Boomerang's Ratings and Reviews
Project Base 0.7.3 by begrimed [SM Improvement], rated by Boomerang on Jun 01, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
104% in 2:10
Not much to say here: it's Super Metroid, but with a bunch of stuff added to make the experience a little more seamless and fun. The physics are re-worked to make things a little less clunky, and there are plenty of new connecting passages that expedite moving around greatly. Other areas have been expanded and the cookie-cutter save rooms have been remodeled into rooms that actually fit the environment they are located in. Many of the more nebulous power ups are located in much more simple locations, which can either be a positive or a detriment. Moving Missile Packs that are randomly located in the walls (in particular, the turtle room in Maridia and the left-most shaft after the power bomb floor in Norfair) is great, since those power ups were originally in silly, nonsensical locations. However, some may find it a little too easy. That being said, the new locations lend themselves to a great speedrun and I had a blast... blasting my way through this game!

The most major thing of note, of course, is the game-wide palette changes. Grime has mentioned that he went overboard on the warm colours, a sentiment I have to agree with. Brinstar and Norfair are both dominated by warm, washed-out palettes that give the hack a really homogeneous look. Adding a bit of variety will go a long way in making a more pleasurable experience.

That all being said, there's not much to complain about. It is, at its core, Super Metroid as we know and love it, but better--and we adore that game!
Hyper Metroid by RealRed [SM Exploration], rated by Boomerang on May 08, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 7:50
Overall, this is one of the greatest Super Metroid hacks out there. The map is well designed, if a bit tedious to get from one end to the other (particularly in Norfair). The graphics are quite pleasing to look at and the room designs take full advantage of the different colours project base offers. The item progression doesn't leave you searching for most items for TOO long (with the exceptions being the Super Missiles and the Power Bombs), and the Plasma+Spazer is definitely neat. You can tell a lot of love went into making this hack.

Perhaps my favourite part about the hack, however, is that it's well-balanced in terms of difficulty. A lot of hacks like Redesign and the original Eris (which I consider to be more difficult than Eris 2012) punish the player for exploration with enemies that shave off massive chunks of damage. There are enemies like that in Hyper Metroid, particularly in Maridia if you mockball across the bridge you're intended to use the Spring Ball's speed ball mechanic. However, they're not too extreme and are meant to be light pushes in the right direction without hampering exploration. In Eris 2009 and Redesign, most enemies hit hard anyways and tough enemies were placed in easy-to-access locations that most players would naturally come across.

The atmosphere is mostly similar to Super Metroid, though the new tiles in "Lower Norfair" or rather Ridley's Lair, lend themselves to a Phazon Mines sort of feel, which is great. I love when hacks strike out on their own in terms of atmosphere and separate themselves from Super Metroid--Eris is a standout example of this--though Hyper Metroid is supposed to be evocative of the original, and it's no big deal either way, so it's no harm done.

As for my criticisms, well, they're nothing too major. My biggest criticisms lie in how unintuitive the Project Base Speed Booster mechanics are, particularly in how you can essentially reverse and slow down your boost with the spin jump. It still doesn't make much sense to me and I had to look up a solution for a particular room because I still didn't understand the new mechanics fully at that point, though I knew something was up when I could sometimes slow down my charge. I don't recommend taking this out because I imagine it's integral to many skips and sequence breaks (especially if you're brave enough to take down Ridley early), but I'd put some effort into making the mechanics more well-known, as they're easy enough to understand once the player is told. I don't know how I'd solve this issue myself, personally, though I'd definitely change up the room in which you get the Speed Booster to more properly teach the player how to use it.

The Spring Ball is handled a bit better, though it does have some of the same issues. I personally had no problem learning them, but other players have. I'd personally change the name of the item itself, as "Spring Ball" essentially makes Super Metroid veterans (the only people playing the hack) think "oh, this will let me jump as a ball!" and nothing else. Giving it a different name will make players think "Oh, there must be some new functions to this thing!" Maybe "Hyper Ball" would work? In fact, I'd do the same with the Speed Booster--maybe something like the "Speed Unit" or the "Kinetic Engine" or something weird. Something that will inform players that the mechanics are different in some respect. Maybe even button prompts like the backflip, despite their heavy-handed nature, would be good.

Other than those, my complaints are minor; Draygon sucks as a boss and the bullet hell projectiles plus Draygon's mechanics don't really combine very well... plus all the graphical glitches. Getting 100% items was a bit tedious, but such is the completionist life. Certain doors should also be notated on the map; it's fine once you actually enter them, but there is an abundance of doors you simply cannot enter until you either collect the right power up or access them from the other side and they're not notated at all on the map. For example, the power bomb door in upper Brinstar that leads to a gate switch can only be opened with Power Bombs, but on the map there's no indication of a door in that room. This is a minor complaint, but addressing this would just cut down on the tedium. Finally, I'd say that there is an overabundance of locked doors for me, personally. I realize this is not easily fixed and is meant to section off certain parts of the map for later exploration, but it's still a bit disappointing to explore a bit, only to be stopped by a gray door.

Overall, I'd give this hack a 5/5. It's fantastic, but has a few issues that can be ironed out in a later release. Great work!
SM Redesign: Axeil Edition by Drewseph [SM Exploration], rated by Boomerang on May 30, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
75% in 12:51
Okay, so... Super Metroid Redesign: Axeil Edition. I will preface this by saying that I have played the original Redesign and that I got to Tourian, but stopped due to school work piling up and other life things getting in the way. I should probably finish it to complete the Redesign legacy. I played version 1.4. I will also say that I'm not the greatest Super Metroid player; my any% PB for Super Metroid is 1:00 (in-game time), though that's just playing as fast as I can with my preferred though sub-optimal route without any actual practice. I've also completed Eris 2009 and 2012 Editions (my run through 2009 edition was on a keyboard!), Hyper Metroid and Stardust. I've also gotten a fair bit through Impossible and I Wanna Be the Guy. My PB for Guacamelee! 100% is 3:56:41 playing casually after having left it on for 30 minutes to eat dinner. At the time I completed it, it was ranked 43rd on the leaderboards.

It sounds like I'm (undeservedly, I admit) tooting my own horn at this point, but this is all to say that while I'm not the greatest Metroidvania-type player, I'm not bad. I'd venture to say I'm pretty good, actually, so no one can say "oh, you just suck at Metroid, then" if I bring up any criticisms of the challenge of the game (of which there are many, but more on that later).

Also, for the sake of simplicity, I'm going to refer to this version of Redesign Axeil as simply "Redesign." So, without further ado, on to the review!

I will begin by saying that I honestly overall enjoyed this hack. There are a lot of things to love about Redesign that I feel people aren't giving enough credit for because of all the other stuff weighing down the hack.

* The world is absolutely gigantic and methodically crafted; it's abundantly clear that years worth of time and effort went into creating a sprawling, gigantic world that is both intimidating to look at on the map screens and beautiful to experience when playing. This is to say that clearly no effort was spared when creating this gigantic piece of work.
The subtle changes to the tilesets also assist in creating an immersive world, to the point that Redesign looks leaps and bounds better than the original game. Everything looks like it makes sense, every tunnel looks natural and every structure looks like it was built onto the world in ways that just make sense.

* There are a lot of neat ideas, such as the new auto-morph mechanic which is a blessing for players troubled with the new physics, though there are definitely some tunnels that the auto-morph doesn't work in.

* The gravity is also less punishing, with horizontal jumps being made easier and Samus not falling like a rock the moment she reaches the apex of her jump.

* Shinesparking is made a little easier, as horizontal shinesparking in the original Redesign and vanilla Super Metroid was finicky and tough to accomplish.

* Auto-walljumping is also great as it does prevent hand cramps.

* The auto-map system has been ridiculously improved! This is probably the best map system of any Super Metroid hack out there. I'd be happy if every hack from hereon out incorporated some version of this map system; it prevents clutter, makes doors easy to spot, and is overall an incredible addition.

* The hint system is wonderful. It prevents a LOT of aimless searching and streamlines the game. I've heard of previous versions not incorporating hints for some of the Chozo Guardians, which is baffling to me. However, 1.4 did fix those issues.

* The endgame statistics screen is very neat and a nice way to cap off the adventure.

* Manual scrolling was a nice feature. The are unfortunately many places within the original Redesign that have you jumping blindly into enemies because they're too far below screen, but Axeil makes it somewhat more tolerable with this system. That being said, this feels more like a safety net for bad room design rather than a good mechanic in and of itself. Players shouldn't need to stop and look down for a couple of seconds when you could just structure the room in a way that players can see all they need to see at all times.

* The nameplates for the areas is a NICE touch. I suggest adding more in there in future editions! So far, I count: Crateria, Crateria Depths, Brinstar, Norfair, Lower Norfair, Maridia, Tourian Access and Tourian. There could definitely be more added in, especially in Brinstar and Maridia. One of my favourite parts of Metroid Prime is that every room has a NAME, which lends an identity to each area.

* Quicksand doesn't suck ass anymore. Thank god!

* Exiting water without the Gravity Suit is actually possible in this version! HUZZAH!

* The optional Hell's Run is very much appreciated. While the Hell's Run was something of an iconic moment of the original Redesign, it was the source of incredible frustration due to death pits and there being absolutely no room for error on the player's part.
The early Power Bomb challenge is very neat. I won't say much more about it due to not having attempted the challenge, but it's still a very cool feature.

* Speedbooster and Power Bomb blocks staying destroyed even when exiting a room is great!

* The idea to weaken Ridley's health in Ceres to aid in your fight against him in Norfair was a very cool idea... HOWEVER... I will go into why it's super bullshit later on.

* The express elevators are a nice addition, which helps cut down on the backtracking somewhat. However, I didn't make much use of them myself because I honestly forgot where they would go and would rarely take me to where I needed to go if I did remember where they went. Maybe notating them on the map somehow would help?

AREA SPECIFIC

* CRATERIA: The early Power Bomb challenge is very well presented. There are subtle environmental cues to show which trip wires won't set off the alarm, which is a neat addition.
* BRINSTAR: Honestly, Brinstar was my absolute favourite part of the hack, especially Red Brinstar. Sidehoppers always will suck, and the Mega Sidehoppers taking off more than an Energy Tank is bullshit, but I still enjoyed it immensely.
* NORFAIR: Not much to say, as it didn't feel too different (though I admit I played Redesign a couple of years ago), though the added save points is a plus. Also, and I don't know exactly how to quantify this, but the Grapple section in Norfair wasn't as much of a nightmare, thank god.
* MARIDIA: Quicksand isn't stupid shit anymore.
* TOURIAN: Despite my outburst in my previous post, Tourian does have some neat ideas. The idea to destroy Zebetites to deactivate lasers is definitely pretty cool, though I'd totally scale it back a bit with how extreme it is. It's a well-crafted location... even if tedious.

The hack definitely feels more accessible this time around, with enemy damage being taken down and health drops being buffed (small energy now heals 10, and large energy heals 25). The additions really help new players ease into the game and I will definitely say that I had more fun at the beginning of the hack than I did in the original Redesign.

Now, all that having been said...

I have quite a few criticisms with the hack. As many people have vented their frustrations to you in this thread, which will always be a tough pill to swallow, I won't go full rage mode or anything.

* The physics, while made better, are still annoying to deal with. The most important question you should ask yourself when creating a game or making a hack is "what does this bring to the table?" For example, what do the heavier physics bring to the table? You mentioned in your readme for the original hack that they add a sense of unfamiliarity, which might be true to an extent, but I still felt like I was playing Super Metroid, anyway. After that, they just lend a sense of frustration to players trying to navigate the often tight, methodically constructed rooms and maps of the game. Another member mentioned that they'd have more fun if the original physics were present, which is a statement I'm going to support. Also, as an aside, you mentioned in the original hack's readme that your decision to add in the heavier physics was supported by a Pirate Data Entry in the Logbook which states that Tallon IV and Zebes have similar masses... but, you don't jump as high in Metroid Prime, and if you adjust for that I think you'd find that Tallon IV and the original Super Metroid Zebes do have similar gravity. Just something to keep in mind.

* Similar to the different physics, why was the crumble jump removed? I know crumble jumping allowed players to circumvent your puzzles, but wasn't that part of the reason why people liked Super Metroid in the first place? The important thing to note is player agency here, in that in Super Metroid you're given all these different options as to how you can approach the game. It lends a sense of replay value that isn't found in other games that Metroidvanias excel at. I know it sucks to work super hard on a puzzle just for people to ignore it in favour of a different solution, but sometimes the developer must make concessions for the players: Miyazaki of Dark Souls fame speaks of this in an interview in which he says that despite there being sequence-breaking bugs in his games (I think the skip in questions is the skip to the Adjudicator in Demon's Souls' Shrine of Storms 1), the fact that they add something to the game and become a part of its identity is something that must be considered or even kept in when designing games in this era in which we can patch out bugs and the like. Totally restricting player agency like that is BOUND to frustrate players, and strips Super Metroid of something that helped make it so loved in the first place.

* Similarly, why the heck did you make arm-pumping slower, dude?!

* The Morph Ball rolling speed is way, way too slow. I realize you wanted to give an added benefit to getting the Hi-Jump Boots, but why? What purpose did it serve? The fact that you can jump higher and while in a ball is reward enough. The default rolling speed should be the speed you have with the Hi-Jump Boots equipped, because as it stands it's just tedious.
Those Morph Ball maze tunnels also suck the big one. You know, the ones where you need to make these incredibly tight jumps or else you risk falling onto a crumble block (which, need I remind everyone, you can no longer jump out of and save yourself losing a shit-ton of progress). I'll admit I save-stated the HELL out of those sections to save myself the immense frustration. And, to add insult to injury, you're given measly rewards like 2-Missile Packs once you've completed them.

* That brings me to my next point, which is also true of the original Redesign. The different sizes of Missile packs, while a neat idea, don't add much but frustration to the game. Early on, you're forced to deal with criminally low Missile levels which makes the player farm for ammo, which is never a good thing. This combined with those fucking Purple Doors, makes resource management all the more tedious.

* Purple Doors. Why, Drew? What do they add to the experience? People were never really big fans of the 5 Missile Doors in Super Metroid and the addition of 1 Missile Doors in Zero Mission was universally praised, so why make it even more extreme and tedious? Again, you have to ask yourself what Purple Doors bring to the table. Missile Doors are basically locks to prevent the player from exploring until they have the appropriate power up, this case being the Missiles. While maybe having one Purple Door might be good to force players to explore and find the appropriate amount of missiles, there's like a fucking million of them in the hack. Super Missiles also fire more slowly, so you're forced to sit and wait for longer than what is reasonable to open these damn doors. I say take them out and replace them with 5 Missile Doors or Power Bomb doors or whatever. Or, even better, 1 Missile Doors!

* Early Energy tanks have been moved around, creating a shortage of them pre-Hell's Run.

* Which reminds me, why do Supers fire slower? Supers were already made somewhat pointless by Charge+Ice+Wave+Plasma totally out-damaging them, so lowering their firing speed is just a totally ridiculous nerf. Maybe if they were godlike like they are in Zero Mission would this be an okay decision, but here it's just silly. They're totally useless, after a certain point.
The shot block that looks like a bomb block is stupid and only serves to confuse players. There's no reason for its inclusion.

* Crateria Depths was increased? Why? WHY? It's easily the worst part of pre-Tourian. Underwater suitless isn't challenging or fun, it's just annoying and tedious. And why the heck did you keep it as part of the escape sequence?! Again, you must ask yourself what it brings to the table. Fighting the Elite Pirates was the only interesting part of it all.

* The abundance of Morph Ball Tunnel Puzzles. I like them as much as the next guy, but there's just too much. Add in the fact that many of them need double bomb jumping, and you have yourself many needlessly tedious sections of the game that could have easily been much more enjoyable had they been designed with reducing tedium in mind.

* The Speed Booster escape killed me like 4 times because of the incredibly tight window you're given to escape. You need to have a perfect run or else you're toast. After the vertical shinesparking section, if the lava gets too high you simply cannot escape. Make it so that you can escape even if you're stuck in the lava at that point.

* The Screw Attack puzzle is a bit too nebulous for my tastes. I had to look up the solution because I honestly never noticed that the switches ran on timers with differing lengths. This puzzle, along with the Lost Caverns, is easily the most "esoteric" for lack of a better phrase of the puzzles in Redesign. It's certainly a neat idea, but it will be the source of endless frustration for the vast majority of players unless this problem is addressed. The thing is with Metroid puzzles is that the player is taught to look for environmental cues and hidden passages and the like to discover items, and this is also true for the rest of the hack. However, the Screw Attack puzzle throws all preconceptions and intuitively-thought mechanics out the window in favour of a puzzle that will frustrate people. Players can easily miss out on the cues already given by not noticing a mere ONE SECOND of different between two separate switches. I realize you don't have problems with this puzzle, Drew, but that's because you created it.

* Fucking sandfalls in Maridia. They're just there to frustrate you and prevent you from reaching Botwoon early, the latter of which is absolutely fine, but did it have to affect the rest of the hack?

* Other than that, Maridia was honestly just kind of boring. Power ups were super scarce in comparison to other areas, especially Brinstar, and the enemies were damage sponges which would have been totally alleviated had we been given the Beam Combo earlier, but alas.
Why was the Plasma Beam kept until after Ridley? At that point, all you need to do is hunt down the Guardians and enter Tourian. There's just not much use for it outside of those instances. There's just not much to use it on aside from the Space Pirates in Tourian. Make it so that you can use it against Ridley, at least!

* Ridley's boss battle in Norfair. Attacking Ridley on Ceres was a SUPER cool idea, but your little readme neglected to mention that he'd deal more damage as a result. He shouldn't be taking off 3 energy tanks worth of health, god dammit. Either take out the damage buff or at least mention it in the readme before unsuspected players get gored on a totally bullshit and grimy trick.

* Acid. Now, this is a bit of weird point because I played 1.4 which cut back on the ridiculous damage given by Acid in favour of a suit integrity damage system, but it brings to mind a sort of cognitive dissonance that always pops in my mind whenever I think about Axeil: for a hack designed to be more accessible, why are there so many mechanics that are harder for the player?

* And now... for the big one. Tourian. Oh my gosh, Tourian. This was easily one of the least enjoyable experiences I've had playing a Metroid hack. I was not fucking ready for Tourian. No amount of trials and tribulations could have prepared me for the sleeping beast that lied dormant until I awakened those twelve fateful Chozo Guardians. Now, I realize I played version 1.4 which apparently cut back on the Metroids outside of the Ffff-ffEEEEDIng PIT aREAs... sorry, my rage peeped out for an instant. I'm sorry about that! Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, Tourian. As stated before, disarming the lasers was a cool idea, but it was pretty darn extreme. It's just super tedious, which you say is intentional but again you must ask yourself what the point of the tedium is. If you're designing a hack made to be more accessible, why would you deliberately design something more tedious? It's another sense of the cognitive dissonance I was talking about, and others have touched on this as well.

* The mega uber death lasers are a bit much. Tone down the damage because falling into one or jumping into one is instant death. Just make them a solid block that takes of a chunk of damage instead of sapping your health 300 HEALTH A FRAME.

* THE METROIDS. Ooooooooh man, the Metroids. I will admit I was pretty jazzed getting into Tourian as I honestly enjoyed myself despite all the criticisms I had for pre-Tourian sections of the game. I honestly, truly enjoyed myself, despite all the railroading and the blatant hate for sequence breaking and letting the player find their own route through the game, but then the Metroids attacked. The earth cracked and the sky shook with the ferocity of their attacks. I was emotionally spent after having completed the hack, and by golly god damn holy crap did those Metroids ever take a toll on me. There are just too much, they are too plentiful, they aggro from too far away, they hunt in these fucking packs, they take too much to get off, they're too fast, Supers are way too slow, they're too relentless, holy shit oh my gosh why

* THE FEEDING PIT. Wait! Let me... let me collect myself. I'm sorry, bad memories. Anyway, yes, the feeding pit. That feeding pit is the worst part of the hack, easily. I yelled, I was frustrated, it took forever, I had to make multiple trips out of Tourian and to my ship in Crateria to efficiently farm all that health back, and why did you put it in? Why did you put the feeding pit in a hack designed to be more accessible for players? WHY?! DREEEEEWWWWWwww... Anyway, yeah, they're a pain. Why do they dodge? Why do they take less time to freeze? Why don't Power Bombs work at all? Why do you need to kill them in an insanely fast amount of time? I got lucky and the Metroids decided to stay stunned for longer in the final feeding pit area, which was the sweet song of seraphim heard in my lover's bosom to me at that point, but AGAIN I must ask why it's included in a hack that's designed to be more accessible. If this was a challenge hack, great! Mission accomplished! However, neither this nor the original Redesign (though it's to my understanding that the Metroids weren't this insane in the original hack) were designed to be challenge hacks. In fact, as I've brought up doubtlessly countless times at this point, Axeil Edition was designed to be more accessible! So why, man? Why?

So, after having given an all-too-large bullet point list of my likes and dislikes of the hack (though I'll admit that I probably forgot a lot of stuff, though I feel others have stated their criticisms enough to cover the ones I forgot), I'll finish with my closing thoughts. I will restate that despite my criticisms, I still had fun with this game. There's