E3 2004: Metroid Prime DS: Hands-On

What's better than one screen full of Samus? Two screens full of Samus. Full hands-on and new screens of Metroid Prime: Hunters.

Update: Video coverage added.

While the debut of Nintendo's DS system last Tuesday was not a surprise, the sight of a version of Metroid Prime running on the system arguably was. Knowing that the screens were touch sensitive made the prospect of playing Metroid Prime on the Nintendo DS, which had a complex, albeit intuitive control scheme on the GameCube, intriguing and perhaps a bit confusing. After picking up a stylus and taking a few newbies to school at E3, controlling Samus seemed second nature.

The only playable portion of DS Metroid Prime: Hunters was its multiplayer mode, also helping to showcase the wireless capabilities of the Nintendo DS. Supporting four players, connecting and loading was a breeze. The dual screens were utilized quite nicely, with the top being a map, which was quite necessary for the demo, and the bottom screen being the actual game. Using the Nintendo DS, controlling Samus is quite simple and extremely easy for almost anybody to get into, a genuine plus for portable gaming.

The directional pad controls Samus' feet movements, while the stylus prompts a moveable cursor once you touch the screen. Holding the stylus on the screen and moving the cursor with it is how you look and aim. Tapping the screen fires Samus' weapon; obviously the faster you tap, the faster you fire. Holding down the stylus on the screen also charges your weapon. The L and R triggers lock on to a target and the four additional buttons allow you to change weapons. This is quite an innovative and fun way to tackle the control scheme of Metroid Prime.

From a visual standpoint, DS Metroid Prime: Hunters is quite impressive for a portable. It looks nowhere near as pretty as its GameCube counterpart, but is fully 3D and stunningly smooth for a portable FPS. The textures and polygon count look something akin to a N64 port of Metroid Prime if one could imagine such a thing. Even with four players on screen, a bevy of effects, people running around as morph balls and other hardware taxing features, the framerate never stuttered.

As the Nintendo DS creeps closer to launch in Japan sometime this Winter we can probably expect more details on DS Metroid Prime: Hunters. As is, the multiplayer demonstration was very promising and hopefully indicative of how developers will take advantage of the touch screens.

Will Federman
Staff Writer, Kikizo.com

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Metroid Prime Hunters
E3 2004: Direct feed gameplay (640x480, 1Mbps)
0.33m 4.23 MB WMV

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