Too good to be true? There’s more. Fans of Metroid will recall the heroine, Samus, and her morph ball: a high-speed rolling form she can morph into that drops high-explosive charges in its wake. Well, Hunters adds six alternative hunters, all of whom have their own morph forms, each with specific protective or damage-dealing capabilities. In addition, each hunter has an ‘affinity’ weapon that, when used by that hunter, takes on extra powers. Expect to be riled by the hunter Noxus, who transforms the already lethal Judicator into a spectacularly annoying freeze ray, but don’t worry – you soon work out that it’s slow to charge, and that this leaves the obnoxious chimp on the other end of the beam vulnerable for seconds at a time.
All of this is impressively easy to get going. You can play with three friends using a single cartridge, though with strict limitations on the available options. For a proper game, you’ll need four fully-equipped DS units with Metroid Prime. Better still, play online over a Wi-Fi enabled connection. You can ask the service to set you up for a random four-player encounter, matched by region and skill level if you wish. You’re limited to straight deathmatch, but there are ways around this. Should you know the ‘friends codes’ of a mate’s DS, you can add them to a friends list and play with other options enabled. And should you meet someone online who impresses, you can opt to add them to a rivals list to the same effect. As an online component, it’s fast, it’s smooth and it works flawlessly.
So there you go. If Metroid Prime: Hunters was purely a multiplayer title I would be urging everyone with a DS to run out and buy it immediately, and telling every FPS fan without a DS to make the investment PDQ. The fact that it’s also an astonishingly polished single-player game makes it twice as essential.
In most respects, the adventure mode is classic Metroid material, involving a journey to the mysterious Alembic cluster, the legacy of a lost civilisation and a search for a weapon of ultimate power. This being ‘Hunters’ it also means frequent appearances from the aforementioned rival mercenaries looking for the same single item. Oddly enough, the action is a bit more up-tempo than the two Gamecube Metroid Prime titles, with a little more blasting and a little less puzzle solving, but there is still plenty of platform hopping and red-hot morph ball action to be had.