When Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was announced at E3 as the next game from Retro Studios, some Nintendo fans — including members of the team on this site — rationalised disappointment at the reveal by adding a caveat that it may have been produced alongside a bigger, larger scope project. The thought was that with the groundwork of the predecessor on Wii, this may have been a smaller scale endeavour to flesh out the Wii U's software library.
It seems, however, that we may have been understating the effort going into Tropical Freeze, or alternatively overstating the resources at Retro's disposal. Speaking to IGN, Retro president Michael Kelbaugh explained that his team only works on one major title at a time, with occasional diversions to assist on other projects.
We’re pretty much on one major project at a time. We do a game every two years or three years. In the first year of that, we have some extra bandwidth, so sometimes… We helped out with Mario Kart 7. We helped Monster Games do the 3DS version. Sometimes we’ll have a little bit of extra bandwidth to help out other entities at Nintendo. We really feel strongly about helping out Nintendo as a whole, so if we have time, we’ll do that. Do we have the bandwidth to do two major projects at once? I don’t think so. A big project and a little project at the same time, we can do that.
The positive side of this comment is that the new DK adventure, whether it was top of wishlists before E3 or not, appears to have had a committed and full-on development cycle; considering the fact that Donkey Kong Country Returns is one of the finest platformers of the past decade, we can certainly hope that with the greater capabilities of Wii U this could go further.
In terms of a return to Metroid, Kelbaugh rather diplomatically stated that the studio "might do another one someday". Kensuke Tanabe, the Nintendo man that serves as producer on Retro's titles, did suggest that a return for the franchise may explore the series canon a little more than previous efforts.
Basically I’m thinking of, not just Samus, but how we can expand the whole Samus universe. You remember Metroid Prime Hunters. I’m thinking about things like how we could make that go out further, with all these different bounty hunters as well.
So tests and ideas may be doing the rounds at Retro Studios for another Metroid title, but the love has been shown to DK this time around. It looks like Tropical Freeze could be the only major title from the developer in the next couple of years, but if it lives up to Returns then it could still be something rather special. Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments below.