It’s another tough week for Metroid fans, as Michael Wikan, the former lead designer on all three Metroid Prime games, took to Facebook to discuss why he thinks a Switch port of the Metroid Prime Trilogy isn’t likely to happen.
“The biggest issue is [that Retro Studios] no longer has functional editor tools to work with the Prime code base, so everything has to be “brute force” hard coded.
Rebuilding the hundreds of interaction sets in [Metroid Prime 3] alone, not to mention re-tuning the game play to take in the slower engagement pacing of conventional controls, would probably take a year with a 4-5 person team, full-time, by itself.”
Rumours of the re-release of the Metroid Prime Trilogy have been making the rounds since at least 2018, but nothing has ever come of them. If Wikan’s testimony is to be trusted — which it likely is, as someone intimately familiar with all three games — then it’s just a rumour, and no more.
“I am pretty skeptical it will happen. It was straightforward to update [Metroid Prime 1] and [Metroid Prime 2] to motion controls, but converting [Metroid Prime 3] to normal controls would be a herculean effort, as it is scripted very specifically using volumetric triggers to detect the motion in precise manners to do specific switches, and the bosses are tuned to take into account the ease of gestural aiming.”
It wouldn’t be the first time that a port has been rendered impossible by the lack of decent archiving and preservation in the games industry, either. Final Fantasy 8 was infamously not included in Square Enix’s re-releases of old Final Fantasy games in 2018 because the masters — the original code for the game — were lost. Even the games that did get saved in some form still involved having to recreate backgrounds and character art, because the art in the old games had been compressed to save space, and the HD versions had evidently been thrown away or lost.
However, this year’s Skyward Sword re-release on the Switch has done what Wikan here says is “herculean”: rewriting a specifically motion-controlled game to be controlled “normally”. Perhaps Skyward Sword is a proof-of-concept for more Wii ports on the Switch — or, perhaps it’s something that takes a monumental amount of effort that only Nintendo themselves are able to afford.
Unfortunately, for now, it looks like Wikan has it right: the Metroid Prime Trilogy won’t be coming to Switch any time soon. Or ever. At least we have Metroid Prime 4 coming soon… right?