Once upon a time, back when the GameCube had just hit the market, Retro Studios was one of a handful of developers committed to making games exclusively for Nintendo's fledgling console. The Austin, Texas-based studio was founded in 1998, two years before the GameCube's unveiling at the August 2000 Space World event. The studio had a fairly low-key profile among the various heavy hitters that had already committed to develop for the hardware, but it managed to garner some interest due to a suite of titles slated for the new console. Retro's profile rose considerably when it was revealed as the developer of Metroid Prime, announced for the GameCube at E3 in 2001. Although the game now stands as one of the finest GameCube titles--not to mention a smart, slick revision of the classic franchise--public opinion was a bit different at the time. The studio withstood a seemingly never-ending volley of shots from fans convinced that Metroid Prime was going to go horribly wrong as a first-person shooter.
Fast-forward to this past week, when Metroid Prime 3: Corruption hit the Wii amid a bevy of anticipation from the massive Prime fan base that has accumulated over the course of two GameCube games, the original Metroid Prime and its sequel, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. The critical and commercial success of both games cemented the Prime series as another in Nintendo's impressive stable of franchises that have made the company phenomenally successful. More importantly, they proved Retro had the skills to handle one of Nintendo's top properties.
Though the nearly nine-year-old studio is now a bona fide player, it's still a bit of a mystery to many. While Retro's games have been among the highest-profile titles on Nintendo's systems, not much has been heard from the studio itself. We recently had a chance to take some of Retro's precious time as it wrapped up development on Prime 3 for release outside the US. During a rare visit to Retro's modest offices, we heard from the team as work wound down. Over the next two days we'll be running interviews from that visit to give you insight into the team at Retro and Metroid's unique development process.