Former Metroid Prime Developer Talks About Cut Content From The Original Trilogy

The Metroid Prime trilogy has a lot of changes during development

By Grayshadow, Posted 23 Jan 2018

The Metroid Prime trilogy has been widely considered one of Nintendo's crowning achievements, with graphics and gameplay that match today's modern releases. With Metroid Prime 4 now in development, the people at Shinesparkers were able to get an interview with former Retro Technical Lead Engineer, Jack Mattews, and talk about cut content for all 3 games.

Metroid Prime Trilogy,NoobFeed,Nintendo,

Turns out Metroid Prime 2: Echoes started off as a multiplayer game after the success of Metroid Prime Hunters.

Well, I just feel that the game should have been either one or the other. Metroid Prime Hunters did this really well – it knew it was a multiplayer game and spent all its marbles there. When we started development on Prime 2, multiplayer was actually going to be the focus (I think we internally thought of the project as Metroid Prime 1.5). We were even going to have the ability to play as a Space Pirate and have things like wall grabs and such.

As we moved back towards a primarily single-player focus, we should have ditched multiplayer altogether. There was a ton of effort put forth to make multiplayer happen: we had to actually author third person Samus animations, we had to have support for multiple “players” in a game world, we needed to author all new lower quality effects, add game modes, et cetera et cetera. It’s all work that took quality and mindshare away from the single player.

Plus, as a Metroid fan, I just feel like single-player is how the IP should stay – seeing multiple people run around as Samus never felt right.

As someone who remembers playing Metroid Prime 2: Echoes multiplayer I'm thankful they decided to focus more on single-player. The lock-on mechanic made the entire mode vexing. 

Mattews went on to talk about how the light and dark worlds in the game were meant to be distinct but due to time, money, and graphical limitations it was scrapped.

As for improvements? It’s hard because development is so iterative – many good things are built on the backs of failures. And many failures are the result of unmovable limitations. Like, for instance, I would have loved more differentiation between the light and dark worlds of Prime 2, but there was not time or money for it. We wanted to go the route of reusing environments between light and dark, because we could make a schedule work that way – we thought it would be great! More bang for the buck!

But of course, we could never find a technical solution to make the dark world variants different enough to be interesting, and it turns out that completely dark worlds are just not fun – the first concepts had Samus pretty much walking around with a spotlight emitting from her, and it was just impossible to play.

So, the artists had to do a ton of work to make the dark world variants work and, well, it was a ton more work than anyone had budgeted for and was completely unplanned. In fact, the Sanctuary Fortress was the only area built with this plan in mind, which is why both light and dark actually look visually distinct and amazing. But there was no time (immovable limitation) to really rebuild the rest of the game, but at least we got the Sanctuary Fortress. So what’s the solution? Plan better? Have less content? Be smarter? It’s hard to know, with the info we would have had then, what we reasonably could have done differently.

Another fascinating piece of information was the Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was much different from the finished game. It was to feature Samus as being an actual bounty hunter, picking up jobs, flying through the galaxy, and earning items to get stronger.  

I don’t recall any code being written to support the concept, but I remember it being documented and thought through extensively. The inventory system as it was would not have needed significant changes to support the design, and while my recollection is hazy, I believe that the whole misunderstanding of the “bounty” in “bounty hunter” was discovered and talked through pretty quickly after we presented the game concept to Japan. I don’t know how much of the story was fleshed out at this point, Dark Samus or otherwise. I just remember that the original core concept revolved around Samus and her ship doing jobs around the galaxy to both get stronger.

What was your favorite game in the Metroid Prime trilogy? Let us know in the comments below!

Metroid Prime 4 is now in development for Nintendo Switch.

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): 3DS
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Developer(s): Next Level Games
Genres: First-Person Shooter
Themes: Sci-Fi
Release Date: 2016-08-19

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