Sunday, June 14, 2015

Super Metroid Hacks

Today I'll be looking at six Super Metroid hacks that I've had laying around for the past few years: Metroid Redesign, Another Super Metroid, Super Metroid Battle, Metroid Legacy, Metroid Reverse, Metroid Limit, and Super Metroid Justin Bailey Hack. I'll be playing each one until I reach an impasse - whether it be a boss fight or a dead end - or otherwise don't feel like continuing. I'll rank each one on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being "as good as Super Metroid" and 1 being near-unplayable. Anything over 7 is probably worth checking out.




 First up is the grandfather of all Super Metroid hacks, Metroid Redesign. This one is pretty legendary and got a lot of attention at release. The space station is pretty much the same as the normal game (which seems to be the case with a lot of hacks, I guess that area is tougher to edit), but things look very different right away once you land on Zebes.

The game does a good job using gates and various impassable objects in order to funnel you in the right direction, which is great because the maps are entirely different from the original game. It pretty much has you descending into caves right away. Reminds me a lot of Metroid II.

The Morph Ball is in a totally different spot. This definitely feels like a real redesign so far.

Crateria has a totally different layout. A few interesting changes here, like discovered-but-unreachable-as-of-yet bird statues having map icons. Maridia is also oddly close to the beginning, at least in terms of map presence.

The first enemy is one of those endless-spawning beetles. Weird. These things are much more necessary to farm than in the original game; the game gives you very limited missile ammo at first and lots of things you need that ammo for.

Case in point, there are red doors everywhere. I actually found myself more or less trapped at one early point when I didn't have any missiles left and nothing to kill to farm more. They went a little overboard with the red doors. At least these doors are actually red; in Super Metroid they were a weird pink. Red is more faithful to the rest of the series, as missile-doors have been red since the original game.

A save point and an elevator in the same room? Interesting. This is the first save point that I've found. Gives this room a "chapter changeover" feeling. Weird that I didn't fight any bosses in Crateria. Don't have Bombs either.

The elevator looks very different and it's clear the developers made some effort with re-texturing.

I've noticed that Redesign is heavy on large, open rooms. It gives things an open-world feel until you realize that most of these rooms are still just two-way hallways.

I reach an impasse as I find myself in an area with no escape. It looks like I should wall-jump to get out, but wall-jumping seems to be disabled. The jump controls in general are different from the original game; you fall a lot quicker in this version. It's more like the Game Boy Advance Metroid titles in that regard. Morph ball also feels slower. All in all, I don't really like the control/physics changes in this hack, but it still looks pretty decent. It accomplishes what it set out to do, and that's restore the mystique and exploration to the game world as if we were playing again for the first time. 7 out of 10 for this one.

Next up is Another Super Metroid. This has a lot more dead scientists in the first area.

The overworld seems mostly the same, only re-designed slightly. This is the theme throughout for this hack: Slight modifications.
Heading into Crateria's tunnels, things get metallic MUCH quicker this time.

There's a helpful ramp installed here for people who remember the energy tank in the ceiling. Getting one of these right off the bat is a nice little perk. 

 Another ramp is installed in the boss room, which lets you blast him with impunity. Apparently he doesn't have the capability to walk up ramps, so he can't actually damage you.

The first strikingly different area from the original game is this vertical passage full of green space pirates. Now you need to go to the bottom and back up and around. Seems like this hack designs everything to take longer.

Exploring Brinstar. This is a blast since there are so many new obstacles to meander around, but the general layout of items and where to go to progress have remained the same.

Charge Beam acquired! Same general spot, only the area is metallic instead of earthy.

I was wondering if this hack was intended for advanced players, but so far everything about it has been easier (just slowed-down). Until this point, where I had to do a wall jump to progress. I don't think you ever needed to wall jump to beat the original game.

I finally get stuck, so that'll do it for this one. I can't progress through here without power bombs (unlike the original game) and I can't go up because there's no way to proceed up there either.

Final verdict on Another Super Metroid: It's pretty much just a reskinned version of Super Metroid, with things generally in the same spots. Takes longer to progress since there are constant obstacles placed in your way. Seems like an alright hack, but didn't grab me. 6/10

Next up is Super Metroid Battle. This one gives you a jolt right away, as the overworld is UNDERWATER. Damn you, global warming!

Said overworld is oddly similar to the previous hack otherwise. I wonder if this was made by the same people.

The Charge Beam is acquired right away. Given the name, I wouldn't be surprised if this hack turned out to be some kind of boss rush.

Morph Ball is acquired in the next room. So far, this hack feels much more like a new game. It throws items at you in rapid succession, then sends you to fight a boss. The areas are very abbreviated.

Brinstar is a bit of a puzzle, as I need to run up and down this hallway to find Bombs and Super Missiles.

Spore Spawn shows up here (no Chozo Statue) as the first boss. Nothing unusual about the fight, aside from the door placement.

It's a lot easier to see the dead hunter outside Kraid's lair. Is he headless? MY GOD.

Kraid himself is the same as always, nothing new here. I thought maybe the steady platforms in his room would be gone or something. Give it time, I'm sure the other hacks will change up the bosses.

I return to the overworld to progress east, and it's all glitched.

The overworld itself is very different in general, and I like exploring it. Probably my favorite part of Super Metroid and I always wished it were bigger.

East of the ship is Norfair, which is now explorable since I got the Varia from Kraid. So far the big challenge here comes from my low health; at this point in the normal game you'd have something like three Energy Tanks.

An interesting maze-type room houses the Speed Booster.

It then FILLS WITH LAVA as I try to escape. This means...

...DEATH. But I'm not ready to stop this one just yet, it's pretty interesting.

More items get heaped onto Samus as I continue towards the next boss.

Crocomire is now a more difficult fight because you have very little footing to make use of. The lava HURTS, too, since health is at a premium.

I actually had 1 health left when I won the fight, but one of the rocks he fired left a 20 health sphere.

MUCH NEEDED ENERGY TANK. Got the grappling beam right after the fight, as opposed to traversing another area for it. This is like Super Metroid Abridged or something.

 Power Bombs are obtained shortly after that, and then I end up in the robot room of the Wrecked Ship. This means...

...Phantoon, secret uberboss of Other M. His room has some new obstacles, but the main problem here is your low health. I lost this fight, and that was that since there aren't save points and I hadn't been using states.

Final verdict on Super Metroid Battle: This is a fun one that is -almost- a boss rush, but not quite. It heaps items on you between fights to prepare you for the next one, and generally gives you a "greatest hits" version of Super Metroid. Also has a few death traps, and generally seems to be for experienced players. Definitely more interesting than the previous hack. Worth checking out. 8.5/10.

 Metroid Legacy starts you off with Samus' ship landing in a sweet docking bay thing. Only problem is you can't get back into it without knowing how to wall jump. Good luck returning to the ship, new players!

If you let the title screen sit, the various demos of the gameplay will run. However, in all of these hacks, the demos have Samus doing the same stuff in the same areas that she did in the demo of the normal game. Since these areas are all different, this means that the demos will show you some interesting stuff, but for the most part you'll just see Samus getting stuck in walls and doing nonsensical movements as she tries to follow programming for what that area looked like in the original demo. Interesting.

Metroid Legacy re-arranges the game quite a bit, giving it a more alien vibe early on. This one is a total remix so it's easy to get lost, but it does a good job guiding you in the right direction.

Little details are added here and there to cool effect, like this thing hanging over the Chozo Statue.

I felt like I was playing Super Metroid for the first time here, as I bombed around to try and find hidden passages in this odd section of bricks. Then I did find one!

Oh boy, what's going to be down here...

A missile! Well, that's cool, I suppose.

Aside from making you explore everywhere, Metroid Legacy also employs some steep drops down vertical hallways.

Spore Spawn fight takes place in a new room, with a plant trap in the floor. I like this. I'm waiting for a hack where the floor is raised so you can't duck under the Spawn; you'd have no choice but to jump over it as it swung back and forth, instantly turning it into a real fight. Alas, it's still pretty easy in this case, since you can ball up in the corner regardless of the plant trap.

Defeat him and the room gets very poopy.

Moving onto better scenery, I'm a big fan of these glass bubble rooms in Norfair.

 I get my first beam. In the original Super Metroid, you'd get this well after the Spazer, so it'd get combined into that beam. Given that the Wave Beam is cool by itself, it's good to see it show up first in one of these hacks. Firing a standard Wave Beam alone gives this hack more of a distinct identity.

One thing I've never been good at is "bombing up", or using bombs to slowly gain ground upwards. For some reason, it has never clicked for me, in this or any game.

Interesting room here. I call it "the zoo".

Speed Booster acquired...in Brinstar of all places. I can't find any obvious use for it near where you get it, though, and I didn't pass anything that required it on the way here...

...so that's it for this one. I ran around for a while, but couldn't figure out what to do next.

Final verdict on Metroid Legacy: I've got a mixed reaction on this one. It was a lot of fun to explore and very well-designed. I like that the Wave Beam is your weapon. It creates a world of its own rather than just following Super Metroid's world layout. I never knew where this one was taking me next or what item would pop up. However, it got confusing fairly quick, and by the time I got the Speed Booster I was just tired. I like this, but it didn't really light my world on fire. Gets a good rating for being so professional-looking, regardless. 7/10

Metroid Reverse is next. The space station has some substantial changes. Did all of the scientists die building a pile of blocks?

I'd like to see the space station get expanded in one of these hacks and get some enemies/items. Seems like it's very underutilized compared to the other areas.

There's a TRAIL OF BODIES leading to Ridley. Nice.

The ship appearance is also altered dramatically, something I figured all of these hacks would do (but this is the first)

The normally-rocky interior of Crateria has been replaced by an unsettling mass of pipes. Creepy and Alien-esque.

The super-long vertical passage that you go up and down near the beginning... is now devoid of platforms! Are they seriously gonna make me wall jump all the way out? I bet I could, but that'd be a workout...

Things happen similarly to the main game, with the alarm turning on. Only difference is that now pink space pirates are mixed in with the silver ones. Can only beat these with missiles, so you better not run out before you take them all down.

Another space pirate is hidden under the floor here (these bricks weren't exposed initially) which took me a minute to figure out. This hack likes giving you hallways that you have to clear to open metal doors, then hiding some of the enemies.

I didn't actually have to scale the vertical passage back up...I had to scale this side-passage back up. Via wall-jumping. It was really challenging given the total lack of room...

Chozo Statue is, as usual, a pushover. Instead of giving this guy a lower ceiling or a ramp, I'm waiting for one of these hacks to give him like 10x more HP and hyper-movement or something.

Going right from the ship actually leads to a fully-accessible area with an energy tank. That is, if you can avoid bumping into these lategame-level crab things that one-shot you. One step forward after entering the room and you're dead; it got me the first time.

This hack actually introduces a new game mechanic: These Spider Ball esque tracks move you along if you touch them in ball form. I wonder if these existed in the code of the original game and just never got utilized?

After the Spore Spawn, I get... the Speed Booster? Interesting. Where could the Super Missiles be?

The side-dash function of the 'Booster is needed to progress here. I don't remember it ever being needed in the normal game.

Even better, it ZIPS YOU ALONG for a really, really long distance. THIS IS SO COOL

The doors here are eye-doors, which apparently get shattered instantly by the Booster Dash. I didn't even know that!

You get a lot of energy tanks early on, and they're all needed to survive the heat in Norfair. That's right, you have to go in there without the Varia.

The Varia itself is found in the room that originally had the Speed Booster. It's hidden under the statue. I barely found it before the heat would have killed me. This hack is exciting, I'll give it that.

I got hopelessly stuck right around the Wave Beam area of Norfair. Yep, this one gives you the Wave Beam first too. Really, it makes a ton of sense to have the Wave Beam be the first beam, since the others substantially alter it. Wave, then Ice, then Spazer. I think the original Super Metroid's only real design flaw was putting the Spazer beam first.

Final verdict on Metroid Reverse: This one had some really inventive usages of the environments and the technology. Lots of very logical puzzles, like the placement of the Varia Suit. It's definitely more difficult than the original game and requires you to use your brain a lot. I wonder why it has that title, though, since there's nothing particularly "reverse" about the game. I thought maybe it'd have me playing backwards or something. Regardless, thumbs up for this one, and I like that again the Wave Beam gets to be the first upgrade. 8/10

Next up is the notorious Metroid Limit. This one is said to be quite difficult. So far, it's nothing out of the ordinary.

AHHH WTF IS THIS

Mocktroids in the space station, insta-death floors, some new graphics...they really went all out with this one. Wow.

I manage to get through the hallway of death, only to encounter a door that won't open. I looked all over the place for a way through, to no avail. Losing via timer sends you back to the beginning. The heck?

BUT WAIT! Die to the insta-death floor instead of the timer, and...

...it starts you at the beginning...in a weird slanted state where one motion in either direction will end the "level". I have no idea what just happened, but I'll take it.

Landing on Zebes, the overworld is completely redone. You don't go left at all in this one, you go right...through some areas that have nothing at all in common with the normal game. This is the first hack that I've tried that really feels like an entirely new game.

The Wrecked Ship is the first area, more or less. The fog that permeates the first part of the game is present everywhere.

This isn't the Wrecked Ship we know, though. It's full of wide-open spaces and unopenable (yet) doors. Looks much bigger than the original zone.

 I find a chamber full of mushrooms leading up to the first item, a Missile set. The inventiveness of these environments is notable; who'd think to use those weird mushrooms in varying heights like this?

Finally, I come to a passage full of lava. The planet still hasn't "come to life" yet, and most rooms up to this point were devoid of enemies. This hallway, though... yikes. This might be the end of the line.

The enemies aren't the problem so much as the lava. One misstep and you're dead, and these platforms are SUPER hard to land on with the ceiling so close.

WHY

Well, that'll do it for me on this one. I think I played just long enough for thoughts, though I'm not sure if it's any kind of "final verdict"...

Final verdict on Metroid Limit:  If the early-game is any indication, Metroid Limit is BRUTAL. It has some very cool visuals, and it's so different from the original that it feels like an entirely new game. The sense of exploration is strong with this one. However, the difficulty is so high that you're pretty much forced to use save states to make any progress, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing. If you're an old pro and want to get destroyed by a retro game, give this one a shot. No rating, because I didn't get far.

Last up is Justin Bailey Hack, which gets a unique title screen. Nice.

 This hack doesn't change the layout of the game at all; it changes Samus. Right from the get-go we see this, as Samus doesn't have her usual helmet on. Prepare for hotness to ensue.
 
Even the flashback scenes have Samus in a swimsuit (known in some countries as a bailey). Forget the Zero Suit, this getup is where it's at.

She's even got the pose from the original NES game here.

Like the last part of Zero Mission, she uses a gun to attack foes rather than an arm cannon. She's also super-cute while jumping. And a redhead, I think. Hoo rah.

If you jump facing left, there's some substantial breast going on. Yes, this is the sexy version of Super Metroid.

One thing I don't like is that her butt looks kinda huge when you're looking to the right. Just seems like a bit much from this angle.

In general, she looks a lot better looking to the left at any given time.

 Morph Ball has a nicer color than usual. I was wondering how they'd handle ball-form with Samus looking different.

The game plays exactly the same, regardless. I can't get enough of these SUPER CUTE JUMPS.

Samus' face is blank, which is weird. Other than that, I'm really impressed with the spritework here. They did a great job with this re-creation of Samus, and the transition between frames as she moves is pristine.

I found this one hack difficult to put down. Knowing where I was going helped to that end. I didn't like her laser-gun in Zero Mission, but I like it just fine here.

Here's a frame of wall jump animation. So much boobs.

Time to battle Kraid! You'd think Samus' defense power might be lowered without armor, but nope, the difficulty is unchanged.

The Varia actually changes the swimsuit (and ball) color from purple to red. That was another question I had, whether or not the costume would change at all with suit upgrades.

Speed Booster is a fun time, as always. A little hotter than usual though.

Yanno, if I were to make a hack of this game, the whole thing would just be an extremely long Speed Booster course.

In synopsis: Redhead In Swimsuit Samus is better than Blonde Zero Suit Samus. They shoulda never changed her look in later games.


The Gravity Suit turns the morph ball into a vibrant blue color. It's actually really beautiful to look at, and I now wish the suit were blue like this in the regular game.

Samus takes in the view. ...and so do we

One more super-cute jump for the road.

Samus beheads Mother Brain with the Hyper Beam!

To my great surprise, the ending was edited slightly to include the new version of Samus as well.

 She un-does her top if you get the best ending (which I did). Hot, but this would be hotter if her right arm didn't VANISH mid-animation. The one real glaring error in a very well-designed hack.

She suits back up and shoots the screen, as is tradition.

Final Thoughts on Justin Bailey Hack: I ended up playing through the entire game with this hack real quick-like (clear time 1:33). Was a fun time. It's Super Metroid with Samus in a swimsuit. TEN OUT OF TEN.
 
 At press time, I learned of the existence of another hack well-worth checking out: Super Metroid Eris by Digital Mantra. I wasn't able to get the patch to work for a review, but I watched a playthrough and it really is an amazing hack. It has a distinct H.R. Giger aesthetic and a huge amount of creep-factor. The environments look like art and utilize the Super Metroid assets in ways I wouldn't even think of. GREAT stuff there, check it out.

2 comments:

  1. Ooh, I do like the colors in Redesign.

    That poop room, not so much.

    Agreed, Wave Beam first is a cool idea.

    Well that last one was certainly something.

    A new Metroid was announced at E3! ...don't check it out unless you want to be sad.

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  2. This was a unique post and I enjoyed your analysis. Would be a good one to share with the people who made these hacks! Looking forward to an encore when you play more of these.

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