Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was almost a much different game, but Retro Studios made the decision to scale things back. Metroid Prime 3 was originally going to feature open-world environments, a less linear format, and even Samus’ ship “as a playable asset.”
Deck Nine Games producer Bryan Walker shared these details and more in an interview with Kiwi Talkz, a series that features conversations with guests regarding their respective fields and expertise. Metroid Prime 3 received praise from fans and critics alike, but it’s hard not to wonder about the open-world version and what that could have meant for the series.
A Corrupted World
There are a few spin-offs within the Metroid series, including Metroid Federation Force and Metroid Prime Pinball, but the main series follows Samus Aran on dangerous adventures set within research stations and mysterious, remote locations. The series has certainly made changes over the years but the structure has largely remained.
Metroid, Super Metroid, and even the latest entry, Metroid Dread, all feature Samus exploring locations as she searches for answers. Samus is one of the most feared and powerful bounty hunters in the galaxy but that doesn’t remove tension or desperation, two crucial pieces to the series. Samus is often placed in vulnerable situations and stripped of her suit’s powers and abilities. What this does is provide an opportunity for players to help her regain her full power while completing the main mission.
An open-world format could have changed everything, especially with the aid of Samus’ ship. Despite each game containing action, combat, and missiles, the series is just as much about pacing as it is staying alive. At the beginning of the games, most of the areas are locked or inaccessible. It’s only through finding herself that Samus is able to survive and find her way. Samus’ perspective is what always drives the missions forward. Untethering the player’s perspective from Samus would have changed the notes, even if the song remained the same.
Walker shared some insights on the development of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, including details on what prompted the change in direction, saying:
“We wanted to a greater degree leverage the ship as a playable asset, for instance, and we had that to some degree in Prime 3 but Mark was thinking much more ambitiously…There was also an open-world… that the team was excited about. We weren’t able to prototype a lot of those, cause those were really, really big – we did have some ship prototypes early, but the open-world one was much bigger.”Bryan Walker, Deck Nine Games Producer (formerly of Retro Studios)
Unseen 64 has some additional details that were scrapped as well, including WiiConnect24 functionality, which would have allowed for future content updates. The idea of new areas, weapons, powers, or even planets sounds really intriguing for a Metroid title. Perhaps that’s something Nintendo could revisit. An epilogue that continues to the story, connecting it to the next game or another title in the series would be exciting for fans. Perhaps something like Mass Effect 2’s The Arrival DLC?
Metroid games typically already end with a lot of action and tension but the idea of more planets and enemies sounds so tantalizing. Metroid Dread, the latest title in the series, brought refinements to the series’ formula without removing the core of the series, and it sold quite well. Perhaps Nintendo will consider funding some DLC while Metroid’s next move is planned.
An “emotional” and “interesting” future?
Metroid Dread ended Samus’s story arc that began with the first game in the series. Nintendo has been quiet about the development of Metroid Prime 4, outside of the game’s delays, with development even being restarted on at least one occasion. The development changed hands a few times before finally returning to Retro Studios, the developer of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
It’s possible the Nintendo Switch may have enough power to fulfill Retro’s open-world vision. It may seem a little too early to speculate on the game’s direction and focus but a Retro Studios job posting certainly makes it easy. VGC reported Retro Studios was searching for storyboard artists to work on “emotional” and “interesting … scenes that elevate the narrative”, which could mean a more involved and densely detailed game.
There’s still no release date for Metroid Prime 4 but knowing the series is alive and thriving no doubt makes the wait a little easier to bear — especially since this could even be ‘Super Samus Odyssey’ or ‘The Legend of Samus: Breath of the Metroid.’