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LOS ANGELES — Nintendo is making a new Metroid! Yay, right? Well, according to the Internet, no. No yay.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a new cooperative shooter for the Nintendo 3DS. That’s right — cooperative as in four people all working together at the same time. If that doesn’t sound like a Metroid to you that’s because this is unlike any Metroid we’ve had before. And on top of the weird main campaign, Federation Force also includes Blast Ball, a 3-on-3 space soccer game that you play by shooting a giant sphere into the opponents’ goal with your weapons. As far as Metroid fans are concerned, this is blasphemy (and 9,000 people have signed a petition calling for its cancellation because they hate the idea so much). But after playing it, it sure is fun blasphemy.
Nintendo has filled its booth at the Electronic Entertainment Expo tradeshow with its upcoming Wii U and 3DS games, and this includes Metroid Prime: Federation Force. I played the Blast Ball mode. And while it seems like an insane use of the Metroid license, I couldn’t help but enjoy myself.
The core competitive mechanics of Blast Ball are so simple that it gets you right into the action even when it’s your first time picking it up. It’s all about trying to keep your team in position and keeping a steady attack on the ball without actually getting hit by the sphere. That’s because the ball does a ton of damage and can knock your mech — they’re called mechs now — out of the match until it respawns.
This creates intense, hectic battles where you never can relax until the ball finally rolls into the enemy’s goal. The multiplayer aspect of this is key as it avoids relying on inconsistent artificial intelligence.
Check out a match for yourself:
Even though I liked what I played of Blast Ball, I don’t really know what to think. I can’t help but wonder if the existence of this game says something much more worrying about the state of the Metroid franchise going forward.
But as I wrestle with my feelings about it, Metroid fans paying attention to the game and E3 from afar probably can’t understand what Nintendo is thinking here. As far as that’s concerned, I have no idea.
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