NS Preview: Post E3 hands on with Metroid Prime: Blast Ball (3DS)

Continuing with our preview experiences at the post E3 event, we move on to give our thoughts on the most polarising title from the direct. Or at least one half of it with Metroid Prime: Blast Ball, due to be released as an extra game mode on Metroid Prime: Federation Force. What did the Nintendo Scene team think of the sci-fi sport?

I’ll kick the game off with my own thoughts:

Competitive space soccer – and I’m calling it soccer for the alliteration, please don’t shoot me – is probably not something that anyone thought would spawn from the Metroid Prime series. Metroid Prime: Federation Force has already ruffled plenty of Chozo feathers long before release, but only the spin-off game Blast Ball was available to try out. Featured at the Nintendo World Championships, Blast Ball offered 3-on-3 matches where the objective is to shoot a large ball into the opponent’s goal. The opponent’s goal gets smaller with each point scored until one team scores three. If there are less than six players, bots fill up the remaining slots.

The game controls like a Metroid game. You could lock onto the ball by pressing L, and activate gyro controls with R to give precision aiming. I spent the entire match holding down both shoulder buttons since there was never much use in aiming anywhere else. You can also charge up your shots by holding the A-button but your weapon can run out of energy, so you have to think about when to fire. Shooting at the bottom of the ball gives it some loft too, which is important in gaining ground.

Boots blasts some balls

There was some depth to it; you could shoot other players, you could be knocked out of the game by the ball, and there were two different power-ups. I definitely enjoyed playing it even if it wasn’t the most expansive experience. I can see it being a good pick-up-and-play title for groups, particularly with the available download play.

Reuben substitutes in:

One half of the instigator of the greatest anti-Nintendo furore that I have seen in years, the initial, incredible announcement did not last. When this game was revealed at the Nintendo World Championships 2015, it did look tremendously fun and a typically Nintendo take on an existing genre. I mean, come on, it’s a first-person football game, in space, with guns and mechs; that’s got to be one of the strangest genre mash-up ever seen.

Hands-on with the title, it felt much like you could imagine it would do if you watched the NWCs. It plays similarly to Metroid Prime: Hunters, only with a more pointless objective; you have to score goals against the other team in 3v3 matches. However, there are a few interesting dynamics with the game such as the fact that the ball harms you if you touch it, the goal area itself shrinks after each goal scored, and that you can incapacitate other players by firing a charge shot at the ball to blast it at the opposing team members. The game itself is incredibly fun and action-packed, but at the moment feels really bland and featureless. You never know with Nintendo, but Blast Ball will need a lot more content to be more than a flash in the pan title.

Wes blasts in with his views:

I have to say that I was genuinely looking forward to checking out the controversial Metroid Prime: Federation Force, so imagine my disappointment to find it wasn’t at the event. Instead, we were, in fact, treated to what feels like a demo (training mode?) of the game; the Nintendo World Championships featured Metroid Prime: Blast Ball.

What feels like a somewhat loosely described Metroid title, this futuristic space version of football was, actually, quite fun to play, as I formed one half of a two man team to take on, and beat, I should add, a three player team.

The team play was quite entertaining, with only one copy of the game needed for download play for up to 6 players. It was fast paced, competitive fun; charging your weapon for a well timed shot on goal and the inclusion of special moves, including a burst of speed, adding to the chaos. Scoring a goal was immensely satisfying.

Blast Ball will be available to play on Metroid Prime: Federation Force

Blast Ball will be available to play on Metroid Prime: Federation Force

At this stage though, it certainly feels limited, with only one map to play on and with only one weapon to use to blast the giant sphere into the opposing team’s goal, but i’m expecting more content for the full release. I also hope the option to use the small analogue nub control on the New 3DS is included in the final game; the motion controls were hard to get to grips with in the brief time I had with the game.

So, not top of my pre-order list just yet, but certainly one to keep an eye on. If it arrives, as expected, perhaps as a bonus mode, as part of Federation Force, then the more options for local, accessible multi-player fun the better I say.

Boots closes out the match with his thoughts:

(prepare your best referee John Anderson accent) Contestants ready? Federation Force ready? 3-2-1 GO!

After two gruelling loses I felt I had just played a mech heavy first-person football version of the Atlaspheres event from the UK 90s telly classic Gladiators. Although in this instance the aim was to gun the ‘Atlasphere’ across the arena rather than have direct inside control.

The demo presented a choked environment void of hazards where I found the majority of my time was sunk into being locked onto the ball trying my utmost to add finesse and loft to it via the gyro controls. For all of my best efforts my input seemed redundant. The lesson learnt here is for your Blast Ball teamwork to succeed you best be ‘on the ball’ with your shooting synchronicity!

It’s a neat take on a fantasy ball sport of the future, but at this initial stage I feel my verdict is perhaps more of an impartial nod until I see the full package. Perhaps an arena obstacle or two could add a few more interesting in-game conflicts?

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 14.43.41

Metroid Prime: Blast Ball was present at the 2015 Nintendo World Championships


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