Door Ladder's Ratings and Reviews
Metroid: Return to Zebes by alexman25 [MZM Exploration], rated by Door Ladder on Dec 04, 2020 (Star Star Star Star Star )
98% in 1:59
Very well-made hack. Progression was a little bit confusing at times but overall it was still quite good. Loved the changed music. The SNES/A Link To The Past style Kraid remix for Kraid's area was probably the best piece in the whole game.

I was a bit disappointed at Tourain existing when Mother Brain is not in the game, so it's just an area that exists for getting extra ammo pickups and killing some metroids if you want to.

The Maridia area felt very barren and there wasn't much to it that was particularly interesting. Was a bit disappointed in that.

The new textures for some enemies, such as Metroids and Space Pirates, are a nice change though.

Finished.
Would recommend.
Metroid: Takeover by Spedimus [MZM Exploration], rated by Door Ladder on Dec 02, 2020 (Star Star Star Star Star )
80% in 5:00
This review may be a bit all over the place, I wrote down my thoughts on the hack as I was playing. I'll start with the things I disliked first to get that over with quickly, and then end with the things I did like and what the best parts of this hack are.



CONs/PERSONAL NITPICKS:
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[] I took my time with this hack and thoroughly explored as much of the world as I could, but somehow I still only ended up with an 80% completion rate. I scoured the entire map and power-bombed many parts of many rooms looking for more item accessways, and still found no more items. Where is the last 20% of items hidden?
[] Tiling errors are sometimes common, and result in some actual gameplay glitches (eg. being able to phase through the whale wall at the Kraid elevator while the wall is still intact).
[] I could not find the power grip upgrade for the first three hours of gameplay. This really necessitated a lot of bomb jumping on my part. Maybe I'm just bad at exploring, so this could be my fault, but it really gave me a hard time not having it for so long.
[] Much of my time in the hack was spent simply running around back and forth to different locations to try new upgrades on parts of the map I could not access before. I wish there was more inter-area navigation added so that I didn't have to make the same repetitive commute through Brinstar every time I needed to go somewhere.
[] There were far too few save stations for my liking, so I had to resort to using savestates for much of the run.
[] Many areas in Crateria or Norfair/Lower Norfair can almost 100% softlock you if you lack certain abilities. Why does the player even have legitimate access into these areas if they can't escape once they go in?
[] Many rooms in Norfair have invisible platforms that are impossible to see and discern. Why? Is this a tiling error or was this intentional?
[] Acquiring high jump without power grip or ice beam was extremely painful, as the exit route for the high jump upgrade required several extremely precise bomb jump exercises that had to be done quickly enough to avoid getting hit by fast-moving enemies, while still being able to get the morph ball into the opening at the top safely. this was probably the worst part of the hack for me. I spent about an hour total trying to escape from just one room because of this.
[] Maridia first visit was more troll-y to do than it ought to be. It really would have been better if it had more platforms to help the player traverse. Single wall jumping in water is not my idea of fun, personally.
[] Many of the shinespark puzzles felt incredibly unfair in their design. I used at least 100+ savestate reloads retrying just two of the shinespark puzzles in Kraid and Maridia respectively on this hack. I cannot imagine how frustrating this would be for someone who doesn't savestate and is just retrying it manually each time.
[] The ending sequence with Mother Brain and the Space Pirates felt rushed and unfinished. Given how much detail was put into the rest of this hack, I was expecting for there to be a suitless segment of the hack after fighting Mother Brain, which forces you to survive stealthily for a while until you re-obtain your gear at the chozo ghost battle. It was a shame that this segment is missing from the hack.



PROs/THINGS I REALLY LIKED ABOUT THIS HACK:
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[] The total world map is very large in terms of scale, though is arguably a lot less dense in terms of rooms clustered together. Fusion and Zero Mission had rather compact area designs with most rooms adjacently touching each other, but Takeover's level design has most rooms very spread out and not hugging each other.
[] On the issue of the map being stretched out, it results in the hack feeling more like an alternate version of Super Metroid.
[] The fight against Kraid was actually made really good due to a noticeable health buff applied to him, and now he is a very fun and challenging boss to fight. This is also due to his boss room being made much larger in the hack.
[] I really liked how the long beam's texture was changed to be the same color as the standard power beam shot from the Metroid Prime games. That's attention to detail!
[] I also really liked how Samus's power and varia suits have been changed to look like their Super Metroid/Prime counterparts.
[] The new appearance of the Plasma Beam was also a welcome change. It looks much more piercing in effect now than it did in vanilla ZM.
[] The use of Metroid Fusion tiles and alternatives (like the Fusion chozo statue design) were nice to see as replacements in this hack for Zero Mission's textures, however Brinstar felt quite odd. It is tiled in most rooms to look exactly like the Main Deck of the BSL station, with the super-upbeat Brinstar theme awkwardly playing over it. I can't help but feel this part would have been nicer if it instead just played the environmental ambience music Fusion used at the start of that game.
[] Adding Crocomire as a new boss fight, while glitchy and obviously unfinished, was a genius idea for the hack. It adds some much-needed challenge to Lower Norfair, and is a fun fight to do.
[] Acquiring the gravity suit near the end of lower norfair was so rewarding after grinding through the game for many hours. It opened up so many areas of the game once I got it.
[] The double boss rush at the end was surprisingly very fun to play despite the end area being very barebones. The player faces Mother Brain and then has to immediately fight Mecha Ridley quickly afterwards - all while the timer was still running down. This worked quite well here, primarily because the player is given ample time to chew through the second fight. I hated this same mechanic the way it was used in Ing-Ing's Stargazer hack, but here, it works very well.



FINAL THOUGHTS:
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This hack's strongest suits are in making the less-relied-on mechanics of the traditional 2D metroid really stand out more than ever, all while providing a very large and elongated map for players to explore. Bomb jumping, single wall jumping, bomb and speedboost combinations, plus space jump and gravity suit, all felt so important throughout this hack -- far more than they have in any Metroid game. I never felt more like I was accomplishing so much with bomb jumping in many places as I did with Takeover. Spacejump really felt like an important part of Samus's loadout in this game too, and it felt so rewarding to use it everywhere in the large vertical shafts around the map. The Shinespark mechanic is put to good use in acquiring several major upgrades in this hack, though some of the shinespark puzzles, as mentioned before, are annoyingly difficult. The design of the Maridia environment, though lacking variety and most rooms feeling fairly empty, was the most aesthetically pleasing part of the map to traverse. The color in the rocks really caught my attention.

This is a very enjoyable re-interpretation of Zero Mission's world and provides for many hours of explorational gameplay. Just keep in mind that every area you step into incurs a great risk of almost certainly dying unless you obtained some specific items first!

Have fun exploring!

Finished.
Would recommend.
Metroid FreezeFlame by Conner [MZM Challenge], rated by Door Ladder on Nov 30, 2020 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 0:46
For what it does, it's a very solid hack. The tightness of the corridors coupled with the rocky terrain made me feel a bit more like I was playing a Metroid Fusion hack than a Zero Mission Hack (I like Fusion a lot).

The timing pressure put on the player at the start of the game was the most challenging segment by far. It felt frustrating trying to speedrun everything when I wanted to take my time and explore. Luckily, health pickups have been massively buffed in their energy giveback stats so you can easily heal to max from just a few big health drops.

Items were well-placed and not too hard to find, though the morph ball segments behind hidden walls was quite frustrating to navigate. I'd often die inside a wall not being able to see which way to go, and having to back out to stand over the inspection block to peek inside felt like a bit of a chore. However, I applaud the use of such neat game mechanics - that wasn't really an idea Zero Mission ever tried using much in such a fashion.

The use of bomb jumping to overcome some obstacles and continue navigating was well-executed. Zero Mission didn't really ever use that as an essential mechanic at any point, but it is essential for some parts on this hack and it works quite well. Good work there!

I was left puzzled as to where the Kraid boss fight was. I was looking forward to seeing how that would be implemented in the hack but I sadly never encountered that fight.

The one thing that did really confuse me more than anything was the lack of map markers indicating where the portals between the heated and frozen versions of the world were. I had to rely on memory to figure out where they were. Would be nice if they had some way of being marked on the map other than just as empty ordinary rooms.

Regardless, these are just small nitpicks of mine, and overall I had a pretty fun time playing this. The ending though feels very rushed and I wish there was opportunity to enjoy an actual escape sequence, but it was still not too big a deal.

Finished. Would recommend.
Metroid: Oil Spill by Spedimus [MF Exploration], rated by Door Ladder on May 04, 2020 (Star Star Star Star Star )
98% in 3:14
The most impressive Fusion romhack I have played to date. Gameplay is sadly not as long as I had hoped (about 50% of the length of Fusion's gameplay) but it still has a lot to offer. Many of the bosses are close together location-wise and are relatively quick to punch through with minimal backtracking involved, though some are much harder to defeat than in vanilla, due to reduced beam strength and increased boss health.

I wanted to 100% this game for fun, but sadly I could not find the last remaining item pickup no matter how hard I looked. I thoroughly searched the entire game map with diffusion missile spam and screw attack on every wall and still could not find it, hence the 98% collection rate.

I've heard about how difficult it is to circumvent Fusion's event scheduling system for making nonlinear hacks with custom non-sequential ability upgrades, so hats off to the developer of this mod for working hard alongside the community to find a good way to overcome it! The non-linearity of the hack is probably the most fun part, especially with the beam upgrades.

One thing I will say is that the Varia suit core-X fight relatively early on into the game is by far the most difficult boss fight I have ever done in any Metroid game. With 4 energy tanks and high jump, I still died at least 20-30 times to this boss over the course of two hours before finally beating it by sheer luck and use of savestates. The idea of having two core-X to fight was admittedly very clever, but the difficulty of that one fight far exceeded everything else I faced in the game by a wide margin.

The speed booster item rooms and the core-X and Yakuza boss fights had me using dozens or hundreds of savestate loads as well, due to their considerable difficulty. Some of the speed booster tricks for items had me going through 4-5 separate rooms across a dozen different boost segments whilst avoiding numerous deviously-placed enemies before finally reaching the item, which was very frustrating to say the least.

Some reviewers mentioned the Zazabi fight being extremely difficult - I found this to be the opposite. It was perhaps the easiest boss fight in the game. The hack must have been patched since their reviews, since Zazabi simply spat me back out immediately every time I was grabbed.

Sapphron mentioned SA-X chases being in the game on his review, which had me very excited when first going into the hack, but I was disappointed to discover this was just referring to simple and static hallway chases from the deformed (and this time totally unkillable) huge final SA-X form, not the regular samus-sized hunting-killing SA-X. I wish more was done with this idea than just that.

Some other strengths of this romhack over some of the others is its fully-developed map, more regular use of save rooms, and its new-player-friendly visual indicators of paths and level design showing areas where you'll be able to later access with potential future upgrades. These are some of the main things that make any 2d metroid game great, and Oil Spill seems to have been designed with the intent of continuing this solid level design choice. Really glad to see that since so many of the 2d metroid romhacks do not seem to do it.

My only real complaints with Oil Spill are the difficulty of locating hidden items/breakable tilepaths without the use of bombs, as well as the ice beam upgrade still being highly linear as an upgrade, being unattainable except in the final few minutes of gameplay in the last boss battle. It would have been much nicer if I could acquire it earlier and then play through the rest of the hack with ice beam. Perhaps in future hacks this can be improved on and sequence-broken as well, including the rest of the base game's ending. It'd be awesome to play through a fusion hack with custom ending cutscenes that are entirely fresh and new.

Overall, this romhack is a fantastic sequence-breaking modification for Fusion's base gameplay template, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it. It's more like a slightly-compressed bossrush of vanilla fusion in a new map setting and some new custom sprites (loved the new beam and suit designs by the way!), with the difficulty of some of the bosses ramped up to 11, while others are just as easy to kill as in vanilla.


Thoroughly enjoyed. Would highly recommend to anyone.
Stargazer by Ing-ing [MZM Quick Play], rated by Door Ladder on Dec 01, 2020 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 0:44
After playing this, I feel that I understand now what people mean by "it's an ing-ing hack".
I've played through a lot of Veteran-level hacks without much trouble. The difficulty for this hack being rated as Vanilla is a complete joke. It should absolutely be Veteran.

There were so many troll moments during the gameplay. I certainly did not like that.
[] Metroids camping inside a hidden break-away wall that are nearly impossible to avoid getting latched by once it opens up. The same room they'll grab you in has gravity blocks in the ceiling that push your bombs away from you so you can't get free. If they latch you, you have a 95% certainty of death. I only managed to somehow get free once or twice once they grabbed me.
[] Annoying conveyor belts and spikes in many of the rooms - they push you into spike-filled pits or make it easy for bosses like Ridley to grab you, guaranteeing a quick death.
[] Mother Brain room softlocks you into that final area of the game once you enter; this is completely unnecessary and only serves to drain the player of their missiles before they actually can get into MB's chamber.
[] Mother Brain chamber battle has platforms with rapid-moving conveyors so it is impossible to maintain any solid footing. The only strategy that makes this fight winnable is to just spacejump in the corner repeatedly for minutes to obtain more health and ammo from the single rinka spawner in the room with screw attack. Any hit forces the player into the lava pit which is almost impossible to get out of once you fall in.
[] Escape sequence contains the infected cocoon boss in a room filled with spikes and near-undodgeable projectiles. Serves no purpose but to torture the player, as if the unfair MB fight wasn't enough.

This next part is moreso my personal nitpicky opinion, but the super metroid tile textures really haven't aged well. They look particularly unpleasant in a ZM hack. There are plenty of Fusion tiles that could have served as much better visual alternatives.

Also, why on earth is the custom game music so ridiculously loud? I could barely hear any of the other sounds in the game when it was playing, aside from missile explosions and low health alarms.

The only way I was able to maintain my sanity through this was by using savestates, and even then I still died at least a good ~30 times throughout the entire hack.

Finished.
Do not recommend.
Super Metroid: MINI by Mr. Hiryu [SM Unknown], rated by Door Ladder on May 17, 2020 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
Downloaded this hack to play since all the reviews here have been so positive. I was really looking forward to enjoying this, but I was sadly very let down. The hack's difficulty being listed as Vanilla is complete nonsense. This one is extremely hard, far more difficult than vanilla SM.

Saying this as respectfully as I can, it feels like a bad Chinese Fusion hack. Most of the rooms are filled with some combination of spikes, heat, lava, or forced damage from undodgeable enemies when entering new rooms. Most enemies have massively buffed health and do huge amounts of damage. There are no energy tank expansions to be spoken of in the early game at all, at least none that I could find aside from a single reserve tank. Save rooms are very rare. Hellruns through congested heated rooms filled with spikes and dozens of enemies are forced and unskippable. I died at least 50 times while playing this hack over the course of about 2 hours and could not make it through the first couple rooms of upper Norfair on first visit, not even using savestates.

Between the bad tiling errors, the constant traps, unskippable heated rooms and forced damage, I don't see how this is even possible to beat by anyone other than an expert speedrunner. But for more casual players like me, it is nothing but tedious, cruel, and unenjoyable.

Did not finish.
Do not recommend.