Published by Nintendo
Developed by Nintendo
By Danielle Zacarias
Though Metroid Prime: Hunters is one of the most epic and visually stunning games for the DS, it’s not perfect. For everything good in Hunters, there’s something bad. That said, the game is overall worth playing for its graphics, innovation and game play.
We pick up the story somewhere between the original Metroid Prime for GameCube and Metroid Prime: Echoes. As Samus, players visit planets in the Alimbic Cluster looking for “octolyths”, which promise to unlock a great and destructive power. Along the way Samus does battle with other hunters also looking for the octolyths. These, as well as the boss battles, make up the main fights in the game. Whenever a hunter bests you in battle they steal one of your octolyths and you are left with two options: either be cheap, shut off the game and restart from a point before you lost the octolyth, or pursue the hunter, beat them and get your booty back.
The game is designed so that players visit each planet in the Alimbic Cluster at least twice, if not more times. You get a new weapon and then you go back (in typical Metroid style) to unlock doors previously barred to you. There is something a little strange about this set up, though. Every time you fight a boss, you are forced to then make a mad dash off the planet back to your spaceship. The whole thing is timed so you have to be quick about it. But the thing is, nothing really happens once you get on your ship. The whole escape is anticlimactic. Once you get to your ship and save, you can just get right back out and wander around the planet again. So why the mad dash? I’m not exactly sure, but it gets annoying.
The boss battles are also fairly repetitive. There are essentially two bosses that keep repeating throughout the game, the only differences being that they get more interesting weaponry as the game progresses. This, combined with the annoying and seemingly pointless dashes off the planet, can begin to grate on your nerves, particularly since there are no save points after the boss fights and you have to go from the fights directly to the mad dash over and over again.
The other downside to the protracted and repetitive fights followed by the mad dash is that because of how you have to hold your hands (one hand gripping the stylus in order to aim, the other hand working directional keys and a shoulder button, left or right depending on what hand you are), they tend to cramp up. I found that the only way to compensate was to take advantage of the DS’s incredible battery life, pause the game and flip it closed until my hands felt better.
Despite that downside, the touch screen aiming option allows for an incredible amount of accuracy. It is reminiscent of a mouse in a computer FPS. However, since the touch screen that you aim on is also the screen where you change your weapons and select scan visor or morph ball mode if you want it, you have to be careful to not accidentally change weapons or start scanning things in the middle of a big fight.
With regards to the scanning part of the game, I found that having to rescan everything every time I died was a bit annoying. Sure, you don’t have to repeatedly rescan things, but if you want the counter at the save screen to show that you have unraveled a significant amount of the game, you will. For those with an obsessive desire to complete a game in its entirety, this particular aspect of Prime: Hunters may try your patience.
In terms of graphics, though Nintendo has repeatedly downplayed the capabilities of the DS, Prime Hunters boasts some pretty spectacular visuals, definitely some of the best available on the DS right now. The cinematic sequences, which often take up both screens, are stunning and actual game play, though occasionally grainy — and at times a little lagged out — is pretty impressive.