If you've got a DS then there's a damn good likelihood that you've played Metroid Prime: Hunters. Like Super Mario Bros. and Tetris before it, Hunters had the proud accolade of coming bundled with a new piece of Nintendo hardware, even if it was only in demo form.
That means that almost every DS owner across the world would have had their first touchscreen, stylus and wireless experience with Hunters. It must have been a pretty nice feeling for Kensuke Tanabe, the man charged by Metroid legend Yoshio Sakamoto to take the series into 3D on Cube and DS, and Richard Vorodi, Hunters game designer at Nintendo of America.
But Hunters was never meant just to be a five-minute novelty, or a throwaway showcase of what the DS could do. The full game is due out this October and promises to be every bit as complete a Metroid adventure as the Cube versions.
In fact, Hunters is adding several new elements to the series. Not only does has the touchscreen control system revolutionized the way you'll play the game and made it more of a first-person shooter experience, the Hunters tagline means that Samus has six rival bounty hunters out to brutally crack open that famous spacesuit.
So to get the lowdown we hooked up with Tanabe and Varoldi to find out if just as many DS owners will be playing the finished version of Metroid Prime: Hunters.
Bringing the Metroid Prime franchise to DS must have been a very important move for Nintendo. How did you approach this challenge?
Kensuke Tanabe: The obvious thing about the DS is that it's handheld, but the Metroid Prime series in the past has always been on GameCube. The first thing we wanted to do was differentiate the DS version from the home console version. One of the DS's most innovative features is the wireless component, which lets players play against each other easily. Of course, if you have four GameCubes together you can do that too, but with the DS it is far easier. So we wanted to focus on the multiplayer battles, but to do that we needed to create rivals for Samus. That's why we came up with Hunters.
What classic elements of the Metroid universe did you want to capture with Hunters?
Kensuke Tanabe: Mr Sakamoto is the creator of the Metroid series and the man behind the legendary 2D versions of the game, whereas I am responsible for the 3D versions. So I will not speak for Mr Sakamoto, but I certainly wanted Hunters to be a strong part of the Metroid Prime series. To this end, I ensured that every aspect of the game would feel familiar to Prime fans. We even had the artistic team from Retro Studios create all the visuals for Hunters so that the flavour would remain the same.
How did you react to the DS when you first saw it, and why did you choose to use the touchscreen for a first-person shooter control method?
Richard Vorodi: When we first got the hardware, before we had even thought about Metroid or anything, we were like 'What are we going to do with this thing?' It was crazy, we knew we could do pretty much anything! We started doing tests with the touchscreen and figured out that the functionality was quite similar to a mouse, so we started thinking about games that were synonymous with mouse control. First-person shooters on PC were the obvious choice. Then we started thinking that we could do a really good FPS with the touchscreen controls. We thought about doing something new but then we thought of Metroid. Hey, we are Nintendo after all, let's do Metroid Prime!