This article is an opinion piece written by Dakota Latsky and does not necessarily reflect the thoughts of the entire Nintendo Enthusiast staff.
We’re sorry, Next Level. It’s not you. It’s us.
You’ve created what looks like a 3DS title packed with frantic fun and fast-paced action. To deny that Next Level hasn’t created a fun shooting experience on 3DS would be just another opportunity to kick them while they’re down.
Next Level finds itself on the short end of a burning stick. Creating a new game in a franchise with very few releases in the past decade is nothing short of an impossible feat. Very few, however, would say “Blast Balls” was the way to go about it.
So, what exactly is Federation Force? And why is it not the Metroid game we all expected?
The game was initially shown off at the Nintendo World Championships, albeit only its 3-on-3 multiplayer mode called “Blast Ball.” At that moment, Metroid wasn’t even in the conversation, though the heads-up display was remarkably similar to what was seen in the Prime trilogy. Then, during the Nintendo Digital Event, the game was officially revealed as “Metroid Prime: Federation Force,” featuring a four-player cooperative mode made of missions based on battles in the Prime series, as well as the aforementioned Blast Ball game.
Needless to say, the Internet’s reaction was far from warm. Fourteen years after the first Prime and Metroid Fusion (the last game in the series chronologically), eleven years since the last sidescroller in the series (Zero Mission), and eight years since Metroid Prime 3 – fans were expecting a little more than shooting balls into nets. Five years since the tragedy that was the release of Other M on the Wii, this year’s E3 was expected to be a shining ray of hope for Metroid fans. Certainly they must have something in the works by now, right? And I still think that’s the case.
Nintendo is readying themselves for a new console generation with the NX, and likely readying themselves for the end of the Wii U concurrently. If Nintendo has already put a lot of resources into another main Metroid title, it’s not surprising that they would move development to a rich, new platform instead of limiting it to release on the Wii U.
Moreover, if we’re in a Prime/Fusion scenario – the simultaneous release of a Metroid game on console and handheld – then the delay of an NX title probably resulted in the delay of a 3DS title, as well. Though this is likely getting a bit too overzealous with anticipation. Federation Force, then, comes at a time when a Metroid title simply isn’t ready by any means. A hold-over, if you will. From Nintendo’s perspective, it seems fair to fans: a fun game in the series until the big guns are ready.
Instead, maybe announcing a tentatively-titled Metroid for the next generation would have been the better option. That would have been more than enough to satisfy Metroid fans. Nintendo could have then shown Federation Force on the show floor without any negative buzz. In fact, with a new Metroid title on the horizon, fans would have been astounded that they could even get some Metroid at all when they found Federation Force in the Nintendo booth.
This really highlights the issues surrounding Federation Force, which have very little to do with the actual game itself. The Treehouse team showed that it’s a ton of fun, and with the confirmation of online play, Federation Force has a justified spot on the 3DS’ already ridiculously high-quality library.
The difference is that Metroid is five years out from the worst game in franchise history without any direction for fans to cling on to. The Metroid community has absolutely no idea where the franchise is heading, except that it may end on Blast Balls, and to another awful extent, Other M. Nintendo failed to secure the trust of a fan-base already reeling, one that considers itself fans of a classic, legendary franchise. It’s hard to move forward from there.
We still have a possible announcement from Retro Studios on the way before E3 shuts its doors, which could be Metroid related. Next Level, at the very least, helped remind everyone that Metroid still exists. At least Nintendo was reminded, too. And hopefully we can look forward to Metroid on the NX or 3DS in the near future.
But for right now, it’s a lose-lose situation for everyone. With the Metroid Prime logo slapped on it, Federation Force may have already lost before it’s out the gate, a shame for what seems like a solid title in its own right. Next Level is shouldering a lot of negativity for forces mostly out of their control. Fans now have to wait even longer for just an announcement of Metroid’s future. And Nintendo has to deal with all of this.
As a long-time Metroid fan, I’m sure that we’ll see Samus (and maybe even Ridley!) in another epic adventure once again. Maybe, just maybe, Nintendo could have given us a taste of what that would be in the meantime. For now, Federation Force leaves a sour taste on the tongues of 2015.