Release date: Apr 25, 2024
Author: Tundain
Download: zip (has version 1.2) (542 downloads)
Download: Version 1.3, Unheadered (303 downloads)
Download: Version 1.1, Unheadered (604 downloads)
Download: Version 1.0, Unheadered (356 downloads)
Genre: Exploration [?]
Game: SM
Difficulty: Vanilla [?]
Average runtime: 4:39
Average collection: 88%
Read Me: [None]
Forum Thread: Release Thread
Rating: Star Star Star Star Star
Other Links:
V E R T I C A L I T Y.

Samus finds herself on a very strange planet and must get out.
Verticality is a full-hack with new mechanics, enemies, items, and more.
Contains subtly remixed vanilla music.

The "special" vanilla skill required to progress is shinesparking.

Screenshot Screenshot Screenshot Screenshot Screenshot Screenshot
Ratings and Reviews
By Oi27 on Apr 26, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
86% in 8:24
Verticality is well put together and free of major bugs or softlocks; I couldn't find any and I was looking for them. This hack's gimmick is that most of the enemies and game mechanics are tweaked in some way, for better or for worse (or for neutral!). It adds a couple of totally unique enemies and bosses; they're all great! More on the bosses later.

This hack uses a gate system for unlocking the end of the game, like Hyper Metroid. It led to a lot of frustration at the end of the game because I missed one of them and then spent 2 hours scouring the entire planet for it, to no avail. The next day, I learned from the Discord that each area has two switches... how was the player supposed to know that? It makes sense in retrospect but it's not immediately obvious. After that, I was able to find the switch pretty quickly because I missed some rooms on the map; it was pretty obvious once I knew what area to focus on. The grouping of the gates by area could have been better explained by maybe having some graphics in the gate room with colors or area names or something like that. Overall, this doesn't impact my opinion of the hack too much because the switches are not too hard to find; if you go for 100% map you'll get all of them. That said, 100% map is not my cup of tea & I prefer bosses as a hack objective.

One weirdo change that psyched me out is that SBAs now fire when you release the button, instead of after you charge for a while. It's fine I guess? But I also don't see why it was changed; subverting the players expectations of the control scheme is strange.

The hack also introduces super spikes that teleport you to a set location instead of dealing damage. It's horrendous! It's like having spikes that one-shot you, except there's a convenient checkpoint nearby. Due to the way the camera works, you'll often jump into spikes that are just offscreen, and have to redo the room or the section you're doing. There's no ingame lore or explanation; these things just teleport you. The camera trails slowly back to your spawn position, so it's like having respawn animation & you have to wait for the camera to arrive before you can try again. These things are everywhere. The difficulty of the things you're expected to do with them is all over the place; sometimes they just exist in the room to be a nuisance and other times it's a whole minigame that makes SM into an ultra precision platformer. Except, SM isn't a precision platformer and it really falls on its face. It gets bogged down by all sorts of weird collision things, like if you're next to a wall of these things and press away (to move away from the wall of spikes) then you'll take a hit and have to restart. Why? I couldn't think of it at the time but my best guess is that Samus is walljump checking the spikes and colliding, even though you were moving away from them. That happens a lot, especially in the close quarters that many of the precision tests give you. And you also have to deal with other SM-specific jank, like the turnaround animation moving you a couple pixels left or right. Vanilla SM has a beautiful and fluid movement system, but there's a very good reason it doesn't ask you to be precise. These tele spikes alone probably added an hour to my playthough of senselessly repeating the same stuff, only to get janked out by walljump check, or the camera, or an enemy knocking you into them. Putting them into precision tests is one thing, but it's extra annoying that they're just scattered around in random rooms, in random places. They're horrible!
They might not be so bad if they had some kind of lore and were not used as often. The way the camera has to slowly scroll back to you feels awful, and the place it teleports you to is completely arbitrary. And improved version of this mechanic could be to have a marked "teleport station" that Samus respawns in, and have the screen cut to black when you get hit so that the camera can move into position instantly. It would also be ideal to remove instances later on in the hack where these tele spikes are invisible, but those ones in particular aren't egregious given the context of those particular rooms.

All the new items work well and I was really impressed with the new HUD item; the jetpack. It slows down Samus's falling speed and it just kinda works. No jank! You can't do certain things like midair morph or downback while using it, but that's pretty acceptable; that's just how it is. The other new items are some beam/missile upgrades and they all work well. They added some true new Samus projectiles and those were technically impressive, but a mixed bag in terms of usefulness.

Charge Missiles -> shoots a Super. Could have gotten this early on & seems like it would have been useful, but I found it during cleanup at the end of the game & didn't use it that much. It's missable.

Charge Supers -> Spawns a new projectile when it hits something. It's a couple of rotating charge shots draw from whatever beam you have equipped. I ended up not using it very much just because it's new and I forgot about it most of the time; I could have gotten more mileage out of it. Sidenote: It's not good on enemies that move around a lot, because the projectile stays in one spot & might not even hit them.

OverCharge -> If you hold Charge for double the amount of time, you start taking damage and letting go gives you knockback as if taking a hit. The projectile is new & deals 3x the damage of your equipped charge shot, but this is not explained ingame & I couldn't figure out if it did anything worthwhile. The projectile itself is the same no matter what you have equipped, and it's very small. I ended up missing any time I tried to use it, because of the knockback it gives you + the projectile is smaller than normal charge shot for most beam combos. A lot of the bosses move around quickly, so hitting them with it is tough. You can dboost off the knockback, which is theoretically cool, but of zero use to most players. I turned this off for most of the game because taking damage for holding Charge is a big nerf to Pseudo Screw.

The new Shinespark mechanics are really cool & I liked the Reflec puzzles for the most part. There was one in WS that straight up didn't work / required a pixel perfect shinespark off a moving treadmill; this took many many tries and failing it caused you to end shinespark next to Reflecs, which shot the echoes back at you for heaps of damage. The room is designed to close behind you, so I think this puzzle is supposed to be easier to do / work every time? The only ways out of the room are to Kago though a gate, complete the puzzle, or die trying. The other Reflec shinespark puzzles were awesome and a treat to watch; they all worked as intended.

Graphically the hack is really good looking! The tiling is vanilla adjacent, and a lot of the areas have custom BG3 work to have multiple layers of parallax. Very impressive.

In general the room design is really good too. Disregarding the tele spikes, there's a lot of well executed Metroid tropes here, like item previews, and exit-only rooms. Secrets are cool because more often than not you get a door and another room instead of having random wall missiles.

The new bosses are all well executed & my favorite was the giant robot :D
An odd common trait that most (all?) the new bosses share is that they have some kind of stomp attack that aims at Samus's X position.
The G4 vanilla bosses are all present & have changes; the best one is Phantoon. Kraid's only(?) change is that you enter his room on a different scroll & his room is taller. Not sure what's going on there. The other bosses have significant and meaningful changes that dramatically change how the fights play out. It's great!

Difficulty should be Veteran; a lot of the stuff Verticality expects you to do is much more involved than in Vanilla. Also the boss rooms are not marked with eye doors; many of them are surprises and as a result I was often going into them having not saved for a while, or low on resources, or happened to just go the wrong way and miss the save that was right outside the [unmarked] boss room. I died several times to various things in my playthough.

Taking all that into account, the spamming (tele) spikes in every area and random places really took me out of the experience and caused a lot of unnecessary pain. Watch your head and pan the camera up very slowly and carefully. Without these spikes, easy 5/5 hack. Even replace them with normal spikes, 5/5 hack. With them? A very impressive and otherwise well designed hack; 3.5/5
By H A M on Apr 26, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
The first boss is literally much harder than the rest of the game. Other than that, 5/5
By MarioFan2468 on Apr 26, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
84% in 4:53
good good good

in this hack things are different in a funny or cool way
every area is very tall
the music is tastefully tweaked in a way that its still vanilla, but plays w your expectation
i particularly like the "evil crateria caves" theme
though the lack of music in speedbooster room was one of the best uses of silence i ever experienced
enemy ai is altered for the majority of enemies i thnk
when the pancake floated in reverse i laughed in real life
phanton was a bit hard to figure out, but i had time since he deals little damage
wreckship miniboss is also very funny

the big thing about this hack is the hover thruster
its a custom upgrade (theres many custom upgrades in this hack) that allows you to float down like mario's cape
there are many puzzles that focus on your control over the hover thruster to not touch the instant-reset zapper blocks
it works well i like those puzzles and i like using the upgrade outside of the puzzles too, especially to use with walljump

there is also custom upgrade to your charge beam called overcharge
when you charge for too long, you will drain hp and fire a super blast that hurts to shoot
i didnt use it too much except to kill the metroids bc the metroids take many shots to freeze
so if i super blast them with overcharge ice they will freeze instantly which creates an element of strategy

you have to hit 10 or 9 gates hidden in the world for tourian to open
they were hidden but i didnt miss any on my way there
thing i did not like is that to go from upper maridia to lower maridia is a bit difficult to navigate because the geysers get in my way

but yeah
its not too hard and i can use my walljump to go places
secrets hidden in a way that i feel observant when i find them
i like it
By Onnyks on Apr 26, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
91% in 4:38
Gonna start with the criticism this time, get it out of the way.

The concerns about the mechanic described above are real. These objects do have a vertical gameplay purpose and it is a matter of developing skill to overcome them. Some sections featuring them really felt like a lot, it would have been nice if there was some of the challenges were split up into multiple rooms as a means of having some checkpoints, or, if the PLMs are in charge of the spawn locations, making several different places instead of just one. I resorted to save states to minimize reset downtime, which probably cut my IGT by a bunch. This was the closest thing to an orb reduction but it honestly makes for a unique SM experience and the frustration is already faded behind the positive aspects of this hack.

Being vertical is a tough thing for SM. As cool as the concept is, the majority of rooms in a hack like this will have you blindly jumping into the sky in order to learn where to properly jump into the sky. Since combat is an integral part of the game as well, there will often be enemies in your way even when you do know, and this hack loves throwing enemies at you so a huge part of the experience is getting knocked down and then picking yourself up again. This is an essential model for gameplay, naturally, but it sure eats a lot of time. This might not be the kind of problem a hack designer can overcome, given the nature of the base game.

Another minor downside for me are trolly room resets. "Do it again now that you know about the crumble block" is kind of a kaizo thing that I just don't love. This works well if it's a timed mechanic though, like "do it again but faster," or if the crumbles are signaled as part of the challenge the whole time. Needing to improve is good. Needing to be psychic is not.

One last critique are the secrets whose gates were in different rooms than their rewards. It wasn't about a lack of solution clarity, it's just something about a little backtrack which felt like a let-down. Missiles, even on their best days, are a mediocre pick up, so if the puzzle is solved it's just nice that access to the reward be immediate.

With that said, this hack has a way more great things going for it!

Very appealing visuals, especially the work to make 3 layers of parallax. The world felt deep and like it flowed together from the bottom up. There were the always appreciated tileset transitions, and also customized environment FX to make for a different mood. Even though it was still called Brinstar, stepping into the Red section for the first time was somehow different, I really loved that effect.

Verticality has an intuitive and unique map layout, lots of loops and shortcuts to unlock, very organic and fair to re-traverse with its well thought out connections. Secrets were all signaled, I got my % without any random tile bombing. The meta-design of the areas also stood out, some having more plain bridge type rooms or being more sloped, it was a noticeable variety and well designed.

The fun new toys to play with helped by shaking up the standard SM move set. I didn't make that much use out of some attack powerups, but BT was narrowly defeated by one in particular, which felt pretty sweet. There was a risk/reward structure to their design, which takes some getting used to for SM players used to a simpler upgrade system.

Secrets and challenges are everywhere, and I especially liked the shinespark ones, they were flashy but not too difficult to execute, once understood. Those pesky robots though, they gotta stop clogging up all the best runways!

Creative boss changes AND new unique new ones, which were the absolute best parts of the hack. I won't spoil anything because they're so good I think adding these to regular SM alone would have been enough to demand playing that hack. Big kudos for these.
By JaceTheBodySculptor on Apr 27, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
82% in 4:22
The Good:
Tundain is a master hacker. In this hack he has developed features that raise the bar well above other highest rated hacks. The novelty kicks off early with edited enemy behavior and new items. You can also look forward to modified bosses as well as some totally new ones. The combat feels engaging and well-balanced. The map is enhanced with helpful details, such as colored doors marked to remind you what is needed to open them, as well as indications of open paths you may have missed.

The Bad:
If it were not for what I'm about to write, this would be the best hack I've ever played. Maybe it still is. I hope this criticism is helpful.

To start, calling this a Vanilla difficulty hack is a stretch. Sure, you may not need certain tricks like walljumping, mockballing, or mid air morphing, and maybe technically somebody who can beat SM can beat this if you lock them in a dungeon with an emulator. But there's a lot of frustration and some really bad spots that would make this a sour experience for many of the less experienced players.

The first (and most frequent) source of frustration began with the hover item. The item itself is cool, but those tiles that reset your position to the beginning of a guantlet are certified toxic. I expect a lot of lower skilled players, or players looking to have fun and not feel frustrated, will quit or at least begin using savestates when they encounter those obstacles. I'm not sure if the reset tile mechanic is essentially bad or if there are just a few too many instances where there should have been more wiggle room. On one hand, it's a trope of bad design to put too many spikes in your hack. You know what's worse than spikes? Tiles that warp you to the start of the room when you touch them. Spikes deal a bit of damage. These tiles rewind your progress, which feels much worse. On the other hand, I see and respect that these tiles create new design space that's close but different from what can be done with spikes alone. But ultimately, I did not have fun with these tiles. I hated them. I developed a negative reaction to seeing them, a feeling of "oh God not again."

My next major criticism involves the lock system for accessing Tourian. This is not so bad, but I want to point out that this is a neutral mechanic at best. You have to be careful putting this in a hack because if a player is having fun, they will likely continue to have fun exploring more, but if a player is having a bad time, the locks will surely feel like a chore, and the negative experience will further sour. To me it felt like a cheap way to force players to explore more.

My next issue is the overall feeling I had playing the hack. Something about the planet design, flow of progression, as well as the lock system often gave me thoughts like "Am I going the right way? Am I missing anything? Should I try looking harder for secrets or should I come back after getting a new item?" That's not a fun state of mind. I know you don't want to hand-hold too much and maybe some people like getting lost. But compared to the flow of say SM: Familiar, I had a worse time.

Finally, a few single-room complaints. 1) One of the locks in Maridia is absolutely toxic. It requires storing a shinespark, traversing a room fast, then sparking up. The timer for this is too tight for Vanilla difficulty. 2) The phantoon boss mechanic is poorly explained. I had to look up Oi27's playthrough to figure it out. The player needs more guidance to be taught to bomb those blocks. 3) That room before the final boss with the horizontal shutter and the Boyon is unforgivably bad. It's not fun. This is not a challenge hack. Why put this frustrating trick here? All it does is make people want to quit after so much progress. In fact, when I got to the boss, I did not feel any tension in the fight, I only felt the relief that that stupid room was finished. 4) The upside-down shinespark needs to be communicated better. Either write a short manual and say how to do it, or lock the player in a room that requires them to perform it. When I collected Speed I tried the upside down spark a few times, failed, then moved on. In nearby level design I noticed a lot of the tops of the rooms had smooth slopes, so I wondered maybe later I'd get an item that would reverse gravity and then I would be able to do the down spark. Not understanding how to do it immediately led to plenty of frustration down the road.

To summarize, this is a hack that is teeming with cool stuff. But cool and fun don't always overlap. I hate to say it, but I had a better experience playing SM: Familiar. But I don't want to undersell it. This is still the most impressive hack I've ever played. I'd leave my orb rating blank if I could because my respect for the work says 6 orbs but my overall enjoyment was 3.5 to 4. Rounds up to 5.
By Voltekka on Apr 27, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
85% in 4:36
Excellent rom, the best I've played so far this year, good tempo, good exploration, very creative new mechanics. Entertaining challenge with plenty of surprises. Super recommended.
By Kirarin on Apr 27, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
87% in 5:26
I have to agree with the user(s) above, the teleporter took the joy out what would be a close to 5/5 for me (for version 1.0). More on the criticism later. But don't let my rating fool you, this is a superb hack, go play it.

First, this is the most impressive hack graphics/mechanic wise in the recent years, easily. It blows Ascent and Subversion out of the water. In general, this is a superior hack from the ones people will consider mainstream for me, aside Vitality and Super Junkroid. I'd say I prefer Super Duper, but mostly because what "problems" I have with that hack don't cut the joy of playing it, different than this one. Beautiful new sprites, sprite effects, new items, bigger enemies, customized bosses. Lots of love put in that department.

The overcharge mechanic was whatever for me, but it was good to have; I figured out fast which enemies were more vulnerable and would be useful to use that. The new charged super is awesome, and you get it just in time to smoke some bosses!

The shinespark opening doors (very useful) and most of its puzzles are great. This hack gives a run of its money for Super ZeroMission for best speedbooster usage. I like the puzzles more here, and the thingies to change shinespark's direction were a nice puzzle. Very well done! I remember Ascend having this kind of puzzles/ideas with shinespark, but this hack does it so much better.

Unfortunately, and I'm sad by saying it, because I really, really wanted to give this one 5/5, the hack felt in some traps of being quite repetitive. I didn't mind a lot being vertical, but it got tiring fast. Most rooms had the same or similar layout, and backgrounds weren't that different, so as you explore, each region of the map feels a bit bland and repetitive. Vanilla is more creative in making you think the game has very different rooms. If you compare each main region (Crateria, WS, Brinstar etc), the hack is very pretty, but inside each region, there's not a lot of variation in background and room design.

Most rooms feel too big, too. Maybe it's the effect of the hack going the vertical route.

The hack is very linear; not a lot of sequence breaking to do unfortunately. I felt like the way Draygon was locked was the creator trying to spin things up to make the hack not so linear. Which brings me to another point: In general, the hack is very predictable after you get speed. You quickly realize which upgrades you need and you get them quite soon after it. Only the suits come out of nowhere and you have to put work to get them.

Speaking of suits, the physics change were great in making the hack feel fast and smooth to play, except in Maridia. The water sections were quite bad for me. The bubble risers didn't work as I want and it were the second most frustrating mechanic for me. Finding Gravity after I was done with almost all of water sections didn't help too much, aside being able to enter Draygon... Physics change are quite personal. I see a lot of people complaining when hacks restrict the physics, but in this one, with "smoother" physics and higher jump, but also having Maridia being a chore to walk around made it glaring the fun and unfun parts of the hack.

The easily, and my main reason I can't full grade the hack, are the teleporters. Most of its puzzles feel unrewarding, and I loathed when I saw a puzzle involving those things was next. It doesn't help most of the hard puzzles involving them are right of the bat. They should've been better balanced, leaving the harder ones for later. Also their hitbox was like the usual spikes, meaning no room for error. It was very frustrating. Their hitbox should have a bit of leeway or remove one teleporter from each side of the ceiling, to give some leeway. It feels most of those puzzles are input perfect or very very punishing if you don't have near perfect movements.

I'd rather dealing with 60 damage spikes puzzles than the tedium of going back and forth.

Again, there's a lot of work put here, and this hack is the most impressive for me in terms of new items, upgrades and shinespark puzzles. It easily beats most of the "famous" ones for me. Still, those flaws were quite glaring for me and made me unable to full grade this one.

Finished, recommended. Have patience with those teleporter puzzles!
By RT-55J on Apr 28, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
93% in 4:38
This hack already has some very wordy and well-written reviews, so I'll just cut to the chase:

This hack is very good. A lot of care and effort went into making this a polished experience, and it makes very good use of community resources and fixes. The world is well-designed, with lots of interesting touches. The rooms themselves are pretty good. Your jump height puts Hyper Metroid to shame. The ASM work here, particularly the bosses, is incredibly well done. The soundtrack has incredible vibes, like you're in an off-kilter fever dream or something.

As for gripes, the biggest one is that the first boss is an incredibly rude addition, relative to how soon in the game you encounter it. It's a neat fight, conceptually, but the lack of any available e-tanks beforehand is very hard to forgive. If you ragequit at this point, I don't blame you. Fortunately, nothing else in this hack is as remotely as infuriating.

There are still some other rough spots: the teleporter spikes are overused, and some of the challenges with them are overtuned in their difficulty. In particular, one of them in the late game took me nearly 150 failed attempts before I decided to screw the rules and set the emulator to 50% speed, after which I got it first try (fortunately it was an optional challenge). Nevertheless, I thought the spikes were a neat addition, in spite of their overuse/misuse in a couple places.

While the background graphics are uniformly excellent, some of the custom sprites feel like they could have used a second pass (or been handed off to someone like mccad or albertv).

Overall, this hack is one of the greats.

4.5/5 - Recommended with caveats (Review based on version 1.0)
By ptoil on Apr 28, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
86% in 3:59
Things I liked:
- New items, charge supers are really neat
- Custom bosses that are fun to fight
- New and altered enemies
- Progression never felt obscure, was always able to find progression eventually with the map; open/closed item dots and door colors shown on the map is awesome
- Neat obstacle rooms using the hover thrusters and teleport spikes
- Puzzles using shinesparks and reflectors
- Parallax backgrounds that complement the otherwise mostly vanilla tiles very well
- Room design flows well, besides the jump height issue

Things that didn't work as well for me:
- Jump height feels too high, a lot of the time you're jumping to platforms you can't see
- Gate system for Tourian, having to hunt down the last gates breaks the flow of the game, luckily they aren't too hard to find, especially if you realize they're grouped by area. One of them eluded me for a bit because it was a super gate that I had found before obtaining supers, and the map showed the location as a closed dot

Overall a really fun hack with plenty of custom mechanics, definitely recommend.
By VirtueAvatar on Apr 29, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
82% in 6:51
This hack does a lot of things really right and a few things really wrong. When I started up on this hack, I saw a lot of people consider it among the best hacks they'd ever played, and this just wasn't the case for me. It's a 3.5; I'd mark it as a 4 instead of a 3 if it wasn't sold so highly to me. I'm still glad I played it from start to finish, but probably won't replay it.

What I liked:
- The bosses are all reworked and are all excellent, with the exception of the difficulty of the very first boss. I'll come back to that. Draygon was a standout for me, as I've always considered her the most difficult boss, and she was reworked in such a way that made her fun to fight. All of the bosses either feel fun, have some hilarity to them, or both.
- The new items. There's not many, but I did make a lot of use of what was there and enjoyed their addition to the game. A couple of them I didn't use at all, I'll come back to this.
- The concept. Having the world piled on top of each other with a central theme of verticality holds up. This is a very vertical world. The idea of starting in Norfair, eventually finding your way to the main elevator that takes you to every other region of the world, locking you out until you're ready, with alternative entrances to those regions - is outstanding. I can overlook the problem with the screen being wider than it is tall and Samus jumping pretty damn high in SM - these are pretty necessary evils and to be expected.
- The new enemies and their AI. Not much to say here, every time I saw a new enemy or new AI on an old enemy, I loved it.
- Downward shinesparking was cool, although it took me a little bit to work out what the inputs were to trigger it - it's not intuitive, especially given the different types of circumstances you need to activate one, like in mid-air, over teleport spikes, etc. (press up, then press down).
- The escape sequence was great. There are animals to save, but they felt very far away given how little time you're given. When I saved them, I died, but I was mostly trying to figure out where to go.

What I didn't like:
- Teleport spikes. Oh god the teleport spikes. The first time I saw them, I thought oh this is a challenge room, if it's too hard I'll just skip this item. I couldn't make it, left, then got a new item which I clearly needed to have a hope in handling that room, came back and completed that challenge room, got my reward and moved on. But after that point, these teleport spikes are all over the romhack. There are one tile gaps you need to shinespark through, or else the room resets. There are rooms filled with teleport spikes that you need to space jump around, or the room resets. Even the smaller rooms that expect you to float around to complete some puzzle just get extremely tiresome with the immense quantity of these types of rooms. They are everywhere. If there was many more, they were at risk of breaking the hack completely.
- Which reminds me, the hack is rated as difficulty vanilla, but it is not. It is difficulty veteran. I'm able to do some well known tricks like mockballs and IBJs and green gate glitches and moonfalls. I struggled with a lot of the shinespark tricks and teleport spike areas.
- There is a mechanic with multi-direction shinesparking that is interesting, but not well used. Almost every time, the trick was done for me - I'd just spinespark in the first direction and get rotated in the way the hack wanted me to go anyway. It looked flashy, but felt cheap. This could have been improved if I had to work out a puzzle where I'd have to rotate the direction-changers myself, but this was very rare, and never complex.
- There is a gigantic room in Crateria with a grey door where you have to kill all the enemies to open it, a little similar to Super Metroid's plasma beam room, except much bigger. The enemies are difficult to find and track down, and it's not clear that killing them is what opens the grey door. Crateria in general almost feels like an afterthought, like the dev was running out of ideas on what to do with an overpowered Samus. The answer to that, apparently, is a lot of spikes, a lot of teleport spikes, a lot of open areas, and the new type of breakable blocks that (I think) only appear in this area. For a metroidvania, there isn't really a lot of backtracking to the older regions once you get new items - maybe that was intended here, I don't know.
- Falling down pits and getting teleported back was dumb. In some rooms, it teleported me forward, skipping the room entirely like I was meant to enter from the opposite side.
- The Tourian outdoor areas are ridiculous - both the damage effect (a whole column?) and the mobility effect, both should be heavily nerfed. Nothing about that was fun and it didn't feel atmospheric either. I think there might have been a tie-in to the final boss here? But it wasn't worth it. The rest of Tourian is great.
- The first boss fight is really unusual, and it seems to act more of a difficulty gate for the rest of the hack (not for the rest of the bosses - the game itself). This was a boss fight of precision that I don't think I could have beaten if I hadn't seen speedrunners fight this boss in speedruns with their level of precision. At first I thought I was supposed to die to this boss for story reasons, but nope, I'm meant to kill them. I'm glad I did, and so long as the player can kill them, it's a good show of what's to come, boss difficulty aside.
- I'm going to name the new items I didn't like next. Overcharge was ridiculous - you can't slowly kill the player while holding charge. Maybe, BIG maybe, if the kill rate was slower, but it feels like you're setting yourself on fire for what feels like little payoff. I turned it off forever shortly after completing the somewhat tricky puzzle to obtain it. Reserve Missiles; I don't know what the point of these was. 15 extra missiles that refills when you run out, who cares. I never ran out of missiles by the time I got my first reserve missile pack. It's a weird gimmick that wasn't well executed. I guess it might act as a warning that you're running out of missiles for some players, but has anyone ever really panicked when they hit zero?
- I got lost near the beginning of the hack with the new mechanic in Maridia that has you floating upwards, because I didn't see that it was there. You're not put into it very deliberately, so it's easy to miss, and I backtracked all over Norfair to figure out where I was meant to go. Even once I saw it, trying to get high enough using these things was tricky in a couple of places. I found out being morphed while using it gives you more control and height, but it was clumsy with the no-gravity water physics.
By dewhi100 on Apr 29, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
66% in 4:49
A lot of people will find this hack broadly enjoyable, some will think it's amazing, and a few will find some of it fairly frustrating.

Tundain has no end of ideas in this hack and they for the most part fit together very well. From the custom intro to the custom escape, you can tell that this is a highly modified game compared to the vanilla experience. Everything is executed bug-free, including very interesting custom items, enemies and even bosses. Whatever Tundain is doing, he does it well.

The issue is that in at least one instance these ideas aren't harmonious, the most glaring example being between the overcharge mechanic and the melee mechanic, but ultimately all that boils down to is a choice you have to make between what combat style you need for each situation.

Another issue is that custom mechanics are not always clear. The worst offender in my playthrough being the Maridia vents which were counterintuitive and which I never actually learned (I asked Tundain to explain them).

However, for the most part these are small nitpicks for things which no other hacks have included, all custom work by Tundain which like I said are all executed without bugs of any kind. And much of the custom stuff is a simply a delight. You'll see what I mean especially after you beat Kraid.

My biggest issue with the hack is the difficulty. This is NOT a vanilla difficulty hack, although Tundain has indicated that future versions will be easier. Almost every enemy has updated behavior to make them deadlier, and the core route through the game sometimes requires execution or game knowledge significantly beyond that of the vanilla experience. That said, the hack is by no means an expert or kaizo level of challenge.

The map is laid out very well. This is a similar experience to Ascent, with an addition of a progressive fast-travel system that lets you backtrack between faraway areas very quickly, (once you've gotten to that areas the hard way first). The boss order is shuffled from vanilla, in a way that makes a lot of sense for the map, and the bosses' difficulty has been adjusted accordingly.

The game assets have been improved. The music tweaks Tundain has made are interesting, cool, and sometimes off-putting as they are small alterations of the vanilla songs and may give you mental brown notes when they don't match what you're expecting. All are done well enough to still sound decent as standalone tracks. And the graphics are also spiced up with glows and FX, as well as minor details that not everyone may notice right away.

All in all, it's a hack that sets out to do a lot, and manages to achieve all of it. I'm knocking one orb off of a perfect five partly because I don't agree with all of those ideas, but mostly because the hack page misrepresents its difficulty.
By Ambureon on Apr 30, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
96% in 5:01
so good that i immediately started working on a fully detailed map.

overall area layouts and designs are very good, fun to navigate and fairly easy to backtrack through thanks to the central elevator system. progression is a fairly linear upward climb with only a couple detours. i enjoyed the challenge rooms, including the teleport spikes and shinespark challenges, but i felt some optional challenges were slightly unreasonable. good thing they're optional.

all the custom graphics feel rather unpolished, and none of the custom items felt very substantial or impactful, with the exception of the hover thrusters, easily the standout new mechanic of the entire hack. the thermal updrafts are also a cool new addition, though a little hard to grasp the range of.

vanilla difficulty might be a misleading tag, this is a fair jump upward from the original super metroid, but i don't think the "veteran" difficulty tag would apply here either -- this isn't redesign or z-factor.

the music is the worst part. it's like if sm's regular soundtrack was put through a music-note randomizer. none of them sound good, even outside the context of the uncanny feeling you get as someone familiar with the original songs.

if you can forgive the audio crimes, this is a highly recommended full-game scale hack with plenty of fun new stuff to explore and experiment with.
By KPF on Apr 30, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
I don't like this one.
It's more like Super Sucks-Troid.
Way too many teleport Spike runs.
By Digital_Mantra on Apr 30, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 1:28
A great full hack by Tundain, full of custom enemies/bosses/items/music. It's the whole package.

The concept of a purely vertical map is that there's only so many ways to design rooms and challenges around it. While at first I wasn't a fan of the teleport blocks and the gliding puzzles, it soon became a staple of the hack that I enjoyed figuring out and attempting in different ways.

While I share some of the sentiments posted in other reviews, I overcame their frustrations and got familiar with them and better at them. This hack merits multiple playthroughs and playstyles to see the full scope of its routes and shortcuts.

Best 100%: 1:28
Best Low%: 12.1%
By infinality on Apr 30, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
I haven't finished it yet but I'm about 80% through.

Criticisms: Some mini-bosses can be cheesed, and some main ones are a bit too easy, except the first one. I agree with some of the criticisms of the music. It's... strange, in a non-helpful way. I was a bit put off at first with the teleporters and considered quitting but I'm glad I pushed through. They are annoying but doable especially once you get a certain item.

Accolades: As hacks go, this is quite impressive, with new items, abilities and menu customizations. The vertical nature of it is about as well done as you could do with SM. There are some really "neat" and unique things in here that I haven't seen before, and the puzzles to get items are fun and make getting them seem more valuable.

Most of the shinesparking required hardly qualifies as "vanilla". I would easily call this a "veteran" hack. Of course, most people playing this are intimately familiar with SM, so whatever I guess. I'd love seeing more hacks from Tundain!
By Syphon on May 01, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
94% in 4:46
Great hack.

Loved all the new items and bosses. The music sounded strange but didn't bother me.

The teleporter spikes were only annoying the first time but I kinda liked them.

Can't rate 4.5 so 5 orbs it is. Really enjoyed it.

By Zhs2 on May 01, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
94% in 4:21
(Played version 1.1) Winner of the KPF "SMALL ASS JUMP HOLE" award and the "Best Speedbooster additions since Ascent" prize. Nowhere near the running for "Greatest Terrible Music Tweaks", however - Super Metroid MINI holds that crown to this day.

This hack is a step up from CRE 3 for sure. That's not saying much considering CRE 1 & 2 and Familiar pretty much still outclass this hack in personal orb ratings, but it is not to be missed. I hold the belief that the more ASM Tundain learns, the less soul his hacks have, but they are not becoming any less fun. This one had so many camera snaps littered about, but the camera code in place covers the gaps and makes them hard to distinguish for the casual player. Speaking of casual, I'm in the camp that we need some kind of rating for accessibility between Vanilla and Veteran - I'd be hard pressed to say it is Veteran difficulty but it would definitely be frustrating for anyone who can't immediately pick up the new tricks (it takes some trial and error to learn that diagonal downsparks require you to press aim up + down) and is foolish enough to walk right by Spazer. Vanilla Super Metroid certainly didn't enable such immense vertical mobility, and while it isn't hard to master for an experienced player like me, I can see it would be frustrating for people just trying to get into Super Metroid. On a related note, reset spikes could be way more unforgiving than they currently are. I'm sure people yearn for the days hacks are literally made of spikes (there are, in fact, whole rooms in this hack made of spikes) but taking one damage and starting over is nothing compared to losing so many tens of minutes of progress because you ran out of energy and forgot to save - I bet you can't even count on your fingers how many times that's happened in other hacks. This hack is happily not guilty of making it happen here. And, as a final note, the music is cringe soul - easily the one thing about this hack that Tundain figured he could do, not whether he should.

Edit: Dude........ I should really pay attention to my previous reviews. https://metroidconstruction.com/hack.php?id=722
By SuperSquad33 on May 02, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
84% in 2:45
Great Hack Overall.

Really enjoyed this hack but not rating it a 5 orb because of some sections of Tourian being a pain, but a 4 is still pretty good.

Would recommend
By DonnyDonovan on May 02, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
84% in 6:27
I really don't have much to contribute that hasn't been said. This is creative, original, the boss reworks are great, and it turns the traditional SM formula on it's head the way the world becomes scarier and more foreboding as you go UP, rather than down. I liked the hover item, and I thought the overcharge was interesting as well if a tad punishing as far as rate of drain. The downward sparks were awesome as were the spark deflectors, although I agree there was unused potential for puzzles where the player should have had to figure out how to angle more of them as opposed to it being automatic.

The teleporter spike things were pretty cool at times but for sure overused. There were some weird difficulty spikes even within the required path where I had to try certain puzzles and rooms multiple times to the point of frustration, where other times the game felt quite easy. Constant shaft climbing is tedious enough without the little firefly enemies that constantly pester. I definitely had a love-hate relationship with this hack at times. And I mostly hated Tourian. The outdoor rooms were quite simply not fun. They didn't feel fun. There was no sense of accomplishment in clearing them, only relief.

With all of that said, there's too much originality, atmosphere and quality here to go less than 4 orbs. Since you seem to be listening to feedback I'll probably even play 1.2 eventually. Congratulations on this!
By advancedpillow on May 05, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
By hmsong on May 07, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
94% in 6:22
I played v1.2. So the review is based on that version. Note that I didn't use Wall Jump nor Bomb Jump for the first run, as neither were "taught" by anything.

The short version of review is... RECOMMENDED! This is very good. No weird item orders, like getting Space Jump before getting Grapple Beam or Ice Beam (looking at you, Subversion and Super Duper), and it was quite fun without going back and forth like crazy, just for sake of going back and forth (looking at you, Hyper).

+ Numerous new items, such as Gliding Thruster and Charge Missile. Replaces X-Ray (although I did like X-Ray due to its anti-frustration feature). They are certainly interesting, and perhaps more useful overall. Gliding Thruster was esp well thought out. It has uses even after getting Space Jump. Using the Thruster while on Morph Ball form seemed a weird, logically speaking, but that's fine.
+ 2 new bosses (one is a new final boss). Replaces Crocomire and Mother Brain 1/2. And the many of the vanilla bosses have new AI that makes them more interesting. I much prefer this version of the bosses.
+ Interesting new field mechanic, which is "return to entrance" when you touch a certain block. It allows a new puzzle, similar to many platformers. One of them is extremely frustrating though (Expert Mario Maker). The Shinespark bouncer was good too. At least these make the Grapple Beam not obsolete after getting Space Jump.
+ Map was very well done. If you came across an item but you didn't get it, the map would mark it as an unobtained item. If the door (ex: green) wasn't opened before, the map would mark it. It's such a simple thing, and yet, so satisfying to have it.
+ Most of the hidden paths have some kind of hint. VERY nice. It feels rewarding to pay attention to details (too many other games have hidden items in such random location with no hint).
+ Somewhat early Spring Ball (you get it with High Jump). YES. I hated waiting for bomb to explode to make a little jump. Early Spring Ball is a must.
+ Elevator allows quick travel, to some degree. Nice.
+ You start with Charge Beam. I think this was a good idea. Some of the bosses don't have destroyable things, so you can technically run out of missiles. So Charge Beam is a must.

- The first boss (Ridley) is ridiculously hard. Second boss (Botwoon) is very hard too if you missed Spazer (which I missed), although I liked how you have to fight him in underwater physics. I'm not sure why the first 2 bosses are harder than some of the later bosses (such as Spore Spawn). The first boss ought to be somewhat easy, to get the players "ease" into the game.
- The bgm is sort of remix of the original music, but it just sounds... off. Maybe it's just me.
- Some of the bosses come out of nowhere, and thus catches me by surprise. I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing for most people, but for me, it's a bad thing. I think all bosses should have that "boss" mark on the map, assuming the map station has been visited. It's not like you have the boss statues from the vanilla.
By vsf3000 on May 12, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
91% in 3:41

Creative, fun puzzles, nice new gameplay mechanics, and a fresh feel. I was very immersed in this one. More difficult than vanilla, but nothing extreme or too frustrating for me.

My main gripe would be that it felt like entering Tourian came earlier than I expected. Would have liked a little more need to go back down to lower levels, Norfair in particular.

Also I liked the idea for the new music, giving it a more weird and creepy feel. But it felt a tad off. Perhaps slightly over-remixed.

Overall, this is a top 5 hack for me. Excellent work!
By MetroidNerd#9001 on May 14, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
90% in 3:55
This hack does a lot of cool things, but it drags itself down with a lot of baggage, too. The overall concept is quite interesting and is executed decently well on the macro scale, but a lot of micro-level design choices make this hack a chore to play at times. Because of how vertical the map is, the rooms are also very large and often of similar shape, causing things to blend together. The increased jump height makes navigation usually reasonable, and maybe it's just a perception thing, seeing how massive the rooms are and not realizing that it may only take a minute to get from one area to the next.

There's a lot of really cool technical work done with this hack, especially the custom bosses. The other custom items just felt tacked on, unfortunately, finding them in random places and often forgetting that they exist because they're decently situational. The best new addition by far was the charge flare, which is extremely powerful if you use it well, and opens up a completely new avenue of combat.

Hoo boy, did parts of this hack really drive me up the wall. I understand the purpose of having the teleportation spikes, but every time they appeared in more than just a small section of a room, I felt like I was being forced to play a challenge hack in what was ostensibly an exploration hack. I don't even want to know what they were like in earlier versions.

I think the fundamental issue with the glider item is that it is mismatched with the type of hack this is. A glider helps you do two things: fall slower in vertical passages and cross longer horizontal gaps. Because of how vertical this hack is, you find yourself in the former situation a majority of the time, which necessitates the teleportation spikes to make them interesting, creating these tedious slow-fall dodging situations that feel entirely antithetical to Metroid. It's a tool to solve challenges rather than a tool of exploration.

I think the music is tied with the teleporters for my least favorite part of the hack. Some of the remixes are okay, others are a bit uncanny, while the rest are just plain hard to listen to. It's as if the songs' chord progressions were changed, and then their melodies were thrown into a note randomizer and plopped back in without a second thought. It got so bad to the point where I had to mute the game in Brinstar because I couldn't take it anymore.

Overall, I think this hack has to potential to be a 4/5 hack for me, but there's too much dragging it down for me to justify that. There's also too much good stuff scattered throughout for me to give it a 2/5, so 3/5 orbs it is.
By jamablues on May 21, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
87% in 3:00
INCREDIBLE so much to say about this hack. I hope you make a part 2 <3
Can't wait to play it again!
By Kremit44 on Jun 02, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 4:32
Really cool hack with great custom features. Bosses, items, and presentation all saw major changes and additions that made this a great hack to play. The concept is solid enough but always going up and down does make exploration a little more tedious but this hack managed the design well enough that I wouldn't call it a major flaw. The elevator stations were great for such the design and helped out a lot with traversal. The hack was a little too linear for my liking but not completely so or in any way that would have me qualify it as a major flaw either. Given the aforementioned level design being about verticality it was likely a good decision not to make it too open ended and backtrack heavy. Some of the secrets are pretty tough but all are doable and none needed any high end abilities to get, but you do need to be a veteran of the game to likely get 100. Bosses were cool but perhaps a little on the easy side, although I have to admit phantoon took me a little longer than I'd care to admit to figure out. The jetpack item was a really cool feature that added a lot. Charge missiles were a great addition, especially for supers. I loved the shinespark reflector puzzles, neat idea and fun. Overall a great hack and although for me not a top 10 hack a really strong game easily worth playing for any fan of the original. Lastly I always appreciate when the animals are savable and I was pretty stoked to find and save them myself. Thanks for the hack.
By thedopefish on Jun 08, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
88% in 3:42
[Watch Video]  
Very enjoyable hack with lots of custom stuff.

Big map with lots of branching paths, well paced progression, and some clever puzzles. As the name suggests you spend a lot of time climbing up and down narrow rooms. Exploration was consistently fun, and a lot of enemies and bosses have AI changes to make them behave a little different than you'd expect, which is pretty rare in a back.

Features several new charge-related gimmicky upgrades, a couple of new ideas for speed booster, and one major new mechanic for precision movement. Dragon went pretty much as usual, but the rest of the bosses all had a new twist and most were pretty enjoyable. There's enough asm changes crammed into this hack that it would be worth playing just as a tech demo, but the gameplay and world design are also really good.

My only real complaint is that I was constantly jumping, only to immediately slam my head into platforms or ledges that were barely off screen. Meaning I fell back down and had to attempt the jump again with a different trajectory. It's kind of unavoidable given the screen size and the highly vertical room design, and while the game almost never trolled me with any consequences worse than just re-doing the one jump, it happened so often that it was kind of annoying.

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