Speculation: What is Retro Studios working on?

I thought about doing a fun short (not super serious) speculation article about Retro Studios.  I thought it would be fun to at least look at some existing (newer and older) information for the sake of discussion.  Perhaps we could try to piece together information and paint a bigger picture of what Retro might be up to lately. Some people enjoy seeing every tidbit of information on one page, so I am willing to update this article as we find new information on Retro’s game.

The information in this article is a combination of new and old information that has been circling the internet.  Please treat this article as fun speculation, and not facts set in stone.

How soon is Retro’s game coming?

The other day I came across this YouTube video from Monty Goulet, who works as a contract sound scripter.  Monty Goulet had worked on Donkey Kong Country Returns.   The video has no comments on it and very little views.  So obviously nobody even looked at the video.  The other problem is you had to click the tab to actually see the video’s full description which I’m not sure anyone did.

Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgkLtUgFZFk

According to the video’s description on the YouTube video, it says: “Worked at Retro Studios from May 2010 to August 2012 as a Contract Sound Scripter”.  The word, “worked” means he is no longer working there, and I find the date “August 2012″ to be a very interesting month to choose.  His Linkedin page doesn’t say much about his time at Retro other than the dates he spent working on Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Click on pic to enlarge:

Update: Monty Goulet has updated the video’s description from August 2012 to August 2010.


What are they working on?

Looking at the resume of Crystel Land on her website, it says “Working as a character artist on a Nintendo IP”.  Now it is very possible that this game could be a brand new IP from Nintendo, or it could be based on an existing IP.  Another thing to point out is Crystel has only been working on the game since May 2012.   For now, let’s move on to the next thing to get a better idea of what this game might be.

I found a great thread over at kyoto-report.wikidot.com forum where MetalLord2 spotted something interesting on a Retro artist’s DeviantArt page.

Eric Kolozwisk worked at Naughty Dog on the Uncharted games, and is now working at Retro Studios.  Here is what Eric had to say to other users on his Deviant Art gallery:

“I work at ND for 9 months ( as an environment artist) and left basically because I found I did not enjoy working on realistic projects. As you can see from my work I favor stylized stuff.  Also the studio culture at ND favor lots and lots of crunch. Definitely not conducive to family and married life. It’s not terrible at all, but just not for everyone. As for characters, man at ND you have to be first class. Take a look at the work of Hanno Hagedorn to see how good you need to be.”

In his response to another person on DeviantArt, he wrote:

“Thanks man! There were lot of reasons I left. They have a weird system of management at ND that I didn’t gel with. Also I wasn’t crazy about working on realistic games. I also left because I got an offer to be a Lead at Square Enix. Unfortunately soon after I started they canceled our project and laid our team off. I’m at Retro now, Retro is a much better fit for me. Hell who hasn’t grown up playing Nintendo games. Now I get to work on them.”

The poster on the kyoto-report forum also points out that Retro just hired the lead artist from Epic Mickey, Robert KovachA game that doesn’t focus big on realism.

Linkedin of Epic Mickey lead artist

Mobygames profile of Robert Kovach (List of games he worked on)


Retro seeking people who can create high quality hand painted 2D textures with 3D geometry for environments.


• Modeling high quality 3D geometry for game environments

• Creating high quality hand painted 2D texture maps


This game will have bosses.

Star Fox fighting Andross

According to a 04/26/2012 job description for an A.I. Engineer for Retro Studios:

• Individual contributor that develops, writes and debugs code for video game software and tools with a specific focus on AI programming for enemies & bosses and various other game-play systems as required.

This job listing *might* eliminate any possibility of Retro making a racing game or non-action game.

If this job listing is true, then Retro’s game might not be related to F-Zero, Wave Race, PilotWings, Stunt Race, 1080 Snowboarding, Excitebike, Donkey Kong Racing, Mario Kart, etc).


This game will have different types of weather, particle effects, and cinematic cutscenes:

Snowy scene from Metroid Prime series.

According to this January 25, 2012 job description for an FX artist at Retro Studios:


  • Creating ambient, environmental and weather effects.
  • Placing and scripting FX throughout levels and cinematics.
  • Creating, designing and implementing real-time particle effects which use both static and animating 2D/3D elements.


Too Busy for Zelda?

In an IGN article, Shigeru Miyamoto said Retro Studios is too busy for Zelda.

Shigeru Miyamoto says: “In terms of them working on a Zelda, it’s not out of the question, certainly, for them to work on an entire Zelda game amongst themselves,” Miyamoto said. “Traditionally I think that the Zelda team has always had a close contact with anyone who’s working on a Zelda game. If you were going to have that happen in the US at Retro, that would be kind of difficult for them to be able to coordinate. Certainly they’re too busy for that sort of thing right now. It would probably require me to be involved to a great extent as well, so I would have to get over quite a bit too. I’d probably have to live in Texas… [laughs]”


On March 9th, 2011, Nintendo’s Kensuke Tanabe says no current plans for Donkey Kong Country Returns 2:

“I wouldn’t say we won’t do a sequel for Donkey Kong Country Returns, but we don’t have anything planned at this time.”

“I wasn’t even thinking about doing a sequel for Metroid Prime until Retro showed me the last scene in the game, which was near the end of development.”



Source: http://www.videogamesblogger.com/2011/03/09/donkey-kong-country-returns-2-not-in-development-says-retro-studios.htm




Looking at this information (both newer and older information) it’s fun to look at each piece of information and trying to piece it together into a bigger picture.  I have had thoughts about updating this article regularly whenever we get new information or leaks.

Based on the information so far, here is what we have gathered.

  • Artist left Naughty Dog because he doesn’t enjoy working on realistic look games.  Prefers stylized graphics.  Says Retro is a better fit for him.
  • The lead artist of Epic Mickey is involved on this project.
  • The game will have high quality hand painted 2D texture maps
  • High quality 3D geometry for game environments
  • According to Monty Goulet’s YouTube video from his official YouTube channel, he finished working on Retro’s game on August 2012. (Update: Video description now updated to say August 2010.)
  • A contract artist named Crystel Land started working on a Nintendo IP for Retro Studios on May 2012.
  • The game will have ambient, environmental and weather effects.
  • Not only will the game have enemies, but it will also have bosses.
  • The game will have cinematics/cutscenes.
  • Miyamoto says Retro is too busy for Zelda.
  • On March 2011, Tanabe says they don’t currently have a DKC2 planned at the moment.

Another thing to consider are the large number of job openings at Retro in the last year.  Is it possible that Retro might have more than one project going, or is this Wii U project really that big?

What do you think Retro’s game is, and when do you think Retro/Nintendo will reveal it/release it?  We would love to hear your comments and predictions in the comments section of this article.  Thanks!

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19 Comments to Speculation: What is Retro Studios working on?
    • I=3 Em1ly
    • I think it’s metroid because why would starfox need a map? They’ve worked on 70%metroid prime 2 in just 3 months. I hope for a 2013 release with SSB4 to combat the NextBox and PS4

    • I=3 Em1ly
    • Metroid in 2013. When he said that they’re working on something that everybody wants them to do, we didn’t think starfox yet and wanted MP4 in hd. I can’t wait for it though. E3 2013 is shaping up to be epic for Nintendo. Zelda 3ds, Smash bros, retros game, 3d Mario, and hopefully a surprise game too

    • SpeculatingDude
    • So… A Zelda game maybe?
      It all adds up I think and with the prowess of the Wii U and improved skyward sword style… the game could really look beatiful.

    • Exophesis
    • From the evidence so far, looks like it could be a Star Fox game (Like Star Fox Adventures) or Metroid. I know the Metroid Prime was meant to be a trilogy, but due to the success of the whole series and the Trilogy game, they have no reason not to continue it, and I would love to see another Metroid (Prime) game by Retro Studios!
      (Though I’m not sure on the 2D Textures, could be a Primal Race/Cavemen or something…)

    • Cube
    • OK as a 3d modeler and texture dude my self I can say hand panted textures do NOT mean it looks like fricking yoshi story or a cartoon and realistic looking texutres are hand painted the SAME WAY.,

      1 EVerybody hand paints textures to some extent espcially now with mudbox and zbrush you will be painting by hand in those programs and then in photoshop and back again. with a wacom tablet or something. You can paint on the model in 3d but it still makes a 2d texture map files that will go with the UV map and you will have to draw on it in 2d.

      2 metroid primes textures are ALL hand panted and so are most other unreal engine 2 games like ut2004 that people thought looked “realistic”. the same rules still apply for any game they will be painting at some point.

      The realistic look mostly comes from the Shaders and materials they are then baked or what ever they want to do. in primes case they have metal shaders that make her look shiny and bumpy they are all 2d texure. you may add a displacment map or something else but you will be hand paiting that too mostly in 2d in photoshop or something it is called UV maping. or 3d max maya or blenders paint tools.

      Even if you generate a texture or use a photo you will still have to paint it on by hand on the model.

      The yoshi model in super smash bros was done using this method then shadows and are baked on and then the gamecube handles the rest of the rendering by shaders following your map files. ambient occlusion is done by backing since console are too feaking weak to handle it. they are backed from a high res version of it with out all this they look flat and cartoony they are hand painted and go through many things artist and programers tricks to make them look like they do.

      IF you want it cell shaded it is a shader/ material not a texture you just make the texures look more plain and use less layers and things that you would be doing to make it look real like a cell shaded game does not need you to paint dirt and grime on something it would ruin the cartoon look.

      If you want to look at the paint process you can here this is how it is done these days or the old fashion way with 2d UV maps templates in photoshop






    • Cube
    • OH and here is what a UV map looks like for a real character it is a 2d map that was hand painted. the texture at the side is for the 3d model and it is hand painted.


      in fact metroid prime textures are VERY plain and cartoon so is metroid other M it is all about the shaders and how the artist paints the textures they are all 2d. 3d textures do not exist to a certiain extent 3d textures are made with shaders and materials but the main base is still a 2d texture.

      exceptions. procedural textures and stuff those are made by the software and hardware and don’t need the artist to paint them much.

    • Alex Plant
    • Thanks for all your terrific work. Tremendous fan of this kind of “assemble it yourself” journalism that goes beyond the one-sided press releases and news bytes and tries to put things together to form a bigger picture.

      • CoffeeWithGames
      • I agree with Alex, these are refreshing in a world of “Top 10 1,000 PS3 Games You have Never Played…” pieces, that often contain wrong information and aren’t corrected when pointed out.

        Or, posts that are about the N64′s release and tweets on it… -_-

        As for, “Artist left Naughty Dog because he doesn’t enjoy working on realistic look games. Says Retro is a better fit for him.”
        I would say that’s a bit of a stretch to connect these two directly, because of his full answer though. He first went to Square Enix first, then landed at Retro after apparently being laid off from Square Enix.
        He also mentioned how the “crunch time” wasn’t conducive for family/married life. So, I wouldn’t say that Retro was a better fit based on his first “enjoy working on realistic games”, but because he had been laid off from Square Enix and found Retro after that. Now, perhaps we will see his work is more “stylized” in the next Retro game…which hopefully will be another 3D Metroid game, since Metroid Prime 3 is one of my most played Wii games…

        As for, “The game will have ambient, environmental and weather effects.” it made me think of Wave Race…it had crazy waves, rain, wind, and lighting is important with the water…probably more now with an HD system.

        What game did Retro work on that was racing related? Mario Kart 7… why not let some of the team that worked on that move to another racing franchise…

    • William
    • I heard that it might be a Metroid Star Fox cross over game it could be and I really hope it is Metriod and Star Fox are my two most favorite Nintendo games

    • Proto Cloud
    • I hope it’s a new IP. As much as I love their work on Metroid and DKC. I want to see what they would come up on their own, much like how Rare took Donkey Kong and made something amazing.

    • Skai Cyan
    • So if it’s not Starfox, Metroid, or Donkey Kong, I’m calling Custom Robo. It’s the only other Nintendo IP that plays to their strengths. I’d love for it to be an original IP though.

    • argh
    • • Creating high quality hand painted 2D texture maps


    • Grimlock
    • Just a heads up. Looks like the description for the Monty Goulet’s video has been updated.

      “Worked at Retro Studios from May 2010 to August 2010 as a Contract Sound Scripter”

    • Glenngunnerzero
    • I remember Nintendo asked them for help on Mario Kart for the 3DS. I only mention that because if they have experience on that and it helped smooth Mario Kart’s release date. Perhaps F-Zero?

    • youtube
    • I like the helpful information you provide in your articles.

      I will bookmark your blog and check again here frequently.
      I am quite sure I’ll learn a lot of new stuff right here!
      Best of luck for the next!

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