Sunday, October 5, 2014

Super Metroid Redesign - Taking It One Step Further

Anyone who knows me or has read my posts knows that I love the Metroid series. To me, the Metroid series is something that deserves more attention from Nintendo, because if you remember correctly, I did play through the awful Metroid: Other M release on the Wii. While it had its moments that I liked, it just didn't do the series justice at all. Sure the beams looked cool as all hell, and fighting some of the bosses such as Ridley and Phantoon as a bonus fight were awesome, but a lot of the core mechanics utterly ruined the game for me.

For one, the Metroid series is all about exploration. Other M does its best to go against that. For example, why in the holy mother of fuck are the upgrades shown on the map? When you reach an area that contains an upgrade, your map will show it. While it does take a little searching to find your way to them, it totally ruins the wonder of finding them on your own. The older Metroid games make you find these upgrades, and while to the hardcore player they aren't necessarily essential for survival, they do make it easier, especially to first time players. Getting your ass handed to you by Ridley because you keep running out of missiles? Go find more missile expansions, or go search for the other energy tanks you haven't found yet.

Other M throws that out the window. There aren't many segments that require backtracking to go get certain items. Some of my favorite parts in Super Metroid involved finding the speed booster upgrade, and then using the shinespark technique to get some expansions you could have missed. It's a cool upgrade that takes some relative skill to use, and feels so worth it when you finally get that last expansion or energy tank.

So worth it
Even Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid Fusion on the GameBoy Advance were far superior to Other M; with the latter being entirely linear in design. In my playthrough of Zero Mission, I do a lot of tricks to get items you normally can't obtain until much later on such as the Screw Attack, which I get roughly ten minutes into that video using bomb jumps. It's actually a really cool thing, because a lot of items are possible to get based on skill instead of glitches, or you know, playing the game normally.

One of the best things Zero Mission and Fusion did was add the ability to chain together shinesparks. In Super Metroid, if you shinesparked into a surface with a slope, you would just blast past it until you hit a wall. Zero and Fusion however, you would continue running with your charge, and if you hit down, you would keep that charge. That meant long segments of charging, sparking, hitting a slope and continuing the charge, ultimately leading to some awesomely clever secrets and items. It was also fun to pull off, and required quite a bit of skill.


Enter Super Metroid Redesign, a ROM hack of Super Metroid for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Made by a user named Drewseph, this hack takes some of the mechanics of Zero Mission and Fusion, as well as Metroid Prime, and incorporates it into arguably the best Metroid game ever made. It's almost an entirely new experience.

For starters, the map is entirely re-done. If you knew Brinstar and Norfair like the back of your hand, this time you won't. The areas are also much larger, and require use of the game map as well as your own due to the many secret passageways you will encounter. It's absolutely amazing, and brings back the sense of exploration that Super Metroid did so well, as well as the atmosphere that honestly has yet to be matched by any game, save for the Metroid Prime series.

Unlike most Super Metroid ROM hacks, this one changes the game play mechanics drastically, and in my opinion, for the better. Gone are the floaty physics of Super Metroid. Instead, we get a more realistic physics system. Jumps are a lot shorter, and fall time is decreased dramatically, as well as incorporating the need to crouch before jumping to jump higher. This takes some time to get used to, but is required if you want to make it further. Gone are infinite bombs as well! This hack incorporates the Metroid Prime style bombs, meaning you get three you can use in succession, and take time to regenerate. Surprisingly, this doesn't hinder bomb jumpers; it just requires a lot more timing and skill to pull off. To the guys that mastered the incredibly easy bomb jumps in Zero Mission, you have a lot to learn here.

Fuckin A!
As well as the physics being changed, gone are the days of walljumping off whatever the fuck you feel like. In fact, the walljump technique isn't even available until you find it, which is the second upgrade you come across. Redesign makes it so surfaces with a rough appearance are the only walls you can jump off, adding to a more realistic idea. A smooth wall won't cut it. Another change lies in the Spring Ball upgrade. Instead of being seperate, it is now combined with the Hi-Jump Boots. Sweet!

Another serious change from Super Metroid is the Beam Combo upgrade. In Super Metroid, any beam you found would just add to the ones you already found. For example, having the regular Charge Beam and then getting the Wave Beam would make you have a charged Wave Beam. Redesign changes this entirely. You'll be switching beams back and forth until near the later part of the game, and even then two beams are not accounted for. This is cool because you feel like you have three classes of beams. You have the Spazer that can be combo-ed with the Charge and Wave Beams, but not the Ice Beam. The Plasma Beam can't be combo-ed with the Spazer, and then you have the regular versions of EACH. A lot of these combos have more use in certain situations, and are a lot of fun to use.

Redesign brings back the shinespark upgrade, and boy is it a lot of fun. Zero Mission had a lot of segments where you could find a lot of upgrades using this technique, but it required a lot of skill. Redesign uses this A LOT. When you start the game, you'll find upgrades right away that aren't accessible without shinesparking. A lot of them will make you question just how in the hell you get them in the first place. For example, before reaching the elevator to Brinstar, you'll come across a power bomb upgrade, but it's behind a 3 block barrier of shinespark blocks. There isn't even an area around to charge up to get to it. Once you figure out the mechanics of shinesparking however, it becomes obvious. This is actually one of the hardest upgrades to get, because you have to start off in Brinstar, charging shinesparks and making it to the elevator, and finally getting to the upgrade. It's fucking tough.

You'll need to master this technique, as well as others such as the mock ball technique and in-air shinesparking to find secrets and advance through the game. It's tough to master, but so fucking worth it when you do. Those secrets are some of the funnest moments of the ROM hack. It's also crazy to know that Drewseph added it, seeing as how Super Metroid didn't have that capability.

As if there wasn't enough, this hack adds another fascinating feature: an actual mission objective. Throughout the game, you'll come across well hidden Chozo statues. Usually these hold the useful upgrades and expansions, but these are much different. When rolled onto, they disable a security lock on the entrance of Tourian, the last area of the game.

The entrance to Tourian in Super Metroid
In Super Metroid, you had to kill the main bosses to open this entrance up. In Redesign, you'll need to kill the bosses, as well as finding ALL the Chozo locks. There are a lot of them too. It's a rather neat feature because it adds an objective AND encourages exploration.

One of my favorite segments of the game is the famous "Hell Run" in Norfair. In Super Metroid, you have the Varia Suit by the time you go into Norfair so you can deal with the extreme heat. Redesign said "fuck you" and makes you run through an intense series of brilliant level design. To begin with, you can't even enter Norfair until you have 3 energy tanks, and that's still cutting it! Without the Varia Suit, your energy is constantly being depleted at a rapid fire rate, so you need to fucking hustle. Not only are you dodging enemies, but there are morph ball tunnels that need to be navigated with perfection, and a section where you must kill respawning enemies with missiles to gain more energy to make it the rest of the way. It's one of the most intense sequences in the whole game and it's also one of the hardest. The best part though? You have to get the Ice Beam at the end of it, and make it back to go get the Varia Suit.

There's a save point halfway through the Hell Run, with a missile station and energy station, and thank fucking God for that because you will need it. This segment renders save states useless, because you don't even have a second to waste saving it. It can get frustrating after a few attempts, so patience is needed. However, this doesn't even compare to Maridia, which is a water themed section much later in the game.

In Super Metroid, you have to go through the Abandoned Ship and fight Phantoon to get the Gravity Suit before going to Maridia so you can move freely in the water. Redesign makes you go through Maridia without it, and not for a small period of time either. On my first playthrough, I spent almost two hours navigating this section. Not only are you seriously limited in movement, but you'll be facing a lot of tough enemies, including two golden space pirate minibosses. It's fucking hard as shit. There are a lot of ways you can go, but eventually you end up finding the Gravity Suit, and it just feels so rewarding as you go back through annihilating everything and finding more expansions. This hack always makes it worth the frustration.

After trekking through Maridia, which is more or less one of the hardest parts of the game, you'll come to the Lost Caverns, which is a total change in atmosphere from Maridia. It's a little creepy at first, seeing as how your map will show a blank spot for this area, because it's the only area that requires a specific way to get through. If you keep running right, you won't get anywhere. Instead, there's a pattern, and it isn't easily noticed at first. To get past, you need to follow stalagmites. Yes, you need to follow fucking stalagmites. I won't spoil it, but it is a pretty neat section and doesn't feel out of place. Think of Death Mountain in the original Legend of Zelda, but much more complicated. Ultimately though, it leads to Phantoon, and is so much more fitting than the Abandoned Ship in Super Metroid. It's fucking creepy.

To anyone that has beaten Super Metroid, and I hope you have because you're seriously missing out if you haven't, you'll know that the fight with Mother Brain is epic and the escape sequence is intense and equally as awesome. Redesign said screw the 3 minute escape sequence, and opted for a fucking 25 minute escape sequence.

Think I'm joking? Here's the whole sequence done by a first time player. Yeah. 25 FUCKING MINUTES to escape. That means you're going through a shit load of the game just to make it to the end, and every minute counts. You won't make it back to the ship with 15 or 10 minutes to spare no... more like 2 or 3 if you're really fast. That's absolutely insane. For the first time player that's quite a daunting task, and failure means fighting Mother Brain again, which is kind of shitty. I honestly prefer the original versus Redesign's fucking 25 minute escape sequence. It's short and sweet, and feels a lot more intense as the clock gets lower and lower. After 15 minutes, you just want to get the fuck out. However, for the first time player, it can be exciting because you're not sure at first what to expect. A great bonus would have been an extra boss, like in Metroid Fusioin where you fight the Omega Metroid before boarding your ship.


In the end, is Super Metroid Redesign worth it? Abso-fucking-lutely. It adds and changes so much of the game, but in positive ways, and ultimately ends up being something entirely different while still offering the fun and wonder of what made Super Metroid great in the first place.While it's much harder than Super Metroid ever was, it's still a blast to play. Out of all the numerous ROM hacks for Super Metroid, this one is my favorite. The features it adds and changes it makes just blows me away. It brought back the enjoyment of when I first played Super Metroid, and that's something I haven't felt in a very long time.

Want to try it for yourself? Get the ROM hack here.



Oh come on, you think I'd stop talking about Metroid now that I'm on a roll? I've got one more ROM hack for you! Let's take a quick look at Metroid on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Enter Metroid LUA on the NES. Using FCEUX to emulate, this ROM hack makes use of the implemented LUA scripting to vastly improve the original Metroid.

For starters, you now have the mini-map that came standard in later Metroid games. To anyone who played the original Metroid, navigating the world was a bitch. A lot of areas look the same, and the map is pretty big for a NES game. This LUA script assists you with that. Another nifty feature is having a map screen as well, with labels for Brinstar, Norfair, and others. It's a really nice feature.

It also adds an equip screen in place of the pause screen. Yes, for the first time in the original Metroid, you are free to equip or unequip your upgrades. This makes exploring a lot of areas much easier. On top of that, you also get text boxes to let you know what upgrades you've found. Instead of the famous tune that plays when you find an upgrade, you get a small text box that shows what it is, just like Super Metroid!

And if that wasn't enough, there's a secret boss. You can now fight Crocomire from Super Metroid in 8-bit glory. You can thank me later.

So, that's a look at two awesome ROM hacks for two of my favorite games. I suggest checking them both out. It's absolutely worth the time.

Samus is always worth your time

No comments:

Post a Comment