The Nintendo Wii is arguably one of the innovative video game consoles ever released, but when it comes to raw power – at the time, it was well behind the competition. This led to some third-party developers completely skipping the generation, and even certain Nintendo teams were forced to rethink their approach to next-generation games after being caught off guard by the hardware’s technical limitations.
In an interview with podcaster Reece Reilly – AKA: Kiwi Talkz, the former Metroid Prime technical lead engineer, Jack Matthews (who worked on the first three Prime games) admitted part of the reason he moved on from the studio was not just fatigue, but also because of Nintendo’s underpowered “next-generation” hardware. For Matthews, remaining with Nintendo at Retro Studios would have meant “staying a bit in a box” and “a bit behind” the times.
“Like honestly, when the Wii came out, on a technical side of things, I was a little disappointed in it and that might have also led to some of that fatigue, I really wanted to work on really cool things and I think Bryan Walker mentioned it…but part of that really did stick with me, that technically staying with Nintendo was going to mean staying a bit in a box and a bit behind, and so creatively as an engineer, that was a creative problem for me. It was hard to justify that.”
While Matthews didn’t necessarily have a problem working within certain constraints, it was the fact it was going to be essentially working within the “same box” again – with the Wii sharing a close resemblance to the GameCube hardware. This also made Nintendo’s next-generation far less appealing to him:
“It’s easy to work in a box but when it’s that same box – and again, the Wii is fundamentally very similar hardware to the GameCube. Now the controller stuff was really cool and innovative, but I am not a gameplay programmer, I don’t really do all that much in terms of gameplay, the closest I get to gameplay is working on the visors. And so for me creatively it really did kind of sting a little bit that on Prime 3… I personally was very excited – and I know some other people were – to work on what would have been next-generation hardware, and then when that was sort of pulled out, I didn’t have that much of a desire to keep working on the Wii after that for very long, so there’s one of the reasons I left.”
Matthews went on to found Armature Studios – working on games like Recore and Batman Arkham Origins: Black Gate. What are your thoughts about him leaving Retro Studios and the Metroid Prime series behind because of the technical limitations of the Nintendo Wii? Leave a comment down below.