The Galactic Federation intercepted a telepathic message from an uncharted region of the Tetra galaxy known as the Alimbic Cluster. The message told of an “ultimate power” residing in the Alimbic Cluster. Samus Aran was sent to uncover the meaning behind this message and either recover or destroy the “ultimate power” so it does not fall in the wrong hands.
Six other bounty hunters also intercepted the message and are now on the hunt for it as well. Samus has to beat them to the punch at all costs.
METROID PRIME HUNTERS, released in 2006 for Nintendo DS, was both the first portable 3D game and the first online multiplayer-supported game in the series. The game was remarkable for successfully translating the first-person gameplay to the Nintendo DS with its touch-based interface which let players aim by sliding the stylus around on the touch-screen. The online multiplayer was a big focus for this game, going as far as Nintendo bundling an early demo of it with Nintendo DS launch systems, called METROID PRIME HUNTERS: FIRST HUNT.
Its stronger emphasis on combat and multiplayer meant that the game systems itself were kept fairly simplistic compared to other games in the series. As such, Samus received no suit upgrades and had no special sensor other than the Scan Visor. While HUNTERS is considered a spin-off in the main PRIME series, it did introduce the character of Sylux, a rival hunter who will appear again in later entries.
The multiplayer included 26 maps, mostly consisting of areas from the single-player campaign. Seven modes were available, with most of them being interpretations of standard game types such as Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Last Man Standing, or King of the Hill. A mode called Bounty had all players hunt after a single Octolith crystal and Prime Hunt had the player who gets the first kill start to lose life energy which could only be replenished by killing other players.
METROID PRIME HUNTERS was developed by Nintendo Software Technology (NST) with Retro Studios providing some character design assistance for consistency. Masamichi Abe was the game director and Richard Vorodi was responsible for the story and single-player game design. Lawrence Schwedler and James Phillipsen provided the game’s sound design and music. Kensuke Tanabe served as producer for Nintendo SPD.