Retro Studios is now confirmed to not be involved in Metroid Prime 4‘s development for Nintendo Switch. To say that information regarding Metroid Prime 4 is a rarity right now would be a gross understatement, but Nintendo did at least release this bit of information: Metroid Prime 4 is being developed by a new team. Bill Trinen of Nintendo of America clarified that series producer Kensuke Tanabe is returning, but he’ll be part of a wholly new team rather than working with Retro.
Here’s Nintendo’s short description regarding Metroid Prime 4‘s development team and direction:
“The project is being led by series producer Kensuke Tanabe and a talented new development team. Together they are hard at work bringing the action, isolation and exploration of the Metroid Prime universe to life on the Nintendo Switch.”
The statement leaves a lot to the imagination. After all, Nintendo has had its producers work with third-party studios on games in the past. It’s possible that Metroid Prime 4 is being developed outside of Nintendo, though it’s more likely that it’s being made internally by a new team after the controversy from Metroid: Other M.
For those unfamiliar, Retro Studios was the developer that built the Metroid Prime trilogy. While the studio wasn’t founded purely to make Metroid Prime, it quickly became its sole focus, yet since the trilogy’s relaunch on the Wii in 2009, the studio’s transitioned to a Donkey Kong Country focus instead. In 2014 Retro finished Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, but has since gone silent on what it’s working on. That’s largely why many expected Metroid Prime 4 to be developed by Retro when it was announced, but that’s clearly no longer the case.
Yet the split between Retro Studios and Metroid Prime isn’t as surprising as it may seem. Kensuke Tanabe, who worked with Retro Studios throughout the years of the Metroid Prime trilogy, left the studio to work with Next Level Games on Metroid Prime: Federation Force. Rumors have since swirled that another producer had taken Tanabe’s place. Yoshio Sakamoto, another Metroid veteran, is rumored to have started working with Retro on a completely unrelated project.
So, while the news that Metroid Prime 4 isn’t being made by Retro may seem disappointing, fans can still trust that the game is being made with a Metroid Prime veteran at the helm. As for Retro, its current project is certainly worth looking forward to.
Metroid Prime 4 is planned for release exclusively on Nintendo Switch. No current release window has been revealed, so look forward to more information in the months to come.