Retro Studios once canned a Portal-esque game because Nintendo didn’t get it

Retro Studios was once working on a Portal-esque first-person puzzle game called Adept for the GameCube.

The studio began work on the game after Metroid Prime 3 and had a working prototype built in that game’s engine, but Nintendo said no.

Until now, footage of the prototype hadn’t been made public, but a new video from YouTube channel DidYouKnowGaming has revealed Adept – as well as fresh details on other cancelled games by Retro Studios.

Metroid Prime Remastered – Launch Trailer – Nintendo Switch

Adept was a first-person puzzle game similar to Valve’s Portal, except the player could utilise cylinders rather than portals. These cylinders had varying properties, like teleportation, force push, or different elements. Rather than just two portals, players could fire as many cylinders as they liked, which would add to the game’s combat as well as puzzle solving.

The prototype was made single handedly by Metroid Prime 2 and 3 programmer Paul Tozour. However, when footage was shown to Kensuke Tanabe, Metroid Prime series producer at Nintendo, he wasn’t keen, which Tozour put down to unfamiliarity with Portal.

“Nintendo Japan is very insular, and there is very much a ‘not invented here’ syndrome,” said Tozour. He even offered Tanabe a copy of Portal for research purposes in preparation for his pitch, but was told it was company policy to not accept gifts.

Tozour was told he could continue with development if he switched to the Nintendo DS handheld, but he felt the game wouldn’t work on that system.

Elsewhere in the DidYouKnowGamingVideo, more cancelled games are detailed. One of those is action adventure game Raven Blade – I remember watching a trailer for this on repeat ahead of the GameCube’s launch.

Raven Blade was eagerly anticipated, but according to this video its development was troubled owing to too many ideas and frequently changing direction – it would’ve taken seven or eight years to develop. Further, it was too ambitious for the GameCube hardware, with Retro Studios’ John Whitmore claiming Nintendo had overpromised on its capabilities.

Retro was given three months to make progress on the game by Nintendo, but it was ultimately canned.

In fact, it was one of a number of games that were canned in favour of Retro developing Metroid Prime. One of those was Metaforce, which went through a number of iterations before morph(ball)ing into the Metroid Prime project. Whitmore claimed the original concept had some of his best design work, but it was ultimately scrapped in favour of Nintendo’s IP.

That was Miyamoto’s idea, but Metroid wasn’t his series. Said Whitmore: “Miyamoto didn’t care if we killed it. If we did a bad job, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. It wasn’t one of his games. Both among NOA and some of the Nintendo Japan guys, would say basically ‘you guys get this because he doesn’t care that much about it’.”

Metroid Prime was a pivotal moment for the studio – had the game failed, the studio likely would’ve been shut down and Nintendo may never have trusted a Western developer again. Thankfully, it was a masterpiece – despite the amount of crunch and huge pressure the developers were under.

Plus, did you know an early model for Samus was based on 80s supermodel Cindy Crawford?

You can watch the full rundown in the video below.

8 Cancelled Nintendo Games from Retro Studios (New Discoveries)

Now, Retro Studios is back making Metroid Prime 4, though the last we heard development was rebooted from scratch at the start of 2019. Could we see it on Switch 2 instead?

Still, earlier this year Metroid Prime Remastered was released on Switch – it’s exceptional.

Latest Stories


Related articles