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LIKE: Metroid Prime's visors

We pay tribute to the mastery of heads-up display

Welcome to LIKE, our new semi-regular series where we praise the wonderful oddities, small miracles and flashes of genius that, in their own specific ways, have enriched videogame history.

This series is not intended as an exploration into grand or pioneering games, but instead a focus on one specific thing that the whole medium wouldn't be quite the same without.

We have intentionally called this series LIKE because, if you happen to love the thing we are praising, you can press the LIKE Facebook button as a way of democratically supporting its inclusion into the series. We hope you enjoy!

Our full LIKE archive: Metroid Prime's visors | The Strider from Half-Life | The PlayStation Adverts | Ganon | The Art of Yoji Shinkawa | The music of Rare's David Wise


LIKE: Metroid Prime's visors

First appearance:Metroid Prime (2003)
Created at: Retro Studios

Before first-person shooters took turns to mimic each other, there was Metroid Prime; a ghostly sci-fi adventure that established new conventions and, to this day, remains a peerless pioneer of its own genre.

Developing the GameCube masterwork was not a labour of love. It was wrung together during a time of anxiety, grief and disorder at Retro Studios.

At the behest of Nintendo, the Texas studio had to cancel three other projects during the development of Prime, all before it had released its first game. Widespread redundancies followed; more than 100 people lost their jobs as productions snapped shut.

Morale was low. Nintendo would send over an executive from Japan about three times per year, mainly to criticise the state of the project. By the final stages of production, the house of Mario imposed an 80 to 100 hour-week workload on development staff to ensure the final deadline was met.

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There was no cheerleading from fans either. Quite the opposite. Metroid aficionados didn't have faith that the series could make that precarious jump from 2D to 3D. It may be hard to believe that the return of a cherished Nintendo franchise was in some cases dreaded, but expectations of the game are aptly summarised with N-Sider journalist Pete Deol's advice to Nintendo in 2001: "Cut Retro loose of this project," he said.

But out from the drudgery and disorder came triumph. Metroid Prime emerged as a landmark addition to the GameCube portfolio and, for that matter, a distinguished moment in Nintendo's garlanded history.

And it was all because of the visors. Pinning the success of a 97% Metascore game on what is essentially its HUD display may seem frivolous, but Metroid Prime's biggest design challenges were solved through the implementation of this standard feature.

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