Metroid Prime Hunters (Nintendo DS) Review

By James Temperton 04.05.2006

Review for Metroid Prime Hunters on Nintendo DS

Metroid Prime Hunters hurts, both physically and mentally. The Nintendo DS is not too well suited to the FPS genre, and whilst Hunters does have a lot of adventure and puzzle elements to it as well, it still plays like an FPS, and hurts like an FPS. You would assume that the ability to keep people hunched playing a game on the tiny little DS for hours on end would be a good thing, but it really isn't. Metroid Prime Hunters has given us hand cramps; indeed, we loved not too wisely but too well. Awesome game, shame about the pain...

The story is as elaborate as ever. You find yourself in the Tetra Galaxy, controlled by the Galactic Federation and once home to an allegedly mighty race called the Alimbics, they lived (amazingly enough) in the Alimbic Cluster until for some reason they died very quickly, like the dinosaurs. Fast forward quite a long time and a mysterious message is being beamed out of the supposedly abandoned region, it translates to "The secret to ultimate power lies in the Alimbic Cluster", obviously every power-mad person in the universe with a speedy little spaceship wants a bit of the action, so it is up to you (Samus Aran) to work out what the hell is going on and kick some ass along the way.

Never before has a game looked so stunning on the Nintendo DS. The graphical level arguably surpasses the N64's capabilities and the whole game looks brilliant. The atmosphere and permanent sense of impending doom has been captured perfectly here with moody lighting, hugely detailed environments and truly disgusting looking creepy-crawlies both big and small. The weapons effects are excellent and the power beam looks brilliant as always when in full firing glory. Add to that some truly stunning looking cut-scenes (which you can watch on their own in a special gallery as you unlock them during your progress through the game) and you have a title that is a veritable feast for the eyes.

Screenshot for Metroid Prime Hunters on Nintendo DS

Sadly, it isn't so much a feast for the fingers. Whilst the control system is very accurate and admittedly does work rather well, it does hurt. Playing this game on the DS has crippled us to such a level that our hands now resemble misshapen claws rather than the soft, well-moisturised, girly digits they once were. Nintendo have included a total of two control methods and everything can be set to either left hand or right hand depending on your preference. The two modes of control are Dual Mode and Touch Mode, the former uses the buttons and the latter (rather unsurprisingly) you use the stylus or thumb strap. We persevered with the Touch Mode, and found that after a bit of practice it worked fantastically well. The accuracy is excellent, with all the aiming done using the touch-screen on the DS, you move around using the D-Pad, jump using the R button and fire or plant bombs (when in Morph Ball mode) using the L button. It makes controlling the game remarkably simple once you get the hang of it. The only downside to the touch-screen control is that changing weapons and morphing into your swanky ball form are done by small buttons on the touch interface, which can cause the problem of changing weapons to missiles when you don't mean to. Another slight gripe, in the heat of battle, you don't want to take your eyes off the top screen to fiddle about with the touch-screen, it might just cost you your life...

Screenshot for Metroid Prime Hunters on Nintendo DS

The emphasis on scanning and exploring still plays an integral part in Hunters. Throughout the game you will have to scan objects in order to make things happen or discover more of the ever-suspicious storyline. Sadly, it is nowhere hear as expansive as fans of the series will be used to. The game feels painfully linear, and your quest to collect the eight Octoliths dotted throughout the gaming worlds is a simple case of pushing forward and shooing a lot of the time. The gaming environments may look pretty, but a lot of them lack depth. There is very little backtracking to be done and certainly not many side-missions to be taken care of. Aside from occasional morph-ball maze or refreshingly complex puzzle to be solved, it is often a case of the familiar and predictable. Indeed, the bosses in the game are just as annoyingly mundane. For each Octolith you collect you have to fight a boss, which are all remarkably simple and only ever really increase in difficulty. We have to say that the encounters with other bounty hunters during the game act as the biggest battling highlight, setting up an intense and exciting deathmatch, very much akin to the multiplayer mode.

Screenshot for Metroid Prime Hunters on Nintendo DS

Using Nintendo's much-lauded Wi-Fi connection you can instantly set up a battle against a random opponent anywhere in the world. Up to four people can play at once in a variety of arenas ranging from small stupidly fast paced areas to large sprawling worlds in which finding anyone to kill seems to be harder than actually killing them. The online set-up in Hunters is rather odd. You select your preferred character, then everyone votes on which arena to play in and then you're straight into the deathmatch. What is most bewildering is that at first you can only play all the game modes against people whom you have the friend codes of to start with, which make it a somewhat limiting experience. Thankfully, the game does offer a total of seven multiplayer modes when playing against your mates using the friend code system; it is clear that Nintendo is trying to encourage people to play against people they know, bless their giant corporate cotton socks. The voice and text chatting elements (which only work in the lobby area) seem to work very well and add a fun aspect to the gaming experience. Thankfully, you can only chat to your friends, meaning that being told where to stick whatever to/on/up/under whomever by some adenoidal fat American teenager is no longer an issue. Furthermore the whole online system is slick and well put together.

Oddly for a Metroid title, the multiplayer experience is what makes the game. With single and multi-cart modes also available and so much fun to be had playing against your mates or Internet buddies the game goes from disappointingly average to a brilliantly conceived piece of DS mastery. There is a great amount of skill involved in playing the game, with fast movement and devastatingly sharp shooting skills the order of the day. Apparently it vibrates too (if you buy the appropriate adaptor), but we're yet to experience that dubious pleasure.

Screenshot for Metroid Prime Hunters on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Nintendo have done the series proud. Hunters remains true to its gaming roots, but also brings in some new ideas to spice things up. We never thought that a Metroid game would have such an awesome multiplayer, but we have been proved comprehensively wrong here. It looks and sounds fantastic and if you can get past the searing pain of hand cramp and aching wrists to start with, you are in for a treat. Truly outstanding, a must buy for all DS owners.






First Person Shooter



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (62 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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