Nintendo has released a free demo on the 3DS eShop for Metroid Prime: Blast Ball, a multiplayer arena sport that is expected to release officially as part of Metroid Prime: Federation Force next month. Blast Ball, though different from Federation Force in concept, uses the same controls and graphics engine as the upcoming 3DS first-person shooter.
The game is essentially a 3-on-3 game of soccer, but with a huge ball and a small goal. Also, the only way to move the ball is to shoot it; running into the ball will hurt the player. It plays much like Rocket League, just with a smaller arena and slower movements.
The demo includes a single player Blast Ball option vs. AI, a local multiplayer option, and online multiplayer functionality. While Nintendo didn’t say this directly, it seems obvious that the purpose of this free release (which is basically its own game) is to get players familiar with the Federation Force aesthetic and control scheme in order to convince prospective buyers to get out and give the controversial game a try.
The internet (for the most part) has not been pleased with anything surrounding Federation Force ever since the title was announced at E3 last year. Die-hard fans of the Metroid franchise lamented both the overtly cartoonish art style (which is not consistent with the rest of the series) as well as the lack of playable sections as the series’ heroine Samus Aran. In addition, much of the game’s footage seemed to indicate a focus on team-based shooting mechanics similar to those found in a Halo game and less of the adventurous exploration that has defined every other Metroid game.
All that said, Federation Force could very well be a good game on its own, and Nintendo extending an olive branch with Blast Ball should assuage some fans’ grave concerns. From what I’ve played so far, it’s a solid game in its own right and has completely allayed any worries I had about playing an FPS on a handheld. In addition, the latest gameplay footage released by Nintendo does make the game seem a little more like the Metroid Prime games we’ve all grown to love:
Metroid Prime: Federation Force launches in the U.S. on August 19.
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