Rather than use all the face buttons, character movement and sight-aiming is achieved through a combination of the d-pad (or the circle pad, on my newer 3DS system) and the touch screen—the latter effectively serving as a console's right stick, or a mouse. Shooting is mapped to the left shoulder button, and all weapon switches and Morph Ball activation is handled on the touch screen. It's initially weird, but soon enough pretty natural—another example of Nintendo experimenting with inputs, and making players rethink the physical relationships with their consoles of choice.
This rivalry isn't really made the most of in Hunters' slim story, but the six other characters—who were available to play as in multiplayer matches—do have a vital part to play come the game's climax, he says having read ahead in that respect. I can't say I'll definitely make it that far, but I am enjoying my experience so far, throbbing forearm aches aside.What you definitely won't find in Hunters is any actual Metroids, whatsoever. I'm not sure if that makes it unique in its franchise—probably—but it's another way in which this Metroid stands apart from the Prime series it's spun-off from. It doesn't fit into the Prime continuity at all; it just exists, orbiting the GameCube and Wii releases, this strange satellite of innovation. And it wasn't just forward thinking with its DS control scheme—Hunters was the first Metroid to send Samus to different planets in the same campaign, and it was also the first that included online multiplayer functionality. On a handheld, before a home system. Bold.The shortcomings of Hunters—the cramp, mostly, but there's also repetition to contend with, especially with those carbon-copy boss encounters—won't be replicated by Samus Returns. That's a wholly different experience, one that reflects gaming's obsession with reviving the past but that is also actively looking to engage those excited by the incoming Metroid Prime 4 and who've maybe dabbled in previous Prime series entries.Yet Samus Returns, as great as it looks, is very much As Expected—yes, there are additions, updates, extras, but the game is Metroid as you already know it, for the most part. Hunters on the other hand, back in 2006, really wasn't. Even today, played on a "New" 3DS, you can feel the original ambition spilling from the seams. And on that level, with failures acknowledged, it still commands respect.
Related, on Waypoint: One Man's Decade-Long Quest to Remake 'Metroid II'