Metroid Prime 3 was once an open world game, but it fell through because Nintendo didn't understand what a bounty hunter is.
News of an open world Metroid game surfaced last year when Bryan Walker, senior producer on Metroid Prime 2 and 3, mentioned the idea on the Kiwi Talkz podcast, as previously reported.
However, speaking to YouTube channel DidYouKnowGaming, new details have surfaced.
Metroid Prime 3 was planned to involve open world bounty hunting, but Walker has now set the record straight on what exactly that would have entailed.
"We were not proposing in any way, shape, or form - even in our wildest dreams - that we would have like Metroid Prime Skyrim... we were not talking about 200 hour side quests or anything like that," he told DidYouKnowGaming.
"[More precisely, it was] the ability for the player to operate out of a hub area, and to go on to different missions that didn't necessarily lend themselves directly to the normal path-progression that a Metroid Prime game was known for, as far as traversal, retraversal, and so forth. [Samus had] the ability to step outside of that and do more things on the side."
Many members of the Retro Studios team imagined Samus as a bounty hunter like Boba Fett from Star Wars, but with a sense of honour. As such, this open world idea would have had Samus chasing down baddies across the galaxy, with the rewards being new abilities (for both Samus and her ship) rather than currency.
However, when Retro pitched the idea to Nintendo, it had a completely different view on Samus as a character.
Walker explains that the Japanese translator described Samus as "very altruistic" and "motherly", that Samus saves the galaxy because she deeply cares about humanity.
It turns out Nintendo didn't really know what a bounty hunter was, despite describing Samus as that since the first game in 1986. Instead they saw her as a space adventurer with a heart of gold, which didn't fit with the open world bounty hunting concept.
Further, the Retro team wasn't equipped for such a huge undertaking. Walker said the team was "hardwired and staffed to make that finely-crafted and balanced experience" of the first two Metroid Prime games.
An open world game is "outside of the very tightly-scripted, very carefully crafted experience of discovery and isolation that really are the fundamentals of the Metroid experience - not only in Prime, but the 2D games as well."
So what does this mean for Metroid Prime 4? With Retro once again taking the helm, could we see a return to some of these open world ideas with a bigger team and more powerful hardware?
The video has other anecdotes about the creation of the first Metroid Prime too.
Shigeru Miyamoto was happy for Retro to take on a new game in the series because it wasn't a franchise he himself created. Original lead developer for Metroid Prime John Whitmore told DidYouKnowGaming: "Miyamoto didn't care if we killed it".
However, the popularity of the Metroid Prime Spaceworld video in 2000 inspired Nintendo to develop Metroid Fusion as a companion game on the Game Boy Advance.
Miyamoto still was instrumental in Metroid Prime's success though, particularly with changing to a first-person perspective and remapping the controls to fit the GameCube controller.
Check out the full video below to see more Metroid Prime facts.