Retro Studios is an American video game developer based in Austin, Texas.
The company was founded by Jeff Spangenberg in 1998, after he left Acclaim and was given funding by Nintendo to create four new games for their upcoming Nintendo GameCube system, targeting older audiences. Due to incredibly poor management, which included Spangenberg rarely appearing at the studio, Shigeru Miyamoto eventually stepped in to assess the damage. While disappointed in most of their work, Miyamoto was impressed by a first-person shooter engine they'd created and pushed the studio to develop a fifth project: a new Metroid title, set to be the first one since the genre-defining SNES installment. Under Miyamoto's guidance and suggestions, Retro began focusing all their efforts on what would become Metroid Prime, with every other project being cancelled in favor of said game over the next few years.note Metroid Prime was released in November 2002, and despite the aforementioned struggles, it turned out to be one of the most beloved titles for the system, beginning a critically-acclaimed sub-series of First Person Shooters. In the months before Prime's release, Nintendo would hastily acquire Spangenberg's controlling shares, turning Retro Studios into a first-party developer for the Japanese gaming giant just as another Western studio working with Nintendo was about to leave for Microsoft. As for the now removed Spangenberg? He would go on to make The Guy Game. Make of that what you will.
Following the completion of the Metroid Prime Trilogy and the departure of key talent from the studionote , Retro Studios once again found themselves experimenting with a number of ideas until they were tasked with revitalizing another dormant franchise. Miyamoto desired to make a new entry in the Donkey Kong Country series, with Retro Studios being chosen as the development team due to CEO Michael Kelbaugh having past experience with the series as a Q&A tester. Donkey Kong Country Returns would be revealed during E3 2010 and released that holiday season to great reception from fans and critics alike. Retro would remain tied to the franchise for the next several years, being responsible for the Donkey Kong-related aspects and "retro" tracks of Mario Kart 7, as well as creating a sequel in the form of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which would later be considered one of the best games in the franchise and for the Wii U.
Currently, Retro Studios holds the distinction of being one of the most mysterious game developers under Nintendo's belt, with no one outside the company having any concrete idea about what those Texans are working on, and those within the company staying silent and unwilling to give any hints. Unless the occasional picture of barbecued chicken is some sort of clue. While the main project they've been working on since Tropical Freeze is still unknown, following Troubled Production on Metroid Prime 4, the studio took on the role of developer for the project in January 2019.
Games developed/co-developed by Retro Studios
- Metroid Prime (GameCube, 2002)
- Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GameCube, 2004)
- Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii, 2007)
- Metroid Prime Trilogy (Wii, 2009; compilation rerelease)
- Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii, 2010) note
- Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo 3DS, 2011)note
- Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U, 2014)note 1 note 2
- Metroid Prime 4 (Nintendo Switch, TBA)