Metroid Prime Hunters E3 2004 Preshow Impressions

Nintendo busts out some unique, new multiplayer 3D Metroid for fans on the go.

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Metroid Prime Hunters is a Nintendo DS game based on Nintendo and Retro's impressive update of the classic franchise. The game uses a first-person shooter perspective and many of the gameplay elements introduced in Metroid Prime for the GameCube. The demo on display was a four-player game, playable via the DS' wireless connectivity, and it made unique use of the unit's touch screen and stylus input.

The map of the arena you'll play in is displayed in the upper part of the screen, and the actual first-person view is in the lower touch screen. The reason for this is the unique control scheme being used in the game. You'll use the D pad on the unit to move forward and backward as well as to strafe. Either of the unit's shoulder buttons can be used to lock on to your opponent. Aiming, firing, turning, and switching weapons will require you to use the unit's stylus on the touch screen, which comes as a surprise. Basically you'll have to have your stylus on the touch screen to aim your weapon. Tapping the screen will fire your weapons. When you're using a beam weapon, repeatedly tapping the screen will fire off bursts, while holding it down will let you charge your shot. To switch to rockets you'll simply tap the rocket icon onscreen (the game mimics the GameCube game's visor display with icons in the lower left and right sides of the screen) to switch. You'll lock on and fire using the same mechanic you use for the beam weapon. The one catch is that your rockets don't have as quick a fire rate as your beams. The other option available to you in battle is to switch to morph ball form, which you can do by tapping the morph ball icon in the lower left side of the screen. As you roll around in ball form you can lay bombs by tapping the screen. To resume your normal shape you'll simply tap the icon again.

The control takes quite a bit of getting used to when you first start playing. Given how alien the whole touch screen mechanic is to console players, there's definitely a period of adjustment as you slowly ease into an understanding of how the stylus and D pad combo works. The lock-on function helps, although you'll still have to aim your shots some, which takes a bit of practice. However, that said, the setup does have some potential.

The graphics in the game aim to approximate the look of the GameCube game and are pretty successful on the whole. The overall resolution isn't quite as high as the GC game, so there's some graininess to the visuals. Thankfully the game's frame rate is fast and smooth, which certainly helps the fast pacing of the gameplay. The sound in the game made use of many of Prime's now-familiar effects and gave the game a familiar and comfortable feel.

Look for more on Metroid Prime Hunters on the Nintendo DS from the E3 show floor and in the coming months.

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