Metroid Prime

2002 • Nintendo GameCube
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Samus Aran intercepted a distress signal from a nearby space station orbiting above Tallon IV. Upon arrival, she discovered that this space station was a Space Pirate Frigate that was conducting genetic enhancement research on Tallon IV’s native creatures. One of these experiments, the Parasite Queen, got loose and wreaked havoc on the station. Samus faced off against the grotesque creature who fell into the ship’s reactor core upon defeat, causing it to explode. During her escape, an explosion damaged Samus’ suit, disabling most of her abilities and weapons. To make matters worse, she witnessed an old foe, Ridley, cybernetically rebuilt as Meta Ridley, escaping the station as well, on course to the surface of Tallon IV.

Samus chases after him and discovers an even greater threat on the planet: the research on the orbital station was just the initial phase for a plan to harvest a substance known as Phazon from the planet’s depths to create genetically-enhanced Elite Pirates. Samus has to stop their plans at any cost.

METROID PRIME, released in 2002 for the Nintendo GameCube, successfully introduced the series into the third dimension and was the first title in the series released since 1994’s SUPER METROID. As the first METROID game not developed internally at Nintendo’s Japan headquarters, its bold new direction and wide critical acclaim are especially remarkable. Nintendo labelled its genre as First-Person Adventure, distancing the game from shooter tropes and calling back to the series’ strong focus on exploration and atmosphere over thrills and bombast. This also marks the introduction of the scan function, allowing Samus to enable the Scan Visor to get information off of terminals and objects in the world. The story was largely conveyed through these scans, enhancing the feeling of being alone on yet another foreign planet. Players got to experience many of Samus’ signature abilities in 3D for the first time, such as the Morph Ball and Grapple Beam. Navigating this intricate 3D space was made easy with the implementation of an innovative, rotating three-dimensional map that let players orient themselves to their surroundings comfortably.

METROID PRIME was developed by Retro Studios under the supervision from Nintendo. Mark Pacini was the game’s lead designer. The engineering team was lead by Mark Johnston. Among its most notable achievements was the seamless camera transition from helmet view to the third-person Morph Ball view, created by the late Mark Haigh-Hutchinson. Todd Keller was the lead artist overseeing the trilogy’s widely-acclaimed and timeless art style. The music was composed by series veteran Kenji Yamamoto, who introduced elements of retro-styled electronic music and hip hop to the METROID soundscape. Shigeru Miyamoto and Kenji Miki served as producers for Nintendo.