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Almost nine years ago, just prior to the Japanese release of Metroid Fusion and Metroid Prime, Nintendo Online Magazine (NOM), a Japan-only publication similar to Nintendo Power, released a series of interviews with the development staff of Metroid Prime and Fusion. Nintendo never officially translated these interviews, which is a shame, considering all the fantastic information contained within that's never available in English until now! I hope you enjoy them!
The first interview is with the production staff of Metroid Prime, giving us a unique look into Nintendo's overseas production process and how the Japanese commonly view Western games. The second is with Metroid Fusion's development staff. One of the most interesting parts of this interview is Minako Hamano's discussion of the game's voice acting, particularly NOA's push for "Hollywood-style voice acting." The real heart, however, is the interview with Yoshio Sakamoto, which is revealing not only of the development history of Metroid, but also why there was no Metroid 64 or Metroid on the Game Boy Color:
Although there are many reasons, the first is that the story was tentatively completed with Super Metroid. After that, I was Development Assistant for the Handheld Game Department, so it was difficult for me to develop software for the N64. There were also discussions with licensees, but they weren't settled in any definite form. However, the power of expression on the N64 was also a little too limited for making a realistic game. As for the Game Boy Color, it would have been similar to the design of the Famicom, and so would have been unfavorably compared to the Super Famicom version. Those are some of the reasons, and as a result, there was a silent period of nine years.
So there you have it: the most concise explanation of why there was no Metroid 64, albeit nine years late! Granted, Yoshio Sakamoto has been asked this question in a previous interview with GamesTM, where Sakamoto-san also mentioned another company who was approached to make Metroid for the N64 but declined because they "didn't have the confidence to create an N64 Metroid game that could compare favourably with Super Metroid". That interview also stated Sakamoto-san "couldn't imagine how it could be used to move Samus around" using the N64 controller. However, the rest of this is new information, particularly his team's lack of skills on the N64. Note as well that Yoshio Sakamoto does not like to remake older games, hence no Metroid II DX.
The final reveal that is more astonishing after Other M is Sakamoto-san's reflections on where to take the series after Fusion: "From here on, I think I want to develop Samus as a character. I might also create a story going back to the past of Adam and Samus." In that regard, ideas for Other M have been floating around in Sakamoto-san's head since 2003. He concludes the interview with a much-belated apology for keeping fans waiting nine years after Super Metroid.
Now, if you are reporting this on another website, cite your sources accurately. We've had multiple cases where other news sites have reported on our translated interviews without emphasizing our work and other sites then citing those pages as the original source. For the record, such revelations as Samus Aran being named after Pele, the God of Soccer, originated here. We really appreciate seeing credit where it's due. Thank you to those who already are. And if you're one of our readers and see a website improperly citing another source (be it from the MDb or elsewhere), kindly let them know the errors of their ways so we can help stop the spread of misinformation.
Until next time...