To the joy of many Metroid fans across the world, Nintendo announced today at their E3 presentation that Metroid Prime 4 is in development for the Nintendo Switch. Details are sparse at the moment, but we do know that Retro Studios, developer of the first three Prime titles, is not making 4. So what does that mean Retro is working on? Screen Critic Joe looks at a few possibilities.
Today, Metroid fans rejoiced. Nintendo announced not one, but two games in the Metroid franchise. No spin-offs either (presumably), but two mainline exploration games. Metorid Prime 4 especially has fans in excitement, despite the sparsity of details and the inevitably long wait until the title hits store shelves. Outside of that, we did learn a piece of key information: Retro Studios, the developer of the first three Metroid Prime titles, will not be developing Metroid Prime 4. Instead, a new development team will be taking on the game under the direction of series producer Kensuke Tanabe.
While I have no doubts about the quality of the game, considering Nintendo’s recent track record, I am now left with this insatiable curiosity, what is Retro working on? Fans were hoping to see Retro’s game be unveiled, but a lot assumed their game and Metroid Prime 4 would be one in the same. It may be a while until we learn what Retro is working on, but I have a few guesses of my own.
The first guess I have is another Donkey Kong Country game. Retro’s last two games have been Donkey Kong Country titles, with the most recent one being Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in 2014. While there is definitely a possibility of Retro’s next title being a DKC title, I significantly doubt it. First off, we likely would have heard about or seen the title by now, even if it was a Switch title. The time spans make sense, the time from Returns to Tropical Freeze and Tropical Freeze to now are about equal, therefore we would have likely seen Donkey Kong at E3. Plus the climate for a new Donkey Kong game just isn’t right.
Everyone’s wanted a new Metroid Prime since before Tropical Freeze to the point that Donkey Kong became a symbol that Metroid wasn’t coming. That, combined with the fact that Retro never spends too much time with a single IP for too long, makes me seriously doubt the existence of a third Donkey Kong Country game.
A recent thread on NeoGaf lead me to a second possibility. The thread discussed the possibility of Retro working on a new Star Fox Adventures title, which isn’t necessarily the most possible outcome. Retro has no history with working with the Star Fox franchise and Adventures was polarizing to say the least, but what if Gaf was on to something?
What if Nintendo has tapped Retro to breath new life into a dormant franchise, like they did with Metroid and Donkey Kong Country? If I had to guess, this may be the most likely options, since Prime 4 is out of the question. The immediate thought goes to F-Zero or maybe even Earthbound, as they are some of Nintendo’s quietest franchises currently, but any franchise could use some re-imagination.
A third possibility is that Nintendo has let the studio loose to create a new IP. None of Retro’s game failed thus far, critically or commercially. A logical step may be to take the reins off these creators and free them from any traditions some franchises have. This would explain why we have yet to hear from Retro, because a new IP would take time. Instead of playing around in the defined parameters of the lore of a franchise, Retro would have to create that lore themselves. The possibilities are nearly endless and exciting to postulate.
Writing about Retro’s new game has only made me more interested in what they are currently developing. In many ways, it’s more intriguing to know they aren’t working on Metroid Prime 4, it adds to the mystery. Anywho, what do you think Retro is working on? Sound off in the comments below!