Masterpiece in terms of what can be accomplished with the DS hardware.

User Rating: 8.8 | Metroid Prime: Hunters DS
Metroid Prime: Hunters is a unique game for the Nintendo DS. It takes Retro Studios´ Metroid Prime franchise and makes it more of a first person shooter than an adventure. Game seems to be designed as an online multiplayer shooter and in this respect Metroid Prime: Hunters totally succeeds.

Story goes that Samus goes on a hunt for the ultimate power, which can be attained by getting eight different artifacts called octoliths. These artifacts can be found in Alimbic Cluster, which is a small batch of planets. This hunt is a little different though: Samus is not the only bounty hunter anymore. There are also Sylux, Weavel, Noxus, Trace, Spire and Kanden and they are all after the same thing as Samus. Bounty hunter is not a friend of another bounty hunter, so expect to see lots of fighting. Story sounds interesting and it actually pretty much is just that, but at some point you’ll get the impression that the adventure mode is just a warm-up for the multiplayer.

Graphics are great in terms of what can be seen on the DS. Colors are good and it looks just like a Metroid game should. Unfortunately when you get close it becomes very pixelated and ugly, but luckily the frame rate almost always runs smoothly. There are no loading times anywhere just like it was in console Metroid Prime games, since they´ve been hidden in between different rooms (just like in console Metroid Prime games).

The use of dual screen video cutscenes is a great feature. Sometimes the two screens are used like one (with a gap in the middle), but other times the lower screen shows the exact same thing as the upper screen does, but in a different camera angle. Already the first video is impressive showing all seven bounty hunters and there´s a separate menu where you can watch unlocked videos. Music also makes a great job in creating a Metroid feel. I still have to say that the music during battle loops way too often and in the end you´ll get tired of hearing that techno music over and over again. Sound effects are familiar and they work, but there is nothing amazing or totally new about them.

Gameplay works like a charm, as long as you´ll give enough time to get use to it. Controls are hard at first, but the use of a stylus like a mouse in PC shooters is very precise. There´s no lock-on feature and Samus has all her abilities right from the get-go so Hunters is very much a first person shooter. Get ready to spend somewhere around 30 minutes to one hour just to get a grip on the controls and remember: it´s more about getting out of the way than taking a direct hit to your armor while hoping for the best. Touch screen is also used to jump by tapping it twice with a stylus and to choose between different visors, weapons and the Morph Ball mode. It all works well. Map is displayed on the top screen and it is cycled by using the stylus. Map is pretty much the same as in Metroid Prime, so it works great pretty much all the time.

It wouldn´t be a Metroid without a Morph Ball mode and every bounty hunter in the game has his or her own alternate form. In adventure mode the use of a Morph Ball is not as good as you remember from console games. Camera is not as good and boost is very hard to achieve by using the stylus. Luckily boost can also be done by using the R-trigger (L-trigger for left-handed players). There are Morph Ball things to do in a regular basis and they help to bring some variety in the gameplay.

Level design is a lot more linear comparing on what you´ve used to in console Metroid Prime games. But have no fear: there´s a lot back-tracking here as well. Also the structure of the game seems very linear and predictable at first, but luckily gets more interesting and non-linear after a while.

In a true Metroid style the enemies come back when you visit an area for a second time. This is not a problem, but this time the re-appearing enemies seem to be random in terms of quantity and quality. This makes it very hard to think of a strategy when going to an already familiar territory.

When enemies die in console Metroid Prime games they leave behind that thing which Samus in that moment needs, but usually this is not the case in Hunters. This means that your energy may be very low, but you´ll only get a bunch of ammo when killing enemies.

For the first time ever it is now possible to do more than just save in Samus´ bug-like Hunter Gunship. You can read your scanned information on Logbook, change your secondary weapon of choice and make changes in gameplay via Options menu.

Speaking of saving, death comes pretty frequently in Metroid Prime: Hunters so you should visit often in your Hunter Gunship, because that´s the only place to save your progress. This is not as bad as it sounds, since there are warp points to make a faster retreat to your Ship (and back to where you just left). Also there are checkpoints now and then, but for some reason the game doesn´t tell you when a checkpoint has been reached.

Multiplayer is the best part of Metroid Prime: Hunters. Without a friend code you can play only Battle (deathmatch) for up to four players on Wi-Fi, but already that is a blast and fun. With friend codes and multiple game cartridges you can play Battle, Survival, Bounty, Defender, Prime Hunter, Capture and Nodes. Battle mode can also be played with four DS consoles and just ONE game cartridge on a wireless multiplayer. This is a great way to see what the game is like before getting it to yourself.

When first playing on Wi-Fi you´ll most likely get your ass kicked over and over again. In this case I recommend selecting wireless "multi-card play" and then "create game". Now you can choose to play against one to three bots, whose skill level can be changed according to your personal preferences. This is a great way to practise or just to have fun, when you don´t have an access point to Wi-Fi.

Metroid Prime: Hunters is a unique first person shooter in Nintendo DS´s library and you really should experience it.