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Review – Metroid Prime: Hunters (NDS)

Oh my dear Metroid, where did you go wrong?

Ok, technically I’m not a Metroid fan in any sense of the word. I’ve barely played Metroid on the NES. Metroid 2 was a decent distraction for a while but I’ve since sold my copy. Metroid 3 is an outstanding piece of gaming, but one game does not a series make. I’ve pretty much skipped anything recent on the portable scene other than half an emulated game of Fusion. I don’t have a GameCube.

Enter Metroid Prime: Hunters. I was leery of a FPS style Metroid game but people had good things to say about the Game Cube version. Still, I was also leery of a portable FPS game. How will I aim? Oh right, the DS has a touch pad! It can double as a mouse. Sort of. Barely. Kind of.

The controls on this game make my hands hurt every time I play. I’ve tried different positions, I’ve tried laying the DS on a table. Nothing works. I don’t like using the L button to fire but there wasn’t much other choice considering your right hand will be devoted solely to using the stylus to aim and look around. And to occasionally make an awkward jump. Jumping on this game is accomplished by hitting any of the other buttons on the non control pad side. Essentially, you push your stylus holding right fist into the DS and hope it registers correctly. Meanwhile you’ve often got to maneuver the controls while mashing the jump like this. Controls means moving the stylus to look and pushing forward on the joy pad while looking at a tiny portable game screen (in 3D!).

Needless to say, I do no like the controls on this game. They suck a lot. But the controls aren’t the only bad part of this title.

The level designs are horrid as well!

Imagine if you will, gripping your DS in the most awkward fashion trying to explore an immersive detailed 3D world. Now replace immersive with “repetitive” and “detailed” with “ugly shades of brown and gray”. Now you’re getting closer to the Metroid Prime experience. I’ve only managed to bring myself to complete the intro level but I must have done the same corridor to spiral jumping platforms to round corridor area to large inner chamber control room path a dozen times. I felt like I was running in circles.

But wait! There’s more!

Now, while exploring these repetitive brown and gray corridors and warding off hand cramps, you also get to fight hundreds of random spawning floating enemy things. Occasionally there’s a dog sort of creature or another bounty hunter “boss” to fight but mostly you’ll occasionally fight these little floaty glowing enemies that are killed by standing in place and shooting wildly until they are gone. They spawn out of thin air for a minute or two.

Also those bosses I mentioned. I’ve faced a couple of them. They seem to use the same attack pattern. Shoot a few times, roll about randomly anytime the player gets too close. This is a problem related to the multiplayer aspect of this game. All of the characters are designed to be balanced and equal and this all have more or less the exact same abilities.

Multiplayer is even worse. I will admit hat I’m not a superstar FPS player online. I like to screw around more while playing TFC than I do trying to capture the flag. However I am not horrible and can generally hold my own pretty well when needed. I’m not a huge fan of death match either. That doesn’t change that the multiplayer on this game sucks. The maps are horribly small and the graphics are even tinier on the little screen. While you’re fighting with the controls you’ll be crushed ten times over by the guy you’re against that has enough time to master everything. Even when you get the controls down, good luck finding your opponent in the tiny view screen.

What it comes down to is a crappy idea put forth with crappy implementation. I don’t know who decided to make Metroid 3D, I don’t know who though it would be a good idea to put an FPS on a portable system, I don’t know who thought these controls were good; when I meet them I will however be forced to punch them, assuming of course my hand hasn’t become a crippled mess from trying to play this game.

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