Nintendo has officially announced the temporary cancellation of the highly-anticipated Metroid Prime 4. The latest exploits of Samus Aran were set to be one of the cornerstones of Nintendo’s 2019 calendar.
Serving as a long-awaited sequel to the Metroid Prime trilogy that ended in 2007. Fans were rightly excited by the cryptic teaser that debuted back at E3 2017. But those fans will have to wait a little longer.
Not much was known about the project scheduled for release later this year but that’s not unusual for Nintendo. The clandestine giant likes to keep their cards close to their chests and spring announcements on fans.
The mystery surrounding Metroid Prime 4 was lifted with the recent announcement that Nintendo are unhappy with the game. The game is set to undergo redevelopment and will likely be redesigned from the ground up. Setting a release date back several years.
So what went so wrong for Metroid Prime 4 and what does it mean for Nintendo in 2019 as they continue to play catch up.
Samus Aran In Her Prime
The trilogy is widely regarded as a high point for the Metroid series, with the possible exception of Super Metroid. The original entry was released to critical acclaim, receiving multiple game of the year awards.
It not only revitalised interest in a dying series but attracted a new generation of fans to the bounty hunter. The subsequent sequels also garnered an outstanding critical response and were a big hit with fans of the series.
Following the trilogy, Nintendo moved the Metroid series to another third party studio, Team Ninja who developed Metroid: Other M. The game was a notable downturn for the series. Whilst gameplay was still good, Other M was panned for its plot.
The overly emotional narrative was riddled with hamfisted dialogue and packaged in unskippable cutscenes. Some of which lasted as long as 15 minutes and often hampered the momentum of gameplay.
Since then Nintendo has neglected the series somewhat with only a couple of 3DS entries in the last nine years. The first was a spin-off game that went against the themes of the series and the second being a remake of Metroid 2.
Metroid Prime 4 Cancellation
The reveal trailer for Metroid Prime 4 was met with huge excitement from the community and was planned to be a major release for Nintendo. But they recently announced the game is set for a redesign as it does not meet the Nintendo mark of quality.
Like many of Nintendo’s staple franchises, Metroid was outsourced to separate often independent studios for development. It was rumoured to be in development by Bandai Namco which would have represented a significant collaboration.
Regardless after experiencing the completed project for themselves, Nintendo has decided to head back to the drawing board. They have handed over production to Retro Studios who developed the original Metroid Prime trilogy.
Nintendo have continued to have success with the American studio and tasked them with reinventing the Donkey Kong series following their success on Metroid Prime. Retro Studios produced Donkey Kong Country Returns and Tropical Freeze both to critical acclaim.
Strengthening the relationship between them and Nintendo, fans should at least be confident the new game will be worth the wait. Retro Studios has an excellent track record and knows the Metroid Prime series better than anyone.
What Does it Mean for Nintendo?
It’s a huge blow for the industry giant who are still playing catch up to Sony in the console wars following the failure of the Wii U. The Switch has already proved a worthy contender but it’s reliant on landmark exclusives as it cannot support major AAA releases.
Metroid Prime 4 was one of those landmark titles that Nintendo had factored into their 2019 sales plan. It’ll be a huge hit to profits for Nintendo but at least they will retain their signature brand of quality. In a market where £60 games are released in the state that Fallout 76 was, it’s nice to know Nintendo will still put gameplay first.
The news is of course also a blow for Donkey Kong fans. Like Metroid Prime and the original Donkey Kong Country series, Retro Studios were rumoured to deliver a new DK trilogy.
Although there were no confirmed details that a third instalment was even in development, any such plans will surely now be shelved in favour of delivering the delayed Metroid Prime 4. Donkey Kong may get life from another studio but for fans who were already a little disappointed with the Tropical Freeze port for Switch, a new game looks a long way off.
How Will Nintendo Fill The Metroid Void?
Nintendo’s other cornerstones of 2019, Bayonetta 3 and a new Pokemon RPG will be expected to pick up the slack. Little is still known about either project but their success will be crucial to Nintendo’s financial year. The game giant will likely lean heavily into marketing for those titles once details are announced.
The Pokemon title is already available for pre-order in stores so we could be getting that sooner than expected. Nintendo also dropped another surprise announcement in their last direct, that a sequel to Mario Maker will be coming later this year.
Mario Aces and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will also receive continued support throughout the year. Aside from that Nintendo also have Yoshi’s Crafted World, Link’s Awakening and a new Animal Crossing game coming in 2019.