Former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime has been on a media spree as of late, alongside releasing a new book that details his lengthy and inspiring career. One of Reggie’s latest behind-the-scenes stories reveals that the decision to create the Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt demo packed in with the launch of the Nintendo DS in 2004 was not a unanimous one.
First Hunt was a welcome addition for gamers who picked up the Nintendo DS in its launch window. Reggie was eager to get the Metroid spinoff into the hands of Nintendo fans as soon as possible in order to build off the success of the Metroid Prime series on the Gamecube. But with development lagging behind initial goals, Reggie pushed for a demo in order to hold over fans until the full game was ready for release.
Ironically, this set the actual game’s development back a further six months, not including an additional delay to Hunters’ release in order to include online play. In the end, the demo excited fans and built additional anticipation for the full release. Further, it helped bolster the handheld’s launch window library, which was relying heavily on Super Mario 64 DS as its only first-party title.
Developers at Nintendo Software Technology weren’t particularly happy about stalling development in order to create the First Hunt demo, but Reggie made it happen nonetheless, as he outlines in his aforementioned book:
Metroid Prime had been a strong selling franchise on GameCube in our market, and leveraging the franchise to launch Nintendo DS would help us get off to a fast start. Unfortunately, development was not proceeding as fast as we hoped so I advocated an alternative: the development team should pivot and create a standalone demo we would include with the first units of Nintendo DS hardware. This was controversial as our developers hated to give away content for free, and having the development team work on a demo would push the launch of the complete game back at least six months. I was already building trust with Mr. Iwata and Mr. Miyamoto, and they agreed for a demo called Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt to be included in the first few million units of Nintendo DS sold in the Americas.
Metroid Prime Hunters would eventually release in 2006 to positive reviews, with over a million copies sold on the Nintendo DS. Hunters then found new life on the Wii U as an addition to the system’s Virtual Console in Japan in 2015, and the United States in 2016, albeit without its online capabilities.
Source: Nintendo Everything
Dak is Editor-in-Chief and Podcast Host at Omega Metroid. If he’s not playing Metroid Prime, he’s definitely playing Destiny 2.