The first game in the Metroid Prime series released for GameCube 19 years ago, going 3D first-person for the first time. Jack Mathews, a former developer at Retro Studios, sat down with KIWI TALKZ for an interview.
In which he discused a variety of gaming industry related topics, including details on the development of Metroid Prime. Interestingly, despite Nintendo approaching Retro Studios with the intent for them to develop a first-person Metroid game, they initially prototyped Samus in the third-person instead.
Jack Mathews, former dev at Retro Studios
When we did our first prototypes we did do them as third-person, but I mean, these were the initial like, getting streaming working and stuff. I believe [Nintendo] might have seen that, we had like basically a third-person Samus kind of running around between doors, and then they immediately put the kibosh on it and were like; ‘No no no, we said first-person, we meant first-person.’
Metroid was always more popular in the West than in Japan, which Matthews explains is why Nintendo specifically reached out to Retro Studios, being a western based company, to work on the project. Nintendo thought bringing the series into first-person would put “western sensibility” on it.
100% of the reason we got it, and this is apocryphal, I heard it through people there, was essentially that Metroid was not all that popular in Japan, but every time [Shigeru] Miyamoto came to the West in the N64 era, people in North America were just constantly barraging him with questions about when a Metroid was gonna come out on the N64. That showed him that the westerners cared about the game a lot more than the Japanese, and so then they wanted to put that sort of western sensibility on it, but I know that even when we first got the IP, people even in our studio thought that that was not the right move and sort of buckled against it for a little bit, but we kinda figured it out, mainly because of the Morph Ball.
Check out the full interview here for even more details on the development of the Metroid Prime series;
Highlights include how Retro was able to keep the game running at a 60fps and why Jack left Retro due to feeling Metroid fatigue as well as the technical limitations of the Wii hardware.
Rumors suggest that the original Metroid Prime could soon be getting an HD remake for Nintendo Switch, or perhaps an HD remastered port of Metroid Prime Trilogy. We’ll have to wait and see if these rumors ever actually happen.
About Metroid Prime
The Space Pirates may be up to their old tricks but Metroid-hunter Samus Aran has a new look on life. For the first time, you’ll see through Samus’s eyes as she embarks on a whole new adventure – continuing the gripping story that has spanned three generations of Nintendo systems.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story so far, here’s an update. Samus first stopped the evil Space Pirates and Mother Brain from amassing an army of Metroids on the planet Zebes, in Metroid for the NES. Then she was called on to finish the job on planet SR388, in Metroid II for the Game Boy, ultimately ridding the universe of all but a single Metroid larva. In Super Metroid, for Super Nintendo, Samus thwarted Mother Brain’s attempt to snatch the captive Metroid larva from scientists on Ceres.
This eagerly-awaited fourth chapter begins in true Metroid style – as Samus’s ship docks at a dangerous-looking derelict spaceship. But before long she’ll be venturing onto the vast worlds of planet Tallon IV in search of those Metroid-stealing Space Pirates.
Metroid Prime combines the great gun-blasting gameplay you’ve come to expect from the Metroid series with incredible graphics that switch seamlessly between first-person and third-person perspectives. And that’s not all. Samus can select from two visor modes: combat and scan, to battle and explore her way through the dangerous world of Tallon IV. Plus, Metroid Prime features many familiar weapons from Metroid history, like the Wave Beam and Freeze Beam, plus some all-new armaments. But you’ll need more than just an itchy trigger finger to win this battle. You must call on all of Samus’s skills, including special suits that activate new abilities, and the ever-present Morph Ball, to search out every secret.
With an amazing mix of gun-blasting, puzzle-solving gameplay and state-of-the-art graphics, Metroid Prime will blow you away!