Video Games

Preview: Metroid Prime: Blast Ball

Metroid Prime, no, Metroid alone is a big name franchise with 29 years of reputation behind it. It’s understandable then, that Metroid Prime: Blast Ball (which is part of Federation Force) wasn’t exactly well received. We weren’t able to go hands on with Federation Force (for some reason) but we were allowed some time with Blast Ball, the mini-game that will be included with the title. It’s a 3v3 shooter-football game where you have to score three goals to win.

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You basically shoot a giant ball around a small pitch trying to score into a goal. Every time you score, that goal shrinks, making to even harder to score. This repeats until you score 3 goals, and which point you win. It’s simple but there’s a few problems.

The main one is moving the ball around. You can’t touch as you lose health, and hitting zero will result in you ejecting and having to wait for a respawn, so you have to shoot it. The problem is that shooting the ball with standard shots barely moves the ball, and charged shots take too long to be properly effective, so forcing you to use half-charged shots which doesn’t really move the ball around either. In the heat of moment, trying to steer the ball into the goal is fairly difficult, meaning that you’ll probably miss, which is frustrating.

The AI is pretty useless too, and will avoid scoring most of the time, but will however move into the path of a ball which has been hit with a charged shot, causing them explode and leave the field of play. This means that it’s better to play with other people…

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However that raises another problem with Blast Ball. You really need to be playing with the right people. When I sat down at the event, I was playing with 5 reps, one of which was clearly acting how excited he was, two which spent most of the time laughing at the fact that they kept dying and the other two who spoke very little. As you can imagine, it was a little irritating playing with these people, especially when two of them weren’t really even playing properly. That’s not to say Blast Ball couldn’t be fun with different people however, with a bigger group of journos seemingly enjoying the experience.

I say “enjoying” loosely though. No-one was really laughing or cheering at the game, moreso seemingly frustrated with the controls. The lock-on system is activated with a button hold, while the gyro-controls (more on that in a moment) are toggled with another button hold, while you have to both move and shoot. Then you have to (and you really do need to do this) waft the 3DS around to move your target reticule more subtly over the ball, allowing for top-spin or chip shots. It’s a bit like patting your head and rubbing your belly, while balancing a ball on your foot.

Blast Ball fails to capture the charm that other games, like Rocket League, captivate so well and falls well short of the mark in terms of fun factor. It’s rescued by the fact that only one poor soul needs to own the game, thanks to download play, but it’s really not worth it for that person. It’s embarrassing that this carries the Metroid name and would recommend that you avoid this entirely, even at this stage.

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