After this week’s emergence of some snazzy concept art for two canceled Retro Studios projects starring side characters from Mario and The Legend of Zelda, IGN snagged an interview with Sammy Hall, Retro’s former concept artist who is behind the images.
The two games, an action-JRPG and a handheld title respectively starring Sheik and Boo, never got off the ground. According to Hall, they were essentially products of basic brainstorming sessions. He said the following:
“I doubt many at Nintendo proper saw much of any of this stuff. I was mostly put into a room like Milton from Office Space and tasked to brainstorm between other projects.”
We do know a bit more about why Retro Studios never pushed these titles into production, though. IGN described their downward trajectory as such:
According to Hall, the ideas for both games came from ex-Retro leads Mark Pacini, Todd Keller and Kynan Pearson, but were ‘cancelled the week they went to create their other studios.’ It seems likely that, following the huge admiration for Metroid Prime – itself a spin-off from a beloved Nintendo franchise – that Retro either decided, or was asked to explore other new ideas within established series.
While these projects sound like they could have been quite good, I’m pretty happy with what Retro Studios made instead – the fantastic Donkey Kong Country revivals, some of Nintendo’s best. Now, they’ve taken over development on Metroid Prime 4 in a return to the series that earned them stripes. There’s unfortunately not really any hope for either of these projects to ever see the light of day, at least not as that day’s Retro Studios team would have made them. It’s strange to wonder what could have been.