News Article

Retro Studios Working on "One Major Project at a Time"

Posted by Thomas Whitehead


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.


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User Comments (64)



Whopper744 said:

ooo some people won't like this. I'm happy with with DK always! And I understand one big thing at a time.



GraveLordXD said:

I have to say I was very disappointed at first then I realized that I will get this day 1 and love it to death
So I'm cool with this it is what it is and it will be awesome



Inev said:

Rayman Origins gets a sequel two years later, everyone goes nuts. DKCR gets a sequel three years later, people are disappointed.

A 3DS Prime Hunters game would be awesome.



NintyMan said:

Yeah, many people won't be happy with this, but I like Donkey Kong and I don't want Retro to just give Tropical Freeze half of their attention while working on another game. Let them stay completely dedicated to this game, and then they could try to make a new Metroid for Wii U or 3DS, expanding the Hunters idea that Tensuke mentioned.



DRL said:

I don't understand the people who think Tropical Freeze is some simple project. Sure, it's a sequel that follows a basic formula from DKCR, but this has got to be the most meticulously designed platformer I've ever laid eyes on. Seriously, those environments are rendered in 3D and look as detailed and lush as games like Uncharted and Tomb Raider, which is especially incredible because you only see them in 2D majority of the time! Retro Studios astounds me. I can't wait to play, what looks to be, yet another masterpiece.



XFsWorld said:

I would be happier if they announced a new Metroid, but its ok, DK is still one of the most fun and challenging platformers. I believe we will see a new Metroid in 2015 for 3DS or Wii U.



DerpSandwich said:

It wouldn't be so bad if Nintendo first party games didn't take so SO long to develop. I know that's where the quality comes from, but it's just frustrating. This game took them three years to make despite the fact that the framework and the engine for the game was already built on the Wii. So after this disappointing game (for me), they're going to take another who-knows-how-many years to make something else. And at the end of it all you're pushing a decade just to get to a game that you MIGHT want.

It's worse with Zelda though. A game every five years or so? I can likely count the number of Zelda games I'll get to play for the rest of my life on both hands. I'm all for quality, but it's just hard being a Nintendo guy. I wish they would at least hire enough studios to be making a game for each IP at all times. What if Retro decides not to make a Metroid game after this? And then no one else wants to either? Do I have to wait until 2019 before I get a game from one of Nintendo's best IP's? It's just not good business.

End rant.



FritzFrapp said:

I really don't want Retro touching Metroid again. They should be able to try a brand new IP. I would like to see Intelligent Systems coding the series or Treasure or Platinum Games. The Prime games are good enough technically, but they are not a patch on the 2D Metroids for me.
It will be 10 years next year since Zero Misson. I want a 2D game of that quality again.



SparkOfSpirit said:

@KaiserGX Exactly.

I'm still hoping for sidescrolling Metroid on the 3DS since we're about due for an actual Metroid V and not yet another prequel.



19Robb92 said:

I am disappointed that RETRO is working on yet another 2D title. I would have loved to see a new franchise with a whole new HD engine from them. Especially after the news that they hired people from Naughty Dog, Vigil Games & Crytek.. They have some really great people underneath their wings.

That being said, DKC Returns was the best platforming title last gen. I can't wait for this one! It looks outstanding!

Can't belive it's coming out this year as well! Awesome!



AtomicToaster said:

Metroid prime is an incredible series but the game was originally designed to compete with Halo and other shooters. Different but it was to compete. Now that Nintendo isn't trying to compete with that whole "arms race" I don't really know where the Metroid franchise fits in. I'd love to see any form of Metroid game in HD ESPECIALLY a Metroid Prime game. Metroid prime is still one of the prettiest games out there and it's ten years old.

Also, Metroid Prime turned out to be Niche. Not everyone liked being Samus in first person. And looking at the design choices of Nintendo's other games recently I'd bet money they're going to go with a sidescrolling metroid over another FPS title. We could hope but it doesn't look good!



SkywardCrowbar said:

Hey. The new DK game will be AMAZING. We'll get something else from Retro in the future. I'm still happy.



That_Guy_from_Faxana said:

Well, developing one game at a time is a good thing. When Retro Studios were formed they tried developing two games at the same time as Metroid Prime, both had to be cancelled.

I´m not really longing for a new DK yet, there are many good plattformers for Nintendo systems already. Hope it´s good though. Maybe they´ll develop something more groundbreaking next.



emayer said:

It makes me sad that so many people were disappointed by DK. It was the best reveal of E3 for me.



CanisWolfred said:

Yet I'm sure most of you will be playing Tropical Freeze on or soon after its release anyways.

Personally, I'm not bothered. I'd rather their big game came out after they've used the Wii U more.



Blue_Yoshi said:

I for one am looking forward to this game rather than a Metroid one. I feel as if the series needs to take a break, if not at least go back to its roots with the dreaded Metroid Dread title we've been waiting years for. DKCR was a pretty good game and as close enough of a sequel to the Rare series as we'll ever get so we should be happy there taking advantage of the hype and actually attempting to be more like the original Donkey Kong Country with underwater levels and such.



Melkaticox said:

I'm just disappointed by the fact that this wasn't even a 3D Donkey Kong...
I'm even MORE disappointed by the fact that Retro's newest project isn't Metroid or Star Fox...



DerpSandwich said:

@IxnayontheCK That's why I want a happy medium. No one's going to get burned out on a Zelda every two or three years.

Plus, if a game's story is one of the biggest reasons to buy sequels, people don't mind. Within this last generation the other consoles saw four Gears of War games, three Mass Effect games and three Uncharted games. But no one complained, because the games were fantastic and it was enough just to continue the story. I think if Nintendo tried they could accomplish the same thing, rather than building a Zelda with a vaguely-connected story from the ground up every five or six years. So much squandered potential.



Varia01 said:

Those Metroid ideas sound pretty AWESOME. Not just Samus (Though she's my favorite), but more hunters! I like that. Another two or three years? I could be patient that long, I think... Donkey Kong probably was a better choice for now though I was still hoping for Metroid. Let's just wait and see what Retro has next time...



justinj42 said:

Played this one at Best Buy on Wednesday. It's the slickest-looking title on a Nintendo system of all time. Despite being a side scroller, the rotating barrels and gorgeous 3D backgrounds show the Wii U's superiority over 360 and PS3. And it plays better even better than DKCR because of the Mario Bros. 2 throw mechanics. I was really worried, and then I played it. I think we should all calm down a bit.



LasermasterA said:

A Metroid after Metroid Fusion would be nice. They really didn't continue that and after Metroid Fusion came Metroid Prime 3 and Metroid: Other M! Show us what happens afterwards! And playing in the Fusion Suit again would be great Although that suit is more feminine than the regular suit, it is fine! They should not make another game right after Metroid Prime 3 or somewhere before the last chronological game of the series!

She might be held as a traitor by the bigwigs and she'll escape or whatever! I want a Metroid game post Metroid Fusion. So do many other people.



LasermasterA said:

Metroid Zero Mission doesn't count as it was a remake of the original Metroid. Complete remake and nice but a remake nonetheless.



Daggo said:

Now we know why Iwata was staring those bananas during Nintendo Directs!
We should pay more attention next time... xD



Dark_Link said:

Obviously you buy a Nintendo system for their First party games as I do as well however, since these games take so long to make it makes it absolutely imperative that Iwata do whatever is necessary to get more third party support or hire more developers to create more games at one time. Also get involved with those indie developers and put them to work. They need more games to come out much quicker.



LasermasterA said:

It was reported by Nikkei Online Edition (Nikkei is one of the largest media corporation and specializes in Business news, Nintendo is a business after all) that Nintendo will open a new development studio at the end of December 2013 with around 1500 employees.

1500!!! 0.0 That is a LOT for a game development studio considering Retro has only 120+ ish?



Dark_Link said:

@Lasermaster123 Now this is great news!!! Anybody who is a Nintendo fan is a fan because they just make great and fun games. Unfortunately it takes them a very long time to release these games because they want to ensure the games are great. With a lack of third party support they need more resources to make more games at one time. So 1500 more developers is the stuff what Nintendo needs. For example if they had this development studio in place already they could have assigned one team, star fox, one team Metroid, another team a new IP etc and than we would not be as frustrated with Retro making Donkey Kong, we could appreciate it because it's just another great game coming out. Nintendo needs to get on that asap and put them to work. Plus those fresh minds might come up with some really cool games.



LasermasterA said:

Exactly! This studio can really ramp up Nintendo 1st party games production and might lead to revival of franchises as well as faster games! Great new IPs is another thing that Nintendo can get. Something to appeal to the "hardcore" gamers perhaps while keeping the Nintendo spirit of course.

It has probably been under construction for a year or so. I am not sure as I could not find much news about it on the net, or I just did not look hard enough.



2Sang said:

All I wanted this e3 was smash bros and a starfox. Smash bros (and I guess to an extent bayonetta and x as well) was the only good thing to come out of that e3 direct. My body doesn't even want to be ready for DKCR2.



NMH-TRI said:

Metroid Prime Hunters sequel that allows online play for Wii U. That's what I'd like to see...I'm sure there are purists that wouldn't touch an online Metroid game, but I'm definitely NOT one of them.

Had a lot of fun w/ Other M and had no issues with the story or direction they took with Samus as a character.



2Sang said:

@Lasermaster123 If that is true, that's AWESOME news. They could let retro revive an old franchise every couple of years, always something new. That new studio could focus on the bigger but not huge nintendo series (f-zero, starfox, metroid, DK, Dr. Mario, and nintendogs)
Miyamoto can continue pikmin and mario
Zelda can stay in their current form
Sakurai can continue with smash bros
and of course game freak can continue pokemon

Solved everyone can get their bodies ready for awesomeness!



LasermasterA said:

Yea. The only thing is I can't find too much news on it on Western news websites while the site where the article was published Nikkei Online, is a paid news site. I just found a reference on an Edge website:

"Edge reported last week that Nintendo had spent some $141 million on a 40K-square-meter lot that will be home to a new R&D facility" It is mentioned in the article over here:
Note that the above article is about Sora Ltd. with Sakurai, they are making Smash Bros. now. Edge did not know whether this land for Sora or the other one. It is obviously the other one as 40K square meter lot is more appropriate for 1500 employees, not Sora's group of 32 (mentioned in article)

I also found an article over here:

Apparently Nintendo is not being very open about this news. A new studio would definitely help them out working on new IPs or less popular IPs. We also actually don't know how it will contribute, software or hardware. Nintendo obviously needs software departments right now. We will actually find out by Jan 2014. It looks like Nintendo was prepared that it would need more people to keep up with the competition.

Let's see how Nintendo fares! This old timer probably has a few tricks up his sleeve



FierceGauge82 said:

Returns was such a hit both in terms of ratings and sales, a sequel was inevitable, but we just never thought about it. And some people might ask, Retro wasted 2/2+ years on a 2D sidescroller? But when you actually watch the trailer you see that the 2+ year development time really justifies the game. It's in HD now, there's a lot more content, new level design, the return of Dixie Kong, there's underwater levels now as we saw a clip of DK swimming, and they're also experimenting w/ new camera angles that actually show full 3D. So with all that & probably a lot more, it does come across as a process, & I'm pretty sure that process will pay off.



3Daniel said:

my issue isnt with dkr getting a sequel, its with two things. 1. console platformers have dynamic cameras and its nothing new. this game would have shined on the 3ds as the platformers released for the handheld have been pretty flat as far as camera is concerned. 2. retro already laid the groundwork with dkr so this game could have been handled by a different studio entirely. I love me some Metroid but an original retro ip released in 2013 would have gone a great length to salvage the bait and switch Nintendo pulled with the wii u. they wanted hardcore gamers to flock to the system but then pad the holiday season with "casual" titles, even 3d world Mario went casual and imo should be on the 3ds as well. and bonus gripe! dk is pretty furry in this title, but so was fox in adventures. and he looks pretty damn furry in smash so don't go boasting about it.
regardless ill probably pick this up as theres not much else I am looking forward too.



Ichiban said:

I hope theres more variety in the worlds this time, so far its looking on track. One of my few complaints about DKCR was the lack of an ice world, so thats covered. But i really want to see more than the typical jungle, beach, mine, volcano levels. Go absolutely nuts! This goes X1million for the new Mario game!



MadAdam81 said:

Considering DKCR was better than any Metroid game in the last many a year, I'd rather Retro do more DK and Nintendo hand Metroid off to Platinum or another department, as someone previously suggested.



QuickSilver88 said:

I am sure this DK game will rock and if U think about it platformers done on a AAA scale are not a common thing outside Nintendo and Rayman. I guess the letdown for me was we had Super Mario U, Luigi U coming this month, Rayman this fall and now DKCTF. Why make an HD console and populate it with side scrollers? We were all primed for 3D mario, and something awesomemfrom retro and we get this? I am looking forard to it and grealt enjoyed Mario 3D on 3DS....I just want something that really shows of WiiU hut guess I will have to wait for 2014 for X, B2, MK8 and SSBU to get that sexy app we all want.



GoombaSlayer said:

Someone said that Metroid Prime 3 sold in 4 million copies, it didnt. It sold in about 1 million copies. I think what the titles in Nintendos current line-up has in common is that they all are sequels to their most sold games. Mario Kart Wii sold 30 million copies, Donkey Kong Country Returns sold 5 million copies, Super Mario 3D Land is the fastest selling 3D Mario-game, Wii Fit sold 20 million, Wii Party sold 7 million, Mario & Sonic sold 7 million.. Its obvious that they have looked at their best selling games and made a decision from that. They believe that these are the titles that will create a interest in the Wii U.
I personally believe that this is good thinking - however they should need something more as well since these titles kind off reach out to the very same costumers. The families, casuals and core-gamers interested in these games would have settled with just one or two of these titles. Maybe they should have saved some of them for the coming years.

Me personally was a bit let down with the announcement of Tropical Freeze since i have always seen Retro Studios as a AAA-developer and i expected a AAA-game such as Metroid Prime 4 or an entirely new IP or perhaps the rumored Mach Rider, Star Fox etc. reboots. But i will still get Tropical Freeze since it seems to be a good game. But as a major E3 announcement it wasnt much.



Randomname19 said:

I'm not into first person games so I don't care for the Prime series.Nintendo,give me a Metroid Other M 2 with improoved gameplay and with less cutscenes and take my money.



SilentHunter382 said:

Yep working on one game is better the 2 or more by the same developer. I rather have 2 games released in 5 years that are great then 2 games released in 2 years that are just meh.



Dark_Link said:

@Lasermaster123 Nintendo has always been a very private company, so I'm not surprised there. This is great news as I said before, thanks for digging this stuff up . Remember an article posted on Nintendolife on how Miyamoto has to see a reason for a new IP and as great and legendary as he is I still think that is hurting Nintendo from a hardcore gamer standpoint. That is where this new facility with all of these software developers will help out a lot! They can focus on reviving old IP's and bring new fresh IP's to the table.



LasermasterA said:


Yea. It was nothing. I saw someone else refer to the wiki article somewhere, I just looked around a bit more although not much news came out. Even the mention on the Wiki article was only one line long.

Yes, Nintendo, in this age of leaks and reveals is pretty good at holding its secrets. We had no clue that the Retro game was Donkey Kong and the leaked Best Buy game list was almost completely wrong.

Miyamoto is a legend man. He does not handle "hardcore" (subjective term) games. To me, the original Super Mario Bros. was much more hardcore than Halo. Halo on legendary was also not as hard as Super Mario Bros. Hard mode.

Nintendo will sort its game out, always has, always will.



Henmii said:

I hope the next Metroid won't be Hunters Wii u! I want a proper, single-player Metroid!



mikeyman64 said:

Understandable. Retro is still a fairly small subsidiary, so working on only one major AAA title at a time is understandable. Let's be honest, have they failed to please yet?

Let's just hope that they take their time with the next game, and let's just hope it's another Metroid game.



NMH-TRI said:

@Goombaslayer I agree with what you're saying. They're sticking with titles that have proven successful and it's definitely not a bad thing. I personally need variety, which is where ZombiU, MH3U, Injustice, ACIII and upcoming non-Nintendo titles fit in. They're sprinkling in games like Bayo 2, W101, and X (W101 is releasing in a couple months). I honestly hope they keep securing games that break the Nintendo mold.

I love a lot of their games and have no hangups about the ratings or the art style, but they really impress me when they throw in the Red Steel 2's, No More Heroes, Madworlds, Conduits, etc. Just keep em comin Ninty and please be more aggressive in the RPG genre (like the OPrainfall games, just be more consistent throughout the lifespan). You have the technology, you can rebuild it.



DaveGX said:

I have a thought/idea here. if they want to explore it some more, how about, I dunno, say perhaps Metroid: Origins? For instance, maybe we could experience events dating back to the raid on Samus' home world, her training among the Chozo, perhaps beyond that with the academy (or whatever it was, I forgot) etc. Perhaps there' something there involving the Space Pirates we've never known before, before the Metroids. other than that, all I can really say is I'd like to know the possibilities, plot-wise of a Fusion sequel.



LasermasterA said:

@DaveGX That is a great thing that Nintendo can do!

They should make the next Metroid game either before the events of the original Metroid/Metroid Zero Mission OR after the events of fusion, where we can see the fusion suit in action!

Nintendo would do great if it has its own FPS, still having the Nintendo completeness and uniqueness though.

@2Sang @Dark_Link

I found an article thanks to another NintendoLife member, antonvaltaz, in the comments section that suggests that there will not be 1500 developers but the new facility would house 1500 people.

The article is from a relatively unknown site which says that Nintendo aims to bring all its development teams together in a new facility so that they can communicate better and produce better games. Information is obviously still not complete but if this is true then new developers might be hired but not in such large numbers.

I am sorry for the goof-up in advance, if there is any (since official news from Nintendo will come out later).



Araknie said:

I remember we ask for another DKC for all this years, it's only common we get another.
Why people forget the past in gaming communities?

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