During today’s Nintendo Direct, long-time Metroid series producer Kensuke Tanabe took another shot at explaining why we should all be looking forward to Metroid Prime: Federation Force. After a lackluster debut at E3 last June, and the prolonged protest from Metroid fans that followed, Nintendo really needed to show how this Samus-less title can fit into the franchise in a meaningful way. And maybe it did.

In 2009, development started on an online, multiplayer-focused Metroid title for the Nintendo DSi. Nintendo collaborated with Next Level games (Super Mario Strikers, Punch Out!! for the Wii, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon) to bring the idea to life, but after coming to terms with certain hardware limitations, decided to restart the project and instead target the New Nintendo 3DS. The move would allow for far greater processing power, and much more advanced control options. Though it wasn’t explicitly stated, it sounds like Federation Force may join the ranks of the few New 3DS exclusives.

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Instead of the solitary adventures of Samus, Federation Force will focus on the unending battle between the Galactic Federation and the nefarious Space Pirates, an idea that Tanabe has wanted to experiment with for a very long time. Samus will appear in the game, but the focus will be on Federation soldiers.

The roles of these soldiers in combat are akin to classic RPG group roles, like healer, warrior and mage, based on chosen equipment. On each mission, the Federation provides a variety of sub-weapons, like missiles and repair capsules, which can be utilized in various combinations based on weight allowance. The gameplay footage shown in today’s Direct showcased a group of four soldiers cooperatively navigating environmental puzzles and battling a variety of small enemies as well as a larger boss creature. The whole thing had a decidedly TriForce Heroes vibe to it.

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The style of the characters and world, including a brief glimpse at Samus herself, is decidedly cartoonish, with big heads and exaggerated features. Tanabe lamented his inability to dig deeper into the mechanics, art style and Blastball– the arena sport aspect of the game, showcased at the Nintendo World Championships last year– but promised more on those topics at a later date.

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Metroid Prime: Federation Force is currently scheduled to be released in late Spring 2016.

Watch the trailer from the Direct:

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Written by Brittin Shauers

Brittin literally grew up with Link, Mario and Samus. These three characters and their worlds collectively capture everything that he loves about video games.

Brittin Shauers