Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt Demo (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 13.12.2004

Review for Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt Demo on Nintendo DS

The legacy of Metroid is quickly becoming one of legends, with popularity right from the start and then imminent death with a few years, only for a complete revival to occur in 2002, with the series becoming one of Nintendo’s most prolific to date by 2004. To such an extent is its appeal now that Nintendo has deemed a demo version of the new game to be bundled with the latest DS portable hardware at launch. But how does it play?

You slot the media card snugly into your Nintendo DS slot and power-up the system, choosing the appropriate options and expecting to find an impressive reworking of the 2D Metroids, such as Super Metroid and the more recent Zero Mission. But suddenly, after the dark ‘Nintendo Presents’ screen, a mind-blowing 3D mini-Full Motion Video sequence hits you. It starts with the screen zoomed in on Ms Aran, and slowly the top screen rotates around her upper body in one direction, whilst the bottom does the same in the other direction, all the time the music in the background is building up. Then the music kicks in fast, she barrel-roll jumps forward and lands in a defensive crouch, awaiting any enemy fire. Seeing nothing there she slowly rises in a confident manner. The screen fades and it is from then on that you quickly grasp the fact that this is no ordinary 2D Metroid. This is the future…

The game then flashes to the dark and moody title screen, which responds to the touch of the stylus with a little glowing mark appearing wherever you press. Teasingly in the centre of the bottom screen is the message ‘Touch Here To Start’. How can you resist? *Click* And away we go to the first menu screen where you find three choices: Training, Multiplayer or Options. What to start with? Options, of course! What better than to fine tune the game before delving into it properly…

You can rename Samus if you so wish, but fans will most likely ignore that. You can also check on your record achievements, or erase your data – but both of those are the usual affair found in most titles. What will strike you as a master-stroke from Nintendo Software Technology, the brains behind this and the likes of the superb Mario vs Donkey Kong and SSX3-beater 1080 Avalanche, is that there are multiple control set-ups - a total of five to choose from, depending on your favoured way of playing. The choices? Control Type S, DR, DL, TR and TL. But what does all that mean exactly? Well, let me take a brief moment to explain…

The default option is Control Type S - the newly modified set-up after all the complaining that was directed at the game when first aired during E3 early this year in May. This option allows you to hold the system in either your left or right hand pressing the Left-Right / Y-A to strafe, Up-Down / X-B to move forwards and backwards, and either shoulder button to shoot. But what of aiming? Simple – use the stylus with your free hand to move the arm cannon around! Double-tapping on the screen allows you to jump as well, which works surprisingly well once you have grasped the sensitivity of movement in general. The Dual Mode options map jumping to the ‘R’ button instead, with bombs and fire-power on the ‘L’ shoulder.

Screenshot for Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt Demo on Nintendo DS

That is the option most will use, unless you hate the stylus, in which case use DR or DL – with aiming mapped to the control pad or buttons depending if you picked Dual Right or Dual Left Mode. The TR and TL options are the ill-fated E3 modes, where shooting is done by double-tapping, meaning that because movement is also done using the touch-screen you will end up shooting when you do not want to, wasting valuable ammunition (yes, there are restrictions on ammo this time!).

There are a few controls that are the same whichever mode you pick. The bottom screen has four holes, one in the bottom left corner and the other three are bottom right. A tap on the left-hand one enables/disables Morph Ball mode, whilst very bottom right chooses Power Beam, the one above is Missiles and the top one is for ‘Electro Lob’.

So there you go, time to try out the main training missions – and about time too! You may wonder what appears on the top screen when choosing these options at the bottom, well, you get very nice 3D static images of Metroids, or data about Samus herself. It is all very atmospheric and extremely pleasing to the eye, filling you with confidence about what can be expected in the future. Anyway, your choices of training are: Regulator, Survivor and Morph Ball. The first objective is ‘Destroy all of the hologram targets before time expires’, the second is ‘Exterminate the Xenomorphs before they exterminate you’ and the last one states ‘Test your Morph Ball abilities as you collect modules’.

Regulator gives you ten minutes on the clock in order to complete the mission, running through rooms of a large laboratory that will be instantly familiar to long-terms fans of the series in its style – and surprisingly similar to Retro’s GameCube updates! The quality is truly astounding at such an early stage in the DS’ life. So your aim is to kill the holograms stated in the mission objective, but things are never as simple as they seem. You must face a range of enemies, from the floating Xenomorphs to small spiky creatures that have plagued the series since the NES original. Each room must be completed cleared of all hostile beings before the next door opens and eventually, after puzzles like a small Morph Ball maze, you reach what appears to be Dark Samus that is stronger, faster and can use all of your abilities against you.

Now this might sound simple, but when the pressure is on due to the time limit, you tend to rush and miss the odd enemy, meaning progression is halted because of a blocked door. Or you reach the jumping sections and get flustered in the rush, mis-timing your jumps or not double-tapping properly because your palms are perspiring too much and holding the stylus is proving difficult. Even the fact that once your ammo has run down to zero, it takes a while to get another shot off as there is a slight gun-loading delay to purposely hinder you. Whatever the case, by the time you have reach the final boss, either your time will almost be up, your health will be really low or your state of mind so frazzled that you might as well turn off and give up…But it is worth persevering as you get a special unlockable treat if you gain a high score in this and the subsequent two other missions.

Screenshot for Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt Demo on Nintendo DS

The music that plays throughout is definitely Metroid-esque, with homage being paid to both the NES Metroid and the reworked Prime versions of tunes being included in full stereo that sounds amazing after playing GBA games for so long! Take the music in the next mission, for instance. Loading up (with no waiting, I might add…*cough* PSP *cough*) the Survivor mode brings about memories of Super Metroid’s final fight against Mother Brain, except the dread-filled tune has been toned down somewhat so as to give your heart some chance of avoiding cardiac arrest.

Again the same array of enemies are laid before you here, with the stupid floating Xenomorphs that do not bother to attack, the ones that zoom at you Metroid-style and force you to Morph and bomb to shake them off, as well as those spike crawlers again. There is no time limit here, so you merely have to traverse the fairly open arena, killing as many creatures as you can before your energy finally dissipates. You start off with no missiles, but a little exploration will lead you to them and then watch as your kill rate rapidly increases with your extra armoury! But beware the edges of the arena – there are no invisible walls here, only doom and gloom as you topple over to your demise. Do not say I never warned you…

Lastly there is Morph Ball, which is amazing, simply amazing. I would sincerely recommend ditching any qualms about the stylus here – you definitely should try it out. Just imagine gently guiding a marble around a maze with your finger in real life, because this is just like that. There is no delay, mis-direction or anomalies present here, just sheer perfection in touch-screen control and you move Samus round in her ball state, collecting the symbols are the building you are placed in and avoiding any hidden spiked enemies that blocked your route and threaten that high score. This looks like it definitely could have been lifted out of Prime, as with the reduced screen resolution, any discrepancies in graphical quality are complete negated to all but the most pedantic of gamers out there. Jagged edges? You try and focus on them whilst playing and still succeed, I dare you…

Music this time around fades, thankfully, into the background with just a simple beat basically. But I cannot get over how responsive this mode is, with control being more difficult on slopes as you suddenly speed up, naturally, and when on straights you can use your boost by double-tapping the direction you are heading in to save a couple of vital extra seconds (you will need all the time you can get, because this one is a very tight one to overcome). But caution is advised when boosting, as reaching a curve is treacherous at times since one slip of the controls and you can tumble down to one of the lower levels of the stage and complete mess-up your attempt!

So that hidden treat, you might be wondering what it is. Well, it is a very tasty FMV clip, far longer than the introductory one seen at boot-up and showing you that all those naysayers that thought the DS could not handle 3D on both screens were all Doubting Thomas’. I do not want to spoil it for those who have yet to unlock it, but it is very impressive and leads you to the official website - http://www.metroidhunters.com/mp_hunters.htm and involves some Space Pirates!

Screenshot for Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt Demo on Nintendo DS

But what of the multiplayer modes? Well, unfortunately I am limited in what I can tell you since I am just one person with a DS in a country where not many others have them yet…Sad but true. I can, however, let you know what I saw at the DS Event I attended. There are three arenas to choose from in the demo version; Ancient Vestige, Assault Cradle and Trooper Module, each slightly larger than the last.

Ancient Vestige is only small, but proved to be quite hectic in multiplayer, which is really what you want in short bursts as it keeps the weighting between combatants rather more even as there is not as much chance to recompose yourself after a mauling. You have the main open area, the usual selection of ledges that can be reached by crossing the boosting areas on the ground, a section around the outside where you can roll around in Morph Ball mode and a raised plateau that is home to a regenerating pink item that recovers all your energy. So time to do a GoldenEye trick and linger nearby it, protecting the health and wiping out your fellow on-screen Samus Arans! A cheap trick, but it beats just hiding out in the Morph Ball area completely unprotected…

Next up is the Assault Cradle, which is rather reminiscent of the Morph Ball training missions. It is shaped in quite a basic manner, perfectly round and very easy to keep your armour up as there are several pink health boosters dotted around. This is all about who has the highest skills in rolling around as a ball, to be honest, and can get a little tiresome like when rolling in the Metroid Prime 2: Echoes multiplayer modes. Just bomb each other as much as possible or use the Electro Lob manoeuvre that distorts your opponents screens for a short while (or yours if you are foolish enough to roll into the green ball of energy!), and get it over and done with.

Screenshot for Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt Demo on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Considering this is completely free when you buy a Nintendo DS in the US, you certainly cannot complain about what is in the package, to be honest. It is a nice little taster for the future and makes you anticipate the next demo that comes with European systems even more!

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (1 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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