Thirteen1355's Ratings and Reviews
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Project Base 0.8.1 by begrimed [SM Improvement], rated by Thirteen1355 on Feb 22, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
93% in 4:42
At this point in time, this hack is a definitive improvement to Super Metroid. I know there's people who disagree, but I think a newcomer is better off playing this instead of the original Super. That was different in past versions, because some aesthetical choices deviated more from the original's vision.

The controls are smoother, faster and the player is given a lot more agency over what Samus will do in any given situation. There's more interconnectivity, which speeds up backtracking and makes the world feel more endearing to explore. There's a lot of quality of life options added, which can be turned on or off through the menu screen. All this almost makes it feel like this game could've been released as some polished, well-made indie game on Steam. It just feels that much with the times.

One personal gripe I have is that the map stations have been removed, and what was added when interacting with them has become part of the default map screen. This makes the game very easy to navigate. I solved this by simply not checking the map screen until I beat the final boss (with about 58% item completion). With the interconnectivity granted by this hack, that is a very viable way to play, even for a newcomer. You barely hit a dead end in Project Base.

One thing I would like to see is a way to check whether you already collected an item shown on a minimap tile, similar to Zero Mission. The fact that this is missing cannot be put on Project Base itself, though.
Super Metroid: Subversion by TestRunner and AmoebaOfDoom [SM Exploration], rated by Thirteen1355 on Feb 16, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 13:25
To me, this is the best Metroid game I've played. I have played them all, save for Other M, Pinball Federation Force, and Dread. Not only does this hack make incredible use of what Super Metroid had on offer, it also fixes the issues Metroid as a series has always had.

Metroid has always had trouble getting a nice balance between storytelling and exploration. The first Metroid was very open, but rooms were repetitive and had no context or sense of background info to them. Rooms were just featureless game-y rooms. Super gives rooms a little more to work with, but a lot of it is still "jungle cave," "fire cave," "water cave." Very bland and forgettable. Fusion goes the other direction. There's a lot more going on with regards to background story. Things happen, rooms change, but the exploration is lacking. Zero Mission takes a similar approach, moving things a little more back towards the Super approach.

As of yet, I believe Subversion is the only game to balance these things perfectly. Rooms often have been given context, not in small part thanks to the names given to each one of them. Areas have a sense of purpose. A cargo ship, temples, power plants, etcetera. At the same time, the sense of exploration seen in Super is kept intact. A handy logbook adds an even deeper sense of context to the world of Subversion.

In my opinion, getting item expansions in most Metroid games is extrinsically and intrinsically unrewarding. The expansions are of too little value to be extrinsically rewarding because of the way they're hidden, and the little variation in the kind expansions there are. Subversion fixes this by adding a wider variation of different expansions to find. This adds an element of surprise. Besides, because Samus is a little more limited in her abilities compared to her iterations in other games, the expansions feel more meaningful and extrinsically rewarding to collect.

Finally, a lot of things are added to make this hack feel incredibly fresh compared to other Metroid games. Metroid has remained quite stagnant compared to other "Metroidvania" games. Subversion changes this. Think of post-game features, which give you good reason to go for 100%, custom music on top of the familiar tracks from Super, new gameplay mechanics never seen before in the series, an intriguing background story that goes along as you explore the planet, and more.

On top of that, an insane amount of effort is put into keeping this game approachable and balanced for "regular" Metroid players, with one or two small exceptions. I am recommending this hack to close friends, faraway friends and anyone who even has a passing interest in Metroid as a series.

Yes, it's that good.
Metroid - Rogue Dawn by Grimlock, Optomon, snarfblam [M1 Exploration], rated by Thirteen1355 on Jan 17, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
65% in 5:01
As I have not played many Metroid hacks as of yet, I want to preface by saying that my frame of reference only includes the official entries of the Metroid series. Therefore, my standards could be considered pretty high. I can only compare this hack to the games released by Nintendo, which are (mostly) games of high production value.

Not that that stops this hack from souring though, because not only is this hack better than the original Metroid game; it stands next to the other official entries in terms of quality and production values. This game looks and plays like it could have been made by Nintendo sometime after the original Metroid. It features a completely new setting, instead of just reusing areas from the Zebes you're familiar with. It looks a lot better, too.

A completely new soundtrack was composed, with solid tracks of which one or two could even be enjoyed on their own. In my eyes, the soundtrack as a whole doesn't match the quality of later entries in the series, but it sure sounds better than most of the vanilla Metroid music.

Items are added as well. I particularly enjoyed the Wall-Jump. I've always wanted this to be utilised more in the official games, and here we are. Wall-Jump is an item that you need to finish the game.

The only real issue I had was that the map can be difficult to read, because of all the intersections and overlapping stuff going on. Some rooms actually loop, which makes the map design in these situations all the more confusing.

The difficulty regarding survival is comparable with vanilla entries. Exploration is a tad above. All in all, you should play this hack, even if you're only familiar with official entries in the series. If you like any 2D Metroid at all, nothing in this game will deter you, save for maybe the 8-bit graphics and lack of certain features, like diagonal aiming or respin.
Super Metroid: Ascent by Benox50 [SM Exploration], rated by Thirteen1355 on Feb 16, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
72% in 7:59
The concept of this hack is simple, yet quite different from what you'd expect from Metroid: Make your way upwards through three Zones, eventually reaching the surface of the planet. Once you enter the next Zone, the one you just left is no longer accessible. This adds a sense of linearity to this world that's unseen in most Metroid experiences.

This concept is executed well for the most part. Firstly, the Zones themselves are very open and feel large, yet it's easy to navigate your way through them when you're still passing through for the first time. Secondly, even though a Zone is permanently locked off once you're done with it, this is indicated well enough for a player to know when they can no longer return. Item percentage is shown per Zone, so players can stick around with an area until they've reached the percentage they wish to reach.

Rooms are very, very colorful. Visually, this can look beautiful or just average. Thematically, this often feels all over the place. That's a criticism I have with the rooms in general. There's no sense of in-universe purpose to them. This makes it feel like you're playing a Mario game at times. There's random arrows all over the place. Sometimes there is a bunch of lines that's completely out of place with the rest of the visual design of the rooms. The room names don't help either. They're often references to some inside joke, rather than fleshing out the meaning of rooms within the world of Metroid. Sometimes they provide hints. These can be useful for solving the puzzles within the corresponding rooms. This is handy, but not very engaging on an immersive level.

And that's another thing. Many rooms in this hack feature puzzles. A cool thing about these is that puzzles often make use of all new gameplay mechanics. Sometimes, the puzzles are well-executed. At other times, it's either really hard to tell what you need to do, or the execution involves actions that average players are not playing a Metroid game for. As implied before, the puzzles do not correspond to in-universe context or reason. Random blocks are plastered all over, to make the puzzles work. This works for gameplay, but not for immersion. There's little visual consistency accompanying the rooms or their puzzles. Again, this makes it feel very "game-y," more like a Mario than a Metroid game.

Finally, balancing feels very out of whack. Sometimes, a boss dies in three hits. Other times, it takes you 20 minutes to beat one. The level of your strength depends on certain pickups. The power and spread of these pickups are somehow not as well-balanced as in, say, Subversion. Finally, your mileage can vary completely based on which abilities you picked up and which ones you missed. Problem is, you don't always know whether you permanently got locked out of getting an ability you like.

Small issues that add to the frustration are things like not having an idea of what to do in a room, and dying because you simply ran out of time to figure it out, or a puzzle being in the way of quickly getting through a room when you want to get somewhere. To be fair, when I reached the end of this hack, I wanted it to end. It tried my patience and despite the obvious effort that went into making puzzles varied, clever, and unique, it just wasn't enough to make up for the lack of cohesion and the idea of exploring a thought-out world. It makes me wonder if this hack should be in the "exploration" category in the first place, but that's not for me to judge.

I also encountered a crash when transitioning between rooms in Zone 3. Luckily, I had saved shortly beforehand, but it doesn't leave a great impression.