brized's Ratings and Reviews
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Super Duper Metroid by Metaquarius, Daltone [SM Exploration], rated by brized on Sep 09, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
I enjoyed this much more than Hyper if only because Speed Booster wasn't the last major upgrade and the map feels like it's made to be run around in at mach speed.

The more open map style is something you'll love or hate. I loved it.

That said, some critique:

It should have used Hyper's X-ray Visor and made sure that it wouldn't bug out in rooms where it's useful.

Some optional items require Speed Booster mechanics specific to Project Base 0.8.1 to get them. Problem is, there's nothing in-game that teaches those mechanics. The player shouldn't have to look up documentation or videos outside the game to figure out stuff like re-spinning out of a shinespark, etc.

Tourian felt underwhelming.
Super Metroid: Subversion by TestRunner and AmoebaOfDoom [SM Exploration], rated by brized on Sep 09, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
96% in 9:50
This is better than most retail metroidvanias. I hope the authors make their own game next so they can be paid for their work.

Play this.

That said, it's not perfect:

It would be better for quality of life if you used Hyper Metroid's wide X-Ray visor.

There are several long vertical and horizontal shafts that would be better with shinespark/speed boost shortcuts built in.

There are some places where decorative blocks look like destructible blocks. Not sure if intentional, but it feels better when you can spot inconsistencies and get rewarded for it.

There are some places where one destructible type of block (like Spazer, Hyper, or Super Missile) looks like another type. It's better when the visual language is consistent, like with Ice Blocks always being melted by Plasma. Even bomb-only destructibles should be distinct from generic destructibles when possible.

The final sequence feels like it's missing something. Maybe in the boss fight, sparks that have some sort of dynamic position instead of a static laser beam? Or something about manipulating the laser beam?
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.
Metroid: New Zero Mission by jasinchen [MZM Exploration], rated by brized on Oct 04, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 10:45
This is the best hack for MZM, yet I can't give it more than a 3/5.

Here's how it can be better:

1) Import Project Zero Mission's quality of life improvements.

2) Make the speed booster blocks leading to Space Jump not so hidden. There's a visual inconsistency hint, but the problem is that the type of inconsistency used is repeated in many other rooms where it is *not* a hint. Thus, the only real way to find the entrance is by power bombing room by room. Wasted a bunch of time finding it. Not fun at all. Use a clear visual hint on the blocks for an area that leads to a major upgrade.

3) Some entries to "critical path" content or major upgrades have multiple entries, others do not. They should ALL have multiple entries, even if some of them are one-way. I repeat: ALL bottlenecks to critical path content and major upgrades should have at least 2 entry points.

4) Teach the player to use red missiles to knock around the Work Robots before expecting them to do it to enter the area that leads to Gravity Suit, since it's critical path content. I got to the entry, but didn't realize I could knock the Work Robots around. I tried a normal missile too close and it bounced off, and I tried a super missile and that also bounced off, so I left the area thinking I needed another item to do it. That wasted a TON of time.

This alone warrants -1 on the rating because it's such a glaring flaw. If you require a technique to progress on the critical path, you must first give the player a challenge where they are locked in a room and can't leave until they apply that technique, much like after you get the Power Grip, High Jump Boots, Speed Booster, etc. Failing to teach the player and verify they have learned to use a mandatory technique is failing basic game design.

This hack was so close to being great, but instead it was fun punctuated with frustration and wasted time.
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.