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. 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 due to his terrible leadership and ousted him from the company (probably didn't help that he was hosting a softcore porn site on their servers), 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. For his part, Spangenberg 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.
For six years afterwards, it was a mystery as to what Retro Studios was working on, and those within the company were staying silent and unwilling to give any hints. Unless the occasional picture of barbecued chicken is some sort of clue. Whatever project that was is still unknownnote , but it was abandoned in January 2019 in favor of the studio becoming the new developer for Metroid Prime 4, following that game's initial troubled production.
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)