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Metroid Dread has been in the works for 15 years

Now that E3 2021 is officially over, it’s safe to say that Metroid Dread was the biggest shock of the show. Nintendo filled fans’ wildest dreams with the first original Metroid game in 19 years, which is a proper sequel to the Game Boy Advance title Metroid Fusion.

Metroid Dread – Development History (Nintendo Switch)

What some fans might not realize, though, is that Metroid Dread isn’t a brand-new title for Nintendo; it’s been in the works for 15 years.

During Nintendo’s Treehouse Live event following its Direct presentation, fans got a much deeper dive into the game with a gameplay demo and insight into its development history. Metroid Dread producer Yoshio Sakamoto explained that the original concept for the game was initially too ahead of its time to become a reality.

“Actually, the idea for Metroid Dread first came up about 15 years ago,” says Sakamoto during the video. “However, we gave up on the idea at the time, because we felt the technology back then just couldn’t properly bring the concept to life. We did have a chance to try again after that, but we felt like we still couldn’t create the game as originally imagined, so we ceased development at that point.”

That timeline tracks when looking back through news from the past decade. In 2005, IGN reported that Metroid Dread was featured on an internal list of software planned for the Nintendo DS. The game reportedly was shown behind the scenes at E3 2009 as a working prototype. However, that was really the last time anyone saw it.

An E.M.M.I. attacks Samus in Metroid Dread.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The only other time we saw a reference to Metroid Dread was in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. A scannable piece of lore in the game reads, “Experiment status report update: Metroid project “Dread” is nearing the final stages of completion.” At the time, players were certain that it was a cheeky confirmation that the game was coming, but Retro Studios denied any connection. It even went as far as to change the text in the Japanese version to “The development of Dread-Class Turret is going well.”

According to Sakamoto, the project was only revived due to MercurySteam’s work on Metroid: Samus Returns, the Nintendo 3DS remake of Metroid 2. Sakamoto was impressed with the team’s work on the title and felt that their style was finally the right fit for Dread‘s ambitions.

“Technically, they’re very skilled. They also have great taste,” says Sakamoto. “But more than anything, they have an incredible understanding of Metroid games. I was confident that partnering with this wonderful team would finally allow us to bring Metroid Dread to life.”

Metroid Dread is coming to Nintendo Switch on October 8.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
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