First, Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a first person, multiplayer shooter coming exclusively for the 3DS. I’ve never understood multiplayer games on handhelds, since if I am going to get together to play games with my friends there will be a TV and console nearby, but even ignoring my own tendencies, the system simply isn’t made to play these types of games. One analogue stick isn’t enough to control a FPS properly, and though the ‘New 3DS’ does include a surprisingly sensitive nub above the ABYX buttons, it simply doesn’t afford the kind of control a second stick could.
Secondly, Metroid Prime: Blast Ball is a ‘3v3 Sci-Fi Sports Battle’ game where you shoot large balls into goals before your opponent can – essentially, it’s soccer for space marines. While my first reaction was that this was incorrectly targeting the eSports movement, I have since changed my mind about that – surely Nintendo knows that the 3DS system isn’t likely to be picked up by the eSports community. eSports require precise controls, usually given by mouse and keyboard or finely tuned controllers, that I don’t believe the 3DS can deliver.
In watching the trailer again, it seems apparent the main issue is the shift in audience. Nintendo is no longer aiming Metroid games at ‘hardcore’ gamers who want to be challenged, and left to their own devices in a dark and hostile world, but is making games for kids. Making games more accessible doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but when it dilutes a brand to the point where it isn’t recognisable, until the name pops up on the trailer, it isn’t good.
Nintendo could easily continue on with these games, ignoring their most hardcore fans, and change the Metroid universe into something far more kid friendly. It’s equally possible Nintendo could pull the games, or more likely re-brand them, and begin work on a more traditional Metroid title to heal the relationship with customers who have given them decades of time and money.
It’s difficult to say what the future of Metroid is: even with the announcement of a new game it is still in as much doubt as weeks before. Nintendo hasn’t made themselves any friends with this announcement, but I look forward to seeing what it’s response is.