Donkey Kong/Metroid Prime dev calls Wii U a "powerhouse," confirms new game

Retro Studios says the perception that the Wii U is not a powerful console is "just not true," confirms work on new game, but what could it be?

The Wii U, from a technical standpoint, is a "powerhouse," Donkey Kong and Metroid Prime developer Retro Studios believes. Speaking with GameSpot editor Peter Brown recently, Retro Studios president and CEO Michael Kelbaugh said developers shouldn't brush the console aside over fears that it's under-powered.

"Unfortunately, the perception is that it's not a very powerful machine," Kelbaugh said about the Wii U. "That's just not true. It's a powerhouse. It's more than adequate to make great games on."

Kelbaugh went on to label the Wii U a "great box to make games on." Retro Studios' first project for the Wii U was Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, released last week. He said his team had to overcome a steep learning curve that came with transitioning from Wii to Wii U. But he was happy to face this challenge, as it meant his artists became "uncorked" and free from the "traditional limitations" they'd been under for so long with the original Wii.

"It was really fun being able to crack that open for the first time and learning HD techniques; pixel shading, having a lot more horsepower and how that impacts the team. It was really fun to watch our artists just go crazy because now they didn't really have to worry about polygons anymore. 'Make as many as you want!'"

Despite Kelbaugh's admiration for the Wii U, the system is struggling, having sold only 5.61 million units worldwide since its launch in November 2012. Nintendo even recently slashed its sales forecast for the machine by a massive margin. Nintendo is no doubt looking to games like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, as well as upcoming titles like Mario Kart 8 and all-new Super Smash Bros. and Legend of Zelda titles to help things turn around.

"We love working with Donkey Kong. It's a great character. It's a lot of fun. We love working with Metroid Prime, with Mario Kart; those are fun, fun games to work on. So, you know, you can't lose."

Also in our interview, veteran Nintendo producer Kensuke Tanabe confirmed that Retro Studios is working on a new game, but he would not say anything more than that. This game has been in development for a few months now, as Retro wrapped work on Tropical Freeze in November and hasn't been sitting by idly, Kelbaugh assured us.

But what might the new game be? Last year, iconic Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto singled out Retro as a "high-priority" studio to make a new Metroid game, leading some to believe the Austin, Texas outfit is indeed working on the beloved franchise. Miyamoto has also said previously that it "could be possible" for Retro to work on a new Zelda. But Kelbaugh won't say.

"We love working with Donkey Kong. It's a great character. It's a lot of fun. We love working with Metroid Prime, with Mario Kart; those are fun, fun games to work on. So, you know, you can't lose," he said. "Every one of those IPs have been a lot of fun to play with and work on and [we'd] love to come back to them sometime."

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

1244 comments
spywithin
spywithin

who gives a crap how powerful the console is! The only thing that matters is that it's fun to play.the fact of the matter is that you're going to get a gaming experience that you can't get anywhere else with the Wii U.people treat gaming way too seriously nowadays.so just lighten up, get a life, and give it a try. You might end up having fun for once. Instead over analyzing the hardware specs all the time.

javalino
javalino

its a 2008 powerhouse indeed !!!

suppaphly42
suppaphly42

i myself want a wii-u but i am waiting for a metroid game just that simple IMO metroid is nintendo's best ip and does not get the attention it deserves

Arachnofunk
Arachnofunk

It might not be the most powerful console out there but no one can deny how gorgeous games can look in the Wii U, like Mario 3D World and DK Tropical Freeze. 

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

A developer of two Nintendo only games say good things about the Wii-U. Who would tell!

Overkillhazard
Overkillhazard

This is the exact endorsement I want from the team that maxed out the Gamecube with Metroid Prime.  Besides, the differences between specs in this console generation is heavily exaggerated by pretty much everyone: the differences between consoles in terms of specs are no where near as large as the difference between the specs of these consoles and a decent gaming PC (not super expensive, within a budget).  The Wii U runs on a PowerPC CPU (essentially an obsolete architecture) with less cores than the other consoles but what appears to be a higher clock frequency; the Xbone and the PS4 run on mobile chips: 8 cores, but at 2.0 GHz (even less for Xbone), these are essentially laptop and tablet chips, and while capable IF properly programmed for, will likely stall if a game is not optimized for multithreading (which still accounts for an alarming number of games and software in general).  None of the GPUs used by these systems are notable: for Xbone and PS4, it's obsolete mid-end at best.  Unfortunately, no one really knows much about the Wii U's GPU, so I can't post that info: all I know is that it is not impressive itself.

Point is, none of these consoles are as different as people say they are in terms of power: if you want great graphics and smooth performance, you're going to go PC.  I, for one, am hyped up for multiplats on PC and exclusives on the Wii U, and this endorsement by Retro only increases the hype.

Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

I spent my whole weekend with Mario 3D world. The Wii U is a fantastic system if you love Nintendo games. And an okay system if you want other stuff. 

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

Congrats Retro, you can now work with PIXEL SHADING.

Welcome to developing for LAST GENERTION TECHNOLOGY.

The wii u is not a power house, just 'cause it's better than the wii!

torrne667
torrne667

A "powerhouse"?....the wiiu isnt even a "wendy house"! This is so "oh dont pick on the slower children in the race, everyone is a winner and deserves a medal" type bullshit. This is business, the weaker and the stronger need to be identified no matter how fun each of them are. I'm sure there are people who love the wiiu... but lets not talk shite and say it is a powerful console compared to the xbox one and ps4.

anshanlord
anshanlord

I have no idea why people still support Nintendo, they're utter crap, a couple of good games every year(not to mention they're all the repetition of the same non-sense that has been going on since the 90's) all of the arguments in favour of Nintendo seem to be saying that "It's true that the hardware sucks and there's practically no multi-platform hardcore game support but they make great exclusives"......well in response to that I'd like to say, their exclusive are mostly childish reminiscent of our childhood favourites which are no longer as appealing as they were when we were 5!(first time I played Mario) and Sony makes all these great exclusive titles(Uncharted, God of war, Heavy rain, Beyond, Killzone, The Last of Us) has all these great multi-platform games and a lot of exclusive titles from external publishers(Persona, Demon's souls, Dragon's crown etc) and their hardware is superior to other hardware in the market!

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

I don't see why people think this is funny. Retro is really talented and Nintendo knows how to take care, Retro frankly needed Nintendo's hand to guide them to.the success they are.

You want something funny? Try to explain why Metroid Prime, despite being made on an altered Unreal Engine 2, still looks more appealing than most games on 360 and PS3 with unreal Engine 3?

Nintendo if anything makes use of their hardware others don't, The Wii did things PS2 and Xbox could never imagine doing and that's exactly what Wii U is to 360 and PS3, if your just gonna blab cause its not as powerful as Next Gen consoles, when the next gen consoles haven't even shown their worth yet, you need to your check your status.

Gamespot said it themselves last year that 3D World was the best Next Gen Exclusive period, that shows Wii U still has enough worth in it, and that's just Gameplay, just the way it should be.

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

People whine too much

Its not news that Nintendo's internal development knows what their doing, its the.third parties who don't seem to know how to use the Wii U's inner capabilities.

robbiejones
robbiejones

Def has enough power init for the games they bring out. The games that have been coming out look amazing in mostly 1080p!! kinda jealous my brother owns one 

finalkain
finalkain

Simple Point is Who gives a fuck how powerful the system is if it isnt supported. Nintendo makes more games I want to play for the damn 3DS than the WiiU. Its like if the XB360 only had Halo and Gears of War... Good games but you need more IPs, Variety, Support. 


Not Everyone wants to play just Mario and Smash Bros forever.

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

I cringe when Nintendo talks about how their system is powerful.


It's not.  Not in comparison to its contemporary competition, the PS4 and Xbone.


Arguing the system's power not only makes Nintendo and its developers look stupid, it completely misses the point.


The tech geeks who masturbate over specs have already passed on Nintendo, as have the casuals who have moved on to the next fad.  Neither group can be won back, at least not with this system.  What's left are the core gamers, the people who crave new and exciting experiences.  Nintendo has the development talent to push forth some awesome games, games that can't be had on other software.  Bayonetta 2 and X are a good start, but if Nintendo wants to turn the Wii U around, they need to stop trying to make the power argument and increase the output of great games.


While I'm at it, I'm disheartened by the fact that we're once more only talking about Retro working on established Nintendo IP.  Nintendo needs to break free of their core mascots.  Not shelve them entirely, but make more games where they're free from the conventions that their series' demand.  this is especially true of Zelda and DKC, series which both feel so chained by convention as to invite the question of why we're getting these new games if they're just like the old.  Mario fares better, but Nintendo needs to bring us something we don't expect, and do it often, if it wants to make the Wii U a respectable outing.


And for the love of all things sacred, stop trying to convince us you've got the chops tech wise.  You don't, Nintendo.  Instead of covering up their weaknesses, Nintendo need to play to their strengths.

ExplicitMike
ExplicitMike

Been playing Tropical Freeze. Is good, but is not the game they were hyping it to be. I have a lot of issues with it. As for power is all on how you use it. At least now Nintendo devs have something to work with. They didn't with the original Wii.

donmega1
donmega1

powerful, but the games still suck...

Bowser05
Bowser05

Oh my. I don't care what they're making...I'll get it. They've not once disappointed me...and now they are one of the few companies I trust out there.

AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

It's telling that Retro have only just been learning HD techniques recently.


Nintendo's entry into the HD arena was too late. Imagine if the WiiU was now entering its fourth year instead of just it's second. 


Still, I'm interested in seeing what they are up to.

RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

Wii U is graphically powerful, just not as powerful as PS4/ X1/ or a decent P.C.


I'm not a Wii U owner but darn!! Bayonetta 2 looks good for starters. 


& as a PS4 owner, so far I'm not seeing a massive leap from the best (graphically) games the PS3 offered. All in all the main thing I like is the DualShock 4, which also works well on a PS3 :)

corrus
corrus

Even my Vita is better than that

dylandude392
dylandude392

This just in: Game Developer working on developing a game.


I did not see this coming.

pedram007
pedram007

When you make exclusive games only for Nintendo...what else can you say...

CyrusDrake20
CyrusDrake20

Retro Studios is a great company. Makes me proud to be a Texan, ;-)

calvinsora
calvinsora

Super Mario Galaxy 2 was, IMO, the best game of last generation, hands down. I say this despite me liking my PS3 more than my Wii. As long as brilliant games are made on the system, the Wii U should (and most likely will) flourish. Already, there are some brilliant games on the system, it just needs the momentum of its handheld cousin to really make the consumer acknowledge its worth.
All this being said, it's rather depressing to read the comments section here. Console wars have always puzzled me.

badmeatloaf
badmeatloaf

Not only and idiot but a Sony fanboy.

cracklos
cracklos

@anshanlord  You  think you're an adult and therefore you have to give up playing  Mario and others Nintendo games. You have no idea. Videogames are an art, and Nintendo makes masterpieces. It is true it's not the best moment for Nintendo, but it doesn't mean Nintendo demises.

Mario, DK, Zelda... will always give us lots of fun and that is the most important thing in a game.

Mayleene
Mayleene

@anshanlord Opinions are like assholes.  Ever wonder why no one cares about yours?

gameroutlawzz
gameroutlawzz

@anshanlord  lol your list of ''great exclusive titles'' More like bland,dull interactive movie piece of crap outside of God of War which introduces good gameplay theyre all part of a cancerous trend slowly killing this industry. You suck at games,get it clear,youre bad and you should feel bad. Nintendo games are all masterpieces and always been.

BradBurns
BradBurns

@hotdiddykong  Well the original Xbox did graphics and bump mapping on Doom 3 that simply could not be done on the Wii. And the Conker's Bad Fur Day remake for it looked miles beyond anything the Wii could do graphically, it was a good looking game. 

gameroutlawzz
gameroutlawzz

@finalkain  Wonderful 101 which is truly amazing,Unepic, DKC:TF, console is fully backward compatible so you can play LOZ: SS which is a masterpiece. Yeah,only mario and SSB my ass. Also SSB Brawl with Project M is some of the greatest fun you can have with friends on a gaming console for now.

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

You do realize everything you just said is what Nintendo's been doing? Why do you think 3D World did so well? Because they did play to.their strengths. Pikmin 3 was great and used the gamepad well, and Tropical Freeze, despite being a 2D Platformer still shows how stunning they can be. Please actually have facts or atleast actually play the games before you talk, Tropical Freeze especially despite Gamespot's horrid review, has contributed to its franchise much more then your simple.minds only listen to on Negative reviews.

robbiejones
robbiejones

@corrus  there all good systems. What a boring world we'll live in without variety!

chev9324
chev9324

@pedram007 When  you don't know how to read, of course you're going to troll. 

Iamshmee
Iamshmee

@pedram007  Seriously! "Uhhh it's wayyy better than the PS2 guys, you have no idea!"

anshanlord
anshanlord

@calvinsora How could a game that completely focuses on Gameplay be the best game of the generation? to earn that title the game must master in all of its aspects hint: The last of Us

donmega1
donmega1

@chev9324 @donmega1  no, i bought the wii u on day one. it sucks. ive been playing games since atari. i have all the systems. im a gamer. the games suck.

chev9324
chev9324

@Iamshmee @pedram007Iamshmee: "Seriously guys, I'm not trolling. The Wii U has no good games. Now stop supporting those awesom- err I mean bad - games so they can go third party so I can play those games, please!"

calvinsora
calvinsora

@anshanlord @calvinsora  I concur with gameroutlawzz; last time I checked, there are no guidelines to being the best game of the generation. By the way, TLoU doesn't reach my top 20 of last generation, just saying.

hotdiddykong
hotdiddykong

@donmega1 @chev9324 lol, good lie troll. If you truly did play games from atari till now, You would ONLY like nintendo games. Nintendo is the only company that make games like the old days. Fake gamer troll. lol

Iamshmee
Iamshmee

@chev9324 @Iamshmee @pedram007  Wow you almost hit the nail on the head! They have a minimal collection of good games, and I don't think people shouldn't support them so they can go third party, cause they're gonna need a little money to start up on that. Plus Nintendo is great at handhelds, they should keep doing that.