Review: Metroid Prime: Hunters (DS)

Prime pocket power

Retro Studios' highly regarded Metroid Prime games may only be available on home consoles, but that hasn't stopped Nintendo from bringing a slice of first-person Samus to the DS in the form of Metroid Prime: Hunters.

In Hunters, you take the role of the female bounty hunter, Samus Aran, who seeks an "ultimate power." In order to find this power, Samus must go to a galaxy of planets known as the Alimbic Cluster to find eight artifacts called octoliths, but she's not the only one who wants these precious artifacts.

Throughout the game, you will engage with other bounty hunters who have their own weapons and special abilities. If you become defeated by one of these hunters, they will steal your octoliths, but if this happens you can always track down the bounty hunter responsible and gun them down.

The thing that most impresses with Hunters is the controls; while at first they can be tricky to get used to, once learnt they're precise and intuitive. You get a great amount of precision with the stylus and the touch screen being used for aiming, letting you take aim at enemies with ease, as well as switch weapons, check your map or activate Morph Ball mode.

You can switch what hand you would like to aim with in case you're left handed, or swap from touch screen view control to using the four face buttons to aim. The L and R triggers are used to shoot and jump in this "Dual Mode" control scheme, but this method will not give you much precision, and can be difficult due tothe lack of auto-aim.

Cut scenes in this game are high quality too: though short they're well executed, especially for a DS game. The in-game graphics are equally good, with varied environments and some impressive weapon effects. Occasionally when things get busy there is a loss of graphical quality, but overall it's a good-looking game.

The single player game is a great feat for a DS game, especially because of the fact that this is a first person shooter. The stylus can be the equivalent of a mouse for your computer, and probably is just as precise. Each world you go to has few mazes and puzzles, which were all fairly easy to figure out, though some may be disappointed at the lack of hidden passages or alternate routes through each world.

After you defeat a boss, you must get off the planet before it self-destructs. On the way out, you will be flooded with enemies and blocked passages. Once you do make it off of the planet, there isn't a heroic cut scene or huge explosion; instead, the game just acts as if you never had to leave in the first place. In fact, the planet never really self-destructs, since you can always go back.

While Samus has traditionally been the lone bounty hunter in past Metroid titles, here she faces an array of other fearsome hunters, and these character designs are generally well done. Each rival bounty hunter is equal to you in terms of power, but has its own different weapon and abilities — just as you can change into a ball, enemy bounty hunters can as well, but their morph forms are very different from yours.

Multiplayer is a strong point in this game, with local and online modes available. This isn't just a mindless FPS game, though: if you're skilled, Wi-Fi matches can last for ages. Constantly collecting health and more power-ups throughout the multiplayer matches can give you the lead in a match, with plenty of weapons to choose from. The multiplayer even has voice and a touch screen keyboard to talk to your friends in the lobby.

Something very neat about the multiplayer game play is the rival radar. You can turn this option on and walk around with your DS on sleep mode. Anyone else who you come in contact with that has their rival radar on will be added to your DS rival list, so you can have more friend codes on your roster.

Conclusion

Metroid Prime: Hunters is a fine example of how to make one genre of game work well on a console it's not meant for, and is a fine Samus Aran handheld outing. The multi-player is also a big step up for Nintendo Wi-Fi games thanks to the voice chat and communication. Overall, this game is a solid DS title and one you will not want to miss.

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