Yep, still divisive
I, along with many others, judged Metroid Prime Federation Force when it was first announced for going with a cartoony art-style instead of the grim and realistic graphics the Prime series was known for up until this coming entry. Additionally, fans were not happy that Samus would not be the star of Federation Force. So when Nintendo announced that it released a "demo" for Federation Force, I decided to formulate a new, fully informed opinion on this controversial game. With this "demo" I expected to be able to play through a small amount of coop missions in order to get a taste of what was to come in the full game. Instead, I got the minigame Metroid Prime Blast Ball in place of a demo. And you know what? That's both a good and a bad thing.
In Metroid Prime Blast Ball, two teams of three must blast a ball into the opposing team's goal (which will be highlighted with the colors indigo and gold, the colors of the two teams) in order to achieve victory. Matches are short and intense as to win, teams must only score a mere three points. Or else, they would be if the movement of the ball wasn't so bulky and slow. That damned ball takes what would normally be fun and fast-paced matches and grinds them to a screeching halt as only charged shots (which take a long time to build up) are the only types of blasts that actually have a chance at moving a ball. The only other object that can fulfill such a feat is yourself, but that means taking damage, which could then lead you to being forced out of your mech-suit as it repairs itself. This leaves the opposing team with a huge, and rather unfair opening to score. At least the other mode available to play can make up for th- oh, spoke too soon.
The other game mode in Metroid Prime Blast Ball is Challenge Mode. In Challenge Mode, a team of two to three players (with one AI controlled partner if a team has only two human controlled characters) can take on five AI controlled teams of three(which of whom appear one at a time) that get progressively harder as you defeat each team. In concept, this is a solid way to add some more challenge and depth to Blast Ball. In execution, however, Challenge Mode does have a challenge, but it simply ends up being a mode with all the problems of regular matches; except this time, its five matches instead of one. However, if there is one thing Blast Ball nails, it's its controls.
The 3DS has a small amount of first/third person shooters, but each one that's released for the system has controls that make you wonder why the 3DS doesn't have more games of this genre. Metroid Prime Blast Ball is no exception to this as targeting (specifically the ball in this case) is as simple as pressing the left shoulder button. Even then, pressing and holding the right shoulder button allows you to aim by moving the 3DS if the lock-on itself isn't suitable enough. This control scheme is one that matches the button layout of the 3DS perfectly and most importantly, its comfortable. Another thing I find comfortable using in Blast Ball is its communication features.
Similar to games such as Mario Kart, players can communicate with each other in Metroid Prime Blast Ball by using preset messages. While many co-op games would falter with this simple form of communication, it works for Blast Ball as the game is simple to understand and the strategies a team can use to play it are able to be expressed through the aforementioned preset messages. For example, if one member of a team wished to be a goalie (a play-style I chose to use) they could use the message 'I'll play defense." Its a highly simple form of communication that perfectly meshes with the simple game its used in. And speaking of simple, its simply appalling how little of an effort was put into the customization options of Blast Ball's mech-suits.
By fulfilling certain conditions or by tapping in certain Amiibo into Blast Ball, players can unlock skins which can be used to decorate their mech-suit...'s helmet. An excuse could be made for not making skins for the entire mech-suit if the helmet designs were intricate and well-done. Since this is not the case, the only excuse one could make for it is that the developers at Next-Level Games got lazy and decided to slack off with this portion of the game. The sad part is that this isn't even the worse part of it. Since the helmets were overly simple in design, you'd think there'd be a descent amount of skins to unlock when Amiibo are used for the game. Again, this fails to be the case as only Metroid and Mario Amiibo unlock new skins. Every other Amiibo unlocks a skull helmet skin.
Metroid Prime Blast Ball hasn't helped or aided the divisiveness of Federation Force at all. For every aspect of fun, there is always some form of hindrance within the game that will ruin your enjoyment of it. Having fun playing matches with friends online, locally, or through download play? If so, then have a ball that'll be sure to be a pain in the ass to move. Like the idea of having control over what your mech-suit looks like? If yes, then you can unlock overly simple skins that only change your helmet. Despite its highs and lows, however, Metroid Prime Blast Ball does succeed in what it set out to do; be a minigame (which will be included in the full game) that highlights the controls of Federation Force while adding a bit of substance to make sure those who play it have something to be entertained by.