Well, the Metroid news has dropped… and Nintendo fans aren’t pleased.
The trailer was lumped in with a bunch of other short 3DS teases, but there’s no denying it — we’re getting a new Metroid game. The real shocker is that despite hints from Nintendo, and even from Miyamoto himself, that we’d maybe be seeing both a classic siderscrolling Metroid and a Metroid Prime-style game released in the near future, Federation Force isn’t either of those; not really.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force uses the perspective of Metroid Prime, but it looks to be a squad-based multiplayer shooter with an oddly cartoony art style. Worst of all, Metroid heroine Samus Aran is conspicuously absent.
Even so, I’ll admit that I was actually surprised by how negative the response was. Frankly, when I first saw it, I was excited. Even now, after a few hours of mulling the news over, I’m still excited. As much as I’d rather have seen something in the vein of Metroid Prime or Super Metroid, I’m going to go out on a limb here and defend the new direction. I don’t think it’s as bad as a lot of people are making it out to be. In fact, here’s four reasons I think Federation Force could be awesome.
1: Co-op Metroid
A sense of isolation and of being a solitary bounty hunter has always been at the heart of Metroid. But come on — have you really never wanted to explore those Chozo ruins and alien landscapes with friends? We’ve seen deathmatch in the Metroid universe; why not co-op?
There’s no telling yet whether level progression and exploration in Federation Force actually works the way it did in previous Metroid Primes, but wouldn’t it be incredible if it did? You and three of your friends as a team of Federation marines, advancing through the dark corridors of a hulking space wreck, maybe, watching each others’ backs or focusing fire when some unspeakable horror lunges at you from the shadows?
If Federation Force plays anything like how I’m imagining it could, I’m going to lose months to this game.
2: Samus isn’t in it
Wait, wait. Hear me out. I know Metroid is synonymous with Samus Aran, but there’s a great big universe out there. I want Samus back as much as the rest of you, but I’m also not opposed to spin-offs that don’t involve her. Samus can’t be everywhere at once; she can’t see everything there is to see. If Metroid is all about exploration, why not explore the places and events in the Metroid universe Samus isn’t present for? It’s a rich enough setting that I’m sure there are other cool things going on. Besides, it begins to stretch credulity if Samus is mixed up in every single crazy thing going on with the Galactic Federation.
Let’s meet new characters, visit wild new worlds, and see the universe from another perspective for once.
Also, if Samus never shows up at all in Federation Force, there’s zero chance of screwing her character up like Other M did.
Speaking of which, just think about what we’ve seen so far. The name of this game is “Metroid Prime: Federation Force.” Look at the designs of the marines — it’s straight out of Metroid Prime 2 and 3. This is undeniably a followup to the Prime series, set in Retro’s version of the Metroid universe. Who knows what the ultimate fate of Other M‘s canon status will be, but we can be sure that Federation Force isn’t taking any cues from that mess of a game.
After years of wondering what the future of Metroid will be, we’ve at least got confirmation that the version of the universe that Nintendo is moving forward with is the one that Retro created. For now, we can pretend Other M never happened.
4: We still haven’t heard from Retro
For all the teasing from Nintendo, Miyamoto, and even Retro themselves that they’d be working on Metroid again, what happened? Where’s Retro?
What we’ve heard from Miyamoto is that he’d like to see a Prime-type Metroid game as well as a more classic sidescroller. Maybe Federation Force is the Prime-esque game Nintendo eventually came up with and Retro is working on a Metroid sidescroller for the WiiU on the Tropical Freeze engine. Or maybe Federation Force is just a little snack to tide us over until Retro announces Metroid Prime 4.
There are a hundred ways the next year or so could play out, but the one thing you have to keep in mind is that we haven’t heard from Retro. All signs seemed to point to them taking over the Metroid franchise again. There’s no reason to assume that isn’t still the case. I think Federation Force is going to be great on its own, but even if you’re not that thrilled about it, just remember that something’s still brewing at Retro Studios.
My money’s on the return of Samus Aran.
While we wait to find out what Retro’s been up to, I’m happy to trade in the Power Suit for Galactic Federation gear — for a little while, at least.