The wait for Metroid Prime 4 just got a whole lot longer — but if the finished product turns out anything like its predecessors in the Metroid Prime series, it’s a wait that may end up being well worth it.
In a move that appears to show Nintendo’s interested in quality as well as quantity, the Mario maker has reportedly halted development on Metroid Prime 4 in order to switch (no pun) the project over to a studio with a pedigree in showing Samus Aran at her best: Retro Studios, the developer responsible for Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
The move means that Metroid Prime 4 essentially will have its development rebooted, according to the development update/apology below. Put simply, Nintendo is taking the project down to the studs and starting over.
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“We have decided to have the producer, Kensuke Tanabe, work in trust and collaboration with the studio that developed the original Metroid Prime series, Retro Studios in the United States, and restart development from the beginning,” Nintendo’s senior managing executive officer, Shinya Takahashi, said. This change was driven by the results that the studio developing the game previously (even that fact is still nebulous) was giving Nintendo.
“Although this is very regrettable, we must let you know that the current development progress has not reached the standards we seek in a sequel to the Metroid Prime series,” Takahashi said. “We have determined that the current development status of the game is very challenged, and we had to make a difficult decision as a development team.” In order to keep the new Metroid Prime game up to the lauded efforts of the past, it seems that Nintendo is going to make fans wait — possibly a long time, since two gaming console generations have already passed since the third game."
The long-in-development fourth entry in the Prime series has had some intense problems, and progress updates from Nintendo have been scarce since the game was first announced. And while the move may be discouraging to those eager for the game to arrive, it’s a sign that Nintendo recognizes Retro Studios’ unique and proven gift for giving fans new Metroid experiences while remaining faithful to the spirit of the franchise.
Retro created a sensation when the U.S.-based studio took over the reins to bring Metroid into the 3D era with the 2002 release of Metroid Prime. That game garnered near-universal acclaim from fans and critics, and demonstrated that one of Nintendo’s most sacred franchises was in capable hands despite being made, for the first time, outside the Japanese development culture.
“We did not make this decision lightly,” Takahashi said. “This change will essentially mean restarting development from the beginning, so the completion of the game will be delayed from our initial internal plan. We strongly recognize that this delay will come as a disappointment to the many fans who have been looking forward to the launch of Metroid Prime 4.” While prizing quality over speed is certainly admirable and often representative of Nintendo as a company, fans may get sick of holding out for the beloved series — especially if development ends up taking longer than the life cycle of the Nintendo Switch.
— SYFY WIRE's Benjamin Bullard contributed to this report.