andlabs's Ratings and Reviews
Opposition by mccad00 [SM Incomplete], rated by andlabs on Aug 25, 2020 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
Despite what the description may indicate, Draygon is the last of the four bosses, and in fact Tourian is the only part of the hack that isn't done, so this is very nearly a full experience. And it's actually a pretty good one at that, with interesting theming, design, and layout going on. And yes, this is a full Exploration-class hack.

The Fallen Lab/Wrecked Ship is the only complaint I have with the visuals — it's just way too dark and I had to set the gamma on my emulator all the way down to be able to tell what I was doing, even after defeating Phantoon. All of the rooms in Azure Valley/Crateria on the way to Tourian are also too dark, but apart from grabbing an item, that pathway is really linear, so :/ (Airy had the same problem in one room.)

Note that there will be a number of items that you can't get right away but will be marked on your map (and at least one misplaced item dot), so if you like me try to avoid marking item dots unless you actually get the item, you'll be frustrated. I did manage to get a number of items early, or at least I think they were obtained earlier than intended, so there's that.

The color of Ice Beam and frozen enemies also changes depending on what you stack with it, which I also found neat.

Regardless, still pretty good, and definitely worth finishing in the state that it was left in.

I don't know what my final item count is, but my final item tallies are 10 energy tanks, 3 reserve tanks, 160 missiles, 21 super missiles, 11 power bombs, and all normal collectables except Plasma Beam and Screw Attack. I forget exactly what the relevant item was called, but going to the statue room reveals I only obtained two of the items that unlock Tourian.

(I'd rate 3.75 or so, but since I can't do that, have 4 because it really isn't a bad hack!)
Metroid Fusion: Evilution by kkzero [MF Incomplete], rated by andlabs on Aug 08, 2020 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
With the name (from Final Doom's TNT: Evilution), the fact it takes place on Deimos, the spectral entities, and the use of actual Doom music, this is more of a DOOMtroid than DOOMtroid itself.
That being said, it's got the right balance of size and playability that made me want to keep going to see what was next, and feels like it could do a good job fitting the entire Fusion experience into its size. Shame it was abandoned, but was still fun for what it had (up to BOX, which according to Sapphron is as far as it goes; I couldn't figure out how to progress or backtrack after that anyway). It did take a bit to figure out that I could reach underwater bars vertically upward instead of jumping across the wall to do it, but that wasn't hard to figure out, just a bit unexpected.
It plays quick, it has proper walljump, it's fun, and it has Thunder Force IV music. What more could you want? =P
(I'd rate 3.5 orbs but I can't do that so 4 it is. This is a promising hack.)
Super Metroid: Cristener Homenag 2 by Juan Dennys [SM Vanilla+], rated by andlabs on Jul 28, 2017 (Star Star Star Star Star )
96% in 3:09
The sequel to the alleged worst hack ever made. I'm... not quite sure how I'm going to structure this review, because this hack is odd. My best guess is that I highly doubt the author ever actually finished the hack, and just released what they had so far, but I don't know for sure. (Likewise, I wonder if the alleged third part of the series exists or not. There's YouTube videos of a Homenag 4, but it seems to be deliberately bad, so I highly doubt it's by the same guy...).

The first thing to note is that some of the problems of Homenag 1 aren't present here. Samus's palette are unchanged and everything uses stock palettes anyway; the only exceptions are one room in Crateria and one room in Tourian. All enemies and bosses have their original health, and boss rooms are completely unchanged. But this hack isn't vanilla in difficulty; read on.

The best analogy for this hack that I can think of for this is that it's like a Neapolitan ice cream: divided into three parts, each of a different flavor.

The first stripe: From the beginning, the hack seems to be much more oriented around puzzles and techniques; almost a Cliffhanger Lite, but far less difficult. You'll need to be able to mockball (you won't be able to get your first Missile Pack without it). The route continues as normal otherwise. There are spikes, but they're few and easily avoidable: just watch your step and you'll do fine. The other big thing is that many of the rooms have been made bigger. Of particular note is the early Super Missile room, which not only has your first Super Missiles but also is three screens tall or so.

Strange thing about that room: there's invisible respawning Sidehoppers instead of refill bugs. I don't know why they are invisible, but I have seen that kind of glitch in other hacks, so I'm wondering if that's a bug or not...

The adjacent room with three items also has a Cliffhanger-esque lava puzzle, if you dare. (My suggestion is to get two energy tanks).

You'll quickly find that most (not all) of the Missile Packs have been changed to only give 4 Missiles instead of 5. Seems mostly random (the 5-Missile Packs are typically the well-hidden ones), but eh.

There is one enemy that has been changed, and in my opinion it's for the worse: the plants that eat you now no longer eat you — they now just act like spikes, including giving you a spike's worth of damage each touch (so 60 energy without any suits). This is especially annoying right outside Kraid's room, where the floor is made almost entirely of these.

There are also a few rooms in this stretch that have some minor scrolling issues. Nothing too bad.

The Brinstar Map Room seems to crash the game. Not sure if it's an emulator bug (bsnes v080) or not. I didn't try any other Map Rooms as a result.

The second stripe is what happens after Kraid. It's the most different part of the hack from vanilla. It also has the hack's biggest problem, and quite possibly the only truly awful thing about either Homenag.

Kraid gives you Varia Suit, and you can head straight down to Norfair. You'll find that all the routes except the one with the Save Room are now blocked by Power Bomb blocks, so you'll have to head that way. The next room has been changed so you no longer need Speed Booster (you can get it early by doing a Spore Spawn skip, though — Spore Spawn's room is also blocked by Power Bomb blocks). So you keep going, and keep find yourself being blocked by Power Bomb blocks. You're basically routed all the way to Lower Norfair (which you can get in without taking a lava bath, though you may need a single offset bomb jump). The room that used to have the Space Jump Chozo Statue is devoid of acid, but the enemies still can hurt you, so be careful. Next, you get to fight Gold Torizo... who goes down with a single charged shot. Yay! The next few rooms are also needlessly enlarged; the enlarged rooms stop here, though. You'll find the room where you have to Screw Attack through pillars also no longer has acid in it.

From this point on, Lower Norfair is mostly unchanged. If you have Speed Booster, take it off before trying to escape the rising acid room. So it seems you're supposed to go through Lower Norfair, and that it has been made easier in general, right?

Ha.

The game wants you to fight Ridley now, and you **must** fight Ridley in order to get Power Bombs (as all other Power Bomb packs are blocked by Power Bomb blocks or Power Bomb doors). ***If you go out the normal Lower Norfair exit now to stock up, you are permastuck in Green Norfair. All the exits will be blocked by Power Bomb blocks, and you can't get the only other Power Bomb pack in that area. You will also need Power Bombs to get back to Lower Norfair. If you save in Green Norfair, you'll have to delete your game.***

If you collect everything you can possibly get before facing Ridley, you will only have: 5 Energy Tanks, 1 Reserve Tank, 62 Missiles, 10 Super Missiles, Charge Beam, Plasma Beam (which is right in front of Ridley's door), Varia Suit, Morphing Ball, Bombs, Screw Attack, and Speed Booster. And to make matters worse for me, I missed one of the Energy Tanks (the Blue Brinstar one) because I thought I needed Power Bombs for it when in fact I didn't, so I only had 4.

And you would think from the other Lower Norfair changes that Ridley would be made slightly easier, right? Ha, wrong: Ridley is completely untouched.

Needless to say, this is not a pleasant fight. (I'm not sure if it's more pleasant with 5 Energy Tanks, but I'm leaning toward "not by much".)

Oh, and the room before Ridley has been changed, but also for the worse: most platforms are removed, those that are kept have been made to blend into the background, and I think there are spikes on the floor just offscreen. You will likely die here a few times even before you get to Ridley. Not cool. (At least the eye door is gone...)

So if there is any legitimate reason for the Cristener Homenag hacks to claim any sort of awfulness, it's this stuff. Going back to the Neapolitan analogy, it's like someone replaced much of the second stripe with a block of concrete hidden under a thin layer of ice cream.

But let's continue.

The third stripe comprises the entire rest of the game, and sadly, it's the blandest: most of the rooms have been completely unchanged (apart from some item placements), and some rooms only have a few extra blocks here or there. This continues for the rest of the hack, and is the reason why I think this hack might never have been finished: I'm pretty sure the first Homenag had more changes (but I could be wrong)... The only real thing is you'll need Grapple Beam to get to Phantoon, and that's where Plasma Beam used to be (and I think the door is unlocked from the start, but I'm not sure).

Here are some highlights from this third part:

The room right above the Maridia Power Bomb tube no longer has water. It also has Gravity Suit right out in the open.

The Hall of Death in the Wrecked Ship now has a bunch of reappearing grapple blocks thrown in for a challenge that, if done wrong, will result in a permastuck (as you have to deal with the rising platforms).

The Spazer room has a completely new design.

The Shinespark Super Missile room in Crateria has a slightly darker palette than usual. It almost looks like a palette that should be used at the start of the game when Zebes is still asleep. I wonder if it's custom or not...

Tourian is even less changed than it was in Homenag 1. The only real change is the first room, which still has the Speed Booster puzzle at the end, but the blocks are now normal CRE blocks, and not a fake Zebetite like in Homenag 1, and all the blocks are Speed Booster blocks now.

The escape is unmodified this time (except for the changed Crateria rooms, of course); you will have ample time to save the animals now.

Now, if this was the end of the story, I would say that this hack isn't better or worse than Homenag 1; it's just different. But the stuff with Ridley means I would definitely give it 2.5 stars (maybe 2?) if I could. But there is one more thing, which is crazy enough to kinda sorta redeem this hack to some extent.

You'll find a second Reserve Tank as you play.

And then a third, and then a fourth.

And then a fifth.

And then a sixth.

In total, there are **ten** (10) Reserve Tanks to collect. One room even has two. itsblah commented in another IRC channel, saying I shouldn't be turning this into a drinking game, but there's an idea for you.

And yes, this all totally works! It doesn't even break the Pause screen too much: the boilerplate graphics and two digits of the number do overwrite the meter tiles, and one meter tile appears outside the box, but the system doesn't break. (Manual Mode seems to empty Reserve Tanks completely for some reason once you max out on normal Energy, but I'm not 100% sure...)

Ten. Reserve. Tanks.

Homenag 2 should be known for this too. Seriously.

Though by my calculations I picked up 103 items, the game only showed me 96%. Item counts for this:

13 Energy Tanks
10 Reserve Tanks (!)
187 Missiles
50 Super Missiles
50 Power Bombs
all other vanilla items

So yeah, I'd probably give this one a 2.5 too. Maybe one day I'll livestream these two, assuming I can not fail at such tight Ridley fights ever (ha).
Super Metroid: Cristener Homenag by Juan Dennys [SM Vanilla+], rated by andlabs on Jul 27, 2017 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 5:15
I downloaded this hack expecting it to be the unholy abomination it has become famous as. Instead, I found a fairly typical half-hack.

Yes, the Samus palettes are ridiculous. Yes, Red Crateria. Yes, the start of the game is a pain. But if you keep playing, you'll find that it's an ordinary half-hack that doesn't really challenge you so much during the main game and that changes things around either in interesting or stupid ways. The route is interesting. There's no heat run. There's very little suitless underwater. Most enemies and bosses haven't had their damages changed. While there are spikes, they're only in certain spots intended to be slightly harder. So, just an ordinary old non-challenge half-hack. There are far, **far** worse half-hacks out there. This isn't much harder than the original game either.

Except the bosses and minibosses. **Those** have been changed in particularly dumb ways. Special credit goes to Kraid (which spikes all but one tile's worth of what would normally be safe spaces) and Crocomire (which spikes the floor with only one safe spot that I couldn't get to work right anyway). Draygon and Ridley also have... interesting changes. The game gets truly hard for the boss and miniboss fights only. (And Tourian is almost completely unchanged, so you don't have to worry about Mother Brain.)

The real kicker is the start of the game, where some (but not all) things should be made slightly more obvious to avoid the frustration some of the other users felt. Spoiler: you get Morphing Ball in Red Brinstar's rightmost shaft, then go back up by shooing a bunch of shot blocks in the Maridia back door to get out. Shoot the Chozo Statue near the ship and morph through to get to the door into the Main Street. Head to Bomb Torizo and grab Super Missiles there, being careful with the Giant Sidehopper (I'll get to Sidehoppers in a bit). Get out of the Bomb Torizo area by shooting up next to the right side of the hill to reveal some shot blocks. Get to the diagonal hallway with an Energy Tank by shooting the blocks in the way with Super Missiles (two are needed). Smooth sailing from here. Explore a bit in Green Brinstar, making sure to get Power Bombs from the Etecoons (the Power Bomb floor is now shot blocks). Green Brinstar is lined with fake pipes; the hint to get to Pink Brinstar is that one pipe is longer. Shoot a Super Missile in that pipe and morph into the hole to enter Pink Brinstar. Once in the main Pink Brinstar room, head to the Spore Spawn skip; you'll see the path clear. Grab X-Ray Scope from there, and you should be good to go for the rest of the game.

A lot of frustration could have been saved by making some of the special blocks visible from the start; for instance, the Super Missile blocks in Main Street. That X-Ray Scope is available so soon keeps the frustration short, at least.

Some more observations:

Two enemies that have been changed are Sidehoppers and Giant Sidehoppers. Regular Sidehoppers now require the equivalent of 5 Super Missiles to kill. Giant Sidehoppers now require the equivalent of 2 Super Missiles to kill and deal much less damage to you. This is probably the most random change in the entire hack. Of course, it also makes regular Sidehoppers very annoying to kill, especially once you get all the beams (since just one charged shot still isn't enough).

The placement of both Gravity Suit and Bombs are **really** interesting.

Some special rooms have had their design changed completely. Of particular note are the Energy Refill near Crocomire and the Save Station near Botwoon, which I think look interesting.

Only one item requires any special trick: the Super Missile in the big room in Maridia requires a shorter Shinespark charge than usual, possibly shorter than the ordinary Short Charge. The first Tourian room also requires such a charge to get out, but you have somewhat more room.

Black Brinstar is probably the stupidest room change in terms of difficulty. The description above says to collect 3 energy tanks before going in, but you can only get 2 without glitches. The reason is that the two lowest rooms (the one with the Skrees and the one next to Spazer) now have acid in them **right at ground level**, so you will be damaged in those rooms.

You'll either need Spring Ball or Gravity Suit to get Speed Booster. Spring Ball was moved; Grappling Beam is now in its place (if you wonder where it is, especially since you'll need it to get into Lower Norfair). Also once you get Grappling Beam, pay attention when coming back out, as the door connections have been changed. Don't go into the room next to where you go in to get Grappling Beam; the scroll will corrupt.

Draygon's boss room has a morph ball maze filling it. This makes what happens when Draygon gets you a bit more frustrating, but it *is* a unique take on the fight...

In the vertical shaft on the way to Ridley with the red Ki Hunters and the Save Station next to it, I somehow managed to get two red Ki Hunters to circle around each other while I was crouched next to them. Nothing specific to the hack, just an interesting thing that happened once =P

The escape is rather tight; you'll need to find some shot blocks in the big Tourian room if you want to escape. I have no idea how Aran;Jaeger managed to save the animals; I'll have to find that out.

Item totals are identical to vanilla, except one Missile Pack has been replaced with an Energy Tank. (Though I now see Aran;Jaeger also got 101%, so I'll have to watch to see what item I missed...).

So... no, it's not the most horrible hack ever made; it's just another vanilla-level half-hack that just became memetic. I didn't hate it (I'd probably rate it 2.5 stars, maybe, if I could...). And while there are definitely a number of things, many of which I mentioned above, that new hackers should not do, there are also some interesting things to see here (including a few I may have forgotten by now or didn't mention). **And** I have played worse: at no point did I ever give up and use cheats, which is more than I could say for some other half-hacks on here. Therefore... *shrug*.
Super Metroid: Unknown by Reita [SM Incomplete], rated by andlabs on Apr 07, 2017 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 11:41
The description is misleading: while this is a half-hack, this isn't really a demo; it's a thorough hack that can be completed and has lots of room and item changes, as well as a whole bunch of neat ideas. The patch also requires a headered ROM, not an unheadered ROM.

So yes, this hack does a few neat things, including partial versions of a few ideas I've had! Of particular note:

- the Gravity Suit does not automatically grant Varia Suit, so heated rooms and lava will hurt you (albeit more slowly)
- each Super Missile upgrade requires all prior Super Missile upgrades, and in some cases this fact is implemented somewhat creatively
- unusual routes through various parts of the hack, including having to go through Lower Norfair backwards
- and (at least at first) the hack seems to be designed to discourage doing the wrong thing: bombs take longer to explode (so no IBJ) and heat/lava/acid sap health RAPIDLY, almost to the point of insta-death (so no heat runs) — wall jump is unimpeded, and possibly also mockball, but I forget now

Of course, over time, that last point becomes a sticking point, particularly since, as I write this, there is virtually *NO* information on this hack anywhere — not even a playthrough on either English or Japanese video sites to watch! There are some things that just take too long; in particular, you have to plant two bombs to get from Crateria to the Wrecked Ship, which gets annoying, especially since I kept getting lost because I kept missing the path to one item. I did eventually get used to it.

And yes, I did wind up getting lost a lot of the time, particularly when finding the first Super Missile (because I somehow missed a shot block). I might do a playthrough some time, but it'd probably not be a live thing because of the biggest issue I am about to mention.

The biggest issue with this hack that is independent of the amount of info available on the hack is that the enemies and bosses jump from only slightly tougher, if at all, to MUCH HARDER TO KILL at about the halfway point, with no transition. I might have been going the wrong way, of course, but when the Plasma Beam doesn't really feel like much of an upgrade and certain frequent enemies are immune to Screw Attack and/or Speed Booster (hi giant Desgeegas, Ki Hunters, and *especially* Beetoms!)...

Ridley and Kraid (the last two bosses, in that order) are also tougher; Ridley takes more hits to kill, but Kraid's fight is harder in a significant way AND he's *incredibly beefed up*. Here's a hint: hope you found Plasma Beam and have mastered Space Jump, because you'll need them...

Also frustrating: the ship no longer refills weapons, only energy and reserve tanks.

A few other notes and curiosities, some of which are spoilers:

- Spore Spawn doesn't respond to Missiles. You'll need to find Charge Beam to hit it (and you can't skip it).
- Work Robots can be destroyed with bombs. You'll need to know this to get to Phantoon, which is the first boss you'll need to fight.
- Most of the map stations were removed, but the path to Crateria's is still there. The room seems pointless, but it becomes important when it's time to go to Tourian.
- Some of the item dots on the map and item platforms are really nothing at all.
- Despite what Aram;Jaeger says (did you use an unheadered ROM?) you can save the animals.
- You will get Gravity Suit before Varia Suit. Be sure to remember Brinstar's secrets to find the former.
- The staircase room in Brinstar before the noob bridge has some speed boost blocks in the ceiling near the end. Grapple Beam is there; you'll need Super Missiles.
- The two special Chozo Statues that you activate with morph ball are gone.
- Near the leftmost Brinstar elevator is a door that leads to Tourian-like rooms that connect back to a fake tunnel in Crateria. Entering those Tourian-like rooms screw up the map (at least in bsnes v080); I'd suggest avoiding them. You can get to the Crateria fake tunnel with Super Missiles at the bottom of the old escape chute; X-Ray Scope is here and you will need Power Bombs.
- Wave Beam is where the missile refill near Draygon used to be. You'll need Grapple Beam. Make sure to not completely forget this like I did :D
- The gray doors in Crateria Main Street are only open in the escape sequence. You'll need Super Missiles to get through from underneath normally.
- My Kraid fight was particularly painful because I expected the refill room from the original. It's not there; you have a Norfair-style 5-enemy generator instead, and I couldn't find a way back to it after jumping into the other side of the room with the boss door. Be sure to fill first!
- And my most important piece of advice: the way to get to where you would normally get Gravity Suit is now where you get Super Missiles; you don't get in the usual way (in fact there is no way to get to the usual way). And be sure to shoot the floor to find the morph ball tunnel to get in. This very likely accounts for most of the wasted time in my playthrough, hence "most important" :D

The item stats for 100% are:
all vanilla items
14 Energy Tanks
4 Reserve Tanks
265 Missiles
50 Super Missiles
15 Power Bombs
Note this is almost identical to vanilla; the extra Missiles match the missing Power Bombs.

So yes, my verdict: definitely a half-hack worth giving a chance, especially for the various original ideas in it (if I remembered them all here). Not sure how good it is for speedrunning, and the difficulty might not spike so much when played correctly (but I don't know for sure) so I'm not sure if it's also good for casual players either. But it's definitely not a *bad* half-hack, and should get some more attention. I'll still consider making a video of it sometime...