Metroid Prime 4 was officially teased at last year's E3 with just a logo, and the only known fact about the Nintendo Switch exclusive is that it's not being developed by original trilogy's creators, the Austin-based Retro Studios, but by a to-be-announced "talented new development team", once again supervised by veteran producer Kensuke Tanabe.
Retro Studios has changed a lot after releasing the final entry of the first person adventure trilogy (Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Wii) more than a decade ago, and a lot of their talent moved to other studios in the rather active local scene. The team itself also showed interest in moving forward with something fresh, hence the acclaimed reboot for Donkey Kong Country, and offering dev support for franchises such as Mario Kart, everything created by the studio in the last few years have been shrouded in mystery.
One of those who was there at the time but left, one of the main heads of the beloved originals, was Technical Lead Engineer Jack Mathews, who has now taken a look back at the Gamecube times with Shinesparkers.
"For me, it was maintaining 60 fps. This was not just about programming, but about discipline, both on Engineering and Art", explains the engineer when asked about the main challenge, as that smooth framerate was as key to the experience as not much seen at the time. To achieve that, several measures were in place, checking that "every artist was running the game on the console, that QA had the tools to spot and surface frame rate issues, and honestly me just being a total asshole all the time about fps".
Mathews also shares in a pretty outspoken way what he felt when Metroid Prime 4 was announced last year. This was his honest reaction:
"My initial feeling was this weird, petty anger. Anger that Nintendo would have the gall to give Metroid Prime to someone else. I felt like Metroid Prime *was* Retro, so I reflexively thought of it as being a weird slap in the face, even though I hadn't been part of Retro for like 8 years."
However, the tech-savvy is also looking forward to whatever that secret team will come up with on the Switch, as Retro themselves came out of nowhere back then:
"Soon after, it dawned on me that my attitude was totally childish and that Retro itself was just a weird unknown bunch of screw-ups when we GOT Metroid, so it may be nice to see what a fresh team with fresh eyes does with it. Now I'm just in 'wait and see' mode. No matter what, though, I know that when it comes out I'll blow the dust off the ol' Switch and give it a whirl."
The complete interview unveils more on Retro Studios' Gamecube era even prior to the release of Metroid Prime.
What are your thoughts on franchises switching developers? And was there really an option for Nintendo here?