The game’s producers and lead designer tell us about the release date, story premise, multiplayer info, control details, and many new abilities!
Last updated: 05/11/2006 by Jonathan Metts
Today, we had the golden opportunity to sit down with some of the most important people in the development of the Metroid Prime series: Bryan Walker, Senior Producer; Mark Pacini, Lead Designer; Kensuke Tanabe, Producer for NCL, and Risa Tabata, Assistant Producer for NCL. The topic was of course Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and we learned a great deal about the game.
Perhaps most exciting is confirmation that Corruption is a Wii launch title, and the developers promise that it is just as big and deep as the previous games. And no need to worry about the game being labeled a “First-Person Shooter” in some of Nintendo’s press materials, because this is still very much an adventure game, just now with improved shooting mechanics thanks to the Wii controller. On the subject of multiplayer, Retro isn’t ruling out some kind of support for WiiConnect24, the console’s online service, but they are not interested in going back to the multiplayer mode from Echoes. They definitely want to stress the single-player gameplay as the game’s focus, so there may be no multiplayer at all.
The story completes the Phazon trilogy, with the nefarious substance now spreading across the galaxy. Corruption takes place over multiple planets, which Samus can travel among using her ship. This planet-hopping aspect is part of the game’s non-linearity, so you can go back and forth at will. You don’t actually control the ship in flight, but you can use the Command Visor to call upon it while exploring a planet. The ship can deliver an air strike during tough combat sequences, and it can move large objects blocking the way. The goal, according to the developers, was to give players a way to utilize the ship in ways that make sense in the context of Metroid gameplay.
Samus seeks to stop the spread of Phazon and eliminate its presence from the infected planets, even while she herself has been infected with Phazon and becomes increasingly affected by it as the game progresses. Her Phazon infection ties in with the gameplay, as she can now use its energy to enter “Hyper Mode” in either biped or Morph Ball form. While this power is in effect, her attacks are much more potent, but her health is in danger, and she could die if the ability is overused.
The ice-wielding character mentioned in Jonathan’s impressions is not Noxus from Metroid Prime: Hunters, but the character designer on Corruption also worked on Hunters and the first two Prime games, so that explains the similarity. There are several other bounty hunters featured throughout the game, and not all of them are as helpful as the one seen in the E3 demo.
In the E3 demo, Samus has some new uses for the Grappling Beam; Retro says that other familiar upgrades will also have surprising new uses. For instance, the X-Ray Visor is returning, but is now more useful when used in combination with a beam that shoots through walls. Screw Attack is returning and will be used much more, since you get it earlier in the game. There will be situations in which you can Screw Attack across a chasm, go straight into a Wall Jump to climb to a higher area, and then fly right back into the Screw Attack in this new area. Also, the Screw Attack will have more uses in combat this time around.
There’s a reason that the E3 demo suggests no method for switching beam weapons on the fly, which was a key feature of the control scheme on GameCube. In Corruption, there is no need to switch beam weapons. They stack upon each other as in Super Metroid, so your beam becomes more and more powerful as you go. This design should also speed up long-distance travel around the environments, because you won’t need to switch weapons back and forth to open doors. The Grappling Beam also has stacked upgrade effects.
The developers have listened to feedback on Echoes and are addressing some of those comments in Corruption. The difficulty will be slightly reduced (many Metroid fans were unable to finish the last game), and backtracking will be made less tedious, while still preserving the non-linear exploration aspects of the Metroid series. Scanning is definitely still part of the game, but the process will be faster, so players who don’t like to scan everything can more easily find critical scans and get them over with. Those who do like to read about every little object will find just as much backstory as in the previous games.
As for control, the development team is closely watching how players react to the E3 demo, as many elements of the control scheme are still being tweaked. For instance, the motion sequence to use the Grappling Beam is not finalized, and they are still considering how to use the accelerometers. Firing Samus’s beam weapon is currently mapped to the A button (with the reasoning that rapidly pressing the B trigger button could create finger fatigue), but that could change. There will definitely be pointer sensitivity options in the final game, just as there are in the E3 demo. The remote’s built-in speaker is not being used at this time, but they have many ideas on how it might be implemented.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is shaping up to be a huge new game in this venerable series, with completely new control methods and tons of new ideas that push the Metroid gameplay ever further. With this monster and Zelda both available at launch, Nintendo’s Wii will have more blockbusters on day one than most new consoles have within the first year.