The Metroid Prime sub-series has to rank as one of the most beloved of all Nintendo's franchises. The three mainline Metroid Prime titles are sublime pieces of software, yet it's easy to forget that the public reaction to early footage of the first instalment was met with widespread negativity.
Such a response was perhaps understandable; Metroid is the kind of series which attracts hardcore devotion from its fanbase and the switch from 2D platformer to first-person shooter seemed jarring - even more so when it was revealed that North American outfit Retro Studios would be doing the heavy lifting.
With hindsight such skepticism was unfounded, and Metroid Prime director Mark Pacini - now at Armature Studio, developer of Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate and Xbox One exclusive ReCore - maintains that Retro's collaborative relationship with Nintendo was one of the key reasons the series turned out as well as it did.
Speaking to Game Informer, Pacini speaks a little about how the two companies worked together on the Prime series; he feels that without the combined talents of the pair, the game wouldn't have turned out the same - its success came from effective collaboration, and he even cites a striking example of this.
The scan visor is arguably one of Metroid Prime's most compelling features, but Pacini reveals that it was Nintendo which stated that it should have such a big part to play in the game:
Originally when we were talking about what Samus would be able to do in the game world, we had visors in the game, but we didn't really expand too much on them. You have your thermal visor, and you have your X-ray visor, and stuff like that. … It seemed like such a silly idea, Nintendo's thing was like, 'this is going to be about the scan visor. This game is about scanning the environment', and we're like, 'Okay, but this is like an action game, this is like a shooting game'. But as the brilliance of them, and it was Tanabe-san who had an idea of like, 'well what if we did this, and you get information, this is how we do the tutorials, and this is how you give the players instruction, and we could do all these things with the scan visor'. And because their motivation was, 'this is a game about the scan visor', and our's was not at all, but we did the due diligence to integrate it in a way that felt natural to the game and how would we want to do this? So that's how it went back and forth, and that was like a really great suggestion on their part because it seems so simple now, but at the time, there weren't a lot of games like this.
You can listen to the entire podcast here.