thedopefish's Ratings and Reviews
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Super Junkoid by P. Yoshi [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Sep 14, 2023 (Star Star Star Star Star )
71% in 2:27
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Very cool hack. It's the most comprehensive graphical overhaul of SM I've seen, and the visuals are all excellent. Plus it takes the game in a very different thematic direction than most metroidvanias. Everything is really creepy and it all feels very cohesive. It doesn't fundamentally change the mechanics of the game, but it does put a new spin on a lot of abilities like speedbooster, screw attack, and reserves. The world design is very interconnected (I found myself frequently looping back around just from ordinary exploration), which I believe also makes it fairly non-linear in terms of progression.

About the only negative I experienced was a difficulty with refilling ammo in some places, especially early on, because a lot of the basic enemies refuse to drop missiles and especially supers. But the baphomet statues mitigated a lot of that once I realized how they worked. Oh, and it was weird how gauntlet and parlor existed basically unchanged from vanilla, but essentially nothing else.
Metroid - Rogue Dawn by Grimlock, Optomon, snarfblam [M1 Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Dec 20, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
71% in 5:55
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I just realized I never posted a review for this hack. So, here we go.

First off, Rogue Dawn looks good--and the fact that I don't have to add "...for a NEStroid hack" to that is a big deal. It's still Metroid 1, but it adds a lot of QoL stuff to make it bearable (saving, a map, health refills, etc.). Tons of custom graphics, custom music, and some new mechanics combine to make this almost feel like a brand new game. It is challenging in a few places, and notably the Chozo Jungle is pretty confusing; I derped pretty hard on figuring out where to go at several points. But all in all, Rogue Dawn is definitely worth a look.
Super Metroid: Subversion by TestRunner and AmoebaOfDoom [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Nov 16, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
66% in 5:14
[Watch Video]  
Very cool hack!

It's a completely new and quite large world to explore. It's obvious that a lot of effort went into the world design to make things interesting and navigable. Progression feels pretty natural, and there's secrets and puzzles all over the place.

There's a ton of custom stuff: custom music, new upgrades, a Hyper-esque ammo system, and a giant database in the pause menu full of explanations and lore. I really liked the approach taken with reserve tanks and space jump.

I got lost a few times in the second half, trying to find the last couple of key upgrades, but kept finding stuff along the way so it didn't quite get to the point of frustration. I'll have to go back eventually to try Hard mode or some of the Challenges.
Super Metroid: Ascent by Benox50 [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Dec 23, 2020 (Star Star Star Star Star )
71% in 4:51
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Cool hack. A pretty original concept, with some fun new mechanics. Custom music, custom items, custom blocks, custom graphics. A few elaborate (but optional) puzzles. Lots of GIANT rooms, but you can move through them quickly thanks to boostball and the super-buffed speed booster.

I feel like I did a ton of stuff in an unintended manner. Possibly related, I spent a whole lot of time in areas 1 and 2 exploring everywhere except where the major progression items were hidden. And then I reached area 3, and pretty much unintentionally made a beeline straight down the critical path, to the end. Escape timer is extremely generous--I had over 3 minutes left when I finished.

I did get stuck in walls/floors and softlocked a couple of times, but I played on v1.0 and I believe those spots were fixed in later patches.
V I T A L I T Y by Digital_Mantra [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Oct 17, 2020 (Star Star Star Star Star )
74% in 4:29
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Quite an excellent hack, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The visuals are striking. Great palettes, great use of lighting effects, cool boss respriting, and plenty of the classic dman room design aesthetics.

The storytelling is done well and hits home, with very little text.

There's tons to explore. A couple of times I was sure I was supposed to be in a certain area but got it wrong, and yet I never felt lost or stuck, which is really perfect. Item progression seemed very smooth and good. The overall low amount of ammo meant that almost every secret was a welcome find.

If I have to say anything bad about it, only two things come to mind. In a few rooms it was challenging to tell what was foreground and what was background, and most of the bosses were rather easy.
Super Metroid Nature by Jefe962 [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Apr 21, 2019 (Star Star Star Star Star )
82% in 3:19
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I really enjoyed this one. The tiling work especially in brinstar was very nice, as I'd expect from Jiffy. Lots of hidden paths and items with subtle hints, just as it should be. I was unlucky/dumb/bad and managed to miss the reward for a couple of early bosses on my first pass, and had to hunt around for a little bit, but I never felt stuck or lost. Difficulty-wise, there was some challenge and tension in several places but it never felt super hard.

I'm not sure how open-ended it was intended to be, but I always felt like there were multiple paths open to me, and I'm pretty sure I did several things out of order as a result. Notably I killed Phantoon before getting speed, killed Draygon before getting spacejump, and never even found grapple.

Would definitely recommend for anyone wanting an enjoyable vanilla-style hack.
Hyper Metroid by RealRed [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Apr 24, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
80% in 5:40
I thoroughly enjoyed this hack. I loved the combined ammo system. The custom graphics and overall artistic design look very nice. It's easy to get around the world and there's always more places to explore. I kind of felt like I was wandering around aimlessly at the beginning, but I didn't mind because I kept finding items and new areas. I finished with 80% and I never really did any backtracking to go look for more items (I also never found x-ray). I had a little bit of trouble finding PBs, but not enough to really bother me.

My boss order was Phantoon, Kraid, Ridley, Draygon. I felt like the boss difficulty was pretty good (Ridley killed me 3 times, GT once), but this will obviously vary significantly for different players because the hack is so open-ended. My beam order was wave, ice, plasma, spazer (I was pleasantly surprised to see that spazer+plasma was a thing). The escape sequence was pretty fun, though I feel dirty for being tricked into saving the animals.

Overall this is a really great hack and you should definitely give it a play.
Super Metroid: Z-Factor by Metaquarius [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Mar 31, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
72% in 9:00
Great hack. It's huge, full of places to explore, and pleasing to look at. There's some neat custom stuff in here too. Oh, and bar none the best Tourian in any hack ever.

There are some things to complain about though. You're going to get trolled by crumble blocks more than once, there's one or two rooms that are just evil. And most significantly, sometimes the required path forward is well hidden. This is made worse by the fact that you have so much of the map accessible to you, and it's not always clear where you should be searching. The worst offenders are the first visit to Norfair, and of course the famous Zaridia.

In the end, the good overpowers the bad and I highly recommend giving it a playthrough.
Eris by Digital_Mantra [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Mar 31, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
A great all-around hack. It all fits on one submap, but it really maximizes the use of that area. It's full of really cool environments with lots of classic DMan visual touches. The 2012 update makes it somewhat more difficult by reducing early super ammo and delaying access to the evasion item.
Metroid + Saving by snarfblam [M1 Improvement], rated by thedopefish on Mar 28, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
NEStroid the way it was meant to be.
Super Duper Metroid by Metaquarius, Daltone [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Jan 17, 2022 (Star Star Star Star Star )
71% in 3:59
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Pretty cool hack. Very open-ended with lots of stuff to find. I ended up finding both suits pretty late, and never picked up plasma. Energy tanks are only worth half each, so there are more of them to find. Built-in randomizer is a really cool idea.

It reminded me of Hyper, with the Project Base physics and some nice vanilla-ish visuals. Also with it being easy to stumble into a very difficult GT fight before it's necessary to go there. And unfortunately also with fact that I got stuck wandering the planet for an hour looking for PBs after I had exhausted all my other options.

A couple other things that were a bit weird:
- rooms are littered with shootable air tiles in the background for no apparent reason; I found it distracting
- some empty item rooms early on, that were apparently duplicate morph locations?
- the path to charge beam is rather well hidden, although the item itself is conspicuously visible. it's a good spot, but a little questionable for such an important upgrade
- x-ray lies to you sometimes

Overall it didn't blow me away with anything new and innovative, but I found it quite enjoyable.
Super Metroid: Y-Faster 2 Fast by Metaquarius [SM Speedrun/Race], rated by thedopefish on Sep 28, 2020 (Star Star Star Star Star )
52% in 2:07
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Lots of fun. Full of references to other hacks (for better or worse); if you haven't played the originals, it's probably less entertaining and more frustrating.

I died in the escape on my first attempt here too, just like with Y-Faster 1, although to the escape timer this time around rather than the global timer. The global timer was never a problem for me, although I expected it to be considering I wasn't playing particularly fast in many of the sections.
Deep Freeze by Cpt.Glitch [MZM Quick Play], rated by thedopefish on Mar 15, 2017 (Star Star Star Star Star )
42% in 0:49
A competent ZM hack? What is this madness?

It looks nice and fits the "frozen" theme quite well, though there wasn't much in the way of thawing. I liked most of the level design, and the layered secret thing is cool (especially since that's a technique you obviously don't see in hacks of SM). The lore explanation of "Gravity Suit" is cute. Glowy MechaRidley and ultraglowy escape is great.

I got trolled once, when I found an eye door at low health and decided to backtrack all the way to the previous save room to be safe, only to go back around and through the eye door to find... another save room.

Mecha Ridley kicked my ass when I first found him, so I spent more time exploring and finding additional items (including the "secret rooms"). At that point, I still died a couple of times to Mecha because I'm bad, but the difficulty felt reasonable. You still might want to tone him down in order to let less skilled players realistically beat the hack under-equipped.

The Kraid fight was tedious because I ran out of missiles and had to farm a lot of fingernails, but he dealt so little damage that there was never any threat.
Super Metroid: Darkholme Hospital by Cloud12 [SM Quick Play], rated by thedopefish on Apr 02, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
100% in 0:03
Pretty fun hack with a different feel than usual. Very atmospheric. It's a pretty quick play if you're not trying to hunt down all the secrets. Also includes some neat replayability features by the inclusion of "keypatches", where you find codes hidden in-game and use them to unlock new .IPS patches that change the game in various ways.

There's not much variety in terms of environments, enemies, or music choices. Not that you should expect a lot, given the theme of the whole game taking place in a single building, but it is a thing.
Legacy by Banana Oyaji [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Mar 31, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
A quality vanilla-ish hack that due to its age is missing some of the small touches we take for granted these days, but still holds up. It's relatively small and not very difficult, but still manages to give you freedom to explore.

Just... don't try to race it. It will end badly for you, trust me :(
Ice Metal Uninstall by Crys [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Mar 29, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
65% in 4:39
One of the most open-ended hacks out there. Huge chunks of it can be done in any order you like, or are just outright optional. If you want a hack with a clear intended route, this might not be for you.

Visually it's very appealing with some good variety. Some of the level design is hit or miss, but on the whole it's solid. It was intended to be a fun exploration hack that's accessible to all players, and I think it hits that mark rather well.
Super Metroid Frostbite by Jefe962 [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Mar 15, 2017 (Star Star Star Star Star )
70% in 0:23
This is a pretty solid hack. It features both freezing and thawing, and makes great use of thawed roomstates to open up previously-inaccessible areas; however the trigger that causes the thawing is not obvious. It would have been much better if the random dead-end room included something conspicuous to be destroyed, or a map station, or something else to interact with that could give the player some feedback of "something important just happened".

Jiffy loves to make physics changes for seemingly no reason, and this time around we get awkward walljump arcs and a complete lack of running. There's no particular lore explanation for it, and more importantly the changes were not utilized for any puzzles or creative ways to maneuver through rooms. So it just makes the game feel slower and a bit "off".

I beat Ridley on my first attempt, although it was pretty close and I'm fairly comfortable fighting him without great equipment. Players who are not skilled at that fight are sure to struggle.
SM Redesign: Axeil Edition by Drewseph [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Apr 26, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
76% in 15:00
Stats: 346.55km travelled; 65,200 energy lost; 4,022 enemies killed; 24,037 shots fired; 2,462 doors traversed.

Note: I played the first few hours on 1.0, then patched to 1.1 where I played the majority of the game.

Also note: I played some of the original Redesign several years ago, but did not get too far, so I'm mostly treating this as a brand new hack rather than an update to an old one.

- Massive world with tons of secrets to explore
- Challenging but not incredibly difficult, for the most part
- Enhanced map that shows door connections, including icons to help you remember where speed booster or power bomb tiles are once you gain the appropriate upgrades, and a pretty cool hint system to show you where you ought to be headed.
- Name plates are super cool (though it was a bit weird seeing them show up only on my 2nd visit to a new area occasionally--possibly because my first visit wasn't on the intended path?)
- Auto morph tunnels are a great feature. I used it all the time even though I have no trouble with midair morphs. I never really used the auto walljump, but it seems like it would be similarly helpful for newer players
- Once you clear an obstacle (for example, a group of power bomb blocks), it stays cleared for future revisits to that room
- Tracking your item percentage on the equipment screen is a nice touch, and the detailed end-game stats are fun to look at.

- Samus moves INSANELY slow underwater without gravity suit, and she loses all momentum the instant she touches liquid.
- Acid does an INSANE amount of damage if you're more than 2 tiles deep, to the point where even a momentary fall below that level usually means death.
- More morph tunnels, mazes, and puzzles than I would prefer. And they all aggressively use morph lock.
- Crumble blocks are annoying in a lot of hacks, but here they're even worse because it's impossible to jump off them.
- I had a whole lot of trouble with space jump throughout the hack. I'd frequently find myself falling like a rock seemingly no matter what timing I tried for pressing jump.
- I found Tourian to be excessively tedious and frustrating. There were entirely too many metroid rooms, and in two of those rooms I killed upwards of 20 metroids before the doors unlocked (I counted). Apparently I was supposed to kill all of the onscreen ones at the same time, instead of picking them off one at a time? It wasn't clear to me. The zebetite gate puzzles were interesting, but again there were too many of them. Between the metroids and the zebetites and all the purple doors, I had to go back and refill my ammo several times, despite my relatively high item collection rate.
- The escape sequence is very long and has a couple mean points where if you screw up you either die or lose a lot of time. It took me a couple of attempts to make it back to the ship safely.
Cliffhanger by Digital_Mantra [SM Challenge], rated by thedopefish on Mar 31, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
Some cool puzzles and a lot of great visuals. The difficulty is very punishing though, even in the version with save stations added: spikes, acid, heat runs, some death traps that you couldn't possibly avoid on your first attempt, etc. Not for the faint of heart, but there's lots more here than just another bullshit challenge hack.
SMConflict by SMILEuser96 [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Mar 29, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
87% in 0:47
The shop is very cool, there's a couple of neat puzzles, and there's hidden stuff EVERYWHERE. The boss fights are all amazing (custom music, custom intro text, and some twists).

Be warned that the music really will make you go crazy after a while. Also there's a fair bit of suitless underwater, if that's not your thing. Most enemies don't actually drop money, so you'll either need to find a bunch of hidden cash items or farm an enemy that does drop money in order to afford all the cool toys. Also yes, the shop is the only save point and it does cost money to save, because Smiley hates you.
So Little Items by MetroidMst [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Mar 29, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
SLI continues the tradition of So Little hacks trolling the shit out of the player, but in a different way this time around. It's less about making you hopelessly confused, and more about giving you moderately difficult tasks to complete with large consequences for failure. Specifically, there's some tricky grapple sections, and a particular boss that will ANNIHILATE you if you're underprepared (and being properly prepared involves finding some secret items). Also, hope you like rinka lag.

The custom music is nice, and the hack seems very well polished. If you know what you're getting into, this can be an entertaining playthrough. Probably the best of the SL* series to date.
So Little Collab by MetroidMst/Vismund [SM Exploration], rated by thedopefish on Mar 29, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
72% in 1:15
Earlier versions of this suffered from permastucks and enemies with unfair damage/health. Those issues were eventually sorted out, and the resulting product is pretty decent.

Things to be wary of: the angry sun is a HUGE jerk, there's a bunch of traps designed to frustrate you, the map is slightly buggy, and a lot of it feels rough around the edges (the time constraint definitely hurt).

On the positive side, the ripped graphics look nice, the level design makes good use of the major upgrades, there's a ton of secrets and most of them are cleverly hinted, and there's an epic custom boss fight.
Winter Mission by Ing-ing [MZM Quick Play], rated by thedopefish on Mar 15, 2017 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
Hoo boy. Another ZM hack. I'll start off by saying that I did not enjoy this hack. In fact it was the only contest entry I was not able to finish (I gave up at the Imago fight).

It does prominently feature both freezing and thawing, although it shares Frostbite's problem of the transition to "thawed" being unclear.

The difficulty is very punishing throughout, due to enemies dealing a LOT of damage and the fact that I had zero e-tanks (apparently I missed the 1 or 2 that were hidden, and I also missed Varia). And there's rinka spawners all over the place. And then there's the invincible wavers in many of the rooms, which can only be killed by power bombs or shinesparks.

There's also more than a couple required paths forward with little or no hints, many of them quite early in the game. And either I took a complicated route, or there were places where it was required to do fancy maneuvers involving shinespark chains, freezing enemies in specific places, and/or walljumps.

Getting bombs before morph, and then having to figure out how to enable bombs on the status menu, was very confusing to me. I'll also nitpick that there's one chozo statue that directs you someplace on the map that obviously doesn't exist in this hack.

The metroid room leading into super missiles is pure cancer. Fuck that room.
SMCompetition by SMILEuser96 [SM Challenge], rated by thedopefish on Mar 29, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
No completion stats.
That grapple room is concentrated evil in hack form. As for the rest, there's some neat stuff but it's tempered by a thick layer of frustration. Seriously, just play SMNonCompetition instead.