In a surprise announcement, Nintendo's senior managing executive officer, Shinya Takahashi, said the company has decided to scrap the current development of Metroid Prime 4 for the Nintendo Switch, and start over from scratch. That means the game is no where near complete, despite being announced all the way back at E3 in 2017.
This is disappointing news for sure, especially for Metroid Prime fans who have been eagerly awaiting the next installment in this iconic franchise. However, Nintendo believes it is for the better. The product that was on the table was not meeting its standards for quality, and Nintendo ultimately felt it was better to blow things up and start over again.
"Although this is very regrettable, we must let you know that the current development progress has not reached the standards we seek in a sequel to the Metroid Prime series," Takahashi said. "We have determined that the current development status of the game is very challenged, and we had to make a difficult decision as a development team."
"We have decided to have the producer, Kensuke Tanabe, work in trust and collaboration with the studio that developed the original Metroid Prime series, Retro Studios in the United States, and restart development from the beginning," Takahashi added.
That is a big decision, and one Nintendo said it did not make lightly. It also runs counter to the last public update, in which Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé said development on Metroid Prime 4 was "proceeding well." That was at last year's E3.
It's not clear how close to finished the development team had gotten before Nintendo hit the reset button, or what exactly about the game was not living up to its standards. Interestingly, it still shows up for pre-order on Amazon with a release date listed as December 31, 2019. Nintendo will undoubtedly miss that launch window, and it is being upfront about that.
"I'd like to extend my deepest, heartfelt apologies to everyone that the launch will be delayed," Takahasi said. "It will be a long road until the next time we will be able to update you on the development progress, and development time will be extensive.
The Metroid Prime series debuted in 2002 and was followed up by Metroid Prime 2 in 2004 and Metroid Prime 4 in 2007. It has been more than a decade since the last entry in the series released to the Wii.