Ever since Nintendo announced Metroid Prime: Federation Force, they have been getting some funny looks from large numbers of people. There were a few reasons why people reacted the way they did at the time of the announcement, but one of them was the confusion surrounding the initial announcement itself.
The game was leaked as Blast Ball, no one knew what it was, and when they found out it had something to do with Metroid they were not happy. How could Nintendo tarnish the good name of Metroid with a football game? People were outraged to say the least. When they found out that Blast Ball was part of a larger, co-op Metroid Prime game for the 3DS, they were still outraged.
People didn’t like the premise, graphics nor the fact that it was the first Metroid game in gaming eternity. Personally, I think people grossly overreacted. I’ve always thought that Federation Force looked like a fun game, especially if played in a group. It’s a side-step for the franchise, sure, but I’m open to new ideas. What interested me about the game were the controls and how it would play. Would it use the circle-pad pro? Use touchscreen aiming, or something entirely different? Would it work on the 3DS? I had questions about the game that were enough to hold my interest down.
Then Nintendo announced that Blast Ball (the Rocket League style bonus game) would be available to play entirely for free until early September. I quickly got on that, and after having spent a fair amount of time with the game, I can safely say I will be buying Federation Force. Other people will have different opinions than me on the matter, sure, but Nintendo’s bold demo worked.
Blast Ball itself is fun, especially in multiplayer, with a few neat little tricks up its sleeve. The presentation isn’t great, and the soundtrack is forgettable, but for a bonus mode to Federation Force’s main game it is rather fully featured. The ball’s movement is a little restricted, but it does react to different shots nicely enough. A fully charged shot aimed at the base of the ball, or just beneath it, will send the ball into the sky. Shooting the ball in its centre moves it straight and so on. The matches end when a team scores three goals, and can only last five minutes, so at two-all, with only a handful of seconds left on the clock, it can get quite tense.
It’s quite difficult too. The controls are tricky, you can use the circle-pad pro (or second stick on a New 3DS), or lock on, free aim granted while holding R. After a short while experimenting with the control options, you will find a setting that suits you. It does take some getting used to though. There is more to this timed freebie than just the Blast Ball mode however.
Within the game is a training mode that settles you in with the basics of Federation Force. This training mode completely sold me on Federation Force. It was fun, looked great, sounded great and gave a solid pitch for the main game launching shortly. While this all sounds like a standard demo, I think it’s a little smarter than your standard affair. There’s a lot more meat on the bones of this demo to start with. You get the entirety of Blast Ball, and will be playing it with people who purchase Federation Force when that launches.
Giving away Blast Ball for free has given Nintendo a chance to create an established online community before the game launches. Of course, this only works if people enjoy the game. People haven’t exactly been singing the praises of Blast Ball. Sure, there are people out there who love the game, but there are plenty who hate it. Nintendo would’ve won more people over than they lost however, because the amount of hate for the game was so large before that it couldn’t really of gotten any worse.
Despite whatever people thought about Blast Ball however, people were talking about what a nice thing Nintendo did, in giving it away for free. They’re making themselves the good guys, whilst letting people make their minds up more rationally about their new Metroid game. Giving stuff away for free that you’d otherwise have to pay for always goes down well. People were excited to try the game out because it was free, and unlimited.
Say what you will about Metroid Prime: Federation Force and Blast Ball, but giving people a chance to more fully understand a confusing game for free was undeniably a good move by Nintendo. It gave them and the game some positive exposure outside of all the negative comments and hate mail they received since the game’s announcement. I commend Nintendo for letting us give the game a chance in such an unrushed, friendly manner.
Toby Saunders is sometimes opinionated. You’ll find him posting garbage about games, films and his beloved Spurs and Bath City FC on Twitter.