Former Metroid Prime Dev Shares Behind-The-Scenes Stories Ahead Of Its 20th Anniversary

Former Metroid Prime Dev Shares Behind-The-Scenes Stories Ahead Of Its 20th Anniversary

A former Retro Studios developer that worked on Metroid Prime has shed light on heretofore unknown details about the now-classic Gamecube game’s design and production.

And I can’t get enough if I’m honest.

Metroid Prime‘s 20th anniversary is coming up in only a few days, which is what prompted former Retro Studios senior gameplay engineer Zoid Kirsch to tell a few stories.

Kirsch’s first Metroid Prime story involved designing the game’s familiar, shootable doors and how, sometimes, they’d take a little while to open. This pause was because, as you may have guessed, the room on the other side of the door was still loading. According to Kirsch, the game could only load two rooms at a time — “the one you’re in and the one you’re going to.” This explains why, in rooms with multiple exits, only one door can be open at a time.

Another fun fact: When Samus gets too close to a Pulse Bombu enemy, her visor fills with static. This was no easy trick to accomplish on the GameCube, with its meagre 24mb of RAM. Retro initially tried using a texture to replicate the static noise onscreen but found it came up blurry instead of giving them the crisp look they were going for. How to solve a problem like that? One engineer had a bright idea: why not put display the code being held in the memory on-screen directly?

“When you see Samus’s visor affected by electrical “noise” in-game, you’re actually seeing the bits and bytes of the Metroid Prime software code itself being rendered on the screen,” says Kirsch. “Turns out machine code is sufficiently random to work great as a static noise texture.”

I honestly live for stuff like this. I love hearing about how the sausage got made, and the wild, inventive solutions that tie our favourite games together. That I have no way of playing either Metroid Prime or Metroid Prime 2: Echoes in 2022 is a crying shame. Where’s my damned trilogy remaster, Nintendo? And while we’re at it, where’s that damned Metroid Prime 4 you promised me? I impatiently await your response.

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