Do you feel you've stayed true to the Metroid series' roots with Hunters?
Richard Vorodi: At the heart of Hunters is Metroid. We've got that DNA in there. The fans don't need to worry. What we are doing is taking the series in a new direction. A comparison I like to make is with Mario Kart. That has the DNA of Super Mario in it - the shells, the jumps, the characters - but it's something very different. Hunters is kind of like the Mario Kart version of Metroid, although we're a lot closer to the roots of the series.
So aside from the control method and the multiplayer, what is the big new gameplay addition to Hunters?
Richard Vorodi: Samus is not alone anymore. She has six bounty hunters after her. That's something that's never been in the series before. So when the game starts Samus is powered up to the maximum, because she can't afford to have to augment her suit as the game goes on. She still has things to find, but her primary goal now is to survive. To do that she'll need to find extra weapons, because rather than her getting stronger it's the other bounty hunters who are powering themselves up to take her out.
Give us some examples of how the Hunters will try to take Samus out...
Richard Vorodi: The theme we're going for with Hunters is that sometimes Samus is the Hunter, and at other times she is the hunted. First I should say that Samus will rely on her ship a lot more than ever before in the series. She'll use it to fly from planet to planet, and she'll be doing that a lot. Each of the six bounty hunters is on a different planet. As you explore these planets you'll often run across the bounty hunters, at which point you might want to hunt them down and take them out. Of course, there will be times when you're exploring a planet and a bounty hunter will try to take you out, so you'll have to watch your back.
When the DS launched it came bundled with a demo version of Hunters. How proud were you to be right there at the forefront of a new piece of hardware?
Kensuke Tanabe: [Laughs] Oh, it was very tough! The DS itself was designed under very strict schedules, so to put a piece of software in there that would be ready at launch was a very tough thing to do! But at the same time it was a great honour and if it proves to be a successful game, it will be a great boost for my team. They need it, they have worked so hard!
Richard Vorodi: On a personal note, I missed every big summer movie last year working on the demo! But when you think about it, every Nintendo system has had games bundled with it. When I got my first NES when I was seven it had Super Mario and Duck Hunt in there. Then there was Tetris with the GameBoy and Super Mario World with the SNES. There's this whole legacy of bundled titles, and to be part of that is a huge honour. Everyone who has worked on Hunters feels like that.
It was really used as a showcase for the DS and its new capabilities...
Richard Vorodi: Yeah, that's something we're very proud of. I think any developer given the opportunity to define a new piece of hardware would have worked as hard as we have.
And do you think you'll satisfy gamers who loved the demo version of Hunters with the finished game?
Richard Vorodi: We wouldn't put it out if we didn't. We're our own hardest critics and we know that you just don't mess around with a franchise like Metroid. We're confident that anyone who loves the series will be completely satisfied with Hunters.
Metroid Prime Hunters will be available on DS in October