By Jeff Neuenschwander / July 2nd, 2015
If you go back and look at all the announcements from E3 2015, you can easily find which one was the most controversial. That would be the reveal of the first-person shooter spin-off game Metroid Prime: Federation Force by Nintendo. In case you don’t know what’s up, the game will feature a group within the Federation, will have a sort of cartoony-chibi design to it, and will not have Samus in a main role. As for the reaction, the trailer for the game has an over 90% disapproval rating and a petition to have the game cancelled has over 20,000 signatures.
Obviously, this has several people angry that it’s not a traditional Metroid game. But there are others that don’t see much of an issue and/or advise patience. So after seeing the reveal as well as footage of the game during the Treehouse segments, a number of contributors came together to discuss their thoughts on the game as well as the reaction to the reveal.
Joining me in this roundtable are Daniel Velazquez, Jacob Dobbs, Josh Speer, and Will Whitehurst. This will mostly be how it happened, with people jumping in when they were finally able to get their full thoughts in order. I’ll have some comments in italics to make sure you are able to follow along when someone jumps in.
With that, we start the roundtable with some opening thoughts, starting with Daniel.
DANIEL: I’m surprised about the game but I can’t say I’m disappointed. There was no Metroid game announced coming before this so I don’t have expectations attached to Federation Force. Now, what they showed, especially the Treehouse footage, was promising. I especially liked the emphasis on cooperation and equipping yourself to better handle a specific role on the mission. If the game takes that and runs with it, I’ll gladly play it. That said, I understand all those who are down on the game for it not being a “proper” Metroid title.
JACOB: When I first heard the announcement for Metroid Prime: Federation Force, I was disappointed. I have been a Metroid fan for over a decade now. I expected a Metroid announcement during E3, but I was expecting a 2D game, a 3D game, or a new Prime game, not a spinoff. Obviously, I was not alone.
It is fine to be disappointed. It’s okay to not like a game. But release your feelings in a respectful mature manner. The behavior by some in the fanbase is what I expect from four year olds, not full grown adults. Nintendo has the right to create the game they want to make and, in exchange, we have the right to buy it or not buy it and share both our positive and negative feedback to Nintendo. Wanting a game cancelled because it isn’t what you wanted is wrong and goes into borderline censorship.
As for the game itself, it seemed to be a bit bare. I was hoping to see a variety of missions and some more enemies. Hopefully, Next Level Games will continue to work hard on the game and have it more fleshed out with more levels, enemies, and different mission types by next year.
JOSH: I remember watching the Blast Ball footage during the World Championships. It was interesting, but not entirely my cup of tea. One of those games I might consider buying when it was discounted, but not at launch. Then I saw the Metroid name appear, and my opinion changed.
Now, while I’m not one of those fanatics who thinks the game should be destroyed, I don’t think it was a smart idea to use the Metroid moniker to market it. Let me be frank. You would think after the questionable success of Metroid: Other M that Nintendo would veer back into comfortable territory. I fully expected another 2D Metroid to be announced. Not that I have anything against 3D Metroid, I loved the Prime series for what it was. But at this point, I think all the fans of the series are looking for a return to its gameplay roots. Federation Force, with the inclusion of Blast Ball — or as I call it “Space Soccer” — is not what fans wanted.
It might end up a fantastic game, but much like Kirby’s Epic Yarn, it doesn’t need the crutch of the series name attached. Had they made this a new IP, I would be fine. But calling something with chibi LEGO style graphics Metroid isn’t right. It’s making money off of our expectations from that name. I just hope it exceeds all our expectations, ’cause otherwise it will be a dismal failure.
JEFF: What if they had released a more traditional Metroid game first and then revealed this spin-off after said release?
JOSH: (Jokingly) Then I think it would be split between super happy fans and more petition freaks. People just like to bitch sometimes.
JEFF: Would it make any difference if it was just Metroid instead of Metroid Prime?
JACOB: I don’t think it would have mattered if a traditional Metroid game had been announced. People would have still whined over the spin-off. Sure, we had spin-offs like Prime Pinball and no one complained at the time, but society has changed from 10 years ago. And people would still have complained if it was Metroid: Federation Force and not Metroid Prime: Federation Force. The complaints probably would have been even worse.
JOSH: For the most part, I think folks are still waiting for Metroid Dread, or whatever the new 2D platformer game is. God I want Metroid Dread, probably as much as I want a TWEWY sequel.
(Will comes in around this time and makes his opening statement.)
WILL: When Federation Force was revealed, I had a more muted reaction at first. I kind of enjoyed Metroid Prime: Hunters, which this game seems to be the successor of, and thought “eh, a new Metroid couldn’t hurt.” Blast Ball didn’t surprise me, either, as the Metroid series is no stranger to experimentation. Sometimes it works (the Metroid Prime trilogy, MP Pinball), but, on one occasion, it backfired quite a bit (I thought Other M was worth the $10 I paid for it, but no more).
But, like pretty much everyone else here, I wish Nintendo would just bring the series back to its hardcore action-platforming roots. Zero Mission came out over a decade ago, and Other M really doesn’t count because of the weird first-person aspect. I mean, a spinoff is fine and all, but Nintendo could have shown something else to complement it. I think it was more than silly to create a petition to cancel it, though, as Next Level Games is a competent developer (they made Mario Strikers, Punch-Out!!, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, for crying out loud). But yes, a new 2D Metroid, or even a remake of the rather dated Metroid II: Return of Samus, would be the answer here.
(And in response to the Metroid vs. Metroid Prime question…)
It would have made a difference if it was just called Metroid: Federation Force. The Prime trilogy is one of Nintendo’s more mature franchises in terms of storytelling, theme and gameplay, and linking it to a spinoff game with chibi soldiers wearing Power Suits is a terrible idea. At least MP Pinball actually HAD Samus.
JEFF: Would you still feel this way if the series had more titles, particularly more recently, before announcing a spin-off like Federation Force?
WILL: Probably not, especially since Other M was the most recent installment. I wouldn’t necessarily say it irrevocably damaged the quality of the franchise, but there was so much wrong with that game, especially the Hell Run and the scene in Sector Zero. I won’t go into any further detail than that, because the story in that game is so bad it’s good at best, incredibly stupid and atypical of anything with the Metroid name on it at worst. I wouldn’t have paid my mind to it if another game that had the Metroid name on it came out in between, but Other M is just so ridiculous and, well, un-Metroid that the franchise needs something fresh to wash out the bad taste in my mouth, as well as that of some others who’ve played it (You might love it, and while I vehemently disagree, I respect that). Unfortunately, a game like this isn’t it.
JOSH: Would make no difference to me. Metroid is Metroid, not sure why they thought chibi was the right answer.
DANIEL: I think Jeff has a point there. There are so many Mario-something games out there and we don’t even blink. The Metroid series has only seven or so games in its tally with not a lot of spin-offs. Of course, there was Metroid Prime Pinball, which actually was quite decent a game. But outside of Smash, you don’t see the series branching out much.
JEFF: I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’ve had series that I’ve played and loved get spin-offs already or that I’m just not that big a fan of Metroid, but this doesn’t seem that bad to me. Then again, the franchises I like also have double digit title numbers. If you look at the Bokujō Monogatari/Story of Seasons franchise, it has over 35 games, including spin-offs and the pre-2013 Natsume era of published titles (when it was known as Harvest Moon in the west).
Now, suppose that Story of Seasons only had a handful of titles — let’s go with the original on SNES, HM64, A Wonderful Life, Magical Melody, Friends of Mineral Town, Grand Bazaar, the first Rune Factory game, Innocent Life, and Puzzle de Harvest Moon. Based on that list, Grand Bazaar would’ve been the last title. For me, I didn’t care much for that game (although there are plenty that did, so I might be in the minority on that), so I could imagine that these feelings could’ve easily been what I would be feeling for the upcoming PopoloCrois-Story of Seasons spin-off.
Would I have been mad? After seeing that there isn’t gonna be much farming (or at least farming as we fans of the series know of), I may be. It seems like a rather big shift from the regular formula. But would I want it gone for good? No. While it wouldn’t be what I was hoping for, I would know that Marvelous had done good things in past spin-offs. Innocent Life may not be what I would want out of a futuristic game in the series, but it still has its moments. Rune Factory is a good game — and in reality, a great spin-off series for the franchise. And while Puzzle de Harvest Moon would have me worried, it wouldn’t push me away since that game was so drastically different. I would still want to try this out and see what the game is about.
I guess what I’m trying to say is — particularly for those in the camp of wanting to get this game cancelled — this may not be the game you wanted, but this may be something you look back fondly on. Yes, the chibi stuff could be off-putting. But that’s only one part of the game. If those leaks that appeared on 4chan are to be believed, then there is much more to this game than what was shown at E3. Just give it a chance.
WILL: I like your points, and I will still give MPFF a chance, but i was just so disgusted by Other M that I wanted the next Metroid game to be something more. That’s the main reason.
JACOB: Other M was a good but flawed game in my eyes, but I know to many Metroid fans it was bad. Had the gameplay down, but unfortunately some poor design choices and the awful voice acting didn’t help Other M.
JEFF: Final thoughts, guys?
DANIEL: I look forward to seeing more of the game and actually getting my hands on it. Branding is important but not enough to stop or make me play a game. More than it being a Metroid game, is it fun? From what I’ve seen, it looks like it could be. When they announce a new “traditional” Metroid, I’ll take a look at it too. Still, I can’t help but feel that fans get way too attached to a series and make unrealistic demands on them. These same fans that cried outrage when Metroid Prime and Wind Waker were shown now love those games. Will Federation Force be as loved in 5-10 years? Who knows! Why don’t we wait and see?
What do you think about the game? Do you think this game has a right to exist? Do you have any complaints about this game coming before a traditional Metroid game? Have any additional questions for us on this subject? Let us know in the comments below.
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