MDb Review: Metroid Prime Hunters: by CapCom

Back when Metroid Prime Hunters was announced, I kept an open mind about it and pushed the 'wait and see' argument. Well, I waited and I saw and I didn't like what I saw.

Bear in mind this is a review only covers the single player campaign, not the multiplayer. A lot of people like the multiplayer just fine but as I have no interest in playing it (nor a wireless network to do so or friends who have the game), I can't review that part. And let's face it, Metroid is really about adventure, NOT frag fests.

Because controls are really one of the most important parts of the game, let's start here. You will probably want to take the time to learn to use the stylus as it provides the greatest accuracy. My guess is the best players online use this style, just like the best DOOM players used trackballs in the mid-90s. Unfortunately, the stylus is too small and flimsy for my hands, the old-model DS too heavy and bulky to hold with one hand for extended periods, and even though I'm a lefty, not even the lefty styles feel right. This means I have to use the inaccurate ABXY buttons for aiming, and there are lots of cases where accuracy is important. It also doesn't help that you can't change your control styles on the fly for quick experimentation - this is another major mark against it.

Once you start playing, you'll notice the weapon upgrades ALL use limited ammo - you can't even charge the beam up to use a small shot like in Metroid Prime 2. You also have to access them by pushing buttons on the touchpad, which isn't exactly intuitive. To add insult to injury, Samus's missiles won't track like they do in the console games - which makes them pretty much worthless considering they still have such a ridiculously slow rate of fire.

Where the graphics are concerned, a combination of small resolution and a consistent art style with the console Prime games to make some less-observant people mistake it for Metroid Prime - it really does look very good, and runs at a smooth frame rate too. Thankfully there are at least some level and character designs that can take advantage of those graphics. There are also a few rare level designs that are interesting in and of themselves, like the morph-ball lava pit that is pretty reminiscent of Metroid II - but there aren't many cases where I can say I was actually impressed.

The audio is also notable, and some of the tracks are great to listen to, though the sound test is of course incomplete. Oddly enough, the Hunters and Gorea battle themes are all variations of the same basic tune with different instruments used depending on who you are fighting. Actually, this has an excellent soundtrack, probably the best part of the game beyond the graphics.

Unfortunately, here's where things start to go horribly wrong, and it all boils down to poor design. Throughout the course of the game, you'll encounter some incredibly obnoxious obstacles like instant-kill pistons, bottomless pits, and timed sequences that give you woefully little time. In addition, whenever you collect an Octolith (and there are eight of them), you'll be rewarded with an escape sequence, meaning they get old quick - and there also is no end-game escape sequence. You have to contend with two incredibly bland boss characters, a giant floating eyeball and a tower, that you have to fight not once, not twice but FOUR annoying times. Couple this with constant battles with AI bots (bounty hunters and security droids) and you've got a lot of mediocrity and frustration in one small package.

I really wanted to like this game, but every time I found a part that I started to enjoy, I remembered the frustrating parts or came across a new one. Even the final boss's design became interesting simply because it was a bit different from fighting a giant eyeball, a giant tower, or a humanoid bot - and there really wasn't anything to write home about there, either. It seems the designers spent so much time balancing multiplayer mode that they neglected the single-player mode which is what most longtime Metroid fans are interested in anyway - and you'd think they would have put more care into it because of that.

For this reason, if you're interested in the single player mode, I simply can't recommend Hunters. It's one of the few games I've actually wanted to return but then remembered I would only get like $5 back at the store for the $35 or so I spent on it. Maybe if you find it for about $5 then I could see an excuse to pick it up. Maybe you'll like it more than I did.

And just remember - with such steampies as Resident Evil: Survivor and Castlevania: Order of Shadows around, this game could have been a LOT worse. While Hunters is bad, it certainly isn't THAT bad.


MDb Review: Metroid Prime Hunters: by Jesse D

I'm a big fan of Metroid. I have been for most of my life. To a lesser degree, I'm also a fan of the likes of Quake, Doom and Unreal. Yet, it has taken me this long to go out and buy a copy of Metroid Prime Hunters. Why?

Because it's not Metroid.

Sure, it has "Metroid" in its title, and stars the main protagonist, but it takes away everything else about Metroid that I always enjoyed about it. They just made a somewhat basic Quake-style game and stuck the Metroid name on it, assuming that this is the direction that the Metroid series should go. I will say that the game isn't terrible. I admittedly like it more than the rest of the MDb staff. While playing the game, I took notes and outlined the pro's and the con's. I'll paste and then describe them categorically.


  • Graphics:
    As a game that evolved from a technical demo for the DS, the graphics in Hunters are thoroughly impressive. The environments look exactly like they would in the Prime trilogy, and there are lots of special effects throughout. Even the Morph Ball is shiny. The visual department left no stone unturned.

  • Level Design:
    The levels are imaginative, each following the theme of its respective region. There are periodically large arenas where you fight Quake-style matches against other hunters which allow you to make great use of the environment.

  • Music:
    Much like the majority of the Prime series, nothing here really sticks out. But it still fits, and doesn't sound bad or out of place at all.

  • Polish:
    In all, the presentation is well-polished. Cool menus, lots of special effects.


  • Uncomfortable:
    Look at the following picture and ask yourself whether this looks comfortable:
    Not too bad, right?
    Doesn't look too bad. Now observe without the DS in my left hand:
    Yeah. Looks like a friggin' duck shadow puppet. I have to be able to support the weight of the DS, control the D-pad with my thumb and fire the trigger button with my index finger at the same time. Cramp city. Not to mention, the corner of the DS digs into my palm. I can't play this game in more than 15-minute intervals without giving my hand a rest.

    In all fairness, they also provide an option to control the game using buttons alone. And what a wonderfully awkward control scheme that is. Why can't I assign keys?

  • Morph Ball Sequences:
    You know these sequences from Metroid games, where you must navigate narrow passages as a Morph Ball. We've seen them in the Classic series, and we've seen them in the Prime series. But we've never seen them this frustrating. Let me explain.

    In a game such as Super Metroid, you have very tight control over Samus, even in ball form. You can elegantly maneuver tight passages and propel yourself to great heights using the bomb alone.

    But not in Hunters. You'll find that you might as well be controlling one of those tilt-the-ball puzzles with the way the game attempts to emulate realistic physics. You'll fall a lot, and you'll spend a lot of tedious frustrating attempts just attempting to time bomb jumps.

  • Checkpoint System:
    Granted, the whole concept of checkpoints wasn't introduced till Prime 2. But in a Quaketroid game (I coined a word!), it makes sense. If you die, you can at least start one or two rooms back from where you just were.

    Imagine entering a room with very little health. It's a large, arena-style room full of those hard-to-kill guardians, or perhaps another hunter. BAM! One hit, you're dead. That's okay, the checkpoint system will bring you back. And, it does. With low health. Right in the same exact room. So you try to exit the room. BAM! You can't even survive long enough for the door to open up so you can leave.

    This wouldn't be quite as bad if there were more energy pickups or recharge stations. But guess what?

    If you're low on health and stranded such as in the situation above, you're left to farm for health. That's right, enter a room, kill enemies and hope they drop health pickups. Leave the room, re-enter it, repeat. I figured that games in the 21st century were past this. Considering that opportunities to save the game are spaced so far apart (great idea for a portable game, right?) you should at least have some other way to quickly and easily recharge your health. But no. Not here.

    Oh yeah, and remember how killing a boss would leave enough health and missile drops to completely recharge yourself? Yeah, no. Not here. You're left to fend for yourself after defeating a boss.

  • Splash and Falling Damage:
    Stand next to a wall and fire a missle. You'll damage yourself. Jump from a high point and land on the ground. You'll damage yourself. Makes sense in Quake. But completely goes against the rest of the Metroid series. One could argue that it makes the game more realistic, but... no. This isn't Metroid.

    And anyway, by that reasoning, why do Morph Ball bombs not cause any damage to Samus?

  • Repeated Bosses and Escape Sequences:
    The cool thing about the Metroid series is that you rarely ever fight the same boss more than once in any given game, and even if you do, it's usually changed around so that you're not doing the same thing.

    In Hunters, you'll encounter either the Tower or the Floating Eyeball. You'll kill it, watch the same static cutscene you've already seen three times, pick up two energy balls, watch the same static Octolith cutscene. and then leave the room.

    And... wait for it.... Yep, there it is, the same escape sequence once again. Normally, escape sequences are a (in)famous staple for the Metroid series. They're a high-adrenaline blitzkrieg to get the hell out before the place explodes. Make it to your ship and you can watch Samus escape a catastrophic detonation by the skin of her teeth.

    In Hunters, when you get to your ship, you escape the planet and watch in full motion video as it... does absolutely nothing. Hell, you can just land your ship right back down you were and everything's fine. So what the hell was the point of the escape sequence? What was I just running from? What's so dangerous that I couldn't just stand there and fight it? No explanation of this? Whatsoever?


Look at that list and notice how the pro's are vastly outweighed by the con's.

I liked the game enough that I played it from start to finish, but I will not be working to get the remaining 45% item completion. This game is too frustrating and too straining on my hands to play. It has no Metroid personality, no real story, and pretty much no replay value. The new hunters with unique races and backstories are an interesting idea, but notice how I refrain from calling them "characters" since... well, there is absolutely zero interaction with them beyond mindlessly fighting.

As for the multiplayer, I've not bothered trying it when I can just fire up Unreal Tournament and play that without having to suffer the slap in the face of one of my favorite gaming series.

Metroid Prime Hunters an interesting idea and it makes great use of the DS hardware, but they should have left Metroid alone.

In my tradition of meaningless scoring systems, I give Hunters a 6 out of 10.