Setup & Timing
All menu options are clearly labeled and everything in the menu system is well-descibed and makes sense in where it's located. "Multiplayer Mode" is right on the main menu, followed by "Single-Card Play" on the next one. Most of the opening credit sequence can be skipped through. The download is split into three portions: 12-15 seconds, 20-25 seconds, and 25-30 seconds. As a point of interest, the first download doesn't end (as far as the guests can see) until the host gets to the right part of the setup process, so it may seem longer.
Menus & Navigation
The tappable areas in the menus begin with extremely large circles with large buffer zones and clear, sensible labels. As more information fits on the screen, things get smaller, but the labels remain just as clear, make just as much sense, and maintain buffer areas that are at least sufficient.
Ease Of Use / Play Control
There are four control schemes in Metroid Prime Hunters: left- and right-handed versions of touch screen-centric controls and of button-centric controls. While you do have choices (not to mention the ability to adjust the touch screen's sensitivity), all of them take some getting used to. It's not that there's anything wrong with them - because there isn't. It's mostly because there's a lot to control and remember. While it'll be managable from the beginning with only a little getting used to for hardcore gamers, casual gamers will require a couple more games to become comfortable with the controls. I personally chose to use the "Stylus Mode Right" control scheme.
The 3D look of the game is excellent with no significant flaws. The sound is extremely beneficial. The music isn't essential, but sets the mood. The sound effects ARE essential - if you turn off your sound, someone could be firing at you and slowly improving their aim and if you can't see it, you'd be missing the audio clues. The options are extensive and are really well implemented. Even without playing a minute of the single-player experience, 9 of the 27 battle arenas are available to play in and the host has their choice of three of the seven hunters. Sticking exclusively to multiplayer gaming, another 13 battle arenas can be unlocked (for a total of 22 of 27). Delving into the single-player experience will allow you to unlock the last 5 battle arenas and the other four hunters. You can also control the point goal, the time limit, team play (for cooperative battling), radar options, damage, friendly fire, and weapons selection. But Nintendo also was smart in not opening up everything to the guests: guests can only play as Samus Aran (and not any of the other hunters). Why is this smart? The reason is that guests who get addicted to the gameplay are then motivated to purchase the game, unlock the other hunters, and then find guests of their own.
Metroid Prime Hunters was the first "First-Person Shooter" I played on the Nintendo DS and I was pleasantly surprised by what I experienced. First-Person Shooters are often make-or-break based on both the controls and details. The controls worked (they take some getting used to, but that really is to be expected) and the details were micro-managed (that's a good thing in video games). Nintendo took the game seriously and it shows in the final project. First-Person Shooters may very well be the hardest games to try to make work with a touch-screen control scheme. Nintendo took their time to perfect the game (the demo was released with the first Nintendo DS systems on November 21, 2004 and Metroid PRime Hunters was released March 20, 2006 - nearly 16 months later). The lack of advertising onslaught caught people a little by surprise, but if word of mouth means anything (mine, anyway), the game is well worth the following sequence: buy it, play it, replay it, play it some more, recommend it, and keep playing it.
Create a downloadable tutorial mode that teaches the control schemes one feature/button at a time (add make it available at DS Donwload Stations).
Allow players to select whether double-tapping causes their player to jump or to shoot.
Include the original NES Metroid game as a feature in the single-player experience and allow for it to be a downloadable demo.
Overall Single-Card Download Rating: 92 / 100 (a.k.a. 46/50)
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