The build up to E3 this year saw the hype train going at full speed. With Nintendo’s show being a big secret, everybody had their own wild predictions. However we saw one name mentioned more than most: Metroid. It just felt like it was “time” with Retro Studios project being a secret, and no real Metroid being released in almost a decade. I was hyped for this too, because why else would Retro Studios open a Twitter account right before E3? The gaming media also helped set up the disappointment, with articles like “Why Metroid should be announced” and “Metroid Prime devs tease E3” right before E3. It wasn’t “Donkey Kong devs tease E3” despite that being their most popular, and most recent game. So when you deconstruct this hype, it didn’t follow much solid logic. Does it ever? Regardless, expectations were set to Metroid and hopes were high. Then we got this…
AARRGHH MY EYES!! This is not… Metroid!! What is this TOXIC image on my screen!? Oh, it’s a videogame. I like those, don’t I? I admit when this was first shown, I was very confused and a bit upset. It just showed up in the Digital Event with no context or explanation. I had a little excitement reserved because surely this would lead to another Metroid game announcement? At the very least, some kind of discussion about it. Then nope, the Digital Event ended and everybody was left confused. Not really the fault of the game itself, but the entire structure of the presentation missed the mark and we got the impression that Nintendo thought “this is Metroid, here you go“. After spending a good 24 hours feeling disappointed, I remembered that I was a fully grown adult, and the world hadn’t ended. In fact, all the games shown in the Digital Event looked fun to play. Metroid Prime: Federation Force is no exception, so let’s look at everything we know about the game.
- Set in the Metroid Prime universe.
- 4 player online co-op play.
- Tons of missions, custom load-outs.
- Made by Next Level Games.
- Supervised by Kensuke Tanabe, Producer of the Metroid Prime series.
- Music by Kenji Yamamoto (Metroid Prime 1, 2, 3).
- Graphical style suited to the handheld screen.
- Blast Ball for competitive multiplayer.
Now what part of this is bad, exactly? It’s not a traditional Metroid game. Yes, you’re right. It’s a shame there wasn’t one announced, but it’s not this game’s fault. You know what else is not a traditional Metroid? Every single game released in the past 8 years. So here we have this videogame with its own mechanics, unrelated to traditional Metroid, and we get some Metroid Prime lore as a bonus. If you’re seeing this as a bad thing, I want to change your perspective. You don’t even have to PLAY this game, and you’re still getting more Metroid story to think about. For nothing. The Metroid Prime universe is one of my favourites in all of gaming. The atmosphere is rich in mystery, and while playing these 3 games my mind often did wander outside the scope of them. I didn’t think much of the Federation Troopers, but I did wonder how the Space Pirates were operating and what was happening behind the scenes. The more I think about it, the more excited I am to learn more in Federation Force. The Metroid Prime games have hundreds of logs of data to read, and more significantly they have cool environmental details that make you think about things in every room. They are meticulously crafted with references and consistencies that hint at a wider scope. This isn’t speculation, as Tanabe himself confirmed in E3 interviews that the lore would expand and they have had a grand vision from the start. Do I think expanding the story is that important? Not really. I don’t write Metroid fanfics and I play Metroid for the gameplay, but it’s still interesting as someone who has spent a lot of time with the Metroid Prime games. There are far worse settings for a game.
Blast Ball is an additional mode that first debuted at the Nintendo World Championships. It exists in Federation Force for the purpose of honing the player’s skills with the core movement mechanics, and providing a competitive mode to play 3-on-3 with friends. I know “this isn’t Metroid“, you say again, but think about it before you get too angry. It’s a harmless sports game. What do you expect Federation Troopers to do in their spare time? Read poetry? Sign petitions? Honing their skills is what troopers fucking do. If you care this much about Federation Trooper lore then you should be interested in the whole game, right? Like Splatoon, this is another example of Nintendo putting a new gameplay twist on the core shooting mechanics that we see in 100 games every year. This happens so rarely in the industry that I’m excited to play this. Blast Ball has received criticism on the internet because of “graphics” and “not Metroid“, but everybody who played the game loved it. I watched recap streams and shows from the NWC contestants after the event, and even they loved it. I’m talking about speedrunners who exist to play 1 game forever and stubbornly ignore new consoles and games. If they can be open minded about it, you can. It’s a new concept both for a sports game and for a shooter, which makes it very difficult to judge without playing it. I hope everyone gives it a try because I’m excited to play some 3-on-3 with friends.
I’ve explained what the game is about, but most people aren’t even going to care. The fan reaction has unfortunately overshadowed the actual videogame. While I had my own little manchild baby reaction, it didn’t last very long. I never went as far as down-rating videos or signing a petition to get the game cancelled. To save you the trouble of clicking these links, 76,000 people gave the E3 trailer a thumbs down and 22,000 people have signed a petition to get the game cancelled. This toxic behavior spread to Nintendo’s other E3 videos, and suddenly Tri Force Heroes and Yoshi’s Woolly World were being dragged into the shitstorm. The poor Yoshis have been through enough thank you. On Twitter I started getting annoyed at people repeating the same shit about how they “deserve” another Metroid game, and how Nintendo was “betraying” them. How the fuck do you respond to that? It’s a mindset I’ve seen time and time again, but I never thought it would apply to Metroid. It really upset me as someone who is passionate about the Metroid Prime games. Just the idea that Metroid fans could be bad people, I couldn’t process it. I thought we had something special. It’s one of the most disheartening things I’ve seen in my entire time following gaming, and I’ve put off this article for a month because I just didn’t want to think about it. Shit needs to be said though. How does this happen? I’ve concluded that you’re just not Metroid fans.
I felt like the only Metroid fan on the internet while replaying the Prime Trilogy and Zero Mission earlier this year. The #Metroid hashtag on Twitter was dead before E3, the only tweets you’d see for weeks were random cosplays or ebay auctions, with days of silence between them. There’s a few people discovering Metroid Fusion and Zero Mission on the Miiverse (bless their souls) but they are two of the smallest communities on there. Now suddenly, every Metroid fan shows up like they deserve something. Fuck you. Where have you BEEN? You are the LEAST important people in the industry if you don’t support existing content. It’s fine to sit in the dark playing your SNES every night, hell that sounds like a great time. Just don’t act like you are relevant. There is no market for you because you left a long time ago. Nintendo can’t possibly see you drawing Metroid fan-art in your basement, or speedrunning Zero Mission on Twitch. They do see Miiverse activity and social media feedback, and the first “communication” from Metroid fans in years has been a big mess of hatred. Way to go, signing that petition.
We need to reverse that attitude for the greater good of the series perception. You are not as important as you think you are. Not everyone was delivered to this Earth in a Morph Ball by Ridley. Think about a new Metroid fan right now doing research on the series, they’re just going to see a bunch of fucking babies whining about the definition of Metroid. It’s like walking into a restaurant with a shitty obnoxious band playing. The food might be great but you’re not going to sit down there all night and sample the menu. I don’t like Metroid: Other M, but I don’t go marching down the street telling people it sucks. Some of my friends liked the game so that’s a good enough reason for it to exist for me. It was made by another developer who was probably overjoyed at the chance to work on Metroid, much like Next Level Games were when Tanabe gave them this opportunity. Speaking of Next Level Games, let’s have a look at their well-known recent titles.
- Mario Strikers (2007)
- Punch Out Wii (2009)
- Luigi’s Mansion 2 (Year of Luigi)
These games have two things in common. One, they are awesome. Two, none of them are traditional Metroid games. Federation Force is going to join that list and be an awesome game that isn’t Super Metroid. If you’re a videogame fan, then surely you can get over this and see the game without your Metroid goggles. Being a “Metroid fan” does not qualify you to be a fuckwit or an expert, if anything it means you should be smart and rational because that’s how the games are designed.
How many people wanted Next Level Games to work on a traditional Metroid anyway? This was their concept art for a 2D Metroid that got scrapped, it was actually in a playable state and these art documents were leaked last year. It got almost no reaction from the community. I’m personally not a huge fan of this Samus design, it’s more suited to a Guacamelee type light-hearted Indie clone. It’s just a design though, and I’m pointing it out because there wasn’t a huge outcry for this. Some people thought it was cool but nobody petitioned for this to be made. On a similar note, North America still don’t have Metroid: Zero Mission available on the Wii U Virtual Console. Why? Well, why should they? Where’s the demand? Nobody has made a petition to get this game. I can guarantee you if 76,000 people asked for it, you’d get it. Those would be some insane sales for a Virtual Console game. Instead you are too busy trying to get something cancelled.
“Nintendo doesn’t understand Metroid fans.”
I actually believe this now, because I don’t understand Metroid fans either. What the FUCK are you meant to be? If you’ve only ever played Super Metroid you can’t call yourself this. You’re a Super Metroid fan. Zero Mission, Fusion, and the Primes are fucking great, and people who like THOSE will call themselves Metroid fans too. It’s all fine as long as we respect the games for what they are, and Federation Force deserves the same respect. A fan shows support, and if the situation needs to be absolutely perfect for you to do that, then I’m sorry but you are not behaving like a fan.
I propose we drop all this bullshit and just be videogame fans. At the very least, well-adjusted people who can respect that Next Level Games are putting years into making Federation Force a fun game for people to enjoy. They aren’t trying to erase your Metroid memories or burn your cartridges. I’m not even implying Federation Force will be a good game, it’s just a new type of gameplay experience that we should give a fair chance. 4 player co-op experiences make up some of my best ever gaming memories. How often has Nintendo got this wrong? Fucking never. If you judge everything by what it’s not, you’ll never have a new experience ever again. Even if it’s not your type of game that’s totally fine, but crying about it does more harm than good. Metroid is one of the greatest series in gaming and having new people experience the series with their friends in co-op should be seen as a positive thing. Metroid’s unique music and atmosphere is unlike anything in the world and it can make an impact in this game. Even if it doesn’t, people can still play it and have a good time. So while we’re waiting for the next mission, let’s take a look at ourselves and make sure we really deserve that dream Metroid game.