Early plans for Metroid Prime 3 featured a more open world and less-linear story, a former staff member at Retro Studios has revealed.
Bryan Walker, senior producer on Metroid Prime 2 and 3, said one concept would have seen Samus traverse environments in her ship in a "much more ambitious" way than we saw in the final game.
"We wanted to a great degree leverage the ship as a playable asset, and we had that to some degree in Prime 3 but Mark [Pacini, Metroid Prime series director] was thinking much more ambitiously," Walker said.
"There was also an open world that was much less linear that he was proposing and the team was excited about. We weren't able to prototype a lot of those because they were really big. We did have some ship prototypes, but the open-world one was much bigger."
Metroid Prime 3 eventually released in August 2007, nine months after the Wii's launch, with far simpler sequences involving Samus' ship at specific story moments.
Why did Retro drop the idea of open world ship exploration? Walker says the studio had been eyeing the technical specs of rival platforms before eventually realising what the Wii would offer.
"We knew what the Xbox 360 was going to have, [we] knew what the PS3 was going to have and the initial specs we were looking at [for Wii] were not competitive from a hardware and memory standpoint... there were all these disadvantages.
"We were a little concerned, to be blunt, and then they rolled out the Wii Remote and kind of in unison the team went, 'Ah! Ok.'"
It's fair to say Metroid Prime 3 ended up the least beloved of the altogether classic trilogy - so it's interesting now to hear one idea Retro had for changing up its gameplay.
That said, the idea of an open world explorable via ship is a drastic departure - and one I'd have been curious to see pulled off.
"We may have fallen short of our goals with Prime 3 in not being able to expand the formula a bit," Walker concluded. "We're still very, very proud of Prime 3, it turned out to be a fantastic game, but I would be very interested to see what the response would be, especially the fan community, to the expanded ship and the non-linear experience that we were touching upon."
Retro Studios is now busy building Metroid Prime 4, after development was rebooted from scratch and given to the studio in 2019. Walker, meanwhile, now works at Life is Strange: True Colors developer Deck Nine Games, which just released its enjoyable DLC expansion Wavelengths.