Unfamiliar 3


Metroid Other M

My God. I never expected this game to score well, but I was frankly shocked at how bad it really is. The gameplay is either lacking or problematic (there’s NO level design, and the boss design is just awful), but even that shines compared to the truly abyssmal story. I should make this clear; this is, as of the date of this review, THE worst Story score I’ve ever given a game. Awful voice direction, awful music direction, awful continuity both internal and external, awful localization, and all buried by hours of truly atrocious cutscenes. Avoid this game like the plague.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: -63
Total Gameplay Score: -29
Golden Number: -239.64
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 3 days / 14.67 Hours
Time Reviewed: 4-30-2024

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: General. Yeah I know, low bar, but it is what it is
  2. Spritework: Enemy designs, primarily, but there’s some surprisingly good stuff here
  3. Visual Storytelling: There’s hardly any, but there is a little bit. The helmet of the Deleter, the husk of Ridley’s second form, things like that

Story Negatives:

  1. Voice Direction: This is one of those rare times when we can definitively and decisively point to the voice direction for the major issues here. Nobody can say their lines right, which is generally bad, but then there’s the bad presentation by the main cast… but let’s be real, all of that is buried by the abyssmal performance by Samus. What’s worse is Samus’ voice acting is bad in general, but even that is dwarfed by her narration which is some of the actual worst voice acting I’ve heard…
  2. Voice Direction: …earning itself…
  3. Voice Direction: …three negatives
  4. Empty Text: Dear Diary Storytelling (credit to Lord Harromont). The sheer amount of dull repetition in Samus’ narration is ridiculous. It is, without hyperbole, a case where something will happen and then she will say out loud the thing that just happened
  5. Cutscene: The opening cutscene. Excessive slow mo, entirely too flashy, and strangely too long and too short
  6. Intro: The entire Intro is way, way too long, includes essentially no gameplay, and might actually be one of the worst single sequences in the game. The whole thing is too much to summarize… but here we go! First we start off with big flashy explosions which have nothing to do with anything and are never discussed. Then we have Samus as a child in the womb because we want to maximize awkward discomfort and anime visuals, shortly before transitioning into the end of Super and completely ruining one of the best scenes in that game. What ensues is too much slow mo and no pay off to flashy graphics, as discussed earlier, and finally we cut to Samus being checked out in the hospital, at which point the awful awful narration begins. We shortly then do a very quick mention of the destruction of Zebes (also known as her home), and a casual mention of the end of the first ‘arc’ villains (Mother Brain, Ridley, and Pirates, which dominated the earlier games in the timeline minus Prime). Then another too-flashy scene showcasing her equipping her armor and posing (for absolutely no reason), one awful tutorial later, and the creepy scientist guy consistently comes across as creepy and weird and you think he’s going to be some weird villain thing but no, he’s nobody. This is as good a time as any to mention that the Intro mentions the word ‘baby’ 9 friggin’ times. All of this followed by the Narration of Doom which I’ll rant about in a sec. All of this…
  7. Intro: …earns a full…
  8. Intro: …triple negative
  9. Storytelling Mechanic: Narration. Yeah I usually don’t ding something for being, y’know, a basic trope of storytelling, but the usage of narration here is wrong for two reasons. First and most obviously, it’s BAD narration, with a lot of repetition and needless information being told instead of shown (or while also being shown). Second, narration does not suit a game of this style in general. Narration is a storytelling tool which can convey things that the visuals and gameplay cannot, and Metroid is a game series known primarily for conveying story in both visuals and gameplay. The usage of Narration at all in this game was a mistake
  10. Pacing: Then there’s the massive, lengthy cutscenes, followed by huge swaths of nothing, followed by massive lengthy cutscenes
  11. Character: Adam. Dude’s just an asshole, I have no in depth analysis to justify this
  12. Character: Samus. I don’t even need to justify this one do I? Game goes out of its way to completely character assassinate this woman in quite literally every scene she’s in. Sakamoto’s insistence upon a gentler, kinder, more submissive character from SAMUS of all people was a colossal failure on every level. Samus wasn’t exactly super characterized before now, but what she had wasn’t this. And further, while I’m here, gentle and kind are not incompatible with being a total badass, which it’s worth noting she’s failing at here. And finally, even if you argue Samus had no character prior to now (something I would not agree with, given prior to now we’ve had Zero Mission, Fusion, all three Primes, and Super) the fact is, this is not a good character even in a vacuum. A mewling waif of an obnoxious brat who couldn’t emote her way out of a paper bag. All of this gives Samus…
  13. Character: …the full…
  14. Character: …three negatives
  15. Gameplay Integration: The authorization method in general. This is a truly rare example of an Integration negative, but in this case the attempt to explain away the gameplay mechanic (starting over at zero, unlocking as you go) fails so hard and is so stupid on so many levels that it actually detracts from the game…
  16. Gameplay Integration: …further (as pointed out by Bleydtorvall) the game flat out treats it like you’re too stupid to understand what items could help you in a situation, and so he (who I remind you is watching everything we do all the time) has to tell us how to use our own kit
  17. Cutscene: The thumbs down explanation and yammering. I don’t feel like writing up a paragraph here, it’s a crap cutscene…
  18. Cutscene: …and it’s entirely too long
  19. Storyboarding: There’s so much weird nonsense in how they block so many of the cutscenes
  20. Cutscene: AS YOU KNOW, power bombs can’t be used. Also, here’s where everyone will go, super intense action sequence, dununununu. Also did you notice that he can see their video feeds while COMMS are down? Good lord
  21. Cutscene: So… Samus finds a random room, BUT WAIT, let’s show it’s a cage with a dead person, then narrate that it’s a cage with a dead person in it!
  22. Cutscene: So like, wow man, nature is like, totally woah
  23. Camera: The usage of the camera in cutscenes is legitimately nauseating. Lots of shaky cam, lots of wobbly cam, and it’s constant and awful…
  24. Camera: …earning a full…
  25. Camera: …three negatives
  26. Storyboarding: Sudden cuts! Sudden movement! Sudden flashes!
  27. Cutscene: So, James Pierce is ousted instantly as the betrayer (we don’t even know there is one yet!), Samus spends time pontificating about nonsense, and then we sit around yammering pointlessly for a while
  28. Padding: It’s weird and rare I give this negative to story but hooly hell the story is padded
  29. Cutscene: Four… FOUR separate flaming death areas where we slowly burn before Adam finally authorizes the Varia suit
  30. Music Direction: I’ve been debating this for a bit. The music is… too bombastic and too overt, it’s big ‘epic’ action sequence for almost every scene, and it just ruins any tension or atmosphere. This never gets better, frankly this might be the worst Music Direction I’ve seen in gaming…
  31. Music Direction: …earning a full…
  32. Music Direction: …triple negative
  33. Cutscene: Okay so you know that scene you just saw literally 2 minutes ago? Here’s the scene again, frame for frame, with frickin’ narration over it explaining the scene you’re now watching for the second time
  34. Plot: The Deleter!! Seriously though, the ‘traitor’ plot takes up a gargantuan percentage of the screentime, which is fine if, y’know, it’s good. But it narratively cheats constantly (how did he escape the power loader exactly?) and it’s super obvious who it is, AND it doesn’t pay off at all, in fact if you’re not paying attention it quite literally just ends
  35. Cutscene: So the flashback about the death of Adam’s brother. Where do I even begin? Bad voice acting, bad exposition, bad animation, bad music choice, bad transition, jarring and out of nowhere, bad dialogue for Higgs, bad dialogue for Samus, just… bad…
  36. Cutscene: …for a full…
  37. Cutscene: …three negatives
  38. Cutscene: So. The Big Scene. Everyone in the world hates this scene (and for good reason) but let’s process this, shall we? First, Samus herself. Even in a vacuum, regardless of everything else going on, she is not a good character here. She takes the Idiotball and holds it tightly purely to push drama forwards
  39. Cutscene: Then there’s the nonsense of the scene. Regardless of what it means (be it a PTSD attack, or a mid life crisis), the way they present it is the same directorial style as the rest of the game; nonsensical
  40. Cutscene: Then there’s the fact that the entire scene
  41. External Continuity: So, this isn’t Samus. This in fact totally ignores the entire Metroid franchise, before and after. And while the scene sucks in a vacuum (and lord, it does) the fact is… the thing that makes this scene sting so personally and so deeply is that it is a violation of the entire goddamned franchise. This is a rare usage of this but I think this one cutscene, by itself…
  42. External Continuity: …deserves a full…
  43. External Continuity: …triple negative
  44. Cutscene Incompetence: Oh and while we’re at it. Ridley, Samus, AND Anthony are all incompetent in this scene
  45. Localization: So this has been an issue the whole game. I’ve seen worse localizations, but this is not particularly good, and it saps any nuance or meaning of any scene. I happen to have studied the japanese version enough and while it’s not really ‘better’, they did not handle this well at all
  46. Cutscene: The extraordinarily long cutscene where MB explains the plot to Samus. I’m… sort of tired of typing up a lengthy explanation for every single cutscene, especially when so many of them are multi minutes long and just keep repeating the same general mistakes over and over and over again. Bad dialogue, bad camera, bad direction, bad voice acting, bad writing. It’s a rare game where I give this many negatives to cutscenes but good lord this scene is LONG and AWFUL…
  47. Cutscene: …earning…
  48. Cutscene: …three negatives
  49. Cutscene; Okay, bare with me here. So Samus sees a metroid… okay, cool, with it so far. Then she’s shot in the back and she struggles with this for a WEIRDLY long period of time, before actually passing the hell out. Passing out! From a single shot in the back! From a normal friggin’ gun! This is all so we can accomplish several awful things
  50. Cutscene: First, Adam is better than her and can come in and save her
  51. Writing: Second, it gives one last ‘is Adam the Deleter?!’ moment of false suspense before, no, he immediately answers that…
  52. Writing: …it’s not him, he just shot her in the back cuz the enemy she was fighting can’t be iced. He knows this because after he iced the enemy they… can’t be iced so… they… what?
  53. External Continuity: This is shortly followed by Samus being SO damaged by this attack that she is unable to even stand up straight (he’s also SHORTER than Adam somehow, further emphasizing how great he is), Adam literally has to hold her arm to keep her upright…
  54. Moment: …all so Adam can go bravely off and die to save the day…
  55. Internal Continuity: …and then literal SECONDS later she is able to suit up no problem cuz now it’s time to go
  56. Moment: What… in the world was going on with that whole ‘suddenly the ship’s going to intercept the Galactic Federation’ nonsense?
  57. World Building: Also why does the game consistently refer to Galactic Federation like it’s a town? No, seriously, they treat it like it’s a truck stop
  58. Characters: Everyone… literally everyone in this game is a freaking idiot
  59. Cutscene: I hope you like long, padded cutscenes explaining stuff we already knew slowly like we were 3 year olds
  60. Cutscene: I hope you like overly long, flashy substance-less cutscenes showcasing nothing
  61. External Continuity: General. The whole game connects to the other Metroids of course, but it connects badly, and that’s the part that really matters
  62. Theme: Motherhood. I’ve so rarely seen a theme delivered with this level of anviliciousness
  63. Outro: Everything to do with the… ‘ending’ is wrong. The main villain, who doesn’t even have a name. The awful voice acting on him (and bad quality mic). The weird ‘gotcha’ moment that’s probably supposed to be a comeuppance, but isn’t. The absolutely nonsensical gibberish of the narration. I hate this. I actively hate this…
  64. Outro: …earning it a full…
  65. Outro: …three negatives
  66. Outro: Okay, now go back through the ship and fight Phantoon for… absolutely no reason

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Mid Mission Checkpoints: Weirdly, this game has some top notch mid mission checkpointing. Per area, multiple saves, and even mid boss fights…
  2. Mid Mission Checkpoints: …earning itself…
  3. Mid Mission Checkpoints: …three positives
  4. Music: While terribly used in cutscenes, and the audio balance is just off, there IS good music in all of this
  5. Viscerality: For all its flaws, the viscerality is pretty solid
  6. Combat: While it doesn’t work right thanks to control issues, the dodge, dodge shot, and melee moves are some Team Ninja quality
  7. Enemy Design: In a game with better controls, these enemies would honestly be pretty fun to fight. They have their own gimmicks, avoidances, and workarounds and (when controlled properly) each fight only lasts a few seconds
  8. Animations: Weirdly, some good stuff here. Essentially every enemy and boss in the game has indicators and tells
  9. QoL: The recap for where you’re at in the game when reloading a save

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Tutorialization: This is a weird one-two punch. First, the beginning of the game opens with a really bad tutorial where you can only do one thing (the thing they want you to do) as well as being simultaneously over-mandated and under-explained…
  2. Tutorialization: …then there’s the rest of the game, where there’s a combination of pop ups which are intrusive, and a total lack of tutorialization on multiple major game mechanics
  3. Audio Spam: Tutorial and anytime another character is nearby
  4. Sound: Bad balancing throughout the entire game. Good luck hearing the music, among other things
  5. Controls: The NES problem. So, the game controls with the sideways wiimote… which is the worst possible configuration. Ignoring the obvious physical issues therewith, which is beyond the scope of the game’s review, it limits the game to functionally only having three buttons… and that’s awful. Even by this point in history, having closer to 6 was the norm and had been for over a decade, and as a result the game has what I can only call an absolutely terrible control layout. Too many context sensitive buttons, and too much irritation in general controls…
  6. Controls: …for two negatives
  7. Controls: Then there’s the missile problem. Back when I was playing this originally, I put the game down twice because of this. In order to fire missiles (or super missiles, or grapple), something that is absolutely mandatory for multiple puzzles, encounters, and bosses throughout the game, you… flip the controller to facing the screen to switch ‘modes’. I can’t put into words how awful this is. It’s unintuitive, it utterly interrupts the flow of gameplay, it requires reshifting and regripping the controller to go both there and back, and the sensor bar for the Wii is not exactly known for its accuracy to begin with. This awkward stuttering crap is arguably worse because this is in a high action game in which seconds count, seconds you’re losing because you’re shifting your damned controller. All of this earns…
  8. Controls: …a full…
  9. Controls: …three negatives
  10. Gameplay Integration: The authorization method in general. This is a truly rare example of an Integration negative, but in this case the attempt to explain away the gameplay mechanic (starting over at zero, unlocking as you go) fails so hard and is so stupid on so many levels that it actually detracts from the game
  11. Guidance: Or lack thereof. I’ve seen worse, but good luck on figuring out where secret entrances are, how to progress, or even just general per-room guidance thanks to the bad visual design
  12. Core Mechanic: Exploration segments. This is straight up pixel hunting, a piss poor replacement for actual exploration, interrupts gameplay every time it happens
  13. Core Combat: Auto aim. How do you make combat in a platformer bad? By removing the aiming. Megaman X7 made this exact same mistake, and it sucks here for the same reason it sucked there
  14. Raspberry Jam: Low health beedleeps
  15. Pacing: Speaking of Narration (from up in Story), the Narration drags any given scene or sequence to a crawl, completely interrupting the flow
  16. Pacing: So do Exploration and missile segments
  17. Encounter: The worm boss. Hope you enjoy randomly locking onto something in less than a second before it shoots you
  18. Encounter: The peahat miniboss. They’re literally invulnerable until you can briefly shoot them while they’re shooting you
  19. Boss: King Kihunter. Enemies that spam attacks while provoking unintentional dodges that lead to lost iframes and taking damage, alongside brief vuln periods which (naturally) require missiles, and then a final boss which (once again) requires missiles, with tons of spammy enemies blocking the way
  20. Overworld: Or lack of proper cohesion or design. Huge swaths of empty corridors, usually with little speedbumps just to prevent dashing
  21. Boss: Groganch… if you could call it that. Stand at a distance, fire, win
  22. Padding: The forced tank march sequences are bad already but they DRAG and there’s so many of them
  23. Boss: The, uh, ‘boss’ fight with the mystery creature (mostly a QTE but just… so, so badly designed on so many levels)
  24. Core Mechanic: So, the post death exploration sequence deserves its own distinct negative. Nothing at all indicates you can turn around
  25. Boss: Goyagma. Multiple ‘gotcha’ animations, entirely too many attacks designed to reset your charge beam, only one way to beat him, and general irritation
  26. Walkthroughitis: I’ve seen worse, in this series even! But let’s be honest, there’s several moments of walkthroughitis throughout
  27. Unskippable Cutscenes: Long, unskippable, and often…
  28. Unskippable Cutscenes: …and double negative worthy
  29. Difficulty: Overtuning out the wazoo. Good lord do enemies do a stupid amount of damage in this game
  30. Difficulty: The dodge roll and issues therewith. The overtuning means the game leans heavily on the dodge mechanic, and the dodge mechanic… isn’t in the player’s control. It’s automatic, for some insane reason, and inconsistent as a result (and of course, further detracts from the player’s control)
  31. Boss: Ridley commits several sins of boss design. The dodges are fast, mandatory, and automatic. The melee super is automatic. He doesn’t even exist while transitioning between air and ground, and all of his attacks do entirely too much damage. But worst of all, he requires a super missile to be attacked (period!) and has very, very few openings with which to arduously switch modes and switch back…
  32. Boss: …earning him two negatives
  33. Boss: Nightmare. Long invuln phases, mandatory first person mode for a huge portion of the fight which (as usual) controls terribly, far too much health, and worst of all… the arena’s bugged, so that the terrain can literally get in the way easily…
  34. Boss: …earning it two negatives
  35. Boss: The Metroid Queen. It’s actually not THAT bad really… except that first phase. Fighting multiple metroids with iframes who MUST be frozen THEN missiled? That’s a paddlin. But then there’s phase two which is just dull… and the final phase has absolutely no tutorialization aside from a single moment in the awful tutorial at the beginning
  36. Backtracking: I’ve seen worse, but the backtracking that’s here is pure dull backtracking; no new nothing, the worst kind of it
  37. Itemization: So, enemies don’t drop anything. This is already problematic for several reasons, but then add the bizarre spread of pick ups, a good chunk of which you’re not even supposed to get until the post game sequence, and it’s like… why
  38. Outro: So… the Phantoon fight is ‘fine’. It’s dull but it’s fine. The problem is, it’s the last boss. So…

Metroid

The original, a historic and landmark game… that absolutely sucks. A near total lack of a story axis, and while there’s some innovative stuff about free range, non linear, and vertical platforming along with rewarding exploration, the gameplay is absolute garbage. Repeat platforming, bullcrap hidden items, but let’s be honest… it all comes down to the 30 health issue. Everytime you die you respawn with 30 health… regardless of all other considerations. This is a wonderful cascade of compounding issues, and it drags the entire game down. Only worth it for the historical considerations.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +2
Total Gameplay Score: -38
Golden Number: -123.72
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 days / 8.65 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-1-2024
Innovator: Female protagonist and Metroidvanias

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Spritework: Surprisingly decent, even for today, especially the metroids themselves
  2. Music: For how minute it is, the atmospheric music does work

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Guidance: Very minute, but it’s there. Color palette, areas accessible via certain unlocks, enemies indicating progression, tidbits like that
  2. Kit: The ice beam (also everything else in general but primarily the ice beam)
  3. Level: Repetition and irritation aside, there are some neat and clever platforming segments scattered here and there

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Penalty For Failure: The respawns are surprisingly fair (and retain progress), the ‘start at 30 energy’ is not. This one choice ruins the entire game, by itself, and I’m not joking about that. There’s a degree of progression, mapping, item drops which are clearly marked, enemy design, even bits of level design… but every failure and every mistake is severely punished, because getting health back is so terrible. The first reason…
  2. Penalty For Failure: …is that ‘restart at 30 energy’ problem. 30 energy is a joke, even early on, and is absolute garbage later on in the game when enemies hit harder…
  3. Penalty For Failure: …for triple negatives
  4. Itemization: This is compounded by the way enemies drop, or don’t. First, they have a low chance of dropping anything at all… second, some enemies don’t drop anything period… third, they can drop missiles or energy regardless of which you need… and fourth and finally, they drop dinky little 5 energy ups. This is even in areas where you take 10 to 30 damage per hit…
  5. Itemization: …for a full…
  6. Itemization: …three negatives
  7. Difficulty Curve: All of this compounds the core problem. The game isn’t hard, it’s unfair, entirely because of the lack of ability to recover health and the brutal punishment of dying…
  8. Grind: …which requires arduous minutes or hours of grind…
  9. Grind: …grind…
  10. Grind: …grind
  11. Early Game Hell: I know a lot of people who put this game down before they even try to get to a second zone, and the reason why is absolutely early game hell. Early enemies give so little in return for killing them, and it’s a fair bit of time before you get your first health or missile upgrade, and there’s a nice big swath of terrain to uncover early on. Further, while you’re pretty well directed towards the first two major columns there are then no less than five places to go from there… and it’s not like that’s easy to tell or discover (thanks to the samey platforms, padding of getting up or down the columns, and of course having pitifully low health with enemies that don’t drop much). All of this makes the first part of the game the worst by far, and further compounds the ever awful 30 Health Issue…
  12. Early Game Hell: …earning itself…
  13. Early Game Hell: …three negatives
  14. Raspberry Jam: Low health beedleeps. There’s worse than this, but this is pretty bad…
  15. Raspberry Jam: …for two negatives
  16. Visual Continuity: Good luck figuring out what is a pathway and what isn’t without shoving your face into everything…
  17. Guidance: …nevermind trying to actually find all the optional stuff
  18. Info In Game: Good luck figuring out how anything works at all without trial and error
  19. Level: Samey corridors and literal copy pasting in Brinstar. But it’s worse than this. Actually playing the game, you’ll see; the repetition is bad in its own right, but what’s repeated is not exactly great. Long, looong vertical corridors of the same three or four platforms and enemies, and then horizontal swaths of bleh…
  20. Level: …for a full…
  21. Level: …triple negative
  22. Level: Hope you enjoy the same damned levels in Norfair. Yeah I know, same general negative as Brinstar, but it’s not my fault the entire game is copy pasted a bunch. I almost didn’t give these negatives (since it’s primarily hardware limitations, something we historically avoid dinging) but the fact is it REALLY makes navigation and exploration worse as you go through what looks like the same room for the third time in just a few minutes…
  23. Level: …thus earning Norfair…
  24. Level: …three negatives
  25. Level: Kraid’s Lair is probably the best of the zones. It still has a lot of gotcha bullcrap, hidden exits, and other nonsense, but it’s at least not padded and repetitive to hell
  26. Level: The game has honest to God troll rooms! As in more than one
  27. Backtracking: Basic, but bad
  28. Trash: Enemies in the game are essentially always punishing, requiring a decent amount of concentration to avoid and kill efficiently while giving very little in return… but the actual action of navigation and combat is dull as dishwater. This is classic Factory Worker Syndrome; one repetitive task that you have to do really well or else screw you, and it’s some of the worst I’ve seen in recent memory…
  29. Trash: …earning a full…
  30. Trash: …three negatives
  31. Walkthroughitis: Varia suit, by itself. I give this its own negative because there is absolutely nothing indicating where this is, nothing. And yet the Varia suit is arguably the most critical upgrade in the entire game, easily MSQ status
  32. Walkthroughitis: The entire game. Seriously, the degree to which this game gets better once you have a map is silly. And I know, ‘we drew our own’, I get it (I did too, back in the day). But that’s not what I’m talking about. I could navigate the world pretty well, in fact if you forced me to right now I could probably get from Point A to Point B pretty easily just from memory. No, this is for all the bullcrap hidden passageways with no indicator that they are one except for scanning every square inch of the entire map. It’s so much worse here than in Super though. In Super several power ups are hidden in this way, here the critical pathways to progress are. Further, even if you bomb each spot sometimes your bomb is just a liiiittle bit off and doesn’t reveal the spot (this happened more than once on stream), making you think it’s not a path forwards. It’s asinine…
  33. Walkthroughitis: …earning itself…
  34. Walkthroughitis: …three negatives
  35. Level: Ridley’s Lair. Screw Ridley’s Lair so hard. It’s probably the actual worst part of the entire game in terms of level design. It’s not as bad about repetition (go figure), instead I hope you enjoy being absolutely enemy spammed from all directions, and of course then there’s the Corridor From Hell. A long, loooong corridor (it’s over half the width of the ENTIRE game in length), and it’s part of a ‘trap’ which is easy to fall into, otherwise containing only a single missile upgrade. Screw this place…
  36. Level: …screw it hard
  37. Bug: Lots. Too many to really list here, but even a casual playthrough can run into glitches
  38. Boss: Yeah so, Kraid and Ridley. They’re basic, boring, have too much health, and have badly designed bullcrap arenas
  39. Gotcha: This is a weird one. So you can only have Ice Beam or Wave Beam, not both. Now if you go back to the item to re-collect it, you can swap back to it, buuut it’s entirely too easy to pick up the Wave Beam thinking it’s an upgrade when it actually isn’t, AND Ice Beam is MANDATORY to beat the game, so… hope you remembered where it was!
  40. Overworld: The connective tissue in the stage design, at best, isn’t. Samey corridors and columns and repeated platforms with far too many enemies there to health tax you
  41. Outro: Mother Brain. There’s actually some fair stuff here (Metroids give a decent amount of stuff back if you kill them, and the barriers to her are considered red doors and so stay gone) but… good lord this fight is insane. The lava pits, the random jump height out of pits, the crazy damage, the narrow window of attack, the ‘trap’ of the super not safe spot

Metroid 2 Return of Samus

A gargantuan improvement over the first game. Still problematic in several ways (controls, jank, lack of a map, everything to do with Area 2) but a much smoother and more enjoyable experience on the gameplay axis. And on the story axis, there actually is a story this time, beginning the series’ long tradition of having story focus. Can tenatively recommend, though both remakes are probably more worth your time.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +6
Total Gameplay Score: -1
Golden Number: 10.9
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 days / 5.6 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-2-2024

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Visual Storytelling: Counter and corpses
  2. Spritework: Actually quite good. Enemies are fine, metroids are great, Samus is solid
  3. Music: It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it does
  4. MSQ: Area 9. The (mostly) dead zone, the metroids, the ambiance, the gloom
  5. Outro: Yeah, it’s simple, but it works surprisingly well. The reveal of the larva Metroids and the counter changing, the lead up to the Queen, and of course the Hatchling
  6. Visual Storytelling: The entire final few areas deserve their own Visual Storytelling positive. The empty halls, the giant chasm filled with water, the destroyed laboratory, the smashed statue, and of course in the very depths, the Queen

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Tutorialiation: Not as good as later titles, but yeah they managed to have some solid stuff here
  2. Guidance: Level layout, pretty standard for a Metroid game. There’s not much, really, but it is there
  3. Controls: Solid, for what they are, issues aside
  4. MSQ: The very concept of hunting down all the Metroids in a zone to progress is somewhat engaging, and having the ticker showing you
  5. Kit: Ice beam, wave beam, spider climb, space jump, screw attack. Not too shabby this time around…
  6. Kit: …for two positives
  7. Itemization: Much better drop rate
  8. Itemization: Much better progression of items and kits
  9. Pacing: The combination of save spots, energy refill spots, and missile refill spots, keeps things flowing pretty smoothly
  10. Overworld: Not a bad connective tissue, mostly in the central ‘pit’ that connects all the Areas
  11. Enemy Design: The Metroids themselves. Their varying attacks, patterns, and health actually work pretty well here

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Walkthroughitis: Sure hope you enjoy bombing every square inch of the game to progress
  2. Level: Area 2 is the worst area in the game. It has no real flow to it, and suffers the worst from the combination of no map as well as having repeat areas, leading to a whole lot of unintentional backtracking and frustration. This is made even worse by how many essential items are in the area, not the least of which being the Varia suit which is near-mandatory for the rest of the game. This whole area turbo sucks…
  3. Level: …earning a full…
  4. Level: …three negatives
  5. Info In Game: I mean the game literally starts with absolutely no indicators or anything, but also what and how the items work are similarly not exposited upon
  6. Level: Area 3. What in the world. It’s not as ‘good luck finding where to go’ as Area 2 was, but it’s got a whole lot of long, long column design. It’s in an area where you get the space jump, but all that does is make it possible, not less irritating
  7. Level: Area 6. Good lord, Area 6. Our first Zeta metroids, insanely tall column areas which are boring, tremendous ease of falling, absolutely no indicators of what can be bombed or not, it’s everything wrong with early Metroids magnified…
  8. Level: …for a full…
  9. Level: …three negatives
  10. Controls: So… Space Jump is wonky as hell. I’m used to it cuz of Super but let’s be honest, Super’s Space Jump isn’t good either
  11. Visual Navigation: This game is… very hard to tell where you are at almost all times. The samey bricks and palette do not help anything
  12. Visual Distinction: Related to the aforementioned. The single palette and awful distinction do not help anything, and at times I honestly couldn’t tell what I was looking at, and this also hurts exploration

Metroid Zero Mission

It is shocking how much better this is than the original. Enemy design, level design, flow, enemy drops using the smart drops, visuals, music, additional story tidbits… this is a really, really solid game. A lot of people recommend starting the franchise here, and I have to agree. Big recommend.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +17
Total Gameplay Score: +48
Golden Number: 187.9
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 1 days / 5.78 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-3-2024

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: Brinstar. The lovely rocks, bricks, and corridors
  2. Brickwork: Norfair. The color palette, the heat waves, the more mechanical bent here and there
  3. Brickwork: Kraid’s Lair. Probably the place that looks most like straight up ruins, adding to the flavor of the former Chozo facility
  4. Brickwork: Ridley’s Lair. This place, in total contrast to Kraid’s Lair, is almost entirely overgrown by tons and tons of foliage and organic life in general
  5. Spritework: Some fantastic stuff, especially for the enemies
  6. Spritework: Samus herself deserves her own spritework positives. There is so much to her and she is crazy good…
  7. Spritework: …for a double positive
  8. MSQ: Tourian. The drained space pirates, the much colder and more mechanical facility, and the usage of Metroids… wonderfully horrible place
  9. Visual Storytelling: A lot of tiny brushstrokes throughout. The state of the various Chozo statues, the pathways and ruins, etc.
  10. Moments: The little vignettes in between load screens for the first time you enter certain zones
  11. Music Direction: Much better than Metroid 1, really adding to the…
  12. Atmosphere: …atmosphere of the game. This feels a lot more like the gloomy Zebes trek that 1 was always intended to be, further assisted by…
  13. Sound Design: …the sound design, especially on the enemies
  14. MSQ: Everything about the return to the Chozo ruins and the drawings at the end
  15. MSQ: The entire stealth sequence, while it has flaws, is a wonderfully tense sequence
  16. Brickwork: Chozodia and the pirate mothership
  17. External Continuity: Weirdly, but it fits; the game ties pretty nicely into Super

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Map: Pretty friggin’ good. Color coded, easy to understand, lots of good usage of icons, good navigation…
  2. Map: …earning itself two positives
  3. Minimap: It’s just the map again, but it’s still useful
  4. Tutorialization: Hit and miss, but still some pretty good stuff, especially right around anytime you get a new item or ability
  5. Intro: The entire Intro pops. This is exactly what a Metroid Intro should be. The initial guidance, the slow unlocking, the massively improved flow, the enemy placement and design, the slow unlocks, the push into and out of Norfair, it’s awesome…
  6. Intro: …and it deserves…
  7. Intro: …triple positives
  8. Flow: While I’ve seen better, even amongst the Metroids, but the flow in this game is very smooth. Looping into, through, and out of zones is quite fluid…
  9. Flow: …and deserves a double positive
  10. Guidance: The Chozo statues giving a vague idea of where to go is a feature I always liked in Prime, and I like it here (also means you can backtrack to a statue to get help)
  11. Guidance: I’ve seen slightly better, but this is still very good terrain Guidance. Placement of interactables, terrain, drops, even enemies indicating areas you can go to, it’s great stuff…
  12. Guidance: …for double positives
  13. Overworld: There’s actually not a lot of ‘overworld’ tissue in this game, but what’s there is still legit and smoothly connects each major level area
  14. Music: I think it’s hurt by the GBA soundfont, buuut it’s still good music
  15. Interface: Simple and efficient
  16. Controls: I know this is going to raise some hackles, but I am merely going to give two positives for controls, for them being exceptionally good. Tight, responsive, and precise, but also very well thought out about which buttons should do which given their limited button selection…
  17. Controls: …for two positives
  18. Info In Game: Upon getting an item it actually tells you what it does and how! Isn’t that wild?
  19. Itemization: Drops. They fixed what kind of things drop what, and of course they are implementing the ‘smart’ drops (drops what you need as a priority)…
  20. Itemization: …for double positives
  21. Itemization: Item distribution. The spread of what items you get where and how is well thought out
  22. Kit: Grip, ice, wave… some seemingly basic stuff, but it really works for both traversal…
  23. Kit: …and combat
  24. Traversal: Thanks at least in part to the aforementioned Kit as well as the massively improved movement speed, the game feels fun going from Point A to Point B
  25. Pacing: Even more improved pacing from Metroid 2. The traversal, exploration, and combat sequences interspersed with the new addition of the minibosses really keep the pace great. Highs, lows, and in betweens…
  26. Pacing: …for two positives
  27. Level: Norfair central loop. This is still functionally part of the Intro, alongside most of Brinstar, but it still works. Norfair also continues the all important escalation of themes
  28. Level: Norfair west. This also bleeds a bit into Crateria. This whole segment flows very smoothly (I know I’m saying that a lot) but it’s true. The progression flows great, and feeds so naturally back into Brinstar
  29. Level: Kraid’s Lair, northern. This is once again a great progression of the initial portion of the game. The platforming is starting to get tighter, and the enemy placement is smart
  30. Level: Kraid’s Lair, southern. The trip down to Kraid himself is a lot better than back in the original, getting you pumped and breaking you down but not before a recovery period for the boss himself
  31. Level: Ridley’s Lair, west loop. This used to be the bullcrap trap into the Hell Corridor, but now it’s just this awesome platforming sequence
  32. Level: Ridley’s Lair, east loop. This is the build up to Ridley himself, and probably the single best portion of the game
  33. Level: Ridley’s Lair, exodus. Ridley’s down, it’s time to head out, and the route can diverge a few times but it really rewards the precision
  34. Level: Norfair east (return). The final segment before we head to Tourian, and the final bit of new stage before we can start backtracking for items
  35. Viscerality: Missiles sound chonky by themselves, but the shots, the dashing, the explosions
  36. Boss: General. There’s a lot, they’re all fairly simple, but they’re solid
  37. Enemy Design: Metroids. As usual, the Metroids are pretty good by themselves
  38. Visual Distinction: Damned good distinction, helped by the tight spritework of the GBA, and again very smart color usage to help indicate and guide…
  39. Visual Distinction: …for a strong…
  40. Visual Distinction: …triple positive
  41. Level: So, I know it’s contentious, but I love the stealth segment. It could’ve flopped, and the enemies DO hit way too hard, but I love everything else about it. Fair movement and scripting to not be ridiculous, good checkpoint placement (which also fully heals you), the scripted safe segments, the stun gun, and the tense platforming to bypass getting spotted earlier alongside level design that works whether you are detected or not. All of this earns…
  42. Level: …two positives
  43. Hyperbeam Moment: Finally getting the doom suit, also unlocking Space Jump. This is built up brilliantly across the stealth segment, and the increased reduction in damage taken and the swarms of enemies super weak to everything you’re doing make this all feel awesome. But what really cinches it is the great usage of the Metroid theme throughout…
  44. Hyperbeam Moment: …earning it two positives
  45. Outro: The final escape sequence is just the right amount of intense, directed, and dangerous to be as fun as it should be
  46. Postgame: After getting the final suit, the map starts indicating what you have and haven’t gotten per zone, and offers a checkmark to indicate completion
  47. Core Combat: Fun, engaging, interesting, high paced, and a critical component of the whole mix
  48. Encounter Design: Much, much better than in the original. Great usage of mixing enemies and terrain
  49. Enemy Variety: Surprisingly good given how many of these are based entirely on Metroid 1’s enemies
  50. Minigame: Weirdly enough, Metroid 1 is fully playable in the game and that… qualifies
  51. Replayability: Generally fun to replay
  52. Terrain: Wonderful usage of the vertical platforms, protrusions from the wall, platform placement, and visual layout to constantly help with all other aspects of gameplay, most especially when the Grip is acquired…
  53. Terrain: …earning double positives

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Level: Kraid’s Lair. There’s a few irritations here, but the absolutely mandatory tiny passageway which requires bombing a single spot in the floor? Not great, and if I’m going to ding the glass in Super, I’m going to ding this
  2. Boss: Mother Brain. They made her harder… which is fine, but then there’s the lava pit. And even the damage the lava pit was doing wasn’t bad, it’s the underwater jumping mechanics and the difficulty of getting OUT of the lava that is the problem, and it turns what should be an intense fight into a frustration fest
  3. Level: So, while I do enjoy the whole mother ship stealth sequence, the fact is you take too much damage. The pirates hit like an absolute truck, and this means it’s entirely too easy to have to redo and redo and redo each of the segments
  4. Raspberry Jam: Low health beedleeps. Heard worse, heard better
  5. Outro: Mecha Ridley. He hits entirely too hard for how simple he is, and having to refight him if you mess up the escape is just aggravating

Another Metroid 2 Remake

An excellent passion project that I highly recommend if you haven’t gotten a chance to play it. Great visuals, great storytelling in the data logs and visual continuity. And all of this is in a tight game with good platforming, puzzles, layout, flow, and best of all some really awesome new boss fights. Hugely recommended.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +22
Total Gameplay Score: +49
Golden Number: 192.28
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 days / 8.88 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-5-2024

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: The Golden Temple and the Hydro Plant both do a great job encapsulating what these facilities were and how they’re still operating
  2. Brickwork: General cavework. The S&R Hideout, the Mining Facility, and the various Metroid caves
  3. Brickwork: The Industrial Complex and the Nest (I know, weird pairing) both aren’t the best, but easily get across the ideas of where they are
  4. Brickwork: I’m particularly fond of the Distribution Center. Foreground, background, great detailing, the aquifer, it’s all great stuff
  5. Spritework: Samus. I’ve seen better, but this is still a very awesome sprite with lots of detail and animation…
  6. Spritework: …earning her double positives
  7. Spritework: General. Enemies and foreground
  8. Spritework: Bosses. Special mention goes to the new bosses which really look awesome
  9. Animation: Some good stuff in general, especially on Samus herself
  10. Storytelling Mechanic: Logs and data entries. Great background lore
  11. Music Direction: Usual good stuff for the Metroid series
  12. Atmosphere: Some areas really ooze some fantastic atmosphere
  13. External Continuity: The way this game connects with the Primes and Super is very well done, and the usage of general Chozo and Metroid lore is excellent…
  14. External Continuity: …earning an easy double positive
  15. Internal Continuity: There’s a lot of little things that really keep the internal continuity tight. Energy distribution plant, the pipes in the background, the Federation teams, little stuff like that
  16. Visual Storytelling: Virtually every major metroid area is in a cave dug out near a Chozo facility, not actually in it
  17. Visual Storytelling: The Tester deserves its own positive. This thing is so clearly the thing they designed in order to build Samus’ suit, and the way they showcase that is great
  18. Visual Storytelling: The lower depths, where no more creatures remain, only robots
  19. Moment: The power plant meltdown is scripted, but it’s good scripted
  20. Prime Opt: The GFS Thoth, the motion sensor, the background lore… and Genesis
  21. Moment: The reveal of the fate of the S&R squad, and the first Omega
  22. World Building: The fleshing out of the Chozo facilities and operations

Story Negatives:

Gameplay Positives:

  1. HUD: Tight, distinct, useful, and editable
  2. Controls: Rebinding options bonus point
  3. Controls: Extremely tight controls. Special mention must go to adding a button for ball rolling which seems like a little thing, but can really smooth over traversal. Regardless of this, the gameplay controls exceptionally tightly…
  4. Controls: …earning itself two positives
  5. Bestiary: More lore focused, but still contains gameplay benefit
  6. Map: Good, detailed, indicative, nice icons, and the ability to put a marker down…
  7. Map: …for two positives
  8. Minimap: Solid and smooth, straight out of games like Zero Mission
  9. Info In Game: Tells you how to use items as you get them
  10. Visual Distinction: Solid stuff throughout, almost always doing a great job of being clear and distinct. I’d say this is one of the most distinct of the Metroids…
  11. Visual Distinction: …easily earning it…
  12. Visual Distinction: …three positives
  13. Itemization: Drops. Uses the full dynamic drop concept from Super which can really smooth over playstyle…
  14. Itemization: …earning itself…
  15. Itemization: …three positives
  16. Itemization: Items and their spread
  17. QoL: Charge to draw in items
  18. Level: Area 1, Golden Temple. Clear paths up and through, nice looping in the eastern half, multiple routes for progression, and nice variance between the more platform and puzzle heavy segment versus the acid dripping enemies area…
  19. Level: …earning two positives
  20. Save: Save Placement is generally decent, and saves refill you so that’s nice too
  21. Music: Some bangers in this one. While it loses some of the atmosphere of other titles, it makes up for it in sheer quality…
  22. Music: …for a double positive
  23. Pacing: As with all the good Metroids, the pacing is king. Exploration, combat, traversal, bosses, puzzles, and wonderful flow between them, leading to tons of ups and downs and a very smooth pacing…
  24. Pacing: …earning…
  25. Pacing: …three positives
  26. Kit: Spiderball, Space Jump, boost, dash… usual kit
  27. Flow: Almost every zone flows fluidly into the others, and most zones have good flow internally as well…
  28. Flow: …earning an easy double positive
  29. Guidance: Enemy placement, terrain usage, cracks in the walls, color indication, generally good guidance…
  30. Guidance: …for two positives
  31. Replayability: I mean yeah. Of course the game’s enjoyable to replay. I might do so someday even
  32. Terrain: Fantastic terrain design, right up there with Zero Mission’s level of quality. Flat where it needs to be, angled when it needs to be, sometimes encouraging jumps and often encouraging dashing. Absolutely deserves…
  33. Terrain: …a full…
  34. Terrain: …triple positives
  35. Intro: Does exactly what it needs to. Some basics, some simple enemy and terrain, but all trying to guide you into your first Alpha encounter
  36. Level: Area 2, the Hydro Plant. While still a bit labyrinthine, the new tilesets and map really help navigation of this area. The addition of more puzzles to break the water plant bit by bit help too, and I appreciate them continuing the trend of putting most of the metroids off in their own cave network that’s ‘after’ the Chozo facility
  37. Level: Area 3, Industrial Complex. One of the more open ended areas thusfar, lots of routes for progression, and a good mix of terrain challenges. Also I thought I’d hate it, but the ‘darkness’ area in the usual Metroid cave was pretty solid…
  38. Level: …for two positives
  39. Princess Peach Segment: Bonus points for the robot control sequence of the Industrial Complex
  40. Boss: Torizo is probably the single best boss in the game. The initial fight being a standard but good Chozo statue fight is already good, but then phase two hits and the whole thing cranks into overdrive. Great test on your mastery of the Space Jump, as well as rewarding to out maneuver…
  41. Boss: …earning two positives
  42. Boss: Arachnus. I had a few issues here, but then I was pretty low on E tanks… he’s still a good boss fight. Having to successively bump him up to the walls is creative and fun, and the boss himself is neat regardless
  43. Boss: The Tester. This guy’s fantastic. Great variety and patterning to his attacks, ability to recover in mid fight, the stylings around the different Samus attacks, just tons of fun…
  44. Boss: …earning it…
  45. Boss: …triple positives
  46. Enemy Design: Zetas. These are fun to fight, probably the best Metroid enemy in the game
  47. Level: Area 6, the Tower. Aside from housing the best boss so far, this place is an interesting and tightly woven segment that loops in on itself nicely internally, and also serves a nice contrast; the Tower itself is a vertical column, but the adjacent Metroid caves are horizontal space-jump sequences
  48. Level: Area 7, the Distribution Facility. This is already great before I’ve even finished it, adding honest to goodness puzzles with the energy balls needing to be ‘golfed’ into position
  49. Level: Area 7, Distribution Facility. The rest of it, that is. The level loops into itself wonderfully, and is perfectly bisected by the two bubbles segments to encourage you to go the ‘right’ way, along with several creative mechanics (the ‘static’ areas, the water itself, and lots of fun shine sparking)…
  50. Level: …earning itself a second (or third?) positive
  51. Overworld: The connective ‘column’ is better constructed than in the original, and benefits from having the ‘hub’ section to help keep things connected. Further, the greater connective tissue within each zone is almost always well designed, with good enemy placement, items to find, and general exploration…
  52. Overworld: …earning two positives
  53. Tutorialization: Again, general. Pretty much the Metroid standard, but there’s several tidbits throughout
  54. Viscerality: Not the best, but it’s still quite fun to blast things with ice plasma death
  55. Visual Navigation: Different tilesets, color palettes, and lighting to help distinguish and navigate
  56. Encounter: Generally good encounter design, especially in the middle zones (3, 4, and 5 come to mind immediately)
  57. Secondary: Shine Spark puzzles. These are fun, interesting, and just rough enough without being awful to really be enjoyable…
  58. Secondary: …for a solid double positive
  59. Secondary: Puzzles in general. There’s a lot of these throughout, usually for some minor item like a missile upgrade, but once again these are fun and enjoyable

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Walkthroughitis: Almost entirely for the optional items, but this is one of the worse ones I’ve seen. I thought I was doing pretty well, and I was wrong; even while using a map I still missed several items, and some of these there really is nothing in the game at all to indicate they’re there…
  2. Walkthroughitis: …earning two negatives
  3. Enemy Design: Alphas. They hug your hitbox, they float around in circles, they can only be attacked from one angle, and they’re just… irritating
  4. Enemy Design: Gammas. Same general problem with Alphas but even worse now with an even smaller weak point and the ability to grab Samus and drain the crap out of her then also stun her
  5. Enemy Design: Health, small hit boxes. This applies in general, and is mitigated by the inclusion of the Spazer, but it still sucks up until then
  6. Encounter: Hope you like enemy spam. Like, a lot of enemy spam
  7. Boss: The Tester. The platforms stay for entirely too little time, and the space jump requirement just makes the boss irritating when it shouldn’t be
  8. Bug: General, almost assuredly engine related, but it was a consistent backdrop to the run
  9. Outro: Bit too much of a nothingburger gameplaywise towards the end, combined with no smooth save point for the final boss without backtracking
  10. Outro: The final boss herself. She’s a perfect example of an unpolished boss in general; super hard hitting, relatively simple patterns that are easy but punishing to avoid, and way… way too much health

Metroid Fusion

This is a weird one; It honestly feels like a prototype for Zero Mission (probably because it is). Moving the story forwards past Super, introducing new character and story arcs, and generally excellent platforming and level design are all hampered by some truly baffling late game decisions. I would say almost every mistake made in late game could be boiled down to lack of polish and QA testing, as with a few small changes the whole game could easily score in the 200 range like the other greats. As is I still recommend it, but maybe use savestates.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +20
Total Gameplay Score: +6
Golden Number: 61.28
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 days / 8.11 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-8-2024

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Brickwork: Main Deck. Looks exactly like I’d picture a civilian space station
  2. Brickwork: Sector 1, the SR388 division
  3. Brickwork: Sector 2, the jungle
  4. Brickwork: Sector 3, the desert and the flames
  5. Brickwork: Sector 4, with the wonderful underwater biomes and aquifer pipes
  6. Brickwork: Sector 5, the fridge zone
  7. Brickwork: Sector 6, the caves and the dark, and wonderful usage of colors too
  8. Spritework: Samus. As usual, she’s one of the most well designed sprites around…
  9. Spritework: …earning an easy double positive
  10. Spritework: Enemies in general. Absolutely great visuals here…
  11. Spritework: …earning a strong double positive
  12. Spritework: Bosses get their own notice for being exceptional
  13. Music Direction: Really, really solid music direction…
  14. Atmosphere: …which really builds the atmosphere
  15. Character: X Parasites. I know this is a weird one, but the very concept of what the X Parasites are and how they operate and propagate is absolutely terrifying
  16. Integration: Now being part Metroid, X Parasites actually function as both health/ammo restores as well as items (from bosses)
  17. Moment: The first showcasing of the SA-X. Immediately we see; she has the Varia suit, she has Screw Attack, she has Super Missiles, and she is devastating (she destroys a wall and a door right off the bat)
  18. Moment: The second we open up those green door locks? X Parasites. And they’re everywhere
  19. MSQ: Slow progression of the X Parasite and how they adapt and change to fight you, specifically
  20. Moment: Saving the animals! Plus continuity with Super
  21. MSQ: The slow escalation of the SA-X
  22. Internal Continuity: General logic and consistency in how the station works
  23. Moment: Any objections, Lady? Also Adam chastising her for thinking too small really tickles me
  24. Visual Storytelling: Lots. The Nightmare shadows, the SA-X only showing up after locks are opened, which enemies manifest in which zones…
  25. Visual Storytelling: …all kinds of stuff

Story Negatives:

  1. Intro: Wordy narration, which is made worse because…
  2. Intro: …so much of what is said not only could have been shown instead, but WAS shown instead
  3. Empty Text: Mostly in the Adam briefings, but good lord does he like to repeat himself
  4. Pacing: The mandatory Adam briefings do not help the narrative pacing at all, and entirely too often he’ll repeat himself (dragging the scene out) or say stuff we already know (ditto)
  5. Localization: The lazy usage of ‘the Federation’ (as in the whole damned thing) being evil is… honestly pretty stupid, and makes less sense the more you think about it

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Info In Game: Opening demo. As per usual for these types of demos, it really helps convey some of the kit and controls available
  2. Viscerality: Love those missiles, really
  3. Controls: Notable because, despite being different, the game controls quite well. Similar to Zero Mission, smart usage of button placement and wisely flattening the missiles into one button helps…
  4. Controls: …for two positives
  5. Core Combat: Pretty standard for the series, but still generally good combat
  6. Enemy Variety: Great enemy variety in this one, more so than most of the games we’ve covered so far. And most enemies have their own tricks and tips and strats for dealing with them…
  7. Enemy Variety: …easily earning two positives
  8. Guidance: I’ve seen better, but there is still good guidance in general in terms of placement of blocks, enemies, and camera
  9. HUD: Solid HUD, quick and indicative
  10. Info In Game: Not much, but it is there, helping to figure out how different items work
  11. Itemization: Progression. General, usual decent spread of when you get upgrades
  12. Kit: Ice missiles on command, AOE ice missiles, sprint, shinespark, the usual kit, space jump, screw attack… it’s all good stuff…
  13. Kit: …for two positives
  14. Map: Solid, Super style map. Helpful, color coded, and indicative…
  15. Map: …for two positives
  16. Minimap: Usual positive for a solid minimap
  17. Music: A bit hampered by the soundchip, but still good
  18. Pacing: Exploration, combat, boss. The pattern stalls a bit after the halfway point, but it’s good up until then
  19. Save: Placement is actually pretty good
  20. Terrain: Generally excellent terrain design, right up there with Zero Mission. The placement, angles, and routing…
  21. Terrain: …all earning double positives
  22. Visual Distinction: Absolutely great visual distinction, as per usual for the GBA titles…
  23. Visual Distinction: …easily earning…
  24. Visual Distinction: …triple positives
  25. Intro: Sector 1. Very tight, rapid fire platforming and combat challenges, with a quick but tidy escalation of theme in taking out the various atmospheric stabilizer infestations
  26. Level: Sector 2. Lots of ‘come back laters’, but also generally good flow
  27. Level: Sector 3, lightning water and general fun
  28. Level: Sector 6, a quick in and out in the ‘dark’ with a new and interesting gimmick (the ice parasites)
  29. Backtracking: Actually pretty solid Backtracking overall. Between our kit, the terrain changing, and the enemies changing, this is pretty solid…
  30. Backtracking: …earning a solid double positive
  31. Replayability: Generally replayable game

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Walkthroughitis: This is probably the second worst Walkthroughitisy game of the series to date. Not just for optional stuff, but actual progression. This is… not great…
  2. Walkthroughitis: …and easily deserves…
  3. Walkthroughitis: …triple negatives
  4. Boss: Yakuza-X. Phase 1 is irritating, phase 2 is too punishing, and the runback is obnoxious…
  5. Boss: …earning two negatives
  6. MSQ: There’s a segment immediately after Yakuza where there is no recovery anywhere nearby that isn’t either A: A huge backtrack to the ship or B: hidden. This is immediately BEFORE an encounter with the SA-X which, as per escalation, is actively attacking you at this point, and hits like a truck. And then it gets worse; there IS no nearby recovery station, and the nearest Save station is well off (thanks to some of the doors still being locked down)…
  7. MSQ: …earning it…
  8. MSQ: …three negatives
  9. Boss: Nettori-X. Boring and punishing in equal measure, all while being bullcrap (the spores have way too much horizontal movement, the plants literally suck you into them, and you cannot escape the plants except after a certain point in time… at which point they will immediately go back to sucking you back in)…
  10. Boss: …for double negatives
  11. Itemization: Enemies dropping 10 health (or missiles!) in addition to being respawny (initial kill leads to second spawn) and not replenishable makes replenishing anywhere outside of a recovery station a chore and a half
  12. Gotcha: This is weird. They fixed this in Zero Mission, but in Fusion they didn’t; it’s entirely too easy to run into an enemy you cannot see just by moving up or down
  13. Boss: Nightmare-X. Cramped space, giant boss that homes in on you, with a tiny hit box, tons of health, and he hits like a truck. All of this makes for a fairly bad boss…
  14. Boss: …earning two negatives
  15. Itemization: Drops. This is honestly the second worst drop rate in the series so far, after 1. Enemies can drop their x parasite form, cool, but only occasionally drop more than 10 health per drop… at a point at which you take dozens or over a hundred damage per hit, and have nigh unto a thousand health. Oh but it gets worse, because occasionally instead of dropping anything at all they turn into another enemy! And of course they can drop missiles instead, because screw you…
  16. Itemization: …earning a double negative
  17. Difficulty: The game is entirely too overtuned (it’s no wonder the later versions actually added in a mode that changes this exact thing). Enemies hit very hard, and there’s very little recovery, and everything has too much health. Thus earning it…
  18. Difficulty: …two negatives
  19. Boss: Ridley-X. Boring boss with tons of health, sure, but that shriek is honestly ear piercing, I cannot believe they included that
  20. Guidance: There’s some truly ‘screw you’ parts regarding how to progress
  21. Boss: The ‘final’ form of each boss… the stupid sphere things. These things have way, way too long of invulnerability frames after getting hit, do the boring ‘home in on you’ irritation, and counter attack on top of everything else. There’s also no…
  22. Mid Mission Checkpoints: …for these or any boss. This is really frustrating on some of the longer phased fights, especially the SA-X
  23. Boss: The SA-X. It’s… a weird combination of boring and brutal, and it just gets… irritating
  24. Padding: Boss runbacks! You love boss runbacks, right?
  25. Outro: No save after the SA-X. The final Omega fight being a failure of a Hyperbeam moment. Yeah this… is not a good Outro

Republic Commando

Let me start by saying that I do like this game. The gameplay is a bit middling at times, especially in the first campaign which just lacked a lot of the interesting design an FPS needs, but the second and third campaigns easily make up for that. And the entire time I loved the vibe and tone of being a soldier in the Clone Wars. I definitely recommend it. Sidenote: I played the original, not the remaster.
Type Of Review: Unfamiliar Run
Total Story Score: +11
Total Gameplay Score: +9
Golden Number: 44.85
Cheats: No
Total Play Time: 2 days / 8.68 Hours
Time Reviewed: 5-12-2024

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Intro: It’s simple, but I love it. Growing up as a clone in first person, the quiet but overwhelming vibe of being utilized like a tool by those ‘greater’ than you, the initial launch into Geonosis for your first deployment, the music, the voice acting, it’s all great…
  2. Intro: …earning two positives
  3. Voice Acting: Generally good throughout
  4. Tone: The general tone and vibe of a war story which, competently executed, I always enjoy
  5. Characters: Sev, Fixer, and Scorch all manage to have interesting personalities and variances… despite being the TMNT crew
  6. Banter: Love the banter between troops, both static and dynamic…
  7. Banter: …earning a double positive
  8. Brickwork: Star Wars aesthetic in general is nice and helps offset some of the texture and lighting woes (this game sits pretty firmly in the brown era of gaming problem)
  9. Spritework: Similar to the above, the units do just enough to work for me (special mention to the wookiees)
  10. Atmosphere: The initial ship infiltration of campaign 2 is fantastically quiet, dark, and horrifying
  11. MSQ: The second part of campaign 2 works just as well for totally different reasons, the intensity of being completely on the back foot as the enemies get worse and worse
  12. Pacing: Campaign 2 in general is wonderfully paced, as it flows from event to event and as things escalate
  13. External Continuity: As is usual for the good Star Wars games, ties up the events of Episode 2 and leads into Episode 3 nicely…
  14. External Continuity: …easily earning two positives

Story Negatives:

  1. Outro: What in the world is this ending? You make the rush in, shoot down the ship, woo… Sev is in trouble, okay let’s go help him, no we Fake Drama it up a bit before being told we’re heroically starting ‘the invasion’ (I remind you this is a defensive situation… so, huh?) and then credits. It’s SO jarring and so out of nowhere and ends horrifically unsatisfyingly…
  2. Outro: …easily earning…
  3. Outro: …triple negatives

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Music: Vode An!
  2. Intro: Quickly and efficiently get us right into the battle zone alongside our fellow clones, who are barely holding their own until we arrive and save the day by getting a quick and fun rampage through the initial lines
  3. Save: Good auto saves, good quick saves, good quick loads…
  4. Save: …for two good positives
  5. Party AI: When it’s good, it’s really good
  6. Sound Design: Barks and indicators, which help navigate enemy encounters and level interactions
  7. Level: Factory. Tight corridors but in a good way, good enemy spread, and multiple nice long objective-ladden firing ranges
  8. Controls: Smart squad controls. Quick, hotkeyed, and rapid
  9. Core Mechanic: Squad combat in general. Ordering into cover or to interact with the terrain seems like a little thing, but it helps flesh out the gameplay past simple gunplay
  10. Level: The first campaign of Geonosis has some cool stuff to offset the issues. Neat objectives, nice solo sequence, the timed run through the ship
  11. HUD: Generally decent. Some good visibility and squad indicators
  12. Core Combat: Weakpoints in enemy design is a fairly standard feature for a good FPS, but it’s still good
  13. Enemy Variety: Not a ton, but enough to warrant notice
  14. Enemy Design: There’s a couple of exceptions to this, but overall I enjoy the enemies in this one
  15. Level: The ship infiltration. Enemy variety, a good weapon that drops which is useful against some of the enemies but not all, and good terrain usage and encounters and pacing and the whole thing is just great…
  16. Level: …earning a solid double positive
  17. Level: The first hold the line mission in Campaign 2. It’s simple but solid; you’re given about a minute to prep for an incoming droid invasion which comes in the form of the spawners, and there’s lots of toys you can use to deal with it
  18. Level: Then there’s the second hold the line mission in Campaign 2. This one’s even better; on arrival the droids are already setting up shop, so you’re pushing up against the tide a bit, but the same layout and kit is present
  19. Level: Then there’s the final one which keeps the theme perfectly; The droids are already entrenched in the third area, and you have to fight through them to even reach a safe spot to hole up, and it’s awesome, but it all culminates…
  20. Hyperbeam Moment: …in the game giving you a frickin’ AT-TE to sweep the room with
  21. Pacing: Campaign 2 in general has excellent pacing. Intense moments, exploration stretches, quiet gloomy periods, some brief character bits, and back to more action
  22. Level: Kashyyyk initial. Kashyyyk doesn’t quite hit the same way Campaign 2 does but it’s still solid, it’s basically Geonisis but better
  23. Level: Kashyyyk rescue continues the trend of being generally good level design
  24. Guidance: Despite the total lack of map or minimap, the game does a good job of helping you forwards
  25. Mid Mission Checkpointing: Decent, weirdly enough

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Controls: Mouse aiming is just… wrong
  2. Party AI: When it’s bad, it’s absolutely awful
  3. Enemy AI: The enemy sometimes can just completely bug out. Sometimes it just stares at you. Sometimes it beelines a spot then retreats only to beeline the spot again
  4. Itemization: Ammo. This is mostly an issue on the first campaign, but it’s bad enough to warrant zooming in on this negative; Ammunition in game design is a whole thing, and here there just… wasn’t any. Ammo was here and there, but not in the right amounts and not in a way to indicate or incline towards exploration or gun usage
  5. Padding: Health. Enemies just have far too much health, especially the elites
  6. Difficulty Options: Lazy difficulty
  7. Difficulty Curve: Up and down and up and down. Some rooms are fine, some are ridiculous
  8. Music: No Music issues abound
  9. Level: The first campaign of Geonosis has sections I can only refer to as ‘screw yous’. Dry ammo segments coupled with areas without proper setups for the squad, brutal enemy placement, and pressure mechanics and/or monster closets all make the experience kind of awful
  10. Encounter Rate: Monster closet design, especially in the first campaign
  11. Overly Skippable: All over the place, even when trying to avoid it
  12. Enemy Design: Dispensers. These are just awful, and spawn an infinite amount of enemies while requiring you to interact with them (a timed ‘hold still and be worthless’ mechanic) to destroy them
  13. Enemy Design: The flying elite Geonosians. This seems mean, but no, these enemies absolutely suck. They are a rapid moving flying unit that has a very powerful ray gun with infinite ammo that does a ton of damage and is hyper accurate. On top of this, they will beeline your squad members who, thanks to the very construction of the game, are functionally worthless unless they are standing still… where they will promptly MELT to said hyper accurate tons of damage
  14. Viscerality: This is pathetic. The guns and abilities look bad, sound worse, and feel awful. They fail at every level of viscerality…
  15. Viscerality: …and earn two negatives
  16. Outro: I chewed on this one for a bit, but the problem is the final few missions are just more long stretches of the same stuff we’ve been doing and the whole campaign has worn out its welcome by this point