Review by peabody

"Game makes me sad, I liked the primes"

I don't normally write reviews on games. All the popular games usually have enough reviews written for them to represent the mean of opinions on them, so I often don't feel like contributing another worthless glowing or scathing review. This time however, a game has disappointed me so much, that I feel it wouldn't be just if I didn't voice my opinion. There's bound to be someone who's considering purchasing the game for the reasons I wanted it, and that same person is likely to be just as disappointed as I was, so I hope this review can serve a purpose other than my own cathartic benefit.

For the record, I haven't played the multiplayer mode of this game. Many people will say that my review is biased or unfair because of this. Just keep in mind I didn't want to play this game for the multiplayer. So if the multiplayer features are something you feel you would enjoy, by all means, ignore this review and check the game out. The experience of the single-player game is what I cared about, so its impression on me is the criteria I use to judge the game. And sadly, it was lacking.

Also, for the record, I liked both Metroid Prime and Echoes. Some people hate the 3D Metroid games. I, however, enjoyed both. Echoes had some annoyances, but overall was still a good game. The fact that the game is 3D doesn't bother me much, although I do miss the 2D Metroids and hope that the developers decide to make one, oh say, before I die.

Finally, I'll say that this game has redeeming features, and certain sections of it are downright cool. But despite the developers' good efforts, they've failed at making an enjoyable game. In fact, they've made what is hands down the worst Metroid game ever. Which is sad, because Metroid has needed a truly fantastic entry in the series ever since Echoes. I hope the Wii version can reclaim some former glory. Let's start with my overview.

The theme and plot of the game are a lame afterthought. Granted, the plot of all the Metriod games is neither that great or important, but seriously people, they could have done better than this. Some mysterious message is intercepted by the federation which says something to the effect that the Alimbic cluster holds a scary power which could destroy the Universe, or some such. So Samus is basically hired by the federation to go check it out (is she ever hired by anyone other than the federation?), while keeping an eye out for other bounty hunters hired by less scrupulous forces to investigate the same mysterious message. Great. Worst. Story. Ever. My guess is that it was concocted after the game was mostly finished. The least they could have done was involve the metroids or Space Pirates somehow.

The controls, on the other hand, are cool. Some people don't like the controls in Hunters. I think they're fine. Obviously they're not ideal, but then again a mouse and keyboard would be pretty unwieldy to hook up to a DS, not to mention how terrible (yet humorous) it would be to see legions of Nintendo fans lugging a mouse and keyboard around with them. The controls are actually better than a standard analog controller. The location of the buttons on the touch screen is occasionally problematic, however. The morphball button in particular desperately needed to be put in a different place on the touch screen as I frequently would accidentally push it, being right handed, and this would get me killed from time to time, which was quite frustrating. Frankly, I think they should have kept the lock-on mechanism for the single-player game as it's not a competition. Aiming could then be enforced in multiplayer. But I can live with that decision.

The graphics are well done considering this is the DS. The frame rate is excellent, the texturing is well done and looks good despite the lack of texture filtering on the DS. The design on the hunters seems a bit, well, 80's to me, but that's fine. It's amusing in its own way. The other enemies are a bit bland, but they suffice. However, where were the metroids? The guardians, two-legged little jumping beans which show up at the worst time to assault the player, are poorly designed AND a PITA. The game would have been much better without them in my opinion.

The level design could have been much better. I would have enjoyed one single planet to explore rather than four different areas. There's a lot of repetition as well and it's also very confusing at times. It's easy to get turned around and the map has to be consulted frequently to make sure one isn't spinning in circles. The exploration isn't clever at all and the game does a poor job of steering the player in the right direction. There are certain sequences that are extremely frustrating. For example, to obtain the purple colored cannon (I forget its name), one has to scan a switch, morphball bomb up a serious of moving platforms, keep your ball's balance over another sequence of platforms and narrow ledges, all within a fairly grueling time limit. Getting past these sequences I had more of a sense of relief that I would never have to do them again, rather than a rewarding sense of accomplishment.

The weapons and items are bland, but suffice. Having only played through about 60% of the game before giving up, it's hard for me to make a fair decision here. If there was a grappling hook, I never found it (and I sorely missed it). If there were any custom visors, they never came up in the first half of the game. I had obtained all but the last custom weapon, and I found them all fairly boring. They're literally almost all the same weapon, just with different colors. In fact, they all share the same universal ammo. Of course, some of the bosses can only be harmed by a specific weapon, and certain enemies are weak to a particular one. There is some variety to them, the purple weapon bounces off walls, the blue one is a cattle-prod like electrical weapon that doesn't require much aiming. Another's heat based and packs a punch if charged, etc, etc. Despite these bells and whistles, the main arm-cannon and missiles are still the primary weapons that most player's will use throughout the game.

The music and sound effects are adequate. For portable games I think sound and music are much less important, and Nintendo and Retro have done a fair job on the sound for this game. The familiar item acquisition sound is here in all its glory and that's enough for me. I also dig the title screen anthem which is completely new and cool.

Up until now, the game was fine in my mind. That said, why do I have such a poor opinion of this game? Why a 3? Put simply, one tremendous blemish tarnishes the whole experience: the bosses, and the escape sequences. There are really only two bosses that are recycled in various forms. They aren't very hard, they're simply arduous. The later forms of the two can take forever to put down. I fought one that took a whole 20 minutes to defeat. My hand was cramped and hurt badly after the experience, and it was no fun. It was a monotonous sequence of the same tactics executed over, and over, and over again. Once this is done, you have to evacuate the current area within a time limit. This is a nostalgic throwback to the original Metriod, and it would be fine if they didn't ambush the player with a ton of difficult enemies that HAVE to be defeated to move on. What's worse (and this is what really killed it for me), should one take a wrong turn during the escape, such as accidentally heading back the way one came after having vanquished one's foes, once one turns around and heads back ALL THE ENEMIES THAT HAVE BEEN DEFEATED RESPAWN AND HAVE TO BE DEFEATED AGAIN. This is absolutely aggravating, no fun, and completely discouraging.

It was this aggravating problem that made me stop playing. I tried to like this game, I really did. The game upset me once, I put it down, cooled off for a few days, and tried it again. It upset me once more, I did the same. I gave it one final chance, and decided that my time spent with the game was a severe waste of my life on this earth. Nintendo and Retro, you have sorely disappointed a long-time fan. Shame on you both. The original Hunters demo and Metroid Pinball were both much more fun than this. This game, on the other hand, is work not play. They've succeeded in permanently tarnishing Metroid in my mind, a franchise that's been a staple of my childhood. Goodbye Samus. I'll not trust your franchise again lest the industry raves about your next game. Adieu.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 04/02/07


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