Retro Studios is a video game developer based in Austin, Texas, founded in 1998, and is a first-party developer for Nintendo. Their best known properties include the Metroid Prime trilogy and Donkey Kong Country Returns. The company is owned by Nintendo, who purchased them to create cutting-edge video games for the current generation consoles, which was the GameCube when their work began.


The company was started by Jeff Spangenberg on October 1st of 1998 in Austin, Texas. Jeff didn't go to college, but rather taught himself the many necessities a game designer would need. Sometime in 1991, Jeff and about 20 of his friends got together to create a gaming company known as Iguana Entertainment. They named their studio this because of Jeff's two pet iguanas 'Killer' and 'Spike', according to a 1998 interview with development support manager Jay Moon. According to Moon, the two pets were sort of like the company's mascots.

In 1993, the company decided to put up shop in Austin, Texas. On January 1 of 1995, Acclaim offered to purchase Iguana Entertainment and hire Jeff, and he jumped at the opportunity, thus officially making them part of the company. Upon release of the Nintendo 64, Iguana decided to develop plenty of games for it, most notable of which was Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, which as of now has a whopping 86% on Game Rankings. After this game was released, Nintendo became very interested in Iguana's technology and started working closely with them. Acclaim eventually became one of the first companies entered into Nintendo's "Dream Team" because of this title. Companies in this "Dream Team" would develop games exclusively for Nintendo and would receive many benefits because of it.

Retro's temporary logo after the announcement of Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Jeff had an extremely healthy relationship with both Nintendo and, even more so, Acclaim. In Acclaim, he was promoted to an executive rank, and everything seemed to be perfect, until summer of 1998, in which he was fired from the company. There were primary reasons because of his firing, but apparently Jeff had plans to create a new company in 1999 anyway when his contract with Acclaim expired.

Ready for more action, Jeff created a brand new company in October of 1998 from his own house called Retro Studios, that was, like Iguana, a video game developer. With the help of a real estate firm known as John Hanly & Associates, Jeff managed to find an office for his new company in Austin. He managed to get 25 new employees, some of which were from his previous company Iguana.

From the beginning, he had hoped to become heavily affiliated with Nintendo. He pitched his plans to the company, and Nintendo of America agreed to fund Retro. Nintendo had hoped that the company would be able to please the older Nintendo fans as they had done with Turok, as a new console - the GameCube, was quickly approaching.



Retro Studios assisted in the development of the following games:

Cancelled Games

  • Car Combat - GameCube
  • NFL Retro Football - GameCube
  • Raven Blade - GameCube
  • Untitled action adventure game which turned into Metroid Prime