Metroid Prime: Hunters is the final realization of the first-person Metroid game for the Nintendo DS that has been in development since before the launch of the Nintendo DS in 2004. Nintendo packed in the First Hunt demo with the original DSs. It was delayed numerous times, but for good reason each time. Ultimately, this led to a game with quite a few features, especially multiplayer combat over Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. In the single player Adventure mode, you take the role of Samus, who is combating six other hunters in search for the rumored ultimate power, which the Federation would like you to get for the betterment of the galaxy.

What is Adventure Mode like?

Adventure Mode is what MP:Hunters calls the single player adventure. In this game mode, you are competing with others who seek the Ultimate Alimbic power as well as you are for their own reasons. The action all takes place on the upper screen, with the bottom screen being used for selecting weapons, going into and out of morph ball mode, a useful enemy radar, and most importantly, the touch feature of the screen which is used to aim in a similar fashion as a PC touchpad. As you start out, you only have access to one of the planets, the Celestial Archives.

As you play on and collect Octoliths and find useful weapons and other equipment, you unlock more planets, and ultimately, unlock the final battle area. Unlike other Metroid games, you start with the moves you end the game with. You always have a standard jump that you can start in the air, the morph ball & bomb, as well as the charge beam and boost ball. You still find several energy tanks, missiles, as well as weapon ammunition for weapons other than the power beam. You can find six different new weapons, with unique effects each.

You can find:

* The BattleHammer, a fast firing weapon

* The Volt Driver, a weapon which disrupts the opponent

* The Shock Coil, which constantly damages the opponent at close range, and arcs towards them

* The Imperialist, which is a sniper rifle style weapon with zoom

* The Judicator, which is a fast, straight hit weapon with a nasty freezing effect when charged

* The Magmaul, which is a powerful lava ball with a decent blast radius Samus can also charge the missile, and when doing so it has a slight homing effect.

Also throughout the game are things you can scan with the scan visor, in a similar fashion to the Metroid Prime games. This can often be necessary to solve puzzles, and the lore and enemy information can help fill in the story or help you figure out how to defeat a particular opponent.

How do the Multiplayer modes work?

There are three multiplayer types, and seven multiplayer modes. There are also seven characters to choose from as well. The three multiplayer types are Single-Card Play, Multi-Card Play, and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. All three modes allow you to play with up to four characters. In single-card mode, the players who do not have cards will only be allowed to play as Samus. Otherwise, the four players can play a very full-fledged Battle style game, on all of the available maps. In multi-card play, any character can play as anyone they have unlocked, and all seven modes of play are available. In a Nintendo Wi-Fi game, you can play Battle mode with any random person online, and any of the six other game types only with Friends and Rivals. Friends are people that you have swapped Friend Codes with, while Rivals are people you might have battled before online, and if you and your opponent agree, you can become each other\'s rival. The seven game modes are: 1) Battle, which is similar to deathmatch. 2) Survival, which is similar to Last Man Standing, where you have a limited number of lives. 3) Prime Hunter, where the first to kill becomes the Prime Hunter, and whoever kills that person next becomes the next Prime. The Prime Hunter is constantly depreciating health, does more damage, and can only gain health from killing opponents. 4) Bounty, where there is only one Octolith in play and you have to deliver it to the return point. I find it kind of similar to UT2004\'s Bombing Run, except there is one universal goal instead of two. 5) Capture, which is basically Capture the Flag, with the \'flags\' being Octoliths. 6) Defender, which is where there is a single defense area, and whoever holds it the longest wins the match. 7) Nodes, which is kind of like Defender, except there are multiple nodes. It reminds me most of Unreal Tournament\'s Domination game types. There are also seven characters, each with a unique affinity weapon, and alternate form, similar to Samus\' morph ball. The weapons are the same ones that Samus can find in the single player adventure. Any character can use any weapon, but the characters with affinity can use a powered-up version. For example, the BattleHammer has a blast radius when Weavel uses it, Samus\' missiles can home, and so forth. There are some really neat character options available to spice things up a bit.

How are the Graphics and Sound?

The graphics of Metroid Prime: Hunters are probably the best available on the Nintendo DS. They are certainly not perfect; at times certain things can look a little grainy, but considering the power of the little handheld, it\'s quite remarkable. I have not noticed a slowdown, either. The frames per second are quite smooth throughout. The movie cut scenes are also of excellent quality. Great job, there! The sound effects are all good and rather fitting. The music is generally decent. Some of it sounds a little too synthesized, but 90% of it is just great.

How Appropriate is this game for Christians?

There is most definitely some violence here. It is not excessive, bloody or gory, but there is the killing of competing hunters in Adventure mode, and most importantly other human players in Multiplayer mode. The rest of the Adventure mode violence is against odd looking alien creatures. Like many recent Metroid games, there is a certain sense of mystery and mysticism over the \'Ultimate Power\' that is there to be discovered by the player. With that said, none of that stuff is very prominent or \'in your face\', and the mystical elements are certainly lighter than Metroid Prime for GameCube. Samus is in her power suit throughout all of the game play, and only in the ending do you see her in anything less, and then it is a skin-tight outfit, but it\'s not presented in a flaunting way, so it\'s not a big problem. The violence is all mostly standard fare for a multiplayer online shooter, but worth pointing out nonetheless.

Overall & Conclusion

Metroid Prime: Hunters is an excellent example of how First Person Shooter-style games should work on the Nintendo DS. It is also the closest yet of any handheld to mirroring the PC FPS experience. Nintendo really went overboard with this game, and it shows. The single player is a good adventure of fairly decent length, and the multiplayer is loaded with options. There is even a voice chat for friends online before and after matches, which I did not have the opportunity to test. There are appropriateness issues typical to a shooting genre, which are somewhat mitigated by the enemies being alien. You do kill your opponents online, however. For the record, there are a lot of extremely good players online. For whatever reason, I have had bad luck getting much of a kill score. However, I have played less than an hour online as well, and Adventure mode seems to assist your aiming ever so slightly, while online play does not. Overall, I enjoyed it a lot, and it makes great use of the DS\'s hardware.

Final Ratings

Appropriateness Score: Violence 6.5/10 Language 10/10 Sexual Content/Nudity 9/10 Occult/Supernatural 9/10 Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10 Appropriateness Total: 44.5/50 Game Score: Game Play 18/20 Graphics 9/10 Sound/Music 8/10 Stability/Polish 5/5 Controls/Interface 5/5 Game Score Total: 45/50

Overall: 89.5/100

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