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."