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Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a cooperative multiplayer action video game for Nintendo 3DS. Announced at E3 on June 16, 2015, it was developed by Next Level Games. The game focuses on a team of Federation Marines, the Federation Force, rather than Samus Aran. The gameplay has more of a focus on action and sports rather than exploration as in past Metroid games. Prior to the game's release, Metroid Prime: Blast Ball was made available on the European and American Nintendo 3DS eShop as a free demo of the game's Blast Ball game mode.
|“||The destruction of Phazon and the corrupting world, Phaaze, was a monumental victory against the Space Pirates. Despite this, the Galactic Federation also suffered from the loss of Phazon, and the Space Pirate threat remains. It is clear that the galaxy will never be at peace until the Space Pirates have been wiped out. Consequently, the Galactic Federation initiated Operation Golem, a military campaign aimed at developing tactical superiority over the Space Pirates. The key to Operation Golem is the development of a new type of battle armor--Mechs. An elite unit, the Federation Force, was created to pilot these Mechs. Through intense training and hard work, the soldiers of the Federation Force mastered Mech operations. This story begins aboard the G.F.S. Aegis, high above the planet Excelcion in the Bermuda system, where the Federation Force is finally ready to put their training to the test. Hopefully it's enough to prepare them for what's to come...||„|
Following the eradication of Phazon at the end of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the Space Pirates were weakened. However, the Galactic Federation deemed it necessary to commence Operation Golem, an effort to create Mech suits so that their soldiers will be better equipped to completely destroy the Space Pirates in the event of a resurgence. These armorsuits are based on the design of Samus Aran's Power Suit and are used by select Federation soldiers who have undergone extensive training. They are known as the Federation Force. The game focuses on the Force's first mission, an archaeological survey into former Galactic Federation territory in the Bermuda System.  The Bermuda System contains three different planets: Excelcion, a frozen planet with an abandoned Federation mining base, Talvania, a gaseous planet with an unstable power station, and Bion, a desert environment.
The Force deploys to Excelcion first, and discovers that the abandoned base has been overrun by dangerous Ice Titans. General Alex Miles puts operations there on hold and directs the Force to Bion, where they recover a mysterious artifact and find signs that someone has been there before them. On Talvania, they are unexpectedly attacked by Space Pirates, but manage to fend them off.
The Federation hires Samus Aran to investigate their presence in the area and provide intelligence to the Federation Force. The Force continues testing their Mechs and completing missions while fighting increasing numbers of Pirate forces. While investigating Bion, they discover that the ancient race that once inhabited the planet increased their size somehow, and the Pirates may have taken possession of this technology. Samus makes another discovery: the Pirates are building a "strategic weapon", which they soon discover is a massive battleship named Doomseye, which they plan to use to attack Galactic Federation Headquarters. After the Aegis learns of this discovery from Samus, it abruptly loses contact with her.
The Doomseye is unable to be located due to sophisticated cloaking technology. The Federation discovers that three transfer devices on each of the planets are powering the ship's cloak, and tasks the Force with destroying them. After intense battles with the Pirates guarding them, the Force destroys the devices and reveals the Doomseye. The Federation Fleet prepare an attack, but 90% of them are wiped out by the Doomseye. Unable to destroy it due to its protection shield, the Federation Force is ordered to infiltrate the ship and disable its shielding from within.
Inside, they discover what happened to Samus. She has been taken hostage by the Space Pirates. Her size is suddenly increased, and she is brainwashed into fighting against the Force in her Morph Ball form. They reluctantly defeat her, and she is buried by falling debris. Continuing into the ship, the Force destroys the Master Brain, a Mother Brain-like organism that powers the shield protecting the Doomseye. With the shield lowered, the Federation fleet begins their attack. The Federation Force fails to escape in time and is sucked into the vacuum of space. Expecting death, they are saved by a recovered Samus in her Gunship. The Force returns to the G.F.S. Aegis and are commended as galactic heroes.
|“|| Thus, thanks to the valiant efforts of the members of the Federation Force, the Galactic Federation was able to unravel the Space Pirates' scheme.|
If a Metroid Egg was recovered during M17: Infestation, an unseen individual that resembles Sylux breaks into a top-secret Federation facility, where they locate the Metroid Egg. Pressing a button on their wrist, the Metroid Egg is hit with a laser that causes it to rapidly hatch a larval Metroid. The camera zooms out to show a glimpse of the individual's shoulder as they gaze at the Metroid.
Placement in the series timelineEdit
Tanabe has twice erroneously claimed that the game takes place between Metroid II: Return of Samus and Super Metroid, "as the other Primes did". The Prime series is actually set between Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid II due to their inclusion of Metroids, which were exterminated in Metroid II. Super Metroid takes place only a few hours after Metroid II. Later marketing placed its story after Corruption, mentioning the eradication of Phazon at the end of that game. The introduction to Federation Force reveals that it takes place in Cosmic Calendar Year 20X6, "several years" (according to the European website) after the events of Corruption. This is also an error as Zero Mission takes place in Year 20X5, and Metroid Prime takes place three years after that.
Federation Force can be played co-operatively or alone. It involves a team of Marines fighting their way through enemy bases and objective-based missions. The game also has a focus on multiplayer. Blast Ball is a 3v3 multiplayer mode that had been revealed days before at the Nintendo championships; viewers of the show noted its similar graphical style to Metroid Prime Hunters. Blast Ball is an in-universe soccer-like game where participants enter Mech suits and shoot balls into nets. Aiming in the game depends on the 3DS model the player owns. For the 3DS and 3DS XL players have a choice of using the 3DS's built-in gyroscope or if connected a Circle Pad Pro extension for aiming. If the player owns a New 3DS model, they may use the C-Stick connected to the system or, if preferred, the built-in gyroscope for aiming. Federation Force is the second title in the Metroid franchise to have a focus on multiplayer, after Metroid Prime Hunters, and the third to have it after Hunters and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.
Before starting a mission, the players can equip AUX ammo in three categories: Support, Assist or Offense. This is similar to classes in an RPG title and can turn individual Marines into healers, soldiers or "wizards". Items include Repair Capsules, which is shot at a teammate to heal them, or Decoys, which deploy a model of Samus Aran to distract Space Pirates. Unlike the core Metroid Prime trilogy and Prime Hunters, there is no Scan Visor or similar mechanic in the game, but there are terminals which provide small bits of lore and information.. The game switches to a third-person perspective for certain "suitless" sequences where Marines remove their Mechs to enter smaller areas. During these segments, they are defenseless and must rely on stealth to stay alive. Marines can also send each other voiced messages.
Producer Kensuke Tanabe explained that he had ideas for an online co-op game for the Nintendo DSi, and work on a prototype began in 2009, but the project stalled as he felt that its hardware was not strong enough. The game's development was restarted with the announcement of the New Nintendo 3DS, thanks to its stronger hardware and C-Stick. Federation Force was intended as a launch title for the New Nintendo 3DS, but was made available on all 3DS systems, using the gyro controls as an alternative to the second analog. A Wii U version was also considered, but it would have required too many resources and Tanabe felt that Next Level Games had more experience with handheld titles. Additionally, Tanabe has explained that due to the small, low resolution screen of the 3DS, "stockier", chibi-esque characters would be easier to see compared to humanoid ones. He was afraid this style would look too comical but decided to continue with it after testing the game. The character design draws from the Galactic Federation soldiers seen in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, but the game logo uses the Galactic Federation insignia from Metroid: Other M. Samus herself is also modeled after her Corruption look, albeit with an oversized head and pauldrons like the other characters in the game.
Responding to fan criticism of the absence of series protagonist Samus Aran, Tanabe said that she will appear in a non-playable capacity, and players will have the chance to see her from an outsider's perspective. The game can be played alone, with the option to have AI Combat Drones fight alongside the player if they wish.
Next Level Games had previously been working on a prototype for a 3DS Metroid title featuring Samus, which was shelved in favor of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon.
The game's soundtrack was created in part by Kenji Yamamoto, who composed all the games in the Metroid Prime Trilogy. Next Level Games' own musical staff collaborated with Yamamoto in the creation of the soundtrack. 
A patch was released for the game on September 14, 2016. It provides minor fixes for Blast Ball, and is required for online play. The patch fixes errors when starting Blast Ball and adds a countdown timer for team selection. The patch also adds a new feature that removes players from a session if they do not make any moves after a certain period of time.
Regarding amiibo and whether the game would support the figures of Samus and Zero Suit Samus, Tanabe said it was being considered, and liked the idea of a Mech amiibo. The full extent of amiibo support was revealed by Nintendo of America on their Twitter account on June 20, 2016. Certain amiibo of Mario characters, such as Mario, Bowser, Peach, and Luigi, will unlock relevant Mech Paint Jobs for use in Blast Ball. Use of either Samus amiibo will also unlock new skins for Mech suits, as well as extra AUX ammo in Federation Force; however, it will not change the shape of the Mech in Federation Force and Blast Ball. Tanabe's Mech amiibo idea has not come to fruition.
Blast Ball DemoEdit
On July 21, 2016, Metroid Prime: Blast Ball was released through the Nintendo 3DS eShop for free, with no prior announcement. New gameplay footage was also released, which can be viewed here. The demo is comprised of two modes: Challenge, which allows teams of up to 3 players to go through multiple teams of AI which progressively become harder, and Versus, where 2 teams of up to 3 players battle for victory. The demo also includes a short glimpse into the full game; players go through the Federation's training procedures to become a part of the Federation Force, showcasing the Bermuda System and the G.F.S. Aegis. Additionally, the demo presents the Amiibo functionality within Blast Ball, unlocking different Paint Jobs based on the Amiibo. According to the American 3DS eShop, the servers for online multiplayer on the demo are temporary, and the functionality will be moved to Metroid Prime: Federation Force when released. On the European eShop, however, no such disclaimer is present, possibly indicating the demo will be permanently available.
Federation Force was the first Metroid-related title since Metroid: Other M in 2010, and the first title related to the Metroid Prime series since Metroid Prime 3: Corruption in 2007. Because of this, the game received heavy pre-release criticism by fans who were disappointed that Nintendo chose to release a spinoff game rather than a traditional Metroid game, especially considering the game's launch window coincided with the franchise's 30th anniversary. Fans were also critical of the chibi art style and seemingly low quality graphics for the system's capabilities, and the initially believed lack of series protagonist Samus Aran and a single player mode. The reveal trailer on YouTube received a 9:1 ratio of dislikes to likes, with over 87,000 dislikes and only 10,000 likes. A Change.org petition calling for the cancellation of the game was created shortly after the game's announcement, reaching 7,500 signatures in under 24 hours, having collected a total of 24,141 signatures by the petition's closure. It was clarified through the next days at E3 that Samus was present in the game and that a single player mode would be featured.
Responding to fan criticism, Reggie Fils-Aime said: "What the fans 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." He stated that Nintendo was aware of the demand for a traditional Metroid game, but defended Federation Force, saying "We believe that in order to propel the franchises forward, we have to be the ones to constantly challenge the paradigms, challenge the conventional wisdom, challenge what we thought was the essence of the particular franchise, and a particular form of gameplay". Shigeru Miyamoto would give a similar explanation about this and the other spinoff games announced at E3. Prior to leaving the company, NoA's executive vice president of sales and marketing Scott Moffitt commented at E3 that "This Metroid experience [Federation Force] offers a local multiplayer feature that could be a lot of fun for game fans and we hope fans try it out and come to their own conclusions" and also asked fans to "let’s be happy for what we have" at the lack of a Wii U Metroid announcement. 
In an interview with Kotaku, Fils-Aime compared the game's reveal to that of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, which featured a brand new art style that was heavily criticized prior to the game's release but has gone onto becoming one of the best games of the Nintendo GameCube, and among the most acclaimed of the Zelda series. Speaking with CGMagazine, Tanabe stated that he was expecting negative impressions, but asked players to reserve judgment until they played the game , however, in an interview with USGamer he said that he was "quite surprised" by the backlash and fired back at criticism of the graphics.
Nearly a year after the game's announcement, Tanabe revealed more information about the game in the March 3, 2016 Nintendo Direct and addressed fan criticism, explaining the development history of the game, showing a more in-depth view of the story mode, and offering a glimpse of Samus's role in the game. Some people believed this segment of the Direct showed that Nintendo was doing "damage control" for the game after the criticism it received at its' reveal.  Fan reception did not improve, as shortly after the release of the video, it started to receive thousands of dislikes like the first trailer, prompting Nintendo to disable the like/dislike ratio.
Lack of coverageEdit
Shortly after the Direct, Nintendo would update the launch date of the game for all regions with little to no press coverage. With only two months left for its release, the game was absent during the 3-day Treehouse live stream Nintendo held at E3 2016, where the company showcased a number of upcoming known and new games, and was never mentioned in the official documents distributed before and after the event. Nintendo would later start to release more trailers and bits of news upon nearing the release date of the game. However, the company also set a review embargo period of up until the game's launch day, preventing some sites from being able to publish their reviews before release.
The game did not fare much better with the press, with major outlets giving the game mixed reviews, echoing most of the complaints and strong points noted before launch:
- IGN: 5.9/10 "Metroid Prime: Federation Force brings a peashooter to a gunfight, making it a disappointingly unsatisfying shooter."
- Kotaku: Recommended "Its designers enter such uncharted territory with aplomb, and the resulting game is one of the most pleasant surprises of the season."
- Destructoid: 5.5/10 "Just like Hunters on the original DS, the main questline of Federation will probably fade out of the limelight over time and become a whisper in hardcore Metroid crowds -- though I can see Blast Ball having longer legs."
- Eurogamer: Neutral "...while the best efforts of Next Level Games have ensured an enjoyable off-shoot it was perhaps only inevitable that Federation Force would end up falling a little short."
- Nintendo World Report: 9/10 "Metroid Prime: Federation Force is absolutely a Metroid Prime game. It incorporates fresh ideas and presents them in unique ways, but it never forgets where it comes from."
- GameXplain: liked a lot "If you're interested at all in a 3DS shooter with impeccable mission variety that you can enjoy with your friends, then I feel Federation Force is well worth your time."
- Nintendo Enthusiast: 4.5/10 "The core gameplay is simplistic, boring, and not the level of quality one would expect from a Metroid game."
- CGM: 9.5/10 "Metroid Prime: Federation Force is not only the best FPS on the 3DS, but perhaps one of my favorite FPS games ever."
- Gamespot: 5/10 "Expectations for Metroid aside, Federation Force fails to make a case for itself in the end."
Being quite a divisive title, reviewers either criticized or praised several aspects of the game, like the mission variety (or lack thereof), the game's challenge being balanced for a 4 player party, the lack of voice chat with alternative methods for communication, and the level design among other features.
The game's current average score is 65 both in Metacritic (Mixed or Average rating), and OpenCritic (Weak rating), becoming the lowest rated Metroid game in the franchise, overtaking Metroid: Other M, another divisive game in the series.
In terms of sales, the game sold very poorly around the world, failing to make the software Top 20 chart for the week of its release in Japan, selling around 4,286 units in its first week according to Famitsu (second lowest launch debut in Japan after Metroid Prime Pinball). It sold even worse in Europe, failing to appear in the Top 40 games in its first week in the UK, ranking at the 15th place in the 3DS' eShop download chart, and was also missing from Germany, Spain, France, Italy and Greece's Top 10 lists. Finally, the game also failed to chart in North America's Top 10 games for the entire month of August.
Tanabe mentioned that a potential continuation of the Prime series that addresses the ending of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, in which Samus was pursued by rival Bounty Hunter Sylux, would involve the Galactic Federation. Tanabe further stated that Federation Force is meant to flesh out their role in the Prime universe before moving ahead with a fourth Prime game. The secret ending of Federation Force shows an individual resembling Sylux sneaking into a Federation facility to observe a Metroid, further hinting at a future game.
- The four playable characters of the game are giant "Mechs" piloted by humans, the latter of which are revealed to be much smaller in comparison to their suits. However, every Space Pirate seen in this game's footage is equal, if not bigger, in size than the Federation suits, and are said to be about as big as an Omega Pirate. Geemers and Hoppers, which have appeared in several trailers, are also massive in comparison to the humans in-game. Being purely a gameplay balancing choice, the developers added bits of lore to explain this decision, in that the pirates and the other creatures were artificially enlarged by acquiring an unknown alien tech.
- The standard Pirates in Federation Force share the same design as those featured in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. However, the Pirates in the latter games were around the same height as Samus Aran, who is known to be as tall as most Federation soldiers encountered throughout the entire Metroid Prime Trilogy.
- The Mechs showcase just how far behind Galactic Federation technology is when compared to the Chozo's, with their large, bulky frame and slow movement, incapable of infiltrating in tight places (forcing the pilot to leave the mech, puting it in great danger), and very limited modular design.
- All of the official videos of the game uploaded by Nintendo of America, be they trailers or gameplay showcases, have either negative rating, or the ratings (and comments) disabled entirely.
- The game is not mentioned anywhere on Next Level Games' official website, even after release.
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- ^ E3 2015: What Metroid Prime's Producer Wants In the Next Sequel
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