Kriken Empire's Ratings and Reviews
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Metroid Mission II by Sapphron [MZM Quick Play], rated by Kriken Empire on Apr 27, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 0:14
Big fan of Metroid 2 and this captured its spirit by forcing me to go right first. Jokes aside I hope more people use these tiles in the future. I can easily recommend this to anyone, even the type of person who power bombs every room "just in case" to find items (i.e. me).
Junkoid by P. Yoshi, Mindflower [M1 Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Jul 17, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
Creepy, but fun. I like that it follows some structural rules, like what's breakable, passable, etc. for the most part. It's very open and doesn't take too long to beat. It's aesthetic isn't really my style. I would've preferred it to fit more with Metroid's general tone, but it does have a strong atmosphere regardless.

I also have to agree with what everyone else says. It do be as good as Rogue Dawn. Don't take comparisons to heart, but I think Rogue Dawn has some individual moments which push it ahead of Junkoid in many respects, but Junkoid is simply more fun to play minute to minute.
Spooky Mission 2: The Nightmare Before Christmas by Spooky Team [MZM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on May 29, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
58% in 2:40
I had low expectations, but I can't really say anything good about this hack that hasn't already been said. It's one of the best hacks I've played, and definitely one of the best Zero Mission hacks out there. I think some may need a tip though, because I wish I did this: Accept the chaos of its design. Around every corner it feels like five new paths have opened up and you can only pick one. Anything that feels like a secret may actually be the right way, who knows, anything goes. It can feel overwhelming, but I just had to have faith that the map design was solid and wouldn't stray me wrong and send me into a purgatory of winding halls, and that faith was well rewarded with a wonderfully designed world, nail biting bosses, clever secrets, and anything else that convinces you to play this goofy (but spooky) hack.
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 up to the point of its release (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.
distressCall by moehr [M2 Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Aug 10, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
% in 3:27
This is a "shut up and take my money" kind of hack. It feels like a dream that something like this has been made. From conveyer belts, to underwater physics, new enemies, a wide variety of new tiles, new power ups, a map, everything. It feels like Metroid 2 went from short or half hacks all the way to current day Super Metroid hacks with the flip of a switch. I love that this was made, I love Metroid 2, and I thank everyone who played a part in this.

So it's crazy to me that I can say this hack isn't good because of the level design and progression rather than the fact that it's a Metroid 2 hack. Two words: Spider Ball. The amount of potential softlocks (or near enough to one) without spider ball is staggering and I got stuck somewhere so difficult to escape, it was faster to restart my playthrough than to try and leave. I had to look up where spider ball was because I wasn't going to suffer that again. Sadly, I couldn't see any way of accessing it "early" without IBJ, something the hack author says not to do, which is frustrating. Especially since with it, I no longer had serious issues with moving around the station.

Other than that, navigation is still a pain. I don't think there's anything objectively wrong with the game world, but for me personally, it feels like the game was designed around the map more than around cohesive design. What I mean is, many items and your targets (metroid equivalents) are in unintuitive locations, and I think many wouldn't find them without rigorously checking the map. However the map also makes the world look more interconnected than it really is, and sometimes I found myself running circles around a block on the map trying to find a way in when really the path leading inside was several rooms away, tucked in some crevice and maybe requiring a power up. I got so tired of this that I caved and looked up the locations of the last couple targets I was missing, and not surprising, at least one of them was passed a morphball tunnel in an arbitrary spot on a wall in a big room that I missed an hour or two ago. Going back and forth between areas also got tedious. One example is I found spring ball, though I didn't know it was spring ball at the time. I couldn't get it, so I climbed a tower and found space jump. I knew then that I could go back down the tower and get the other item with space jump. I thought to myself just how annoying that that would be to do, but considered "hey, maybe it's spring ball", bit the bullet, and went down. To my semi-amusement is was spring ball, but it bothers me that I couldn't simply get spring ball the first time through. The backtrack felt pointless, and I think this experience happened to me a couple of times. Many areas are packed with enemies and the sparse nature of saves and restore points can make moving around fairly tense, but sometimes tedious in its own right, at least by the final third of my playthrough. The hack is surprisingly difficult. It's not too hard, but it's hard enough that it caught me off guard. I would've thought it'd be easier considering not many are masters of Metroid 2.

To my knowledge there's no Metroid Queen equivalent, and no real final boss. A bit of a shame, but not a deal breaker. There's an air of mystery surrounding the station, and a certain optional boss had me scratching my head. It was interesting, but I'm pretty sure there's no ultimate conclusion. The "story" is just sort of there.

Regardless, this hack is pretty much too big to fail, I hope more hacks are made that can match or surpass it, and I hope no one is deterred from checking out this or future M2 hacks. This is a marvel of ingenuity in the hacking community.
Metroid: Desolation by jasinchen [MZM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Jun 21, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
60% in 3:14
Beat it twice from beginning to end, with 4 endings reached (two normal, two True Ending). To get this out there, this is a step up in ZM hacking. I don't understand how impressive it is from a technical standpoint, but it is creative and ambitious. I have some criticisms but the author should be proud and I recommend anyone give this hack a try. Even if something bothers you, it's worth it more to look stuff up to continue forward than to drop this hack outright. It's worth it.

Its ambition can be a hinderance, sadly. I couldn't tell when/if I should return to my ship, and did so on a whim my first playthrough. Needless to say I wasted a lot of time thinking there was more to do when I actually needed to start a new playthrough. The Metroids were also annoying because there's no indication that destroying them is pointless on a first playthrough. The Metroid doors should've at least been shown at the same time a message tells the player they need to come back to a certain door in a new game. I also saw no indication as to where screwattack was, and Metroid hunting without it was extremely tedious.

Some platforming sections were very punishing, and others were a little too hard for ZM's lack of buffer inputs I thought, but combat was always exciting and I'm impressed by what's been done with the bosses. They're a highlight. I could stand for it to be a little easier overall but that's a personal preference. Most of the shinespark puzzles were fair too.

The world is huge, pretty to look at, and has good choices for music. It's not too hard to navigate, and the map is easy to read, but the critical path and many sub items are found by twisting all around the map in strange ways. Hidden walls are everywhere and usually intuitive, but not always. By the second half of the game it felt like I was circling around the same couple zones Metroid or boss hunting and that gets boring after a while, but given you can cut your mission short I don't see it as a serious issue.

Overall this is a rewarding, unique, and fulfilling to play hack with some rough edges.
Metroid SR387 by OneOf99 and NathanTech [MZM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on May 08, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
90% in 1:09
This is one of the few hacks of ZM (or at least one of the only I've played) that does NOT have a silly tone (aside from the menu and end screen), and is NOT a halfhack or noticeably copy pasting a bunch of ZM's rooms. If you want a serious, original ZM hack that doesn't use a bunch of Fusion bosses, then this might be the best ZM hack, by process of elimination.

If you don't care about any of that, then this is simply a good hack, just not the best. A major nitpick was that a lot of optional items were lazily sitting behind dead end rooms. Either those rooms needed more in them, or the items should've been hidden in the larger rooms and have done away with all the smaller rooms. I don't know for certain, but this feels like it must've been a contest hack, so maybe some of it had to be rushed. Regardless it doesn't ruin the hack.

This is almost like the Eris of ZM hacks, with limited ammo and relatively challenging combat, dangerous Metroids, and a dark atmosphere. Though it's much easier to navigate and complete which is fine by me. Recommend.

One last note: When the hack said I unlocked some stuff for beating it, I thought for a second that there was an extra hack of NEStroid (the NEStroid you unlock in ZM), but sadly I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary.
Super Metroid - Revamp by The Brothers Crafters [MZM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on May 06, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
69% in 1:54
This is less "Super Metroid but in Zero Mission", and more "What if Super Metroid was Zero Mission instead". Items are moved around, progression is changed in some areas, and the map is warped to match ZM's controls. There's even shinespark puzzle rooms.

This plays both for and against the hack. For example (and not accounting for any sequence breaks), super missiles are blocked off until after you defeat Kraid and get ice beam, and I think that's because ZM Kraid is balanced around not having supers. However, this essentially creates a lot more backtracking than SM had. There are more examples, but most are fairly interesting.

There was also one missile tank placed in forgotten highway, which is almost a joke location for where an item shouldn't be in SM. It wasn't frustrating or anything, just weird.

Aside from the graphical improvements, I don't see any point in comparing this to Super Metroid GBA edition in terms of actual quality. These two hacks have different philosophies behind how to adapt SM into ZM. GBA Edition cleverly emulates SM even if ZM isn't actually capable of copying it properly (and added a couple rooms but that was minor). Revamp feels like it was designed as if SM never existed on the SNES and was always a GBA title with ZM's gameplay.

I can't believe this hack missed the opportunity to replace Bomb Torizo with Kiru Giru just like GBA Edition though. That's twice a boss that is weak to bombs wasn't used in the place you get bombs. Ridiculous.
Oxide by Cyclamen32 [SM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on May 05, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
163% in 2:37
This hack is almost amazing. It's combat heavy, but pretty easy. Platforming is the hard part. It involves a lot of wall jumps and the lack of high jump boots is noticeable. There's one too many grey doors, but as long as you get used to clearing all the enemies in a room it becomes much clearer which grey doors are locked for later and what are intended to go through. The atmosphere is great, and it's short enough to where any issues with the pacing aren't that big of a deal.

I would love to sing this hack's praises, but I think your enjoyment of this hack will vary depending on what you do and where you go. The world is very open, but the map is mostly a straight line left-right or up-down. This means that while you could have a completely different item progression from someone else, if you go too deep into a level without exploring earlier sections more, you're going to be forced into a ton more backtracking through linear sections, and I couldn't find any shortcuts to mitigate this, if there are any. Some areas pleasantly account for what items you may or may not have, but Kraid's lair demands you get space jump, or else you may be stuck bomb jumping in long vertical shafts to escape. I fell into several pitfalls on this front, and while I didn't hate it, it bogged the experience down for me.

Regardless, I recommend this hack. I would love it if it got an update to maybe add QoL improvements or touch up some of the weaker sections, but it's still good as it is, and I wouldn't wait to try it out.
Metroid 2: Metroid Purge by Liam Najor [M2 Quick Play], rated by Kriken Empire on Apr 27, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
% in 0:08
Archaic but surprisingly fun. Ended up finding the Metroid Queen after only blasting a few metroids. Missed over half of them. With all the copy-pasted rooms it's almost impossible to know where you are but I got through no problem in spite of that. Had to reset a couple times due to the soundtrack stopping when I picked up an item, but otherwise no major issues. Wish there were more M2 hacks.
Samus Goes To The Fridge To Get A Glass Of Milk II by kkzero [M2 Spoof], rated by Kriken Empire on Apr 27, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
% in 0:06
Go right, grab spider, go left, KILL SPIDER, grab milk, WIN!

Note: Arachnus is not a spider, despite the name.
Metroid: Return to Zebes by alexman25 [MZM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Apr 26, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
94% in 1:22
I don't think this hack does anything particularly special, but it is good, and a savvy player could beat this in under an hour if they didn't care about collecting items.

The game gets better as it goes, and the end where you have nothing left to do but collect items is pretty fun. Each major item upgrade feels rewarding, and there's a real sense of progression, starting a little too weak but becoming unstoppable by the end. The bosses were fun too.

I think its weakest points are its early game and music. The first section is basically just SM's intro but without any of the atmosphere or story, rendering it pointless and boring. The side items also felt like they were in random locations in the early and mid game, and without the map showing an item icon I'd be none the wiser about missing so many. The music is simply too loud. As someone who loves the charm of the GBA sound hardware, the music here is grating on the ears.

I noticed some graphical improvements to ZM, but I didn't notice the changes in physics until I saw the other reviews.


I was very happy to find Baby Croco. Also my favorite moment was the secret Kiru Giru boss after Ridley. Bonus points administered.
Mintroid by Golden Warrior [MZM Quick Play], rated by Kriken Empire on Apr 19, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
92% in 0:20
This is a fun hack, and worth playing, but given its size I was expecting a more "perfected" experience. The flow of going from room to room was fine, but there always felt like a dozen "speed bumps" I had to jump or shoot through like blocks on the floor or enemies on ledges in tight corridors so I was just waiting for them to move or else damage through, which isn't very satisfying. I also found my self having to shoot or bomb every tile to find items which slowed the experience down. Just not the feel I was expecting from a tiny hack. Despite that, items were still satisfying to get, and I liked the trick done with enemy power creep.

I'm mixed on Ridley but maybe I'm just bad. The rest of the bosses were fantastic and rebalanced elegantly. Also, love the mint.
Super Metroid: Subversion by TestRunner and AmoebaOfDoom [SM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Mar 15, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
85% in 9:15
If you like to a explore and backtrack through a labyrinth of a map, then this is the hack for you. It's challenging, full of interesting "new" items or upgrades, has fantastic music (or at least picks the right song for the job), is incredibly atmospheric, and has some nice surpises on a technical level. I can't put it into words, but there's some aspects to this hack that reflect Super Metroid, but are very rarely seen in, well, things that aren't Super Metroid. Let's just say the game has a good vibe to it.

One thing I personally didn't enjoy was just how many places opened up on the map every time I got a new item and how separated each each of said places were. It can make each new major upgrade feel that much more rewarding to get, but unless the correct path is obvious, you may end up circling the entire map for 20 minutes just to open a couple doors and get a couple ammo packs like me. It was an issue for me mostly because certain rooms in the world are annoying or tedious to pass through, but I ended up passing through them a heck of a lot. The game world being massive probably played a part in this too. A lot of morphball bombing, dark rooms, water, platforming, and/or tough enemies between me and a room that wasn't actually the right way over and over again sums up my experience, but hey some people like that experience. If that's you then please, please play this hack, you'll love it.

Just a couple nitpicks, I think Draygon is a little too hard, particularly with no means to restock before the fight. If I had played just slightly worse getting to her, I'd be stuck doing a very long and boring grind and that's not a great feeling. There's a lot of "clutter" that look destructible that isn't. Looking for secrets can feel like cutting grass in a few rooms. The puzzle before screwattack felt like trial and error because I couldn't see what I was turning with the switches half the time and it was annoying checking the next room so often to see what I did. Lastly, maybe this is just me, but I could not figure out how to save the animals despite them being right in front of me.
AMNR - Nes Mission by The Brothers Crafters [MZM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Aug 08, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
71% in 2:11
Well, it does what it says on the tin. I like that the zero suit section was left in. Makes it feel like this is what we could've gotten if the original developers didn't get creative with changing Zebes up. I think it also reveals some of the original game's strengths with handing out rewards for challenging sections, or for combing every part of the map. Save stations are generous and welcome. I also like how the hack tries to be more authentic to the few parts of the map that are in Super Metroid.

However, I do have some cons that stick out. The secret item in crateria is weirdly difficult to get and very hidden. Given it's tied more to ZM than Metroid 1, I think it's shoddy. It's also mandatory so you have to put up with this annoyance. More personal nitpicks, I wish the Nofair map station was easy to reach before high jump boots, just because I forgot where they were and was lost for a while. That's typically fine but I feel if this is a more digestible but authentic remake of Metroid 1, maybe the map should be more accessible. I'd also like power grip to be easier to reach. Simply put, platforming in Brinstar and Norfair is a nightmare without it, but power grip is a bit harder to get than in ZM for some reason. Lastly, I might be imagining it, but I feel like some items from ZM which are still in this hack are slightly harder to get. It just feels *off*.

Also, no fake Kraid. Clearly a 0 out of 5 orbs for the utter failure to adhere to the original title's vision for...Kraid...But I'll forgive this critical error to provide a second Kraid or equivalent as it is their first hack, I guess.

But seriously, I recommend this if you don't hate Metroid 1. I'm generally a fan of hacks like these because we get to experience a game in a different style. It should give a new perspective, and this definitely delivers.
Tallon IV Tours: Chozo Ruins Rumble by dewhi100 [SM Quick Play], rated by Kriken Empire on May 09, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
Kraid is worth all the praise he's gotten thus far, but the other bosses are likewise cleverly retooled to simulate Prime's miniboss encounters. It also shouldn't be understated that item locations, room layout, practically everything needs to be retooled as it's more than bringing 3D to 2D, but also having to make competent rooms without the same mechanics between Prime and Super.

Something very important to keep in mind, this is a faithful recreation without the rest of Prime 1. So it's literally not designed for the player to complete the game. It's more like, well, a tour. One nitpick is the room next to Kraid, with all the foliage. The switches are very tedious to find and shoot, especially when I'm doing it multiple times trying to learn Kraid.

Anyways I'm very excited to see how far this concept goes.
Super Duper Metroid by Metaquarius, Daltone [SM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Mar 25, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
85% in 5:28
Another chapter in the grand story of "where the heck are power bombs?"

Really though this hack was fun, but clever in its cruelty. If you like finding items more than the critical path, this is the hack for you. I almost thought I'd 100% the game before I got to Tourian just by accident. The map is...there, but combing every square inch is much more important to finding anything. Unfortunately this hack also suffers from the syndrome of "everything looks like a secret/breakable block." Difficulty-wise you've got some heat runs and underwater stuff with no gravity, but relative to most other hacks it's not so bad. Combat is easy though, so overall it leans more into the exploration side of things. It feels like a "Super Metroid 2.0" (hence the hack's title I suppose) but maybe in the most boring way possible. Praise worthy for its quality, level design, and atmosphere while also being kind of forgettable.

Just gonna compare this to Hyper Metroid real quick, only because of that snark in the description. I didn't manage to find plasma, and it was tough finding it in Hyper. A Gold Torizo walls you out of what feels like the right path just by being tough as nails. Its "openness" is full of long dead ends for pickups, punishing difficulty if you try to sequence break, or just really well hidden paths to where you shouldn't be (Zero Mission style). Casual wall jumps ended up being massive sequence breaks that translated to a ton of time being lost as I had none of the items I was intended to have. A few too many grey doors, with some seemingly never opening in my playthrough. It's also a project base hack. All of this could describe Hyper.
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.
Metroid: Salt Mission by alexman25 [MZM Spoof], rated by Kriken Empire on Apr 18, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
4% in 0:03
Love the music choices. It was fun and funny for what it was. All the extra "side areas" were too tempting to ignore, but I ended up clipping through the ceiling when trying to get inside. Guess I should stick to noob difficulty.
Super Easy Metroid by Crocomire [SM Vanilla+], rated by Kriken Empire on Jul 17, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
Honestly, I'm just glad this hack exists. Having options is good IMO. Though it's unlikely there'll be too many people struggling with SM so much they dive deep into the hacking community to have an easier time.
Metroid: New Zero Mission by jasinchen [MZM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on May 28, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
52% in 3:57
This is a pretty good hack, and a decent start if you want to try ZM hacks out in general. It's a pseudo half-hack with a lot left the same but changed slightly, though some parts are completely different. The parts most like a half hack also fall into the category of "changed just for the sake of changing" unfortunately, which usually means it's worse than the original. The new stuff is very cool, but confusing. There's a lot of interesting ideas along the main route that kept me going and are well worth experiencing. Simple, genius additions or changes bump this hack up for me (i.e. the Pirate Mothership and Tourian) and help to counter some of the lackluster vanilla+ areas.

If you're on the fence as to whether or not you should play with hints or without, then I recommend to take the easy path. If you swear off ZM's chozo guides then I'll say you don't need them, but I found I had to look up the right way just after getting super missiles because it was too hidden, and circling around the whole map over and over looking for the right path was annoying. I think I would've enjoyed myself more if I just took the hint system, I'll put it that way. The hack is slightly harder than vanilla ZM but that's to be expected. Early on it's a slog, with platforms in the pillar-shaped rooms snaked around to be as tedious to climb as possible, but the hack gets better as you go so don't worry too much.

Also, it says you don't need wall jumps, but I found the right path once or twice by walljumping my way there and I'm not sure what other route I could've taken, something to keep in mind. I will say the walljumps weren't particularly hard though, so it's not a deal breaker.

Edit: Lowering my score from a 4 to a 3, but this is a good thing. It was always more like a 3.5, but the hack author has improved greatly. Enough that I felt it wasn't right to round up and prop it up to Desolation's level when it's not. This does not change anything in my actual review however.
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.
Metroid: Lost Chozo by jasinchen [MZM Exploration], rated by Kriken Empire on Apr 25, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
61% in 5:09
I think the hack author has a lot of potential, but I am very critical of this hack. Regardless, I would keep an eye out for their next work.

This one is frustrating. Too few key items for so many locks, one way paths that waste your time, shortcuts that should be open to the player much sooner, and a ridiculously hidden correct pathway. It felt like every time I was lost, the answer was always to attempt to morphball or ledge grab every wall in the entire hack. There were a dozen too many hidden walls you have to just run into blindly to find (power bombs sort of help find them, but they're not breakable blocks, just visual tricks). Ironically, I still felt the need to power bomb every single room because some of the breakable blocks are in almost random locations and sometimes tiles look like they're breakable but aren't, and vice versa. The straw that broke the camel's back for me was the hidden path to the final boss in the laboratory. Moving from room to room isn't even fun. There's no flow to any of them, and I got real sick of the morphball mazes. Nearly the entire hack is like this from beginning to end. It's a constant stream of minor frustrations, confusion, and boredom.

I accepted the hint system and while it serves its purpose in the first half, the second half takes it away but unlike Zero Mission proper, there's not really any way to intuit where you actually need to go. This issue is made all the worse by the fact that this hack is halfway a halfhack. Maybe half the rooms are ripped straight from ZM and combined with its own issues, this is what makes this hack a 2 star.

Also, the entire hack feels like it was built with the player having ice beam in mind, but I never found ice beam and assume it's not in the game. Maybe that was done for difficulty but all it did was get me more lost because I gave up on the correct path sometimes thinking I had to go find ice beam first.

There are some pros however. I liked how the Metroids were handled. The rebalanced Arachnus fight was very fun, the escape sequence was interesting and tense, and I at least appreciate the attempts at having more stealth-oriented gameplay. Some of the unique map design like in the upper desert was pretty good. All of this gives me faith in a possible future hack from this author, but I will not be touching this hack again and don't recommend it to anyone.