Retro Studios is an American video game developer based in Austin, Texas.
The company was founded by Jeff Spangenberg in 1998, after he left Acclaim and was tasked by Nintendo to create five new games, aimed at adult audiences, for their Nintendo GameCube as a third-party developer. When Shigeru Miyamoto visited the studio, he didn't like the games being developed, but was impressed at Retro's first-person prototype engine, and levied support for the developer, asking if they would like to make a Metroid title. In 2002 (following a Troubled Production, which saw the other titles being cancelled and Nintendo hastily acquiring Spangenberg's controlling shares to remove the absent president from the company), the Metroid Prime trilogy was born, a series of First Person Shooters set in the milieu of Nintendo's Metroid franchise. With the critical and universal success of Metroid Prime's first release, Nintendo turned Retro Studios into a first-party developer, who would make video games exclusively for the gaming giant. This couldn't have come at a better time, as third-party developer Rare (which Nintendo had controlled the majority of its shares at the time), was later acquired by Microsoft in the same year.
Arguably, Retro Studios' biggest claim to fame (at the moment) is the Prime trilogy, until Nintendo's E3 2010 press conference, where they unveiled their next project: Donkey Kong Country Returns, released in the 2010 holiday season. A 2D side-scrolling Platform Game in the mold of Rare's Donkey Kong Country games, fan reaction was met with rejoicing, as nearly every element in the Country games were intact (judging from the first trailer), but just to prove Retro really cared, the development team sat down and played all previous Country games to prepare for the new one; even the current CEO of Retro had a hand in the original Donkey Kong Country. Although Retro hasn't planned on making a sequel, neither have they ruled out the possibility (they were responsible for the Donkey Kong-related parts and the "Retro" tracks of Mario Kart 7).
The future seems bright for Retro, with a new Wii U game in development, and the incredible success of Donkey Kong Country Returns and Mario Kart 7. A recent 2011 interview with Miyamoto revealed that he was interested in letting them take a crack at one of the company's most prized franchises, The Legend of Zelda. While it hasn't been confirmed to be a reality quite yet, it was enough for fans to have a moment of rejoicing.