Kriken Empire's Ratings and Reviews
Metroid: Scrolls 6 by Conner, OneOf99, CaptGlitch, JRP [MZM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Oct 07, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
This feels like a culmination of what has been done with ZM hacking (except no ZM Crocomire). It's good, arcade-like fun with a fast-paced soundtrack, a ton of platforming challenges, multiple levels to choose from the start, some humorous moments, and a few surprises.

My only gripe is that I couldn't 100% the game because I just couldn't find some of the items anywhere, even with the item count telling me what level they were in, but I rarely ever 100% Metroid games anyways so it's actually a testament to how good the hack is if I felt compelled to try and 100% it.
Metroid - Rogue Dawn by Grimlock, Optomon, snarfblam [M1 Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Oct 07, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
I imagine this is a NEStroid fan's dream hack. Obviously there are some givens when considering quality. It is every bit a NES game, but that's the point. Even from a modern perspective, it's still a good game, make no mistake about that. It's got great atmosphere, music, and a map thankfully.
Super Metroid: Ascent by Benox50 [SM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Oct 07, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
This hack is worth all the praise it's received. It's not perfect, the flaws levied against it are warranted. There can be anxiety about missing items permanently, navigation can be a pain if you don't find the critical items quickly, and while it's definitely not the hardest Metroid hack (even under the "veteran" tag), I think it generally requires prior knowledge of several tricks like shinespark and walljump at least. Definitely missing a beam or other weapon permanently can influence how hard the game is.

When I say this is one of the top Super Metroid hacks I don't mean it's like Super Metroid, but it's because Ascent actually feels more like its own Metroidvania-type game separate from Metroid itself. It's more like Axiom Verge or something. It's tone is also different, giving off a lot more levity but with rare moments of being extremely dark.

If you want to get into playing Metroid hacks, I recommend this one because it's a strong showcase of what you can expect from hacks but at their best and most ambitious.
V I T A L I T Y by Digital_Mantra [SM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Sep 15, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
70% in 5:12
I was so skeptical that I would like this hack, but turns out it's one of the all time best.
Story-wise it feels like it's from an alternate "Super Metroid Hack Universe" but I shouldn't spoil what that means. Good on its own merits, but I admit I would've preferred a more "canonical" Metroid feel. I thought the twist ending was built up very well and the world building is superb.

Any time I got lost or reached a dead end I felt like it was my fault, which is all I can ask for. Map stations are readily available but don't tell you everything either, very clever signposting for what items you needed for an area (except for one optional area), and occasional rewards for going to places you're not supposed to be in so your time isn't wasted (including said optional areas). Although backtracking could get tedious, and some dead-ends were more annoying than others, it's not much different from SM, and the environments are beautiful anyways.

Enemies and bosses are usually similar to vanilla but sometimes are a lot harder than their original versions (save stations are fairly generous for the hardest parts though), and you already have to be decent at SM's movement/physics and a competent explorer to complete it, but it's also one of the easiest SM hacks I've played so by process of elimination it's one of the best hacks to start with.
Ancient Chozo by Albert V. [SM Vanilla+], rated by Kriken Empire on Oct 07, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
I couldn't finish this one, stopped at Wrecked Ship, I lost the heart to keep playing. It's a halfhack with a shiny coat of paint on it. Though it's definitely better than most halfhacks, it would've been served better not making SM harder for no apparent reason. It should just stick to its strengths, that being visuals and its new gameplay mechanics. I know it's based on Project Base (of which I'm biased towards), so it's not all original, but I particularly loved the sideways bomb jumping and the temporary "ballspark" that came with it. Everything about this hack is beautiful from a visual perspective, and the new tilesets connecting different parts of Zebes are welcome, makes everything feel more natural. I just can't stand some of the changes made in how rooms flow, and the extra challenges that hide away critical items are completely unnecessary and bog the experience way down. Every time I go back and give it another chance it just gets worse, but I'll leave it at 4 stars because, well, it's just so impressive and not all hacks are about how well they play.
Super Metroid - GBA Edition by The Brothers Crafters [MZM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Oct 07, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
As a pseudo-remake of Super Metroid of course it's a blast to play. I appreciate that a hack like this exists, just to be there as an alternative to the original. I also like some of the new item placements and creative uses for enemies just to create a semblance of Super Metroid. It makes the most out of a little. I only rate it as a 4 star because, since it relies on the original structure of SM's map, a lot of work has been done already and I hoped it'd be a bit stronger in the technical department then. It's not exactly "buggy" but it can feel weird at times and mostly just slaps assets together to recreate something without touching it up. I don't know if anything could be "fixed", like Crocomire, but because I want stuff like Croc kept in I think some sort of retooling is in order. Regardless, it's an interesting experience and a fun experiment.

But no Kiru Giru to replace Bomb Torizo? I mean it's even weak to bombs.
Eris by Digital_Mantra [SM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Oct 07, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
Eris is a work of art. It's probably #1 in the atmosphere department and difficulty wise it's not too bad, so long as you're expecting a challenge at least.

Sadly, it's 4 stars because you pretty much NEED a guide to complete it. Grey doors are the devil's fruit of Metroid design, and every grey door in Eris (which there are quite a few of) cost me half an hour minimum, and one I don't think I ever would've opened had I not been told about it beforehand. Also, I felt like backtracking often involved running from literally one side of the map to the other side and that got tiring after a while.
Hyper Metroid by RealRed [SM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Sep 17, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
79% in 8:42
I hate to say it but this is the kind of hack that's better the more you know about it going in. It's very open, but has a lot of grey doors too numerous and too out of the way to be checking after every little thing you've done just to see if it's open yet, and sometimes you need to go through one so you can't forget about them either. That "vanilla" difficulty tag is a bit disingenuous. It's is definitely harder than SM, especially the farther you are in the game, and that's assuming you've even found the items you'd typically have in vanilla, but some are very easy to miss. If you know boss patterns and cheese strats you might be fine, but I consider that stuff a veteran skill.

The gates aren't as bad as you might have heard. There is a risk that you might end up missing an obvious tell as to a gates' location, and never find it again on the map, but also there's three gates per area, and once you learn that it's not so bad combing the area to find them. Most can be hit throughout the game, not just at the end.
Also, be wary of a glitch in Wrecked Ship. I got stuck in a grapple block by slamming into a wall and had to reset. Otherwise, no serious bugs.

Overall, better on replays, but on a blind first playthrough it's only sometimes decent, often tediously frustrating. I almost dropped this to a 3 out of 5, but it is a full, unique Project Base hack, it has its own story and art, I'm a big fan of the color palette, and when the gameplay is at its absolute best it hits a level most hacks can't compete with (but only on occasion), so that earns some bonus points. Just don't expect this to be the ultimate Metroid hack, it's just solid.
Retroid by ProjectXVIII [SM Unknown], rated by Kriken Empire on Oct 07, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
It's a fun way to replay NEStroid (or play it at all), and I liked some of the new additions to the game, but I had some gripes. The statue in Norfair that only opens up after you kill Ridley...looks like Kraid. It took me too long to figure out what was going on. I also think this hack lost its identity. Half of it is a faithful recreation but in Super Metroid, and the other half is Super Metroid but haphazardly based on NEStroid. So for example, the Kraid fight is a clever retool of mini-Kraid done in a way where it feels like all his mechanics from the original are in the battle, but Ridley is just Ridley, and because there's no gravity or plasma, he's way too hard. That'd be fine on its own, but Ridley isn't that hard in NEStroid so it feels like he was just lazily slapped into a room. He doesn't even function properly in the new room. The game at times is made harder to compensate for the fact that it's in SM, but that kind of defeats the purpose of putting NEStroid in SM for people to have a better experience. It's a mess. It is fairly short so it's not a deal breaker, but given it's already working off of NEStroid's design, I'm more critical with my nitpicks.
Super Metroid: Escape II by Hiroishi [SM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Oct 07, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
A very cool hack with some major flaws. Shinespark tricks are very fun and I enjoyed some surprises regarding the boss fights (*cough* spore spawn *cough*). Despite the inherent goofy nature of "Planet Spo Spo", the world is actually fairly immersive and sometimes creepy. Phantoon's level was especially impressive and I appreciated that I was never forced into the underwater level until I had gravity. Moving on to the bad, sometimes there's clever signposting to discourage sequence breaking (the kind where you end up horribly stuck somewhere), but other times there's nothing and you just walljump or guess a direction and see what happens. To find the final level, you'd have to decide early on to shoot every tile block throughout the whole game to have a chance at finding its hidden entrance. It's like only half of the world was tested for coherence. Accidentally going into warps zones can also screw you up. I just used save states to avoid that issue.

I'll say this because it says the difficulty is "unknown". It's for veterans. You don't need to be a master, but you'll never get past Draygon (if you know you know) without knowing how to cheese her (and I don't mean with the grapple beam).

Oh and the amount of blue is fine. Maybe I was overly prepared, but it wasn't nearly as blue as I thought it'd be. There's a surprising amount of yellow, actually.