‘Metroid Prime’ began as a gene-stealing title with three protagonists

Nintendo also apparently misunderstood what a bounty hunter was

A series of new interviews have revealed that Metroid Prime started out at Retro Studios under a different name and without the Metroid brand.

YouTube channel DidYouKnowGaming? (via NintendoLife) released a video on Metroid Prime on April 17, with the channel talking to several developers who worked on the game series at Retro Studios. Seven developers were spoken to for the video, including Metroid Prime lead developer John Whitmore.

According to the interviews, the game started out as a 3D title called Meta Force, which starred three female metahumans whose DNA was under threat from a Neo-Nazi eugenicist. Naturally, this wasn’t the direction Metroid Prime ended up going in.


Metroid’s Samus Aran was apparently not part of the original picture for the game, but Nintendo – who part-owned Retro Studios at the time – was said to have liked the game’s original direction, but asked that the three female protagonists be brought down to one.

Nintendo also thought that third-person cameras were difficult to implement in the late ’90s, so asked Retro to switch the game to a first-person perspective. Shigeru Miyamoto also thought this new single protagonist was too generic, so Retro changed her into an alien that could see through walls.

It was at this point that Miyamoto considered making Meta Force a Metroid game, with DidYouKnowGaming? paraphrasing him to say: “You know what? These enemy aliens would make great space pirates, how would y’all like to turn this into a Metroid game?”

Metroid Prime
Metroid Prime. Credit: Retro Studios/Nintendo

Whitmore says Retro Studios loved the idea, so got to work on understanding and absorbing the entire franchise. Thanks to Nintendo over-promising the hardware of the GameCube however, and this meant much of Retro’s work had to be discarded due to lack of hardware knowledge, Whitmore eventually left the project, even being left out of the game’s credits.


Nintendo also didn’t like the idea of Metroid Prime 3 including bounty hunter missions, with Retro confused during development as to why considering the company had been calling Samus Aran a bounty hunter since the ’80s.

As it turned out, Nintendo didn’t actually fully understand what “bounty hunter” meant, instead thinking of the character as a “space adventurer with a heart of gold”.

Metroid Prime then apparently went back and forth between a first and third-person perspective, until the game was released on the GameCube in late 2002.

In other news, Naoki Yoshida has provided another update concerning the housing lottery bug in Final Fantasy 14, after he initially addressed this issue last week.

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