In recent months, YouTube channel Kiwi Talks has been interviewing former members of the Metroid Prime development staff at Retro Studios. We previously covered his interview with Lead Designer Mike Wikan, which included a look at how Nintendo oversaw plot changes. Next, Audio Director Clark Wen talked about how Samus’s voice actor was cast. Today, Kiwi Talks shared another interview, this time with Kynan Pearson. Pearson served as a Level Designer on Metroid Prime 2 and 3, moving up to Lead Designer on the latter. He covers a variety of Metroid and Donkey Kong topics in his interview, but the most interesting tidbit involves a scrapped Metroid Prime 2 multiplayer feature.
Metroid Prime 2 scrapped multiplayer feature
Metroid Prime 2 features a multiplayer mode, but Retro Studios initially had a more ambitious version of it in the works. Pearson calls the finished product “a lot more distilled and refined,” but revealed that an earlier version was playing around with an exciting feature. Players could customize the map in between matches.
When we built the layouts we would effectively put together a multiplayer map that facilitated gameplay by default. And then we had this idea of modifiers, so you could turn on spider ball tracks, morph ball cannons, hazards, and it would dynamically change. It was prior to playing, you wouldn’t do this live, but basically, it would fundamentally change the layout of the world based on these modifiers that you would put into play.
So the idea is you build a world so that it works where you’re running around on ground level but if you put lava in or Phazon, then all of a sudden you have a hazard down at the bottom, and only the things that are poking out of it — the world still has to function within the constraints that we built and the systems and the mechanics based on all these modifiers. And so we could do all kinds of clever things to basically make these maps feel like dramatically different levels than they were in their default form, and you could mix and match which ones you wanted to turn on. And we had to plan how all of the interconnected elements still made the level feel good no matter how many different routes and configurations you would put into it.
Ultimately, customizable maps did not make it into the finished product. But the work Retro did on this scrapped multiplayer feature would go on to impact the development of Metroid Prime 2‘s singleplayer campaign. According to Pearson, their time working with evolving maps gave them confidence that they could handle the Light World/Dark World mechanic, which similarly sees environments changing. Still, it would be pretty cool to see customizable maps in a Metroid Prime multiplayer match. Perhaps when Prime 4 finally arrives.