By Bryan Smith on November 29, 2015 at 11:00am
Say, you remember E3 2015? I do. Bethesda, Microsoft, and Sony came out swinging with announcements and surprises. “The Last Guardian,” the “Final Fantasy VII” remake, and even “Shenmue III” was revealed! Man, that was a great time. People really loved when the things they really wanted to see getting effort and love put into them (supposedly anyways). See then Nintendo rolls out their presentation. I didn’t quite except to see the same reaction to a game’s reveal in the same way people reacted to Microsoft’s timed exclusivity of “Rise of the Tomb Raider” or to “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided’s” “Augment Your Pre-Order” deal.
The absolute volume of anger, hatred, and disgust that came out of this reveal was staggering. For a Nintendo game, this has yet to be seen to this degree. Sure, there was “The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker” - a GameCube tech demo showed regular Link and Ganondorf sword fighting and now everything is cel-shaded and cartoonish. I can slightly see the frustration, but the game still looked great and is consistently mentioned as one of the best GameCube games of all time. Something to keep in mind, though, is that everything is kept proportional (design wise) with the “Legend of Zelda” universe and keeps the tone (though with a bit more comical bits) relatively same.
With “Metroid Prime: Federation Force,” it doesn’t get away with the “Wind Waker” excuse. There are a lot of things that go against Nintendo’s defense for “Federation Force,” many of which fans and critics alike have noticed.
Franchise Over-Saturation and Neglect
Everybody who plays games will know “Super Mario Bros.,” “The Legend of Zelda,” and “Pokémon.” Heck, most people who don't even touch games know those games. A good part of that is that they are (mostly) consistency good, and the other portion has some form of representation every year. 2015 alone will see four Mario games: “Mario Party 10,” “Super Mario Maker,” “Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash,” and “Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam.” That’s not even counting “Yoshi’s Woolly World,” seeing that Yoshi is a “Super Mario Bros.” character.
Now let’s look at the other franchises that Nintendo owns that barely get any attention. “Kid Icarus,” “F-Zero,” “Punch-Out!!,” “EarthBound/Mother,” “Star Fox,” and, this article’s case, “Metroid.” Save for “Metroid,” who barely breaks ten games, none of these franchises received ten major releases, meanwhile Mario has his “Mario Kart” and “Mario Party” titles easily at eight entries alone. Spin-off titles where Mario gleefully plays with his arch nemesis Bowser easily outnumber some of these franchises combined.
The “Metroid” series is going to be without a main title for six years (as of this writing) since “Metroid: Other M…” or if we want to be technical here, nine years since “Metroid Prime 3: Corruption” until “Federation Force” that most people have a mutual liking of said game. Not only Samus won’t be the main focus, it’s a side game that, from the outside and possibly the inside, looks like not a lot of effort was put into it. 2015 hasn't proved that Nintendo can't pump out mediocre games, as seen with "Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash" and "Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival." Nintendo 3DS or not, the visuals aren’t impressive. If two “Legend of Zelda” games from the Nintendo 64 can be cleaned up and put on the system and look nicer, there are some issues here on effort.
Let’s put it this way: imagine “The Legend of Zelda” being in “Metroid’s” shoes right now. It’s been six years since “Skyward Sword” and not a single “Legend of Zelda” title has been released since (we’re going hypothetical here, work with me)- meaning no “Hyrule Warriors” either. Nintendo rolls out their E3 presentation, with rumors of a new game circulating around. They get to this new game and… it turns out to be “Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland.” Oh wait! Link is said to be in there and helps build the universe! Now imagine how irate “Legend of Zelda” fans being that Tingle would be getting a game before a proper game comes out. Since “Legend of Zelda” gets enough attention as it is, most fans only saw Tingle’s game as a cute spin-off while other games were out and being made.
You also know what else is depressingly similar to this case? The amiibo figures (prior to the plentiful restocks from Toys "R" Us and Best Buy a few months ago). When it comes to “Super Mario Bros.” (excluding Rosalina and Wario), “The Legend of Zelda,” and Pikachu, they were extremely plentiful and easy to acquire. As for Marth, Samus, Fox, and Wii Fit Trainer, among others, were harder to find. Eventually they became much harder to the point of Amazon and resellers being the only sellers of the figures. Seems that Nintendo doesn’t exactly have the best handle of franchise balancing.
Themes and Proper Protagonist Usage
The reason why the “Wind Waker” excuse doesn’t work with “Federation Force” is because of the protagonists. Toon Link, or Wind Waker Link as others know him, is still Link. In fact, this Link is basically Young Link but as a cartoon. Additionally, the Wind Waker Link is just but one Link out of the many Links in “The Legend of Zelda” universe. Hey, get it? The many, differing “Links” connecting the legend all together? It makes sense on several levels why a different Link such as the Wind Waker Link exists.
That doesn’t work with, as of now, unnamed space marine- I mean Galactic Federation Marine. You want to know why people enjoy “Metroid” so much? A large part of it is from the series’ protagonist and hero- Samus Aran. On top of being one of the biggest, if not the biggest, video game female character of all time, she is a kickass lone bounty hunter who gets things done. She shows little to no fear (aside from “Metroid: Other M,” officially endorsed by Nintendo… oops.) when taking on monsters easily ten times her size. Heck, in some instances, she’d let herself get eaten just to kill a monster from the inside. This is, again, mostly by herself. Isolation and rather scary odds stack up against Samus, but she’s capable of handling things by herself.
So instead, we’re going to throw one of the core moods for the franchise out the window and instead heavily focus on multiplayer-centered first-person shooting with a (still nameless) marine who obviously can’t do most of what Samus can do by herself. That’s like taking “Resident Evil,” a horror survival game where ammo needs to be managed, and turning it into an action-shoot- oh wait... “Resident Evil 6.” Better example not done: that’s like taking “Shadow of the Colossus,” an adventure game where a lone man tries to take down literal giants by himself, and turning it into a fighting game where the colossi pummel each other. Sure, the colossi are there and they are attacking, but the theme of them being (mostly) docile creatures, despite their looks, are just living their lives where this seemingly good person slays them for rather darker deeds, is crushed and thrown away.
The Capcom Stigma Strikes Again
Quick refresher: The Capcom Stigma is where a game should have been something else, but a company wanted to play it safe and use a well-known name to make sure a game sells. Obviously, Capcom is a major, if not the most frequent, offender of this phenomenon. However, Nintendo is also a major offender. “Star Fox: Adventures,” “Kirby’s Epic Yarn,” and now “Metroid Prime: Federation Force” all fit the bill. Based on "Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash" and how "great" that's doing, trying to get a game out there with seemingly little effort doesn't seem so farfetched right now.
I think the Nintendo World Championships best illustrates how the Capcom Stigma strikes. “Blast Ball” was a mysterious game that appeared and it was given a relatively decent reception. Sure, there were noticeable similarities to “Metroid,” but the game looked like a fun little title to spend a little time on. HOWEVER, it was later revealed that “Blast Ball” was going to be “Federation Force,” which… well you know how that went.
This is the one case where the Capcom Stigma took the immediate negative case right away, where normally the affect would occur during or after the game comes out. Nintendo had “Blast Ball” made (and possibly the other FPS segments of “Federation Force”) and based by the chibi designs of the characters, it’s obvious “Blast Ball” could have and should have been it’s own thing. That, and having multiplayer co-op be a major point adds to this game being made for something completely different.
Another thing to judge, though this seems more speculative than anything, is Nintendo’s lineup at E3 2015. Many have criticized the games shown/revealed. The only game people legitimately praise that was revealed then was “Star Fox Zero,” and that’s because “Star Fox” is a franchise that that fans want more representation. I feel that because Nintendo didn’t have a lot of games fans really wanted, they turned to “Metroid” and said, “Hey, we can turn ‘Blast Ball’ into something ‘Metroid’ related! That’ll save us time and effort while we ditch the Wii U and focus on the NX.” People noticed. It really felt like Nintendo is ditching the Wii U for the NX. Save for “Super Mario Maker” and arguably “Yoshi’s Woolly World,” the Wii U has been barren for a strong portion of 2015. The last thing that people are looking for is “Xenoblade Chronicles X,” and… that’s about it for this year. “Star Fox Zero” and “The Legend of Zelda” for the Wii U was delayed into 2016, which may mean ports are being made for the NX, similar to “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” releasing for both the GameCube and the Wii.
What Do We Do About "Federation Force"
It’s pretty obvious very little are in favor of “Metroid Prime: Federation Force” while the main series remains in the dust. First impressions of the game also don’t look great either. The visuals, for the 3DS, feel like they belong more in the DS and were barely cleaned up for the 3DS and the gameplay is more action-shooty rather than explorative and moody- what made “Metroid” the series it’s known for. What’s sad is that this entry could sell very poorly, whether due to actually being a bad game or from the fleeting good will of the fans, and could spell an untimely hiatus for the series or worse no more games because Nintendo doesn’t see the franchise being profitable/successful.
So what do we do about this then? The petition to cancel the game is rather silly. However, if you see the many problems of Nintendo not getting beloved franchises proper installments and over-saturating “Super Mario Bros.,” “The Legend of Zelda,” and the like, then I recommend supporting what you want to in the future. Make a statement to Nintendo of what you want, whether it be telling Nintendo directly or buying the games you want. You think “Federation Force” is a poor business decision? Don’t support it. I hate to be this blunt, but money speaks.
So, what do you think about “Federation Force?” You think it’s Nintendo being rather out of touch with its fanbase? Are you looking forward to the game, despite an actual “Metroid” game not being made (yet)? Let us know.