It’s difficult to talk about Metroid Prime: Federation Force without first addressing the ongoing fan-backlash. The new installment was supposed to celebrate the iconic franchise’s 30th anniversary with zeal and enthusiasm. So what wrongs did it commit (if any) to cause such an uproar from the community?
The last Metroid game we received was in 2010 in the form of Metroid: Other M. To this day many still argue that Nintendo’s decision to change gameplay elements with Other M essentially forces them to not even consider it as a valid installment in the series. Even worse is the fact that it’s impossible to completely disregard the game since its ending has a prime effect on the series’ lore, dragging in a brain-washed Samus.
The Metroid franchise has since then been hibernating. It’s been six years already without a proper main installment, or nine if you disregard Metroid: Other M. Hence, news about a new Metroid game came both as a surprise and source of joy for everyone.
There were two main reasons that caused everyone to have high expectations from the new installment. The fact that it would be celebrating Metroid’s 30th anniversary caused many to believe that Nintendo would be going all out on this one. Secondly, it was naturally assumed that the controversial release of Metroid: Other M would have given Nintendo a fair idea on what needed to be done.
All the company had to do now was give in to the fans’ request of experiencing a true Metroid game where players could once again feel like Samus; exploring, taking down space pirates, and relishing that nostalgic Metroid feel. Sounds simple enough. Unfortunately, Metroid Prime: Federation Force was announced as a spin-off. This revelation deeply saddened fans and caused them to further strengthen their beliefs about Nintendo growing out of touch with its fan-base.
It’s unlikely that anyone who got scarred by the initial Federation Force announcement would be interested in giving the game a chance. It’s understandable; after all Nintendo’s way of showing appreciation for a classic series was to simply pawn off a spin-off rather than work on creating an actual successor.
That being said, it’s worth noting that Metroid Prime: Federation Force carries an impressive handheld multiplayer action aspect. This might not be the Metroid game you were hoping for, but it can still grant you hours of fun and entertainment in a commendable cooperative environment.
The game’s simplistic storyline takes place after the events of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. The Federation has formulated a new way to bolster its forces by creating larger and more powerful Mechs. While undergoing extensive testing of these weapons, information arrives about the Space Pirates hatching another villainous plot. Details on what the Space Pirates are up to are slowly revealed as you make your way through the game.
Thanks to valuable intel provided by Samus, the game sees the Federation work towards reaching its goal of getting rid of the Space Pirates once and for all. It’s important to mention here that the series’ protagonist takes a support role in this game, toned down to just being mentioned in mission briefings.
You fill the shoes of a newly appointed recruit in the Federation forces, fitted with a new suit and instructed to take on missions to gather intel, technology, and foil whatever the Space Pirates are planning.
The mission variety in Metroid Prime: Federation Force is what brings the fun to a well-structured cooperative experience. You’ll rarely find two missions alike and there’s so much to choose from. The missions range from your average objectives-based to holding off waves of enemies, to guiding gigantic metal balls through mazes to catapults in order to take down bosses.
Some of these missions can also prove to be quite challenging. Here is where you take advantage by inviting your friends for co-op play. Communication between players is key and for that Nintendo has provided stock phrases for you to choose from. You can fiddle with the D-pad to oust statements like “Good Job!, Let’s Go!, Roger That!” However, it goes without saying that the in-game communications panel is insufficient in many ways. It’s simply better to opt for third-party voice comms.
Disappointingly, you’re forbidden to invite anyone who has yet to unlock a specific mission. If you happen to play more than your friends, you just might have to wait it out until they reach your level in order to play together.
The major problem with Metroid Prime: Federation Force is that it carries the Metroid name. This game dwells only in what the Federation does and features a well-rounded multiplayer mech adventure, especially for those who love to return to beat their old scores. So let me make this clear, for a spin-off Federation Force is a pretty decent title. However, the decision to sell it using the Metroid brand is naturally going to raise our expectations.
The diversity in missions is appreciated, but each one follows a linear progression. There are no exploration elements and Nintendo must also be questioned over its decision to ditch checkpoints in the game. Moving on, Federation Force replaces “Upgrades” with “mods” that come as power upgrades. These help in building your character but have little to no effect in the game. While the series has always featured interesting puzzles, Federation Force has none. There’s another feature off the list.
It’s mind boggling as to what Nintendo was thinking with Metroid Prime: Federation Force. The situation could have been much different and in favor of Nintendo if it had released a proper installment. A spin-off could always have followed later on. As it is, I fear that the sales of the game are going to decide whether the Metroid series goes dormant once again or not.