Kazuto's Ratings and Reviews
Eris by Digital_Mantra [SM Exploration], rated by Kazuto on May 12, 2016 (Star Star Star Star Star )
84% in 7:04
This review is for the 2009 version of the game.

Like many Super Metroid hacks from this era, Eris is full of ambition and clever ideas... but like most other hacks from its day, these ideas often come at the cost of great player frustration. But let's start with the good.

Despite Digital Mantra not being an ASM hacker at the time, Eris contains a handful of modified assembly which brings some interesting changes to the game. The most clever is the Evasion power-up, which allows you to somersault through enemies without taking damage. Jumping and falling have also been modified to allow you to maintain running speed, which comes into play in a few cases where you can use Speed Booster in a way you couldn't in the original game. There's also the addition of four Artifacts, which are used to unlock the final area in the game. They're comparable to the Chozo Statue unlocks in Super Metroid: Redesign, but Eris' Artifacts aren't nearly as bad as Redesign.

The further I got into the game, the more I found pickups that are obtainable early on in the game. Super Missiles are hidden behind Super Missile blockades, and Power Bombs are hidden behind Power Bomb blockades, but once you get these items initially, they open up numerous collection possibilities of each throughout the world. There are also numerous Missile and Energy Tank pickups that are obtainable from early on in the game, though it often requires pressing on into areas that you know you're meant to tackle, later. In-general, pickups are usually hidden in ways that lend themselves to being found by keen-eyed players. That is, they're not completely obvious, but they're also not ridiculously unnoticeable.

The addition of the Evasion item would make you expect it to come in handy during boss fights, right? Well this would be the case, if it weren't for the fact that nearly every boss room has been modified to make it incredibly annoying to fight in. Spore Spawn has literally 4 safe floor blocks in the whole room, with the entire rest of the floor being lava. Botwoon immediately follows Spore Spawn with no Save Station in-between. Tons of blocks have been added to his room, making him hard to evade, and his damage has NOT been modified, so most everything about him takes a full Energy Tank away from you. At this point in the game, it's easy to have only one Energy Tank, if you haven't started pushing your exploratory bounds to try and collect more. Golden Torizo has the same problem as Spore Spawn: again, the floor is covered in lava and there's not much for you to stand on. Note that these are the first three bosses of the game.

Like many hacks of its day, the color palettes and tile layouts of the majority of the rooms in the game are mostly hideous. It's pretty common to be lost as to whether or not you can traverse certain tiles, and the only thing that prompts you to start checking for non-solid or breakable blocks is the feeling that all of these dead-ends should be leading to item pickups. There's a few instances of blue doors out in the middle of a screen, which I always consider kind of an amateurish design choice. A minor annoyance is that Ceres is used in the normal layout, but pausing is still disabled in Ceres rooms. I'm not sure why he didn't change this in SMILE.

Eris really hits its stride shortly after you acquire Power Bombs. Up until this point, most enemy and boss encounters feel frustrating, stemming from a pure lack of disposable equipment (namely, Energy). Power Bombs really open up a lot of possibilities all over the map, which could be considered "bad" if you don't like backtracking, but there's a lot of ways to get around, so it wasn't detrimental, to me.

...And then you encounter Draygon.

This is the turning point for Eris, because from here on out, most of the rest of the hack is annoying. Draygon is going to be impossible if you aren't skilled at wall jumping immediately out of water (without Gravity), because if you aren't, he's going to hit you for over an Energy Tank worth of damage. The acid-filling hallway from Lower Norfair has been modified to include Speed Booster blocks, so it's easy to have to trudge through damaging acid multiple times before you get through this room. And the ultimate kick-in-the-pants: right near the final boss is a sand room which requires multiple, very specific Bomb jumps chained together one-after-another. I wouldn't blame a player for choosing to quit Eris right at this point, because I was tempted to, myself.

Without spoiling anything, there's also a change to the rescue during the escape sequence... though it can easily become a negative change if you aren't careful.



Since this review has become up a lot longer than I planned, I'll give a TL:DR summary.

This is NOT a hack for moderate Super Metroid players.
Wall Jumping is 100% required.
Short Charge is absolutely necessary.
Bomb Jumps are highly beneficial.
Save Stations are functional, but save states might help with your sanity.
The beginning and end sections of the game are both trudges, and room tiling and color palette choices make the game rough on the eyes.

I played Eris through to completion because of the middle section, but I would not play through it for a second time.