Nintendo Nintendo Switch

Metroid Dread took 15 years to make due to technical limitations at the time

Yoshio Sakamoto, who has worked on several games in the Metroid series, has revealed to journalists why it took the team fifteen years to produce and deliver the upcoming Metroid Dread game for the Nintendo Switch platform. Sakamoto had the idea for Metroid Dread 15 years ago and the project had started and stopped numerous times along the years. The reason for this is Mr. Sakamoto wanted the concept to revolve around Samus Aran being pursued by a deadly undefeatable force however the technical limitations of the hardware at the time had prevented the team from fully fulfilling his vision. Now with the reasonably powerful Nintendo Switch system, and a great development partner in the form of MercurySteam, they have managed to fulfil Mr. Sakamoto’s vision for Metroid Dread.

The theme:

“I wanted to create something that was unsettling for players, and also would communicate this unfeeling-ness that’s inherent in something that’s robotic.”

MercurySteam:

“The reason that I actually met with them was in the hope that they’d be able to realize the concepts that I had for Metroid Dread,” Sakamoto explains. “In meeting with them, I got the sense that they were a team that we could work together with towards a singular concept, and realize this goal that I had in mind for Metroid Dread.”

The Verge thoughts on the non playable demo and Mr. Sakamoto’s thoughts on the long-running project:

“From the live gameplay demo I watched, the E.M.M.I. robots are appropriately terrifying, hunting down Samus with cold, calculated precision. For Sakamoto, watching it all come together so smoothly has almost made the long wait to realize his vision worth it.

“It’s really better than I imagined those 15 years ago when I had the idea for this,” he says.

Source

49 comments

  1. They always blame their own hardware when they need to explain why the game didn’t come out earlier. If technical limitations are the problem why not launch better technical specs for their machines to comply with the requeriments?

    1. Because software development and hardware development are completely different departments.

    2. You do realize that Sakamoto has zero say in what specs the hardware Nintendo makes have, right? All he can do is develop games within his given limitations, or else he finds work elsewhere. I’m sure he could have left Nintendo and brought this idea to Sony, but he wouldn’t have the rights to use the Metroid ip at that point. So basically he is constrained by many different limitations that you as a consumer don’t see unless you look

    3. Because they didn’t want to release a significantly more expensive console just so Sakamoto could develop the Metroid game he wanted to do? Technical specs are a balance between performance and price, and Nintendo have chosen their specs accordingly each generation.

  2. Can’t wait to see the real-time weather simulation. Because what we’ve seen so far can easily run on a 3DS (except for the visuals of course).

    1. Specs were definitely one limitation back then, but another more recent limitation was having a team Sakamoto had faith in. I believe that Samus Returns was a test drive for the team to see if they could actually fulfill his vision. You can have the greatest of ideas but without the proper team, you won’t be able to make them a reality

      1. Yea sounds like the wanted the hunter to be smart and able to roam whole map. Idk what tricks RE3 did back in day but must not have been what Sakamoto wanted.

        I played Alien Isolstion on hard on Switch. What a terribly great experience oozing with dread. But that game you felt underpowered unarmed a bit. Samus packs heat so will be interesting to blend the scariness of hunter with the power of Samus.

    1. That would be because it doesn’t make any sense. What could he have wanted to do 15 years ago? For reference, Twilight Princess came out in 2006. So there has to be something in Metroid Dread today that couldn’t have been reasonably done in Twilight Princess.

      The natural defense would be to say that Metroid Dread was planned to be a handheld title.

      The response to that is that then why didn’t they make it a console title so they could do what they wanted with the extra graphical power? Well the only answer left is that it was a business decision. Nintendo didn’t think that game would be profitable in that for. Meaning what he’s saying here is a lie, it wasn’t a technical limitation, it was a business decision.

      1. You sure see yourself as an expert on something you aren’t a part of. Not everything can be understood from observation and educated guesses. This doesn’t only happen in the field of video games. It happens in movies too. James Cameron is the same way. It’s an artists mindset. Yeah them game could have been released forever ago and people probably would have loved it, but it wouldn’t have been what he wanted, but this is probably only one reason. There are probably several reasons it wasn’t released earlier. This is just his personal thoughts. We don’t really know anything.

      2. Or maybe they didn’t want to release two Metroid games so close to each other on the same Platform. Metorid Prime 3 was less than a year away.

      3. It could very well be an issue with the AI of the EMMIs. machine learning and ai is a relatively new field, having a truly smart ai chasing you around that isnt scripted in the way that SAX was in fusion would probably be something they could only accomplish recently without pouring tons of research into it themselves

    2. It’s not that he couldn’t have done it on 3DS, actually. I’m pretty sure it’s on the Switch because 3DS is dead. If it wasn’t it could be on 3DS, as that’s what MercurySteam developed Samus Returns for to prove their skill.

  3. “The reason for this is Mr. Sakamoto wanted the concept to revolve around Samus Aran being pursued by a deadly undefeatable force however the technical limitations of the hardware at the time had prevented the team from fully fulfilling his vision.”

    What a load of crap. This concept isn’t new, and it has been done going back to the early 80’s in arcades. Resident Evil 3 explored the concept extensively years before even Metroid Fusion released.

    I get that people want to know why the game was canceled before, and that real reasons are very unsexy interview responses, but no one with a brain should believe that they canceled a mainline nintendo franchise because they couldn’t get some minor technical trick to work. Technical limitations play a role in every game’s development. They can lead to cut content. They can lead to a change in the direction of the game. What they don’t do is throw a valuable IP on ice for decades.

    There’s no explanation here that survives follow up questions. System wasn’t powerful enough? Ok, why not on the Wii U? There’s nothing in Metroid Dread now that the Wii U couldn’t do.

    I don’t care, I just don’t like being lied to. It tells me he thinks I’m stupid.

    1. Take a step back and get some perspective…You are whining that a new Metroid game is coming out.

      Wind your neck ín and try to enjoy the good news.

      1. “Take a step back and get some perspective…You are whining that a new Metroid game is coming out.”

        Except I didn’t do that at all? So what exactly are you talking about?

        1. You need to take a few more steps then because you’re actually the one telling the devs you think they are stupid.

          1. Absolutely nothing you’ve said has made any sense whatsoever. I didn’t complain about a new metroid game, and there isn’t any rational way to interpret me as calling the devs stupid.

            Either explain what you’re talking about, or stop taking an unearned moral high ground.

            1. Because Metroid Dread is releasing and you’re just complaining that whoever should have handled the technical limitations to get it down earlier. Basically calling the dev stupid.

              But you’re not an expert… or much of a fan, honestly. A fan would be pretty excited for Metroid 5… especially Metroid Dread and it’s long history and everyone thought it was dead.

      2. Odd. The Gamecube remake for the original Resident Evil had Lisa Trevor hunting you down & she’d pop up in random places at times. The idea that this couldn’t be replicated in a side scrolling 2D game sounds ludicrous to me. I’m a huge Metroid fan & am very excited for this game but even I can see bullshit with this excuse. If the issue was lack of a team, just say so. If the issue was he was too busy with other projects, just say so. But technical limitations that hindered an unbeatable enemy from stalking you throughout the game when other games have done it is what held it back from release til now? Come on. Hell! The Slenderman games were doing just this same exact thing back in 2012 & that was done by an indie developer with a lot less funds on what I assume was a weaker engine. Oh & the SCP Containment Breach game, too. And that game had 2 enemies stalking you wherever you went. Sometimes they’d pop up on your ass at the exact same time, too.

        Whatever, though. Bullshit aside, I’m still getting this game.

    2. Why on earth are you taking this personally? The Wii U bombed. Their are probably a lot of games that didn’t get made for the Wii U. There can be more than one reason for something. This is just his personal thoughts, not his personal letter to you.

      1. We have the classical situation of a smart person smelling the bullshit that has been uttered in an interview and two gullible sheep swallowing everything that is being fed to them. So why is it relevant what the OP said? It’s relevant because it raises the question “Is this a long term work in progress that has finally come to fruition, or is it an afterthought to fill the gap caused by the delay of MP 4?”. Judging from what we’ve seen so far, it’s clearly the latter. Which again is relevant because we don’t want another Other M. I rather have no 2.5D Metroid than a mediocre one. The E3 presentation did not convince me that this is going to be a great game. And lying about why this long cancelled project is suddenly revived only makes matters worse.

        1. I’m sorry what am I swallowing? I specifically said I don’t think this is the only reason. I said I believe there are many reasons. Why can’t there be more than one reason?

      2. “Why on earth are you taking this personally? ”

        Personally? I’m not. It isn’t me that he’s insulting, its the audience, generally, yourself included.

        “The Wii U bombed. Their are probably a lot of games that didn’t get made for the Wii U. ”

        That’s literally my point. The idea that he hasn’t had the technology to make this game until now is objectively ridiculous. He is saying something obviously not true.

        I don’t think you fully appreciate the magnitude of this lie.

        Sinistar, in 1982, pulled off this concept.

        Is the lie consequential? Am I being robbed? No, but it is such a colossal whopper you can’t help but wonder, does this person actually think we are dumb enough to believe it?

        1. You literally said he’s insulting your intelligence. That’s taking it personally. Why is it a lie? How come it isn’t just one of several true things? Like I said, there can be several reasons all which are true. There is no lie he’s just highlighting one reason that he feels affected the game. He’s just sharing his perspective. My point is I don’t understand why people are angry. There is actually zero reason to be angry about this.

          1. “You literally said he’s insulting your intelligence. That’s taking it personally.”

            No. I said he’s insulting everyone’s intelligence. How can a statement that applies to literally everyone hwo isn’t the speaker be personal?

            “Why is it a lie?”

            For reasons I’ve explained three times now and you’re too lazy to come up with an explanation otherwise.

            What he said is plainly and obviously not true. There’s nothing relevant to that idea that technology allows him to do now that he couldn’t have done then.

            Why couldn’t it be other explanations too? Well as I’ve explained, again three times now, it IS other explanations too. That’s the point. You’re just refusing to deal with the argument in front of you.

    3. Games don’t go into development for 15 years straight. Games Die in development only to come back again many years and generations later. He didn’t make it on the Wii U because it wasn’t a priority for the studio at the time. But then MurcurySteam brought the idea back up. It was dead project but it got revived when the time was right. How hard is this of a concept to grasp?

      1. People are also forgetting the whole thing that’s called marketing. It’s hard to market a great idea and game on a dying console nobody wants to buy. At some point in the Wii U’s life, I’m sure Sakamoto considered creating Dread for the console, but once the Wii U showed that nobody wanted to buy it it then becomes increasingly hard to pitch the idea to Nintendo. Some people just don’t see all the hoops developers have to go through in order to get a specific game made, and a lot of the time those hoops are based on faith and trust that’s built up over the years. It’s another reason why we gotta make sure Dread sells well so that it could ensure that more Metroid games get made. This is a big discussion that a gaming article comments thread wouldn’t do justice, so I’ll leave it at that. I think people need to be more open to the idea that they just don’t know everything about what they’re talking about

        1. ” It’s hard to market a great idea and game on a dying console nobody wants to buy. At some point in the Wii U’s life, I’m sure Sakamoto considered creating Dread for the console, but once the Wii U showed that nobody wanted to buy it it then becomes increasingly hard to pitch the idea to Nintendo. ”

          You are directly agreeing with the people you’re criticizing. That there were other issues that determined the outcome is entirely the point.

          ” I think people need to be more open to the idea that they just don’t know everything about what they’re talking about”

          This is a sentence that could be said to literally anyone, on any subject, in any context. You’re trying to directly contradict people without actually having any basis to contradict them.

          1. Um. No. Technical limitations were definitely a part of why Dread wasn’t released. You can see a few of my statements on that part and other limitations elsewhere on this page. Marketing is a huge part of sales and how games are perceived, and if a wide group of people have already determined that a console isn’t good enough for them to buy, then putting a game on it is just sending it out to die. I have no reason to assume that Dread couldn’t have worked on the Wii U, but they wouldn’t do that for the reason stated above. No one is lying to y’all about why Dread wasn’t made yet. It’s far more nuanced than what you’re giving it credit for.

          2. Ok Let’s assume the DS had the power of a GTX 3090 in it and was still had its amazing sales early in its lifespan. Do you think Metroid Dread would have come out at that time?

    4. Do you really think Dread would have sold on the Wii U though? Yeah, Metroid is fairly popular, but it doesn’t move hardware like Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon do.

    5. Its more like he’s not gonna tell the whole reason but parts of wht lead to Dread being made now.
      If u scrolled down to read CFG’s comment. (not the one where u were interacting with him. But the one much further down on his “word wall” it makes more sense of why and gives a more complete reason.)

      So no u weren’t “lied to”; u were just given half the info tht the interviewer didnt bother goin into more detail to get the full.

  4. Some of us already know about it a few years ago and now it finally came to a reality. Like I said. He thought about it in his head a long time ago.

  5. I don’t really know why people are getting angry here and why their brains seem to be taking the long way around but let me help out if I can.

    Metroid Fusion was made using a modified engine from Wario Land 4. Metroid Zero Mission was likewise made from a further modified demo.

    So no… Metroid Dread probably could not be made unless they built a new engine from the ground up which… Why would they at the end of the GBA lifecycle.

    After that… And this is a point people seem to be missing… There lacked a TEAM to make it. What Metroid games were on the 3DS? Well, there was thst neat demo they came with that eventually became a full game, Metroid Prime Hunters. What was Sakamoto doing at this time? Warioware games. What was going on with the Metroid franchise? Retro was at the helm with Prime series. Then what happened? Well, they got a team other than Retro to return to 2D Metroid. That team was Team Ninja and that game was OTHER M. Meanwhile Retro moved on to Donkey Kong and everyone else at nintendo was dropping the ball trying to transition into HD development.

    What was Sakamoto doing then? Game and Wario. Oh yeah… And notice that they didn’t even have a team for Warioware Gold. They got Intelligent Systems in to make it. Got another studio for Federation Force. AND got another studio for Samus Returns remake and now Dread.

    It’s not that hard to understand people. If you want to get mad, get mad at them doing Other M when they had a chance to do Metroid Dread.

    Remember… Always get mad at Other M.

    1. Honestly I didn’t even know about all of this development team mix and matching. I knew about Retro’s stuff, but I never realized Sakamoto made the WarioWare games. That’s pretty neat. Thanks for compiling this

  6. Most of you are assuming the technical limitations were on stuff like visuals. The “following” part as mentioned that was included in RE3:Nemesis or RE2, they were not truly “following”, most of those were scripted and/or RNG.

    There very well could be something else in this new Metroid that we’re just not seeing. Something in the background that could’ve consumed too much RAM, or could’ve overloaded the CPUs, etc.

    In the end, we may never truly know the reasons, but instead of whining and saying “I’m being lied to and they make me feel stupid, hur duh hur” just be glad there’s a new Metroid game coming and it looks amazing. None of us are entitled to have the companies appeal and cater specifically to our own likes and wants.

    1. “There very well could be something else in this new Metroid that we’re just not seeing.”

      Ok. Shoot. Go ahead and suggest what it is in this 2D game that was so complicated it couldn’t exist, again, in a 2d game, until 2021.

      “Something in the background that could’ve consumed too much RAM, or could’ve overloaded the CPUs, etc.”

      For example?

      “but instead of whining and saying “I’m being lied to and they make me feel stupid, hur duh hur” ”

      So ignoring that you’re clearly responding to me and didn’t actually reply directly to me, that isn’t what I said. I didn’t say they make me feel stupid. I said he clearly thanks we all are stupid. So if you’re bothering to involve yourself, going so far as to humiliate yourself with a “hur duh hur”, you could at least not lie in such an obvious way that everyone can’t scroll up a couple inches and see what I actually said.

      Your entire argument boils down to “maybe there’s some magical idea he had that took 32 gb of ram in 2006 in a 2d game” without suggesting what that might be. That is clearly, and obviously ridiculous.

      Look, I’m willing to retract my complaint if anyone can even suggest a theoretical application that might have prevented him from implementing this idea in 2006. If you can’t do that, the one who’s just whining uselessly is you.

      1. You can check out my comment. They couldn’t make Metroid Dread with a freakin modded Wario Land 4 engine and they didn’t have a team to make it after that except for when Other M was being developed and they decided to go with Team Ninja and… well… the Other M concept.

      2. “and they didn’t have a team to make it after that except for when”

        So it had nothing to do with the technology. You’re agreeing with me, but pretending to disagree with me, because you don’t like being critical of the dev.

        1. Again. Multiple things can be true. What I disagree with you about is being angry about them “lying” that doesn’t make sense. And that’s what people are getting at.

      3. Bro, you’re the only person here who thinks Sakamoto is lying to all of us and specifically because he thinks “we all are stupid”. Nobody else believes that sentiment. Just because you have one different way of thinking doesn’t mean the truth is actually what you believe.

        My take? It’s multiple different reasons. Teams, Nintendo allowing him to make the Metroid that he wanted to, GBA hardware limitations, DS hardware limitations (you can’t tell me with a straight face that you think the DS could do anything a console could at that time), etc. Also it should be noted that when you work for Nintendo, you do what Nintendo tells you to do. There are numerous accounts of studios having pitches ready to give to Nintendo, but then Nintendo comes in and says “you’re making this other game instead.” There’s numerous reasons that stacked up to cause Dread to be delayed and pushed up to the modern day. Just because Sakamoto chose to highlight one of them (likely the one he felt the most affected by), that doesn’t mean he lied to you. You just seem to want to believe this odd sentiment that he’s out to get you, and then you mask it by saying “he’s lying to all of us!!!!!!!”

  7. If they ever release a new Earthbound they will say the game didn’t come out years ago due to technical limitations.

  8. Let’s wait until the release date and see if there is something in Metroid Dread that could not have been done before.

  9. Odd. The Gamecube remake for the original Resident Evil had Lisa Trevor hunting you down & she’d pop up in random places at times. The idea that this couldn’t be replicated in a side scrolling 2D game sounds ludicrous to me. I’m a huge Metroid fan & am very excited for this game but even I can see bullshit with this excuse. If the issue was lack of a team, just say so. If the issue was he was too busy with other projects, just say so. But technical limitations that hindered an unbeatable enemy from stalking you throughout the game when other games have done it is what held it back from release til now? Come on. Hell! The Slenderman games were doing just this same exact thing back in 2012 & that was done by an indie developer with a lot less funds on what I assume was a weaker engine. Oh & the SCP Containment Breach game, too. And that game had 2 enemies stalking you wherever you went. Sometimes they’d pop up on your ass at the exact same time, too.

    Whatever, though. Bullshit aside, I’m still getting this game.

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