Metroid Dread (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s been a long time coming, but I have filled this last year or two with many, many Metroidvania games in preparation. Even though I didn’t know it was coming. Of course I ordered it instantly.

And, it was really good. I didn’t expect otherwise, but people were very down on Metroid: Other M and I never really got into that myself either. It was lacking the Metroid lonely atmosphere, I think. Too many other people. Lots of chat. Not quite 2D. It was just a bit off in so many ways. But not here.

There’s a story which attempts to tie into the lore of previous games and references events in them, but ultimately it doesn’t matter as the outcome is the same as it ever was – Samus lands on a planet, some reason for her losing all her powers is concocted, and you then spend the rest of the game reacquiring them, which each opening up new areas of the map. It’s a good job they were all hidden in the exact order and locations they were otherwise you’d have no chance!

Samus is very quick, and has many different moves. These combine to form a slight issue in that the controls are a bit complicated, with often having to use the triggers as kind of shift modifiers, and this results in some moves and combos requiring use of the stick and three or even four buttons at the same time. My old brain can’t cope with that so often I’d be pressing the wrong things, thankfully rarely causing major problems or death. Still frustrating, though!

While I’m mentioning problems with the game, I should mention how easy it was. Previous Metroid games have been (for me) really difficult, especially the bosses, but Dread was was very, very easy. Only the end boss caused me headaches and even then, after a few attempts, I’d managed to see the attacks coming and knew how to best deal with them, so beat him virtually unscathed – eventually.

The EMMI sections, where you had to run and hide from evil robots, were also a problem. They were not fun, and often it would be random if you managed to make it through their designated area as they seemed to spawn in different places. They were like an unwanted gear-change, and didn’t really fit into the game.

Thankfully, none of these negatives really stopped me really enjoying Metroid Dread. Samus slowly becoming an unstoppable beast is, like most games in the genre, the big draw, and the exploration and puzzles are both great. It’s not a perfect game, but it is a fantastic one.

Super Metroid (Wii U): COMPLETED!

tumblr_n5g6uku1xw1svmpf2o1_1280And that’s it. Samus saved the day (although, in the end, all she saved was herself – spoilers). The game was completed in 7 hours 40 minutes, and with a collected items percentage of 79. I’m surprised it’s as low as 79%, as although I didn’t attempt to get 100%, I did search pretty much everywhere and only knowingly missed three upgrades – two missiles that I saw but couldn’t figure out how to reach, and a Reserve Tank that I never actually saw. I got all the Energy Tanks though, as I assumed the final boss would be a nightmare and I’d want as much health as possible.

Insert_Cypress_Hill_reference_here.It’s genius, then, that how much health you have is completely irrelevant to the final fight. OK, so shooting Mother Brain Inna Jar is tricky with all the Evil Party Rings of Doom, but they don’t do a lot of damage and Mother Brain herself doesn’t attack until after the jar is destroyed, and it’s at that point health is pointless.

UmYou see, she transforms into a monster thing who unleashes everything at you, and is a rocket sponge. After all my missiles, super missiles and power bombs were depleted, she fired a multicoloured beam that drained me of almost all my energy (see? It doesn’t matter how much you have), then was about to finish me off when Baby Metroid (Oh! How he’s grown! Hasn’t he just? How adorable!) returned having almost sucked me dry not ten minutes earlier before he realised I was his mum. He then latched onto Mother Brain and appropriated her essential juices, before transferring them to me, restoring my health. In the process, Mother Brain reanimated and started attacking Baby Metroid, destroying her. Aww.

Worst_baddies_everStill, I’d recovered by then, and had a new rainbow beam power thing which made short work of what was left of Mother Brain, and then (of course!) a time bomb was triggered and I had to run back to my ship very fast. The end!

Yes, I’m aware I’ve missed out a lot of stuff from between my last post and the final boss. There’s just too much good to say about the game. I loved the pacing, the music and the exploration. There’s always something great about getting a new ability in games like this, that allows you to get past a room you were scratching your head over previously. Slowly building you up to be a virtually unstoppable powerhouse with each upgrade and item.

Almost_everything___supermetroidIt may be a game from 1994 (that’s TWENTY YEARS AGO), but it hasn’t aged. The pixels are still beautiful. The gameplay is timeless. Some people said they didn’t think it’d stand up today, especially coming to it now having never played it before (which I haven’t), but they were so very wrong. If this was a new release now, it would stand up perfectly against current titles. One of the best games I’ve ever played. I’m just amazed I’d managed to miss out on it for so long.

Super Metroid (Wii U)

That_s_one_doomed_Space_Marine_To my eternal shame, I have never completed Super Metroid. In fact, I’ve never played it for more than the first five minutes. I don’t know why I decided to rectify this situation now, but I did.

Maybe it’s the fun I had with of-the-same-era Earthbound, or maybe it’s a Backlog Fighter/OCD Unplayed Home Screen Games combo prompting me. I’ve always intended to play it, and I’m a big fan of the two GBA Metroid games so I was pretty sure I’d enjoy it. It just never happened. Until now!

So far, it’s been pretty much what I expected – similar to the GBA versions only with bigger and slightly worse looking sprites. I’ve never really played the original Metroid, or the Game Boy Metroid 2, so the intro to Super Metroid was a little lost on me as it (I presume) replays the ending to one or the other of those.

tumblr_n552oxtwo81svmpf2o1_1280The controls are a little odd, specifically pressing L and R to aim diagonally down and up respectively, but it didn’t take too long to get used to. Not having the map always on the Wii U Game Pad, although never going to happen, is a shame – especially after relying on it so much in Knytt Underground recently.

There’s very little signposting as to where you need to go, so I’ve found that if you’ve not unlocked the map you’ve no idea what lies in each direction so you’re exploring blind. Which is the point of an exploration based game, I suppose, but I get get somewhat lost for ages.

Well, not so much lost, more stuck. I’d descended into Norfair, picked up the high jump, and then couldn’t find anywhere else to go. I couldn’t backtrack as I needed the ice beam to freeze baddies to create steps, I couldn’t go another way because the room was too hot (I later found I needed the Varia Suit here), and another route was blocked as I couldn’t run fast enough. In addition, there was at least one yellow door which I didn’t have a weapon to open. Stuck.

Who_s_a_pretty_boy_thenUntil I found that bombing (literally) everywhere revealed a few extra areas – netting me the “Spazer” weapon and eventually access to Kraid, who was a lot easier than I was expecting once I saw he/she/it was three screens high. In fact, the enemies have been surprisingly easy so far. Knowing where to go, less simple.

After leaving Norfair though the overheated area, I found some new bits to explore which gained me the Speed Booster and, utilising this in Norfair where I previously couldn’t run fast enough, lead me to the Ice Beam and then another new area – leading me back to the planet’s surface via the Power Bomb, which can open yellow doors. Excellent.

Stuff wot I are bin playing

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I’ve not posted in a while, aside from to mention Yakuza 3 and Old World Blues, but I have still been playing games. Here’s a round-up of what’s been going down over the last few weeks:

Professor Layton and the Lost Future (DS)

I actually completed this at the start of the year, but as I did with the previous two games once the story was done I left the remaining puzzles until near the release of the following game. So, with that due in November, I went back to Lost Future. I’ve already mopped up all the story puzzles, the sticker book, the parrot delivery puzzles, and the toy car, and have done most of the bonus extra puzzles too.

As usual, the puzzles I struggle with are the slide-a-block-through-other-blocks ones, one of which (having checked online afterwards to see how poorly I did) can be completed in just 9 moves. Took me almost 3500. Yes.

Urban Champion 3D (3DS)

It’s a weak title, sure. It’s certainly not a “NES classic”, but somehow, it’s addictive. I’ve made it up to (I think) Area Champion, but then died. You don’t seem to lose your rank when you die though – you just have to start from the first round again.

Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (3DS)

The only 2D Zelda game I’ve not completed. In fact, I’ve barely played it. But I put some time in and once you forget it’s a Zelda game and look at it as a Metroidvania game with an overworld and semi-random, realtime battles, it makes a lot more sense. It’s brutally hard though!

Metroid (3DS)

Another one of the NES games us 3DS “ambassadors” got for free. It’s hard. Like, really hard. And there’s no map. I sort of like it, but the difficulty is really putting me off.

Balloon Fight / Mario & Yoshi / NES Open / Wrecking Crew (3DS)

Other NES games that I’ve played for an hour or so each, but not really invested too much time in yet. Wrecking Crew is ace, and NES Open is still a pretty competent golf game.

Let’s Golf 3D (3DS)

Enjoying this. The 3D is pointless (as in, it barely has any effect at all), but it doesn’t really matter. I’m about 35% through Career Mode now, and am starting to get used to the courses. The arctic and aztec ones are particularly difficult! I like the different game modes too, like Closest To The Pin and such.

10 Second Run (3DS)

It’s actually DSiWare, but I don’t have a DSi so it falls under 3DS. So there. Loved it at first, with its super-quick runny-jumpiness, but sadly – just like other games of its ilk (N+, Super Meat Boy) – it became far too hard to be enjoyable. I’ve completed about 38 of the 50 levels, and although I know there are 5 or 6 more I could probably manage with perseverance, some just seem completely beyond me. Boo!

Bomberman Live! (360)

I was online this evening at the same time as some ugvm/BETEO people who were playing this, and I thought I’d join in hoping my useless “broadband” connection could take the pace. It held up for the first few rounds, but by the end of the first tournament the lag was causing me to blow myself up far too frequently, and by the end of the second tournament I was been told over the headset that I’d died before I actually noticed on-screen. Rubbish.

And I’d have beaten all-comers if it wasn’t for Sky! *shakes fist*

Kirby’s Fun Pak (Wii)

The SNES game on the Wii, to be more accurate. Mainly played because my daughter sometimes tells me to play Kirby games, and so this appeases her, but it is good anyway. Only one game mode left to complete, I think, though.

Is that everything I’ve played recently? Probably. Except for stuff I’ve played briefly. Like, but not limited to: Outrun Online Arcade (360), Sonic the Hedgehog (360), Super Mario All-Stars (Wii), Muscle March (Wii), and various iPad “room escape” games. And the usual Words With Friends, Hanging With Friends and Carcassonne matches too, of course.