Yesterday’s Nintendo Direct brought with it an avalanche of news and new game announcements. Some were greeted with overwhelming ecstasy while others were all but booed off the stage (had there been a stage, anyway). One such unfortunate game, not surprisingly, was Metroid Prime: Federation Force, a game so hated that it garnered over 20,000 supporters in a petition to cancel it.
The 40-minute Direct apparently did very little to change that, as the title’s feature had “please don’t hate us” written all over it. The plot and gameplay were expanded upon and it was twice promised that Metroid Prime: Federation Force did indeed belong in the Metroid canon. After viewing the footage myself, and as a casual rather than hardcore Metroid fan, this newest 3DS iteration seems like a decent game that wandered into the wrong part of town at the wrong time.
Federation Force features four officers who have been sent to the Bermuda system to retake an old outpost on a frozen planet, where they encounter Space Pirates. The story is befitting a Metroid game, barring the absence of the life-sucking monsters that are the series’ namesake. However, the lack of Samus condemns this game in my mind as a spinoff, something Nintendo is still struggling to fight.
On to the meat of every game: the gameplay. In Metroid Prime: Federation Force, up to four players can cooperate on missions, dividing sub-weapons amongst themselves, and therefore unofficially assigning specific responsibilities to each member. This places the focus on cooperation and adds an element of strategy to the mix, mechanics I feel would be a great boon to the Metroid series. I also can’t help but think that if Samus were, in fact, playable, a lion’s share of the hate this game is receiving would halt overnight. Unfortunately, it’s likely far too late to fix those horrible graphics.
Despite having only had the pleasure of experiencing a few Metroid games myself, it’s abundantly clear that Samus alone is not what makes the series great. It’s the combat, exploration, atmosphere, and item collecting all coming together to deliver a fantastic experience of a greater, never-ending struggle. If Metroid Prime: Federation Force can deliver that, then doesn’t that qualify it as a good game? I myself, while not overly impressed at the moment, am also willing to consider that, yes, perhaps Metroid can be Metroid even without Samus at the helm. But it’s up to Nintendo to prove it, and their work is cut out for them.
What about the rest of you? If the gameplay is enjoyable and feels like a world set in the Metroid universe, does it deserve the chance Nintendo hopes we all will give it? Comment and let us know what you think!
Matt Eschbach is a PC, Mac and Android indie game developer and fiction writer. His works have won multiple monetary awards from various contests. Graduating college in 2012 with a major in Game Design, Matt spends his time making stuff up and then building it. His favorite hobby… is sleeping.