|This article is written from the Real Life point of view|
Prime VR (formerly known as Metroid Prime VR) is a recreation of parts of Metroid Prime for virtual reality platforms developed by Spanish developer YonicStudios from 2018 to 2019, serving as a culminating demonstration of a student research project about adapting first-person shooter games for VR.
It was developed from the beginning with no intentions of being distributed, but it has been showcased at Madrid Games Week 2019 under the stand of the university of ESNE by the name of Tallon Tour, where a 3 minute demo could be played.
Nintendo of Europe has never sent YonicStudios a notice of intellectual property infringement, as the project was "almost safe" from a cease-and-desist action thanks to a loophole in the Spanish laws. Due to this, however, the project was considered complete after the event and further development on the game stopped shortly afterwards.
Despite the very limited availability, videos about the development of Prime VR and Tallon Tour are available in YonicStudios' official channel, and the research paper will be published in 2020. Prime VR will be the base for a brand new game with a style like the Prime games, but set in a different universe.
Prime VR retakes the events of Samus Aran visiting the Frigate Orpheon, but with slight variations throughout. From the start, Samus wears the Gravity Suit, along with most of the main upgrades obtainable in Metroid Prime. The escape sequence takes a different path with new rooms to discover, requiring these upgrades to proceed. The game would end after escaping the frigate with a chase minigame to follow Meta Ridley down to Tallon IV. However, due to time constraints, the escape sequence had to be cut, and the game would finish after defeating Parasite Queen.
One of the main goals of the research project was to port all the mechanics of the original Metroid Prime, regardless of being from the GameCube version or the Trilogy version, with as little modifications as possible. Because of this, the gameplay is very similar to the Trilogy version of Metroid Prime, but some aspects have been adapted to work better for virtual reality to avoid motion sickness, and some upgrades like the Morph Ball, have been completely recreated from scratch.
Moving around is achieved with the technology developed by Myou Software called Natural Locomotion, that allows movement by moving your arms like if the player were to walk in place. Jumping can be done by pressing a button or jumping in place, but the Space Jump Boots are not available.
Aiming works in a very similar way to the Wii Trilogy games, with the right motion controller to move around the cannon. However, locking-on an target won't lock the camera to the center of the target, but now it only functions as a marker for homing projectiles from the Missile Launcher and the Wave Beam.
Although never actually shown, it also features a "left-handed" mode, where the cannon would be controlled by the left hand and the free hand by the right one. Originally, full arm tracking was going to be implemented, but due to issues with how the cannon would work, it was eventually scrapped.
Switching between visors is done by grabbing a "tab" at the edges of the visor with the hand and dragging them to the center of the visor. The top, left, bottom and right tabs switch to the Combat, Scan, Thermal, and X-Ray Visors respectively. This resembles the way Samus swipes a finger across her visor to change to a newly obtained visor in Metroid Prime.
Changing between beams is done by pushing the colored buttons to the sides of the Arm Cannon. Due to time constraints, only the Power, Wave, and Plasma Beams are functional. Even though the Ice Beam is selectable, it will not shoot anything.
Beams and the Missile Launcher can be toggled by pressing a button, like in Metroid and the Kiosk demo of Metroid Prime, and charging the Missile Launcher would launch a Super Missile. The other three Charge Combos were never implemented, but it was considered that depending on your current selected beam, it would launch its respective Combo.
The Morph Ball has been made entirely from scratch. To turn in a Morph Ball the player must kneel down slightly and point the controllers to the floor, and it can be moved around with one of the control sticks. The player will be inside the Morph Ball, but with a hologram screen of a third person view just like in the original Metroid Prime. The Boost Ball, Spider Ball, and Bombs work as in the original game.
The Grapple Beam also functions differently. Instead of making Samus swing around the Grapple Point, a beam coming from the cannon pulls her towards it, working in a similar way to the VR game Climbey.
Although never implemented, there were plans to add new gameplay mechanics to Prime VR. One of them, involving the Gravity Suit, adds the ability to freely move in zero-G by using thrusters from Samus's hand, the other one was to add a melee combat system, that allowed Samus to punch enemies with her hand or the cannon.
The Orpheon Adventure is the main demonstration stage for Prime VR. It was made exclusively to demonstrate all the gameplay mechanics featured on the research paper.
In order to test out all of the upgrades, some of the rooms inside the Orpheon have been altered, and new rooms have been added. This has caused that the Frigate Orpheon's layout in Prime VR to be different from Metroid Prime. However, due to time constraints, the final layout is splitted in half, ending at the Reactor Core.
- The Map Facility is considerably wider, serving as a testing ground for the Morph Ball.
- The Biotech Research Area 1 is mostly the same the first way through, but while escaping Samus enters from the very top and must use the Grapple Beam to cross the room and enter a ventilation hatch on the other side.
- The layout of Biohazard Containment is mirrored.
- Originally, the Reactor Core Entrance would be covered mostly in ice, requiring the Plasma Beam to be able to open the door to the Reactor Core, but in the final demo it's just like the original.
The following rooms were planned, but were cut due to time constraints.
- The Connection Elevator to Deck Gamma, which connects the Reactor Core with Biotech Research Area 1, stops midway through due to an airduct explosion. Through this airduct, new sections of the frigate can be explored.
- The Main Ventilation Shaft Section F is separated from the rest, and renamed Ventilation Piston Shaft, and connects directly to the Connection Elevator to Deck Alpha, which now has a ramp going downwards.
These rooms were added to demonstrate new features, as well as providing a new pathway in the escape sequence. Because the main objectives of the research project were around gameplay features rather than graphical fidelity, almost all of these rooms were left in a very early stage of development.
- Deck Beta Cargo Storage: Meant to be a testing area for the Spider Ball. Connects to the Deck Beta Transit Hall and the Deck Beta Maintenance Hall.
- Deck Beta Maintenance Hall: A hall like the Deck Beta Transit Hall, connecting the Deck Beta Cargo Storage with the Gearworks.
- Gearworks: Meant to be a testing area for the Boost Ball. It connects the Deck Beta Maintenance Hall with the Cargo Lift
- Connection to Cargo Lift Hall: Has been modified in an L shape and is mostly dark. Meant to be a testing area for the Thermal Visor and the Wave Beam. Connects the Gearworks with the Cargo Freight Lift to Deck Gamma.
The following rooms were planned, but were cut due to time constraints.
- A whole new system of ventilation rooms parting from the duct in Connection Elevator to Deck Gamma.
- Main Ventilation Area: The ventilation fans are so strong that they cause a near zero gravity area, requiring to use the Gravity Suit to proceed. A view of the Exterior Docking Hangar can be seen from a window. Connects to the Ventilation Maintenance
- Ventilation Maintenance Shaft: A Morph Ball 2D room that connects the Main Ventilation Area with the Biotech Research Area 2.
- Glass Bridge: A glass bridge on top of one of the ventilation shafts that can be broken with a Missile. Once broken, the Spider Ball can be used to cross.
Tallon Tour is the name of the demo that was showcased in Madrid Games Week 2019. In it, Samus must collect all 12 Chozo Artifacts scattered around a room in 3 minutes. Each room requires using various upgrades to reach them, although not all of them. The player could select which stage to play, from between these locations:
- Phendrana Shorelines (Phendrana Drifts)
- Main Plaza (Chozo Ruins)
- Tallon Canyon (Tallon Overworld)
- Main Quarry (Phazon Mines)
- Reactor Core (Frigate Orpheon), in this stage Samus would battle against Parasite Queen instead.
However, due to time constraints, only Phendrana Shorelines was available in the final demo.
Stickers were given to the first 100 players to try it, and some special ones were given to those who accomplished special feats, although it was originally meant for those who were able to collect all 12 Artifacts.
If a specific artifact was collected, Meta Ridley would fly by the stage just like it did originally in Phendrana Shorelines. However, nobody who tried the game ever achieved it.
The research and development process is deeply explained in the student research article pertaining Prime VR, which also includes documents explaining every detail regarding the design of the game, although the article is entirely in Spanish. During its development, YonicStudios has published videos in the studio's YouTube channel talking about its development:
- Development Logs (shortened as Dev Logs) are videos mentioning exclusively the development progress of Prime VR and its features, and they are more centered towards being "official" content. They are in English and feature Spanish subtitles.
- Technical Logs (shortened to Technical Logs) are videos talking about the process of adaptation of Metroid Prime to virtual reality platforms, acting as a both "behind the scenes" content and a companionship to the student research article. They are in Spanish but feature English subtitles.
For testing purposes, some development footage is seen from a non-VR display, in which the game is played in a way similar to a normal PC game. However, the final builds do not have this feature.