Exactly how many bounty hunter games are there anyway? I always imagined that after something as lucratively large as Phantasy Star Online, developers would get with the program and try their hand at creating the next sci-fi obsessive-compulsive item collection and hunting fiasco. Alas, not too many console games since PSO were coveted of those stylistics, let alone no one has done so for handhelds, making Bounty Hounds an ideal candidate to get first dibs on a fresh pool of users.
Though interesting, it doesn't manage to captivate the essence that made other sci-fi hits so good. In fact, it seems to inherit their benefits the wrong way. Phantasy Star Online's item hunting grew into one of this generation's most common addictions before World of Warcraft came along. Bounty Hounds has item looting, but it's not online, completely destroying the main reason which made armor scouring so great. Item looting was all the more worthwhile with friends. And speaking of looting, the game also inherits the whole solidarity aspect of the Metroid series, but in the form of being very very boring with no one else to play with.
Visually, Bounty Hounds is a total toss-up. Character designs as well as npc's and foes look great, but the locations are some of the most snore-inducing stages yet. A whole lot of rock, and a whole lot of dirt spell very short and distanced playtimes for the user. It's either you'll be running through some facility or a really deserted planet with, well, lots and lots of dirt. This leads the game to grow rather tedious since you never really encounter something exciting and when you do, its usually just another lesser minion with a palette swap or another head.
It's the kind of overly complicated rubbish that you would need to really sit down and try to figure out before actually playing.
Cutscenes and character interaction is done in a style akin to the Metal Gear Solid: Graphic Novel, with static character illustrations being swayed back and forth with dialogue popping up on the subtitle bar. It's interesting, but the story sure as hell isn't. It's the kind of overly complicated rubbish that you would need to really sit down and try to figure out before actually playing. So useless that it doesn't really detract from the actual hacking and slashing, removing it of any validity of actually being worth reading.
But all these games amount to is mind-numbingly long hacking and slashing. It's repetitive, but that's what this kind of genre is loved for. And even if you're the type to love these kind of games, it's usually because you enjoyed them with a community, something Bounty Hounds unfortunately lacks. It's a real shame, because the only means of network available is Player versus Player, which ultimately gets old quick and is pointless towards your single player progression.
Item collection is rather simple. Kill something, step on its body and grab the loot. You can search the bodies of enemies you've slain to find useful items worth trading at the local shop or use for yourself. Like in Diablo 2, players must un-identify their loot before it may be equipped. A skill tree is also present to allow the gradual progression of attacks and efficiency.
It seems that no matter which way you look at it, Bounty Hounds is the kind of game that did everything right to turn out great except the first thing it was meant to do – create an addictive online interaction with players. It has a great premise and looks, for the most part, stunning, but it just doesn't deliver. Whether you love the kind of game that requires mass powerleveling or not, the fact that you can't really play with anyone leads the experience to be very disappointing. If only it had some means of network play with several players or more, then it would be a true experience worth rushing to the store for. It's still worth trying out if you're appreciative of the sci-fi scene, but even then, expect some lonely nights slaying away the scum of the galaxy. They say that in space, no one can hear you scream. Ironically, the same applies while playing Bounty Hounds.