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This Is Why Metroid Prime Was Nearly Canceled

The success of a video game is often indicated by its early reception by the public, yet some of the greatest titles in video game history were extremely close to being scrapped before ever having a chance to flourish. This was the case for Metroid Prime. This game almost never made it through development despite receiving an astounding Metascore of 97 on Metacritic.

Metroid became a household name in the late 1980s. The 2D game was a smash hit and saw instant success. The sci-fi action games of the Metroid franchise follow a bounty hunter named Samus Aran, who fights her way throughout the galaxy, ridding the world of deadly space creatures. Metroid sold approximately 2.73 million copies, but its successors did not fare quite as well. Surprisingly, the sales of the sequel games dwindled.

It is easy to see why Nintendo almost pulled the plug on Metroid Prime based on numbers alone, but let's get into specifics.

Why was Metroid Prime almost canceled?

Nintendo partnered up with Retro Studios to produce and publish Metroid Prime. Retro Studios was set to release four different launch titles for the GameCube, but the developer ended up being plagued by so much unforeseen drama that the four-game deal fell through. Retro Studios was overly ambitious, and that same ambition would come back to bite them later. The company was spread thin and didn't have much of a tangible product to show for two years' worth of work. Retro Studios founder Jeff Spangenberg was also caught running a risqué personal site that was utilizing the company's servers. 

Nintendo of Japan was unimpressed. Spangenberg was out, and Retro Studios went through multiple rounds of layoffs. For some reason, Nintendo allowed the development of Metroid Prime to continue and still gave Retro Studios the Metroid intellectual property. Despite working very long shifts with a skeleton crew, Retro Studios was able to finish Metroid Prime. The game would go on to reach new heights of success, topping the sales numbers of the original Metroid.