a point where Nintendo felt comfortable showing anything from the game itself.

The big blow concerning Metroid Prime 4 came at the start of 2019. It was never officially confirmed which developer was working on the project, but Nintendo decided to scrap everything that had been done up to that point and have Retro Studios take over. It was definitely not a bad idea to have the original Metroid Prime team lead development, but that meant fans would be forced to wait even longer for a proper look at the game, let alone the actual launch.

There’s very little that we know about Metroid Prime 4. As we wait for a proper update, now’s the time to think about what we’d like to see from the game. It should be a first-person adventure, but everything else is on the table. Is there a certain direction you’d like to see Retro take with Metroid Prime 4? Do you have any particular gameplay mechanics in mind? Let us know in the comments below.