Metroid Prime: Hunters Review

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Developer: NST Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: March 20, 2006 Also On: None

The Nintendo DS launched back in November 2004 with a demo to show off its unique features. With what would be considered a weird, if not paralyzing aiming system, Metroid Prime: Hunters – First Hunt had a long way to go before it would be a completed game, but it showed promise and was delayed time and again to assure gamers that quality would be of utmost importance to a franchise of such value to Nintendo. I am here to tell you that Metroid Prime: Hunters has come a long way. It has come so far that one could make the argument that it is the first next-generation handheld game on the Nintendo DS and without a doubt, the best portable shooter in existence on any handheld system. The developers at Nintendo Software Technology (NST) managed to put an original GameCube-level game on the Nintendo DS.

The worlds that you will explore throughout the game are massive and full of creatures to annihilate. The painstaking work that must have gone into pulling off these worlds, with their intricate detail and layout planning, must have been an enormous challenge on the Nintendo DS. The worlds might not be inhabited with organic organisms like the GameCube versions of Metroid Prime, but there is more than enough to make the world feel alive. Metroid Prime: Hunters is a testament to how powerful its host system really is. Like Metroid Prime, Hunters is of course in first-person, meaning you will be seeing through Samus’ visor. The top screen shows you the action taking place in first-person or third-person if you roll into morph ball form. The bottom screen acts as radar for general direction of where enemies are located. The bottom screen also has uses such as changing weapon, morphing and scanning.

The single-player campaign is surprisingly long for a handheld title. There might not be the largest amount of worlds, but they are sufficiently large and require plenty of exploration and backtracking. I found this to be a chore in Metroid Prime on the GameCube, but since these worlds are smaller and you travel to them with your ship, they are much more manageable than the sprawling Metroid Prime on GameCube. So what does the gameplay require? A whole lot of shooting, some genuinely creative mazes with the morph ball, a little ingenuity to decide what to do next and planning to execute what you have decided to do. This is not your run-of-the-mill shooter. Metroid Prime: Hunters, like its predecessors, takes careful thought and will often require the most basic solving method: trial and error.

With so much hit and miss, it is easy to get angry. You bet it leads to some frustration at times, but without a challenge, where does satisfaction come from in a video game? Games these days lack a challenge past hit points and smart artificial intelligence. Metroid Prime: Hunters puts your brain through video game boot camp. It requires you to think about what route to take, what weapon to equip, which area to search and how to reach the inaccessible. This is what gaming should be.

Now, to accomplish your goal of fighting bosses in each world, you need to collect these things called Artifacts. Artifacts are locked and hidden, meaning you will need to find them in each level. Three Artifacts will unlock a boss portal, which in-turn, when beat, will give you an Octolith. Each world has two Octoliths, which means you better start searching high and dry. While these may sound like a collect-a-thon, which it really is, it requires you to access areas that you might have shrugged off had you thought they weren’t essential to achieving your goal. The levels are designed in such a way that many parts of the level can’t be reached, locked by force fields that can’t be penetrated unless you have collected a certain weapon. Like the Artifacts, finding weapon upgrades requires you to explore every nook and cranny. But it is not just weapon upgrades that you need. You will also want to collect energy tanks (health upgrades) and upgrades that allow for more ammo.

There is also the option for multi-player in Metroid Prime: Hunters. You can do this three different ways: one-cartridge multi-player, multi-cartridge multi-player and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The only one that I have used is Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, so I will stick to that. Like the other Wi-Fi enabled games for Nintendo DS, you can share friend codes with friends and play each other online. The bonus with Hunters is that you can talk to people on your friends list. You can also play against opponents from your region or around the world. You also have the option of selecting whether you play someone within your skill level or any skill level. Like Mario Kart DS, you can select your character and vote for a level of which there are plenty to choose from. Basic deathmatch is the only option when playing strangers and Nintendo has restricted users from voice-chatting with people that are not on their friend’s list.

Metroid Prime: Hunters is a far cry from the First Hunt packaged demo. If you were only expecting a multi-player game with tacked-on single-player, you will be pleasantly mistaken. Nintendo has been powering up this Samus adventure for two years now. The development time goes to show that when given enough resources and calendar, developers can push systems to their limits. If you are one of the crazies that have held off on buying a Nintendo DS for a lack of quality titles, you’ve run out of excuses.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9.5
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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