This game is good, but not as great as it could be. Originally I gave this game a nine out of ten, but looking back I think it deserves an 8 out of ten.

Metroid Prime: Hunters blasts itself to a new frontier

The Metroid series has been out for more than 20 years now, and every game has been nothing but exceptional.

It successfully made the switch to 3D in 2002’s Metroid Prime. American rookie developing team Retro Studios developed Prime, and that scared many fans because the series has never been developed outside of Japan. Thankfully, Prime turned out to be one of the best games ever created for the Gamecube. But as the series newest iteration, Metroid Prime Hunters moves to the Dual Screen, how will the series change?

Anyone who bought the first batch of DS’s received a demo of the game, called First Hunt. It was a short demo that had its fair share of bugs and exploits, and it wasn’t really that great. From the demo, you never would have guessed it would become a smash hit.

The first thing you’ll notice about Metroid Prime Hunters (MPH) is the jaw-dropping graphics. In a developer interview, Retro Studies claimed they “broke the DS” making this game. In other words, they pushed the DS to its limit and then pushed it again. In the game, the top screen shows your hunter’s first person view, and the bottom is radar with virtual buttons. While the graphics aren’t close to those on the PSP (brag all you want, Sony fans) they still are quite the spectacle. All of the environments are lush and interesting, much like previous installments.

What I consider to be the most important part of a game is the control system. In MPH, you basically get a mouse and keyboard set up in your pocket. The bottom touch screen controls the target on the top screen (like a mouse), and the D-Pad strafes in different directions (like a keyboard). At first, it may seem confusing, but it eventually becomes second nature. To switch into your alt-form you press a virtual, touch screen button. This also works well and allows for more buttons than the DS actually has.

Basically, MPH is split between single player and multiplayer. If you’re planning on buying the game and playing it solo, you really are missing out. I’ve had some great experiences online with MPH, and I must commend Nintendo on the great job they’ve done on the online multiplayer experience.

This game’s online play makes Mario Kart DS look like child’s play. There are a dizzying amount of features for an online player: seven different bounty hunters and game types, over 25 stages, and (finally!!) voice chat. Chatting with the tiny microphone works surprisingly well. You can’t talk to strangers, but at least you can talk to friends added with the friend codes.

Another limitation is that you can only talk in between games – but that’s better than nothing.

While playing multiplayer, there are some ups and downs. With all online titles, there are a few exploits. The weapons seem to be properly balanced, but you could occasionally run into the player who just runs around in the alt-form, laying bombs and avoiding contact. This is a major annoyance, but you’ll just have to deal. Playing with friends is always fun, so you can count on that. Don’t forget that you can play single-card multiplayer, so you can play with other DS fans that don’t have their own game.

The multiplayer aspect of MPH is important, but don’t overlook the single player adventure mode. You are searching for the Alimbic Cluster, an unknown power, which makes it even more interesting. Samus is racing against six other bounty hunters in search for this treasure. For the first time, your ship didn’t crash and you are not searching for all your lost equipment. For transport, you can use your ship to fly in between planets searching for octoliths. There aren’t any save points, either.

Checkpoints are another new feature that help you when you die. Instead of restarting from your ship, you only go back a few rooms or so. These changes are good, but many “hardcore” fans claim that this game is much too different from other Metroid games. I am a fan of the series, and I really don’t mind the fresh additions. You’ll clock in a lot of time between multiplayer and single player, so you get a real bang for your buck.

In conclusion, Hunters is one of the most polished and well made games available for the DS. If you like First Person Shooters, get this game ASAP! I give Metroid Prime Hunters a 8 out of 10. Let’s play online sometime!

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