Nintendo graciously dropped the Metroid Prime: Blast Ball demo on us a few weeks ago, probably in the hopes to convince disheartened Metroid fans that there is a decent game in Federation Force. I’m here to tell you that Blast Ball isn’t going to convince you Federation Force is worth it. I’m not as critical of it as GiantBoyDetective was of it when he gave his impressions, but it truly underwhelms. It’s not as foreboding as you think. If you dig through the demo a bit you’ll find something that could convince you a good game is just around the corner.
- Firstly, GiantBoyDetective is right. Blast Ball is a sad version of Rocket League. I’d hate to work at Next Level Games, reveal this game that I’d poured my heart into only to be beat to the punch a month later by the release of Rocket League. Even if the concept is similar though, the execution for Blast Ball misses the mark. There’s no gameplay hook and the fun is fleeting. Even if almost everything else is being held equal, shooting the ball isn’t as cathartic as hitting it with a car. Sure you can have moments of excitement or exciting plays, but those moments come between slogs of tedious gameplay.
- The graphics are woefully sub-par. I’m not an expert but I think a part of it has to do with the 3DS’s graphical power and the fact that it’s meant to be played online. The games producer, Kensuke Tanabe, says the graphics are about providing as much information as possible on the screen. Fine. Those are totally OK reasons. I’m not OK with how bland the art style is. It’s very un-Metroid and very generic space shooter.
- If you play enough of Blast Ball you’ll get to unlock some pretty snazzy mech paint-jobs. If you scan the supported amiibo you’ll unlock some that are even snazzier (especially the one for Samus). I have two hopes for this; First, that the paint-jobs I’ve unlocked transfer to the main game so I don’t need to unlock them again. Second that more amiibo are supported than just the few Mario series and Metroid franchise ones.
- As a Metroid fan, I’ve played my fair share of Metroid titles, even the oft forgotten Metroid Prime: Hunters. Hunters had a control scheme very similar to Kid Icarus: Uprising, where you used the stylus to control Samus’ aim. It was clunky, but the game made up for the controls in other ways like fancy (for the time) graphics and lore. It seems that Federation Force is going to be the opposite. The art style is boring but the controls are precise and intuitive. The gyro controls are used perfectly to fine tune aiming, with the classic ‘L’ targeting from previous Metroid titles. If anything is going to make the full game worth the chance, the controls are it.
- The “Training Mode” is like a delicious nutella filling in this bland cracker sandwich. It gives you a taste of what’s could be a very decent game, at least gameplay wise. It’s not particularly lengthy or deep, but it offers a little bit of grandeur when some starships fly by, lets you get a handle of the controls, and blast a few space pirate holograms. It teaches you how to switch weapons and introduces the healing capsule in a cute training simulation where you protect another mech. Nothing is revealed for the main game, but this is where you are going to decide if you want to try Federation Force. Not in Blast Ball.
Metroid Prime: Federation Force releases in the United States on August 19th. I will be grabbing my copy day one, not because I’m confident it’ll be a great game, but because I’m a Metroid fan. For all you people on the fence, I say try the demo and try the “Training Mode”. For some reason it isn’t made more prominent on the demo’s main menu. Blast Ball is forgettable. “Training Mode” is where you’ll be convinced Federation Force is worth a chance. Even if the game lacks the Metroid gameplay foundation it feels like it’ll still be enjoyable. If you’re still looking for some convincing look for my Hot Take and the TAY review after launch!
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JpSr388 is a casual(ish) gaymer, hardcore Nintendo fan, designer & writer. He writes about what he cares about, and is always good for some opinions. Find his sexy ass on Twitter here. Or keep on the lookout for more editorial, QuickDraws, Hot Takes and reviews here.