If there’s two divisions I absolutely adore at Nintendo, it’s SPD3 and Retro Studios. Both are extremely talented at what they do, and both are among the few Nintendo divisions that aren’t as restricted by what Miyamoto thinks is or isn’t cool / acceptable in a game.
Retro have worked on Metroid Prime as everyone knows. SPD3 are in charge of overseeing the majority of the company’s overseas or external projects. The group is credited with overseeing games like Punch-out!!, Excitebots, Batallion Wars and others. The head of SPD3, Kensuke Tanabe, is also credited as Producer on the Metroid Prime games.
In a recent interview with Nintendo of Europe, Tanabe talked a little about Prime 3’s Hyper Mode. It turns out Retro were initially against implementing the feature:
"During the development process, my team did not want to force our ideas on Retro. As much as possible, we aimed to get Retro’s understanding and consent, and when they felt doubts about any aspect of the game, we would get them to implement game features only after persuading them. However, with the proposal to make Hyper Mode the core system in Metroid Prime 3, Retro were extremely reluctant to accept it at first…
Of course Retro were not opposed to the idea itself. The problem was rather that, after putting a huge amount of thought into how this idea could be implemented, they opposed it because they thought it would be difficult to do in a way that would make the gameplay enjoyable. They were always conscious of the viewpoint of the player.
In the end, in addition to the implementation of the basic functionality which we had more or less insisted on, we included a feature that allowed players to stop Hyper Mode at any point within a given time limit. It was thanks to this addition that Retro came to understand and accept the concept. I remember that it took over a year in order to reach this point."
I suppose this explains why Hyper Mode felt so unnecessary in Prime 3. Every interview with Nintendo somehow mentioned Samus being "corrupted" or "turning evil" or something to that effect. The ingame realization, however, was nowhere near as grand and had zero impact on the story. Personally, I barely even used it. It looks like Retro had the right idea all along. Implementing a more "meaningful" Hyper Mode would have been a much harder task.
Also, good time to mention: watch out for our playtest of Metroid Prime Trilogy in the near future. I’ve been toying with some ideas on how to approach that…