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#006: The City of Metronome


Inzoreno

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The City of Metronome
Tarsier Studios
XBOX 360, PS3, PC
2005 - 2009

Starting with the original XBOX, I became much more heavily investing the video game industry and was a loyal reader of several gaming magazines at the time, one of which was Official XBOX Magazine. When the XBOX 360 released, the magazine underwent a redesign as it moved to covering the new generation of games and one thing they added was a two-page game spotlight at the front of the magazine to show off screenshots of some new game they wanted to promote without writing out an entire feature. One of the very first games features was The City of Metronome

The City of Metronome was formally announced shortly before E3 2005 in April that year, giving a few details and screenshots before providing the full trailer shown below at the actual show. The game took place in the titular city that is controller by the powerful Corporation, who use child labor to run a wonderous machine capable to building worlds. You control a young man in the process to training to become a steam-train engineer who, after encountering a girl on the train, starts to question the methods and goals of the Corporation. The two of you then set off to undercover what really is going on in Metronome and the true intentions of the Corporation. Beyond the unique art style of the game, probably the other most memorable thing about it was the manipulation of sound as a gameplay element. Your main character is equipped with a recording device on his back that allows him to capture sounds from the environment and manipulate them in order to deal with puzzles, other characters and various threats you come across throughout the game. Even today, it certainly sounds like a fascinating gameplay hook that certainly would have made it stand out of the crowd. 

Sadly, after it's showing at E3 in 2005, The City of Metronome went silent and nothing more was said about the game until 2009 during an interview at GDC that year. Originally published on a now-defunct website called Primo Technology, apparently Tarsier Studios had jumped the gun a bit by revealing the game when they did in 2005. According to Mattias Nygren, who was CEO at the time, the studio wasn't very far into the production of the game and it seems that the publishers they tried to pitch the game to didn't have enough faith in the product in the early state it was in. Tarsier was also very small at the time and simply didn't have the funds to publish the game in their own right. The inability to secure the publisher for the game left Metronome adrift and eventually work was halted on the game and, 15 years later, it's safe to say it probably won't ever see a release. It was a sad state of affairs, given that Metronome had piqued the interest of many who had seen the game shown off. But that enthusiasm unfortunately never translated into the publishing deal needed to make the game a reality.

For what it's worth, Metronome didn't sink Tarsier. Despite their inability to get Metronome off the ground, they have been able to continue operation and have developed a number of games since. They started out getting their feet wet with DLC for the first two LittleBigPlanet games and on a port of the Steam game Rag Doll Kung Fu for the PlayStation 3. Success there allowed them to help develop the PlayStation Vita version of LittleBigPlanet and the PlayStation 4 game Tearaway Unfolded. Finally, in 2017 Little Nightmares was released, the first game that Tarsier Studios developed all on their own. With a sequel planned for 2020, the future looks bright for the studio and, who knows, maybe someday their success will allow them to unearth Metronome and give it a chance to shine once again. 

Sources:
https://www.ign.com/games/the-city-of-metronome/
https://www.psu.com/forums/threads/gdc-09-the-city-of-metronome-still-ticking-despite-a-troubled-past.188094/
https://www.giantbomb.com/the-city-of-metronome/3030-21503/

Edited by Inzoreno

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