Monday, January 25, 2021

Metroid Prime Trilogy Nintendo Switch HD GRAPHICS Development Secret Found? + Gigapixel MOD Tutorial


This is the 2 year anniversary week of when Metroid Prime 4 was delayed and restarted development, so in light of that I have some interesting information here I’ve been working on to share with you. This will be a graphics preview of sorts and expectations for the heavily rumored and extremely likely to be revealed soon,  Metroid Prime Trilogy for the Nintendo Switch and a Tutorial on how you can play Metroid Prime Trilogy better than ever before in 2021 both in visuals and resolution on the latest Mod for Dolphin using mouse and keyboard controls along with an amazing Gigapixel Texture Mod. We’ll explain how it works, what Gigapixel does and how you can use it along with the best settings to make it run for you with the least amount of glitches. 

Metroid Prime Trilogy has had extremely credible rumors from vetted and trusted sources dating back all the way to early 2018 that a Metroid Prime Trilogy HD Collection would be released before Metroid Prime 4 was released. The reveal of this collection seemingly was pushed back after the big delay of Metroid Prime 4 on January 25th, 2019, two years ago where various reliable sources indicated that the game was in fact ready to be shown, but due to the nature of the incoming long delay of Metroid Prime 4 at the time, Nintendo decided to hold off until a much later time. Now that we are in 2021 and from indications seeming to be getting clearer and clearer that we’ll be seeing Metroid Prime 4 perhaps in trailer form this year, it does make a lot of sense to take a deeper look at Metroid Prime Trilogy since it would be very logical to conclude that Nintendo would reveal and even release this collection in 2021 to not only get new fans introduced to Metroid Prime, but also to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Metroid, which started in 1986. 

The question that remains however, is just in what way will Nintendo release this Metroid Prime Trilogy Collection? Will they fully remaster all 3 games, all getting new textures and upgraded models? Or will they take the Super Mario 3D Collection approach and just make them HD emulated ports cleaning up some rough edges here and there? For me, what I think would be great, which seems unlikely of course due to Nintendo’s current way of re-releasing games, but as we’ve been covering here for the past year or so Retro Studios has been working on a new engine of sorts for Metroid Prime 4, using various elements and hiring for experience in working with Unreal Engine and CryEngine. Since Metroid Prime Trilogy seems very likely to release before Metroid Prime 4, it would be very interesting if Retro Studios remastered the original Trilogy running on this New Engine from Metroid Prime 4 since no doubt they already have this engine working and could theoretically run better on the Switch or of course this heavily reported/rumored New Switch coming and may run it better than just emulating those old games with updated textures. In my opinion would be the best and most preferred way to relive those games with newer tech running them. However for this video, and based on Nintendo’s recent actions, we’ll take a look at what appears to be the most likely scenario, which would be some kind of HD port or emulated port of the Metroid Prime Trilogy.  

After doing some digging on what the best possible way to play Metroid Prime Trilogy is on Dolphin, I found some amazing mods that use the original textures of all 3 games, and a Modder in the community did a texture dump of the files and re-output all the textures using a program called Topaz AI Gigapixel. 

Here is the definition of it from the Topaz A.I. Gigapixel site: “Topaz A.I. Gigapixel is the first A.I. standalone application for superior Image up sampling, made for batch resizing your images up to 6x! It uses the power of Topaz’s proprietary Artistic Intelligence engine to make sharper and clearer upscaled images more than traditional upscaling tools. Because A.I. Gigapixel models calculate over a million calculations per pixel, this software is standalone only(it does not work as a plugin or studio adjustment) that inherently takes a long time to process your image, but the quality of the end result far surpasses our competitors.”


None of the textures in Metroid Prime Trilogy using Gigapixel were redone by a graphics engineer or artist, and if it were, that might be a large amount of work and would take a Modder or fans probably years to make. The Modder who used Gigapixel simply fed all the textures from Metroid Prime Trilogy, all 3 games, and the program re-scaled and up sampled all them on it’s own, which likely took the program many hours to complete, but it wasn’t done by remaking textures, which is a huge key point here. As you can see in the comparison, it does show a noticeable improvement in clarity and detail while maintaining the same look as the original game. It’s really an amazing technology and I could easily see Nintendo or Retro Studios doing something similar for the Switch and just running the 3 games at 1080p 60fps. The file size for the Gigapixel textures for the Trilogy was about 16GB, so it’s something very doable for the Nintendo Switch with no remaking of textures, and no remaking of assets or character models. This would be the most barebones way Metroid Prime Trilogy could be ported to HD and still look great with the least amount of effort for Nintendo, and like we’ve been pointing out with the recent Mario 3D Collection, this technique could be exactly what Nintendo would prefer to do, and of course maximize the most profits from development time and charging likely the full $60 for a collection like this.

The question is now, how easy or difficult is it to have your own Metroid Prime Trilogy HD so to speak while we wait for Nintendo to announce it? Well first of all, you do need to own Metroid Prime Trilogy on actual hardware, which I do, and I have gameplay videos of me playing the original Metroid Prime Trilogy on the Wii U on this channel which you can find in my Metroid Prime playlist. There are also various methods and tutorials online on how you can backup your game files either from disc or SD card from the Wii and Wii U, which I won’t be getting into here. However if you have all those things already taken care of, you can in fact enjoy Metroid Prime Trilogy just like this on a decent spec PC. My recommendation is to have at least a GTX 1060 and above, any i5, i7 or Ryzen CPU from the last 3 years and at least 16GB of system RAM along with the Dolphin Emulator, an emulator that has been around since 2003, it’s  nearly 20 years old has had amazing upgrades over the years and currently is the best way to play GC/Wii games on your PC. 

To get this Mod working correctly you will need to play Metroid Prime Trilogy with it’s own custom version of Dolphin made specifically for the game, called PrimeHack Updater. I will have links in the description for the files you need to make this work. Here is an easy step by step way to get this working and a very important setting tip in the Dolphin PrimeHack that should help minimize or eliminate bugs and glitches, so pay attention closely or you can always pause the video and repeat. 

After you download and install PrimeHack, it can be put in any file location you wish, but for me I already had regular Dolphin installed so I just put it into my Dolphin file located by default in your Documents folder, and here I put a shortcut on my desktop to show you. I found this easier since regular Dolphin already creates certain file folders for you that you’ll need to install the texture pack in and any other hacks you’d like to try as well. You just click on PrimeHack Updater and it will create the Metroid Samus Crosshair Red Ball that will then become your own Custom Metroid Prime Dolphin Emulator. Before you start the game though you need to install the Textures. The link that I will provide in the description has all the textures in a file named “Trilogy” once you download that file you’ll move it into your Dolphin Emulator folder and you’ll open it up and copy the files named “Common” “MP1” “MP2” and “MP3” and you’ll then navigate into the “Load” folder and then to the “Textures” Folder and then you’ll paste those files into the name I.D. file folder of Metroid Prime Trilogy which in the United States should be named “R3ME01” and then you’ll paste those 4 files into that folder which should overwrite anything that was there before, basically the old textures from Metroid Prime Trilogy are being overwritten with these Gigapixel textures. To find the name I.D. of your version of MPT just go to the game directory in PrimeHack Dolphin, right click on the game and go to Properties the name of the ISO will be at the top of the Properties selection area. Make sure the name of the file you paste the textures in matches the name of the ISO or the textures won’t be recognized in the game or the game will crash. 

Now that you’re ready to start the game, using Mouse and Keyboard could seem like a huge problem for Metroid Prime, especially for Metroid Prime 3 right? Well you can take a look at my control scheme and see if it works for you. One thing I’ve found that works for me is making the middle mouse scroll wheel act as + and - to zoom in and out on the Map really helps. All this took a lot of time and trial and error to make it feel right for me, or basically “good enough” so it’s very playable and feeling good. 

The most important option that you should make sure is disabled is in the config settings under general, make sure you have the Dual Core box UNCHECKED,  meaning blank, also go into the Metroid Prime Trilogy ISO properties under Game Config and make sure Dual Core is UNCHECKED there as well. Leaving it checked causes freezing, visual glitches like the aspect ratio getting warped and crashes so make sure Dual Core is blank and unchecked for the best running experience on your PC. As far as graphics are concerned, most of the default options are fine to leave alone besides things like resolution, AA and AF. For my PC setup, which is a Ryzen 3900X and 1080Ti, I’m playing it at 1440p with 4x MSAA and 16AF and it pretty much runs at 60fps with the occasional loading pauses which are almost impossible to get rid of in a game like this running custom textures. 

I hope this information was interesting, informative and helpful, especially now as we wait for Metroid Prime Trilogy to be announced and revealed by Nintendo, if you just can’t wait to get some HD Metroid Prime Trilogy action right now,  doing this here, just might quench your thirst for it in the meantime. 

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