Metroid Prime

   The Metroid series -- and its well-publicized absence on the Nintendo 64 -- needs no introduction. Neither does its equally well-publicized return on the GameCube at the hands of Retro Studios, a new Nintendo second party consisting of former employees of Valve, id, and Iguana.

   With Metroid IV already claimed by Intelligent Systems for a Game Boy Advance title, Retro has picked up the story on the oppposite end of the timeline: the very beginning. Metroid Prime will take place before Samus' journey to Zebes in the original Metroid. Samus will still star in the game, but whether or not we'll see any Metroids is not so certain. While the game's E3 trailer displayed information on the various Metroid evolutions from the Metroid II manual, it's more likely that this was simply placeholder text than an actual peek at the game's storyline.

Metroid Prime

   However, the current Metroid timeline does leave room for at least one more confrontation between Samus and the Metroids: The original capture of the first -- and its subsequent theft by Mother Brain's space pirates -- is territory largely uncovered. While Samus isn't known to have become involved with the Metroids until her later mission to Zebes, nothing would prevent Retro from writing into the timeline at an early position. (Such a premise would also allow Retro to include the more evolved Metroid forms, perhaps what the trailer text was hinting at.) Of course, Retro may also go with a different premise, perhaps dealing with Samus' early days as a bounty hunter on a mission unrelated to the Metroids.

   Metroid Prime's storyline has not been the subject of as nearly as much debate as its perspective, however. The current plan is for the game to play mostly in first-person, with a third-person camera being used for special situations. That plan is by no means fixed: at E3, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto commented that the first-person focus is not definite and could change during the development process. At the very least, all signs point to a continuation of the series' collect-and-explore game mechanics and not the first-person shooter some fans feared the title would become.

 Metroid Prime
In more than bailey

   Nintendo's brief E3 trailer showed a bit of both first- and third-person action. While the movie was not actual real-time footage, Nintendo claims it was created with the same character models that will be used in the game. The clip featured a high level of detail and the classic look of Samus, though the colorful caverns that often characterize the series were not yet evident.

   As a new developer saddled with a high-profile license, Retro is under a lot of pressure to live up to gamers' memories of the original trilogy. While living up to years of built-up fan expectations may be impossible, Nintendo has proven itself willing in the past to keep its flagship titles in development until they're done right. Metroid fans need only keep their fingers crossed that the same is true for Metroid Prime.

Preview by Fritz Fraundorf, GIA.
Metroid Prime
Developer Retro Studios
Publisher Nintendo
Genre Adventure
Medium Disc
Platform Nintendo GameCube
Release Date  Unknown
E3: More info revealed in Metroid Prime video
Spaceworld: 3 in-game screenshots
E3: Samus render