Familiar 3


Breath of Fire 2

An interesting, terrifying horror story wrapped in bad localization and some of the worst gameplay decisions I’ve ever seen in an RPG. With a walkthrough, while cheating, the game is worth at least a playthrough as that bypasses the worst aspects of gameplay, but barring that I do not recommend trying this one.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +17
Total Gameplay Score: -61
Golden Number: -97.97
Cheats: Oh yeah
Total Play Time: 3 days / 16.64 Hours
Time Reviewed: 1-6-2024

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Animations: The animations in combat are quite legit
  2. Atmosphere: The entire game oozes the same atmosphere of being a gloomy, bleak, horrifying setting
  3. Brickwork: Combat backgrounds all look legit
  4. Brickwork: General brickwork across the whole game
  5. Brickwork: Simafort (and several other forts) all look awesome
  6. Brickwork: Towns all have surprisingly good looking features
  7. Brickwork: Tunlan gets its own noteworthy brickwork positive
  8. Doodads: Interiors, forts
  9. Doodads: Interiors, towns
  10. Doodads: Tunlan
  11. Spritework: Almost entirely in combat, but even the NPCs roaming the world are really quite good…
  12. Spritework: …for two positives
  13. External Continuity: The game follows through on 1 quite neatly; the ruins of Myria Station, the consequences of having defeated Myria, the watering out of bloodlines
  14. Humor: The game is neat, quirky, and silly
  15. Internal Continuity: For how much of a mess it is, the game does a really solid job of keeping track of its own events, and sequences follow internal logic pretty well…
  16. Internal Continuity: …for a solid two positives
  17. Intro: The Intro might honestly be the best part of the entire story. The ‘daylight horror’ of being forgotten by your own town, the gaslighting by the townsfolk, and the reset to everyday…
  18. Intro: …for two positives
  19. Moment: Habaruku’s introduction, Tiga and Claris’ death, and the crowd just… watching
  20. Moment: Rand’s big scene, and the loss of his mother
  21. MSQ: The entire Arena arc is honestly just as messed up as it needs to be and is a good early insight into what the world is like
  22. MSQ: Highfort and Sten’s section has some… obvious issues, but the more down to earth storytelling, the implications, and the character moments help sell it
  23. MSQ: Joker Gang arc is also really messed up, but still does some great stuff for the characters and the world building
  24. Outro: The very final ending with the portraits, slides, and names is nice
  25. Plot: Everything to do with how they first brainwash then torture people to produce more prayers for DeathEvan
  26. Plot: The entire arc having to do with why Deathevn is sealed, why they let him grow, and how we have to deal with him is logical, interesting, and follows neatly from the events of BoF1
  27. Storyboarding: Credit where it’s do, the storyboarding of each scene is pretty good
  28. Storytelling Mechanic: Dragon tears and how they showcase people’s reactions to you
  29. Visual Storytelling: Intermittent, but there’s bits here and there that do a good job of fleshing out areas

Story Negatives:

  1. Localization: This is one of the worst localized games I’ve ever played…
  2. Localization: …for a full…
  3. Localization: …three negatives
  4. Localization: Sten’s section just noticeable is worse than the rest of the game
  5. Moment: Sten’s introductory scene is not only out of character for him, it completely screws with the tone of both him and the adventure (especially considering he then joins your party)
  6. Writing: There’s a lot of idiot ball combined with cutscene incompetence the party puts up with
  7. MSQ: SimaFort. Just… all of SimaFort is aggravating. It’s not silly enough to be funny and it’s not serious enough to be horrifying, it misses the mark in both directions…
  8. MSQ: …earning two negatives
  9. Outro: The lead up to and encounter with DeathEvn, and the first part of the ending, can go directly to hell
  10. Outro: Visuals. The Infinity dungeon is the worst kind of bland, boring, blurry mess…
  11. Outro: …for two negatives
  12. Outro: Music. The music direction for the entirety of Infinity can suck a lemon

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Music: The music that is there is pretty legit
  2. Viscerality: Spells, attacks, and animations look and feel awesome
  3. Penalty For Failure: Same as BoF1
  4. QoL: Purchasing and equipping
  5. MSQ: Having to rescue the villagers from the facehuggers
  6. Info In Game: Item mouseovers
  7. Kit: The Fusion system is a great way to vary up and customize your characters
  8. Minigame: Hunting is a fun little side game with different playstyles based on who you hunt with
  9. Minigame: Fishing is a neat, fun little minigame
  10. Alternate Progression: Fishing, hunting, and cooking
  11. Enemy Variety: Surprisingly good variety for all the other problems they have
  12. Fast Travel: The Warp spell makes its return
  13. Overworld: Generally decent, old style ‘here’s where to go next’ Overworld design (at least for the first half)

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Music: Repetition repetition
  2. Music: Music restarts every time it plays
  3. Difficulty Curve: The game’s difficulty curve is the second worst I’ve ever seen in a JRPG. The phrase ‘every encounter is a boss fight’ isn’t really an exaggeration, and is absolutely all over the place based on party makeup and which dungeon or boss you’re on…
  4. Difficulty Curve: …for a full…
  5. Difficulty Curve: …three negatives
  6. Intro: I mean. The intro, structurally, is solid; Town, dungeon, boss. But that whole sequence can take up to an hour just because of how badly designed the individual details are
  7. Encounter Rate: I’ve actually never seen an encounter rate this bad. There’s three rough encounter rates, and at worst it’s roughly one every 3 steps on average which is absolutely bonkers…
  8. Encounter Rate: …for a full…
  9. Encounter Rate: …three negatives
  10. Encounter Rate: The overworld encounter rate and mandatory backtracking thereof
  11. Seconds In Minutes: Loading in and out of combat
  12. Enemy Design: Enemies are badly designed. Bad health, bad damage, bad gold, bad exp
  13. Backtracking: Every God damned time you have to go back through Mt. Fuji, which just gets worse the higher level you are
  14. Backtracking: Hope you like doing almost every dungeon twice
  15. Song: The dungeon song. You know the one…
  16. Song: …and in addition to being an awful, short loop song, it plays constantly across the entire friggin’ game
  17. MSQ: So first you have to walk all the way back across the entire overworld (keep in mind the encounter rate)
  18. MSQ: Then you have to do it again
  19. MSQ: Then again
  20. MSQ: Then a fourth time
  21. Kit: The character abilities almost universally suck, with the sole exceptions of Bleu and Nina
  22. Walkthroughitis: General negative for Act 1 and a general lack of direction (talk to this ONE NPC to advance)
  23. Walkthroughitis: Shamans. Great, fantastic feature completely locked behind a whole lot of who knows what does what and how…
  24. Walkthroughitis: …in addition to good luck even finding some of the later shamans
  25. Walkthroughitis: Township. You get to change your style (which changes gameplay), change who you recruit where, but… nothing indicates what is where on any level. Where to find people to recruit, what they can do, who goes to which houses (because people can only be in specific houses), and the fact that it’s permanent…
  26. Walkthroughitis: …for a full…
  27. Walkthroughitis: …three negatives
  28. Walkthroughitis: Cooking. A great feature completely locked behind multiple walkthroughitis problems
  29. Walkthroughitis: SimaFort gets its own negative for being a whole lot of total lack of direction
  30. Walkthroughitis: Everything to do with recruiting Spar
  31. Walkthroughitis: The lead up to Highfort and the lead up to the Queen dungeon
  32. Walkthroughitis: The entire Evrai sequence, before and after
  33. Grind: Forest area. Get to grinding
  34. Grind: Arena! Hope you’re ready to grind
  35. Grind: SimaFort region, and another round of grinding
  36. Grind: FarmTown and a weirdly out of place spot of grinding
  37. Grind: Infinity is yet another grind hell (mostly the stat type, not traditional leveling)
  38. Level: Forest labyrinth. Hope you enjoy long twisty areas with high encounter rate and irritating music
  39. Level: Joker Gang hideout (twice!). Hope you enjoy tight irritating corridors with irritating music
  40. Level: Witch’s Tower. Lots of the usual issues but also those friggin’ ‘puzzles’ which are just time wasting trial and error crap
  41. Level: SimaFort dungeon. An irritating, backtracky, confusing mess filled with frustrating enemies and bosses
  42. Level: Inside the whale and yet another irritating, gross mess of aggravation
  43. Level: Highfort is another example of frustrating lengthy irritations
  44. Level: Mt. Maori is already irritating (and requires Sten!) but if you screw it up, have fun doing it all over again
  45. Level: The memory maze is honestly one of the most irritating dungeons in the entire game with the neat-but-frustrating vision mechanic
  46. Level: SkyTower… twice! Hope you memorized the trip and enjoy a timer before instant death
  47. Boss: Augus. Hits like a truck right out the bat and there’s really no proper kit or strategy
  48. Boss: Joker, who has the same general problem as before
  49. Boss: Terrapin is yet another out of nowhere, status effect problem
  50. Boss: Kuwadora the beef gate
  51. Boss: Kuwadora the asshole
  52. Boss: Algernon is the worst boss in the game, and it comes out of nowhere and is very easy to walk into without realizing what you’re in for…
  53. Boss: …with adds that do damage and heal and recover every single turn…
  54. Boss: …on top of the boss itself being the usual bad boss problem
  55. Boss: Shupkay is just an irritating fight
  56. Boss: Aruhamel and his ‘fun’ aspect of actually removing your spells as you fight him
  57. Boss: Paladin can heal and hits like an absolute truck and, worse, you have to fight him with just Rand
  58. Difficulty Curve: Sten Section. Hope you enjoy being beaten in the face by enemies not designed for one glass cannon who’s probably under-leveled
  59. Walkthroughitis: Sten Section. Nothing indicates it’s coming and that by itself makes the whole thing so much worse
  60. Itemization: Sten Section. They could have done so much to smooth this over in items or kit and they… didn’t
  61. MSQ: Sten Section. The Sten Section. So named after this exact portion of the game. For all the individual problems I’ve already mentioned, it deserves additional negatives…
  62. MSQ: …for being such total bullcrap
  63. Outro: Encounter rate. Yes, the encounter rate of Infinity deserves…
  64. Outro: …two negatives by itself
  65. Outro: Length. The Infinity dungeon is aptly named, and it just goes on and on and on…
  66. Outro: …and on and on and on
  67. Outro: Waste of time thanks to uselessness of trash, especially by this point in the game where the only meaningful stat gains are via item ups…
  68. Outro: …which is even worse when you consider the encounter rate and the length of the dungeon
  69. Outro: Mandatory side quest with nothing indicating it’s even there
  70. Outro: Barubary being an absolute face mulcher in both forms. It really should be a fun fight, but instead it’s just aggravating, especially since the recovery and save spot is right AFTER him…
  71. Outro: …plus good frickin’ luck if you fight him with just Ryu, thinking that’s the ‘right’ choice
  72. Outro: DeathEvn is a big, fat, boring nothingburger…
  73. Outro: …who has dull music and cheap instant death attacks
  74. Unskippable Cutscenes: The usual for the era

Samus Returns

Another very good remake of the original Metroid 2. This one stumbles in several spots (Area 3 just sucks in general, combat is entirely overtuned and too frequent, and the pacing is off) but it makes up for it with great kit, excellent minibosses and bosses, and some of the best narrative in the series. Big recommend.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +27
Total Gameplay Score: +48
Golden Number: 194.82
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 days / 12.45 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-7-2024

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: Surface. Ruins, utilitarianism covered by Chozo art, the landscape, the cave structures
  2. Brickwork: Chozo ruins (Area 1 & 2) both do a great job of showing not just ruins… but devastation. This is clearly a place that suffered a battle and, as it happens, it did
  3. Brickwork: Area 3, the dig site. While a bit brown, there’s a lot going on in the background here; no more ruins, this is a functional if abandoned facility
  4. Brickwork: Area 4, the crystal caverns. More lava, caustic poison, and beautiful crystals contrasting the more constructed areas above
  5. Brickwork: Area 5 is absolutely gorgeous. The Brinstar-like foliage and fauna and the running waters
  6. Brickwork: Area 7. The frozen laboratory works wonders for me
  7. Visual Storytelling: Too many instances to properly jot down, but there’s quite a bit in this one. Most notably in the seals and how the areas connect…
  8. Visual Storytelling: …earning two positives
  9. Spritework: Almost entirely for Samus herself, but also the Metroids deserve special mention
  10. Intro: The opening cutscene, the land on the planet, and the descent all get things across neatly and efficiently
  11. Animations: Especially on Samus herself. There’s some really solid animation that really helps sell Samus (without dialogue, even!)…
  12. Animations: …and this is on top of the cool stuff they do with enemies
  13. MSQ: Metroid unlock progression and the implications thereof
  14. Moments: Many little but fun moments of additional humanization. The Diggernaut spitting out the space jump, Samus being wary of the new enemies as they spawn, mostly animations but still good stuff
  15. Music Direction: Some really great music direction here, each zone has its own vibe and tone and a lot of that is portrayed in the music…
  16. Music Direction: …easily earning a second positive
  17. Atmosphere: Wonderful atmosphere. Just the right amounts of creepy and horrifying without lingering too long, and of course I love that moment when the Metroids required to unlock simply ticks over to ‘one’…
  18. Atmosphere: …earning two positives
  19. Visual Storytelling: Everything about Area 7. The hatcheries, the screens, the data, the maps, love it
  20. Moment: The hatchlings. Being honest, this same moment is good in the original, and it’s great here
  21. Background Lore: The Chozo drawings. These are already neat, but they tell a hell of a story, and lay out most of the backstory of the entire series to date, neatly setting up Fusion and Dread both…
  22. Background Lore: …earning two positives
  23. Doodads: Not a lot, but some areas really shine
  24. External Continuity: This game does a weirdly good job of connecting to… basically everything. 1, Prime 3, Super, Fusion, and Dread. As mentioned before, 2 is the fulcrum of the franchise, and they really put work into that this time around…
  25. External Continuity: …earning itself…
  26. External Continuity: …three positives
  27. World Building: The development of the Chozo and their tech, the backstory leading to the creation of the Metroids, and of course the loss of the Thoha

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Map: This is a weird one. On the one hand, the map is very well laid out; Lots of icons to track things, a full legend, and the ability to make your own markings on it to help keep track of things…
  2. Map: …so that’s two easy positives
  3. Minimap: Good, as is standard for the series by this point. The only downside is its limited to the lower screen
  4. Info In Game: Some pretty good info, helping you to know how items and weapons work
  5. Mid Mission Checkpoints: Actually surprisingly good, with one before and after each Metroid fight, as well as upon zoning
  6. Intro: Really solid Intro. Basic tutorialization, level design that’s indicative, guidance towards the first Metroid, and getting you into the flow of how the entire game will go
  7. Tutorialization: Some excellent Metroid tutorialization across the whole game, anytime a new enemy type, concept, or tool enters your kit…
  8. Tutorialization: …earning double positives
  9. Kit: Scan pulse. This effectively replaces the need for map rooms, and pulls double duty as also replacing the X-Ray. This is great for a game like this
  10. Kit: Lightning shield. A shield that reduces damage isn’t special, a shield that negates damage is more interesting, a shield that you can just leave on and negates damage only on command? That’s awesome
  11. Kit: Rapid Fire. This one seems simple, but it’s the most visceral and fun of the new Aeion tools, and it’s useful against virtually every enemy in the game (even Metroids). It drains power like crazy, but it also pays that debt off in damage, fast
  12. Kit: Usual Metroid fun tools
  13. Music: Some absolute bangers in this soundtrack. I’m particularly fond of the Norfair mix for all the heated zones, but the whole thing works…
  14. Music: …for two positives
  15. Controls: This is a weird one. So the controls are flat out excellent, with clear thought going into what types of abilities should be mapped to what types of buttons, and the whole thing plays very smoothly…
  16. Controls: …for an easy double positive
  17. Enemy Design: Alphas. The basics are already surprisingly decent, but the variances help even more
  18. Enemy Design: Gammas. These are a bit common but what I really like about them is how they vary them up between the air and ground modes
  19. Enemy Design: Zetas are just awesome. Big doomy walkers with long range attacks that are much more complex to dodge, but also having more defined weakpoints and counters
  20. Sound Design: As is the standard for this type of game, the sound design is excellent. Indicators for enemy attacks, charges, types of terrain, just… everything really…
  21. Sound Design: …earning a double positive
  22. Visual Distinction: I’m honestly really impressed with this one. I never would have predicted this from a 3DS game but here we are. A lot of effort is put, not just in general to make things nice and distinct, but to make sure that in areas with different visual effects (like lava or toxic zones) the types of enemies and terrain used accommodate the visibility…
  23. Visual Distinction: …earning a big…
  24. Visual Distinction: …triple positive
  25. Visual Continuity: Each zone is exceptionally distinct, and even the sub zones in each zone are distinct, helping navigation…
  26. Visual Continuity: …for two positives
  27. Traversal: Waypoints and general movement tech
  28. Level: Area 1. Quite open ended, forming a bit of a micro metroidvania zone within itself, with multiple routes and options and a lot of ‘come back later’s
  29. Guidance: Types of terrain, positioning, blocks, and of course positioning of warp points and other nodes on the map all make the game very well guided…
  30. Guidance: …for a full…
  31. Guidance: …three positives
  32. Level: Area 2. Completely different from the previous two versions’ Area 2, and much improved regardless. Just the right length, just the right tempo, and some fun puzzles and platforming…
  33. Level: …for a double positive
  34. QoL: Quite a few. Little things, like heat indicators for red rooms in game and on map, or changing icons to indicate progression, or auto aiming but only under the right circumstances
  35. Level: Area 3, for all the issues I mention later, still has some solid platforming and encounters
  36. Encounter: Diggernaut, part 1. This would seriously suck… if not for the well placed checkpoints (plural!) throughout
  37. Level: Area 4 was an area I thought I’d dislike at first, but it grew on me pretty quickly. Teleporting between nodes within the zone helped with navigation, and there were a lot fewer of the irritation blockers like Area 3 had, plus I actually felt like I was legitimately exploring again
  38. Level: Area 5. Finally some good flow and navigation loops (especially with an internal ‘overworld’), and a solid progression throughout…
  39. Level: …earning a double positive
  40. Enemy Design: Omega Metroids. We only fight four of them, but that’s a good thing as they don’t wear out their welcome. I love these fights; you can dodge every attack they do, each attack has a distinct way to avoid it, each attack varies from the others, and there’s a couple of varieties of Omegas to boot…
  41. Enemy Design: …all leading to two positives
  42. Boss: Diggernaut. One issue aside, this is a fantastic boss fight. Big, chonky attacks that feel good to avoid, lots of variety in its attacks, plenty of ways to damage it across its phases, and each phase being quite distinct from the others…
  43. Boss: …earning a full…
  44. Boss: …three positives
  45. Animation: In a game this focused on combat, it better have good animations. And it does, of course. It’s a bit exaggerated at times to compensate for the smaller 3DS screen, but you can always tell the type of attack that’s coming, from regular enemies to minibosses to bosses…
  46. Animation: …earning double positives
  47. Boss: Metroid Queen. Issues aside, this is a fun fight. A big, doomy dinosaur smashing away at the area while using attacks clearly developed off the Omegas
  48. Outro: Ridley. I have an issue with this fight, to be sure, but aside from that this might be one of the best fights in the entire franchise. Ridley is brutal, fast, and yet well telegraphed and fully dodgeable. Each phase gives you more energy to play around with, and each phase plays completely differently. Love this fight…
  49. Outro: …earning it…
  50. Outro: …triple positives
  51. All Roads Lead To Rome: General, and within a zone, but it’s there
  52. Core Combat: While a bit too frequent to be more than one plus, the core combat is still fun
  53. HUD: Mostly relegated to the lower screen, but well designed for what it is, and it smartly uses color and placement to generally be really well designed and good for at-a-glance…
  54. HUD: …for double positives
  55. Itemization: The Super drop rate is back, dynamically dropping what you need and in good quantities…
  56. Itemization: …earning itself…
  57. Itemization: …triple positives
  58. Itemization: Item placement and pickup placement, as per usual
  59. Replayability: Definitely replayable
  60. Save: Good save placement (helped by the teleports)
  61. Terrain: Great terrain usage. It informs combat, puzzles, and exploration, exactly like it should…
  62. Terrain: …earning a full…
  63. Terrain: …triple positive
  64. Viscerality: Love how this game feels. Attacks and enemies sound, look, and feel awesome…
  65. Viscerality: …earning a double positive
  66. Yoshi Drums: Mostly during fights

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Controls: So this is a twofer. First, the touch pad for quick rolling, which is a damned shame because it’s something I’d like to do often… aaand then swapping weapons, ALSO on the touch pad. Thanks, 3DS
  2. Enemy Variety: Seriously tired of fighting the same enemies with slightly more HP and damage over and over and over
  3. Raspberry Jam: Low health beedleeps
  4. Difficulty: Overtuning. The enemies hit far too hard, they drop far too little in return, and the enemy spam is constant…
  5. Difficulty: …earning a double negative
  6. Flow: Health and missile nodes just… aren’t nearly as well placed or as common as they should be
  7. Difficulty: Contact damage. I know this is just kind of a thing in these games, but contact damage can be done well (like in Megaman 6) or done badly (like in HERE). It’s absolutely insane that most of the enemies do more damage by bumping into you accidentally than by spewing lava breath in your face. All of this leads to my final point…
  8. Early Game Hell: …the game just has issues early on. At a certain point all of these things become solved problems, but it slogs until then
  9. Level: Area 3 is just too long, and that’s a major problem, but there’s another issue that just hangs over Area 3; a lack of flow. The entire zone doesn’t have a smooth loop into itself like most good Metroid zones do, instead it just sort of spaghetti’s into this mess where you have to constantly pause and think ‘okay, how best to get to the next area?’ and the whole area feels off…
  10. Level: …earning two negatives
  11. Flow: General issues with flow in the entire part of the game up to Area 5
  12. Pacing: The game has a pretty bad pacing issue. The usual pacing of a game like this is generally exploration, combat, traversal, and a boss interspersed here and there. Instead here it’s mostly combat combat combat exploration combat traversal combat traversal combat boss. And the tempo is just off, and all of this is hampered…
  13. Enemy Design: …by the enemies being too god damned aggressive. They will NOT leave you alone, and have no problems attacking you from off screen, which also leads to…
  14. Gotcha: …straight up gotcha trapping
  15. Map: To continue from the Map positives… on the other hand, the map is just NOT helpful at its most basic function; navigating. It’s actually more a fault of the level design than the map itself, but it’s entirely too easy to go the wrong way without realizing it because there’s a one-way path or something similar in that one blob of an area with nothing to indicate it on said map
  16. Boss: Diggernaut has entirely too long of gaps in between vuln points and the whole fight is looong, and he hits VERY hard
  17. Boss: Metroid Queen. She just has too much health, too narrow of an attack vector, and honestly boils down to a QTE with some janky controls as the camera swaps
  18. Outro: The final lap, and Ridley issues. The final victory lap just takes too long for what it is, and the Ridley fight (thought awesome) is VERY long and very punishing, with no checkpoints

Metroid Dread

Aside from a few issues with some specific things, this is still one of the best games I’ve ever played. Amazing controls, flow, guidance, traversal, combat, kit, and storywise it’s visually a feast and serves as a fantastic conclusion to the first major Metroid story arc. There are a few key issues (overtuning on damage, overreliance on the Parry mechanic, and a lack of mid mission checkpoints on bosses) but aside from those niggles, absolutely fantastic game.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +48
Total Gameplay Score: +58
Golden Number: 296.53
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 3 days / 10.57 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-11-2024

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: Intro Area and the basic but good cave structures
  2. Brickwork: Remainder of Arteria, especially the frozen areas
  3. Brickwork: Magma and lava sections in general
  4. Brickwork: The EMMI zones, grain aside, are brilliantly clinical and clean looking
  5. Brickwork: Dairon laboratories are probably my favorite area in the game, but special mention must be made of their incredible attention to detail and how brilliantly it adds to the vibe and theme…
  6. Brickwork: …for a full…
  7. Brickwork: …triple positive
  8. Brickwork: Burenia in general…
  9. Brickwork: …but especially the underwater segments with absolutely glorious, moving fauna and flora in the water
  10. Brickwork: The Ghavoran underbrush…
  11. Brickwork: …worth two positives
  12. Brickwork: Ferenia, the over-run Mawkin ruins
  13. Spritework: Samus. She looks absolutely amazing in this one
  14. Spritework: Enemy designs in general
  15. Spritework: Bosses really, really look legit this time around, large or small…
  16. Spritework: …easily earning two positives
  17. Doodads: Impossible to summarize. There’s just so much, everywhere…
  18. Doodads: …earning a blanket…
  19. Doodads: …triple positive
  20. Intro: Opening cutscene setup
  21. Moment: Raven Beak’s opening showcase, him defeating Samus, her holding her own for quite a while… ‘power is everything’
  22. Animation: Samus herself is brilliantly animated, and while there’s a few other good ones too (Quiet Robe, Raven Beak, and basically every boss) Samus herself easily fills out most…
  23. Animation: …of this triple…
  24. Animation: …positive
  25. Moment: EMMI sequences and the tension thereof, to contrast the lower dread of the rest of it
  26. Character: Samus herself is brilliantly characterized without having to make her speak, but instead simply by how she moves, acts, and reacts
  27. Voice Acting: ADAM. Surprisingly good stuff here, despite the computerized modulation
  28. Foreshadowing: Quite a bit, actually. Like lots and lots, even down to little things like seeing enemies and bosses well before you encounter them
  29. Babylon 5 Effect: Everything to do with the big reveal
  30. Visual Storytelling: Cloaked mob eating the animals
  31. Moment: Samus taking down Corpius
  32. Cutscene: Quiet Robe’s big cutscene. This is how you do this type of exposition right. This one scene encapsulates most of the story of the entire SERIES to this point, and between the music choice, the actual conlang, the subtle but well done animations on both Samus and Quiet Robe, the way it ends and immediately leads to a new enemy type and boss… it’s a great scene…
  33. Cutscene: …easily earning…
  34. Cutscene: …three positives
  35. Character: Quiet Robe. For how little we see of him they do a lot with him
  36. Character: Raven Beak. The absolute sociopath warrior who dragged his way up to the top of the warrior tribe by virtue of being just the single strongest jackass in the frickin’ galaxy… which of course also means he’s a colossal moron (and well written) AND he has a gigantic ego, so all of his actions naturally caused (unintentionally!) all the events of the entire series, and this game in particular
  37. Moment: The X Parasite reveal
  38. Visual Storytelling: Elun… the crumbling, sealed away ruins of the Mawkin
  39. Cutscene: The reveal of Raven Beak was actually pretty well built up, and the pay off is actually pretty good
  40. Outro: I absolutely love the ending sequence. Raven Beak’s ego and arrogance, smashing into the face of reality as he completely loses composure, Samus draining the entire ship down into X-Parasite range, Raven Beak’s final end, the absolute obliteration of the X, and of course everything to do with Quiet Robe-X and the implications thereof…
  41. Outro: …easily earning…
  42. Outro: …triple positives
  43. Background Lore: The artwork, as usual, telling the story of Raven Beak, the supremely powerful idiot
  44. Atmosphere: As per usual for the series, lots of good stuff here…
  45. Atmosphere: …earning double positives
  46. External Continuity: Mostly with Fusion, but this also does pretty solidly conclude the Metroid story to-date
  47. Internal Continuity: Game does a really good job of keeping track of itself internally
  48. World Building: The final end of the Chozo, the Metroids, and (hopefully) the X-Parasites comes with some interesting info on how they operated and came to be, plus some small implications for the Federation and the EMMIs

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Minigame: Boss rush mode
  2. Minigame: Boss rush options
  3. Minimap: This is easily the best minimap in gaming. Extremely useful and handy, quickly expandable, and vanishes when not needed or ‘mouseover’d…
  4. Minimap: …earning a full…
  5. Minimap: …three positives
  6. Map: The map isn’t THE best I’ve ever seen but damn if it’s close. Color distinction, adjusts on the fly, clearly indicative of zones and areas, shows where you’ve been (literally, not just per room), a filter to showcase a type of item, good legend, good icons, and of course the ability to place your own markers. This sucker is amazing…
  7. Map: …easily earning…
  8. Map: …three positives
  9. Guidance: Map indicators for areas with hidden items
  10. QoL: Indicators for types of zones at a glance, and the vacuum drops
  11. Itemization: Dynamic drops are back and are awesome as they were in previous games, and dropping decent stuff in general…
  12. Itemization: …earning a full…
  13. Itemization: …three positives
  14. Info In Game: Pretty solid, indicating what items do and how to use them
  15. Controls: Nothing I tell you will explain how well this game controls. This goes above and beyond the usual categories of responsiveness, precision, layout, and shortcutting and calling all of that ‘good’, but rather each individual point is excellent. This is right up there with the best of Nintendo’s control schemes, and it’s bonkers how well this game feels to play…
  16. Controls: …so first we give triple positives…
  17. Controls: …to the effectiveness of control itself. All those little things it does to make it feel smooth
  18. Controls: Then we talk about the button layout and shortcutting, allowing you to smoothly and swiftly use what you should when you want to. In fact there’s only one niggle here (dashing), but that’s still good enough…
  19. Controls: …for two positives
  20. Mid Mission Checkpoints: These could be slightly better, but they’re still exceptional. Every boss, EMMI area, and multiple major interactions all drop a checkpoint…
  21. Mid Mission Checkpoints: …and that’s easily worth two positives
  22. Intro: The entire Intro is your typical yet great Metroid Intro. Terrain, enemies, positioning, platforming, all designed to get you right into the thick of things quickly and effectively…
  23. Intro: …for a good two positives
  24. Tutorialization: It’s more subtle than the norm, but there’s a lot done to ensure that the area with a new item is different before and after you get the item, because the moment you do the entire area tells you how to use it naturally and immersively…
  25. Tutorialization: …for double positives
  26. Sound Design: Lots of solid sound design, as is honestly the Nintendo standard, with plenty of audio indicators and aid, especially in boss fights
  27. Encounter Design: In almost every area substantial thought is put into what should be encountered where
  28. Level: Artaria, and the initial flow. Not quite the same as Super, but still designed to be a loop in and out of itself as we progress
  29. Kit: The ‘usual’ Kit positive; Space jump, gravity suit, charge, dash, you get it, it’s still good kit…
  30. Kit: …and it still deserves two positives
  31. Kit: Aion abilities. Cloak and scan; Cloak could be more interesting (it just has too limited of use, outside of EMMI encounters) and the Scan is a downgrade from Samus Returns, but it’s still useful and helpful
  32. Boss: Corpius is actually a really solid boss fight. Good indicators, moves, animations, counters, and pace
  33. Viscerality: A lot of this leans on the sound design, but I’m really quite fond of the viscerality here
  34. Yoshi Drums: This is actually one of the better Yoshi Drums in the series, which is good cuz it helps the musical problems overall…
  35. Yoshi Drums: …earning double positives
  36. Level: The secondary loop through Artaria, Cataris, and Dairon which pushes you into the overall mentality of how weirdly interconnected the maps are
  37. Overworld: Or lack thereof… no hear me out. The game does this weird thing where it interconnects the entire map, but in ways that are completely non linear if you’re just staring at a map, but make perfect sense as you’re exploring
  38. Flow: Different in style but equal in quality to Super; the game has tremendous Flow. At all times it’s guiding you along a relative path but there’s a ton of things done along that path to keep that guide going, even when you’re surrounded by tons of places to go…
  39. Flow: …earning a full…
  40. Flow: …triple positive
  41. Guidance: Pretty much the franchise standard, but they do an absolutely banger job of it here, easily at the top of its class overall…
  42. Guidance: …earning a solid…
  43. Guidance: …triple positive
  44. Secondary: Shinespark puzzles. They’re not at the level of AM2R’s, which is just the king of these, but there’s still quite a few fun and interesting ones worthy of acknowledgement
  45. Boss: Kraid. Big, bombastic, fun, and doomy
  46. Level: Burenia first loop, guiding the player through the last of the initial zones and towards the elevator surface-ways
  47. Animations: Mostly on bosses, but also in enemies, helping you with the parry and avoidance mechanics
  48. Traversal: This is a weird one for a Metroid, but the combination of movement tech and controls and terrain all kind of… take the place of Traversal. It’s legitimately a treat just getting around in this game and it’s awesome…
  49. Traversal: …earning a second positive
  50. Backtracking: This is probably the best backtracking in the entire series. Different kit, different enemies, the terrain literally changing, this is absolutely amazing and I love it…
  51. Backtracking: …earning a solid…
  52. Backtracking: …three positives
  53. Enemy Design: Dragoon Chozo. These guys are some of my favorite encounters in the game, especially how they keep adding new moves to them as they progress…
  54. Enemy Design: …for double positives
  55. Level: The initial Ghavoran loop. In to get the double jump, back out to re-enter the EMMI area
  56. Level: EMMI segments, general. Multiple loops, tools, and kit to avoid and maneuver. There’s a lot of thought that goes into these areas, though they’re all… kind of the same as each other in system and style, but it’s still solid and it still deserves…
  57. Level: …a solid…
  58. Level: …three positives
  59. Level: Ferenia’s in and out loop; Get in, grab the items, get space jump, loop right back out
  60. Boss: Z-57-X is very close to being the best boss in the game. Each attack is dodgeable (per the usual), nice big telegraphs, nice big sweeping movement to the fight, and rewarding precision
  61. Outro: I hate the Raven Beak fight, I really do… because of the lack of mid mission checkpoints and how that RUINS what is otherwise an actually frickin’ awesome fight. In all honesty this is probably the best fight in the game, or rather the best THREE fights, which is sort of the problem. But I would be remiss if I did not give credit for the incredible fights themselves. Lots of different attacks with lots of different ways to avoid them and recovery mechanics built in and encouraging you to use your entire kit…
  62. Outro: …earning a very solid…
  63. Outro: …triple positive
  64. Hyperbeam Moment: I mean, come on, of course the Hyperbeam moment is awesome. It controls a little finicky but it’s still a Hyperbeam (and we literally don’t have a health bar)…
  65. Hyperbeam Moment: …for two positives
  66. Core Combat: Generally good, especially with the improved aiming and terrain usage
  67. Enemy Variety: Not too shabby, especially with the various bots
  68. HUD: Usual standard of quality here from Samus Returns…
  69. HUD: …earning two positives
  70. Music: There’s only a few good songs, but it’s just enough
  71. Pacing: Generally good pacing… stumbles a bit due to the flow, but still solid
  72. Saves: Usual save placement positive
  73. Terrain: Yeah of course the terrain design is fantastic. Slopes, ledges, gaps to slide through, awesome stuff…
  74. Terrain: …for a full…
  75. Terrain: …three positives
  76. Visual Navigation: Generally good… not quite to the level of the previous games, but still very good…
  77. Visual Navigation: …for two positives
  78. Visual Distinction: As usual, excellent for the series. Color usage, placement, movement, little lighting techniques, the amber colors, all kinds of great stuff…
  79. Visual Distinction: …for a full…
  80. Visual Distinction: …three positives

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Graphics: Film grain eye strain… it’s constant in the EMMI zones and it’s aggravating in general, but especially in a place with such quick movement required…
  2. Graphics: …for two negatives
  3. Unskippable Cutscenes: Usual issue, small but present (and only for the first playthrough for some reason?)
  4. Gotcha: Drops and related issues
  5. Boss: Too much damned health
  6. Boss: Too much damned damage
  7. Difficulty: Lazy difficulty, as per usual
  8. Overworld: There isn’t really one, as mentioned earlier, but this sort of… causes issues too. If you’re on the flow, you’re great, if you’re NOT, screw you. No, seriously, there’s tons of layers of crap they do in terrain and lockdown areas to flat out prevent you from roaming too far off the path, and it honestly gets aggravating when you’re just trying to get to a specific point
  9. Enemy Design: EMMI parry windows. They’re too narrow? No. They’re too random? Yes
  10. Enemy Design: EMMIs in general. These are… honestly not that great. I feel like these are unfinished (and given what I found out in research, they probably are), because each one really boils down to the same thing with one minor difference, and frankly they’re not that interesting to begin with. I feel like with a little polish they’d be a lot of fun, but as is there’s a lot of RNG that can turn a tense encounter into a deflating ‘oh, back to the checkpoint to try again’…
  11. Enemy Design: …earning double negatives
  12. Difficulty: Damage. I’m sorry, everything in this game does way too much damage. I get that you can dodge everything (and that’s awesome, mind) but don’t overcompensate by making everything hit like a truck. With the gravity suit I shouldn’t be taking 100 damage from a trash hit…
  13. Difficulty: …and this is probably the single biggest irritant of the entire game, dragging trash, traversal, and bosses down alike…
  14. Difficulty: …earning three negatives
  15. Options: Or lack thereof
  16. Enemy Design: So hear me out, but this is for the Parry mechanic. Too many enemies have absolute buckets of health without parrying them… which instantly kills them. I get giving enemies a weak point, but relying on the Parry to change an enemy from ‘kills you slowly while enduring constant fire’ to ‘dies instantly’ is absolutely ridiculous…
  17. Enemy Design: …and infects regular enemies…
  18. Enemy Design: …as well as bosses
  19. Boss: Z-57-X. This boss is by itself so close to being awesome, but it just hits too damned hard and it just has too damned much health… worst of all, its parry window is… wrong
  20. Outro: The final boss. I’d honestly enjoy this fight if it had checkpoints in between phases, but it doesn’t… so the long, LONG, arduously long transitions to go from phase 1 to phase 2 to phase 3 get increasingly aggravating as you’ve done them to death and then you die to an attack you didn’t recognize in a later phase because, surprise, the whole fight relies on trial and error and memorization. And that can work… in micro bites, but here it’s a multi minute long fight per phase. You need to spend some time facegrinding on a fight like this to learn all the moves and figure out how best to avoid them. And doing that after redoing an entire phase just doesn’t feel good, in addition to being literal padding. On top of that, the fight flat out requires parrying to progress by design (speedrunner tricks aside), and I’ve already made my feelings clear on that. This whole fight sucks…
  21. Outro: …and easily deserves…
  22. Outro: …three negatives. I’d honestly rather put the game down than ever fight this guy again