Cosmic's Ratings and Reviews
Metroid II EJRTQ Colorization 1.3 by Quantam [M2 Improvement], rated by Cosmic on Jul 19, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
91% in 2:45
This hack made me like Metroid 2 more than NEStroid. There's no better way to play the original Metroid 2 than with this patch, at least for now. You won't believe how much better this game is with a touch of color. There may still not be a map, but now that you can better establish landmarks it's not nearly as awful to navigate SR388. This hack is even compatible with real hardware (GBC and onward I think)
V I T A L I T Y by Digital_Mantra [SM Exploration], rated by Cosmic on Nov 25, 2020 (Star Star Star Star Star )
90% in 8:35
Take what I say with a grain of salt because this is the only DMan hack that I have completed, and I usually don't play Super Metroid hacks. To me, this is Digital Mantra's magnum opus. The best hack of the worst year, and possibly the best hack we will ever get.

Despite using mostly vanilla assets, Digital Mantra has forged a world that is incredibly detailed, immersive, and unique. Samus is not on Zebes this time, she is on Auriga. There are an incredibly limited number of hacks that don't feel like you're still just on Zebes. I won't go into detail here, but actions that the player takes tend to have an effect on the environment which makes Auriga feel alive. Auriga is vast, equal to if not bigger than Zebes. Because of this, it is also quite a long hack compared to others. Of course, there is also plenty of sequence breaking you can do. I do have some minor gripes with the level design however. There are many such occasions where you will find something that you believe is in the foreground (i.e. a solid object) but actually lies in the background, or vice versa. This can hurt or even end up killing you. That may be intentional however. Also there is at least one area that has a lot of rooms layering over each other, which ends up being incredibly confusing and hard to navigate. Tchornobog is the biggest offender of this, I'm sure you will discover why when you play through.

The difficulty of this hack is slightly harder than Super Metroid, but only by so much. Not a single advanced technique is required to complete this hack. (i.e. short-charging, IBJ) You really don't even need to walljump anywhere. What makes it harder than vanilla is the scarcity of resources. There are energy and ammo recharge stations, but expansions tend to be few and far between. This problem comes to a head when you fight Ridley, but fortunately there is an escape shortcut if you feel you aren't equipped to defeat him just yet. To me, this was the hardest part of the hack, as I absolutely had enough gear to take him on, but I continued to absolutely melt when fighting him. Why? Because of screw attack and respin. Screw attack resets your invulnerability frames (i-frames) and respin lets you start spinjumping at any time in the air. I would get combo'd by running into his tail, trying to space jump away, and run into his tail again. This gave me an opportunity to learn how to properly fight SM Ridley, instead of just spamming my weapons and tanking hits.

There's a story here too, and oh my god it really is something else...So be sure not to skip map stations! Fret not however, these stations are intentionally designed not to give much away. You will not spoil your expedition through Auriga by collecting these map stations. In fact, the way the map works is also fairly different from vanilla. Dots now only indicate major items... Expansions are truly hidden. Despite having no indication on the map, it's not all that hard to tell that something might be a secret item. Knowing where it is tends to just be half the battle, however. Even if you have the powerup to get it, you may need to do some snooping around to find a path to it. I'm a big fan of this because it builds anticipation and makes you use your head a little more than just "break block and grab item."

Back to that story though... Not a whole lot is said. Most of it is still given through subtext. Some things are so subtle, you may miss them unless you take a break and come back later! The ending was totally unexpected and it's something that will stick with you even after you complete the hack.

Overall, despite its minor grievances, this is still definitely the best hack to date. This will be my new #1 recommendation for people looking to try Metroid romhacks. I've got to wonder though... Will this be DMan's final or best work? Or might something else be around the corner?
Spooky Mission 2: The Nightmare Before Christmas by Spooky Team [MZM Exploration], rated by Cosmic on Nov 03, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
92% in 5:43
Finished. Recommended. But pretty meh as of v1.0.

Overall for me a really mixed bag. I WANT TO LIKE IT. I DO THINK it could become the best ZM hack. But it needs more polish, polish that it should have received before its release. Many members of Spooky Team literally didn't have the chance to playtest the hack before release because of this! Fortunately, Spooky Team has promised to fix issues and add more opportunities for sequence breaking, so this could one day be the King.


Don't get me wrong, this may be the most ambitious ZM hack yet:

+ It's chalk full of custom music!
+ New bosses and enemies!
+ The puzzles can be pretty genious at times, testing the player's knowledge of Zero Mission mechanics! Namely, with Speed Booster.
+ Like DMan I do unironically think the exploration in this hack is better than Dread's...
+ Tiles are not only BEAUTIFUL, like the animated boneyard tileset, but were also deliberately placed; there are minimal graphical tiling errors to speak of.
+ This hack taught me about some really cool engine tricks, like BG0 shenanigans with Chozodian save stations, and stop enemy block weirdness. Very cool!

But there's a lot of issues I consider to be FUNDAMENTAL that are holding this back from being the best Zero Mission hack. Namely:

- Setpieces are NOT memorable. For example there is a boss gate system. Kind of expected, considering it's a hack of Metroid, and most Metroid games do. But DESPITE being forced to go through the boss gate room, DESPITE being in a small area, DESPITE having weird music, the design of the room did not stand out enough for me to give a damn about the room. I never even noticed that there was a flame in the wall. If it wasn't for CaptGlitch and Quote being in voice chat with me I would have never returned to Express. Another example is the huge room in the left side of boneyard. Yeah, there's those teeth, and yeah, the filler behind the speed blocks is dark, but nobody's going to have enough time to register what's going on there when 80% of that screen's floor is covered in pit blocks.

- FUNDAMENTAL tiling errors are EVERYWHERE. Enemies are constantly clipping in and out of slopes because they are used in corners and ceilings, or out of bounds because no collision was added behind doors in some areas. It's particularly frustrating in Glacier when you're trying to charge up a spark because an enemy will just instantly appear and smack you, making you lose your momentum in the process. SLOPES ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE REGULAR BLOCKS AT BOTH ENDS!

- Segments of the game are either super linear, or chaotically non-linear, there is no in-between. This is especially the case in your first visit to Boneyard, expect to be there for a WHILE but once you're over that hill the game opens up.

- The music is inconsistent. Many (read: most) areas will use item room, save room and map room themes, and others will forgo this in favor of the area music. Personally I like the latter approach more, because in some places (such as the beginning of pumpkin) It's pretty stupid when the intended path's rooms have different songs 5 or 6 times in a row. Some areas are missing music entirely while most of the time the music will just decide to mute for 10 or 15 seconds. This is usually after using power bombs, but sometimes there are other triggers for this as well.

- Frankly I think some secrets are too well hidden, or things that shouldn't be hidden at all ARE for some reason. Your typical bullshart like "Redesign walls" that appear solid, but you can walk through them, or destructibles that are LITERALLY OBSCURED BY THE HUD like the screw attack blocks to get out of the loop near southeast Pumpkin's warp zone. As for things that get hidden but shouldn't be, how about the T shape room in southern Spooky that's all pit blocks? Most other pit sections have other ways around, but not only does this one NOT, you literally can't even check because it's one block off screen with a fixed camera. There is a missile tank puzzle in Glacier that forces you to use a ball launcher in the void zone, when it could just as easily be possible without the ball launcher if speed boost blocks were added in the ceiling of a room below the tank. It's pretty bullshit I have to re-do the speedboost puzzle again to go back to Crypt from top-right Pumpkin if I got that energy tank.

- Plasma beam is ridiculously OP and left untouched in this hack, yet authors felt the need to nerf screw attack and speed booster by making lots of enemies ignore those attacks?! Why?! It really just feels like a middle finger when you go to spark out of a room but you run into an enemy immune to speed booster so you get hit and fall back down. Or trying to charge up speed boost only for a Skree's shrapnel to hurt and reset me.

- Most of the bosses overall are still just as weaksauce as vanilla: The ones that aren't are super tedious, like Charlie reborn & Serris. These are also coincidentally the bosses that force you to play by their rules, deciding to negate all damage until they feel like it. Not fun to play against, especially when they take an excess of 20 hits to take down. On the other hand, Arachnus and Imago were literally oneshot! The boss I enjoyed most was Kraid.

- Map inconsistencies. Crypt's flame location room has incorrect map X/Y coordinates in the header. There is a one way missile door, but it's locked. The solution is to crack it open from the other side. If super missile doors weren't cum-colored, maybe people would realize sooner that it's a locked door and the correct path is nearby?

I'll grab 100% but after that I probably won't be picking this back up until it gets updated.
Metroid II EJRTQ Colorization 1.3 Beta by Quantam [M2 Improvement], rated by Cosmic on Oct 06, 2020 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
This is a good hack! However, this is a listing of the BETA version and not the full release. You can find the full release here:

For that reason, I do not recommend this version of the hack.