The MDb reviews Metroid Super ZeroMission.
Review by Infinity's End
|Download (IPS Patch)||Platform||Author||Size|
|Metroid Super ZeroMission v2.3 + HARD EDITION 2.4||PC/Mac||skirt_box||1.55MB .zip|
Imagine you’re back in 1994, playing Super Metroid for the first time. You traverse the strange alien planet Zebes cautiously. One by one, you collect items to make you more powerful, your only companions are the prolific local fauna that are about to be laid to waste with a powerful shot from your arm cannon. The enormous, intimidating bosses you encounter make your palms sweaty. Almost about to die, your heart races. The “low health” alarm repeats steadily, droning over the twitching of your thumbs pressing the buttons of a control pad, as you desperately, longingly search for that lone health pickup. It’s good to be bounty hunter Samus Aran.
That, dear fans, was part of my experience playing Metroid Super ZeroMission, the latest creation of a mysterious Japanese hacker known as “skirt_box.” I know a lot of people are very apprehensive of playing it(or any SM hack for that matter), and why shouldn’t you be? As far as you can tell, it offers “nothing new” in terms of graphics, level design, and weapons/items, and has that “archaic” Super Metroid play control, right? It’s not an official game, so it’s not worth playing, right? Its difficulty borders on the obscene for non-hardcore Super Metroid players, right? WRONG. This hack, believe it or not, is the one hack to rule them all. I am telling you right now: it is, as of this writing, the finest, most tightly woven, intricate, satisfying, and worthwhile Metroid experience ever created.
Big words, you say? Well, they’re justly deserved. MSZM paints the picture of Zero Mission as we only had imagined it. Gone are conveniences (more like crutches) of the past like the Power Grip and Chozo Statues pointing on your map where to go next. Gone are the HP/Missile refills at every save station. Gone are the cutscenes, the chatter, the breaks in gameplay. Unlike Metroid games of the past, this one makes full use of all of Samus’s arsenal, items and abilities to their utmost fullest extent. It’s here, and it’s the game you’ve been waiting 17 years to play. Yes, folks, “Super Metroid 2” has unofficially arrived.
An Experience That Lasts
From a few fortunate emails with the hack’s creator, it took him three years (on and off) to create this beast of a game. He’s “as old as Metroid 1” and quite the capable hacker. He’s done things to the classic title that you wouldn’t even imagine were possible on a 20-year old console. After patching, MSZM is 448k larger than the original game. That may not sound like much, but it’s quite apparent that the game is at least twice, possibly three times as large as the original masterpiece. All-in-all, it could take someone anywhere from 15-20 hours for the first playthrough. (When I finished, I had an in-game time of 12hr, 12min, but that was only with 55% item collection, not to mention the numerous times I died!) The game even improves upon many things Fusion and ZM brought to the table, such as being able to spin jump and Space Jump from falling at any time, and the ability to chain Shinesparks together (aka "Boost Dashing") while not depleting your energy in the process. The game also balances your weaponry by making the shots more rapid and more powerful. I even found it advantageous at times that I could turn my items off.
I believe my first newspost about this game may have sounded a little misleading. The game is a lush, deep Metroid experience, and easily offers 90-95% of a brand new map, keeping any old reminants there strictly for the purpose of expectancy. It is NOT “Super Metroid with Zero Mission graphics,” NOR is it “Zero Mission with Super Metroid play control.” In fact, it’s neither. It’s a game that Zero Mission wishes it was. I can safely say this hack satisfied me more than any official 2D Metroid game that has been released thus far. Furthermore, the map is diverse with nostalgic touches here and there that pay direct tribute to the first three games (+ZM of course) in the series. There is no greater celebration and embracing of the Metroid series. The creator even urges you to have played through Metroid 1, Super, and ZM before playing through it to make your experience more enjoyable.
Difficulty Without the Frustration
Of course, the game is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. When you play, you may notice that the level of challenge sometimes presents itself in an extremely unforgiving manner. On the other hand, though, the game never punishes you for not being a hardcore Super Metroid player (i.e. requiring Wall Jump, "Machball" or Infinite Bomb Jumping). But knowing the extra techniques will make your play experience that much more pleasurable. After all, who’s going to play this game? Certainly not anyone who’s never played a Metroid game before. There lies the Hardcore Gamer’s Predicament: a game like this could only be created by a fan. As much as we don’t like to admit it, Nintendo’s responsibility is not to cater to the hardcore fans of their series, and it never has been. One of Nintendo’s main responsibilities is to keep creating games for new players, and getting more people interested who are not into gaming. As fans of their games, we continuously crave new and challenging, more difficult experiences in every sequel, yet many times we feel let down because of the skills learnt from the previous titles are never put to test in their predecessors. While the Metroid sequels after Super had those challenge restrictions before they're even released, MSZM satiates that craving in full.
There are definitely times where the challenge may be a little much. However, this is easily remedied by the use of emulator Save States. After all, other than buying an expensive, special cartridge, there’s no other way to play this game than on an emulator. Since the creator clearly realizes this, there are many times where a Save State may be the preferable way to go. This shouldn’t make you feel like less of a player, maybe a little less patient, but other than gamer pride (which no one really cares about anyway) nothing is damaged in the process.
As much as I love Super, one of the things that really bugs me it is its excrutiatingly long “got item” jingle (lasting around 7 seconds), which I have absolutely no patience for anymore. Thankfully, many emulators also offer a fast-forward option so I could skip the jingle, and get back to playing as soon as possible. This has been something addressed in recent Metroid titles, so it is slightly disappointing that the creator did not change this aspect. It would have been a nice gesture.
[SPOILERS SECTION: HIGHLIGHT TO READ]
MSZM intricately transforms Super into a completely new game. There are times when I completely forgot that I was playing a hack – no joke. The graphics are amazing, the music plays appropriately for every area, and the game progresses similarly, but still differently to how Zero Mission played. One of the most unique aspects of the game is how it depicts a connection between Zero Mission’s Crateria, and Super’s Crateria. Once you defeat the first iteration of Mother Brain, and the explosion that proceeds, the game actually gives the illusion that the terrain of Crateria has been affected, showing you why Super's Crateria looks the way it does.
The game also features the most intense, superbly designed version of Tourian in Metroid history. It is the Tourian we have always wanted: Metroids are everywhere, but also now, there are babies. Yes, baby Metroids – most likely a hacked version of Mochtroids – fly in and attack you, just as deadly (if not moreso) as their adult bretheren. This is just one example of how awesome this new version of Tourian really is. The rest of the surprises that await in Tourian I dare not describe here.
There is a brand new area found late in the game that I am dubbing, “The Trial of the Chozo.” Zero Mission touched on this slightly; you had to crawl through Chozodia without your suit, and once you defeat a Chozo test, you were given this ability back, along with some other powerful items, which gives an intense feeling of empowerment. Well, it just got a billion times better. In this area, you are surrounded by strange, eerie Chozo architecture, new and familiar enemies, infinitely repeating paths, and temporarily forced to progress underwater. It feels a little intimidating at first, but the level design works with the loose play control and does not make it frustrating. The only thing this challenge did was give me more incentive to keep playing. It is one of the many new things this game has to offer, and as a Metroid fan, I was in complete awe at this part.
The last spoiler-laden paragraph has to do with items. The game takes from a page in MZM’s design book and lets Samus collect three “unknown items”: Space Jump, Screw Attack, and Plasma Beam, and even places those special blocks in the way at times that you can only bypass if you have collected said item. You can’t deny that putting this into Super Metroid is an awesome feature, and I feel that the designer did an even better job at making these items feel important, even though you can't use them right away. On top of that, he disabled the Power Bombs’s ability to show where hidden blocks are, which I always felt made the game extremely easy. Due to this, the X-Ray Visor becomes the most heralded item in the game. It is massively secured on the Space Pirate ship, and you must disable four separate locks hidden around the ship to collect it, all the while refraining to trip beam sensors that cause big orange doors to close down. It is a side quest that only the most dedicated of players will attempt, and in turn gives the game an added level of replay value and polish that you just don’t see in many SM hacks.
[END OF SPOILERS]
Don't Shinespark Past It
Don’t get me wrong: this game is not a SM replacement by any means, nor should it be looked at as a ZM replacement. If anything, it only enforces how great these games truly are, that they could spawn something else so phenomenal. Any predetermined decision you’ve given yourself to avoid playing through it is nothing more than punishment from experiencing the best Metroid game of the decade. If you're like me, then yes, the game can get a little frustrating at times. But put it this way: I doubt any one reading this just breezed their way through Super Metroid the first time through (Unless you constantly cheated and used a walkthrough of course). The game is not a pushover, nor is it a completely "Pro-only" quest with complicated challenges giving you the urge to tear your hair out. Its finesse lies strictly within the confines of its intricate level design, its distinct and powerful nods to the rest of the series, and its brilliant retooling of Zero Mission's map tiles, and I applaud the designer heavily for it.
Enough waxing poetic with you guys. In fact, I bet there are some of you out there that will probably still refuse to play it after reading this review. The main reason I’m writing this is because I genuinely feel that anyone who thinks they can call themselves a Metroid fan needs to play this game. Don't just watch a "Let's Play" because you're lazy. Don't just “try it,” but actually play through it. Keep at it until you’re done. It might be a grind at times, and the level design (arguably) falls just below a professional standard, but after it’s over, it truly feels like a great accomplishment. It is an outstanding experience and any fan will be able to appreciate its glory. --IE
P.S. – You may notice there is an English translation of the ReadMe file that comes with this hack. Since then, the creator has added it to the .zip file. You have me to thank for it. ;)
P.P.S. - The MDb is dedicated to offering assistance to all those who want to play this amazing hack. We currently have a thread on our message board and you are more than welcome to ask questions there. A complete map/item guide created by game cartographer Danidub can be found on our Maps page.