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God of War dev joins Retro, working as an environment designer on Metroid Prime 4

Another big name joins the team

Retro has been adding countless high profile developers to their roster to help bring Metroid Prime 4 to life, and their latest grab certainly comes with an impressive resume.

Jon Marcella, who was a part of Sony Santa Monica for quite some time, has jumped ship over to Retro. Marcella previously worked on the most recent God of War title, as well as God of War: Ascension, but now he's turning his focus to Samus Aran. Marcella has taken on the job of environment designer for Metroid Prime 4.

Retro Studios hires Warhawk dev as Director of Development

More experienced devs are being recruited

Retro Studios has brought on another FPS-developing veteran to help with Metroid Prime 4.

As reported by VGC, Dylan Jobe has been hired as the Director of Development, tasking him with specific work on schedule, scope, and product quality. Jobe has 25 years of experience under his belt, with previous positions including the Director of Warhawk (2007), and various development on Doom, Twisted Metal, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare remastered.

Retro Studios looking to hire a lead producer for Metroid Prime 4

Retro has been looking to fill a number of positions at their company for awhile now, all to help work on Metroid Prime 4 in one way or another. Now the company is looking to add a Lead Producer to their ranks.

The company posted up the listing in May of 2020, but only just tweeted about it now. As you might guess, a lead producer doesn't have much of anything to do with development, but works to make sure all teams are working together and schedules are being met. You can check out full details on the listing here.

Latest Sakurai column discusses childhood and games that shaped him


The latest Masahiro Sakurai column is here, and Sephazon has a translation prepared for us to enjoy. The new opinion piece discusses Sakurai's childhood as well as games that shaped him. The translation, once again, is courtesy of Sephazon...

Kirby recently turned 28, and I’ve now been creating games for over 30 years. It’s recently made want to try and write about how games touched me as a child.

The Invader Boom [Space Invaders critical success in Japan] was in 1978-1979. At the time, I was 8. Sometime between then and when I was 12, the Famicom was released. I was in elementary school at the time.

There was a local supermarket called ‘Chujitsuya’ – the Higashi Yamato branch. On Sundays, my family and I would go shopping there. Although it is unthinkable now, when I was a child, I was free to wander away from my parents. Even though we didn’t have cell phones, I was able to be left alone. Being on time was crucial.

First, my parents would give me 200 yen. While they shopped, schoolboy Sakurai would go straight to the game corner. At the time, the Chujitsuya game corner was always bringing out the latest games. I could enjoy a variety of things to play.

Table cabinets were the main feature, but larger arcade cabinets and eventually a laser disc system were also introduced. I think there were many Taito games. It cost 50 yen to play one game, so I had four chances to play. I carefully considered my options.

When I ran out of money, I went to a hobby shop on another floor, with demos of the newest games. The Famicom is seen as a founder, but many consoles preceded it – TV Vader, Atari, Intellivision, Arkadia, Vectrex. The first console I ever had was the Nintendo TV Color Game 15.

I also tried LSI games, such as the Game & Watch. I played around with PCs at the Pancon (Maicon at the time) counter. It was a time where boundries were nebulous, so programmable models were sometimes available in store, with keyboards such as the M5, Tomy Tutor and MSX.

But of course, while fully immersed in playing, my parents would finish shopping and come pick me up. A story of a time long passed...

I often visited Tachikawa, which was pretty close to my house and has long been a busy shopping district. There were often video game and radio-controlled competitions. Sometimes I’d participate, and sometimes I’d go home, hands full of prizes. My skills seemed pretty good.

I was playing arcade games and consumer electronics before they were called that. Of course, I regularly went to the Game Center, and would rent Famicom games. By the time I was 10 years old, it was too late for me to learn the culture of hanging out at the candy store.

These days, one game is large enough be played for a long time. Back then, however, games were developed by small teams, and they were quickly released.

Every time I went to the game corner, I would see something new. Arcades were strong, and the ability to play those arcade games at home on consumer electronics [video game consoles, computers, et cetera] was quite attractive.

Every game and piece of technology glimmered in my eyes. It was blinding. It might be childish to look back on it now, but there were many surprises and I was always having fun. I will never forget these games that touched me when I was just a kid!

GoNintendo Thought: The pressure on Retro Studios with Metroid Prime 4 is immense

Metroid Prime 4 is likely the most high-profile game Nintendo fans are waiting to see, outside of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2. There's a LOT of pressure on Retro to deliver, and I thought I'd take a dive into that. As always, thanks for reading.

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Nintendo fans are always eager to see what the Big N is doing next with their franchises. Nintendo has built an unbelievable library of software over the last 40+ years, and they somehow always seem to deliver. There's a reason why Nintendo's characters are beloved and long-running. Nintendo and their partners put an ungodly amount of time and care into these experiences, making sure they're not only fun to play, but that they also feel like a Nintendo game. Whatever that magic behind-the-scenes formula is works, and Nintendo continues to wow fans with sequels to this day.

There's always pressure on any developer when coming up with a title, but things are a little different when it comes to Nintendo. More often than not, devs are working with franchises that have been growing for decades now, and have received some of the highest marks and rewards the industry has to offer. The weight of that success has to weigh quite heavy on all involved when a new installment is being cooked up. Nintendo often does a lot of the heavy lifting themselves, but they also partner up with a select few companies to help them achieve things they might not be capable of on their own. Case in point, Nintendo's second party partner, Retro.

As far as gaming goes, Retro really hasn't been around super long. They came into existence in 1998, and they officially hooked up with Nintendo to work on Metroid Prime in 2000. That said, Retro certainly proved that they were up to snuff when it came to developing. Working alongside Nintendo, they created the Metroid Prime series, which is one of the most highly-praised and lauded runs in Nintendo's history. Nintendo themselves said that Metroid Prime wasn't something they felt they could tackle on their own, and they wanted a Western dev to work with to achieve the next step for the Metroid series. Right out of the gate, Retro proved they could be that partner, and set an incredibly high standard for themselves.

Ever since, Retro has been doing phenomenal work. They continued to work with the Prime series to create two more stellar installments, and then shifted things over to the Donkey Kong Country series. While Metroid Prime took Samus in a new direction, Donkey Kong Country Returns was the return to a classic gameplay formula for Nintendo. Once again Retro took the reigns, and what they cranked out was beyond impressive. While Retro proved they could head in a bold new direction with the Prime series, their work on Donkey Kong Country titles showed they could not only emulate past experiences to great success, but innovate with them as well. Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze not only feel like the classic DKC series, they actually surpass the classics in some ways. Nailing that feeling while providing new experiences, all while not breaking the vibe...it's ridiculously impressive work from Retro.

Metroid and Donkey Kong...that's the body of work from Retro so far. They've done a bit of work here and there for Nintendo on other titles, but haven't taken the lead on a project since Tropical Freeze launched. Many have been eager to see what Retro could do with something brand new, or perhaps how they could innovate with another classic Nintendo franchise. For awhile there, we got to speculate on what Retro could be doing next, as things were extremely quiet. We still aren't quite sure what Retro was doing for a number of years there, but we certainly know what they're doing now. Retro is returning to the Metroid series for another Prime installment, and it's likely going to be their most anticipated and important title ever.

Nintendo was trying out something experimental with the development of Metroid Prime 4, and it just didn't pan out. In a very surprising move for Nintendo, they released a video statement on the game's development. Rather than hiding the behind-the-scenes troubles, Nintendo confirmed that Metroid Prime 4 needed to be completely retooled from the beginning. The project would start fresh once more, and Nintendo was bringing Retro in to pick up the mantle once again. This was met with an absolutely huge groundswell of support from fans, as they'd been dying to see the Prime series continue with its original developers.

This is where things get interesting, though. Yes, Retro has worked on three Metroid Prime titles, but that was Retro as of 2007. Its been 13 long years since Retro created a new installment in the Metroid Prime series, and the company has seen a lot of turnover since those days. Countless devs who were instrumental in creating the Prime installments have since moved on to other companies, and in some cases, even opened their own studios. There are still some developers within Retro who were a part of those Prime games, but by and large, Metroid Prime 4 is going to be the creation of a Retro that's in flux.

Could the new Retro tackle this project with ease? Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is proof positive that a more recent Retro Studios is more than capable of creating a AAA experience. Again, there's sure to be a number of employees who've left the company since Tropical Freeze's days, but it does give us a more recent snapshot of the company. There's talent there, and with Nintendo's guidance and oversight, there's a very good shot they could crank out a 4th installment in the Prime series that really wows. That said, there's another element to this saga that needs to be addressed, and it's the one that really piles on the pressure.

Back in 2010, Nintendo released Metroid: Other M, which was a collaboration with Team Ninja. Metroid: Other M was a bold departure from the Prime series of games in just about every way. The gameplay took things back to a more 2D-style approach, albeit with plenty of 3D areas to explore. Gameplay was focused on quick-paced action and fancy moves, rather than the more methodical and calculated approach of the Prime games. When it came to story, Metroid: Other M was jam-packed with voiced cut-scenes and melodrama, where as most of the Prime series let the story play out through the environments and isolation aspect, with a few story beats sprinkled in.

Metroid: Other M was given lukewarm-to-good reviews by the gaming press, but that was nothing compared to the reaction from fans around the world. Longtime followers of Samus and her journeys were not happy with the game at all. While there were gripes about certain gameplay elements, it was the story aspect that really rubbed fans the wrong way. Samus went from a stoic, self-assured bounty hunter to a character that seemed extremely insecure and wishy-washy. The story itself was filled with characters that seemed at odds with the franchise before it, and it all played out as something akin to a lackluster anime. It was not the story fans wanted, it wasn't the portrayal of Samus they expected, and it left an absolutely massive black mark on the Metroid series altogether.

Regardless of how you personally feel about Metroid: Other M, there's no denying a huge backlash followed the game. That point in time for Nintendo marked a turn for Metroid that is still being felt today. With so many fans let down by Other M, they were now more eager than ever for Nintendo to provide a new installment in the Prime series. As the months went on, calls for a new Prime only grew, and fans were becoming restless. They wanted to know what Retro was up to, and why a new installment in the series hadn't been announced.

Unfortunately for Nintendo, things went from bad to worse with Samus' next game, Metroid Prime: Federation Force. After waiting 5 years for a new Metroid game, Nintendo's reveal of Metroid Prime: Federation Force took fan rage to a whole new level. Metroid Prime: Federation Force was a spin-off for the Metroid franchise that played something like a Monster Hunter game in the Metroid universe. The focus was on 4-player co-op with missions and boss battles. Fans made it extremely clear that this is not what they wanted, nor was it what they were waiting for. This release only made the calls for Prime 4 that much louder, and the rage from fans more intense.

Side note: Personally, I greatly enjoyed Metroid Prime: Federation Force. I never thought it deserved the negative backlash it received...at least not to the degree it got. I feel the reaction to that game was more about fan expectations of what should come next, rather than how the game itself was. I still feel bad the game never got a shot with some fans, but it is what it is.

While the reaction to Metroid Prime: Federation Force only served to enrage fans more, we've since seen one more Metroid game release in Metroid: Samus Returns. Again, while this wasn't the new Prime game people wanted, it was at least more of a return to form for Samus. Metroid: Samus Returns was a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus on Game Boy, and it was much improved compared to the original. It also had a lot more in the way of the atmosphere fans expect from a Metroid title. While it released a tad late in the 3DS' lifespan, those who did play the game seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. It wasn't the big fix that Metroid fans needed, but it was a nice band-aid to cover up the wound.

That journey brings us up to today. We're 13 years removed from the last Metroid Prime game, and the anger that stemmed from Metroid: Other M can still be felt. There's pressure in creating any sequel, but the amount that's flying around Metroid Prime 4 is extremely dense. I think it's safe to say there's never been more pressure on Nintendo and Retro to deliver. There was certainly concern about Metroid Prime before it came out, as it was something completely new for the series. That said, there was also excitement about the new direction, and early coverage did a ton to assuage fears. We were also living in a different time, and social media wasn't a thing. Developers didn't have a live-stream of all the anger, hate, and worries of every gamer around the world, which only intensifies the situation today.

We often wonder if games can live up to the hype. Nintendo has done an excellent job of somehow managing to meet the hype, if not surpass it time and time again. The same goes for Retro, which has knocked it out of the park with everything they've touched. Can the two sides team up once again to create a masterpiece in Metroid Prime 4? It's certainly possible, and Nintendo will no doubt make sure this next outing for Samus does a lot to repair the damaged relationship with fans. You can bet Retro will be doing their best as well, going out of their way to not just deliver the game fans want, but give us some new things we haven't even thought about. No matter how Prime 4 is received, no one will be able to say the final result comes from two teams that didn't try.

Metroid Prime 4 is easily the most important release in the Metroid series to date. What happens with the franchise from here on out is going to depend on Prime 4's success. The restarted development process is pressure enough, and would make for an interesting story in and of itself. Throw in the fan disappointment with the series in recent years and the immense amount of time that's passed, and it's hard to imagine a more stressful situation. In the eyes of most fans, Metroid Prime 4 needs to right the Metroid ship.

We'll most likely see something about Metroid Prime 4 in the not-too-distant future. That's no doubt a moment Nintendo and Retro are quite worried about. They need to show something that's absolutely pitch perfect. Until then, us fans would do well to step back, take a deep breath, and be ready to take in what we see with a level head. Hopefully whatever we're shown will wow us. It's happened before with the Metroid series, and it can certainly happen again.

RUMOR - Concept art surfaces for cancelled Sheik/Gerudo and Boo projects from Retro Studios

Oh, what could have been...

Looks like we have the motherload of content on some rumors Retro projects that were cancelled years and years ago, all thanks to the gang at Shinesparkers.

A gallery of concept art from Sammy Hall, a former Retro pre-production artist, has just been discovered online, and it contains all sorts of interesting art and blurbs from Hall himself. First up is a cancelled Zelda spin-off title, which is a rumor we've heard floating around for years now.

The game was in the works sometime during 2005 to 2008, and it would have focused on the origin story of the Master Sword. The game would have taken place during the bad ending of Ocarina of Time, and would play as an action/JRPG where you follow the last Sheik while Dark Gerudo are attempting their 100-year birth to Ganon. According to Hall, this project never made it past pre-production.

Along with that, Hall also shared art for a cancelled Boo project, which was tossed around during 2006 to 2007. According to some of the tidbits mentioned by Hall, it seems this would have been a project for a portable, most likely the DS. The art makes references to “possession powers” and “Broomies”, alongside a sketch of what looks to be a world map.

If you want to see more concept art for the Zelda project, you can see a number of images in Hall's portfolio here.

Thanks to NintenDaan for the heads up!

Retro Studios snags former Crysis 3 and New Super Lucky's Tale devs

Two more for Retro

Retro Studios keeps bringing on new staffers, which will most likely offer up their talents to Metroid Prime 4. The latest hirings from the company include devs who previously worked on Crysis 3 and New Super Lucky's Tale.

First up is New Super Lucky’s Tale designer Mark Capers, who worked at Playful. He's followed by James Beech, a designer who worked on Crysis 3, DC Universe Online and the cancelled Eternal Darkness 2. Both Capers and Beech will take on the role of environment designers at Retro

Former Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst and Battlefield V dev joins Retro

Welcome to the team!

Jhony Ljungstedt, art director on Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst and Battlefield V, has announced that he's left his position at DICE to join up with Retro. He shared the following message about his departure.

“Today was my last day at DICE and it’s with mixed feelings I’m leaving something that’s been part of my life for such a long time. It’s been great journey and I feel privileged to have got the chance to work with all the talented people at DICE, you will all be missed… Now I’m ready for a new chapter in my life, and looking forward to my new journey at Retro Studios.”

Retro Studios was looking for an Art Director all the way back in December 2018, which they did end up saying was for Metroid Prime 4. While we don't know what position Ljungstedt is taking at Retro, he certainly seems like a good fit for the job.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze lead designer may have returned to Retro

What will he be working on

Stephen Dupree, the lead designer of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, left Retro two years ago. He spent those two years at Playful Corp working on New Super Lucky's Tale, but now it seems like his time at that studio has wrapped as well.

Reports have come in stating that Dupree has returned to work at Retro, where he should feel right at home. Besides Tropical Freeze, Dupree worked on Donkey Kong Country Returns and Mario Kart 7. This time around, Dupree will be serving as a principle game designer, although we don't know what project he's working on.

More than half of the core team that worked on Metroid Prime 3: Corruption still hold positions at Retro

The last developers are in captivity

After a false start, we now know that Retro is tackling Metroid Prime 4 for Switch. Tons of fans were happy to hear this, but just who is still a part of Retro that has any ties to the previous Metroid Prime games? A bit of research by VideoGamesChronicle shows that roughly 50 people made up the core team for Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and of that team, 27 remain at employed at Retro. Diving a bit deeper, 5 of Metroid Prime 3’s 11 designers are still part of the team.

If you go all the way back to the first Metroid Prime, we see that less than 10 members of the 40+ team still hold a position at Retro as of today.

Obviously, we don't know who at Retro is tackling Metroid Prime 4, and if any of the devs with experience from the previous entries are tied to the upcoming project. With that said, Retro rarely makes missteps, so I think it's safe to say that the game is in good hands.

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