Last December, Retro Studios went on a hiring spree, recruiting people to five open positions in a short period of time. A month later we would learn why: Metroid Prime 4 is starting over from scratch, and Retro is in charge. With development effectively rebooting, there’s no telling how long it will take for the much-anticipated game to arrive, but Retro is looking to speed that process up with an even bigger round of hiring.
Earlier today, Retro tweeted out that they’re looking for “world-class developers to join the Metroid Prime team on our journey in developing Metroid Prime 4.” Clicking through to their website reveals numerous job listings covering everything from artists to engineers. The full list of openings is as follows:
For months now, we’ve been hearing rumors that Persona 5 and Metroid Prime Trilogy are coming to Nintendo Switch, but Nintendo has confirmed neither. However, Best Buy may have just let the cat out of the bag. Although they are not yet listed on the official website, both games now appear in Best Buy’s database. More surprisingly, so does The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
Persona 5 makes sense on Switch, given Joker’s inclusion in Smash, and Game Informer Imran Khan has claimed in the past that Metroid Prime Trilogy is complete and ready to launch, but Nintendo delayed their initial release plans after rebooting Metroid Prime 4‘s development. It makes sense that A Link to the Past and other SNES games will eventually come to Switch via some sort of Virtual Console replacement or expansion of Nintendo Switch Online’s library, but why is it listed as a retail launch at Best Buy?
If you’re wondering if this is somehow a mistake and the listing is meant to say Link’s Awakening, that doesn’t appear to be the case. The remake of Link’s Awakening was already listed in Best Buy’s system, so this is a new entry altogether.
January came and went without the rumored Nintendo Direct, but there has still been plenty of Nintendo news in recent weeks. Fortunately Switched On! is back to break it all down! In the latest episode Ben, Alex, and Elijah dig into Smash news, comments from Nintendo’s President, rumors about Detective Pikachu, and more. It’s all topped off with our biggest story: the shocking tale of Retro Studios and Metroid Prime 4.
If you enjoy this episode of Switched On!, feel free to check out our previous episodes, where we tackle recent Nintendo Directs, explore Nintendo franchises that need a reboot, and more. We also have a second podcast called Gamnesia After Dark that features non-Nintendo discussion, including video games, TV shows, movies, and the lives of the Gamnesia staff in general.
Today Metroid fans woke up to a shocking video from Nintendo that somehow managed to disappoint and exhilarate them at the same time. Nintendo Senior Managing Executive Officer Shinya Takahashi announced that all the hard work Nintendo has put into Metroid Prime 4 over the past two years is being scrapped and the project is starting over from scratch. However, this reboot will be handled by Retro Studios, the team behind the original Metroid Prime Trilogy. How in the world did this all come to be, and what does it mean for the future of the game?
Retro Studios was once an independent developer with numerous projects in the works. Nintendo saw their potential and acquired the company, re-purposing them as a first-party Nintendo studio focused on making 3D Metroid games. They developed three entries in the Metroid Prime series under producer Kensuke Tanabe with some oversight by Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto early on. The trilogy of games received critical acclaim, and the first Prime game remains the highest-selling entry in the franchise to date.
After this, Tanabe moved Retro over to another classic Nintendo franchise in need of a revival: Donkey Kong Country. Without Retro to develop the next 3D Metroid, Nintendo turned to Yoshio Sakamoto (a co-creator of the 2D Metroid franchise) and Team Ninja. The result was Metroid: Other M, a game that saw mixed reviews and sales so poor that it quickly found itself in the bargain bin at most retailers. Meanwhile, Retro continued their streak of impressive marks with the well-received Donkey Kong Country Returns and its successor, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. After the latter game launched in early 2014, the studio went almost entirely silent.
During this quiet period, drama was unfolding behind the scenes. Tanabe left Retro Studios and teamed up with Next Level Games to create Metroid Prime: Federation Force, a spin-off title that launched to mediocre review scores and abysmally low sales numbers. According to a detailed report from Liam Robertson, Tanabe’s departure from Retro wasn’t exactly on great terms.
According to Robertson’s sources, working under Tanabe was no picnic. He was a tough boss who was known to “explode with great passion” if a developer made a mistake or challenged one of his creative decisions. However, this authoritarian style alone wasn’t enough to cause a rift, as his subordinates viewed him as a competent leader. What caused Retro and Tanabe to have a falling out was the level of control he maintained. Retro staff believed they had earned the right to have a little more creative freedom, but all of their decisions had to go through Tanabe first before being relayed to Nintendo executives in Japan, and he wasn’t as receptive to their ideas as they would have liked.
As a result, Nintendo reportedly pulled Tanabe away from Retro Studios in 2014, shortly after the release of Tropical Freeze. He had apparently butted heads with Retro staff throughout the game’s development, compelling Nintendo to find him a new team to manage. This gave Retro the extra freedom they so desperately desired. So what did they do with it? And what would become of 3D Metroid after the failure of Federation Force?
Nintendo and Retro have given us zero official hints about Retro’s activity over the past five years, but reports have leaked out in the meantime. Last year numerous sources claimed that Retro Studios was working on a Star Fox racing game, and Eurogamer stepped forward to corroborate them. But was Retro really working on a racing game for five years? Perhaps not. The same day that the Star Fox racing story surfaced, Kotaku and Game Informer reported that Retro canceled one of their games after development went south. Kotaku believed this project to be separate from the rumored Star Fox game, while Game Informer wasn’t sure either way.
So has Retro been secretly developing multiple projects? If so, that would seem to be a relatively recent development. Eric Kozlowsky served as an Environmental Artist at Retro Studios from 2011 till August of 2015. Following today’s breaking news, he tweeted out “Unless Retro has grown to a two game studio since I left, I guess this means the game I was working on when I left in Aug 2015 is’t happening anymore? I honestly have no clue. Excited for everyone there though! I know they’ll do an amazing job!” As of August 2015, Retro apparently only had one game in development, although we still don’t know if it was the Star Fox racing project or something else entirely. For what it’s worth, Kozlowsky was silent on Twitter when the rumors about Retro and Star Fox circulated last year.
Whatever the case may be, Retro has spent five years working on something (or some things) and they still have nothing to show to the public. Meanwhile, the 3D Metroid series has struggled in their absence. Nintendo knew they had let fans down with Other M and Federation Force, and they wanted to earn back some goodwill. Because of this, they showed up to E3 2017 with a short teaser trailer promising Metroid Prime 4 for Switch. Nintendo later admitted that the game was still in the earliest stages of development, but they couldn’t resist whetting the appetites of their disappointed but faithful fans.
After E3, Nintendo confirmed that Tanabe was leading the charge on Metroid Prime 4, working with “a talented new development team.” Nintendo wouldn’t reveal their identity, but they were likely unmasked early last year. The speculation began when a Lead Designer at Bandai Namco Singapore claimed they were working on a “First Person Shooter/Adventure” game coming exclusively to Nintendo Switch. Eurogamer later reported that their sources had confirmed this project to be Metroid Prime 4. Eurogamer later updated their report to state that in addition to Singapore, the Japanese branch of Bandai was working on the game.
Between Nintendo, Bandai Singapore, and Bandai Japan, development continued on quietly throughout 2018 with no real public updates. The silence was finally broken by Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime last November. At the time, Fils-Aime stated that Metroid Prime 4 was “well in development” and that Nintendo internally knew when they planned to release it. What a joyous update! It sure sounded like some major progress had been made. Unfortunately, Reggie spoke too soon.
Almost exactly one month from then, something strange started happening at Retro Studios. Throughout their entire five years of silence they occasionally trickled out hiring ads, but in December of 2018, they opened the floodgates. Retro went on a hiring spree to recruit all kinds of new developers, including a VFX Artist, a Physics Engineer, an Art Director, a Technical Artist, and most recently, a Graphics Engineer. In the case of the Art Director, they were looking for someone with over 10 years of experience, hinting at a pretty major project. Thus, it seems likely that Nintendo’s decision to pull the plug on Bandai’s Metroid Prime 4 and bring back Retro likely happened between Fils-Aime’s statement on November 14th and the beginning of Retro’s hiring spree on December 13th.
With Retro struggling to put together an original game and Nintendo struggling to launch a good 3D Metroid without them, it looks like a “two birds with one stone” solution was reached, and Retro was put back in charge of the series that made them famous. But is this a happy reunion? Retro and Tanabe allegedly divorced due to creative differences. Is Nintendo forcing them back together against their will?
Hopefully, that’s not the case, and we have reason to believe it isn’t. Game Informer Senior Editor Imran Khan has done some digging, and his sources tell him the situation isn’t a problem for Retro. Nintendo was reportedly unhappy with the uneven development of the game over the past couple of years. With studios in multiple countries working on the project (as indicated by Eurogamer), it was seemingly progressing well in some areas while struggling in others. This could potentially explain why just two months ago Fils-Aime believed it to be right on track. Because of this, Nintendo wanted to restart with development centralized under one roof. Retro reportedly wanted to be the ones to take over and presented Nintendo with a pitch to show what they had in mind. Nintendo was impressed with the pitch, and the Prime series returned home to its original development studio.
So what does this mean for the future of Metroid Prime? Well, for starters, we’re in for a long wait. That said, the franchise is hopefully back in good hands. If Retro truly requested the project, then whatever bad blood they have with Tanabe is not serious enough to keep them from working with him again, and they may even have a little more freedom this time around. Hopefully, they use it to restore 3D Metroid to its former glory.
Nintendo first teased the existence of Metroid Prime 4 at E3 2017. Although the game was early in development, they thought it was important to let fans know it was in development. That may have been a mistake. Then in November Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime assured fans it was well in development with a release target in mind. That was definitely a mistake.
Today, Nintendo Senior Managing Executive Officer Shinya Takahashi shared an update on the game’s progress, but it’s probably not what you were expecting. According to Takahashi, Metroid Prime 4‘s development was deeply troubled, and Nintendo had to come to terms with the fact that it would not live up to the quality expected from the series.
As such, Nintendo has decided to scrap all their progress and start from scratch. Series producer Kensuke Tanabe will continue to be at the helm, but with a new development team… or rather an old one. Nintendo is returning to Retro Studios to develop the project this time. The Texas-based development team made the first three games in the series before branching off to make something new. Over four years later, Retro had still not announced anything prior to today.
Previously Nintendo had not announced who was handling development, but reports from reliable sources indicated it was Bandai Namco. It’s unclear exactly what went wrong, but it was serious enough for Nintendo to pull the plug and change development teams. Unfortunately, this means we’re now in for a long wait.
Retro Studios made a name for themselves by transforming Nintendo’s beloved Metroid series from 2D to 3D with the Prime Trilogy, then later moved on to revitalizing the Donkey Kong Country brand. However, since the release of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze in 2014, the studio has remained almost entirely silent. Whatever they have in the works is taking quite a while, and they’re looking for more help to bring it to fruition.
Nintendo has been trickling out hiring ads for Retro throughout the quiet period, but over the last month, they’ve really increased their demand. Since December 13th, five different hiring ads have gone out for Retro Studios. The Austin, Texas-based developer is seeking to recruit a VFX Artist, a Physics Engineer, an Art Director, a Technical Artist, and most recently, a Graphics Engineer.
It’s been four years since Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze originally launched on the Wii U, and fans are still discovering new secrets in the game. Twitter user Shane Marchis discovered that the game contains a Metroid Easter egg in the Amiss Abyss level in both the Wii U and Switch versions of the game. The secret has been undiscovered until now because it is found by progressing through the level and then attempting to backtrack through a seemingly-impenetrable barrier.
To unlock the secret, players must navigate Donkey Kong through the level until they pass through an underwater tunnel that closes behind DK. However, you can still make your way back through the stinging sea anemone guarding the path that you just came from (although you will take a bit of damage). After passing through the barrier, a Metroid will appear in the background.
What do you guys think? Is this a pretty cool secret or what? Check out the video below to see it for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comments!
It’s a big day for juicy rumors from the usually-silent Retro Studios. Earlier today a story surfaced suggesting that Retro is creating a Star Fox racing game for Nintendo Switch. Various websites like Eurogamer, Kotaku, and Game Informer have since stepped forward to say that they’ve heard similar things from their sources, but it doesn’t stop there. According to these same sources, Retro has (or possibly had) another game in development, and it’s not smooth sailing.
In Game Informer’s coverage of the Star Fox rumor, they report per their sources that Retro Studios had (or has) a project that’s in trouble. The development team is reportedly struggling, causing staff at both Retro and Nintendo to grow increasingly frustrated. Game Informer’s sources were unclear on whether this project was in fact Star Fox or a separate game.
Separately, Kotaku has reported something similar, but with an additional negative possibility. According to two of their sources, Retro was working on a second game alongside Star Fox. Development on the title was described as “rocky.” In fact, the team struggled so much that Kotaku believes that Nintendo may have cancelled the project altogether, although this is not yet confirmed.
Unfortunately, neither website was able to secure any details as to the nature of this game. Recent hiring ads suggest that Retro is working on (or has recently worked on) something with “non-linear storytelling.”
Earlier today the Nintendo community was shaken by a rather juicy rumor. According to a series of alleged leaks (partially corroborated by Eurogamer’s sources), Retro Studios is working on a Star Fox game. That by itself is intriguing, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The rumors go on to say that Retro’s take on Star Fox will be a racing game with a hub world, adventure mode, and boss battles, much like Diddy Kong Racing with a mix of F-Zero.
These claims have sent waves throughout Nintendo’s fandom. Could this really be the secret game Retro has worked on all this time? All of this is, of course, unconfirmed by Nintendo at this time. Hopefully we’ll find out if it’s true or false by E3 (although that’s no guarantee), but a bigger question is whether or not the fans want it to be true.
Personally, I think the idea sounds pretty awesome. It seems a little odd that Nintendo would transform one futuristic series into a racer when they already have F-Zero, but seeing as I’ve never been a huge fan of that franchise, I can’t really complain. If anyone can take an old Nintendo IP and turn it into something amazing, it’s Retro Studios. Nintendo doesn’t really seem like they have any clue about what they want to do with Star Fox, so why not pass it off to someone else with a proven track record?
If it ends up being true, there will definitely be a part of me that’s disappointed at Retro being assigned to another existing IP instead of getting to try something new. There’s also a part of me that just wants a Star Fox game with traditional gameplay, a new story and setting, and no damn gimmicks. I never would have dreamed up a Retro-developed Star Fox racer if you had asked me, but now that I know it’s a possibility, consider me interested.
Retro Studios has been diligently working on a secret project for at least four and a half years, and they’ve revealed virtually no hints or clues in all that time. With E3 just a month away, fans are hoping for a big reveal, but the cat may be out of the bag a bit early.
A pretty wild and crazy rumor has been making the rounds lately, as they often do just before E3, but this one might actually have some substance to it. According to various alleged leaks around gaming forums, Retro Studios is working on a Star Fox racing game. What makes this rumor a little more credible is the fact that Eurogamer has stepped forward to state that they’ve heard similar things from their own sources in the past.
If the leaks are true, it sounds like a more ambitious project than just a standard racer. The game allegedly feels like a cross between F-Zero and Diddy Kong Racing. It’s rumored to include a hub world, an adventure mode, and even boss battles, and the title is apparently “Star Fox Grand Prix,” although Eurogamer could not corroborate the title. Someone on 4chan claims to have leaked the logo, but Eurogamer isn’t vouching for its validity.
The weekly hardware and software sales numbers from Japan are in, courtesy of Media Create, and it was a strong week for Nintendo. The Nintendo Switch version of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze debuted atop the charts, selling over 88,000 copies. This marks a drastic improvement over the game’s Wii U debut in Japan, which saw it pull in around 35,000 sales.
Tropical Freeze was the only new (ish) title to launch this past week, so it had little competition for the top spot. The Labo Variety Kit package took third place in its third week, moving another 32,244 units. Quite a few other Nintendo titles saw sales boosts this week, likely due to the fact that it’s Golden Week in Japan.
In hardware, Nintendo Switch was king with 53,113 units sold. PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro combined for second place with just under 35,000 units sold. You can check out the full list of sales below.
In celebration of the launch of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freezeon Nintendo Switch, Did You Know Gaming featured it (and its predecessor, Donkey Kong Country Returns) in their latest episode. There’s tons of interesting Kong facts throughout the video, including the revelation that Retro Studios hails Shigeru Miyamoto as “Master Yoda” for his wise counsel.
As it turns out Miyamoto was quite involved with the development of Donkey Kong Country Returns. He considers Donkey Kong to be “his baby” (one of many iconic characters birthed by Miyamoto’s mind) and wanted to make sure Retro got it right. As such, he frequently playtested and offered suggestions, including the game’s blow mechanic and the double ground pound. The former decision initially elicited a response of “What the hell?” from Retro, but they eventually came to appreciate how it could spice up the game.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze debuted on Wii U, but like many of the past generation’s exclusives, it’s getting new life on Nintendo Switch. The Kongs’ latest platforming adventure comes with the new Funky Mode on Switch, making the game more accessible to less experienced players. Tropical Freeze launched today to strong review scores, outscoring the original by about 3 points on average.
You can check out an extensive launch trailer by clicking above!
In just a few days Nintendo will be releasing Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze on the hybrid Nintendo Switch console. The Retro-developed platformer originally debuted on Wii U, and that version of the game is now just $20 thanks to the Nintendo Selects program. Unfortunately, it appears this deal isn’t available anymore, at least online. In fact, the game itself is currently altogether absent from the Wii U eShop in North America.
If we had to wager a guess, it would appear that Nintendo doesn’t want a $20 version of the game to be available alongside the $60 Switch version, as it could make the latter appear overpriced and potentially hurt its sales. Hopefully this isn’t the case, but Nintendo hasn’t issued a statement yet to address the issue. We also don’t yet know whether or not this will impact the price tag or availability of the Wii U game at retail, although GameStop has been out of stock for ages.
Wii U platformer Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is coming to Nintendo Switch next month. The port will largely be the same game, but Funky Kong is added as both a playable character and a de facto easy mode. One other change you’ll notice on Switch is significantly reduced loading times. GameXplain recently went hands-on with the Switch version, and a head-to-head comparison found the Wii U lagging far behind.
You can compare the two for yourself by clicking above!
Joining the lineup of Wii U games receiving enhanced ports to the Nintendo Switch is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which comes with a new game mode that will bring together the Kong family like never before. The surprise January Mini Direct highlighted the second coming of Kong touting a brand new feature in the form of “Funky Mode,” with Funky Kong himself becoming a playable character with superior skills compared to DK.
If you’ve been itching to scratch that Funky itch, then you’re in luck. New footage of the game surfaced by way of Dutch Comic Con 2018, and you can see the funktastic ape in action for yourself above! The video is unfortunately filmed off of the hybrid system’s Handheld mode, but there are some minor upgrades to be spotted in the base game itself, chief among them faster loading times compared to its Wii U predecessor.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze banana slamma’s onto Nintendo Switch on May 4, 2018.
Retro Studios rose to fame with their fantastic work on the Metroid Prime series, bringing the classic 2D Nintendo franchise into 3D with critically-acclaimed results. After Prime 3, they switched their focus to another classic Nintendo franchise, reviving Donkey Kong Country with similarly stellar results. It’s been over four years since Tropical Freeze made its debut, and Retro has been quiet ever since, but we may finally have a clue as to what they’ve got cooking.
As spotted on Resetera, a LinkedIn profile for one of Retro’s writers was recently updated with some juicy new tidbits. If the listing is any indication, it sounds like Retro’s next project will be something more story-driven than Donkey Kong. Here’s a blurb describing Retro’s plans for conveying a “compelling story in a meaningful world.”
“Working with a highly skilled team to bridge the gaps between game design needs and telling a compelling story in a meaningful world. Finding the best ways to construct the narrative we want the player to experience with the tools and restrictions available through text, dialogue, and non-traditional storytelling.
* Key team member for collaborative worldbuilding, story construction, and IP development.
* Point of contact for supplemental prose writing.
* Special focus on designer collaboration for player experience storytelling.”
Another blurb elaborates a little further, citing “Narrative specializations in worldbuilding, character development, design integration, non-linear storytelling, prose fiction.” Phrases like “non-linear storytelling” and “worldbuilding” could suggest that Retro’s title will be heavy on exploration, allowing players to discover the story in different orders, much like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Will this be a game world we’re familiar with already, or will Nintendo give Retro a break from reviving classic franchises and allow them to try their hand at something new? What do you hope to see next from Retro Studios? Leave your comments below!
During January’s mini Nintendo Direct we learned that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is headed to Nintendo Switch with new content, including a playable Funky Kong that makes the game much easier. Tropical Freeze received solid review scores on Wii U, but it never reached the sales success of its predecessor thanks to Wii U’s limited install base.
The tough-as-nails platformer will see new life on Switch, but unfortunately it won’t see a new price tag. Nintendo now has an official web page for the game’s Switch release, and it includes the option to preorder a physical copy of the game. Nintendo lists multiple retailers, such as GameStop and Amazon, and they all currently list a $59.99 price tag.
It’s not all that surprising that Tropical Freeze costs the same on Switch as it did on Wii U, but it’s still a little disappointing. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also charged $60, but it had more original content on Switch than Tropical Freeze does, including multiple new battle modes. Still, playing Tropical Freeze both at home and on the go is a handy improvement. Do you think it’s a fair price point, or should Nintendo charge less the second time around?
It has been ten years since Metroid Prime 3, and seven years since the last mainline Metroid title as a whole with Other M. But now, prayers have been answered and worries have been laid to rest, as Nintendo’s beloved sci-fi action series is coming back in full force.
Although all we have to go by is a short teaser, Nintendo has nonetheless announced in today’s presentation that Metroid Prime 4 is on the way for Nintendo Switch, presumably being developed by Retro Studios once again (update: it has since been confirmed by Nintendo that Retro Studios is not behind MP4). Check out the trailer above, and share your thoughts with us in the comments!
In addition to the rumblings that a new 3D Mario and updated versions of Splatoon and Mario Kart will launch early in Switch’s life cycle, Rogers claims we can expect a new Pokémon game (previously reported by MCV), Pikmin 4, a new IP, and the next game from Retro Studios all in the first year. We also know that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is planned to release in year one (although perhaps not at launch), and we’ve also heard that Skyrim could be a launch title as well.
None of this information is officially confirmed by Nintendo at this point (aside from Breath of the Wild launching sometime in 2017) and as with all rumors, we advise a healthy dose of skepticism. That said, that could be one hell of a lineup if it proves to be true!
No ChannelImages Our Verdict
@ArcadeGirl64 3D Mario + Zelda + Pokemon + Mario Kart + Splatoon + New IP + Retro Studios game + Pikmin 4…that's first 12 months of Switch