Review by Gaming King

"As a multiplayer FPS, this game succeeds. As a Metroid game, it's terrible."

Metroid Prime Hunters in the Metroid Prime trilogy's "bonus game". It focuses more on multiplayer than on single-player, and that takes the game down an unconventional path. With this game, Nintendo Software Technology has shown us that they can make an awesome first person shooter, but also that they've got no clue how to make a Metroid game...

Graphics

When you first play Metroid Prime Hunters, you'll notice one thing right away: the graphics are really smooth, plus there are lots of mini-FMVs. Play for a few minutes, though, and you'll find that the graphics range from slightly to extremely grainy. Most graininess isn't very noticeable if you're not close to it, though. Alt forms, your hunter's gun, and other hunters are a few examples of non-grainy or slightly grainy graphics. The character and enemy models look nice and suffer from very little graininess, and all Alt forms look fantastic. Also, your hunter's gun always looks fantastic. The environments all look nice, but the ground on some seems somewhat grainy. The environments are hit-and-miss; some are really good, but most fall way below the high bar set by previous Metroid games. The graphics are mostly good, and even the graininess doesn't bother much in action. Plus, slowdown is extremely rare, except in Adventure Mode, where they put way too many enemies on-screen at once.

I give the graphics 8/10 points. DS can do better, but it's still pretty good.

Gameplay: Adventure

Nintendo Software Technology tried to make a good Metroid adventure here, but they've never done Metroid and lack the natural talent of Retro Studios. Adventure Mode really serves only three purposes: tutorial, decoration, and bragging rights. Oh, and you'll also earn a new stage for completing it, which is nice. The game serves as an extended tutorial for the game's main mode: Multiplayer. Adventure Mode will give you practice and help you get used to the controls. But, you can just get Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt and it'll do a better job of that. The controls take a very little while to learn, but are very accurate and smooth when you've got it. Adventure Mode will decorate your Hunter License in various ways if you play your cards right. You'll get a little spiral mark on your License if you complete the game, and if you do it with a 100% complete logbook, you'll get a shiny Octolith mark.

Now, for the actual gameplay. Naturally, you're playing as Samus Aran. You fly from planet to planet in the Alimbic Cluster, traversing the environment, shooting enemies, battling other bounty hunters, fighting bosses and grabbing artifacts. Sounds good, right? Seems to have a lot of Metroid-ish elements, right? WRONG! The environments still look fairly nice, but they prove to be much smaller and less fun than those of other Metroid games. Enemies? Some enemy placement is done right, namely classic Zoomers and War Wasps and Blastcaps from the other Metroid Prime games, and some of the new enemies. Problem is, most new enemies are designed to be incredibly annoying. Examples include seemingly endless Psycho Bits, Voldrums and other enemies that spawn from portals that you have to destroy. It's all blasting, all the time. No challenge, little fun. Oh, and then there's the infamous Guardians. In certain places, you can either encounter a Guardian (or multiple Guardians) or another Bounty hunter, or a combination of the two. Guardians can be quite annoying, because all they do is run around like crazy and shoot at you. You just chase 'em down and blast 'em, or otherwise dispatch them. Hunters are more fun to fight, but like most every "challenge" this game's Adventure Mode has to offer, they're unbearably easy to beat. The hunter battles would be awesome, but they had to screw them up by making them extremely easy.

And then there are the bosses... The bosses are awful. There are basically four bosses. The game basically has you running from planet to planet, dashing through a few rooms, mindlessly blasting enemies, and reaching the boss. Then you'll fight a Cretaphid or Slench. They're all boring bosses; they all look identical, but each has different attributes. How does that compare to the awesome, inspired bosses seen in every other Metroid game? It doesn't. However, the other two bosses, both forms of the final boss, are just what you'd expect from Metroid. Very creative, very fun, but still easy. So, bottom line: 2/10 good bosses, 8/10 bad ones. Overall, Adventure Mode isn't much fun to play.

I give Adventure Mode 4/10 points.

Gameplay: Multiplayer

Now, this is the reason to buy this game. If played right, the multiplayer in this game is incredible. Now, you've got your Single-Card Play, Multi-Card Play, and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection modes, and each one has a special use.

Obviously, you play Single-Card when you have a friend who doesn't own the game and wants to play. The mode is always Battle. You select from any of the 26 stages that you've unlocked, or go random. (The stages consist of some of the best of the Adventure Mode environments, as well as some stages made just for multiplayer.) You change the settings to your liking. Then you pick your character, any one you've unlocked by beating him in Adventure Mode or Multiplayer Mode. After you're ready, your friends download a special version of Metroid Prime Hunters that they can use to play you. They can edit their control settings, but they're always stuck playing as Samus. It's fun, but the only problem is that it's kind of unfair to your friends because they have to play as Samus, while you can play as anyone. Of course, that problem is solved if you simply play as Samus as well.

Multi-Card Play is like Single-Card, but you can play any mode and you face either bots, other game owners, or a combination of the two. There are seven characters, all with their own Alt form (like the Morph Ball for Samus) and Affinity Weapon (special ability with a certain weapon): Samus, Kanden, Spire, Trace, Noxus (AKA Topmaster E. 1337), Sylux, and Weavel. There are seven game types: Battle (deathmatch), Survival (stock match; be the last one standing), Prime Hunter (make a kill, become Prime Hunter, with enhanced powers, and kill the Prime Hunter to become Prime Hunter; first to hit the required total time as PH wins), Bounty (everyone tries to steal the Octolith back to his/her base), Capture (basically a kind of CTF mode), Defender (like a king of the hill match), and Nodes (capture the Node rings and keep them to earn points). There are nine weapons, all unique and fun to use. In Multi- and Single-Card, you can see your enemies' HP on the touch screen when you hit them, and it tells you when you get a headshot. This is curiously absent in the online mode. Playing your friends is, of course, fun. However, the bots only have three difficulty settings, and always seem to be too easy or too hard. Their skills are different, depending on the mode. For example, level one bots are extremely easy in a Battle match, but a bit tougher to beat in Bounty mode.

This game is quite fun to play online over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, but some huge problems have developed. There are two modes: Find Game and Friends and Rivals. Find Game is your standard Nintendo WFC random matchup system. You select this mode, choose to look for people in your region or worldwide and whether you want to face players of any skill level or players that match your rank. The first and most obvious problems have become WFC standard: the game sometimes does a horrible job of matching your rank, and it can be hard to get four players together. In other words, sometimes you'll get matched up against excessively high-leveled players that will--usually cheaply--kick your butt, and the searching... Well, it's horrible. It usually goes something like this: "Okay, one player. ...Two. Nice... Come on, third player! Yes, three! ...Oh, dang, it didn't work. One... Two... Dang it! One..." and then the game sets you against only one other person. Bo-ring! See, it's way too easy in this game to lose the other players and get matched up against one person. Of course, keep at it for a minute or two, and getting two or three other players isn't too difficult. Once the game begins, you and the other players select your characters for a 7-point, 7-minute, default settings Battle. Generic, yes; it would be more fun to have some other modes to play against random people as well, but it's tolerable.

Now, the multiplayer game's biggest downfall isn't so much in the game as it is in the players. At first, you'd usually get matched up against mostly fair players, but now people have gotten really, really cheap. How so? Well, let's see... Alt spammers, who abuse the alt forms' strong attacks and greater defense (due to small size) to win matches without actually having to gunfight or use real skill... Headshot *****s that refuse to stop sniping, even at point blank, and just win by getting repeated headshots when everyone else is trying to have a real fight... Cowards that refuse to fight, but just run away, collect health and ammo, and attack, usually with the Imperialist (a sniper rifle-like laser weapon)... And many other unfair uses of weaponry. Oh, and then there's those other cowards who use glitches to hide inside walls and shoot people from there... And still more wimps who disconnect after you score one point, even a fair one. I couldn't list all the cheap strategies here, but they are numerous and ruin the game. The best way to deal with cheap players is to kick their butt fairly, if possible, or disconnect. That sounds awful, yes, but you have to teach them a lesson somehow. When you get a good match against good, fair players, it's great, and you can add such players to your Rivals list so you can play them again later if you both agree to become Rivals. You can also attempt to find random Rivals using a wireless feature called Rival Radar, which works similarly to Animal Crossing: Wild World's Tag Mode or Nintendogs' Bark Mode; if two Rival Radars cross, the two players become Rivals.

That brings me to the Friends and Rivals list. As usual, you and your friends can add each other to your friend rosters by playing wirelessly or entering each other's codes. You add Rivals by playing them online or using Rival Radar, as just stated. You can have a total of 60 Friends/Rivals on your list. Now, Metroid Prime Hunters' lists are special because with the tap of a name, you can view your Friend or Rival's Hunter License. You can also tap your name to see yours. These Licenses show all kinds of statistics and are updated whenever you're on Nintendo WFC. The statistics are fun to look at, and include Hunter of choice, complete with a picture, wins on WFC and wireless modes, win percentage, favorite weapon, last stage played in, and more. You can even view the Hunter Licenses of you, your Friends and Rivals, and their Friends and Rivals on NintendoWiFi.com!

Of course, aside from that, you can play your Friends and Rivals online in Friends and Rivals mode. This is, obviously, the safest and most fun way to play online, because YOU choose who goes on your lists! No cheapos unless you want 'em! There is a lobby for Friends and Rivals play, and from it you can see which of your Friends and Rivals are connected to Nintendo WFC, as well as any games that are currently being hosted by your Friends and Rivals. Of course, you can also host your own game. Whoever is hosting the game can pick any mode and any stage and whatever settings he/she chooses. But there's something extra cool about the settings screen: chat! At any point during setup, you can use voice chat to talk to your Friends. Just press X, speak, and release it. This game is the first DS game to use voice chat, and it works pretty well. The only downside is you have to move your DS a bit close to your face to speak clearly into the microphone. Once you've selected your character and are ready, you can send text messages to your Friends as well! Also, you can use voice chat after the game on the results screen.

Other problems, minor as they are, include the lesser details on the results screen (wireless play shows more details), and the fact that sometimes it takes about a half second to register a kill, meaning you may end up taking an extra shot after your opponent has been defeated. Also, unlike in the wireless modes, it doesn't tell you when you've gotten a headshot, unless you've finished your opponent with said headshot, and you can't see your opponents' HP, but both of these things can add to the intensity of the experience. These are very minor inconveniences, however, and detract very little from the online experience.

Overall, the multiplayer gets 8.5/10 points.


Music/Sound

Ah, now, the music is nice. The music does indeed live up to the Metroid name... Well, almost. It's not quite as good as the other games in the series, but some of the music is really fantastic, and sounds a lot like other Metroid Prime music. Simple, melodic, sometimes melancholy music is prevalent in Adventure mode. It's pretty darn Metroid-like. In fact, hearing the final boss music, you might think it was a real Metroid game! Some of the tunes can be a little weak, like the menu music, which gets a bit old. The music in Multiplayer Mode isn't quite as good as that of Adventure mode, but still very good. Some of the music is new, and some from Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt. The music for each stage matches very well. The game has fair sound, and the surround sound is absolutely awesome, but some sounds have been changed for the worse, like the Power Beam's charged shot. Overall, though, the sound is very good, and quite immersive, as you'd expect from a Metroid game.

I give the music and sound 9/10 points.

Story

Probably the worst thing about Metroid Prime Hunters is the disgustingly bad execution of the subpar storyline. The story is so badly done that I don't even consider it part of the Metroid series storyline. No, instead, this is just another job Samus did for some cash. Well, somewhere in between an ordinary assignment and a real Metroid adventure, but closer to the former.

The game breaks so many major Metroid traditions, it's sickening. I'm not going to list them all, as it would take far too long, but let's just say there aren't even any Metroids in the game! But that's not the biggest problem.

The premise seems like your standard excellent Metroid story. The story is set between the events of Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. The Galactic Federation sends Samus Aran to the Alimbic Cluster to investigate this telepathic message about finding the "Ultimate Power". At the same time, six other elite bounty hunters, all with awesome, interesting back-stories, are also seeking the "Ultimate Power", each for his own reason. Kanden, a sinister lab experiment gone wrong, wants all that power for himself. Spire, last of his kind as far as he knows, seeks answers. Trace is on a journey to find a new planet for his people to conquer. Topmaster (Noxus) wants to keep the power from falling into the wrong hands. Sylux despises the Galactic Federation, and Samus, and wants to take her down. And, by far the most interesting, Weavel, first fought Samus back on her first trip to Zebes. Samus practically killed him; only his brain and spinal cord still worked. Samus left him for dead, because, as shown in Metroid Zero Mission, she was probably in a hurry. He was fitted with an experimental Power Suit/life-support system, and now he seeks to snag the "Ultimate Power" and defeat Samus.

So, why was that message sent? It never tells you. What about the other Hunters? Nothing happens. That's right, while they could've had some awesome Samus vs. Weavel boss battle to end their battle once and for all, they didn't. Did Spire get the information he was seeking? No! Nope, not much really happens in the game.

In the game's defense, the information you get using the Scan Visor is very interesting and does provide some story info. The creature entries reveal new information about the origins of some of the Metroid creatures from Metroid Prime and earlier. It even refers to other planets in the Metroid universe, such as Zebes and Talon IV. The lore entries tell the back-story of the Alimbic Cluster, and explain some things as well. The final boss must have [i] something[/i] to do with the rest of the Metroid universe. It's too creative and powerful not to! Oh, and the "Ultimate Power"? Well, it's sort of disappointing. That's all I'll say.

Well, I can't go too hard on the game's storyline, because real Metroid games have incredible storylines. Compared to those, this is nothing, but there certainly are worse executed, and generally worse storylines. Also, there are signs that Metroid Prime 3: Corruption may fill in the blanks left by this game. Therefore, perhaps this game is just an introduction that has greater overall importance. Let's hope so.

I give the story 6/10 points.

Length/Replay Value/Cost-Effectiveness

Adventure Mode is pretty short. It takes 10-20 hours the first time, and after that, you can blow right through it. Replay value for Adventure Mode lies in unlockable record keeping. That's right, it actually keeps track of your times for game completion and final boss defeat. Trying to break your best time scores is a fantastic pastime for a Metroid fan. However, an unfortunate detraction from replay value is that the game only has two endings. The endings have nothing to do with scan percentage or time, a huge violation of tradition. It is exceedingly easy to get both endings, as all you need to do is activate a simple secret to get the better of two endings. Thankfully, multiplayer never gets old, especially if you have friends that you can have good matches with. Then again, some may tire of cheap players online and stop playing the game or only play Friends and Rivals. The game costs the usual first-party $35, but it's totally worth it if you have DS-playing friends or access to Wi-Fi or a Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector.

Length: 6/10
Replay Value: 8/10
Cost-Effectiveness: 8.5/10

Overall

If you don't have any friends to play with, don't like first person shooters, or can't stand bad single-player, don't buy this game. Otherwise, get the game, play the multiplayer, play fair, and have fun.

Overall, I give this game 8.5/10 points.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/08/06


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