Nineteen years ago as of last week, the first game in the Metroid Prime series released for GameCube, putting a 3D first-person spin on the 2D side-scrolling formula that the franchise was known for at the time. Jack Mathews, a former developer at Retro Studios, recently sat down with KIWI TALKZ for an interview, discussing 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.
“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.’”– Jack Mathews, former dev at Retro Studios
Metroid has always been more popular in the West rather than in Japan, which Matthews explains is why Nintendo specifically reached out to Retro Studios, 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.”– Jack Mathews, former dev at Retro Studios
Check out the full interview here for even more details on the development of the Metroid Prime series, including how Retro was able to keep the game running at a consistent 60fps, and why Jack Mathews left Retro due to feeling Metroid fatigue and the technical limitations of the Wii hardware.
Recent 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 come to fruition, but hopefully we hear something in the near future. With Metroid Dread being nominated for Game of the Year, maybe we could be lucky enough to get some exciting news at this year’s The Game Awards.