Review by mikaa

Reviewed: 03/28/06 | Updated: 11/20/07

DS Killer App? Maybe - are you patient?

I would like to note that I will probably get scores of people to NOT read this review just because I gave Metroid Prime Hunters a 7. Then again, I might get them (or even you) to read it, just because I gave the game a 7. "D00t, th1s n00b g4v3 m37201d 4 s3v3n!!11"

Well, yes, I did. Does this mean I don't care for the game? Heck, no! Truth be told, I love it. To a point.

Let me explain (hopefully without going back to "1337" speak...): as a FPS (First Person Shooter) game, Metroid Hunters (as I will refer to it, for the sake of my typing and the word count) is, hands down, the best one on the current portable market. Metroid Hunters takes the touch screen and carves a very workable control setup around it. While nothing we have not seen on the DS before, the fact that you have (and, really, only need) one fire button, the touch screen for switching weapons (which works great for the most part), and the various customizable control options for moving and looking (ie - all modes from the First Hunt demo, save the Tap-to-Shoot Mode - it's gone) let it stand out above the rest. The fact that the touch screen is far better for precise shooting than the PSP's analog "nub" makes the suffering all the less stressful under the hail of bullets.

Let me expand on that: there is no hiding it: NTS meant what they said when they declared back at E3 2004 that Metroid Hunters would be of a more arcade-styled shooter (or more kin to, say, Halo) than Metroid. This was quite notable in the First Hunt demo that shipped with early DS systems, and was more prominant at the E3 '05, where we got our first look at the rival bounty hunters. NTS DID state that there would be a meaty single player mode, but there were doubts.

I was one that doubted. After the huge quests from Prime 1, Prime 2, and Super Metroid, I was worried. Would the single player mode keep me going for more than five hours (the time it took for me to beat the sap out of Zero Mission the first time through)?

Well, it did. It took me eight hours.

Actually, to be fair, it took me a total of TEN hours, with about two hours being devoted to pausing to answer my mother's calls of "look what's on the TV!" and the random phone call.

But in truth, I was shocked at how fast I burned through the game with almost all the items and most of the log book filled (I have 87% of the whole game beaten as of this article). What has me confused is whether or not I got the "good" ending BEFORE the bad was a sign of an obvious puzzle or just that I am good enough to note it.

But that's for a later discussion: the story of Prime Hunters circles around a telepathic message from some random galactic civilization about an all-powerful weapon. Yes, I didn't meantion the name of the race. Or the galaxy. Why? Because, for whatever reason, the only time you catch their names is if you read the manual, the game guide, or the log-scans. Heck, except for WHEN you need to scan certian things, you miss out on half of the plot.

Yes, both prior Prime games had this same plot, and while Prime 2 (and Fusion, for that matter) actually hurt themselves by going into cut scenes with plot, I would loved to have at least had SOME general sense of story here. Heck, even some background info on the other hunters would have been nice! Blast, you have to go out and buy the strategy guide (or read the instruction manual, but the guide has far better descriptions with art) to get half of their story and motivations. And even then, all they do is try to kill you. Well, that's not entirely true - one battle sees Noxus fighting Trace before you...

Speaking of hunter names, let us go into them before I get to the whole reason to buy this game (a cardboard cookie if you guess what that is):

There's Samus Aran, of course. And to be honest, she's not that fun to use. Yes, she's the famed Hunter who slays Metroids, but I think NTS and Retro (who aided in the designs of the hunters) went too far to make the new ones more fun to use. Aran has her usual set-up of missiles, Power and Charge beam (which EVERYONE seems to have... Plot issue maybe?), Maru Mari, and Bombs. You have the Boost Ball, which is near useless in combat and non-combat. Wait...

It's not a bad thing to play as Samus, but, well... Let me show you why she's not the star anymore...

(Note - when I mention the weapons the hunters have (aka their "Affinity" weapons, note that the attributes I give said weapons apply to that hunter, and ONLY that hunter; results vary amongst other characters)

Spire, the last of his race (who became a bounty hunter to find out what happened to his race... Ooookay) of rock creatures, is immune to lava (giving him a noted edge in two stages in multiplayer), curles up in a spiny ball that can either lash out or climb walls, and who's affinity weapon (should I mention that you have to pick your native weapons up with an icon?) hurls firey rocks at foes, and charging results in searing the foes should your blast hit them. He's useful, but not the best. Then again, when dodging Trace in that Alinos Gateway...

Kanden, the lab rat gone nuts, is a crazed, mindless killer who somehow is able to focus his attention off of killing long enough to go and get work as a bounty hunter. (Side note - am I too sarcastic? Maybe it's because it just doesn't sound right...) In any event, Kanden is actually VERY powerful in several situations, and a personal favorite of mine for just being annoying. His default weapon shoots out volts of electric goo at foes, and charging sends a bolt homing at foes that screws with their visor when it hits near them. His "alt" form, though, is the reason I REALLY like him: he becomes a "sting larva," and slithers along the ground. He can lay bombs as he moves, but as he does so, said bombs can (and will) home in on the nearest opponent, and do above average damage on the whole. This can be VERY cheap if used right...

Noxus, the religous fanatic that seeks to control order by blasting those of chaos, is only noteworthy in that his alt-form does high damage. His main weapon is a shard of ice shot in the form of a tight beam. Said beam bounces on walls, and can lead to some nice headshots if luck follows you. His alt form sees Noxus curled up in a spinning disk, from which he can lash out with a whip-like arm to smack foes. And...that's it. That, and when you first meet him in single mode, he is fighting Trace. Moving on...

Weavel, a transformed Space Pirate, seeks vengence against one Samus Aran for scarring him. Or trashing his armor. Or nearly killing him. Whatever does it for Space Pirates. Given how many Samus has killed in the course...yeah, moving on. I'd have to say that Weavel is my third fave, mainly because, again, you can be cheap. His main form is nothing to fret over, as his weapon is nothing more than an arching blob of green energy that does moderate damage. His alt-form, though, is the most unique of the group: he literally splits into two halves, one being a stationary turret that fires on nearby foes, and an upper half that can lash out with its arms/legs. Nice for setting up ambushes, and its power is kept in check in that attacking either the turret or torso (or whatever the upper thing is called) both deal damage to Weavel.

Sylux, an anti-Galactic Federation thug who has stolen several key devices from said group, is really, for all the hype behind him, pathetic. His weapon fires a constant barrage of bolts of electricity at foes in range, and little beyond that. His alt-form converts him to a small device that can lay two bombs in a row that form an electric connection between them, while a third bomb sets all three off. Compared to all others, even Samus, Sylux is pathetic.

Lemme see, Sylus, Samus, Noxus, Kanden, Weavel, Spire... Oh. Trace.

I swear, I've seen more people using Trace than I have seeing Federation captains using phasers. And why is this? Trace is the sniper of the game. What's more, in addition to being able to zoom in, fire headshots with ease, and being able to run fast, Trace can CLOAK when he has his affinity weapon. In Online, if you are good, this can be leathal. His alt-form is that of a three-legged critter, where he can dash/lunge at foes, as well as cloak when not moving. I cannot count how many I have fragged as Trace's second form, and I cannot begin to count the time's I've been nailed myself by him.

So, what use do these guys have? For one, they are a source of annoyance in Single Player mode (along with the Guardian bots, but I'll let you meet those irritants yourself), but in Multiplayer, they are what you play as.

And is Multiplayer all its cracked up to be, the ultimate FPS for the portable gaming, and the best Wi-Fi? Well...

I'd have to say it's very good at Wi-Fi. So why the moderate score? Just wait.

There are around twenty-six or so levels (I'm guessing, as the Random selection counts as one on the menu), all but about five being unlocked just by playing multiplayer. Four are had just by landing on each planet, and the last must be obtained via the final boss's death. And, in short, the online frag-fest would be nice, if I actually had a game where I went up against four people. Heck, I've only gone in one-on-one games since I started going on-line, and I have no clue why. Oh well.

So you still want to know why the bad score? For one, the controls will turn off most people. Another issue is that multiplayer is the whole reason to get this. Third, the so-called story is probably the weakest in all three Prime games; even Prime 1 had a deeper plot, and that is not a nice thing to consider.

Finally, I must say that, despite the flaws, I love multiplayer. But the single player experiance is weak, and all too fast, this game is just another release. Heck, I might not have payed for this, even the multiplayer, had it not been for the Metroid license.

And now, I must run, as I consider just why I am writing this and not raising my ranking...

Score: 7 of 10

Best Features: Graphics, control options, characters, Wi-Fi
Worst Features: Story, plot, music was mostly remixed poorly, final bosses being pathetic
If You Liked: Any other Metroid game
Guilty Pleasure: Getting this game by paying fifteen bucks for the manager's free copy so she could get Tetris DS. Some deals were made in heaven...

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: Metroid Prime: Hunters (US, 03/20/06)

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