Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Interview reveals new Metroid Prime 3 details

Nintendo Now: We’ve seen out on the floor what’s inside the Metroid Prime 3 demo. Are there any additional features that are lacking or that we haven’t seen?

Mark Pacini: [laughs] Well, the rest of the game.

Nintendo Now: Well, other than things like motion control for the grappling beam and pushing levers, do you plan on implementing more features using the Wii’s abilities?

Mark Pacini: Yeah, what we did in the demo was just kind of scratching the surface of what we’re planning on doing but I don’t really want to talk too much about what we’re going to be doing as far as using the uniqueness of the controller at this point. But what we feel like we’ve kind of proven is what we can do and there’s going to be a lot more of it. But as far as Samus’s abilities and things like that for Metroid Prime 3, one of the big things that we’ll be using in this game is the use of Samus’s ship. Not necessarily to fly around, but through the use of a visor you can command the ship from third-person to do things for you remotely. So it can do bombing runs or lift up these huge items, and it can be used as a platform as well. Along with that, you can fly to different planets in the game and you can use your ship for that, but you do not need direct control of your ship. Another big feature is the use of Hyper Mode outside of just special circumstances. The player can actually go into Hyper Mode at any time they want. And there’s a special subset of abilities that they’ll have access to for that.

Nintendo Now: Are you planning on using the speaker on the remote for any special purpose?

Kensuke Tanabe: Well, because we just disclosed the speaker issue, we didn’t include anything about the speaker in the E3 demo. In the future we’ll say more about the speaker.

Nintendo Now: Some people have felt that the sensitivity makes it kind of hard to do things. Do you think that you’ll include adjustable sensitivity?

Bryan Walker: Yes.

Nintendo Now: And, also, some people have mentioned that depending on where the sensor is in relation to the TV, above or below, the game senses differently. Do you think this is something you’ll have to address by making a feature to optimize gameplay in relation to where the sensor is placed?

Mark Pacini: Since this is new technology, we’re always learning new ways that things do or don’t work. As far as the sensitivity issue, that’s something that there is a learning curve for with the Metroid Prime games. It is a little bit more complicated in the control scheme, but after, we’re kind of estimating, fifteen or twenty minutes, you start to get it. Then when you come back the next time, it becomes very intuitive. And that’s because it’s so new and it’s just like your first time using a mouse and keyboard to play a first person shooter. It’s the same sort of thing. There is a learning curve involved, and you come back again and are like “How did I ever play without this?” As far as tunable sensitivity, absolutely. That is something that we found that people want - more and less sensitivity. I don’t think we’re going to be able to come up with one control scheme that works for everybody. But again, it’s something that, because this is such a cool and new piece of technology, we need help from people that are playing the game to give feedback. That’s something we absolutely want to do.

Nintendo Now: A little update on that question about the sensor bar: I was told by a Nintendo executive on the floor that some games are specifically developed for the sensor bar on the top of the TV, and some games are specifically developed for the bottom of the TV. So I was wondering if there was some option where you can say “I want it at the bottom” and it automatically compensates for that.

Mark Pacini: Well, when we ship it, it won’t matter where you put it.

Nintendo Now: Can you tell us anything about the storyline?

Mark Pacini: Yes [laughs]. Well the main theme of the game, the title, is “Corruption.” Metroid Prime 1 and 2 dealt with, as kind of a substoryline, this material called Phazon. And it had pretty devastating impacts on the two planets you went to on the games before. Well, now in Metroid Prime: Corruption, we’re kind of tying up the Phazon storyline. Phazon becomes a much more top-level storyline, which not only is the backdrop to the motivations of why Samus is going to other planets, but also Samus becomes corrupted with the Phazon herself. It opens up gameplay use for this corruption theme, like I mentioned earlier with Hyper Mode. Basically, Samus is going to different planets to remove the corruption, and she’s also trying to find a way to remove the corruption from herself.

Nintendo Now: I heard that there’s not going to be online competitive multiplayer. Is that true?

Bryan Walker: That’s correct.

Nintendo Now: What was your motivation behind leaving that out?

Bryan Walker: We added [competitive multiplayer] in Metroid Prime 2 and it was fun. It was an experiment for us. In Metroid Prime 3, we really wanted to go back to the roots of Metroid, a very immersive single player first-person adventure. But that said, we’re also very excited about the Wii Connect24 functionality, and we’re discussing a number of options for Metroid Prime 3 to take advantage of that, and add value to the overall experience.

Nintendo Now: So there may be downloads for upgrades or weapons?

Bryan Walker: Those are things that we’re discussing.

Nintendo Now: I know that I saw some usual faces from the Metroid franchise, with Ridley. Are there going to be other classic bosses or enemies, or is the rest all new?

Mark Pacini: Yes, again the motivation of Ridley being there in the demo definitely ties into the storyline in a solid way, but some of those familiar faces are just that: they’re just a couple of familiar faces. In the Metroid Prime series, we really try to break out and make kind of our own area of Metroid fiction. All the bosses are going to be brand new. There are several other bounty hunters that show up in the game as specifically from Metroid Prime 3. We always like to bring in a couple familiar faces to hearken back to the previous games, but that’s definitely a small minority of what’s in the game.

Nintendo Now: Beyond the capabilities to control your ship with the visor, does Samus have any other brand new abilities in the game?

Mark Pacini: Yeah, actually we have a pretty different weapon system than in previous games. Before, the weapon system was mainly about switching weapons. In this game the weapons are going to be stackable, they’re similar to Super Metroid. We kind of modeled our system a little bit after that. So each beam that the player gets will stack on top of one another and keep their inherent abilities but become more powerful. That’s what happens to all of Samus’s weapons. So her beam weapons will stack, her missile weapons will stack, and also her grapple beam will stack as well. And as far as new weapons the player will have: just simple things like, Samus will get one beam ability that allows her to shoot through materials. That, in combination with one of the visors she’ll have, the X-ray visor, she’ll be able to solve certain puzzles or defeat certain creatures by detecting targets underneath surfaces. We’re really trying to make her weapons work in conjunction with each other, rather than just having a more powerful beam.

Nintendo Now: You mentioned that Samus is corrupted. How does that affect her and the gameplay experience?

Mark Pacini: Like I mentioned before, it’s very much a main storyline and gameplay path that we are taking with Corruption. Samus is dying because of this corruption, and not only is it affecting her, but it’s affecting other planets and other people. So what benefits the player gets from that is that you’re able to use Hyper Mode at any time. As a caveat to that, you’ll become very powerful for a short period of time, but you’ll also have a possibility of dying because you’re using this ability. So the player has to learn how to balance this system, where you might want to go into Hyper Mode and use all your Phazon – your health switches to a different management system – and you might just use all your Phazon really quick and get through a tough area and then you’re out of Hyper Mode. But because you can manage this bar by how much you shoot, and your shots take out a certain number of Phazon units, you can actually stay in hyper mode for a longer period of time and be powerful for a longer period of time, at the expense of possibly dying. So it’s kind of a system where hardcore people who are really good at the game might kind of take advantage of that system at a high risk.

Nintendo Now: Speaking of people who are good at the game, how are you trying to make Metroid Prime 3 appeal to people who have not played Metroid Prime 1 or 2? Since Wii is also targeting people who haven’t gamed before…

Kensuke Tanabe: Because we have the new Wii controller, it can allow the player to play the game more intuitively. It means that the player can point on the screen and play the game very easily, even for inexperienced players. As well, we are planning on making the game itself a little bit easier than before, so it will allow more players to be able to play. But maybe a bit more difficult than playing the [Wii Sports] tennis game. [laughs]

Nintendo Now: There was a character who comes to your aid in the demo that was reminiscent of Noxus from Metroid Prime Hunters for the Nintendo DS. Any relation?

Bryan Walker: His name is Rundus.

Mark Pacini: It’s definitely a different bounty hunter in Metroid Prime 3. The same concept artist from Metroid Prime Hunters also worked on Metroid Prime 1, Prime 2, and Prime 3. So maybe there is an intentional style similarity to tie it in, and maybe some backstory on it.

Nintendo Now: We’re just about out of time.

Bryan Walker: We’d also like to reinforce that we collaborate very closely with Mr. Tanabe and his team. They provided a lot of great ideas. We did most of the talking, but Metroid Prime 3 is a team effort.

Nintendo Now: Any last words on the game?

Kensuke Tanabe: One of the purposes of the Wii controller is making it a little easier for the player to play first person games, so we would like you all to enjoy that type of experience.

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Great stuff! Now soup up those graphics and we're in business. Can't wait for this game!

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