Metroid Prime series boss Kensuke Tanabe has explained the decision to focus the upcoming 3DS spin-off Federation Force on characters other than series star Samus Aran.
Tanabe told Eurogamer that he wanted to create a game focused on a co-operative experience – and that having each player control a version of Samus wouldn’t make sense.
“[Metroid Prime: Federation Force] is an attempt to expand the Metroid universe,” Tanabe told Eurogamer during an interview conducted at E3. “As you can play with up to four players it wouldn’t make sense to play as four Samus characters!
“The game will be focused on co-op, working together as a team with up to four players. And obviously it is available as a single-player experience as well.”
Controlling other characters also enables players to have new abilities, while still keeping some technology that fans will recognise. It will also allow players to take on the role of specific character classes.
“You have the option to choose load-outs for you to bring to the battle,” Tanabe continued. “However, you have to consider that there will be limitation for how much can carry as a character.
“If you carry the Super Missile then you’re classed as a Warrior type. If you have lots of Repair Capsules you could focus on being a Healer type.”
It begs the question why the game is still labelled as a Metroid Prime game at all – and whether the negative response from fans might have been avoided somewhat if it had simply been labelled differently.
But Tanabe said that it was part of a desire to broaden Metroid beyond Samus into the franchise’s wider universe, something he is keen to explore.
“I’ve always been thinking about having a battle between the Galactic Federation and Space Pirates,” he continued.
“The Metroid Prime series fits between Metroid 2 and Super Metroid, as you may be aware. So it falls under that same timeline, but looking at it from a different perspective.”
And Samus? “You may be able to see Samus in the game…” Tanabe teased.
But Dark Samus and Phazon, key story elements from the other Metroid Prime games, will not feature. Their story is now told, Tanabe explained. Other familiar Metroid elements such as the villain Ridley and Chozo race will also be absent.
Nintendo has addressed the negative fan reaction to the game by saying that it was due to fans not being able to play it yet for themselves.
“What the fan at home saw was something in the Metroid Prime universe that they weren’t expecting. The reaction has been negative. There’s no sugar coating it,” Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Amie told Mashable.
“This is an example where fans who aren’t able to get their hands on the game may be at a bit of a competitive disadvantage. Everyone who has played what we are showing regarding Metroid Prime, they’ve come across really pleased,” he continued. “My ask is that fans trust us.”
But it is currently difficult to get any idea of Metroid Prime: Federation Force at all, since Nintendo was not showing playable code at E3 to press.
Instead, a small mini-game mode named Metroid Prime: Blast Ball was showcased instead. It’s football where you shoot the ball with your laser cannon and try to get it into the other team’s goal.
“Blast Ball will be a training mode that you can experience,” Tanabe said, explaining its inclusion in the game. “It will be as simple as jumping in from the main menu.”
Six players can take part, up to three vs. three, with online play also available.
But playing Blast Ball gave little clues as to the eventual Federation Force experience.
“It’s set on a planet which the Galactic Federation used, way back when,” Tanabe continued, when asked about the game’s story. “The plot involves a struggle to retake that planet. You find out that Space Pirates now reside there and are building a weapon to use against the Federation. Players will fight the Space Pirates to stop them.
“Ideally I thought this game might be released around the same time as the New 3DS but it got a little delayed… It was begun around the time that I learned that the New 3DS was in development due to the inclusion of a C-pad, which would be perfect for an FPS.”
Tanabe also told Eurogamer about his plans for a proper Metroid Prime 4, which may include a time travel mechanic. But such a project would now likely not materialise until Nintendo had launched NX, its in-development console successor to Wii U.