JaceTheBodySculptor's Ratings and Reviews
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T O U R O F I T A L Y by RT-55J [SM Exploration], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Jul 05, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
79% in 1:14
Maybe there's some recency bias here, but this feels like the best hack I've ever played. One custom item in particular, the Swirl Clamber, is so good it should be studied by professional game developers. It's innovative, intuitive, fun to use, even fun to struggle with a bit, and creates fresh room design space. Overall level design is top-notch, with many blocks and enemies feeling like they are put in exactly the right place. The openness and freedom given to the player, along with the connectedness and relevant implications of getting items in different orders, gives the hack replayability and an added sense of intricate beauty.

Of course I haven't even mentioned the humorous facade of the hack yet. The theme is silly and sparks joy (as well as a desire for ice cream). But don't be fooled, this is way more than a silly hack, this is a masterpiece of good design.
V E R T I C A L I T Y by Tundain [SM Exploration], rated 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.
Super Metroid Weekend V by dewhi100 [SM Quick Play], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Apr 15, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
93% in 0:22
Weekend 5 gets 5 orbs. Time will tell if Weekend 6 overflows back to 1 orb.

But seriously, I loved the enemy placement in this short, fun hack. Crabs and puyos are placed in just the right spots with the right speed, while energy and ammo must be carefully managed. If you enjoy the combat side of SM, you'll like making quick decisions whether to engage enemies or to frantically evade them.

Criticism: I disliked the lack of a save after Botwoon. The first time I killed him, with very little ammo and no energy tanks, I soon fell into a Owtch that killed me in a single hit. I did not enjoy dying after being proud of killing Botwoon with all pea shots.
V I T A L I T Y by Digital_Mantra [SM Exploration], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Oct 20, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
44% in 3:23
Superb story. Excellent exploration, atmosphere, and visuals. The balance of combat felt tilted towards Veteran difficulty - this hack wants you to die.

There was a stretch of time I had some negative experience. In multiple instances when I was completing areas or sub-areas, I had a feeling of "thank god that's over" instead of a feeling of triumph or joy. But maybe that's because I played the hack too fast. Or maybe it's an overall strength of the hack that you feel dread more often that you feel a sense of powerfulness.

Regardless, by the time the story hit its climax, any momentary discomforts didn't matter anymore. I will remember this as one of my all-time favorite hacks.
Super Metroid: Subversion by TestRunner and AmoebaOfDoom [SM Exploration], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Sep 09, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
88% in 6:52
(Although I didn't 100% items, I did reach 100% of the logbook.)

I said before Subversion was released, Metconst will need to add an extra orb to its maximum scores to accommodate this hack. At that point I had only seen a handful of rooms and the log system on Amoeba’s stream, but I knew something special was being created. After playing, I stand by my assessment. Not only is this better than any SM hack that has been made, it’s significantly better.

I don’t want to exhaustively list everything good about this hack; you should play it for yourself. What you can expect is high amounts of polish, immersion, novelty, and content to explore. I think my favorite thing was the spacey / astronaut vibe that is established at the beginning and reinforced later, augmented by the wonderful music.

I’m sure this hack, deservedly, will receive a lot of praise, but I still want to mention things I did not like or potential weaknesses depending on players’ preferences.

There was some time I was stuck for like an hour looking for where I needed to go. This was sort of my fault because I had already discovered the path but turned around and forgot about it. But those closed shutters that block off so many paths are evil and not fun. They are cool and clever in regards to immersion, but they aggravated a bad experience when I didn’t know where to go. The logs also could have done a better job at guiding (but not totally handholding) the player at that point in the game.

When it comes to items, this is actually a pretty low novelty hack, at least when you consider this is the best hack made to date. Paired with this is the low novelty of breaking blocks with different items - which is a fine thing in moderation. If you go by the items one by one, very few are changed in an interesting way. This is contrasted within the hack with the masterful design of those green beams and how you end up interacting with them. This hack being a masterpiece in many ways, it’s surprising that there’s not many fresh items and so much use of item-breakable blocks to provide lock-key progression. On the other hand, it’s possible that most items being close to vanilla (or established ideas in the metconst universe such as speedball or accel charge) keeps the hack feeling closer to the Super Metroid we know and love.
Super metroid familiar by Tundain [SM Exploration], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Feb 25, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
67% in 2:29
I like novelty and creative new challenges but I still liked this hack. It’s good clean fun. Thoughtful level design. Well paced. Good guidance/direction for the player. As someone who enjoys the combat and platforming of SM more than the bomb-everything exploration, I especially enjoyed the pacing of Super Missiles and Energy Tanks in the early to mid game. When I found one I felt that I was finding something that would help me significantly, as opposed to the feeling you get when you play a randomizer and get so many supers or tanks that they don’t matter anymore.

None, Tundain is perfect.
(Initially here I said that the game felt a bit too walljumpy but I've been informed that you can beat the game without walljumps. Some steep jumps at the landing site convinced me from the start that I should be walljumping a lot, but I was probably holding run and not reaching max height. Hack is indeed novice friendly with an occasional difficult/punishing room.)
Super Metroid Alliance by Mentlegen, Tundain, Dewhi100 [SM Quick Play], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Aug 12, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
81% in 1:26
A mostly pleasant adventure.

The overall pacing of the game is fun, fast, and breezy. Good level design that matches the physics changes like speed-keep. I don’t normally PogChamp / BatChest / SoyPoint over custom music, but this music sounds great and fits the areas well.

I was confused about what to do in Maridia for a while and it was classically good Metroid game design to lock the player in there until they figure it out.

Cons that should not dissuade anyone from playing but are meant as feedback to the devs:
There’s a difficulty spike in the acid area, the path that includes the ninja pirates. The rest of the hack is a cakewalk so it feels very out of place. Consider removing the acid in that path after you trigger the acid lowering room, since exiting is the harder part.
The items are picked up too soon after encountering the obstacles they remove. Imo Varia was the worst offender. I’m sure being a quickplay, this is harder to avoid. Still, if you compare the placement and pacing of Missile, Super, and PB doors and your first pickups of each versus the placement of items and the new paths they open, you did better with door locks / pb blocks than you did with Varia, Spring, Gravity, etc.
There’s a softlock involving a vertical shutter, though it might require turning around into a room that most players won’t notice.
There was an annoying door that is green to the right, and it will waste your time if you go through it first before entering a progression room on the left. Since this is not a punishing hack, the player should be given better guidance to go left first.
(Contest context only) This doesn’t really matter for our enjoyment as players, but if I had to consider how much you fulfilled the contest prompt, I would say there was barely any interaction with friendly enemies. There was one cool (pun intended) friendly enemy room and the rest were practically in the background.
AN.T.I [ANother Terrible Idea] by TriAsUnit [SM Quick Play], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Aug 24, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
76% in 0:26
Fun. I liked the lack of walljump paired with the Double Jump.

It felt like it ended abruptly. Somebody said they missed the final boss so I bet I did too.

It was strange how we are given a single PB. It feels a bit disappointing; when I got it I thought to myself, I don’t know where I’ll be able to farm one after I use it (maybe the refill restores PBs) but I didn’t want to risk it, so I bee-lined it to the yellow door instead of using it to hunt for hidden items or passageways. This made the PB feel like a generic key to a lock that had no other uses.
Super Metroid: Equilibrium by Shadow96 [SM Quick Play], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Aug 16, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
Cool, memorable boss fights. The big hopper’s health is high enough that it gets a bit tedious, but with it being a single fight, I think it’s appropriate. Dark Botwoon was terrifying and an ideal boss for my taste - one that kills you a couple times but eventually you adapt or get lucky and beat it.

Downsides: In some circumstances, the game will crash after you open the map. There’s a softlock in a morph tunnel with a nasty slope at the end of it. There are some powerful enemies after Botwoon and it would be a bad player experience to die to them without saving after the boss fight. Gravity Boost directions should have been put in the hack description (you hold angle down and jump).
Super Metroid Weekend IV by dewhi100 [SM Quick Play], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Aug 15, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
20% in 0:20
A fine bite-sized hack. It's cool that Ridley can be discovered so early, but his legacy of being a tough boss makes you want to delay fighting him until you are more powerful, but the option to fight him sooner is present.

-There's a missile pack placed on the very edge of a screen, so if you roll past the empty space it creates after you pick it up, you'll softlock. It's on the lower right of the map.
-The lava made it hard to distinguish yellow from green doors. Poor farming options makes wasting the wrong kind of ammo worse than usual.
-A couple room specific details surprised me in a negative way. One was a floor that I expected to be bombable for faster travel, but it wasn't. The other was a room with a 2x2 bombable block that's easy to get past moving down but requires a tight midair morph + bomb to go upwards, again only a shortcut so no big deal.
Winter09 by GF_Kennon [SM Quick Play], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Aug 13, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
14% in 0:05
Much too short, but the room with all the Bangs makes it worth playing.
Super Metroid: Aggressive by TheOrigin [SM Quick Play], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Aug 13, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
6% in 0:05
Fun practice for mid air morphing, springing on crumbles, grappling near spikes, and wall jumping. I decided to save-state after each energy refill (but never in between), so real save states would be nice for people playing on consoles that don't savestate. I think I would also prefer if the crumbling blocks looked different from the stable blocks, but I'm not certain because there is some positive surprise value.
AngryFireChozo by DSO [SM Quick Play], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Aug 16, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
I got to the boss and quit after a few attempts. If I had Charge beam I would have continued grinding because I see a viable strat but without it it would be too tedious to farm his drops.

I recommend this if you are Veteran level and want to have your patience tested to the limit.
KT JDDD Halloween by KT JDDD [SM Quick Play], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Aug 13, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
Cool concept and a fun experience while you are playing, but it's too unforgiving for my taste. I wish the Rinkas would drop health so you don't have to start from the beginning if you get far enough.
Super Metroid: Hyperion by silverpaw84 [SM Quick Play], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Aug 13, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
This should be extra appealing to players who enjoy the "bomb everything to find the secret tunnels" aspect of SM. The dark fog was nice in that regard - with fresh rooms it added a feeling of extra uncertainty in exploration. I liked the changes to enemy health and (in)vulnerabilities.

Physics changes feel strange, especially when your wall jump has much less height than normal jumping.
Super Metroid Weekend II by dewhi100 [SM Quick Play], rated by JaceTheBodySculptor on Aug 12, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
This seems like a difficult hack to categorize, because it's like a spoof, challenge, speedrun, and quickplay all at once. I do believe there exist people who will enjoy it, but they've got to tick all the right boxes. To really enjoy this hack you've got to: be looking for something short; be somewhat of a completionist; enjoy making multiple attempts at the perfect run; tolerate the difficulty in dying to strong enemies; and enjoy rather than bemoan the loss of runs to spending time gathering information. I think that's asking for too much for the typical player, but if that sounds like fun to you, try this out.