brized's Ratings and Reviews
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Super Metroid: Escape II by Hiroishi [SM Exploration], rated by brized on Jan 29, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
This is like if Takashi Tezuka made a Metroid game. Very fun level design and puzzles, and built for replays with sequence breaking and multiple routes.

This is the only romhack I've played where the X-ray visor feels good to use.

Maridia can be done without gravity suit. Impressive.

Directional shinesparking seems to have come from this romhack; if so that's a huge feat. I'd have liked for its "wall bounce" window to have a few more frames to make it feel more like a wall jump in execution. That, or make the window to unmorph and jump to retain speed boost to be 3-4 frames instead of 1. This would make the insane shinespark puzzles fun instead of frustrating. Or, if there are any techniques for retaining a speed boost charge so you *don't* need to shinespark wallbounce or speed unmorph and then store a shinespark, those techniques should be explained in the manual or through the game itself.

Got stuck finding Kraid and Ridley's lairs because I forgot I had passed their entrances before, but didn't have power bombs at the time. Making those entrances more emotionally striking with visuals would have helped with remembering.

One of the all-time best SM romhacks, blue or not.
Super Metroid: Ascent by Benox50 [SM Exploration], rated by brized on Jan 29, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
Not a fan of requiring repeat bomb jumping in a few parts, but otherwise no complaints.
The readme has a lot of good info; check it out before you play.
Lots of new mechanics that are either intuitive, explained in the manual, or taught through level design.

Overall one of the all-time best SM romhacks.
V I T A L I T Y by Digital_Mantra [SM Exploration], rated by brized on Jan 29, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
84% in 5:04
One of the best SM romhacks, ever, and the best for story/atmosphere. Yes, it's like Ridley Scott made this, but what inspired Metroid in the first place?

Still, a few things I'd have preferred:
Quality of life improvements in the maps would have been great (think Metroid Escape 2, etc.)

Difficulty curve is too high at first, and too easy at the end. Just a little tuning would fix it.

Ridley not being immune to Screw Attack trivializes the fight.

In Tchornobog, there's a rocket that requires shinesparking left to get to. If you get it and then go into the room immediately above and right of it, you'll have to then do a tight short charge to get out of that area or else you're stuck. Seems like an oversight.

The Tchornobog and Andavald map stations have no exposition. Seems a lost opportunity for at least 1-2 of those.

Fridge logic: There doesn't seem to be anything showing why any cloned Samuses you play as have free will (or at least the original's personality/memory and items/upgrades), but the other 17 do not. Just a little foreshadowing/exposition in early map stations might have solved that, where at first it seems like a throwaway line or applicable to something else, but it all comes together in the end. Maybe a map station in Pendulu Morda after the Draygon fight? Maybe something for Andavald?
Hyper Metroid by RealRed [SM Exploration], rated by brized on Jan 29, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
Overall great romhack, but some big problems:
Due to major upgrade and Tourian gate placements, each area has to be backtracked into at least once to progress without any advanced sequence breaking.

Backtracking feels awful for most of the game.
Why? Speed Booster is the final item in the standard progression. Given the size of the map and the backtracking, that was not a good fit. At all.
Why weren't there more shortcuts between areas, designed around the mandatory revisits? That's the difference between feeling a pleasant flow and a chore.

The improved physics and techniques are great, but they aren't as well-documented as vanilla. This wouldn't be a problem if they were just for sequence breaking and speed running, except that they're *necessary* to get certain items. Instead of just "try and figure it out" in the manual, info on how to execute new techniques would have been appropriate.

For example, I still don't understand how using spin jumps to retain blue suit with Speed Booster works. Getting past the timed gate to get power bombs in lower Norfair was way more frustrating and time consuming than it needed to be. Why? It wasn't a matter of finely executing what I knew (see Super Zero Mission's shinespark puzzles), it was I didn't know wtf I was doing and just hoping for the best. It steals the feeling of accomplishment when you finally succeed.

The room in which you get the Speed Booster should have been built to teach the player about the new techniques, so they could apply them in more complex and challenging ways elsewhere. This is a fundamental game design principle, and applies to every new technique in this romhack or any Project Base romhack. RealRed did this with some techniques, but not others.

The overall quality is a 4.5/5, but the hack felt like a 3/5 in terms of enjoyment. The issues above are just that glaring. The last 0.5 preventing a 5/5 is that the story is underdeveloped to the point it should have just gone unchanged. Either develop it into something that stands on its own (see V I T A L I T Y) or drop it and stick with vanilla's story.
Temple of the Winds by Moehr and Albert V. [SM Exploration], rated by brized on Jan 29, 2021 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
An ambitious romhack that misses some design fundamentals.

Part of the Metroid formula is Samus getting energy/ammo from enemies.
Taking that out changes the dynamics of the game: Mistakes become much more punishing.

This could work if areas were designed as small, 1-15 minute courses to be completed with limited resources, punctuated with save and refill stations. Instead, the course is the whole map, your only refill station is your ship, and save stations recover you to only half health.
The medicine and thunder pickups don't fill the gap effectively.

The new and modded mechanics aren't clearly communicated within the game. The whirlwinds aren't predictable. I defeated the new boss by just tanking it instead of doing whatever I should have done, which wasn't clear.

To reveal problems like these early in production, iterate more on design through playtesting with fresh players. Observe when they get frustrated or miss key things, and deduce what's causing it. Test new concepts in small chunks before developing bigger chunks.