blubba's Metroid Prime: Hunters [First Hunt] (Nintendo DS) review

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Metroid Prime Hunters Review

 Editor's Note: I wrote this review a long time ago. I think it needs some polish. I still agree with everything I said, however the review itself isn't that well written. I still think I bring out some good points though, so the review can still be helpful to those seeking advise.

At E3 2004, Nintendo revealed the Nintendo DS. One of the first games they showed off for it was Metroid Prime: Hunters. Now, after what feels like it has been a very long time, it is finally out. Unfortunately, a boring single-player campaign and some strange restrictions and flaws in online multiplayer leave a lot be desired.

The Adventure mode takes place between the original Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes with everybody's favorite bounty hunter, Samus Aran, going into the Alimbic Cluster looking for artifacts known as "octoliths" that supposedly contain the "ultimate power". This time around, Samus isn't the only one looking for them; along the campaign you will find several other hunters looking for these octoliths that you must defeat. The other hunters each sport their own unique weapons and abilities, and can be unlocked in the multi-player mode after you defeat them. If you happen to be defeated by one of these hunters, they will take all of those octoliths you worked so hard to get, but if you defeat them later, you will recover all of the octoliths you lost before, although, it’s just easier to turn the power off once you die, so it really isn’t as much of a problem as it seems to be.

The controls in Metroid Prime: Hunters are hard to get into, but if you are willing enough to master them, then you will have near perfect control over your hunter. The game has two different control schemes; one where you move the stylus over the touch screen to aim and the D-Pad to move forward and another where you use the D-Pad to move forward and use the buttons to imitate another analog stick to aim. The stylus control gives a much more precise aiming control, which makes it feel a lot like the aiming mechanics used for modern first-person shooters on the PC, than the typical dual-analog control seen on consoles, and overall it's much better than the other mode. It should be noted that this a portable game, so the standard mode with the D-Pad and buttons can come in handy when on a bumpy road. Also, left-handed people need not worry, because both modes have a left-handed version, as well.

The controls aren't perfect, though. To change into morph ball mode, switch weapons, and to scan objects, you have to tap icons on the bottom screen, which could accidentally be pressed when aiming. This can be frustrating, but it actually doesn't turn out to be too much of a problem, after you get used to controlling the game.

The superb control mechanics don't automatically make the single-player campaign good, though. Unlike the previous Metroid Prime games, the planets you will explore are very linear. Sure, there is some door you'll have to open with a weapon you get later in the game, or an easy-to-solve morph ball puzzle here and there, but mostly everything is pretty straight forward. Also, many of the planets are structured the same way. It's almost pretty much land on the planet, defeat a hunter, reach the boss, defeat the boss, get the octolith, and then reach your ship before the time-ticker clicks to zero . This and the recycled boss design make the single player very repetitive, and the single-player campaign pretty much not very enjoyable.

The multiplayer component holds up just a tad better than the single-player, but it also has its fair share of problems, too. The game features single-cart, multi-cart, and online play, over Nintendo's relatively new service, for 4 people. The single-cart has almost every feature the multi-cart play has except the people downloading content have to play as Samus, you are limited to battle mode, and you can't add bots if you can't get a full game of 4 people, but this is really little loss, since you are having to share game content. Also, in multi-cart mode it's very noticeable that you have a wide variety of options, for example, you can choose whether or not you can see your opponents on the game radar.

Playing online with friends turns out to be better than with random people. You can view what friends are online, and host or join a game. You will also have access to all of the modes and change the options like multi-card play. You'll also be able to use the system's built-in microphone before and after the game, but for some reason, you can't use this with anybody else. The voice reception is pretty good and I ran into few flaws with it. Overall, the online play with friends can be very fun, but one has to wonder why most of the benefits could only be accessed with them.

Metroid Prime: Hunters has a very impressive presentation. It starts off with a trailer that in almost every way shows off how powerful the DS really is, and there are a lot more cut scenes like it in the single-player campaign to be awed at. In game, the planets look pretty good and they have some neat effects. One minor problem is that sometimes it’s too dark in one are making seeing things a big challenge. In multiplayer, it can be hard to see your enemies from in long distance battles, but thankfully the game has icons to show where the person is, which helps out a little bit. On the other hand, this game sounds great. There is a lot of classic music from other Metroid games, and the weapon sound effects are great. Some of the hunters’ sound effects are a little annoying, though, mainly there cries when they get hit, because they are too loud and you’ll hear them too often in multiplayer.

This game doesn’t offer too much value. The single-player doesn’t have enough incentive to play through it once, let alone multiple times. One could go through just to get all of the multiplayer characters, but those can be earned by beating someone in multiplayer who is using a character you need to unlock. The single-player should last around 10 hours, and maybe 6 or 7 if you’re really good. The online multiplayer adds some sort of extra value, but really the strange restrictions and flaws do not let that last too long. Most of the value comes from the local multiplayer, but to get the most out of that you need at least two friends with a DS.

Metroid Prime: Hunters leaves a lot to be desired. It is a game that was delayed, so online multiplayer could be added, but that didn’t turn out as well as hoped. Maybe that time could have been used to make a better-developed single-player campaign, which is what the Metroid Prime games were focusing on to begin with. Ultimately, Metroid Prime: Hunters has good intentions, but it’s filled with flaws that only hold it back from what it should be.

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