Former Retro Studios Developer Shared Metroid Prime Trivia

Metroid Prime

Metroid Prime is approaching its 20th anniversary, which falls on November 18, 2022. In light of the approaching occasion, former Retro Studios developer Zoid Kirsch is sharing stories about the game’s development via Twitter. He began on November 8, 2022, and plans to share one or two stories each day until its anniversary. The topics covered things like why doors work the way they do in-game or how Retro Studios came up with certain visual effects.

In his first story, Kirsch — who served as a Senior Gameplay Engineer at Retro Studios during the development of Metroid Prime and its sequel Metroid Prime 2: Echoes — revealed why doors had a certain force field effect that disappeared when shot. The reason doors worked that way in Metroid Prime was that Retro needed to mask the game’s loading times. The fading of the blue force field and the speed of the door helped hide the fact that the next room was still loading. At most, only two rooms were loaded at once in-game. One would be the room the player was in, and the other was the one they were going to. In rooms with multiple exits, only one door could be opened at a time.

In a second story, Kirsch revealed more about the special static visual effect that appears on Samus’ visor when she approaches a Scatter Bombu creature. Due to the tiny RAM size of the GameCube (just 24MB), Retro had to save on texture memory everywhere it could. A small texture would just appear like a blur rather than familiar static. One engineer proposed rendering the Metroid Prime software code itself on the screen. The tiny size of the pixels looked random enough to work as a static effect.

Other stories included more technical explanations, like how Retro Studios used an open-source solution to work around the GameCube’s limited RAM budget.

The Metroid Prime games are playable via the Wii-exclusive Metroid Prime Trilogy, which also came to the Wii U downloadable library. The most recent Metroid title is Metroid Dread for the Nintendo Switch.

Josh Tolentino
Josh Tolentino is Senior Staff Writer at Siliconera. He previously helped run Japanator, prior to its merger with Siliconera. He's also got bylines at Destructoid, GameCritics, The Escapist, and far too many posts on Twitter.