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Former Retro dev on studio struggles during the creation of Metroid Prime, says Echoes' multiplayer should have never happened

A portion of a ShineSparkers interview with Jack Mathews, former Technical Lead Engineer on the first three Metroid Prime games

SS: Developing one of the greatest video games ever made can’t have been a completely smooth ride. Can you tell us of any significant problems that came up in development, or disagreements within Retro?

JM: On Prime 1 specifically, Retro was kind of this thing that was exploding all around us. During the development of the game, Retro got cut in half, then cut in half again. Between that and all the leaks that were being reported at the time, we just tried to put our heads down and show everyone we could make a great game as a team. It was kind of a “fuck the haters” mentality, especially after the E3 redemption.

SS: Why do you think that Echoes’ multiplayer mode should never have happened? It would be interesting to hear what you feel could have been done differently.

JM: Well, I just feel that the game should have been either one or the other. Metroid Prime Hunters did this really well – it knew it was a multiplayer game and spent all its marbles there. When we started development on Prime 2, multiplayer was actually going to be the focus (I think we internally thought of the project as Metroid Prime 1.5). We were even going to have the ability to play as a Space Pirate and have things like wall grabs and such.

As we moved back towards a primarily single-player focus, we should have ditched multiplayer altogether. There was a ton of effort put forth to make multiplayer happen: we had to actually author third person Samus animations, we had to have support for multiple “players” in a game world, we needed to author all new lower quality effects, add game modes, et cetera et cetera. It’s all work that took quality and mindshare away from the single player.

Plus, as a Metroid fan, I just feel like single-player is how the IP should stay – seeing multiple people run around as Samus never felt right.

Comments

I had fun playing it if that makes them feel better

luthlexor
Mon Jan 22 18 05:18pm
Rating: 1

And also for what it's worth, Prime 2's single player never felt rushed to me. It's a great game, and one that I think beats out 3. Sometimes a bigger budget and more time doesn't make a better game - better ideas make better games.

hamr
Mon Jan 22 18 05:23pm
Rating: 2

"Prime 2 Multiplayer. That should have never happened"

I feel the same way about the Prime 3 Singleplayer.

kuro
Mon Jan 22 18 05:36pm
Rating: 2

Still better than Prime 2's Singleplayer.

csp
Mon Jan 22 18 05:41pm
Rating: 2

prime 3 single player was weaker overall with more focus on shooting than exploring compared to the other two, the ship gimmick was really a gimmick and there were a few instances where retro broke their own rules by having endless respawn of enemies until you finish your objective. That last part was what annoyed me the most

"SAYS ECHOES' MULTIPLAYER SHOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPENED"

echoing that! (no pun intended) any game where you ALL play as samus was just plain wrong to be put in the final game in that form. the concept was solid though.

Why's that? Having illogical multiplayer modes tacked on is kind of traditional in games. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS), Resident Evil: Revelations (every system ever released ever), and Drakan: Order of the Flame (PC) spring readily to mind. Hey, that Zelda Four Swords story was pretty contrived, wasn't it?

Idk I just feel that Prime 3 had a more memorable, and better experience overall than Metroid Prime 2 (still a good game tho). I always found the environments in 2 to be too similar and uninteresting up until you reach the Santuary Fortress (Torvus Bog being the worst imo). The beams needing ammo was a hindrance a lot of times, especially during boss battles. I didn't have a problem with the dark world, but there where times where it was annoying I died since I couldn't find/reach a light spot (thankfully you get the light suit). Also lore wise it wasn't has interesting as the others.

I agree that exploring was weaker in 3 tho. The game is for the most part linear. It also had those dumb wii remote gimmicks (twist this!, pull that! ). But I still found its world/lore, gameplay(excluding exploration) and its structure more enjoyable than 2. Ofc both aren't as good as Metroid Prime 1 (which I think a lot of people consider there favorite).

Third parts are always harder than seconds. The first establishes the concept, the second expands and deepens the foundation and by the third part you go weird or parodic. Like DKC, Dino Crisis, Halo (with it's Mario Kart final section), I think also Modern Warfare 3 tried to raise the stakes in a ridiculous way also.

Still, it was one of the few that pushed the Wii's features and limitations. It gave closure to the "Metroid Prime". And was a more tolerable VA than the game that followed and at least you didn't had to wait after credits to be able to explore the worlds. Also a better batmobile IMO.

"Still, it was one of the few that pushed the Wii's features"

File that one under 'Part of the Problem'.

"And was a more tolerable VA than the game that followed"

Way worse character models, tho.

File that one under 'Part of the Problem'.

Hehehe. It'll be interesting to see what sort of features the next one will push. The physics engine from BotW? The gyro sensor? The IR camera? Or a cardboard hand cannon?

Way worse character models, tho.

Better environmental design than Echoes and the first game. Though to be fair not as interconnected as the first too. Still pretty.

"Or a cardboard hand cannon?"

As long as we get to use it to shoot Space Pirates instead of soldering random wall panels, that would be... acceptable.

"Better environmental design than Echoes and the first game."

Eh, I do not think I can agree with that.

Environmental art design might be more consistently good due to being on stronger hardware, but even with all the extra geometry, Corruption's best-looking areas do not hold a candle to Sanctuary Fortress or Phendrana Drifts.

Sky City seemed like an Steampunked Sanctuary Fortress. and while small it was nice seeing the obvious callback to Phendrana Drift. The space pirate homeworld seem all around original as a new location, and the G.F.S. Valhalla, and other research labs had the splotches of creepiness the series did had. If anything the only area it lacked was something like the Torvus Bog.

But then again I presume you'll prefer if those areas were more dense. But then again the fact they were more linear made them more visually distinct, not only thematically but also in the architecture and and in regards to the mechanical devices.

"Sky City seemed like an Steampunked Sanctuary Fortress. and while small it was nice seeing the obvious callback to Phendrana Drift."

Bryyo Ice has a similar theme to Phendrana Drifts, but I do not really think it looks as good as the latter.

Skytown's art direction is probably my least favorite in the game. Steampunk as an aesthetic does not really do much for me, and they cranked the game's already excessive use of bloom lighting into overdrive. :​-x

"But then again the fact they were more linear made them more visually distinct"

Strong disagree. The fact that outside of the Pirate Homeworld they are almost all giant flat hallways arranged in straight lines makes them less visually distinct than if there were actual variety or verticality to the layouts.

but I do not really think it looks as good as the latter.

I think that one was more of a callback than an attempt to improve on the one before.

are almost all giant flat hallways arranged in straight lines makes them less visually distinct than if there were actual variety or verticality to the layouts.

I think in that sense, Skytown is the one with the most going up and down, over, and inside of the bunch. Like in this room:

"I think that one was more of a callback than an attempt to improve on the one before."

Their intent has no bearing on how it feels for me to run through that place, tho.

"I think in that sense, Skytown is the one with the most going up and down"

The map data does not really seem to support that.

http://metroid.retropixel.net/games/mprime3/metroidprime3_map_skytown.jpg

Very, very few rooms are on top of one another or have much in the way of traversable height.

Those awful ziplines that Samus has to take almost everywhere give the impression of curving around a bit and going up/down, but ultimately each one ends at roughly the same elevation and the turns are never all that wide because the space available is always limited by the map boiling down to an extremely narrow long straight line.

Spoiler

"Like in this room"

Concourse is probably the best room in that stage in terms of having actual verticality and multiple entrances and stuff, but by my count getting there looks like it requires going through a minimum of 18 long straight lines and a loading screen. :-​x

I‘ve played the multiplayer alot back then and I am very happy that it exists!

Why, oh why was there never a 3d Metroid game for Wii U? The gamepad was SCREAMING for it! Well, the scanning at least.

*grumble*

Scanning my Wii U games shelf, I don't think we needed another "Wii U GamePad as scanner" game. o_o;

Yes we did and Metroid U would have been the perfect fit!

Sounds like someone thought "Samus kinda looks like Master Chief right? Let's make Metroid but Halo"

I don't get the hate for Metroid Prime 3. It was, in some ways, the most fun of the trilogy to me. Yes, it was "stripped down", but I really enjoyed it. MUCH more than 2, that's for sure.

Also, it really sucks that they didn't get to go with the "Bounty Hunter" bit. That would have added a whole other dimension to the game, and we never HAVE actually gotten to play Samus being what she IS: A Bounty Hunter. You can call it "Space Hunter" all you want, Nintendo. The fact is, she is a free agent, who takes jobs FROM the Federation, for bounties. Bounty Hunter. Actually playing that as maybe a side part of the story, would have been awesome.

socar
Tue Jan 23 18 06:54am
Rating: 1 (Updated 1 time)

Plus, as a Metroid fan, I just feel like single-player is how the IP should stay – seeing multiple people run around as Samus never felt right.

And that's why nobody likes Federation Force....

captaincolon
Tue Jan 23 18 05:52pm
(Updated 1 time)

I did! :D
I convinced a couple friends to get it, and we beat it in co-op. The thing is though, none of us gives a crap about Metroid as a franchise. We just wanted something we could play together, and for that, Federation Force did its job.
I think it got a lot of unnecessary hate, kinda like that cardboard crap they're trying to sell now.

I can understand why Metroid fans dislike it, though. I'm an Animal Crossing addict with over 6,000 hours put into New Leaf across multiple towns on different systems (including Japanese and Korean versions) but I dislike every spin-off they've done. Happy Home Academy, Amiibo Festival and now this crappy phone game, Pocket Camp. They're all garbage and not at all what I like about Animal Crossing.

I freakin love prime 2, for me it is: prime 1 > 2 > 3
and the hardest for me was 2

I think most if not all people agree that 2 was the hardest (they even made it easier for the Trilogy game)

I remember playing the multiplayer with a friend of mine. It wasn't that good; they should have just kept it single-player. And he's right about the series as a whole: it should stay single-player.

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