- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Here’s a look at some out-of-this-world software that’s available:

Metroid Prime Hunters, by Nintendo for DS, rated T: Animated blood, violence, $39.99. “Bounty hunters. We don’t need that scum,” said the now deceased Admiral Piett from a galaxy far, far away. Usually I concur, except in the case of my favorite video-gaming mercenary, who returns in a first-person shooter that offers a single-player adventure and generous multiplayer experience for Nintendo’s dual-screen hand-held system.

In her latest saga, the space bounty hunter Samus Aran agrees to explore the Tetra Galaxy and find eight octolith relics that unleash the power of an ancient race. Unfortunately, she has some unwelcome competition; specifically, six other bounty hunters who wish to ruin her mission with their own complement of firepower and transformation capabilities.

As Samus, the player uses a new interactive system to, much as in her other games, scan items to archive their information, open doors, blast creatures and battle those nasty hunters while traveling to a quartet of worlds.

The bottom DS screen acts as a radar, menu-selection area and a place to drag the stylus pen to move Samus’ current weapon or Scan Visor to target an item. A tap with the stylus on an appropriate box will change weapons or transform Samus into her famous Morph Ball (to enter tight places), while a double tap will cause the hunter to jump.

For those with big hands, manipulating the DS controls will be a painfully cramped endeavor. With the hand that does not wield the stylus, the center part of the index finger will be needed to fire or scan a weapon using the DS’ shoulder trigger while the thumb uses the directional pad to move around.

Once the finger-fumble exercise has been mastered, the game does a great job of placing the player in multilayered environments and always keeps him busy with platforms to climb, ammo and upgrades to collect, and various pests to eliminate. If a player finds an octolith and loses it to another hunter, he must pursue the thief, defeat him and retrieve it, even if the chase takes the player to another planet.

Although the single-player adventure will be enjoyed by most, the repetition of the octolith quest may cause the Metroid expert in the family to frown.

He will cheer right back up in the multiplayer arenas, however, as up to four players can share a single cartridge (everyone plays a Samus) to fight one another individually or in teams. Additionally, the WiFi-enabled player can join three of his buddies (each with a game cartridge) anywhere in the world with a hot spot to select from any of the seven bounty hunters in seven styles of matches.

Event Horizon, Paramount Home Entertainment for DVD-enabled computers and home entertainment centers, rated R, $19.99. Director Paul W.S. Anderson, who made a name for himself by transforming video games such as Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil into movies, made a film back 1997 that would have made a great first-person shooting game.

Despite its woeful lack of return at the box office in its initial release, the science-fiction/horror splatterfest has been turned into a two-disc DVD set. It must be a mysterious cult following that willed Paramount to revisit the movie and expend this much effort.

The discs offer the film and an involved selection of extras that have production staff meticulously remember the experience.

For those unfamiliar with the film, the rescue crew aboard the Lewis and Clark in 2047 attempt to investigate the return of the Event Horizon, a spaceship with the capacity to create black holes and travel nearly anywhere in the universe, including a fun spot called Hell.

An optional commentary track by Mr. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt accompanies the film and sheds plenty of light on what went right and wrong with the filmmaking process as well as why fans will never get an extended cut of the flick.

A second disc is loaded with memories that reinforce the commentary track through nearly two hours of recent interviews that will amaze the viewer as it presents the staff’s passion for the project as well as just how much effort went into a 95-minute film. The few devotees of “Event Horizon” will appreciate Paramount’s efforts.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; or send e-mail (jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com).

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