Learn more about Metroid Prime Hunters from our hands-on time with the final build. Massive preview update!
Last updated: 03/01/2006 by Daniel Bloodworth
Representatives from NST detailed how Hunters evolved from its early demo form at E3 2004 to its final state today. They had wanted to implement online gameplay from the start of the project, but the original schedule for the game placed it on release lists months before Nintendo WiFi Connection would be up and running. However, after E3 2005, the feedback was "too much to ignore," and the team was given the extra time to make online happen.
The single player adventure features an entirely new story that takes place between Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. Samus is sent outside of the jurisdiction of the Galactic Federation's own forces to investigate a telepathic message broadcast that was intercepted by the Federation. The message regards a series of powerful crystals scattered across multiple planets, and Samus is instructed to collect them to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Other bounty hunters have also learned of these crystals and seek to acquire them for their own reasons.
As in previous demos, Metroid Prime Hunters has a variety of control schemes using either the stylus or face buttons, and NST recommends that players experiment with the different variations and sensitivities to find the control scheme that suits them best. In addition to the touch screen buttons to switch to missiles or use your character's alternate form (such as the morph ball), you can also change beams, or switch to the scan visor. Interestingly enough, Samus starts the game with her basic arsenal intact: morph ball, bombs, missiles, and charge beam.
Samus's ship serves as a base where you can change settings, save, or move locations. As you are exploring, you will sometimes receive messages from the ship, alerting you that another bounty hunter is in the vicinity. You'll battle these other hunters throughout the game, and they can steal crystals that you've acquired, retreating to another planet or area that you'll need to locate in order to retrieve the crystal. Once you've removed all of the major artifacts from an area, a self-destruct sequence will activate, and you'll need to move quickly through new routes in order to escape in time.
Multiplayer features include download play as well as multi-card and online play. The additional bounty hunters are unlocked in multiplayer either by defeating them in the adventure mode or by defeating a friend who uses that character in multiplayer. Each of the new hunters has a unique alternate form and unique weapons. Any player can acquire any of the weapons as power-ups during matches, but if you use the weapon your character is most familiar with, it will be more effective or have extra functionality. You can group into teams, so finding combinations of characters that work well together can give you an advantage as well.
Friends can be added to your list just like in other Wi-Fi Connection titles: either by playing with that friend over a local connection or by exchanging friend codes. However, Hunters also introduces the rivals system. You can add a rival either by setting your DS to Rival Radar and hoping to pass to another Hunters player on the street (just like Bark Mode in Nintendogs) or you can add players you've connected with online to your rivals list. You can then check your rivals' stats to see who's getting more kills, etc.
Setting up a multiplayer game in Hunters is a lot more open than in Mario Kart DS. After you decide whether to play worldwide or with friends, you can choose from a list of games waiting for players, view the details on each game, or create a game yourself. If you decide to host a game, you will be able to choose from a number of different rules pertaining to the mode you want to play, you will choose the arena, and you will be able to decide whether or not to allow friendly fire between teammates. Once you've chosen a game, you'll enter a lobby with the other players where you'll be able to chat with people on your friends list, either by text or by holding down the X button to activate the microphone like a walkie-talkie. Once each player has settled on the character they want to use, the host can start the game at any time, no matter how many players have joined. After the match, you'll reconvene briefly to look at the scores and smack talk a bit.
There are seven modes of play to choose from in multiplayer.
Part of the robust online system of Metroid Prime Hunters is each player's Hunters License, which tracks tons of stats including kills, wins, streaks, favorite weapons/characters/stages, lucky stages (where you get the most wins), time played, distance covered, etc. After playing Mario Kart DS online, the Hunters designers were fed up with players dropping out of games, so they added connection history to the stats, so other players can see how often you stay connected to the games you start. Brilliantly, this rating only counts when players power-off their DS systems in the middle of a game, not when they lose a connection based on technical problems. Your Hunters License is further expanded if you log into the Wi-Fi Connection web site, allowing you to compare your scores to those of friends and rivals. You will even be able to browse your friends' friend lists to see if anyone else you know is playing the game, although you will still have to contact that person directly for his or her friend code.
Last updated: 05/20/2005 by Jonathan Metts
The E3 demo is only set up for four-player wireless gameplay, but PGC has learned that the single-player mode of Hunters is well into development and is going to be more faithful to the series than you might think. The adventure spans several planets and has some of the exploration and upgrading elements of past Metroid games, but it's also infused with the bounty hunting theme that is prevalent in the multiplayer mode.
The story is essentially about Samus competing among other bounty hunters to retrieve a set of artifacts, which are scattered among the different planets. You travel among planets with your ship, although the player can't control it directly. Each planet is its own unique world to be explored, though it's unclear whether the level design will follow the pattern of the GameCube's Prime games. Instead of mutated native species for bosses, you'll face off against one of the rival bounty hunters already being seen in the multiplayer mode. If Samus wins, she'll win one of the artifacts. If she loses, the game continues on, but the other bounty hunter will take the artifact and flee to another planet, so Samus will have to track him down and defeat him for good.
As for upgrading, there probably won't be new movement upgrades in the tradition of the series, but there are a total of eight weapons to be found, and it seems that once you find them, they are in your inventory permanently. So the weapon upgrades do seem to work as usual in that respect. A big difference, however, is that Samus can only carry two weapons (plus her trusty power beam and missiles) at a time, and the rest are stored on her ship. Different areas and enemies will call for particular weapons, so there is some strategy and perhaps puzzle-solving involved in choosing the right weapons for the job. You can return to the ship to switch out weapons, of course.
Metroid Prime Hunters is still being billed as a multiplayer-centric title by Nintendo, but this new information should give hope to Metroid fans looking for a fix on the DS.
Last updated: 05/17/2005 by Mike Sklens
Metroid Prime: Hunters, in development at NST (although Retro may be involved, as their logo graces the title screen), has seen a lot of changes since both the 2004 Electronics Entertainment Expo and the release of the “First Hunt" demo. By now, most gamers know the basic idea. Samus will square off against some of the best bounty hunters in the galaxy. Nintendo has stated that Hunters will focus heavily on Samus’s offensive capabilities, meaning there will probably be little to no exploration in the game.
The E3 2005 demo includes three modes. Bounty Mode is the Hunters version of capture the flag. Hunter Battle is a classic style deathmatch, and System Hack is a variation on king of the hill.
The System Hack mode, which is similar to Halo 2’s “Territories" game, sets up an arena similar to a game of king of the hill. The difference is that there are three "hills", which are really data access points that must be hacked, which takes several seconds during which you are quite vulnerable. Players must step into and control an area of the map. Once they have done this, they start accumulating points. After controlling one "hill", it’s possible to grab the other two, thus increasing the rate at which points rack up. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of the match.
The other bounty hunters all have their own special abilities, including special morph forms. First there is Noxus, who can transform into a spinning top with a blade arm attack. Spire can change into a spike covered ball capable of damaging others and climbing walls. However, unlike Samus’s spider-ball from the Metroid Prime series, Spire’s ball is more like the spider-ball from Metroid 2 in that it can climb any wall. Kanden morphs into a larva and has the ability to drop tail segments that will home in on his foes. Nintendo promises that three more bounty hunters will be revealed later. It’s pretty safe to assume that some of them will have to be unlocked in the final version of the game.
As far as looks go, Hunters has improved quite a bit since the First Hunt demo released with the Nintendo DS. The framerate has improved and there are tons of particle effects now. The team at NST has been focusing on these improvements quite a bit. A four player game will have tons of projectiles, bombs, explosions, and characters flying all over the place. Samus’s 3D model has received a makeover and looks much better now. The game’s new levels and characters are also more colorful than the First Hunt demo would lead players to believe.
Regarding the interface, the touch screen now looks more like a visor, though gameplay is still displayed on the upper screen. There is also a “Headshot!" callout on screen that pops up when you pop off an opponent's head.
Hunters also adds new weapons to the Metroid universe. One of them lobs balls of magma. Another can be charged to freeze opponents, but it is different from the Ice Beam in Metroid Prime. A third weapon behaves like a shotgun. Each bounty hunter has an affinity for a certain weapons in the game, and will play better when using that weapon. Also, each bounty hunter starts with a different default weapon. The default weapon has unlimited ammunition, but universal ammo pickups are used to refill other armaments. The charge function acts like a secondary fire for each weapon. For example, missiles are homing by default, but they can be charged up to become (non-homing) super missiles. The final version of the game will include more weapons and levels. Some of these levels are designed for liberal use of the morph forms.
Currently, Metroid Prime: Hunters supports four players over a local wireless connection, and does not offer an online mode. However, the game’s AI bots are devilishly intelligent. When Hunters is finished, it will have lots of options to customize the multiplayer matches. Players will be able to set variables such as time and kill limits. There’s no word yet on whether or not the game will keep detailed statistics.
More on the single player modes will be revealed later. Unfortunately, it’s looking like the game's single player will be little more than arena battles against AI opponents, but NST may come out and surprise us with something more in the vein of Retro's Metroid Prime adventures.
Last updated: 05/11/2004
The graphics of this title are startlingly similar to the GameCube version. The bottom screen is the main screen for the game and shows the action in first person mode. It is played using the touch screen, with the stylus or a finger the bottom screen is used for camera rotation, aiming and firing, and to transform into a morph ball. The game uses the same artwork, graphics, sound and architecture from Metroid Prime for GameCube so retains the look and feel of the series.
The upper screen of the DS is used for area maps. The game also uses the wireless networking function for four-player connectivity.