The 2002 Gamecube classic – Metroid Prime – gets the VR treatment as part of an ongoing study into VR game mechanics.
If you’re a fan of first-person-shooters than odds are you’re familiar with Metroid Prime. Released in 2002 for the Nintendo Gamecube console, Prime marked the beginning of one of the most influential action-adventure trilogies of all-time, as well as a huge stepping-point for the legendary franchise. The ambitious title replaced Metroid’s standard 2D, side-scrolling gameplay in favor of a refreshing first-person perspective, making it the first Metroid game in history to feature 3D computer graphics.
Anyone who’s had the pleasure of experiencing this influential game in its prime (pun very much intended) will remember the jaw-dropping sensation of exiting Samus’ gunship and walking across the cold deck of space pirate frigate Orpheon, awe-struck by the incredible visuals and powerful soundtrack. Now imagine that same moment in virtual reality.
In a series of developer logs uploaded to the Yonic Studios YouTube page, the team showcases an incomplete VR rendition of the 2002 classic, complete with multiple locations, weapons, and enemies. Running on an Oculus Rift headset with Touch control support, Metroid Prime VR includes many of the features that made the original so unique, including lock-on missile targeting, multiple visor options (scan and x-ray), even the one-and-only “charge beam.”
The team also took it upon to implement several mechanics not featured in the original in order to deliver a more seamless VR experience, such as the ability to shoot weapons while the scan visor is active, as well as a handful of new rooms to explore.
According to a legal disclaimer displayed at the beginning of each of their dev logs, the team obviously has no plans of a public release due to Nintendo’s notoriously tight stranglehold over their original IPs. In a comment posted by one of the developers to Reddit, one of the creators clarifies that Metroid Prime VR was created as part of a project regarding the implementation of FPS mechanics in VR games.
“Metroid Prime VR stems from a final degree project about “Porting unique gameplay mechanics from first person shooters to virtual reality platforms”, and thus the local laws qualify the game as a fair use of the assets of Metroid Prime. Therefore, Nintendo cannot take down Metroid Prime VR by applying the DMCA. (It is applicable for fair use in USA’s laws, even). However, we will only be able to showcase it on events within the stands of the university. Also, this means that we cannot distribute it publicly, even if we intended to.”
The developer goes on to state that if in fact N,intendo does request an official name-change, the team will relabel the project Prime VR instead. They currently have no plans for an original game release.
While Metroid Prime VR will never see an actual public release, it’s beyond exciting to see the world of Metroid Prime brought to life in VR regardless. However, with Nintendo slowly dipping its toes into the VR market with Mario Kart GP VR, and with Metroid Prime 4 officially announced for the Nintendo Switch, there’s never been a better time for a AAA Metroid-based VR experience.
If you just can’t wait to hunt down Chozo Ghost across the deck of the Orpheon, there’s always DolphinVR, a branch of the long-running Dolphin emulator, which allows users to play classic Gamecube and Wii titles in VR with full head-tracking support.