Spanish studio MercurySteam turns 15 this year, and it's about to have the busiest week of that impressive lifespan. The company's contribution to the Metroid universe - Metroid: Samus Returns - launches on 3DS on September 15th, while Raiders of the Broken Planet - an entirely new, self-owned IP created for PS4, Xbox One and PC - touches down on September 22nd.
For MercurySteam boss Enric Alvarez, these two releases are significant in that they show two sides to his studio; one which is entrusted with some of the biggest brands in the business, and another which has the talent and resource to create exciting new properties at a time when publishers are taking less risks than ever.
We are the only studio, ever, to have made a Castlevania and also a Metroid. And there is not going to be another one, I can tell you that.
He's equally chuffed at the fact that Nintendo has chosen to work so closely with MercurySteam to create an update to the Game Boy classic, Metroid II: Return of Samus:
It is an incredible achievement for a Spanish studio. Nintendo is a one-of-a-kind publisher that make one-of-a-kind games. They're special. They are unique. They care about games. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that after two years, 80 or 90% of all the conversations we've had were about stuff that gamers care about. Only the remaining 10 or 20% were about business or usual publishing stuff. That ratio is unique to Nintendo. When you deal with them at a close distance, you understand why they are who they are. I'm not going to lie to you; they are extremely demanding. They require the very best constantly, all the time, and beyond. But it's been a great experience.
We've worked in the past with other publishers, with Codemasters, with Konami, and they were very different experiences. We had a great experience with Konami, but Nintendo is another thing. There are many, many Nintendo fans who don't like any other games except for their games. Now I fully understand why that is.
It has been a pleasure, we have learnt a lot. Honestly, they have made us a better developer.
However, despite the impending release of Raiders of the Broken Planet, MercurySteam producer Dave Cox still insists that the studio is a "work for hire" company and that means we could see more collaborations like Metroid and Castlevania in the future:
We need to do those work-for-hire [projects] because we still need to pay the bills. We are talking to publishers here [at Gamescom] about projects. But at the same time, when you have a success like we had with Castlevania, it makes us reinvest into something else. But we're still a work-for-hire studio, fundamentally.
Alvarez concludes by pointing out that taking on this label shouldn't be seen as a negative, and that there will always be two sides to MercurySteam - and that's a good thing:
Labelling is always simplistic. I understand the need of human beings to label stuff. But... I don't know if that label is negative. It's the first time someone asked me this question. Certainly, we are the only studio that has done both [Castlevania and Metroid]. But we have done other stuff. We've done Raiders of the Broken Planet, which is - for us - as important as Metroid. So I'm fine with it.
You'll get to play Metroid: Samus Returns very soon. Are you looking forward to it? Let us know with a comment.