The first version of the game was a Third-Person Shooter set in a futuristic society where gene editing had created a utopia, the game starred a trio of meta-humans known as the "Metaforce" — consisting of a trio of sexy women — who must stop the machinations of villainous forces who wish to repurpose the technology for vile ends. The trio consisted of Brynn, a cybernetic girl who specialized in firearms, Miko, a ninja with psychic abilities, and a third, unnamed woman, who was a rifle-wielding assassin, each with their own playstyle. The game would have been an thirty-hour adventure split into three acts, each with its own antagonist: Act I would focus on the leader of an Indian Evil Luddite terrorist cult; Act II would have focused on a neo-Nazi eugenicist who wished to use the team's genetics as the basis for a beautiful Master Race army; and Act III would focus on the individual who orchestrated the previous two events, a South African psychic with mind-control abilities.
While Nintendo executives weren't very impressed with the other three projects that the fledging Texas studio had in development, note they where deeply interested in the pitch for Metaforce. With their main concerns being that juggling three protagonists was too ambitious, and that third-person cameras in 3D video games was still a challenge in the late 1990s, the team created a new design document for a First-Person Shooter game that would have Brynn as the sole heroine. Upon presenting this version of the game, Shigeru Miyamoto stepped in to give his own input: Brynn was a boring protagonist and should be replaced.
This led to Metaforce's third and final design document, with a new plot featuring an alien with sonic abilities who was captured by the United States government following a spaceship crash, and subsequently became a federal agent tasked with helping fend off an invasion from another alien species. It was the designs for the enemy aliens in this game that resulted in Miyamoto recalling the existence of a certain dormant Nintendo sci-fi series and asking if the team would be willing to pitch a brand-new entry in that franchise. The team accepted, and Metaforce (as well as every other project at Retro Studios) was cancelled in favor of creating Metroid Prime.
Metaforce provides examples of:
- Alien Invasion: The plot of the third version of the game, with the otherworldly protagonist helping fend off an invasion from an evil race of aliens.
- Big Bad: In the first version of Metaforce, the final foe would have been a South African psychic who manipulated the villains of the prior two acts as a distraction for his own plans.
- Escaped Animal Rampage: One of the Act I missions was going to be this. The terrorists would have sabotaged the transport of a reengineered wooly mammoth to a Jurassic Park-style zoo, forcing the player to take out cult members while also dealing with the giant prehistoric animal that's causing havok in the middle of a city.
- Hypocrite: Despite being luddites, the cult still makes heavily use of genetic engineering to create four-armed mutant foot soldiers (capable of wielding four guns at a time).
- Third-Person Seductress: The three main characters present in the first iteration of Metaforce, those being Brynn (a cybernetic firearms specialist), Miko (a ninja with psychic abilities), and an unnamed third woman who was a rifle-wielding assassin. This was later whittled down to just Brynn, before the entire project was scrapped and in favor of a Metroid title.