I have spent the last week trapped in an emotional prison and I can’t take it anymore. I am absolutely fuming with anger after playing through Metroid Prime: Federation Force. It is a well-crafted game, and this is a big problem. Next Level Games have poured tons of resources into what is fundamentally an INSULT to Metroid fans. They’ve wasted 20 hours of my life, and KILLED the Metroid franchise by gutting the structure, butchering the art style, and offending my entitlements as a traditional gamer who has supported Nintendo since the NES.
What is this, you ask? This is not Metroid, it’s Chibi Soldier Party 7. What is Metroid then? The first, most obvious thing that defines Metroid as a series is exploration. It is a single player adventure that not only encourages exploration, but practically invented the genre by being one of the first games to scroll in all directions.
Federation Force SHITS on this very fundamental aspect of Metroid by splitting up the world into linear missions, and inviting multiple players. Metroid does not, and CAN not have multiplayer because other people ruin the atmosphere. I do not have friends, nor do I ever want any. Federation Force is still playable with one person, but is severely compromised by its co-op structure. It feels like Nintendo is forcing me to be social, and the stress of that expectation is unbearable. My interaction with humans is strictly limited to mornings with Mom, and we have a very good relationship. She knows this is MY basement. Metroid is MY series and I will not let the dinosaurs at Nintendo make decisions I disagree with.
Look how good these graphics are. Unfortunately no matter how much you polish a turd, it’s still a turd. Believe me, I tried to clean up a mess in a public bathroom once, but everyone still knew what I did. Like a bad meal, the graphical detail in Federation Force makes me absolutely sick to the stomach. Not only have Next Level Games done a great job creating 3 new planets to explore, but every single room is crafted with unique detail. What’s wrong with that, you say? It’s a sign of EFFORT. That would be fine if this was a real Metroid, but I will not tolerate effort in a Metroid side game. It means they are actively trying to destroy Metroid as a series.
Federation Force has been in the planning stages since 2009, and after they showed the finished game at E3 2015 (source: my gamer intuition), it received an entire year of polish on top of that to finally release as a perfect product in 2016. Nintendo’s heavy investment into this game can only be seen as an internal mission to end Metroid as we know it.
Federation Force’s destruction does not stop at the Metroid series, as it also highlights the crippling nature of the 3DS system. They could have made these graphics on the Wii U in 2 weeks, but instead spent 7 years trying to convince themselves the 3DS was a relevant piece of technology. Guess what Nintendo, the 3DS was outdated the second it came out and you weren’t the first company to invent 3D. I have been seeing things in 3D since I was born, without the help of a gimmicky screen.
On top of detailed 3D models, this game has an abundance of effects all happening at once, with a smooth framerate and cinematic adaptive camera that bobs with your mech. It’s absolutely disgusting to see so much effort put into an underpowered system. When you stand on a switch to open a giant door in Excelcion, the frost cracks under pressure and falls off the sides like Nintendo’s marketshare in 2016.
This game tries to FOOL you into thinking it’s Metroid, but it’s not. You can not believe or even appreciate it for a moment, because it will take advantage of you. Some missions have interesting objectives involving team-work, item management, and environmental hazards. It’s all very engaging work and I had to chant “Metroid is dead” in my head just to fight the urge to enjoy myself. On the off chance you might be enjoying the graphics or reading some lore, you’ll be slapped in the face with a gameplay GIMMICK that shits all over the Metroid series like rain on Samus’s visor. Instead of simply picking up health, they’ve made convoluted “repair capsules” that you have to shoot on the floor, and THEN pick up. It’s just an EXTRA step for a process that was perfected in gaming 30 years ago. You should pick up health, and end up with more. That’s it. They couldn’t even get that right.
I fired a repair capsule at the Metroid series but it missed, and landed in the toilet. That was the best use I could find for this game, as my toilet was in dire need of a clean. My explosive diarrhea flares up whenever I think about Nintendo’s mistreatment of key franchises. Don’t even get me started on Star Fox Zero, there was shit all over the walls after that tutorial.
As I was carrying an artifact through a lightning storm with different types of enemies surrounding me, I was overwhelmed with gameplay mechanics. In this moment I had so much to think about, that I forgot about the morbid state of the Metroid series. The gameplay forced me to concentrate, and this is how Nintendo TRICKS people into thinking things are okay. Things are NOT okay. I could feel my thoughts being censored, and it was difficult to focus on the gameplay while still keeping my biases intact. When the missions get difficult, my best advice is to channel your seething entitlement, rotate the circle pad wildly and just spam the shoot button. This will create room in your head (the safe space) to think about how bad the game is, and also make the game-design seem worse so you can feel better about the judgements you made last year. It’s win-win.
It’s not even worth trying to aim in this game. This game has a fantastic, accurate cursor but I can’t utilize it because I’m not a baby. My gigantic hairy man hands (the mark of a true Metroid veteran) can not hold the 3DS without the screen flapping about and the 3D effect fading. It’s an absolute chore just trying to do a basic thing in this game. You can’t even look up or down without activating gyro since the circle pad is exclusively used for strafing. They made the sky look incredible in this game, just so you could break the 3DS to look up. Next Level Games clearly had TWO objectives while working on this game. 1) Destroy the Metroid series and 2) Break 3DS systems around the world.
My fingers cramp up within 5 minutes of playing this game. You have to hold so many tiny buttons at once, just to aim and shoot at a simple enemy. I’m holding R to lock-on, L to strafe, pressing A to shoot, tilting the cursor to keep up, then pressing up on the dpad to convince myself I did a good job. It reminds me of all those times I was locked inside the car as a kid. Know your audience, Nintendo. Mature Metroid fans need a real controller we can bang against the wall.
Federation Force is a very sneaky game. With good gameplay, stunning graphics and varied missions, there are a lot of things in this game designed to distract you from the truth. Key members of the Metroid team were LOCKED UP and forced to contribute to this game, just to make sure the series does not come back in full glory. Tanabe had to make the idea of Metroid Prime 4 sound unappealing by sabotaging the entire trilogy with this game’s dismal story premise. Kenji Yamamoto was forced to unlearn everything he knew about music composition with the soundtrack in Federation Force. The music is bland but dynamic, with multiple layers coming into different situations with gameplay triggers. Yamamoto put an incredible amount of effort into something nobody will notice, and is now creatively-dead as a composer.
It may be too late to save Metroid, as Federation Force has done irreversible damage to the series. This game only exists so Nintendo can tell us what we want. By even playing this game, we have told Nintendo that we DON’T want exploration in Metroid. It’s the same way Nintendo justified taking the RPG mechanics out of Paper Mario. They are slowly but surely eliminating the gameplay from videogames. This game is not a choice, it’s a punishment. A punishment for being a Nintendo fan and buying their products. They do not want to communicate or engage with us. They want to control us.
If you can TOLERATE not playing as Samus, missions full of gimmicks, brand new planets, forced co-op design and a ridiculously out-of-place scoring system (what is this, a videogame?), then I highly recommend Metroid Prime: Federation Force. Buy it pre-owned though, please. For everyone else, it’s time to take control of your life and abandon Nintendo for good. Boycott Federation Force and show Nintendo we will not tolerate the destruction of traditional gaming.