Foxhound3857's Ratings and Reviews
Super Metroid: Arrival by Jefe962 [SM Exploration], rated by Foxhound3857 on Oct 24, 2016 (Star Star Star Star Star )
95% in 1:57
Ending was pretty lame, everything else was spot on.

Nice custom music too.
SM Redesign: Axeil Edition by Drewseph [SM Exploration], rated by Foxhound3857 on Oct 20, 2016 (Star Star Star Star Star )
89% in 14:49
You traveled: 387,67km
Energy lost: 52,703
Enemies killed: 4,016
Shots fired: 31,442
Doors traversed: 3,279

Before I get into my review, I just want to say thanks to Drew for his hard work in creating this hack. Rarely does a hack go into this level of detail and commitment, and it's clear that Drew has talent when it comes to game design. It was a long and frustrating journey, but even during the painful moments, I enjoyed the ride.

I can also tell that he's a huge fan of Metroid Prime, as this hack contains a lot of elements utilized in that series.

On to the review.

What I liked:

-Absolutely MASSIVE and sprawling overworld that is beautiful to look at and explore, if a little linear at times (surprising considering how huge it is).

-The physics are a massive improvement over the original, and I find it difficult to ween myself away from them when I play other hacks. I've adjusted to them too much, and now I prefer them to vanilla.

-Automated morphing and walljumping is a nice change, helps alleviate some of the frustration factor that was present in the original. Some tunnels don't work, but manually morphing into them isn't a big deal.

-The map system is fantastic. It shows you every possible way in or out of any given room. It gives you good general indicators of where to go without completely holding your hand; often you still have to find the correct path in that area and it isn't always obvious. Similarly, the map remembers where you've uncovered PB and SB blocks, so you can easily find them again when you have the appropriate upgrades. Very nifty.

-Sand and fluid mechanics are far, FAR better than the original. Acid is still extremely dangerous, but not instantly lethal just for touching it. You're given a chance to save yourself. Similarly, I like how Lava damages you more the deeper you fall, and makes it a legitimate threat to get dropped into, one that has to be navigated quickly but carefully if you do. Move quick and stay as high as you can.

-Items are well-hidden and even when you know where they are, the game makes you work for them. I like this to a degree, HOWEVER, there are a few problems I will address in the negatives later.

-Hells Run being an optional thing now is nice, as it was a source of unbelieveable frustration in the original.

-Missiles are actually a valued resource throughout the entire game, and the player is actually encouraged to manage them and seek out expansions whenever possible. Every little bit helps.

What I disliked:

-Item distribution is WILDLY unbalanced, in particular the early and middle game. The order in which you receive upgrades is okay, but the game often gives you either too little or too much to work with most of the time. The biggest issue is the beginning. I understand the need for advancement once you get the two key pickups, but the beginning of the game basically forces the players hand. "Okay, you have Morph Ball and 5 Missiles. Go directly to Brinstar. Do not explore Crateria. Do not collect any expansions." With so much of Crateria already explorable by the time Brinstar is accessible, why does the game do this? For a hack that puts emphasis on the importance of resource management, especially when it comes to Missiles, you don't really give the player anything to work with in the beginning, and being forced to fully reload our pitiful supply after every red door is just tedious, punishing the player for daring to press forward without restocking first. Is it really too much to ask to let us find at least 1 or 2 expansions before going to Brinstar, so we have at least SOMETHING to work with?

The lack of available E-Tanks in the beginning only compounds this. I mentioned earlier that it was nice to make Hells Run an optional thing, but a lot of E-Tanks were moved around to counter-balance this, creating a noticeable shortage of energy in the early game. E-Tanks should be well-hidden and rewarding to find, but more often than not the player is going to run by several of them in the beginning, lying in plain sight, and get frustrated because they won't be able to collect them until later, when they're really hurting for it right then and there.

Conversely, once you lay hands on Power Bombs, the amount of goodies you can collect increases astronomically, completely disproportionate to where the player currently is in their quest. Doubly so once the player lays hands on Speed Booster. You go from having a critical shortage of ammo and energy to an unjustifiable surplus by the time you make the second trip to Norfair. This needs to be balanced better. More available in the beginning, less available in the middle.

-Why do Supers fire so slowly?

-While I didn't mind all the morph ball and shinespark puzzles in the game, there are indeed an unnecessary surplus of them, and some of them are far more difficult than they need to be, at least when you consider the junk rewards you get from most of them (oh yay, another Power Bomb).

-The underwater segment of Crateria was unnecessarily long and frustrating for all the wrong reasons. It's like you want to make us feel ill-equipped and desperate for the next upgrade, and only when we've proven that we don't need them are you willing to give them to us.

-Not being able to jump crumble blocks or short charge only adds to the tedium of some of the games puzzles. One of the things that made Super Metroid so great is how there was often more than one way to solve something, whether it was through walljumping, bomb jumping, short-charging, precisely timed jumps off of crumble blocks, etc. Taking all that stuff away restricts the players freedom and the tools at their disposal to solve problems. It's like you only want there to be "one" way to solve things, like you hate people that sequence break or find alternative solutions or something.

-25 Missile Doors. Way too many of these. Why do these even exist? Often the rooms you find them in contain enemies to refill on, so if the purpose was to ensure the player had met a minimum threshold to crack these in one go, it's often defeated by refills. Even so, these things are just needlessly tedious to crack and only serve to slow the player down. These should be replaced with Power Bomb doors.

-Tourian, while breathtaking in its design, was unreasonably frustrating for a number of reasons. The big one being the zebetites. The mazelike nature of this place was beautiful in its own right, but finding the zebetites to shut down the insta-death lasers was a tedious exercise because the game isn't consistent with its own rules. Spot the blue blocks to find hidden paths to the zebetites, except until later where you need to X-Ray everything to find obnoxiously hidden SB/SM blocks and follow background tilesets to hidden morphball tunnels and hope they don't mislead you. Granted, once I broke through the first barrier near MB things eased up, but it's horrendously misleading and borders on sheer lunacy before that point.

-The Metroids. Where do I even start with these things. I played 1.52 which supposedly has the easier versions, but they are still terrifying little beasts. They move like greased lightning, they hunt like raptors, they barely stay frozen long enough to do anything about them, they ignore Screw Attack, they DODGE BEAM SHOTS, and you have to kill all three of them on screen before they respawn to unlock some doors, which is unintuitive and, quite frankly, just horseshit given how obnoxious these things are. These might not have been so bad if Supers fired a little faster, but often they don't stay frozen long enough to kill them all with the rate that Supers fire at. The only semi-workaround is to not touch refills to delay the respawn as long as you can, but even then these rooms require some very precise execution to get through. I understand what you were trying to do with the Metroids, but you just...overdid it. They're completely overwhelming the way they current stand, and I would not blame anybody for giving up at this point.

What can be improved:

-Distribute items more evenly throughout the game. Give the player more to work with in the beginning, at least more than a measly 5 missiles before Brinstar.

-Fewer morphball and shinespark puzzles, or at least tone down the difficulty on some of them. The one in Maridia involving multiple rooms of carrying a charge is just lunacy.

-Eliminate some of the games tedium. Remove the purple doors, remove or shorten the underwater journey to the Gravity Suit, make Tourian a little easier to figure out so the player isn't aimlessly wandering for hours trying to find super-hidden routes to zebetites blocking progress.

-NERF THE GODDAMN METROIDS!

Final score: 4/5. There's quite a few bad things in this hack, but the good is often enough to outshine it. It just needs to be balanced better.
Super Metroid: Z-Factor by Metaquarius [SM Exploration], rated by Foxhound3857 on Oct 24, 2016 (Star Star Star Star Star )
86% in 9:47
Fun hack and well-designed in terms of combat, tiling, and the overall size and layout of the world, but frustrating as all hell because of the Milon's Secret Castle-esque style to it. It shouldn't be so convoluted to find the intended path forward. Lower Norfair was obnoxious in this regard, almost every room required an unintuitive, roundabout approach while getting to Ridley. Did navigating rooms really have to be this painstakingly challenging? Couldn't it be a little more...straightforward?

Also, while Tourian was indeed fantastic, the escape was a bit overly challenging too. Either the time limit should be increased, or the animals should be easier to get to. Without tool assistance, saving the animals is damn near impossible with how out of the way they are.
Limit by Sin [SM Unknown], rated by Foxhound3857 on Oct 18, 2016 (Star Star Star Star Star )
85% in 5:05
One of the few older hacks remaining from back in the day. Precision is the name of the game here. Limit is all about trial and error, often through repeated deaths (be prepared for a lot of these with the Speed Booster), which is frustrating in its own right because save points are very sparse. The map itself is not particularly big and often the way through key rooms is obvious; actually pulling it off is where the challenge comes into play. You're encouraged to explore everywhere you can though, every E-Tank helps. Learn how to wall jump; you will not survive this hack without it.

Quite a few creative ideas utilized here, such as the Ice Beam room and another item just outside of it. Again, though, it's all about execution, and sometimes this hack expects you to be just a little too precise. One particular room before Phantoon really stands out in this regard. Get good with the Grappling Beam. You've been warned.

Also, one item in particular is damn near impossible to get without tool assistance. Unless you are okay with using savestates or are EXCEPTIONALLY skilled at walljumping and midair morphing into IBJ, pass on this one and just make do with its weaker counterpart. Two boss fights will be significantly harder without it, but ce la vie.

Tourian is a mixed bag. Escape sequence was awesome. Getting to Mother Brain was painful.

3/5. This hack hasn't aged well and it's unnecessarily frustrating at times, but still fun to play.