There’s absolutely no reason, months before its release, for anyone to hate a game like Metroid Prime: Federation Force.
Long-time Metroid producer Kensuke Tanabe is overseeing the project. The development team, Next Level Games, has a stellar record. Luigi’s Mansion 2 was world class. Punch Out!! on the Wii was practically flawless. We’re talking about a team of developers with a proven history of reinventing fondly remembered Nintendo franchises.
The truth: we don’t really have an idea of how Metroid Prime: Federation Force will work; how it will play, how it will work in the real world. We know very little about it.
But already. We hate it. How strange is that?
But it’s an impulse I understand and empathise with. Why hate a game we know so little about?
The answer is simple: Federation Force not the game we’re hungry for. It’s the opposite of that. And after such a sustained amount of time waiting for a ‘proper’ Metroid game, Federation Force feels like a cruel joke.
Think about Metroid. Think about what defines it.
-- Interconnected worlds
Metroid Prime: Federation Force subverts almost everything that defines Metroid.
It’s a co-operative game, so that sense of brutal, cruel isolation: gone.
It’s divided into the three different planets, and each planet is divided into separate missions – there goes the idea of an interconnected world.
We’ve been told that the game focuses more on shooting as opposed to exploration, so there goes another tenet of the series.
Atmosphere: Federation Force is supposed to represent an expansion of the Metroid universe, but that in itself feels strange. A large part of the mystique of Metroid is the mystery, of leaving thing unsaid, unexplored. Clumsily expanding a universe is a sure fire way to make it feel underdeveloped and small. There’s a reason why Metroid: Other M is reviled while Metroid Prime and Super Metroid are series highpoints.
So what do we have left really? What is going to make Metroid Prime: Federation Force feel like a Metroid game?
Here’s the problem. There hasn’t been a ‘proper’ Metroid game since Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Not on the 3DS, not on the Wii U. Nothing. Metroid: Other M was… something else. It was an experiment. A terrible, failed experiment. It sucked. As a Metroid game, it sucked.
Eight years have passed. Nothing. Not even close. We haven’t even been able to replace that Metroid ‘feeling’ with other games on other consoles. The Arkham series? Kinda. Not quite. A number of other 2D pretenders? Not the same. Some games managed to channel certain elements of the Metroid ‘package’ but there is nothing out there quite like it and I, for one, am goddamn famished.
I am hungry -- thirsty as hell -- for a proper Metroid game. I see no other way of putting it.
Federation Force is not the kind of game that’s gonna quench that thirst. That’s the overwhelming problem here. After years of waiting, we get this game? It has Metroid on the logo, but it doesn’t really look or feel like a Metroid game.
The timing is terrible. No-one would be complaining about Federation Force is Metroid Prime had come out yesterday, or last year for that matter. Everyone would be happy with this curious little diversion. Pointless, entitled metaphor with no connection to reality here: we are the barbarians at the gate. LET THEM HAVE CAKE comes the cry. We don’t want fucking cake! We want a Metroid game. Jesus H Christ. How hard is that to understand?
It’s sort of hilarious. Nintendo’s greatest strength and weakness is its ability to ignore absolutely everyone, including its own fan-base. In the past I have celebrated that gift, because honestly: what the hell do we know? We’re the type of people who said the Wii was a terrible idea, that touch controls on a handheld were doomed to failure.
But Metroid. I’m right about Metroid, surely? Surely. This hunger is real, right?
Because that experience, that unique feeling, it’s missing from our lives. I want it back.