Why is Next Level Games developing Federation Force?

I'm unwilling to wait a few weeks for another news article on the game, and I think that this is due for a more focused discussion than the general thread for the title. So, I reiterate the question: why was Next Level Games chosen to create Metroid Prime: Federation Force?

Don't get me wrong, because Next Level Games is an awesome developer. The Mario Strikers games, Punch-Out! for the Wii, Luigi's Mansion 2: Dark Moon are all fantastic...but it also highlights my confusion. And yes, I know that Tanabe had this idea in his head since the DSi was a thing and NLG wanted to do a multiplayer joint after finishing up Dark Moon. For the purpose of this, let's disregard that. Ultimately, the reason I ask is because, outside of the Blast Ball component, doesn't seem like something the Vancouver-based studio's thing. And I state this because of one, simple word: PERSONALITY.

Okay, a small request. Go onto Youtube. Search for cutscenes and gameplay for any of the Mario Strikers games. Now Punch-Out! Wii. Now Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. (Or don't, since I'll be linking to examples anyway.) What do all of those have in common? A LOT OF CARTOONY FUN. And there's the disconnect for me. Next Level Games is up there with AlphaDream and HAL Laboratory when it comes to stuffing personality and expression into every nook and cranny of a game. The character entrances in Mario Strikers Charged. Disco Kid being so full of sass in Punch-Out! Wii. Luigi finding the Poltergust 5000 in Luigi's Mansion 2. Over-the-top cartoon goodness that showcases and emphasizes the personality of these characters within seconds. The Metroid franchise is almost on the opposite side of that.

Metroid (disregarding Other M) is very understated. You're a silent protagonist exploring desolate alien lands or space stations filled with terrifying creatures and machines that will kill you with nary a thought. It's pushing a tense atmosphere that Samus, at least on the surface, handles with barely a sweat. She's cool, she's calm, and she's collected when there is a mission at hand. "But you aren't playing Samus in Federation Force, you're playing Federation grunts," I hear you think. Well, in other Metroid games, when you do interact with other soldiers or hunters, they have the same general temperament. Calm under pressure. I 100% expect that to be the case here as well. And while I fully believe that Next Level Games can craft the environments and atmosphere that makes the Metroid series so beloved, I feel like that's a grievous misuse of their talents. Unlike most Nintendo franchises, Metroid is on "serious" mode by default, with any humour in the games being rather dry, dark, or both. It just feels off to see a group of developers who are so good at conveying character, and doing so in comedic ways deliver a product that doesn't seem to have any of that. Which I suppose leads me to a second question: do you think a different Nintendo team could have tackled this project? Do you think NST could have taken a break from the endless Mario and Donkey Kong sequels to create this? Or was NLG the best choice, considering the small number of Western studios Nintendo works with? Am I just a jerk for complaining that a studio wants to try new things? (Considering how much I want Retro to make a new IP, yes, I'm a jerk and a hypocrite.)

(Free free to delete, move, or whatever this if I could have just asked this in the main topic.)

Sat Jul 30 16 01:44am
Rating: 1

For a portable... it's tricky Intelligent Systems might have done the same going by Codename STEAM. Artoon is out of question, they don't have a great record. Also with the genre they took I can't think of a lot of examples of worthy FPSs on portables. I think Renegade Kid is the one that comes to mind with Dementium and Moon, though why will Nintendo collaborate with them.

Also on-topic does this game has a director? In Wikipedia Kensuke Tanabe is only listed as producer, but Hunters did have a director.

Anyway disregarding the game, is evident the Metroid series is a series without a team, Retro is moving into new stuff, Team Ninja and the RnD team didn't work. So the question lingers on what team wishes to do a Metroid game and commit to it.

That is something I didn't even think about. Metroid is effectively an orphaned series at this point. Maybe if either the hybrid or shared library thing comes through, then we'd have a team of devs back at Nintendo EPD willing to and with the time available to tackle the franchise. Or we could end up with a North American or European surprise studio acquisition next generation that could handle the task. Would be nice to see more devs under the Nintendo umbrella that aren't in Japan. Brings a slightly different game design philosophy into the mix.

As for director, I have no idea. We'll probably have to wait until release to figure that out. Will hazard a guess with Bryce Holliday, if only because he directed the company's previous title. XP

I love how Sakurai has ruined everyone's definition of the word "director."

All the Smash Bros. games are secretly developed wholly by Sakurai. All the names in the credits are just aliases for his clones. Said Sakurai clones are also the reason why there are so many clone characters in the games.

The Brawl SSE story? No, not the guy who wrote for many Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts titles. Nope, not him at all.

The artist of Kid Icarus Uprising? No, not the guy behind the artwork of Castlevania and some other games. Nosiree.

Sun Jul 31 16 10:39pm
(Updated 1 time)

Was just joking about how involved Sakurai seems to make himself on almost every level of production. I thought that's what you meant by "ruining" the role of director: the intense way he just throws himself into very project to the point of self-debilitation putting many other game directors to shame. Or something. (God, I feel like a dumbass. T_T;)

Sat Jul 30 16 04:00am
Rating: 2

-Nintendo apparently wants the Prime sub-series to be handled by a western developer while the main series gets weebed out by the motherland.

-Since the Project Hammer debacle, NST does not have the staff to make anything bigger than the Mario v. DK stuff they put out.

-Retro is presumably busy making moar Donkey Kong and/or helping to do coding gruntwork for some in-house studio's game (maybe Zelda).

-Nintendo has no other first-party teams in the west.

-Nintendo likes to deal with third-parties who they know well and have partnered with before, irrespective of the franchise they are loaning ('sup Tecmo-Koei).

-Next Level is a western third-party studio that Nintendo has a good working relationship with and they are cheap.

Or Retro could also be working on another Nintendo franchise, or even making new one. Plus, I suspect a Metroid spin-off is not important enough to give it to a major developer.

Fair enough. I'd like to imagine that Retro Studios is working on their own, original IP after spending fourteen years working on established franchises, though.

Mon Aug 01 16 02:08pm
Rating: 2

"I'd like to imagine that Retro Studios is working on their own, original IP"

I used to imagine that, too.

Hope is a mistake.

Sun Jul 31 16 02:27pm
Rating: 1 (Updated 1 time)

Well, the game is toon-ish, and I'm hoping we'll see some expressive animation, maybe not facial animation since we won't be seeing much of that, but expressive animation none the less.

And Next-Level has been doing multiplayer games this whole time too, so this project is a natural progression, especially after the online co-op in Luigi's Mansion 2. It's fitting to me that NLG would be making this. Just like how I thought it was fitting for Retro to tackle the DKC series after seeing them creating lush natural worlds in Prime.

When you frame it like that, then yeah, it does make a lot of sense for them to tackle this project after Luigi's Mansion 2. Actually, now that you've brought that up, I now remember how fun it was to try and play all the co-op modes solo. It was a fun challenge that seriously increased my play time with the title. I wasn't planning to pick Federation Force up due to thinking that the solo experience would be more on the TriForce Heroes side of things, but your reminder of how well NLG handled this sort-of-thing previously has put it back on my radar of potential buys.

Mon Aug 01 16 08:23am
Rating: 2 (Updated 1 time)

Metroid itself doesn't mesh with what Next Level usually makes, but Federation Force certainly does, regardless of how much that upsets right-handed fans.

I love Metroid. I have them all, including Prime Pinball, and not once did I go "this offends me as a fan that I am not Samus and it looks cartoony".


That aside, it is cartoony, it has multiplayer, the troops have character, it looks and seems fun, and it has a sports element. It feels enough like a project from Next Level. It feels enough like a project for them as well.

Now, would I instinctively suggest they make a core Metroid? No, but only because I don't know how it would be. I also wouldn't have suggested Retro making Donkey Kong. It remains to be seen. The main difference there, however, is that Retro kept the respective tones of each series while NLG keeps their own tone across everything.

Tue Aug 02 16 06:12pm
Rating: 1

The question is, who is fitted for Metroid now that Retro doesn't necessarily have the same staff. Nintendo surely wants to make it mainstream.

That may also be why there hasn't been a new F-Zero since these franchises might seem they bring less numbers. But even if that isn't the case I think their design philosophy has centered around the popular and most family centric IPs. So what team can undertake the challenge to reinvent either franchise. (I assume that's also what Nintendo wants).


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