Nintendo sent shockwaves through the video game world last week when they announced that the development of Metroid Prime 4 had been scrapped and was starting over fresh with Retro Studios.
The nature of the announcement was puzzling, as Nintendo could easily have released the information in a press release and not taken a personal approach with the subject, but the fact that they did suggests to a lot of people that they aren't taking the fate of the Metroid Prime series lightly and that they want the fans to know that the decision to start over was not an easy one.
Metroid Prime fans have waited over a decade for a true sequel and a proper revival of the series. The story of Metroid Prime 4 began with the ending of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, which promised great things to come...
The Ending Of Metroid Prime 3
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was released for the Nintendo Wii in 2007. The game received some amazing reviews, even though some reviewers took issue with the motion controls.
The true ending of Metroid Prime 3 showed Samus flying off into space, with a mysterious ship in pursuit, suggesting that the story wasn't over yet. The pilot of that ship was later revealed to be Sylux, who had been introduced as a villain in Metroid Prime Hunters for the Nintendo DS. He was being built up for a far bigger role in the story going forward.
The Franchise Is Sent Into A Coma After Other M
The next game in the Metroid series was Metroid: Other M, which was released for the Nintendo Wii in 2010.
Metroid: Other M was developed by Team Ninja and was set between the events of Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion.
The consensus on Metroid: Other M was that the gameplay was good, but the changes to the personality of Samus Aran were so drastic that many people saw it as outright character assassination, due to her total dependence on a male superior officer and the sudden lack of courage she displayed.
Metroid: Other M sold less than a million and a half copies worldwide, which was a huge disappointment for a first-party Nintendo title on their best-selling home console of all time.
The harsh criticism and poor sales of Metroid: Other M forced the series into a hiatus, while fans begged Nintendo for a new game in the Prime series.
Metroid Prime Federation Force... That's What You Wanted, Right?
It was at E3 2015 that Nintendo finally revived Metroid Prime when they announced that Metroid Prime: Federation Force was coming to the Nintendo 3DS in 2016.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force was a multiplayer shooter where you played as soldiers who completed missions together.
The fact that Federation Force had little to do with the other games in the Metroid series caused a backlash against it from the fans.
There was one silver lining in the release of Federation Force that gave fans hope, as there was a post-credits scene where Sylux (the guy from the end of Metroid Prime 3) was seen stealing a Metroid egg, which suggested that the series wasn't done yet.
The moment the fans had been waiting for happened during Nintendo's E3 2017 conference, as Metroid Prime 4 was announced for the Nintendo Switch, although they only showed the logo for the title instead of any gameplay footage.
It was at this same conference that Metroid: Samus Returns (a remake of Metroid II) was revealed to be coming to the Nintendo 3DS later that year.
Metroid: Samus Returns was highly acclaimed upon release and gave fans hope that we might see more 2D Metroid titles in the future alongside the return of the Prime series.
The Brief Second Life Of Metroid Prime 4
The development of Metroid Prime 4 was being done by the Singapore branch of Bandai Namco (the same company who worked closely with Nintendo on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate), with Kensuke Tanabe (the long-time producer of the Metroid Prime series) returning to produce the next game in the series.
It's at this point that the story gets murky. Nintendo has held several Directs since E3 2017, yet there wasn't a peep about Metroid Prime 4 or any potential release date.
Metroid Prime 4 was also absent from Nintendo's 2018 E3 event, which was mostly dominated by Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
The 2018 holiday season passed and all of Nintendo's biggest titles were released, which left several open questions about 2019, as only Yoshi's Crafted World seems to be ready for a release during the year, due to how we have seen no gameplay footage of games like Animal Crossing, Bayonetta 3, or Metroid Prime 4.
The fans hoped that 2019 was the year of Metroid Prime 4.
On January 25th, 2019, Nintendo released a video on several of their official YouTube channels that was hosted by Shinya Takahashi, who made the shocking announcement that the company wasn't satisfied with the progress on Metroid Prime 4 and that development was being started over from scratch with Retro Studios, who had worked on the original Prime trilogy.
A lot of Metroid fans were upset by the announcement, but it was hard to fault Nintendo for wanting to release a high-quality product, even if it meant that the game would be delayed by several years.
The fact that the development of Metroid Prime 4 is starting over from scratch means that we won't be seeing the game for several years. It's possible that we might not see it until the end of the Nintendo Switch's lifespan.
A user on Reddit named Bootleking created a list of all of the veterans of the Metroid Prime series that are still at Retro Studios and it turns out that quite a few core people still work at the company, which means that a lot of the people who made the original games so great are still around.
There is a famous quote by Shigeru Miyamoto which aptly fits the Metroid Prime 4 situation: "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad."
The fans of the Metroid Prime series should take heart in the fact that the game is still coming and a team with a strong pedigree is working on it, which means that the adventures of Samus Aran haven't ended just yet.