Metroid fans everywhere have been playing the waiting game since E3 2017, where the first glimpse of Metroid Prime 4 was showcased to the world. Since its announcement and subsequent project restart in early 2019, Metroid Prime 4 has remained dormant for over a year. For such a highly vaunted title, concrete details are sparse.
The Official Timeline
Metroid Prime 4 was revealed to the world during E3 2017, though, “revealed” is an overstatement. All Metroid fans had was a shiny new logo plastered onto a black background, with the number “4” glowing ominously, before the screen faded out.
Tantalizing, yes, but it was the only proof fans had that the game existed. After the announcement, it was confirmed by Bill Trinen, Director of Product Marketing at NoA, that the game was not being developed by Retro Games, the studio that handled the Prime Trilogy. Still, the project would be overseen and produced by Kensuke Tanabe, the producer of previous Metroid titles.
In 2018, Eurogamer claimed Prime 4 was being developed by Bandai Namco Studios of Japan and Singapore, including previous LucasArts staff who had worked on the canned Star Wars 1313 game.
Further in 2018, Nintendo President Reggie Fils-Aime continued giving statements about Metroid Prime 4, how it was “well into development” and “proceeding well”. The lack of concrete details or footage of any kind, however, especially at E3 2018, began to make fans think otherwise. The official statement by Trinen in regards to the lack of E3 footage is as follows:
“…We show things when we think we’re ready to show them. And when we think we’re ready to show Metroid Prime, we’ll show Metroid Prime… We’ll share more Metroid Prime 4 when we have something we think is going to wow people.”
Metroid Prime 4 would then continue to remain silent until early 2019. In an official Metroid Prime 4 update video, Nintendo EPD general manager Shinya Takahashi announced that development on Prime 4 had been restarted.
Takahashi stated that development under the previous studio had not met Nintendo’s standards, and development would now be handed over to Retro Studios, the former development of the Prime trilogy. Producer Tanabe would stay on board.
On April 26, 2019, Retro announced they were hiring “world-class developers” to join Prime 4, ranging from art directors, product testers, IT engineers, gameplay engineers, etc. All these job listings were gone by late 2019, meaning Retro found the individuals they were looking for, boding well for the game’s development.
Since then, all has been quiet on the Prime front.
Vision of the Producer
The lack of news hasn’t stopped people internet-wide from speculating what Metroid Prime 4 could feature. Fans have dug around, sifting for potential clues in official statements by staff members and previous games to formulate what Metroid Prime 4 could look like.
Though the last Metroid title was Metroid: Samus Returns, the latest 3D Metroid game to feature Samus was Metroid: Other M.
Other M was praised for its atmosphere, faithful soundtrack, and gameplay, but was heavily criticized for its story, combat restrictions, and, most important of all, its portrayal of Samus Aran. Because of where Other M is on the Metroid chronology (being second to last), Samus characterization was inconsistent with how she acted throughout the course of the series, inviting criticism for how abnormal she behaved throughout the game’s story.
The restriction of certain abilities was also incredibly off-putting to fans of the series, where weapons and gear—and the player’s freedom to mess around with them—are paramount.
Prime 4 will likely steer clear from these problems, as the game places more focus on exploration and combat than a character-driven narrative like Other M did while capitalizing on the series’ strengths.
Though not concrete, Producer Tanabe spoke on what direction he would have liked to take Metroid Prime 4 pre-2017. He stated that he wanted to set the game on a single planet and feature a time-shifting mechanic that players would utilize. Also, since Metroid Prime 4 was a direct sequel to Prime 3, Tanabe touched base on particular story cues on which he wanted to expand.
In Prime 3’s ending, provided the player completed the game with all items obtained, the final cutscene showed Samus flying off into hyperspace with another vessel tailing behind her. The ship belongs to Sylux, a skilled alien bounty hunter and marksman, one with an intense hatred for the Galactic Federation, and an even bigger one for Samus.
Tanabe stated that he wanted to create a story revolving around the two and their vitriolic relationship, wanting the two to cross paths. Tanabe thought it would be a good way to explore Sylux’s mysterious background while throwing Samus into the mix.
The next game could potentially include a mind-boggling time-hopping adventure featuring Samus and a deadly bounty hunter hot on her tail as they try to outfox one another on a foreign planet, featuring all of the insanely powerful and destructive weapons and hostile aliens for which the Metroid universe is known.