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What’s up with Metroid Prime 4?

It’s been 5 years since Nintendo announced development was restarting

Artwork of Samus Aran from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in front of the Metroid “S” symbol from the original Metroid Prime 4 reveal trailer Image: Nintendo
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

It’s now been five years since Nintendo announced that development of Metroid Prime 4 was being rebooted and handed off to a new steward, Metroid Prime series creators Retro Studios. Nintendo has said little about the game since, leading to speculation that the fourth Metroid Prime game will serve as either a swan song for Nintendo Switch or as a marquee launch title for that console’s successor, aka the “Nintendo Switch 2.”

On Jan. 25, 2019, Shinya Takahashi, senior managing executive officer at Nintendo, announced that “current development progress has not reached the standards we seek in a sequel to the Metroid Prime series” and confirmed an indefinite delay of the game. Development on Metroid Prime 4 had reportedly shifted away from Bandai Namco’s studios to Austin-based Retro.

Since then, Metroid Prime 4 has remained on Nintendo’s upcoming release schedule with a “TBA” release date. The Switch maker has not committed to any kind of release window, and with reporting that indicates the next-generation of Nintendo consoles is imminent, many Nintendo fans have wondered whether Metroid Prime 4 will still be a Switch game.

It still could be. It could also be a next-gen Nintendo game, since Nintendo has a small but noteworthy track record of cross-generation releases. In 2006, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on both its ailing GameCube and the brand-new Wii. A little over a decade later, it did something similar, releasing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on both Wii U and Nintendo Switch.

With Switch 2 reportedly featuring backward compatibility support for games released on the original Switch, a dual-platform release doesn’t seem out of the question.

Polygon reached out to Nintendo for an update on Metroid Prime 4’s status, but has not received a response.

We may get more information soon, however. For the past five years, Nintendo has released a new Nintendo Direct showcase each February. And with some of the company’s 2024 plans looming (e.g., Mario vs. Donkey Kong, Princess Peach: Showtime!, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door), Nintendo fans are due for updates on those games and hopefully more.

Nintendo enthusiasts who are hungry for new information on Metroid Prime 4 have certainly been digging in recent years. In 2020, job listings at Retro Studios revealed that the developer was looking to hire a storyboard artist that could help “define emotional scenes that will resonate with audiences” and “explore interesting and innovative scenes that elevate the narrative.” As Retro hired up, it brought on developers with experience on franchises like Grand Theft Auto, God of War, and Call of Duty, underscoring the AAA ambitions of Metroid Prime 4.

Retro Studios previously worked on three Metroid Prime games and the 2009 Wii collection that bundled that trilogy together. Metroid Prime 4 is the developer’s only announced project and the studio is currently hiring for a variety of roles, though it’s unclear whether those roles are specifically to work on the next Metroid Prime game.

And since Nintendo originally announced Metroid Prime 4, way back in 2017 at that year’s E3, it has released a handful of games in the franchise to tide fans over. That includes 2017’s Metroid: Samus Returns, a lavish remake of a Game Boy game; 2021’s Metroid Dread, a classic side-scrolling adventure game that would go on to become the bestselling Metroid game to date; and last year’s Metroid Prime Remastered, an overhauled version of the GameCube original.

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