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Metroid Prime: Federation Force First Impressions
08.19.2016 - CapCom
Metroid Prime: Federation Force

I managed to snag a copy of Federation Force today from one of two Gamestops in this little town I moved to. Nobody preordered the game, and I guess corporate thought it wouldn't exactly fly off the shelves... Anyway, I sat down with single-player mode for a couple hours, and here are my observations.

TL;DR, Federation Force is NOT a Metroidvania. There's no backtracking, no items to access new areas, and no scan visor. It's basically Metroid Prime with just the shooting and jumping and minimal puzzles and exploration. But that doesn't make it a bad game. Instead, it's kind of interesting: a fairly entertaining squad-based shooter set in the Metroid universe. Since I've only played two levels and haven't tried multiplayer mode, my verdict is still out, but it feels better than average, and that's not bad.

The controls are fairly smooth, but definitely not something you'll pick up and master in thirty minutes. I feel I'll get much better after two or three more hours of play (and I've played less than two so far, spending about 20 minutes a mission). The circle pad moves you around, and holding R lets you tilt the screen to look around. Unfortunately, the tilt function means you'll likely want to turn off 3D, which is too bad, since the graphics look pretty good on a small screen. It also isn't intuitive to tilt to look up or down, so you can't conveniently check out the architecture like in Metroid Prime.

Hold L to lock on to enemies, and you can lead them a little by holding down R and tilting, which is new. Actions are much simpler: shoot using A, charge shots or interact with items by holding down A, jump with B, hold B to hover, Y uses special items (be careful not to get trigger-happy!), and X selects items. The D-pad issues commands. Unfortunately, moving orbs around is just as obnoxious as I thought it would be, particularly since you have to bounce them up stairs and over pits, but thankfully, you can lock on, lead, and charge.

There are hidden power-ups you can get by solving puzzles (like melting ice or freezing lava), but no real in-depth exploration. There's a certain amount of replay value, since you can earn up to three medals depending on how many enemies you destroy, your accuracy, speed of completion, and accomplishing mission-specific tasks.

The menu system is pretty good, too. In addition to customizing your loadout, MODs, and paint job, you can also change your voice from male to female in five different languages, including Japanese and Italian!

Ultimately, if you're looking for a new Metroid, you won't find it here. But if you're looking for a decent squad-based shooter on a handheld, Federation Force seems to fit that quite nicely, and I am looking forward to playing some with our Facebook guru Matthew Sharpe and Darren from Shinesparkers.

Until next time...
Captain Commando

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Metroid x Miitomo
08.19.2016 - CapCom

In celebration of Metroid's 30th anniversary and the launch of Metroid Prime: Federation Force, Nintendo has released a series of Metroid-themed costumes on Miitomo. Every Miitomo user gets a Metroid hat and 8-bit Samus t-shirt for free, but other outfits can be obtained through either the Miitomo Drop minigame or by using Miitomo points. The presence of Metroid-themed costumes in Miitomo shouldn't be too surprising, considering the game was developed by Yoshio Sakamoto's team.

  • Samus Badge (6 colors): 1080 coins
  • Mech Suit Helmet (4 colors): 50 Miitomo Points
  • Mech Suit Body (4 colors): 50 Miitomo Points
  • Metroid Logo Tee: 200 Miitomo Points
Miitomo Miitomo Miitomo Miitomo

Check out the official page here.

Until next time...
Captain Commando

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Metroid Prime Federation Force released
MPFF

It's out. Whether you love it or hate it, the game is out and it's your choice whether you should buy it or not. We weren't able to receive a review copy so you will have to wait a while before we publish a review of the game. In the meantime, happy gaming!

--Infinity's End

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The Gaming Ground interviews MDb

CapCom and myself were recently interviewed over at Swedish-based gaming news website, The Gaming Ground! Check out the full interview here right here!

The Gaming Ground

--Infinity's End

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Boundary Break featuring Metroid Prime

Host Shesez breaks out of Metroid Prime's camera system to show you a little behind the scenes of the game's many mysterious environments and 3D models. Definitely worth a watch for any Prime fan!

--Infinity's End

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Samus of 1937?

Samus and the Metroid series are celebrating 30 years of games this year, but could she have been fighting dangerous alien creatures before 1986? Long time reader Pete Rawbone has been doing some reading, and found an interesting precursor to Samus.

Dating back to 1937, science fiction writer Arthur K. Barnes wowed readers with stories of the interplanetary hunter Gerry Carlyle. Much like Samus, Gerry faced hordes of horrific creatues, with only her true identity known to her comrades.

Illustrator Ron Miller even created this striking image of Carlyle for his 1994 card series, Ron Miller's Firebrands: Heroines of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Doesn't she resemble a certain bounty hunter?

Zero Suit Gerry

If you want to learn more about Gerry Carlyle, Amazon is offering a collection of stories for free on their Kindle app. Our thanks to Pete for bringing this interesting bit of science fiction history to our attention!

--James Pierce

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Metroid 30th Anniversary Tribute Video!
08.10.2016 -

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Streaming AM2R on Twitch!
Stream starts 8/9/2016 at 9PM CST! Tune in and I hope to see you there!

--Infinity's End

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Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka Reminisces about Metroid
08.07.2016 - CapCom

Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka, the composer of Metroid, Kid Icarus, and Mother, released a special 30th anniversary composition based on his most iconic work. He also took some time out of his busy schedule to reminisce with Darren Kerwin of Shinesparkers.net about the legacy of what may well be the most famous soundtrack he composed.

I can only speak about the very first Metroid game, but...

Around the time of the original release, I never got the impression the game was especially popular. However, as time passed and the Internet came around, I became aware of just how popular it was, especially overseas.

The music in Metroid, I feel personally, was very different from the music in other games of the time; the sense of an individualistic sound design is very strong. I received some criticism - about the lack of melody, or how dark it sounded - but I felt I adhered to the tone of the game's story as I composed.

The fact that a piece of music containing only three notes has remained with everyone so long is really surprising to me. I think it's because that even before the music was in place, the game world of Metroid was fascinating. I have a lot of respect for the development staff from back then.

Knowing that even after thirty years the game is still supported by all sorts of people from around the world is a continuing source of courage for me as I continue to compose music; it gives me the confidence to believe in my own abilities, and pushes me forward.

From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all the fans. The Metroid series continues to this day. I hope you will all continue to enjoy playing it.

We certainly will, Mr. Tanaka! Keep making great music for everyone to enjoy!

Until next time...
Captain Commando

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Samus Returns once again in AM2R: Another Metroid II Remake!
08.06.2016 - CapCom
AM2R Logo

August 6 marks the 30th anniversary of Metroid's original release in Japan, and in celebration DoctorM64 has released his masterwork, AM2R: Another Metroid II Remake! AM2R reimagines the Game Boy classic with Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission-style graphics, a much expanded world (two whole new areas!), along with new bosses and powered-up Metroid mutations. In short, it's the sort of remake fans have been hoping for since Zero Mission was announced a decade ago. I am grateful to DoctorM64 for providing me with a preview copy so I could write a review. While it's not as polished as an official title, it is quite an achievement and certainly has the Metroid spark, so is well worth exploring. AM2R is free to download, and you should go and get it immediately to see for yourself!

PLEASE DOWNLOAD USING THIS TORRENT AS YOUR FIRST CHOICE!

Currently available on MediaFire.

Also on Filedropper.

UPDATE: We were hit with a DMCA from an attorney on behalf of Nintendo and were forced to take down the file links.

Before you begin, here are the options I was happiest with:

  • In Control Options, enable Classic Spider Ball (a must for M2 veterans) and set Missile Select Style to Hold.
  • Under Joypad Settings, set your controller to use LB and RB for Super Metroid-style aiming.
  • Set RT to Arm Weapon (Zero Mission-style Missile select).
  • In Display Options, turn on VSync—otherwise, the screen may look choppy.
  • I also set the screen to 4X rather than Stretch.

Be sure to test out the different configurations if something doesn't feel right to you.

For those of you who want to know what the resident Metroid II expert thinks, read my review!

UPDATE 8/7: Our servers have been so slow I can't add even a single php file to the site! But looks like I can still update the news post here for a review!

Back when Nintendo announced they would remake the original Metroid for the GBA, players have been hoping for a similar upgrade to Metroid II. As the black & white (or rather Gatorade green) sheep in the Metroid family, this innovative Game Boy title may not have been as technologically amazing as its sequel, but it remains a central part of the Metroid story and an evolution in gameplay. Fueled by dreams of how a reimagined Metroid II might look, several indie designers picked up the concept and ran with it—and many failed in the process. AM2R: Another Metroid 2 Remake is the only one to actually be completed. This singular achievement is amazingly well-polished and not only contains the original levels, but also adds two new areas. The Metroid attacks and weak spots have been greatly enhanced as well, and there are plenty of secrets in familiar areas. In lieu of an official remake, this makes AM2R the ultimate Metroid II experience. AM2R is also free to download—so you should get it immediately and see for yourself!

AM2R plays pretty much like the GBA titles, with ledge grips and all the staple power-ups. The Spider Ball is activated by default through a separate button, but GB fans will want to switch to Classic Mode. Like Super Metroid, you can also customize your controls for aiming and missile select, and the advanced options really improve fluidity.

The level design is also excellent. All the classic areas there, now enhanced with hidden areas. I found myself remembering a Missile upgrade or some other item being hidden nearby and realizing there was now a new trick to obtaining it. There are also two completely new areas and one sub-area, which add an incredible amount of depth to SR388. The Spider Ball is also essential to gameplay—there are many places where you NEED the Spider Ball to proceed and not even Space Jump will help. Shinespark puzzles return, but thankfully aren't as numerous as in Fusion and Zero Mission. Two new mechanics have been added (one a puzzle involving bombs, the other warp pipes), and while fun, they felt a little gimmicky.

Unfortunately, like in the original, there are many dead zones where there aren't any enemies to fight, and most of the generic enemies from Metroid II don't have any new attacks added. TPO is an exception—blast it apart, and the ends will fly towards you. The Gunzoo never seemed to attack me. The Blob Thrower is missing completely. A better balance would have made navigating the caves more interesting.

AM2R also seemed a little easy—I was playing on Normal and only died in two cases, once against a Zeta Metroid, and a few times against the Queen Metroid, at least until I figured out the secret. Since only Missiles can defeat a Metroid, being able to escape when you run out is necessary, but since save points automatically fill your items, you can easily play it safe. Granted, this was a late pre-release copy, and DoctorM64 was still polishing item drops, but you may want to try setting it to Hard if it feels too easy.

The best new addition by far is the visual and thematic reimagining of the original ruins areas. Instead of simply the same old ruins, there are now a shrine, hydroplant, robot factory, and weapons research center. The deep caves are now creepy Metroid breeding grounds rather than monotonous caves. Log entries fill in the details further. Although I would have liked logs for all the regular enemies ala Castlevania, this is something I hope to see in future 2D Metroids. Although each area now has a different sound, the music is more subdued and has a distinct synthetic, MIDI quality that detracts a little from the experience.

AM2R's graphical upgrades come primarily from Zero Mission and Fusion. All the SR388 enemies from Fusion are here. Samus's animations come from Zero Mission and include several new frames for even more detail (for instance, an idle animation). Tiles and backgrounds are a combination of GBA and original images. There are also several original character designs, although the visuals can feel a little crude at times. Part of this comes from the large numbers of artists on the team, all who seem to draw in different styles, and also from the diverse range of graphics used. Coupled with SFX from Super Metroid, AM2R often feels like a hodgepodge. Granted, it is absolutely gorgeous in places, particularly the original ruins areas, but feels strained with some of the larger enemies and weaker tiles. A more consistent art style would have definitely polished things. You will also want to turn on V-Sync; otherwise, the scrolling will look choppy.

The biggest stars of the show are the Metroid Mutations. Alphas now have a harder carapace and can only be attacked in the abdomen, which makes them much trickier to kill—and a lot more fun to fight. Gammas are significantly tougher, since it is much more difficult to get a clean shot. Zetas and Omegas no longer fly, but have some intense physical attacks. Sadly, most of the mutations are a drab olive, unlike the colorful Omega from Metroid Fusion.

Ultimately, AM2R is a solid Metroid title, and that's what really matters. Although it isn't as polished as Super or the GBA games, it more than holds its own against the original Metroid II, and the themed areas make it feel fresher than your average Castlevania...this is essential to keep in mind considering it was largely made by one person rather than a fully-funded team! However, the true test is whether you feel that Metroid bug. I spent an entire day clearing almost the entire game, finishing in about seven hours, including restarts, with 98% completion rate—and I want to play again! If you haven't tried it yet, download AM2R right away! Get that Metroid bug...before THEY get YOU!

Until next time...
Captain Commando

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