Metroid Prime 4 has been delayed, with development being handed to Retro Studios, the studio that brought the franchise to modern audiences — but it’s time Retro moves on from that series.
When Metroid Prime hit the GameCube, it changed everything for the franchise. It took Samus Aran out of the 2D field and put her in a 3D environment for the very first time. While it was something that pretty much every legacy series went through a generation prior, for Metroid, it was new. However, much like the games that jumped into the third dimension in the Nintendo 64/PlayStation 1 generation, Prime did tread on familiar, Super Nintendo-y ground. Still, the series itself was great, and no one will argue with the sheer brilliance of each game's design, animation, and overall package. We just can’t help but think it’s time to pass the torch to another studio who can revolutionize the franchise the same way Retro did all the way back in 2002.
Platinum Games can do just that.
Platinum Games Should Make Metroid Prime 4
Known for their high-octane action, smooth combat, and over-the-top presentation, Platinum has a lot of experience working with Nintendo, for better or worse. Whether it’s 2010's bloody beat ‘em up Mad World, or the more “E for Everyone” Wonderful 101, or the resurrected Bayonetta franchise, Platinum Games has a history of making some memorable experience on Nintendo consoles (yeah, Star Fox: Zero happened, but pobody's nerfect).
Where they can come in and make a real impact on the series is the combat. Look, we love Metroid here at TheGamer, and the Prime Trilogy is some of the finest gaming we’ve ever experienced, but we need to address the elephant in the room — the combat could be better. We get it, the early 2000s were a different time, and really, the series was more about exploration than the shooting mechanics, but Halo came out a year prior and showed the world how to fill an alien with lead, and we haven’t looked back since. The third Metroid Prime game came out in 2007, the same year that Halo 3 came out, and it was impossible not to make comparisons.
Now, we’re not saying slap a Metroid skin on Halo and call it a day. The two games have incredibly different goals. We're just saying someone needs to get under the hood and really make the combat more than strafing and shooting. That’s where Platinum fits in perfectly. Their work in NieR: Automata showed that, with a bit of direction, they can help develop some one-of-a-kind action spanning multiple genres in one package.
We also know how good the team is when it comes to art direction. Whether it’s the stark contrasts of Mad World, or the stunning realism of the Bayonetta series, Platinum Games knows how to make the visuals complement the gameplay to create a seamless experience. Plus, after seeing what they had to offer with the now-dead dragon-themed Scalebound, we’d love to see their take on the design of the space pterodactyl Ridley!
It's Time For Retro Studios To Move On
We don’t think Retro Studios should drop Metroid Prime because they can’t deliver. We know how good they are and because of that, giving them the series they made all those years ago makes a lot of sense — but Retro has outgrown the franchise and should really get a chance to make an original intellectual property for Nintendo, like what Rare did back in the 1990s and early 2000s.
In fact, one can draw a lot of comparisons between the two game-makers. They both got their big break by handling some of gaming’s most important icons, they both worked on Donkey Kong titles, and they are both the big studio that comes to mind when thinking of exclusive content on Nintendo consoles. But Rare got the chance to branch off and work on games like Perfect Dark, Conker's Bad Fur Day, and the Banjo Kazooie series, while Retro hasn’t gotten the same freedom.
PREVIOUSLY: CRAZY THINGS ABOUT METROID ONLY SUPERFANS KNOW
Heading into the Switch’s launch period, Nintendo began a renewed focus on new, original titles, and the results brought interesting experiences like Splatoon on the Wii U, and Arms — but there’s room for a lot more. In fact, when it comes to a single-player focused experience, Nintendo has been a little light on wholly original titles. Sure, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild and Super Mario Odyssey were game changers for their respective franchises, but they’re still Zelda and Mario games. Splatoon 2 really gave fans more of a single player experience over the original, but it's still a multiplayer focused game. In fact, when it comes to solo experiences, the last new property Nintendo made was Pikmin, which released in 2001 (with the third entry dropping in 2013). It would be nice to see a new story-focused title with never-before-seen characters from their first and second party studios, and Retro carries enough clout to do just that.
But if the Donkey Kong Country revivalists must work on Nintendo legacy franchises only, then there are a lot of other titles that have seen less love than Metroid over the years (and that’s saying something, because Samus hasn’t starred in her own home console adventure since 2010’s Other M). The Japanese console manufacturer has such a rich history in the gaming world, yet Earthbound, F-Zero, and Advance Wars have almost felt like afterthoughts despite being some of the most beloved series in gaming history. Retro knows how to resurrect a franchise, so if they won't get a new IP to work on, Nintendo should at least have them bring back something we’ve been missing.
This still feels like a missed opportunity; not just for Retro, but for Metroid too.
Nintendo probably made the right call when assigning Retro to save the Switch's most anticipated upcoming game. Considering the hype around it, and the trouble it was in, bringing the studio that made the franchise famous seems like the safe decision — but maybe it's a little too safe.
Thankfully, if the biggest thing we have to complain about is a studio we love working on a franchise we adore, things can’t be too bad. This still feels like a missed opportunity; not just for Retro, but for Metroid too.