Metroid Prime 3 Could Have Been Open World, And That Hurts

Metroid Prime 3 Could Have Been Open World, And That Hurts
Image: Retro Studios / Kotaku

You know what I’d sell my extended family to be able to play? An open-world Metroid Prime. Just the phrase sets my imagination reeling, combining an all-time favourite game series with the possibility of all that player freedom. Which makes it all the more galling that this is something that could have happened.

The eagle-eyed VGC spotted the detail during an interview with former Retro director of development, Bryan Walker, who told Kiwi Talkz that at one point a plan was drawn up to see Metroid Prime 3 played in an less linear open exploration of the planet. And this hurts my soul.

Walker told the New Zealand YouTube channel/podcast about how the series director, Mark Pacini, “came forward with an interesting twist in the vision,” which would have involved Samus’s ship being a “[far more] playable asset.”

“We weren’t able to prototype a lot of those, because those were really big,” Walker continued, adding that they did have some ship prototypes. “In fact Mark,” added the former Retro developer, “had printed out — as one of his visual aids — this origami Samus ship. He’d taken the mesh of the Samus ship and used a program that basically unfolded it.” He coloured it in, and then used it as a mascot in some of his presentations.

On reflection, Walker says he considers they “may have fallen short of our goals with Prime 3, not being able to expand the formula a bit,” although of course he adds that they were very proud of it. Then subtly dropping a shark into the water he added, “I would be very interested in seeing what the response was, especially of the fan community, to the expanded use of the ship and the more open-world, non-linear experience that we were touching upon with that pitch.”

Well yes, revealing that nearly 15 years later should certainly do the trick. Because, you’ve suddenly changed your mind about what you want from Metroid Prime 4 too, right?

Just imagine it. Landing your ship anywhere you choose on a planet…No, let’s do this right: Landing your ship anywhere you’ve upgraded it enough to be able to land, then exploring, scanning, discovering in a non-linear fashion. Come on, that’d be extraordinary. Keep enough of the progressive discovery that it maintains the “Metroid” in “Metroidvania,” but discovering lairs, finding suit upgrades in your own order, piecing together a more complicated story. Oh my goodness, how do you make time machines?

You can watch the entire interview below, but I believe I’ve worked internet magicks that should start it as the relevant discussion begins. Although it’s worth listening to the rest for some really detailed discussion of the Metroid Prime series’ development, including discussions of how “toxic” the environment had been at Retro during development of Metroid Prime 1.


  • I honestly wouldn’t want an open world Metroid and I don’t think the Metroid formula would work in an open world format. The whole idea of Metroid is gradually opening up more and more of the world as you acquire new abilities, upgrades and weapons, and that sense of exploration would just be lost with an open world format.

    I’m glad we got what we got. I hope Prime 4 does NOT follow through on this idea.

  • I wouldn’t say no to an open world spinoff like Pokemon Legends, but unlike BotW an open world Metroid needs to have content between the major level stages or it’s outright not going to work.

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