OmegaDragnet9's Ratings and Reviews
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Super Metroid: HISHE by Scyzer [SM Unknown], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Jan 27, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
0% in 0:01
Fixes some of the plot holes of Super Metroid.

In the Vanilla game Samus isn't gone 5 minutes and Ceres is a lost cause. The Federation's security certainly is inept but clearly Samus should be a little quicker than Nintendo gave her credit in Metroid 3. I'm glad she got her moment here because it's about time.

Spoilers ahead:

In 1994 it bothered me to see Ridley come back so soon when it would only be 23 years and his triumphant return would be properly retconned in the highly canonical Samus Returns. This version of Ceres is thankfully absent the tired and admittedly problematic shoe-horning of a Ridley fight just for fan-service. (We already faced him a few hours ago on SR-388. Give me a break.)

This choice to remove Ridley allows the story to breathe and makes the inevitable
and exciting showdown on the Bottle Ship to be so much more impactful.

You can actually go back up the elevator, a clearly missed opportunity in 1994.
Metroid: Return to Zebes by alexman25 [MZM Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Jan 24, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
% in 4:06
Played 2.5.3.

A year or two prior to this revision I downloaded the patch (sometime around when Super Metroid GBA Edition was still generating a lot of buzz.) Unfortunately I didn't do a good job maintaining revision numbers in my hack playlists so I haven't nailed down what my original playthrough was.

Suffice it to say the hack doubled in size and quality between that playthrough and this one. (And that old one was nothing to sneeze at in the first place.)

Before I heap a ton of praise I will agree with Zhs2 (to a degree) that there were a few places a skilled player could easily get too ambitious and potentially stuck. This is really more common in GBAtroid hacks anyway and not unique to this hack. (I suspect because wall-jumps and IBJs are easier than Super's.) I never reached a true softlock as I was able to wall-jump or IBJ back to a previous place. I found minor wall jumping to places didn't cause this, but really try to respect the route unless you know it well.

Now that's out of the way, once I devoted the proper time and attention this turned into one of the most engrossing and addicting Metroid hack playthroughs I've experienced.

The enemies can be tough early on, but item acquisition is paced just right so the power scales escalate appropriately. The pacing and exploration were really fine tuned. Huge leap in quality in only two years time.

Not sure who all was involved in the music and GFX, but all of the above contributed to the world building masterfully. Even just the palettes themselves were very wonderful to look at and soak in.

Spoilers:

I love the final area. I love how alexman25 changed the environmemt drastically in Crateria throughout the game. I loved how the usually boring ZM bosses presented an actual challenge (without going the other way and being too hard to fight fairly.)

I appreciate that the hack revisions have been preserved. I look forward to future installments (as well as exploring the old versions.)

Realized after publishing that I never devoted the proper attention to physics. (Things like the Prime style charge beam attracting pickups.) I play so many hacks I forget these QOL things are absent from the Vanilla game. Really makes the whole experience feel smoother.
Metroid: The Blue Plague by Nodever2 [SM Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Dec 11, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
83% in 1:05
This is my second playthrough of The Blue Plague, and it is a really enjoyable hack.

What really jumps out at me is the GFX work. The Earth looming in the distance really sells how high the stakes are. I saw a user comment in MST's playthrough video that said one area reminded him of Phazon Hack, and I had to agree. Subtle changes in the environment from gameplay really add to the experience.

Respin is always welcome in my book. I can't be certain, but high jump feels like it got the Hyper Metroid treatment.

Much respect to the customized map tiles and HUD palette changes.

It came up before, but the most significant difficulty spike is chaining a certain sequence of enemies with a certain freezing beam. It's definitely hard, but not undoable. It is comparable to the respawning shot blocks in Kraid's Lair in Nestroid. In both cases it's a skill and patience issue. (Not everything can be easy all the time.)

All that said, this hack has some serious replay value as I had more fun this time around than when I played it 2 years ago, (even after having forgotten a good part of the route.)
Super Metroid Biohazard by Mentlegen, SMILEuser96 [SM Speedrun/Race], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Nov 19, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
64% in 4:51
I really enjoyed this one a lot. Only one playthrough under my belt but I can see this one getting replayed a lot.

World/map design was phenomenal. I really appreciated the concise yet vast layout of the map.

Room layouts were fantastic. They were fun to traverse and enemies were appropriately challenging. While there were certainly a few puzzles, I appreciated that there were not any cryptic rooms where a Nintendo Power subscription was necessary to make basic progress.

GFX was nice to look at. There was a metallic facility theme across the map that never really out-stayed its welcome. Aside from some purposeful design symmetry no two rooms were ever the same, even if they utilized the same tileset.

Was good to see the Opposition suits make a comeback. Charge beam animation was gorgeous.

Really loved the custom soundtrack. While I always appreciate when a hack includes custom music, it's even more impressive when one of the authors is the composer.

Had a few minor gripes I won't go into too much detail here. Most the bugs I encountered were patched out in 1.08, and when I switched over to that version my life got a lot easier. There was one particular artifact room I feel a certain custom mechanic made it a little too hard to exit from.

Mentlegen and Smiley made an amazing hack in a very short period of time.

Edit: forgot to mention the physics. Respin and Speedkeep make for a buttery smooth experience.
Metroid - Rogue Dawn by Grimlock, Optomon, snarfblam [M1 Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Nov 08, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
54% in 5:25
I'm glad I finally got around to completing this one. While I have complete respect for the source material, Rogue Dawn truly overhauls the Nestroid experience.

The graphics, mechanics, and soundtrack work in perfect harmony. (I liked one new mechanic in particular.)

The story is complelling and the lore is broadcast in a very effective manner.

There were some difficulty spikes. Navigation can be frustrating in the early game.
Super Junkoid by P. Yoshi [SM Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Sep 01, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
84% in 4:37
We've pretty much gotten to the point that I can't pinpoint what would be "the most ambitious hack yet."

Hyper, Redesign, and Phazon Hack doubled the size of the original Zebes. Phazon, Super Zero Mission, Ascent, (and countless smaller hacks) reskinned all of Super. Digital Mantra's hacks repurposed the original assets to be near unrecognizable.

In the graphics category, I really believe this one to be the most ambitious Super Metroid hack to date. Yoshi could easily take these assets and use them in a different game engine. (The closest comparison I can think of would be what the Sicari Remastered hacks at SMWCentral did for Super Mario World.)

What follows afterward contains spoilers:

--------------------------------

Level design and item progression felt organic and fun. The graphics were cute and exceptionally well done. I encountered a few glitches in 1.0, but they were well-documented and fixed in the latest revision.

Beyond that the platforming and exploration was top-notch. I never got the aimless frustration I often get with some 5 star hacks with feeling stuck or being unsure where to go.

I wasn't the biggest fan of some of the body horror/adult themes, (it actually came across as more disturbing than what VITALITY had, I guess in contrast to the cute art style.)

That being said, the music and melancholy level sections were exceptionally well-executed. It really made you feel you had to stop at nothing to defeat this all-consuming, evil power.

The map graphics were gorgeous. The HUD and item select screen were completely overhauled. No stone was left unturned to make this feel like an entirely separate game. There were some very cool ASM tweaks to a few items to make them behave different from Super Metroid.

Deep Purple was probably my favorite area.

Killing the final boss was satisfying as it really felt like you were punishing the evil entity for all the suffering it caused you and the innocent victims in this shadow world.
Super Metroid Redux by ShadowOne3333 [SM Improvement], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Aug 16, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
66% in 1:33
Having recently beat an older version of Redux, this is a vast improvement over GBA_Mode. In some regards it does better than Turbo, which I highly praised in another review.

I cannot say anything to the optional patches, but there is some very compelling stuff there worth exploring.

As for how this improves the Control Freak/Project Base experience. Mainly the physics feel a lot better (sometimes less is more.) The door transitions are better than in GBA_Style, and I would argue look better than the faster ones in Turbo. The audio problems from the previous revision are eliminated.
SM - Cryogenesis by Onnyks [SM Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Aug 15, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
80% in 6:51
When I saw the thumbnails for this hack I knew I had to play it.

I had read Onnyks cites the works of Digital Mantra as inspiration for the art-style presented in Cryogenesis. When I delved further into the game I could certainly see why.

Probably one of the most beautiful examples of mixed tilesets I'd seen in a hack. The palettes were easily the best aspect of the custom graphics. Much like Digital Mantra, Onnyks excels at taking the vanilla tiles and creating a whole new emotional tone from the original assets.

Music is Vanilla, but every track is appropriately placed. Nothing feels out of place or outstays its welcome. Very somber atmosphere.

Gameplay also reminded me a lot of Eris. There were times I got frustrated and had to take a break. As with that game, with enough perseverance, progression is 100% attainable.

After circling the map multiple times, the dam broke and I started making discovery after discovery and felt like I was really getting somewhere. Bosses were appropriately challenging.

The ending was quite compelling.

Without spoiling too much, don't play this hack on Mednafen Supafaust (which is normally great for Super Metroid hacks on the mini classics.) I had to switch back to Snes9x, which did fine.
Super Metroid: Recovery by MetroidNerd#9001 [SM Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Jul 11, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
84% in 5:09
I see people refer to this as a "half-hack."
While that may be true in a few places in the game, this gets close to Familiar or Z Factor territory 80% of the time. A bit hard to categorize this, but it feels more at home alongside Reimagined or Legacy than other "half-hacks," (though it isn't as large as those games.)

Even though this was his first hack, MetroidNerd #9001 packed a lot of polish into this one. As far as I know, this is actually longer than any of his later hacks.
Took me a good while to finish it.

Maridia, Norfair, and Tourian probably contained the most unique content. I found myself so mesmerized by the new routes and rooms that the few areas that remained which were not changed from Vanilla broke the feeling of immersion a little bit. But to be fair, this is fitting with the theme of Samus returning to Zebes to get her stuff back.

The tiling was beautiful. MetroidNerd#9001 used Vanilla assets in a tasteful manner that was up there with Axeil Edition in many rooms, especially in Maridia.

Even this early on, MetroidNerd#9001 demonstrated proficiency with custom events and room states. The staple mini-bosses are here. Definitely a lot of heart went into this.

I think the bosses and mini-bosses HP was buffed a little on the high side.

The Tourian escape is one of the most memorable I have encountered. Definitely fresh and creative. Pacing was fair yet appropriately challenging.
Project ZM by FelixWright [MZM Improvement], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Jun 05, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
72% in 2:46
I played through the 0.7.3 version initially. Night and day difference between that and this more recent one.

Biggest improvement was the difficulty was better balanced in the normal playthrough. Several bugs from the credits to the return to the title screen have been eliminated.

What it improves over the base game is primarily some really nice QOL movement things. Samus retains the charge beam graphic while jumping just like AM2R. The tractor beam was a wonderful inclusion and was a great nod to Project Base.

What I probably appreciated the most was the subtle yet effective improvements to the palettes. The weird red outlines are gone, and Blue Brinstar has far less radioactive green. Most rooms look far more attractive than what was featured in the base game.

This is the definitive way to play Zero Mission.
Super Metroid CRE 3 by Tundain [SM Spoof], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on May 25, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
42% in 0:32
Overall I really liked this one. When you dive in, the key thing to remember is the author deliberately chose the art direction with a particular ruleset in mind.

That being said, each entry in the CRE series progressively gets better in the visuals. Probably the best region aesthetically was the cave system earlier on in the game.

Do yourself favor, pause the game every so often and admire that map screen. There's a recurring theme at play and a steadfast commitment to that theme. I respect the thread going throughout the hack that binds it all together.

I'm a bit on the fence with the FX overlay in the first area. It looks really cool. Huge wow factor, but can sometimes be distracting (similar but distinct effect featured in MST's So Little Garden.)

The music. Only gripe I have is it could have benefited from more songs for particlar regions of the map. But for custom music, it was all well-done.

The final boss music was appropriately jarring and stressful. The way the rhythm changed and the chord progression became downright chromatic in spots had a perfectly unhinged quality I liked. Felt right at home with Mother Brain from SM and the Metroid Queen's Nest in M2.

The custom enemies. If Tundain reskinned any Vanilla baddies this time around I would not know. Everything I fought felt new. Especially the bosses. That had to be a lot of work.

Of the three CRE hacks, I probably used savestates more here than the other two.
Super Metroid: Y-Faster by Metaquarius [SM Speedrun/Race], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on May 18, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
54% in 0:57
Finally got over my hangup with timers and just dove in. This one was a lot of fun.

Whereas the later entries of the Y-Faster series are parodies of notorious Metconst hacks, this one is more its own thing. It's like a Vanilla hack with some extra spice thrown in to keep things interesting. Most notably the music and palettes.

Best part of the game is the victory music at the end.

Stage design is fun. I did a fair bit of wall-jumping, but that was because it was more efficient in some instances, and one in particular it was a bit of a sequence break.
Super metroid familiar by Tundain [SM Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Feb 22, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
77% in 4:42
Save-states used.

This is by-far the greatest of the Tundain hacks. This was a lot like I was playing the Vanilla game for the very first time all over again. That alone really made the hack unique and kept pulling me in for more.

As with his other hacks, Tundain has a talent for pacing the difficulty level in an appropriate manner. Not too easy you get bored, but not so hard you wander around for 4 hours only to realize the solution was a random bomb block and you really should have renewed that subscription to Nintendo Power you cheapskate.

Not much to say about the GFX except they're vanilla. However, it is an excellent and tasteful placement of such graphics. There is a family of Zebes reimaginings that come to mind: Redesign, Z-Factor, Reimagined, Legacy, and Nature.

Their strengths were adhering quite closely to the old structure and look of the original game. In this manner, Familiar is not as strong as Redesign, Nature, and Z Factor, but absolutely holds its own against Reimagined and Legacy, (dare I say better at times.)

In this category of hacks, Familiar probably keeps the closest to the original game structure, room for room. But each room is changed siginicantly so that no single room ever gets the half-hack feel in the slightest.

I played 1.03, and there were several graphical bugs in a few rooms. However, during my campaign, Tundain made several updates. I will certainly need to check out the latest iteration in the near future.
Super Metroid: Z-Factor by Metaquarius [SM Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Feb 17, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
59% in 4:27
Savestates used.

Z-Factor, Hyper Metroid, and Redesign Axeil Edition are in my top 3. The order changes every time I play one of them. However, Z-Factor has managed to end up in my rotation even more than the other two.

I've completed every revision of this at least once, 1.3 multiple times. Each one is a unique experience and should be attempted by anyone who enjoyed 1.3.

This hack has some of the best replay value of all the hacks on this site. I usually circle Norfair at least twice every playthrough. Zaridia had me hopelessly lost my first time. I love how the locations of all the major areas were shifted to be fresh, yet not too alien to stray too far from the established Zebes.

GFX was mostly Vanilla, with some ZM assets thrown in to keep things interesting. I really like what Metaquarius did with the tilesets, particularly in areas like Blue Brinstar.

The physics remain the same, but there is some custom ASM to keep boss fights and events from being stale. The changes were appropriate, tasteful, and infrequent enough to make use of what was already in the Vanilla game.

Not a big fan of some of the one-way crumble traps, but I respect the extra challenge it adds that sets this apart from the Vanilla game.

This features one of the best designed Wrecked Ship areas that actually feels like a Wrecked Ship. Tourian is the best Tourian of all the hacks. Crateria, Brinstar, and Norfair have this massive feel that rivals what you would find in Axeil. Crateria's palette is especially appealing.

What is interesting is to play through 1.0 and see just how good the project was without play-testers. (This is also a good example of why you need them. The game is absolutely brutal.)

Metaquarius already had an excellent hack, but took negative feedback and kept at the revisions until the community was satisfied. I respect the artistic integrity of including the original vision as well as subsequent revisions for the community's sake. Actually, there are a few room design choices I preferred in 1.0, but I feel 1.3 is the definitive version.

I would caution those new to hacks that this is one of the more challenging exploration mods on the site. You can complete it, but it takes perseverance.
Super Metroid: Redesign by Drewseph [SM Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Feb 17, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
80% in 27:30
Edit: March 17th, 2024

Clear time 13:21.

After another playthrough I thought it would be good to reflect on Redesign with a little bit of distance from the initial review.

Does it still hold up in 2024? Absolutely. I intend to make a point to replay this hack many times to come.

I enjoyed it even more this time around.

I've making a concerted effort these days to limit the use of save states. This campaign they were used pretty sparingly (aside from simply recording progress.)

But that all changed with Tourian. I think trying to not have to use so many states has opened my eyes to why Axeil overhauled this part of the game (and why it is for the better.)

Some of these points echo what ClaireDiviner said, and it's only coincidentally we both reached similar conclusions given the timeframe of our playthroughs.

The Metroids are brutal. For the life of me I don't remember how to consistently knock them off. I don't recall this being a problem in Axeil. I restarted so many rooms over this.

The escape, I have mixed feelings on. It's definitely iconic, and there are some elements I think Axeil players will miss out on. But there are too many places you have to be lucky or endure trial and error like you're playing a space shooter on real hardware.

The physics I still stand by. This is supposed to be like Prime and Zero Mission combined. Axeil improves this tenfold, but this is part of what gives this hack its charm.

I think I fell even more in love with all the GFX changes. You really don't realize how different it is from Vanilla until you get to working with the tilesets.

We're almost 20 years removed from its release and it stands as one the most attractive Zebes overhauls.

What do I think of the Chozo statue hunt?
It can be tedious, but it's a challenge unique to this hack. Considering they are different in Axeil, I actually had to consult a map for one of the Norfair ones. That alone provides replay value for this and Axeil Edition. I find it intruguing when I see how this or other hacks implement their own artifact or gate hunt.

February 17th, 2023:

76% in 15:02. I believe the review is based off the second playthrough.

Savestates used.

I really enjoyed this game. It has a long rich history with this scene and deserves respect for its legacy and ambition. It is still one of the best examples of level design, spritework and custom palettes.

Naturally I will be comparing it to Axeil Edition as I feel that is the definitive version. This review is primarily criticism, but I have chosen to leave 5 stars because as Cosmic stated, this version was "wip."

Physics. This is certainly the part that has aged the least gracefully and prompted Drewseph to modify them in the latest revision (the Axeil version is actually some of the finest custom physics of any hack you will find.) Very restrictive in original Redesign. But honestly, if you approach this hack knowing it's not Vanilla, you get used to the added weight. IBJ was made significantly easier in Axeil.

The Norfair Grapple gauntlet. Hope you're not playing this on OG hardware. You'll need save-states. On the Norfair front, I do miss the early Screw Attack you miss out on in Axeil Edition.

I actually prefer the Lost Caverns puzzle in this hack. The clues were more intuitive to me.

There was much criticism over the new Tourian in Axeil. There's a tradeoff. With this hack Tourian is more straight-forward, but the escape is absolutely brutal. Do not squander whatever powerups come your way. Even still, when you get to the surface of Zebes after this slog it really makes you feel like a beast.

I actually wore in the B button in my SNES Classic controller the first time I beat original Redesign from learning all the shinespark puzzles.

Criticism aside, this version of Redesign is still relevant in 2023. Everybody needs to play it at least once. Drewseph and Kejardon put a great deal of work into this, it solidified (and polarized) a new community, and it still has some interesting level layout to offer aspiring hackers looking for inspiration. It was where many community staples began (like ZM style respin.)
Metroid II EJRTQ Colorization 1.3 by Quantam [M2 Improvement], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Feb 17, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
% in 9:29
Savestates used.

I beat this hack a little over a year ago; since it was strictly a recolor I chose to experience Metroid 2 for the first time using this patch. Far as I am concerned this is the definitive way to enjoy the original game.

Metroid 2 has some beautiful sprite work. This patch takes a very well-crafted gameboy game and transforms it into a long-lost NES game.

I recommed either using GBC or CRT shaders if you are playing this on the Gambatte core in Retroarch.
Super Metroid CRE 2 by Tundain [SM Quick Play], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Jan 26, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
68% in 0:32
I score this higher than the original CRE hack because it definitely felt more polished. Much of what I said in praise and criticism of the original CRE applies to this one as well. Quite incredible what Tundain was able to pull off within the creative confines he chose to explore. As with the last game, the enemies and bosses were a delightful horror to behold.

Beyond the custom graphics and ASM, Tundain has an eye for making individual rooms appropriately challenging, and gradually ramping up the difficulty of the hack in a way that never feels cheap.

That's a hard balance to strike, and there are plenty of hacks I love that don't do this as effectively as Tundain's have. (This is also taken in the context of my experience with Familiar and Alliance, two hacks I have yet to give a proper review.)

It's shorter than the original, and that's the only negative I took away from CRE 2.

Both CRE hacks need to be played. I really enjoyed them.
Project Base 0.8.1 by begrimed [SM Improvement], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Jan 20, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
70% in 1:37
This was the hack that got me into ROM hacks and emulation in general. My starting point was 0.7.3, and all other versions I tend to compare to that version.

0.8.1 is the one this review is based off of, but it exists in the context of a well-preserved line of developmental progression, a few "forks" (Nintendit and Control Freak versions) as well as a growing family of hacks that use its physics engine and gfx.

In addition to that, Begrimed has included versions of the last few releases for folks who might like the new routes but not the physics and vice versa. These all can be found on his site and I am grateful he has preserved these.

Quote58 has done a wonderful job organizing and documenting the ASM as well as all the new features he added to the 0.8 release. The new menu and HUD is a wonderful touch.

I consider Project Base to be the best way to relive the Vanilla route. As a kid, there were always certain spots where I wondered "what's behind that wall?" and this answers those questions in the best way.

As for the GFX and palettes, I really love 0.7's funky colors as it brings up memories of watching ROM hacks on youtube around 2014. When I got into playing these years later it was always cool to rediscover hacks I had forgotten the name of. I appreciate Hyper for solidifying these weird colors as part of the Metconst legacy.

As for returning to form in 0.7.3 and 0.8.1, I really like the more subtle approach Begrimed took in this evolution of Project Base. In some regards the GFX was like Axeil Edition, deceptively vanilla at a first glance, but not so much once you get to studying it more. So many CRE-heavy rooms have been improved with more organic landscapes. Trippy modifications to FX like spores flying up really fleshes this version of Zebes out.

The physics are smoother than ever. As a personal preference there are aspects of various revisions I feel did better than others, in very specific ways. 0.8.1 perfected the wall-jump mechanics, but I preferred the faster falling momentum from earlier versions, particularly 0.7.0-0.7.2 (even though I respect the extra work that went into the gradually slowing spin-jump.)

The small details, like bombs matching beam colors, are an absolute labor of love. Being able to farm off enemy projectiles feels like it should have always been in the game.

I look forward to wherever Begrimed takes this project in the future. Thanks for a great hack!

(At some point I need to go through and 100% this one.)
Ancient Chozo by Albert V. [SM Vanilla+], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Dec 29, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
73% in 3:41
Save states were used. All criticism comes from a place of respect and admiration.

I have really grown to appreciate this hack the longer I've played it. Beat 1.0.9 two years ago. While I enjoyed it I wasn't quite as enamored with the custom GFX at the time.

However I feel entirely the opposite now. I spent this whole playthrough of 1.1.5 mesmerized by the sheer work Albert put into this. Every room is a labor of love and most are outright masterpieces.

I feel like this is logical conclusion of Project Base's expanded Vanilla route. It adds a tremendous amount of replay value to a familiar location.

One problem I ran into was there were two red doors that were a bit gray/brown and that made me scratch my head for a while.
Hyper Metroid by RealRed [SM Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Dec 08, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 7:03
Animals saved.

Savestates used, mostly for the purpose of being able to put down the campaign and pick up where I left off.

All criticism is from a perspective of admiration for the art created. No hack is perfect; small grievances I try to not reflect in my orb placement.

I have completed this hack multiple times, this being my first 100% playthrough. Special thanks to Project Maptroid for helping me track down the last 8 items.

There are three hacks that have had the biggest impact on me, Axeil Edition, Z-Factor, and Hyper Metroid. This is probably the closest I've seen to a perfect hack.

The difficulty is largely what you make of it; I would absolutely recommend this to beginners. My first playthrough was incredibly challenging, but nothing ever felt cheap or unfair.

Having not played it in a while I found myself repeating some of the earlier mistakes I made in my first playthrough. Being able to get lost in subsequent campaigns is a tremendous testimony to the exploration quality and replayabilty of a hack. Hyper is among several that do this effectively.

I am a huge fan of the physics engine. While I love the latest iteration of Project Base, I really appreciate the extreme qualities that were prevalent around 0.5 through 0.7. I had read that RealRed used 0.7 as his base, but he seems to have really taken some inspiration from 0.5 in some regards. Hyper is certainly Project Base on steroids.

I love the graphics overhaul Zebes received. The Mechanical Lower Norfair tileset I have seen appear in other prominent hacks. The weird colors everywhere are a very welcome change. Bloody Tourian really amps up the evil/horror factor that sometimes the final area lacks.

This is the only hack I have seen JAM's Plasma/Spazer patch utilized and it was an awesome inclusion.

The Gate System in Hyper took the remote gates in Redesign and made them work similar to the Chozo Guardians of that same hack. This is a great method of locking off the final area.

It has been mentioned before, (and will be my only criticism,) but the Plasma Room gate soft-lock warrants a possible revision, if only for that fix. If it never gets patched out, it is easy enough to avoid.
Super Metroid: Subversion by TestRunner and AmoebaOfDoom [SM Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Dec 05, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 26:25
Savestates were used occasionally, mostly for the purpose of being able to put down the campaign and pick up where I left off.

Any criticisms I levy I do so from a perspective of admiration for the art created. I've been actively hacking for a few months; it's given me tremendous respect for all hacks. No hack is perfect, therefore small grievances I try to not reflect in my orb placement.

100% at 26:25:13
86.8% at 19:38:27

-------------------------------------

There isn't much to criticize as major complaints I had for the hack, (and would have mentioned otherwise,) were rectified by 1.2.

While the game was intended for use on real hardware, I completed my playthrough on the Mednafen Supafaust and Snes9x Retroarch cores with no significant problems aside from a row of pixels jumping on the HUD. I really forgot it was happening most of the time.

I beat the initial low % on 1.1, and my 100% time was completed on version 1.2. There are still challenges I have not unlocked. This is a long campaign.

There were just so many mind-blowing changes made that I'm still wrapping my brain around exactly what they did ASM-wise to make everything work.

The title screen gets your attention and pulls you in. Boss AI has been revamped in certain fights, pause menu has been overhauled, the HUD is modified. There's extended lore and a bestiary for fans of AM2R and Prime. There are new mechanics, new items, creative implementations of long-standing community GFX, music, and ASM. Impressive inclusions that have raised the bar and are a great study for aspiring hackers looking for new ideas of their own.

The concept of areas has been fundamentally changed by color-coded regions within the original 8 maps and by title cards similar to what you would find in Axeil Edition and Ascent. This is probably the most extensive hack I have played so far as custom music goes. Some songs I liked more than others, but there wasn't a bad one out of the whole bunch.

With this still being a relatively new hack I'm afraid to say much more to avoid spoilers. You are in for a treat.
SM Redesign: Axeil Edition by Drewseph [SM Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Dec 05, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
76% in 11:08
This is going off of my third playthrough of Axeil Edition.

Savestates were used occasionally, mostly for the purpose of being able to put down the campaign and pick up where I left off.

Any criticisms I levy I do so from a perspective of admiration for the art created. I've been actively hacking for a few months; it's given me tremendous respect for all hacks. No hack is perfect, therefore small grievances I try to not reflect in my orb placement.

Overall I really enjoyed this hack. For a while I was torn, but I do believe this is the definitive version. I will admit the original Redesign absolutely still maintains relevance and is worth playing if you enjoyed this one.

Huge fan of the GFX. I love the richness of the palettes, the revamped CRE especially.

The level layout/design is top-notch, easily the most well-designed hack as far as level structure and cosmetics go.

Physics are a source of hot contention for some. While some of the changes were not what I would have done, they are quite polished and a tremendous improvement from the original Redesign.

Personaly, I love the fast momentum. I tend to favor Hyper's PB style of physics. But even from a recent playing of that hack, there are certain QOL things from Axeil I really enjoyed that were actually implemented better. Chief among these being the fast beam charging timer.

I grew to love the bomb-jumping mechanics, even preferring Axeil IBJ over Vanilla IBJ for it's sheer speed (from the crushing weight of Samus' morphball falling combined with a faster bomb exploding.) Learning this technique is difficult but a lot of fun once you've earned the muscle memory.

Edit: To clarify, I am overall in favor of the physics changes in Axeil, especially in the context of other hacks on Metconst. While I prefer PB's floatier approach, this version of the heavier physics was balanced just right and really reminded me a lot of the GBA Metroid games faster landing. I actually prefer this to Vanilla on some days. It's definitely a mature version of what Drewseph was attempting in the original Redesign.

The gate system. Not unique to Axeil, but a Redesign staple. A system that inspired a generation of hackers to reverse-engineer their own version of remote gates.

The only thing I felt stopped the hack for me was the revamped Lost Caverns. Some people found it more intuitive. I actually found it less so, but once I figured out the puzzle the clues at the beginning sort of made sense. I feel this could be conveyed more clearly at the beginning without giving the puzzle away.

As for Tourian, I realize much of the venom was for older revisions I never played. I can attest that the new version is a worthy final challenge once you accept it is another time-investment.

Frankly I would take this final puzzle over the long and dire escape from the original Redesign. Initial playthrough of that puzzle you feel lost and helpless. Once you figure out a few tricks for dispatching the evil Metroids, the puzzle becomes a relaxing experience.

I hold this Zebes, as well as Z-Factor's and Hyper's Zebes up as my top 3 favorite planet reimaginings.

Well worth your time.
Urinary Samus by MarioFan2468 [M2 Spoof], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on May 19, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 0:02
M Night Shyamalan levels of plot twists at every corner that will keep you at the edge of your seat.
So Little Garden by MetroidMst [SM Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Mar 27, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
71% in 2:04
Savestates used.

There's a lot to be enjoyed from this hack. The art direction in the screenshots is what drew me in in the first place and in that regard it doesn't disappoint.

Custom music abounds. For a small hack, the Dire Dire Docks theme was the perfect choice for the area. A stressier melody might have caused problems but this kept the mood chill in a hack a bit on the more difficult side.

Really loved the enemy GFX and AI tweaks. There are quite a few custom enemies that really depart from their vanilla behavior and it's great. There is a particular boss battle that really sells the wow factor.

Physics are changed, but it makes sense within the context of the game. Took me a while to realize select switches my beams, but that's on me.

I would love to see a revision that addresses some of the bugs, as a few broke the immersion for me (and compelled me to use save states where I might not have.) That being said, it introduces some very ambitious changes and should be commended for such. (Especially given the short time window of contest hacks.)

All in all I thought was a really good hack with a lot of heart and some technical wizardry. I might be mistaken, but this is the only hack I've seen prior to Ascent that features room names in the HUD.
Super Metroid: Federation Force by Metaquarius [SM Spoof], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Feb 01, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
A compelling story of galactic heroes. You will laugh, but you will also cry.

Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You" played every item acquisition and I was genuinely moved.

Sad to say I was too cheap to move beyond the trial version... and I used savestates....
Super Metroid: Arrival by Jefe962 [SM Exploration], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Dec 27, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
84% in 2:59
This is my second playthrough, and I really enjoyed most aspects of the hack.

Not entirely certain if Project Base was the platform this was built on, or if it was just that some elements of Project Base were incorporated. Either way, it's in the hack's DNA.

I really love the GFX work throughout the game. There is a lot of heart put into this and it shows.

The custom music is a huge plus for me. If I'm not mistaken, this hack was actually where I was first introduced to some of these tunes.

Warlus and Lolpruz were my favorite areas so far as music, graphics, and level design are concerned.

Before I get into spoilers I'll just say you really need to play this hack.

---------------SPOILERS----------------

My only real criticism is the ending pretty much comes rather abruptly and the pacing at the endgame is weaker for it.

It is a skill issue, but Golden Torizo is obscenely difficult. Without looking up speedruns of the game, I did boot up my save file from a few years ago to find I did collect Charge Beam somewhere. (Maybe the reward from that boss?) Given the choice between this challenge and the end, I opted to head to the final area.

I paid more attention to the Chozo Artifact aspect this time around; the lock and key room was a real cool nod to Redesign. I find this sort of stuff fascinating from a hacking perspective.

Obviously I will be revisiting this hack soon (to end GT and find Charge.)
Metroid Classic Demo by JAM [SM Incomplete], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Nov 01, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
This has been on my bucket-list for a while and I can say I'm glad I got around to playing this.

Lots of bugs, (but it is a 14 year old demo and should be afforded some grace.) JAM gave the community an early look at a project near and dear to him.

I hope JAM kept chipping away at this because it looks to be a fun nostalgia trip.

The biggest difference between this and what would later release with Retroid is this is a more literal 1:1 room and enemy adaptation. Retroid made Nestroid rooms more claustrophobic in the interest of staying faithful to Super's engine and room design.

JAM's take on Brinstar is more faithful to the Nestroid source material. Having remade levels from other games in Mario Maker and Mega Man Maker I've learned something will be sacrificed when you make a cover level. You have to approach it with that sobriety and respect however it is executed.

I would love to see this in a full game one day.
Super metroid turbo! by samsamcmoi [SM Improvement], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Aug 13, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
69% in 1:55
I think this is probably the third Control Freak/Project Base combo hack I've played, but this version has just the right feel for me personally.

Physics were quick, still distinctly Super, yet similar enough to the GBAtroids to feel like its own thing and justify having it alonside Project Base and Ancient Chozo.

At first I didn't care for any version of Control Freak as it messed very hard with my muscle memory. It didn't really click for me until I abandoned my typical Super button layout and just mapped jump to B and shoot to Y. After I did that, I tapped into my Zero Mission reflexes and the whole experience was far more enjoyable. (Everybody is going to have a different point of reference though.)

I appreciated the fast door transitions, but these did introduce some graphical and audio glitches.

Real nice alternative to normal Project Base if you want to beat the Vanilla route, but want another way to experience it.
Super Metroid: Pit of 100 Trials by MetroidNerd#9001 [SM Challenge], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Jul 25, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
80% in 2:02
Savestates used.

This hack answers the Bluestar question: is there life after Kraid? Yes indeed.

So far the hacks I have played of MetroidNerd#9001, I would rank Hotlands my favorite, Recovery, and then this one. It fleshes out some of the ideas presented in Bluestar (now with more colors) and takes things in a very interesting direction.

The gameplay is a bit of a mixed bag for me. Much like the CRE series stayed committed to a theme, I can praise this hack for staying true to its theme. It's a gauntlet. Arcade style gameplay.

Having played very little of the Paper Mario series, I really have just a surface-level grasp of the hack's premise. Regardless it was overall a really good experience.

--------Spoiler Warnings------------

Having played Bluestar, the earlier rooms were a bit of a slog as I felt like I had been there before. I was tired of just having the power beam and charge. However once I started picking up beam upgrades, the game really started to click for me.

I think the real high point of the hack was the Maridia area, because Samus was stronger compared to the challenges than in any of the other areas.

Draygon was really the first difficulty spike. And admittedly this is when I started loading from save states, as I didn't trust the only save I remembered from way back in the first area.

(Though in hindsight this was unnecessary as the way item acquisition was handled, the one reload point had a very balanced approach to starting you over while remembering your progress. Very ingenious ASM work. I regret it was near the end when I tested this out.)

The final area really was a great way of bringing you back to earth with the increased difficulty and cleverly designed fights. Prepare to be humbled.

While the physics stayed pretty much vanilla, I love the custom things like the counter on the HUD when the room is cleared. As mentioned, the save system was really great, though I might have preferred a loading point for each individual area.

I finished with 80%. I actually have more incentive to replay this game soon than a lot of hacks when I recently beat them.

------------Spoiler End------------

As with all MetroidNerd#9001's hacks, the room layout and GFX look exceptional.
Super Metroid: Bluestar by MetroidNerd#9001 [SM Quick Play], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Jun 19, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 0:22
Played through this a little last night and a fair amount this morning. Was a very enjoyable quick playthrough. I'm a big fan of the Blue Brinstar tileset, so this naturally got my attention.

GFX-wise it's all pretty blue. Goes with the contest. A few earlier larger rooms gave me some serious Escape 2 vibes.

Bit of a gripe I have is the locking gray doors. Spent the first half of the game obsessively killing every enemy, only to realize this is just the intended progression. Eventually started going around many of the enemies towards the end of the game.

This was a serious matter of contention until I finally beat the hack and realized this sort of design choice is perfectly alright in a smaller hack. (And I got 100% anyway.)

The ending felt very cliff-hanger to me as there was a door beyond my grasp inviting me to go further. But alas the scene ended and faded to black. The door lives on, only in my memories...
Retroid by ProjectXVIII [SM Unknown], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on May 11, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
33% in 1:42
This is my third playthrough of this hack.

Overall the experience is very enjoyable. There are notable bugs (which are documented well enough I need not elaborate.) What I will address are design choices.

This not a 1:1 replication of Nestroid, but it is a very well-implemented reimagining. It actually follows Nestroid more faithfully than Zero Mission in my opinion.

There are soft-locks at the drawbridges, which you really have to be careless to get stuck, but that is a thing to avoid. The triggers for the Tourian gate and the Charge Beam are a fair bit cryptic.

The physics are a source of contention to some, (even to me initially.) In all fairness they do contribute to the Nestroid experience. The more I learn about ASM the more I appreciate an author's intent with such changes. Just resign yourself to the fact that running and wall-jumping are just not a thing here. It's a different animal altogether.

I like what was done with the HUD timer, as well as overhauling the save system to behave just like Metroid 1. Beam stacking was not removed and that made for a more enjoyable experience. The Charge Beam is implemented really nicely and is a good payoff for going out or your way to find it.

I didn't see a lot of custom music in older hacks and this is what it is. However, there are wonderful MSU-1 hacks for Retroid out there. In fact that's how I completed this playthrough.

I enjoyed how creepy the atmosphere for Kraid and Ridley areas were pulled off.

Tourian was well-done. Folks, say what you will about the Redesign Metroids, these are just about every bit as frightening once they get a hold of you. Another hack that restores the former terror these beasts used to hold.

This hack is definitely worth checking out, especially if you find the MSU-1 patches on the interwebs.
Metroid: Operation Save Thanksgiving v1.1.1 (No Longer Broken) by Nodever2 [SM Quick Play], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Jan 26, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
67% in 0:40
Was a pretty interesting hack I've been meaning to play for a while now. While I think I preferred the Blue Plague, this was an absolute blast.

Very excellent usage of Vanilla GFX, especially in the first half of the game. Probably some of the best usage of Vanilla tiling that still felt Vanilla stylistically, but simultaneously added something fresh. Purple Crateria was probably my favorite out of the bunch, but I really appreciated the custom fall colors for Brinstar.

Item progression was very interesting and the challenge to obtain them was fair. My only complaint would be the endgame was far too close to when I obtained the last upgrade, but I've found that happens quite often in smaller hacks.

The assembly changes were prevalent, but stayed rather subtle (respin, changing what item triggers a certain boss battle, intro sequence changes.) Doesn't always have to be a massive overhaul, but physics tweaks are appreciated when they appear.

The escape timer was pretty tight. I almost didn't make it.

Nothing will prepare you for the existential horror that is the final boss...
Super Metroid CRE by Tundain [SM Quick Play], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Jan 02, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
72% in 1:00
Save states used. As always criticism comes from a place of respect.

I really enjoyed this playthtough. Initially I was worried the whole hack would have the same look as the first area but Tundain definitely shakes things up in the second half.

Level layout and design is very well constructed. There are Eris levels of mystery and discovery but nothing aggravating. Item progression is fair.

As always I enjoyed the QOL inclusions to the physics. Never "necessary" but always appreciated. Going the extra mile and offering that last layer of polish that shows the author cares.

Commitment to a concept and remaining consistent is probably the strongest part of the hack. Tundain went all in for this. Even the enemies were based off CRE tiles.

Do I think aesthetically this is as enjoyable as Alliance or Familiar? No, but it's an excellent showcase of someone creating art within the confines of self-imposed limits and it succeeds at that 100%. I went into this skeptically and was impressed by how good somebody could make a hack look using only CRE pieces. The bosses were delightful abominations to behold.
Super Metroid Exertion by Mentlegen [SM Improvement], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Dec 30, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
34% in 1:05
Save states were used occasionally. Criticism is always from a place of respect.

Got around to playing this hack today and had a thoroughly enjoyable time. I'm a fan of the Thicc Plasma GFX and this is likely the first place Mentlegen showcased this. I really appreciated all the QOL physics tweaks introduced; you notice them more as you gain more items.

Level layout was intuitive and fun to explore. A few dead ends to force back-tracking, but nothing unfair. If anything this contains some of the strongest examples of Metroid's "oh I need this item for that thing I found way back there" factor.

Spoilers below:

There were a few bugs leftover from this being a contest hack. A few rooms the doors can temporarily clip you into a floor; I encountered Draygon's room and Draygon was absent. While having two locations for charge beam was nice, perhaps having them share the same index might have worked better? Nothing game-breaking but warranted mention.

Aesthetically I don't believe this was as strong as the Blue Plague. However the cold world vibe was performed much better here than Escape 2, which I believe provided inspiration in both level layout and GFX.

As for the gates, gotta love the gate system. I know from scouring the forum posts a lot of homework went into pulling these off. Very nice addition.

Custom music in the final area was great.
Super Madtroid 2: Anger Management by dewhi100 [SM Spoof], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Apr 12, 2024 (Star Star Star Star Star )
50% in 0:18
Where Super Ethical Metroid made me a better person, Super Madtroid 2 has made me realize I still hadn't conquered my anger.

At many points the hack made my world shake, (not unlike an earthquake.) Sometimes it was hard to see clear. Naturally I questioned "Was it me? (Was it my fault?) Or was it Fear (2032)?"

Encountering the half-hack changes in Red Crateria made me realize I was madly in anger with the hack, (and that wasn't good.) The rage blinded my vision, so I flushed it out, (I flushed it out), and kept playing.

I laughed. I cried. I wanted to throw my controller. I did throw my controller. I need a new monitor now actually.

In all seriousness, this is a fun half-hack that holds up very well considering the short time frame it was made in.
Super Metroid: GBA Style! by ShadowOne333 [SM Vanilla+], rated by OmegaDragnet9 on Aug 15, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
67% in 1:26
To preface this I will say ShadowOne3333 has a a much better revision of this hack on RHDN. If Super Metroid Redux was on Metconst, it would receive 5 orbs from me without a doubt.

Two questions I ask: did the hack accomplish its goals, and did I have fun?

Yes, I had a blast. The heavy physics might not be everybody's cup of tea, but I quite enjoyed the speed it added to the Project Base physics. Launching from platforms like a cannon ball is always tons of fun.

Combining the PB physics engine with Control Freak was no small task, and the folks that collaborated on that project should he praised for what they accomplished.

I don't think the super-heavy gravity made this play like the GBAtroids. Redux and Turbo would later do this more effectively with fewer changes.

The other points of contention: the bomb counter doesn't match the fast fall speeds. The Vanilla item jingle playing after the message box closes causes a lot of weird issues.

Definitely give this a play if you want a different experience. Redux is a huge improvement over this though.