Review by CrazyLinguist

"Nice effort, but not quite perfect."

I always loved the Metroid series. As a kid, I used to play the good old Metroid on NES, wondering what "mother brain" could mean in French(my mother tongue). It was the golden era of games without a set-in-stone, defined story. Metroid is a perfect example : you land on a planet, you kill things until you get to a bigger boss thing. Lather, rinse, repeat. Of course, at 5, I'd be damned if I could understand even the little text snippets given in English. Metroid is exactly that kind of series : open-ended, set-your-own-pace orgasmic adventure games.

The whole point behind Metroid is exploration. Getting an item opens up dozens of new areas for you to explore. Of course, sometimes it's not worth it, and you end up with a Missile station when you already have full Missiles. Then, you try to remember if there was anything strange when you went through certain areas, you backtrack around 100 rooms until you get to the desired point, and you try your new item. It may seem dull, and it is. But it's never monotonous. It's one of those kind of fun where you say "that's pretty cool" each time you backtrack in a room.

But enough yapping about the past. 11 years since I played Metroid Sr., here is the new kid on the block, Metroid Prime : Hunters. To my surprise, beyond the 3D change, nothing changed from the old-gen Metroids to the new-gen, starting with Prime. With the conformity spirit going around game developpers these days, this is more than a surprise. You can almost imagine the devs go :

"Hokay, let's scrap that Morph Ball, nobody likes it. But add 15 new beams and a new Gattling Cannon beam. And AI teammates too. And also vehicles, I mean, everybody loves vehicles."

MP:H fortunately isn't like that. It manages to keep a good dose of balance between novelty and the good old formula. Yes, there are Morph Ball puzzles in MP:H, yes, there are Energy Tanks scattered around, and yes, the game is still about picking up stuff and trying mad tricks. But they did away with things that even the new-gen Metroids have.

The lock-on system has been scrapped. It isn't needed, due to the great amount of control the touch screen offers. But maybe FPS/A newbies will get frustrated with this change : jumping around to dodge fire isn't a possibility, it's an obligation. Well, yes, it's still a possibility. But it's way, way easier to avoid damage if you jump around and move randomly. It feels more FPS to me, which could be a bad thing or a good thing.

There are new beams. In fact, almost everything has been scrapped about your weaponry. They did away with the Light/Dark/Annihilator beams, and the Wave/Ice/Plasma beams. Instead, you now have a total of 6 new beams, but you can only equip one at a time. The downside : ammo system. It isn't NEARLY as bad as Prime 2, as ammo is very abundant, all the 6 new beams require the same type of ammo, so you can actually use them to do something else than open doors. The only beam that doesn't require ammo is your old favorite, the Power Beam. All the beams can be Charge Shotted right at start, which IMO is bad, since the Charge Shot was better suited as a power-up. There is no new suits in this game, in fact there is no suits at all from what I've played(you start with the Varia and stick with it), which IMO is quite a downgrade.

The levels. There's 5 levels in all, all featuring around 35 rooms or so. The single player part is easy to complete, it should take about 5 hours. The levels however have no real archetype, but there is an Ice World, a space station world, and so on. I liked the design, but that's just me.

The multiplayer is awesome. In the single player campaign, you will fight numerous other Bounty Hunters, enemies who you can unlock for use in MP. They all have their skin and HUD when you use them, which is a nice touch IMO. So there is 7 playable characters, all with their special abilities and morph forms. Extremely nice. You can even play with bots, which is good for people waiting to get a WiFi adaptor like me. The bots aren't total wimps, but as they say, humans are always better than machines.

The graphics are the best DS can offer to date, it rivals even Nintendogs(another great game you should look into). Blocky, grainy, but it's a portable so it's awesome. If I wanted graphics I'd get a PSP(and don't call me a fanboy, this is not an opinion, it's facts).

Well on the closing end, the sound looks quite good, but I haven't paid much attention to it so I'm going to leave it out the score.

Graphics : 9/10
Gameplay : 8/10
Controls : 10/10
Sound : -/-
Overall : 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/27/06

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