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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Metroid Prime: Federation Force —Spin-offs are Okay, Guys

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - ...Though not if those spin-offs have you spinning off as a pinball.

Perhaps the biggest anger and outrage from the general fan reaction for Nintendo's E3 2015 was towards Metroid Prime: Federation Force. Now, I'm not the biggest Metroid fan out there (and there are others on the staff not named Rawk who actually are big on the series), but I did own and play through Super Metroid and the games included in Metroid Prime Trilogy. ...Though I did quit Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, which I'm ashamed about. (I quit right after I got the Plasma Beam.)

More later on how Metroid Prime: Federation Force was despised, but lemme give some not-so-apparently-relevant background first.

I never finished it because the aspects of the Metroid series that people love it for — the lonely atmosphere, the backtracking around the world when you get a new item to discover a new path, creepy enemies — aren't things I appreciate. ...Well no, I like the backtracking bit, but I'm more of a cute and cuddly kind of guy. Metroid Prime in particular (and its sequels) requires huge emotional and time investment just to go through a single play session, and I'd say it fits guest-poster Feriku's definition of survival-horror, though she might disagree. I mean, it scares me, and you're trying to survive on whatever alien planet you're on.

Grenchlers are the most terrifying monsters I've encountered in a videogame.
Scarier than Code Name S.T.E.A.M.'s blobs.

So it looks like Metroid Prime: Federation Force is going against a lot of those aspects people like Metroid Prime for, such as that lonely atmosphere bit.

4-player co-op missions aren't lonely.

Also, while the Metroid Prime main series traditionally billed itself as "first-person adventures", Metroid Prime: Federation Force says screw you to the adventuring and goes full-on shooter.


Metroid Prime Federation Force Nintendo E3 2015 site description first person shooter FPS
According to Nintendo's E3 page.


Here's the thing, though: It's okay to be different. This is a spin-off, and Nintendo spin-offs tend to be better than their main games. Look at Pokémon and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. Look at Super Mario Bros. and Paper Mario. The notable exception is the Metroid Prime series itself with that disaster named Metroid Prime Pinball, but it's not like the one and only attempt at making a spin-off in that series being terrible means they can never try a spin-off ever again!

Spin-offs are good for the same reason filler episodes (or filler articles) can be good: They diversify the world, expand the lore, put the franchise's characters and settings into new situations and new perspectives (which can help flesh them out), and can get new people into liking the franchise. So maybe I can be a Metroid fan if I like the Galactic Federation's sorta-chibi antics of shooting things in Metroid Prime environments. I'll get to see a different side of the series you wouldn't normally see through Samus's visor.

...Not that I plan to buy Metroid Prime: Federation Force since I'm not into the genre anyway, but whatever.

Still, angry people wrote a petition with over 21,700 signatures as of publishing to get Nintendo to cancel the game. Which is ridiculous. These people hate the idea of spin-offs and expanding the franchise's depth. But what really angers them is probably the fact that they really hated the last Metroid game, Metroid: Other M, and they want to go back to something tried-and-true. The petitioners believe they deserve that as a reward for surviving the Other M "ordeal". That's the "just" thing.


Metroid Prime Federation Force YouTube Nintendo channel views one million
Metroid Prime: Federation Force has the most views of Nintendo's E3 2015 videos. By far. All in rage.

If nothing else, the above screenshot of Nintendo's YouTube channel views shows that Metroid  fans are... surprisingly numerous and enraged. I expected them to be small and niche. That said, that current view count (over a million) is higher than some actual games have sold. So maybe these fans just watched it over and over, each time boiling in anger. I dunno.

By the way, I really thought Blast Ball, when world-revealed at the Nintendo World Championships, was Nintendo's 2015 attempt to replicate the 2014 amazing showing of Splatoon. It was an eSports teams-based shoot-y new IP game like Splatoon! ...Except unlike Splatoon, Blast Ball totally lacked... charm and fun. So we should be glad it's a mini-game and not its own package, right?

I understand why Metroid fans are mad about Metroid Prime: Federation Force, but that doesn't change the fact that they're wrong. Those who played it at the show floor (so, none of the people who signed the petition) at least thought it was good enough and could be fun. It certainly seems more cohesive of a team-based game than The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes. More importantly, their argument is fundamentally flawed.

The petitioners believe that Nintendo should bow to the whim of what the fans "ask for" instead of following through with the creative vision of the directors. If Nintendo submits to what the fans want, then games within the same franchise will only be derivative of one another without any new experiences. If it were up to this raucous mob of fans, then we would never have any spin-offs. Things would just be bigger and prettier versions of what happened before. Developers and their teams can get exhausted working on the same ideas over and over again, and it can negatively affect their work.

This is, of course, assuming that the creative vision from developers is actually a good one. If we look at the development of Paper Mario: Sticker Star, then it's clear that the original concept for the game IS what the fans wanted: A sequel to Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door even bigger in scale. That's what Intelligent Systems was going to deliver, and it was their initial creative vision. If the creative vision is a bigger-and-better sequel and the developers have the ideas to back it up and they want to do that, then let them! But Shigeru Miyamoto employed our above argument of not bowing to what the fans want, and overturned the table on Intelligent Systems. That's how we got Paper Mario: Sticker Star the way it is — a fundamentally bad idea from one of the producers that totally changes the Paper Mario formula.

Interestingly, that story parallels the Metroid series. Metroid Prime and its direct sequels were very well-received, like Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Then there was a very mixed and polarised release that tried to change things: Metroid Other M and Super Paper Mario. Both games had fans, but it basically set a war on the fanbase. Still, everyone pretty much agreed that the next game in that respective series should go back to the traditional route.

Metroid Prime Federation Force Paper Mario Sticker Star equals Nintendo 3DS spin-offs bad games
Well if Paper Mario: Sticker Star was so bad, then Metroid Prime: Federation Force is certain to be a disaster!

And then we get Metroid Prime: Federation Force and Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Look, the situations are so parallel that both sub-titles rely on alliteration!

One key difference, though, because I'm not bringing this up to shoot down my own argument: Sticker Star is a bad spin-off because it went out of its way not to utilise its franchise's characters to put them into a unique story situation. Meanwhile, Federation Force IS going out of its way to expand the series lore, as a good spin-off should. These are two fundamentally different goals, and it completely destroys the idea that these are parallel situations.

That said, we already know that Nintendo knows people want a game with Samus Aran as the main character. They're not blatantly disparaging it like, say, F-Zero. So you're gonna get what you want. Eventually. That's more than a lot of other niche franchise fans can claim. 


Ludwig loves spin-off games, and his best appearance in a videogame for over twenty years was in a spin-off game, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. It doesn't help that his sprites looked deformed and off-coloured in his non-spin-off appearances prior to that. He has no interest in Metroid Prime: Federation Force, but he also has no interest in those petitioning against it. Is Ludwig wrong as usual? Leave a comment in the KoopaTV comments section letting him know your thoughts!

25 comments :

  1. Do I need to find other examples of bad things besides Sticker Star?

    ReplyDelete
  2. "I mean, it scares me, and you're trying to survive on whatever alien planet you're on."

    I'd yell at you for using the literal definition of "survival horror," except that your comparison is a Metroid game. I haven't played Metroid Prime (yet), but the survival horror "recursive unlocking" mechanics do cause some overlap with the "Metroidvania" style.

    I both agree and disagree with your assessment of Federation Force (which I sincerely thought was called Federation FORGE based on the logo, and I've now edited my E3 article to use the correct title; judging by the Google results that come up, I'm not the only one). I agree because spin-offs are great! Trying new things with a franchise is great!

    I disagree because I think one of the reasons fans are so upset is because they've been begging for a new Metroid game, either 2D or 3D, and announcing a spin-off instead feels harsh. If they'd announced a regular Metroid game too, or if one just came out last year, I don't think most people would be upset over Federation Force.

    Your Sticker Star comparison is also apt, because I think most people don't realize Federation Force intends to expand the lore. Until I read this article and searched specifically on that topic, I saw Federation Force as a spin-off that sacrificed story and lore in favor of multiplayer action. Either I'm just out of touch, or it needs to be made clearer that it's still expanding the universe.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yeah, Federation Force is literally being made to expand the lore.

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2015-07-01-metroid-prime-federation-force-dev-explains-decision-to-not-focus-on-samus

    ^ as mentioned there

    Metroid Prime does fit your three-part survival horror though.

    (Pft, I never thought it was Forge.) Fans are stupid for setting arbitrary time limits for when the next game is due. Especially if those limits involve a "5" or "0". Maybe if Metroid brings in the sales, they could be made more often. As it stands, the current formula isn't selling, so why not try something different? And story-wise, Metroid Prime 4 is pointless. It's done already.
    (Sequel to Metroid Fusion is still something to wait for and it'll probably happen within the next 5 years.)

    A lot of people are out-of-touch, but that's partly because the gaming media wants to stoke and perpetuate (and incite) outrage and they aren't reporting what people need to know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arbitrary time limits are silly, yes, but it still feels a bit like, "Hey fans, you know that game you really want? .....Well, you're not getting it, haha!"

      Kind of like when Square Enix announced the PS4 port of FF7, although in retrospect it seems like they were messing with their fans intentionally, since they'd already decided to do the remake.

      Delete
    2. Well no one asked for World of Final Fantasy, and it's a good thing they don't only do what fans want.
      (Then again, Final Fantasy as a franchise is kinda in the shitter now.)

      Delete
    3. I'm... not sure I see the comparison. It's not like we've had a lack of main-series Final Fantasy games. FFXV is even receiving a lot of positive reception. Spin-offs are fine, although fans tend to get riled when they see free-to-play cash-grab spin-offs.

      Delete
    4. ...It's not a parallel comparison, just an observation.

      F-Zero fans will have the right to be pissed off when the next F-Zero game is produced by DeNA.

      Delete
  4. Koopa the main Pokemon series is better than PMD. Not to say PMD is bad at all, cause it's great, but you can't say that PMD is better than the main series especially after Gates.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you take Gates out of the equation, then it's definitely better than the main series is every aspect.

      I'm actually going through Gates right now and I'm sort of forcing myself through it, but still more coherent than RBY. <_<

      Delete
  5. Ok if you take Gates out I agree with you.

    ReplyDelete
  6. OK just shut your cow mouth.
    RBY are the best games ever.
    They became the basis for a multitude of games creating an amazing series, and as mentioned earlier, some great spinoff games.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just because RBY started a franchise that has great games, doesn't mean RBY itself is the best.

      That's like saying Mega Man (the first one on the NES) is the best Mega Man game. It's clearly awful.

      Delete
    2. Not even close.

      ...(You're just biased with your Charizard pic.)

      Delete
  7. THIS IS A FUNNY COMMENT

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hhahahahahahahahahahhaahaahahhaha

    ReplyDelete
  9. You're just a turtle behind a computer screen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I'm in FRONT of a computer screen!

      (If only I had a tablet or some mobile garbage then I could prove you wrong.)

      Delete
    2. Tablets are for filthy casual gamers.

      Delete
  10. I've said it before and I will say it again. The issue is not that Federation Force is a spinoff. The Metroid Prime series already had two spinoffs, Hunters and Pinball.

    The issue is that a spinoff needs a main series. It has been five years since there has been a Metroid game, eight since the last one that wasn't a massive basebreaker, and eleven since one of the classic series. As such, a coop team arena shooter from the creator of Hunters, without input from Retro, without Android Jones's masterful art direction, and using the venerated Metroid Prime name seems like a tailor made insult to players who want a classic Metroid game OR a new Prime game.

    I'm sure that it's a good game, in fact everyone who I've talked to who has played it has said it was. But this would be like if instead of Twilight Princess we got Link's Crossbow Training, without any handheld installments in between. And that is why the fans were incensed enough to write that petition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, thanks for your comment!

      ...Honestly, I'd rather have them work on Link's Crossbow Training than Twilight Princess if it meant all of the wasted resources for Twilight Princess went elsewhere. (Since they obviously wouldn't go to Crossbow Training.)

      Wind Waker was definitely good enough to carry the Zelda name on the GameCube. :o

      Metroid fans should be happy that at least Metroid isn't dead, like many people thought it would be after Other M. Meanwhile, all F-Zero fans get is some crappy Nintendo Land minigame. At least Metroid's Nintendo Land representation was... really good!

      My whole issue here is that Metroid fans do not care about the long-term, and they just want something NOW to validate their sequel-begging. Well, the only thing you can get now is this spin-off, which obviously takes less resources than a classic Metroid game or a new Prime game. And fans can't even decide which of those they want, and some think they're going to get both at the same time like Fusion-Prime.

      Metroid fans lived through this before with the gap between Super Metroid and Metroid Prime/Fusion. Historically, all of those Metroid releases between Prime and Other M are outliers in terms of frequency. Metroid isn't supposed to get games that often, and Metroid fans became ridiculously spoiled and thought they had a lot more clout and relevance than they actually do.

      It's also ridiculous to stay sucking on Retro Studios like they're the only ones who should be in charge of the Metroid series from now on. That's stupid.

      Delete

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