A Metroid game in name only
Metroid Prime Hunters, no word of a lie, is quite the technological accomplishment. The 4-player online mode, complete with voice chat, with 7 unique playable characters, and a decent level of graphical quality crammed into the DS is admittedly impressive. However, when a game carries the title 'Metroid', there is an aspect which cannot be overlooked. Singleplayer is obviously the aspect to which I am referring. Single player is what defines Metroid games. Single player is what kept Metroid Prime 2 Echoes from sucking. Multiplayer was tacked on in Echoes, whereas singleplayer is tacked on in Hunters. This is to the detrument of this game-cart. Let's start by discussing why.
Samus' few salient character traits from all of her games (prior to Hunters and Corruption unfortunately) is solitude. Even in Fusion, with the AI, Adam guiding you along, you're left to fend for yourself. This ties into the fierce independence depicted lightly in Super Metroid, but more heavily in Fusion and Zero Mission, this trait ties into what qualifies her as a heroine (I don't like gender-specific honourifics, but I'll abide). Having said this, the concept of placing Samus in direct competition with other Bounty Hunters, on a race to unravel the game's mystery first could have been really cool. But the worlds are so bland, the exploration so linear, that it makes one wish they were back on Zebes, Tallon, IV, Aether, SR-388, or even the BSL Research Station. It is true, there is the famous backtracking and item-collecting, but it is way cooler to come back to a passage you couldn't traverse by jumping or swinging to it than it is to shoot a different-coloured door. Other Metroid games have the different coloured doors, but they also have Spider Balls and Space Jumps and Screw Attacks, and Boost Balls, and visors!
Hunters' only alternate visor is the scan visor, and scanning is decidedly less compelling in this iteration than Primes 1 and 2. In those games, the only scanned collectibles were log book items, this game keeps track of every scan you make, the scan texts are brief and blandly written, and there is no anti-Samus propaganda (Prime 1), or poetic ruminations about the fall of one's civilization (Primes 1 and 2). The Alymbics are a far less interesting species than the Chozo and even the Luminoth, and their technology, the mystery surrounding them, and their worlds are far less enjoyable to discover than the latter two as well.
However, there are also far less abstract problems with the game. The bosses are repeated thrice each, and while they increase in the frustration they administer with each successive iteration, they sure as hell do not increase in the level of satisfaction one derives from killing them. That is because you are given an arbitrary escape sequence every time you defeat one of these bosses. I call them arbitrary because you are allowed to return to these unblown-up planets and space stations shortly after killing the level's boss! The escape sequence at the beginnings of Metroid Prime and Super Metroid, and the end of Metroids 1, 2, 3, Fusion and Prime 2 were meaningful because there was a genuine risk to the place from which you were escaping. After these timers lapsed, the place fucking blew up! There was no return, unless you started a new file! Conversely, These escape sequences in Hunters artificially add tension and are not enjoyable, especially after you come to the aforementioned realization.
There is some half decent music in Hunters, but it is not anywhere near as memorable as any of the other Metroid games. Of course, like the other 3D Metroids it borrows tunes from the 2D ones, but they are not remixed memorably, and you might find yourself wishing Stemage did the soundtrack.
On to what the developers would have me focus, multiplayer.
It's pretty good. There is a good variety of weapons, a great variety of stages, and some interesting takes on your standard shooter game modes. The built-in VoIP is a handy feature, and adding people as rivals is way better than entering a 12 digit 'friend code'. However, herein lies the problem with Metroid Prime Hunters, because it is multiplayer focused, and because it is subject to loss in player numbers over time, there is no reason to get it since the single player mode is not compelling, and you won't even be able to find more than 1 person to play it against at a time. And even that will take longer than patience is worth.
Metroid Prime Hunters could have been great. A portable 3D world to discover from Samus' perspective would be the kind of thing many people would want to have on hand during commutes, or sitting in waiting rooms, or whathaveyou. But because the game is focused on multiplayer, and the singleplayer is beyond afterthought, the game's value is nil, unless you're lucky enough to know 3 other people who want to play it, and wouldn't rather play a console or PC shooter on a screen they can see clearly.
This is without a doubt the worst Metroid game to date.