" I think Metroid is a bit of a niche IP and that’s totally fine – we could use more big games that aren’t aimed at 90% of the market. But would going multi-platform be a big multiplier on sales? I doubt it."
- Former technical lead engineer on Metroid Prime Jack Mathews on if Metroid being exclusive to Nintendo will affect future sales.
In an interview with Shinesparkers (a Metroid Prime fan community), former technical lead engineer on the first three Metroid Prime games Jack Mathews looks back at his experience developing each title.
When asked what the hardest thing to program in the games were, Mathews mentions the struggle to maintain 60 frames per second in SkyTown during Metroid Prime 3. "I remember the first time the concept was shown to me, I tried to get the area killed," He recalls. "We had to write a bunch of tools to support it and make the artists jump through a bunch of hoops. But even today, I’m still awestruck when I get to SkyTown and am super proud at what we all accomplished."
He admits, however, that the challenge wasn't so much about programming, but practicing discipline for engineering and art. "The Metroid Prime series’ environment art was (and often still is) second-to-none, so it was a constant balance between keeping the game running well and still looking amazing," Mathews explains. "This meant making sure that every artist was running the game on the console, that QA had the tools to spot and surface frame rate issues."
With the hardships of development also come the criticisms. Mathews acknowledges that there were things he would have liked to do differently if the team at Retro (the development studio of the first three Metroid Prime games) had more time and money. Some players have speculated over the years that Metroid being a Nintendo console exclusive may have hindered the games' success in the long run.
But Mathews disagrees. "I feel like we could have built more, spent more, and made a cooler looking game on other consoles with more time. Would it have sold much more on more platforms? I’m not so sure about that any more," He says. "The easy answer is to look at the critical success but low sales and blame the platform, but I think that answer is a bit of a cop out."
Since Nintendo announced that Metroid Prime 4 was in development (although there have been no confirmations over which studio is developing it), Mathews expresses his hopes for the next title in the Metroid series. "It may be nice to see what a fresh team with fresh eyes does with it."
Be sure to check out the entire interview over at Shinesparkers.