Onnyks's Ratings and Reviews
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Super Metroid: Subversion by TestRunner and AmoebaOfDoom [SM Exploration], rated by Onnyks on Sep 05, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
90% in 11:26
So much praise should be given to Subversion for so many things. Very in depth additions to the hack make this a great joy to play. I can't call it my favorite hack, but I can definitely say it has been the most impressive.

First of all the music is top notch. Classics and remixes and originals blend together to give the many various environments a great feel. Whether they be tranquil, mysterious, energetic, or dangerous, all the moods you want in a Metroid world are here.

Tiling is textbook Metroid, in the best way possible. Highly detailed yet easy to read (mostly), whether using the classic SM sets or imported new varieties. Along with the music these sold each area as new and intriguing, making me want to explore.

And explore you will! The world is vast, every time I thought I had filled the map, another hidden connection led me somewhere new. The amount of content is staggering.

Samus felt very well scaled in this hack, power-wise, each combat upgrade felt appreciated and useful in fighting through increasingly dangerous baddies.

Above and beyond all of that however, what I'm sure will be most remembered about this hack is the amount of innovation in mechanics. I won't mention anything specific, but the execution of each of the many item reworks and new toys was just about perfect. Solving puzzles and navigating the world really went to the next level because of this, and that's always my favorite part.

Some criticisms, none of which could make this any less than a 5 orb hack, in no particular order

- There are many rooms that lag, often as a tradeoff for being very cool, but it is jarring
- The connections between areas can be clunky, especially with the choice of some gating
- Some backtracking was very "there and back again" as opposed to the really great sections that used a looping design

Bravo! This really is an exceptional, must play hack!
V I T A L I T Y by Digital_Mantra [SM Exploration], rated by Onnyks on Jul 11, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
82% in 5:40
I treated this hack like a walk through of an art gallery, the quality of the tiling was just mind blowing. So many visual moments to appreciate: baked in lighting on the terrain and background, perspective and reflections, detailed forms of both organic and mechanical objects, deep variety, interesting geometry. The hack felt grounded in its otherworldliness, believably exotic, with a flowing diversity of environments. I cannot say how pleasurable it was to explore, probably 2 hours of this run time was just me gawking at the rooms.

The secrets were fun to find, the environmental clues were subtle enough to make me feel clever, but they still stood out from the already creative tiling variety, something that I was afraid would not be the case when I started. No need to bomb every corner, just keep your eyes peeled.

Story elements were very successfully integrated into the environment. There were many moments in the playthrough where I got to stop and take in a scene that was richly detailed and mysterious, not only using visuals but also game mechanics. This was largely in part by making many segmented regions be self-contained loops, often resulting in a change to the world upon returning, or concluding with some cinematic flair.

I can give it no less than 5 orbs for these achievements.

The hack is not free from criticism, but the following would not be enough to diminish its score:

The darkness and contrast levels sometimes hurt navigation. I found myself using tricks like short charge or IBJ, only later to realize the path forward was easily available but visually unclear.

The hub area felt too mazelike. Item window dead ends and overlapping rooms were interesting to clear, but something could have been done to improve their necessary revisits.

Midgame combat was a bit of a slog. Worst offenders were flying enemies in tall rooms swooping on and offscreen to land a lot of blind hits. Farm spots were also somewhat rare, especially for such a limited arsenal.

Overall this hack is inspirationally creative and beautiful. Bravo.
Super metroid familiar by Tundain [SM Exploration], rated by Onnyks on Nov 09, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
82% in 3:40
An aptly named hack, this is a solid rethink to the Zebes floor plan. Rooms will cleverly remind you of their vanilla counterparts but play very differently. I liked the general structure of the progression, I won't say anything specific about it, except that I wasted some time based on my own assumptions. I feared a great deal of backtracking was going to happen if I didn't find certain things but that wasn't the case, once I got over my flawed expectations there was always a path forward.

The motif of layout changes made for some good and some bad rooms. Familiar certainly highlights just how many long horizontal rooms there were to edit. Kudos to making them feel unique, but man Samus' legs are tired after all that climbing.

Map layout was very sprawling, and I wish that there were more intertwining pathways or branches to make certain pathways less linear. This might be a difficult ask given the way Familiar specifically goes about its redesign, but it was noticeable.

The feature noted in the credits was very cool to see. I'm impressed by the effort put in to show off what I'm sure many hack players will be trying to figure out themselves, it's always great when that's possible.