It’s like Rocket League, except with guns instead of cars and aggravating gameplay instead of excitement.

Last year, Metroid fans were less than thrilled to hear that the newest title in the alien bounty hunting series, Federation Force, was going to star a group of big-headed Galactic Federation Marines instead of long time main character Samus Aran. Not only that, but the Metroid name was also being slapped on something called Blast Ball, a multiplayer, first-person “sci-fi sports” (whatever that means) game that would be similar in looks and feel to Federation Force.

Before we get into my impressions of the Blast Ball demo, let me just point out that the Metroid franchise has never been one of my favorites. I truly enjoy spamming folks in Super Smash Bros. with Samus’ various projectiles, but aside from that the only Metroid title I’ve actually completed is Super Metroid for the Super Nintendo. So, I’m not really a die hard fan. I wasn’t outraged when Federation Force was announced, but it didn’t have me reaching for my wallet either. I understand the appeal of the Metroid series though, and see how Federation Force and Blast Ball may be straying a bit too far from the norm.

All fan outrage aside, any game can win over a player once they’ve gotten a chance to try it themselves. A demo for Blast Ball dropped today and I downloaded it as soon as humanly possible, hoping it would be much more fun than I was anticipating.

It wasn’t.

The first aspect of the demo that made me cringe were the boxy visuals. The 3DS isn’t exactly a powerhouse in the graphics department, but I have seen plenty of gorgeous titles produced for the handheld. It can be done. Blast Ball looks like it was constructed out of milk cartons by small children who didn’t really know how to handle scissors. Everything is just so sharp and the textures look muddy from any distance. It looks like a wonderful launch title for the Nintendo 64.

But lousy graphics do not a bad game make. It’s the content that really matters, right? Blast Ball is a title that pits teams of three against each other in a small stadium. Each team tries to blast a large glowing ball into their opponents goal, securing themselves a point. The ball in question is enormous, potentially the size of the player themselves if not a bit smaller. To move the ball each player shoots their gun at it, either in small bursts or by charging up for a harder hit. It’s basically soccer with lasers.

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While the ball can drop power-ups for players, it can also damage their exo-suit if it crashes into them (which it does often). If you take too much damage your suit explodes and you have to wait for a new one to drop down. This usually takes around 5 seconds, which may not see like long, but it’s more than enough time for the other team to score on your now outnumbered teammates. Speaking of which, not once during my time with the demo did anyone shoot an exciting goal. So be prepared to sit through some dull replays after each point scored.

The controls are simple, though maybe even too simple for their own good. Really all you need to know is how to lock-on and shoot. If you aren’t locked on to the ball chances are you’re not helping your team. Problem is you have to keep a button (L) pressed down to do this. Why not just make it lock on after a single touch, Blast Ball designers? Shooting your laser at the ball is decent fun, until you run out of ammo and have to wait to recharge. At that point chances are you’re going to get smashed to bits by the opponent who will no doubt be firing the ball right into your helpless face.

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Blast Ball looks shoddy, it’s gameplay is frustrating, and worst of all it’s just a boring experience on the whole. But hey, it’s a free demo. You don’t have to take my word for it, go give it a try.

Here’s hoping Federation Force is a solid title, but it seems Nintendo really dropped the blast ball on this one.


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