Hunters: Relic of Stars PREVIEW
by Polly

Hunters: Relic of Stars is the latest game coming soon from i Productions following the January '08 release of Project Inthri 3. In this sneak preview, we're going back to space in a big way, so get yourself prepared for a journey that's been three years in the making and don't be that one un-cool kid on the block that isn't ready when Hunters finally drops in to change how you think about Flash gaming.

Hunters: Relic of Stars is a fully-featured game, retelling and rebooting the story and characters from 2005's Hunters: Episode 1, a 15+ minute feature animation by Rhete. Though characters and their actions will be familiar to those who have seen it, this time around, things are a bit different and the story of the mysterious "relics" will finally be played out over the course of the game's six stages, each featuring fully-voiced and animated intro, outro, and in-stage cutscenes to move the action-packed space adventure along. The scenes we've (the collective AI that generates the persona of "Polly") seen so far have been nicely animated, and the voice acting, directed by D-Mac, has been superb.

As you may have already deduced from the screenshots, Hunters: Relic of Stars is primarily a 2D action-platformer. Players must guide our heroine Carina through a space station crawling with security drones, embark on a mountain top excursion while fending off various species of dangerous native creatures, get down and dirty in the city sewers all in search of the relics and the secrets they hold. Many more challenges and scenarios await players eager to delve into the depths of this game, but we'll try not to spoil too much.

Hunters most definitely isn't your run of the mill action-platformer, however. While areas may initially seem small and straightforward, as the player progresses, they'll notice that the game's stages are in fact quite large and will require quite a bit of navigation to finally reach intended destinations. A convenient map is included for every stage with goals highlighted to help move the player along, and in a manner similar to say, Metroid, the way you come in may not necessarily be the way you get out. Many times during the game's large and labyrinthine stages, Carina will come across new weapons and upgrades that she'll need to utilize in order to get herself out of a jam and into areas previously inaccessible. With careful stage planning and the implementation of the simple and easy to use map system, you won't ever feel lost for long, but your journey is going to be long and action-packed enough that the hour or more you spend in each of the game's areas will feel worth it.

When she's not jumping around and blastering things in the face during her normal spelunking activities, Carina will eventually gain access to vehicles, such as a jetski or small fighter ship, in order to bat enemy opposition around. These portions of stages test your skills in entirely different ways, taking away that air of familiarity you'd gained up until that point and help to speed things up a bit to keep the game's flow nice and balanced.

Gamers looking for an old-school type challenge will be about as happy as a pig in mud with this game. There are three difficulties to accomodate all types ranging from Easy, which gives the player double health, to Hard, where enemy placement has been completely revamped and bosses' attack patterns are switched up drastically. Pattern memorization and good reflexes are the order of the day in Hunters, so tackling each new challenge the game throws at you will require equal parts brain power and thumb proficiency.

On top of regular gameplay, there are also a couple "Special Modes" which are unlocked after completing each stage, allowing the player to enjoy each portion of the game in entirely new ways. We can't really spoil too much about these modes just yet, but rest assured that it will be completely worth experiencing each stage twice just to see how nutty and challenging these Special Modes can be.

With its colorful presentation, fun cast of characters, easy to pick up and play mechanics, and boat load of fun unlockable modes, Hunters: Relic of Stars is shaping up to be a damn fine game geared toward the old-school, yet still accessible to those who didn't grow up with the likes of Mega Man and Contra. The game will be releasing soon on Newgrounds for the entirety of the interbutts to enjoy, and when it does you can bet that we'll be all over it with a blaster full of new information and full-featured review.

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