Metroid Prime 4's Lack Of Dev News Is Good News
No news is good news (sometimes).
Back in June 2017, I, like many of you, was soaking up all the coverage of E3 that I could, covering the event for a podcast my friend and I were hosting. As the Nintendo Direct began, I texted my friend James, asking “What do you bet we see a new Metroid Prime game announced?” Amidst the chatter of presenters, he responded “Anything is possible, I would be so excited”. Later in the presentation, as blue particles began forming on the screen, I immediately texted James, “METROID PRIME! METROID PRIME! METROID PRIME!” like an hyperactive wrestling announcer.
It’s been almost five years since that heady day, and while some people might see the silence as a bad sign, I think it’s perfectly fine. In today’s world where console makers like Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are announcing new games and updates almost monthly if not weekly, delays are inevitable, and I’d rather hear no news than the news of repeated delays. As consumers and gamers, it is better for us in the long run to save our preorder money and allow developers as much time as they need, instead of barraging them to speed up the process.
As one of the industry’s famous sayings goes “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad”. It is ok if it takes 10 years for Metroid Prime 4 to be released as long as Nintendo and co-developer Retro Studios do not ship an unfinished product. After the amount of damage CD Projekt Red took with its rushed release of Cyberpunk 2077, you cannot blame other companies for wanting to reel in the reins a bit.
It is important to keep in mind that Retro Studios scrapped its original development plans for Metroid Prime 4 years ago, and has spent most of its time since then recruiting and hiring talent for the game. Three years ago, in a video discussing the game’s development, Nintendo’s General Manager of EPD, Shinya Takahashi said, “The current development process has not reached the standards we seek in a sequel to the Metroid Prime series.” Takahashi also mentioned that delivering a game without a certain level of confidence will not live up to the expectations of fans. This is going to be a long process, and for someone at Nintendo to come out and say that should be welcomed, in the words of former Journey lead singer Steve Perry, “with open arms.”
If Nintendo repeatedly announced delays, then confidence among fans would sink, hope would turn to dread, and there’d be an outpouring of opprobrium thrown Nintendo’s way. By staying quiet, Nintendo and Retro Studios are ensuring they will put out a good game and have confidence that it will meet the high expectations. Yes, it’s been years since we’ve heard any updates on Metroid Prime 4’s development but we have to trust the process.
Also, we need to stop looking at every minor update and instantly think it signifies that something big is about to happen soon. Retro Studios changed its banner back in February to a shadowy silhouette of Samus standing stoically in a dimly lit corridor (see below). The image caused a flurry of reactions but the proper reaction should simply be ‘ok, they are still working on the game.’ Let’s remain calm. Let’s remain optimistic.
It’s no longer abnormal for games to be released with a huge Day One patch attached to them. So by its development moving at a glacial pace, the odds of Metroid Prime 4 coming with a Day One patch get lower with each passing day. That is not to say there might not be some issues here and there, but knowing Nintendo there shouldn’t be anything game-breaking. To put it all in perspective, it took Square Enix five years (and a change in development team) to release Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
Metroid Prime 4 is a whole new installment in the series, so everything from its story to its features and controls had to be built from the ground up. Even if it takes 10 years total for the game to be released – which would likely be towards the end of the Switch’s life cycle – it would be a wonderful title to close out the system. Again, we must have patience and if we can remain patient then our time waiting will pay off.