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A Night at the Met...troidvania

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Looks like there’s going to be an update to Axiom Verge that adds a Randomizer Mode

I don’t want to claim that me making this thread is what caused that to happen, but you can’t conclusively prove that it didn’t.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Been making my way through Monster Sanctuary, and what it brings to the table is interesting, which isn't surprising since it's an explore-em-up mixed with Pokemon, and those two flavors taste weird together;

Instead of the usual side-scrolling action game combat when you encounter monsters, touching enemies puts you into a a turn-based battle where you have to match up your monsters elemental types against monsters, nothing as deceptively complex as a Pokemon battle, but it's complicated enough to keep you on your toes; though a lot of monsters wind up being something of damage sponges.

Exploration relies on the Pokemon bits quite a lot too; besides the usual Traversal abilities your character acquires, each captured monster ALSO has abilities; which so far are mainly tied to reaching optional treasure chests or opening short-cuts, so far since you're probably going to be swapping out your monsters a lot. Haven't unlocked monster evolution yet, but I was able to get lucky and got the ability to recruit an optional boss after beating it. To its extreme credit; the Double Jump is the first upgrade you unlock

Abilities Unlocked:
Double Jump
Thermal Underwear
 

Beta Metroid

At peace
(he/him)
^This looked extremely interesting! Not sure how I feel about turn-based battles in my Metroids, but recruiting a team of Pokemon with emphasis on their traversal abilities sounds very cool.

Progress in the Blind Forest:

I headed toward the Misty Woods. I like the sequence where Kuro is blocking the way, prompting you to find a way above her to scare her off with rocks. When I first encountered the scene, it smelled of "plot flag barring you from progress until you go do stuff elsewhere," and it kind of is, except it's a problem you can solve immediately. And it's a neat way of getting you Kuro's Feather! I've always really liked gliding abilities in platformers. It tends to be more satisfying to me than flying, because you're still dealing with the limitations of gravity, but have such expanded mobility. Also, I forgot to mention that we see Ori pulling the same gliding maneuver with a leaf for about a second in the intro!

Anyway, the scope and scale of the Valley of the Wind is impressive, making gliding across it a very dramatic moment, even if it's quite straightforward.

The Misty Woods is Ori at its most Zelda. It's an interesting little area, not really giving you many side paths or options, but instead testing your newly found mobility by providing very cramped, hazardous environments. It's artistically really neat, with its wavy visuals, mist, ever-shifting landscape, distorting features, and the bright white flowers contrasting against the dark environment.

I really never gave the Stomp enough credit in prior playthroughs. Now that it's upgraded to Ultra Stomp, it can wreck enemies even with a bit of distance, dissipate projectiles, and hits with some very satisfying feedback. It reduces just about any enemy at this point to about a quarter health at best, and stuns them, so they're easy picking for zapping. Combat is definitely better than I had remembered.

It's possible to clear out the Misty Woods before "solving" it, but I missed one collectible, so it was fun trekking through it afterward. It even gets a nice, more upbeat musical remix (foreshadowing Will of the Wisps as you recover each of the wisp fragments?). I like that it emphasizes how even things/places associated with darkness aren't necessarily evil or sinister, a recurring motif throughout the series.

The only major power-up here is the Wall Cling, which for the most part is a convenience rather than a massive upgrade. It is very helpful for dealing with the platforming obstacles unique to the Woods, however, and I know it's needed to get the most out of a later upgrade.

Next it was down to visit the Forlorn Ruins. I don't think I ever really visited or paid attention to the very bottom of the main Valley of the Wind room. There are no Energy/Life/Ability Cells down there, so I may have just skipped by it. It's rather mundane at a glance, but I really love how it captures the detail of "the foot of a mountain." There's the bottom of a waterfall, logs scattered across the water, and trees growing at odd angles. It's not the same kind of spectacle found elsewhere in the game, but it was very reminiscent of when I hiked around Yosemite a couple of years ago. It just felt very well realized.

The transition to the Forlorn Ruins is understated, but well done. You have some increasingly challenging scenarios where you have to redirect the green rolling enemies to smash barriers, and meanwhile, you start seeing increasing evidence of artificial structures as you descend.

I know that things like altering gravity is not everyone's cup of tea, but I think it's well done in the Ruins. I enjoy it because you can resume normal gravity/controls at any time, and you're given freedom in how you determine it's best to proceed. There's a lot you can do without messing with the gravity at all, and sometimes timely switching is rewarded. It's a great test and reward of spatial awareness.

I also really like the glimpses of Gumo's own journey, especially as he witnesses Ori and Sein displaying selflessness when they think no one is watching, and his acknowledgment of the dead members of his kind.

I mostly like the second escape sequence, but it's a bit frustrating. The previous sequence encouraged rushing as quickly as possible, and this one is similar, with instant death waiting if you don't advance quickly enough. But there are a few points where you have to stall or retreat, and that's not immediately intuitive (and downright contrary to what the sequences encourage). However, once you learn the mechanics, you learn you have a lot more flexibility than you may initially think. You see, when you use Kuro's feather in an updraft, you gain altitude, but you move rather slowly. It's fast enough to get through this sequence...if you know what to do. But what players may not immediately realize is that gaining altitude with the feather, even for a moment, "refreshes" all of your airborne capabilities (double/triple jump and air dash). Simply slowing your descent with the feather does NOT do this, and at a glance, it may not seem important, because if there's an updraft, you can reach anywhere with the feather that you could with extra jumps/dashes. But the jumps and dashes are much faster than floating and gliding with the feather, so you can navigate this section with a lot more speed and agility once you realize this is how the game works. And once you know that, it's cool. You don't get a new ability during the entirety of the Ruins, so the introduction of updrafts to many of the game's rooms is as close as it gets.

You end up landing on Kuro's Nest, which is also the site of the most heartbreaking cutscene of the game. This one's hard for me to watch, honestly.

Like the gravity-screwing of the Ruins, I can understand the stealth sequence to escape Kuro getting under some gamers' skins. But it's not really a stealth sequence...just a platforming sequence where you have a time limit on stretches of it.

For my first couple playthroughs, I thought I was locked out of the Ruins after this sequence, stupidly not realizing that there's a warp point inside. This time, I also realized you can just smash the boulder that closes it off.

This stretch isn't QUITE as strong as the Ginso Tree/Black Root Burrows in my mind, but it's still a lot of fun.

Abilities obtained:

Kuro's feather
Wall cling
Triple jump

Next Time: My favorite part of the game!
 

R.R. Bigman

Coolest Guy
I played through and completed Super Metroid for the third time, with this being the first time I have saved the animals? All you do is shoot a wall. Do they have a spaceship or something off camera?

I ended up with 75% Item Gettage, which was much lower than I thought it would be after finding all the E Tanks and optional gear. I looked online and I missed almost twenty missile upgrades. Why would you ever need over 200 missiles to fight an end boss that's basically a glorified cutscene? It's a good cutscene, but there's nothing to it other than shoot missiles at monster head until Story happens and you win. I remember in Metroid Prime you had to use Samus' non-missile items to fight most of the bosses. In Prime 2, you have to use everything to beat Quadraxis! In Super, it's just shooting at big monster's mouths or eyes with dozens and dozens of missiles. Electronic Gaming Monthly's Top Game of All Time 200th Issue, everybody.
 

RT-55J

definitely not a robot
(He/Him)
If you save the animals you can see a single pixel flying away from the planet during the end cutscene. It's great.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)

I had a really good time with the Classic Mode in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, which served to remind me how much I enjoy the game overall, so I went for the pretty recent Bloodless Mode in the main game as I didn't play it when it was released a few months back. It's the best bonus character mode any game in the post-Symphony of the Night style has ever had, as it turns out. The reasons for that are that it's actually considered and structured in the way these free-for-all optional character modes almost never are; Bloodless is subject to effectively the same navigational limitations that main protagonist Miriam would be, just in her own flavour. Starting off from her own domain at the center of the castle already flips the beginning of the game on its head, and the way that kind of freedom of exploration interacts with still distinct barriers in place is a really compelling way to lay out all this familiar ground and reintroduce it through another character's eyes and what they can do in it. Another positive distinction is that there is a reason to explore all of the map, and not just speedrun to the end or beeline for the mandatory bosses as is the practice otherwise: Bloodless's expanding repertoire of new abilities for exploration, combat and both are littered all around the castle in containers and pedestals, encouraging a level of thoroughness throughout.

All of this core design and its appeal was heightened for me because I played on Nightmare difficulty, which locks the player character to level 1, so in addition to the abilities bestowed through exploration, the crucial stat boosts--held in those same upgrade orbs--became a true lifeline instead of just a mildly welcome bonus to idle wanderings. The level of brutality displayed by the balancing in this higher difficulty mode also addressed some of my misgivings about the game in general, like the seemingly loose and arbitrary nature of the boss encounters, especially when compared to the rock solid patterns of the Curse of the Moon branch of Bloodstained. Now, every boss had to be learned, and mastered, because mistakes would result in death in two or three hits no matter what, and through that grueling repetition all the nuances that had escaped me before in the sloppy play that I previously adopted were now made evident, and the joys of the resulting battle ballet manifested in turn.

This too wouldn't necessarily have occurred if Bloodless herself didn't have the tools to make such strenuous, demanding play feel worthwhile to engage in, and happily she has one of the most diverse, fun movesets I can think of for a game of this type, and makes her playstyle totally her own. The mobility of the umbrella hover and her writhing slide combine with the defensive measures granted by that same shielding parasol, using the resulting invincibility frames to get through attacks that at first seem impossible to dodge, while at the same time maintaining a steady stream of offense through those same actions... she's a multilayered character in nearly everything she does, where her best tools of offense are also the best or last line of defense she has, and every action you take as her sets up the next opportunity for reprisal or moment of reprieve, because on a base level her range is limited and she is not especially powerful--every victory is earned through knowing exactly what ability to deploy, when it's safe to do so, and how to follow up. You're constantly learning new things about her moveset up to the very end as either you find a new ability that changes your entire gameplan, or a new boss requires you to adapt with something new you hadn't previously considered.

I can't speak highly enough of how fulfillingly her arsenal and rhythm of play comes together as it's assembled, and whether you filter that through the brick wall of Nightmare Mode or not, it's a high point for a legacy of supplementary actors in the genre who've historically not been all that interestingly integrated into their main games.
 
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Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Bloodless is easily one of the best implemented bonus modes in the genre. The only other one that even comes close to being as well balanced and fun is Julius Mode in Aria of Sorrow.

Also, A Robot Named Fight got another update on the Switch; doesn’t seem to have added anything drastically new, but the run I attempted went disasterously so I can’t properly comment either way.
 

Beta Metroid

At peace
(he/him)
I played through and completed Super Metroid for the third time, with this being the first time I have saved the animals? All you do is shoot a wall. Do they have a spaceship or something off camera?

I ended up with 75% Item Gettage, which was much lower than I thought it would be after finding all the E Tanks and optional gear. I looked online and I missed almost twenty missile upgrades. Why would you ever need over 200 missiles to fight an end boss that's basically a glorified cutscene? It's a good cutscene, but there's nothing to it other than shoot missiles at monster head until Story happens and you win. I remember in Metroid Prime you had to use Samus' non-missile items to fight most of the bosses. In Prime 2, you have to use everything to beat Quadraxis! In Super, it's just shooting at big monster's mouths or eyes with dozens and dozens of missiles. Electronic Gaming Monthly's Top Game of All Time 200th Issue, everybody.

Hey now, there's an alternate way to kill Draygon without missiles or charged shots! Heck, there's even a third way to kill it with a completely different item (that almost certainly wasn't intended). And the Golden Torizo sidesteps missiles, and catches and throws super missiles back at you! Phantoon has a unique retaliation attack if you use super missiles on it, that requires you to either use the morph ball or the "do a spin jump while holding a charged shot" to survive unscathed.

But yeah, Super Metroid doesn't integrate a lot of its abilities into boss fights. That's what the platforming and exploration is for.

On Blind Forest:

As I mentioned last time, the Valley of the Wind and Sorrow Pass is my favorite segment of the game. A lot of that has to do with the music, which transitions upon obtaining the area's major upgrade, and collectively it is a beauty.

There's a lot of gliding and floating around, a cool sequence where you Bash off of falling rocks and attacking ravens to get the map, and then acquire the last major upgrade of the game, the Charge Jump! As I mentioned earlier, pre-Definitive Edition, this seemed like the main means to do a lot of item cleanup before tackling the game's final challenge, and you can pre-empt a lot of that utility with the Definitive Edition-exclusive abilities. But Charge Jump is still incredibly satisfying, launching you a considerable distance off of a surface with enough force to smash through previously impassable barricades. It's especially appealing because you can launch off walls as well, choosing your trajectory before you go. This section where you first claim the ability is still challenging, with a lot of tight, bramble-infested passages and sharpshooting enemies, but its very empowering to go smashing your way through it. It also makes Ori even more of an aerial ace. Will of the Wisps brought back almost the entirety of Ori's arsenal from this game, and I can't believe that it leaves this one out (Launch basically replaces it, but lacks that satisfying smashing property).

The music, narrative, and gameplay thrill of fully powering Ori all coincide with unlocking the game's final area. There's also a really touching scene that directly follows the completion of the Sorrow's Pass area.

It's just a little bit of cleanup after this, then on to Mount Horu. I feel like platformers in particular have really overdone the volcanic setting for their endgames, and there are far more intriguing aesthetics in this game. But this is quite a suitable final challenge, with Ori's insane aerial mobility feeling necessary here. It's a nice little combination of bite-sized, but grueling challenges connected by a central area that is also quite challenging to navigate.

The final escape sequence is shorter than I remembered, and better executed than the Forlorn Ruins escape. A solid gameplay finale overall.

And of course, the ending is the very definition of bittersweet, with multiple showings of selfless parental love.

And that's a wrap!

Abilities obtained:

Sense (X-Ray Scope)
Ultra Defense (Varia Suit)
Charge Jump

Final Completion: 100%

Best (and only) Ending Obtained

Deaths: 33 (more than I was expecting in what felt like quite a fast and fluid run, but deaths come quickly and suddenly in this game. The vast majority were entirely on me, but I know I flubbed a few because for some absurd reason, the sequel switches what button is used for Bash. Not this game's fault. Why aren't customizable controls standard in gaming yet?)

When I first played through the sequel, I immediately felt it made substantial improvements, and wasn't sure how much I'd still be able to appreciate this one. The answer is a lot! It's a bit simpler than some of the genre's heavy hitters, but that's welcome in many ways. It's an audiovisual feast with an emotional story and is a joy to control.
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Axiom Verge: I enjoyed the first 3/4 of this game much more than the last 1/4. The movement abilities in this game get increasingly bonkers, but the last section of the game is a real kick in the pants, and it could've used some form of fast travel outside of the snail lord.

Map completion: 69%

The game moved on before I could record my item completion, and I don't feel like re-beating the last boss, so we'll call that my completion percentage.

Upgrades that increased my ability to explore: 15
Axiom Disruptor, Nova, Laser Drill, Field Disruptor, Modified Lab Coat, Trenchcoat, Red Coat, Remote Drone, Enhanced Drone Launch, Drone Teleport, Address Disruptor, Address Disruptor 2, Address Bomb, Grapple, Sudran Key

I debated for a bit on whether to count the last of those items, since it's literally a key, but the wiki lists it under "upgrades," so we'll go with that.

The wiki lists three endings, but I have no idea how to get the other two. I guess I'll take a pass on the "best ending" points unless someone wants to tell me that "first ending" is the best ending.

Total score: 84
 
Oh I could put this here. I beat Super Metroid twice last weekend. First time I went completely from memory and got a 92% completion percent and best ending.

So that's at least 97 points plus whatever bonus for some of those being progression items, I don't know what that total is. I got them all.

Then I checked a map and did it again, 100% and best ending again, about 2 hours IGT.

Then another 105 plus the bonus again.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
A good friend of mine clued me into a new one of these fancy vans that you kids love so. He said it was cute and good and I played it today and it's CUTE and GOOOOOOOOO—OD. And it just came out on Switch like this week! It's called The Witch and the 66 Mushrooms. You play a cute witch who's on a mushroom hunt and there's 66 of them.



Look at this cute title card. They dressed up the kanji for witch as a witch.

It was made by a small team called Dot Zo, which basically means Pixel Elephant. The game map is in the shape of an elephant, which is also their logo. It was this detail that convinced me to purchase and I'm extremely glad I did.

Here's a trailer.

This is an earlier version of the game. The release build is a little more polished and in English.

The game is short, it took me about three hours to get to the end, though I still have a dozen mushrooms to find. I anticipate probably a good hour more to 100%. Frankly, that's the perfect length for this kind of a thing. And it's impeccably paced and design, with frequent but significant upgrades that expand both your combat and exploration options. The map is small enough that a handful of warp points and looping paths make backtracking a breeze, but large enough to feel expansive and like you're covering ground. And it's jam packed with secrets and puzzles, some really quiet clever. I would say more but I don't want to diminish the fun of discovery, of which there's plenty.

And as you can see from the video above it's got super charming and adorable pixel art. That's the perfect word for it, charming. Just a exquisitely realized all killer no filler morsel of metrovan charm. It seems like it's flying under the radar yet is the sort of thing people here would enjoy so I'm stumping for it. It's like 6 bucks on Switch and Steam. Go check it out and

 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Thanks a whole bunch for highlighting this. I bought, played, and 100%'d it pretty much immediately after reading the post and it was lovely from beginning to end. Made a dedicated thread here because I think it deserves it.
 

conchobhar

What's Shenmue?
Luna Nights got me thinking about Team Ladybug's other games, which in turn got me to check out Shin Megami Tensei: Synchronicity Prologue. Short and sweet. It boggles the mind that this was a free promotional tie-in; it is extraordinarily well-made, in terms of craft, in terms of mechanical creativity and depth, and in terms of being a thoughtful and loving take on the source material. Which makes it all the sadder that Atlus has effectively swept it under the rug… it's still floating around out there (I got it from archive.org), but this is a game that they should be shouting from the rooftops!

I'll call that 103 points: 100% completion, three upgrades.

Running tally:
Touhou Luna Nights (116), Shin Megami Tensei: Synchronicity Prologue (103)
 

conchobhar

What's Shenmue?
I decided to play Strider (2014), a game that I've had my eye on for a good long while but never got around to. It's… fine? It does some neat things, and some dumb things, but I don't really feel strongly about either to start talking about it in-depth; it's one of those games that's enjoyable enough in the moment but leaves no real lasting impression. I can see why the game's been forgotten.

67% + 13 upgrades = 81 points.

Running tally:
Touhou Luna Nights (116), Shin Megami Tensei: Synchronicity Prologue (103), Strider (81)
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
So a little after Christmas, I picked up Yestermorrow, and I finally started playing it and it’s enough to make me say “Oooh!”

The main hook of the game is that you’re swapping between two different eras; main character Yuis idyllic childhood in the past, and a demon-infested post apocalyptic hell-scape as an adult in the future, using the differing states of the world to both prevent the demon invasion and also free her family after they’ve been taken by the monsters.

As far as I’ve played, there’s a LOT more focus on puzzle solving and navigating than on combat (it’s a couple of hours before you get any kind of offensive ability, and even then, it’s mainly used for exploration) and the sprite work is top-notch; reminiscent of Phenotopia, with lots of appreciated little details (I like the way the disappearing platforms struggle a little bit, like they weren’t quite sized right).

My only complaints are related; the lack of any kind of auto map hurts with a workd this expansive and varied, and your objectives are often obtuse enough that I genuinely wonder if bugged
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Been playing through Cathedral, and am liking it a lot. At first blush it looks like Shovel Knight, except with one big interconnected map instead of discrete stages. And there’s a good reason for it to look that way; that’s pretty much what it is!

It also feels a fair bit like Hollow Knight, with its semi-punishing death penalty, and high general difficulty, but check points are dispersed fairly, and making detours to other parts of the map often leads you to gathering enough upgrades to let you push through the problem areas.

It’s also technically a spin-off of Elden Pixels’ other, more popular, Alwas series. Or at least Zoe makes a cameo and some monsters have similar designs. The overall feel of the game is more similar to Alwas Legacy as well.

Im about mid way though the game, based on the number of macguffins I’ve collected and am really happy with it
 
Oh I forgot this thread was a thing. I should add in some recent numbers.

I did 112% in Hollow Knight best ending.
And then I did 100% Hollow Knight Steel Soul worst ending.

That's probably a few points there.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Not sure what my score would be for Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. 100% and the best ending, so that's 105. The progression items were:

Sylph, Salamander, first bow, double jump, boosted double jump, underwater breathing, sliding. Not counting keys/locked doors.

If I'm not missing anything, that makes a total of 112.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Oh I forgot this thread was a thing. I should add in some recent numbers.

I did 112% in Hollow Knight best ending.
And then I did 100% Hollow Knight Steel Soul worst ending.

That's probably a few points there.
Is Steel Soul new? I played through this game more than two years ago, and had no idea this mode exists. Well, I looked it up and:

In Steel Soul Mode, there are four main changes to gameplay, compared to Classic Mode:

  • The Knight does not respawn upon death. Once the Knight dies, the game ends and the save file is reset. Note: dying to a Dream Boss, or in Godmaster Icon.png Godhome, does NOT count as an actual death. However, dying in the White Palace or to the Radiance DOES result in a Game Over.

Wow, that's, uh...pretty intense. How many tries did it take? I can't imagine ever learning the boss fight against these 10(?) bug guards, or whatever nightmare that was, so well that I will not at least die once in there.
 
Wow, that's, uh...pretty intense. How many tries did it take? I can't imagine ever learning the boss fight against these 10(?) bug guards, or whatever nightmare that was, so well that I will not at least die once in there.
Well... there's a way to cheese it if you pay attention. At any point you're in serious danger you can save and quit back to the menu and you'll start at the last bench (with health restored like any bench). That said, I only had to use it twice-ish. Once I got seriously caught in the platforming challenge to get Descending Dark, and a handful of times against Hive Knight, cause I don't know.

I feel with the right route and not being stupid it's entirely possible without these save and quit cheeses, so I'd still like to do that soon, but at the moment the 5th Pantheon calls.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
Not sure what my score would be for Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. 100% and the best ending, so that's 105. The progression items were:

Sylph, Salamander, first bow, double jump, boosted double jump, underwater breathing, sliding. Not counting keys/locked doors.

If I'm not missing anything, that makes a total of 112.
I just finished RoLW : DiWL and I think I got the same score but I'm not sure if I got the best ending.
 

Beta Metroid

At peace
(he/him)
I've been slowly advancing through Will of the Wisps on Hard, but parenting has taken away my time and energy to give breakdowns to the degree I did with Blind Forest. Game is great, though. I just got through the Wellspring segment again, and I adore this music so much. Having the grapple AND bash is so much fun...I just love how the game piles on the aerial mobility options for Ori. Also, I obtained the shard that lets you grapple onto enemies, enabling my favorite combat approach: grapple up to a foe, then hammer them in the face. So satisfying.

The main reason I revived this thread is because of this cool interview with one of the level designers that just dropped on YouTube. There's some really intriguing insight on Will of the Wisps' Burrow ability. I've watched many a YouTube video on game design, and this may be one of the best about implementing footage that illustrates the points being made:

 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Setting aside the fact that I tend to go all in on my affection for whatever game I’m currently playing; Astalon: Tears of the Earth recently came out and I am loving it. This is my favourite Troid-em-up since Bloodstained.

The games difficulty is extremely well balanced; since the game expects you to stick with one of several playable characters for long stretches at a time (until you find an upgrade that lets you swap freely, surprisingly far into the game) everything is equally difficult for each of them, even setting aside environmental obstacles each character is specifically equipped to deal with.

While the majority of the games passive upgrades are restricted to a special shop that only pops up when you die (again, upgrade depending), few of them offer drastic upgrades, so the common complaint of needing to fail over and over in order to make any progress in games like this ain’t a consideration.

When you did you’re sent back to the entrance of the dungeon, but most of your exploration is spent unlocking shortcuts around the tower so reclaiming lost progress is a short experience.

The game has a La Mulana-esque tendency to bury secrets and hidden items in side rooms only detectable by paying close attention to background details; but none of them are nearly as obtuse as what that game has to offer and the only one I’ve found that was has the advantage of also being optional.

While the games got a stiff difficulty level, it never becomes overwhelming or frustrating; it starts at “Tricky but manageable” the whole way though so far as I’ve played.

My only complaints are that you don’t have any idea what the shops upgrades do until after you buy them (many are self explanatory, though) and you can’t notate the auto map (though there are upgrades that give you the crucial info)

All in all, an excellent entry in the genre. Top Marks
 

Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
I finished Touhou Luna Nights and Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth with 100% completion on at least the former. I don't know the exact scores on each, so let's fudge a little and give them a combined 220.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I’m going to be perfectly honest; I forgot I gave this thread a scoring mechanic…

I’m sure mine would be pretty big though since I played through a bubch
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Started replaying Chasm

And I like Chasm. I like Chasm enough that I’ve played through it repeatedly.

But honestly, playing hot on the heels of a GOAT like Symphony of the Night, and the new hotness that is Astalon, it’s like getting a hotdog after a steak dinner.

But it’s one of those fancy hotdogs, and it has Dijon mustard and stuff.

Also, I’m honestly unsure if the Randomizer seed even does anything.
 

WildcatJF

Red After Image
(he / his / him)
Metroid Dread has me contemplating playing the core games in the series (ie not Prime and not Other M) in the lead up to Dread's release. Shouldn't be a huge timesink and I like to love these games, so should be fun!
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Played Metroid Fusion, which to me is the last good Metroid. It's interesting to return to as its reputation at large has never really settled into any common narrative; it was a contested game in its time and remains one now. My respect for it grows with time, in how excellent it is at balancing series pillars with a genuine spirit of reinvention--it's tough for anything to manage that interaction, or as well. All the common criticisms--too linear; too directed; too talky; too artificial of setting--are all things that in the moment and in context instead turn to strengths that better the game for the branch of design it was interested in exploring and experimenting with.

The writing especially comes over well as it doesn't threaten anyone's varying mental images of Samus--she remains stoically silent, withdrawn into her own thoughts, where the only verbosity of note occurs on her part; it's significant the few times she does respond to Adam's steady stream of instructions. Internally, she has moments of wry self-reflection of her past actions and how they're mirrored in her own current circumstances and the existence of the SA-X; Metroid II lingers heavily as the turning point in this character's life, as it should, and Fusion carries those thematics forward with care. The Samus/Adam dynamic especially comes off well here as the media convention is usually to pair up a snarky, "irreverent" button-pusher along with the silent emotional recluse to maintain audience interest and facilitate reciprocal interplay, but here Adam is entirely goal-oriented, flat of affect, and Samus has nothing to say herself in most situations; the push-and-pull between an ostensible odd couple simply doesn't exist as both are unequipped to cause or react to such sparring. It's a really refreshingly matter-of-fact way to present a story that's textually contained to just these two characters.

The best things this game does in shaping its world are the assumptions it allows you to form in the beginning and then gradually doing away with the given premise. Everything about the BSL station reeks of the kind of artificiality that the primarily cavernous and interconnected series would have trained its audience to mistrust as something fundamentally undesired: wreathed in metals and manufactured materials, arranged in closed-off "levels" entered through a hub. The impression created is that the sense of Metroid play is just as superficial in the environment's wake as those spaces themselves, constructed and simulated biomes as they are. From early on though, the key aspect of Fusion's exploratory paradigm makes itself known as it's never about following a dot on the map to the destination--it's being given an objective and seeing how the environment contorts itself unexpectedly to bar one's way, and the thrilling way going "out of bounds" in the station's nominal, default layout is made integral to progression, time and time again. The built instead of formed nature of the environment takes on a particular character in this context; the feeling of dipping into maintenance shafts and auxiliary tunnels to find one's way is distinct from charting what are presented as naturally formed topography in other series games, which often take on the tone of a primal struggle against the environment itself. With Fusion, the artificiality of the setting imbues the atmosphere with a directed malice toward your intrusion in it--it's not a place where life simply occurs and reacts to Samus as the unwanted interloper, but a nest of weaponized research and cold industry.

Focusing on a cat-and-mouse survival story of near misses and scrambling escapes in a compact environment also allows the game to go further with environmental iteration than any other game in the series. Most Metroids incorporate backtracking in some way, but the common structure usually involves relegating such exploits to the player's own discretion in seeking out in fullness of what the world might contain around its peripheries; the well-trod ground players are mandated to visit more than once are dominated by connecting passages and centers of traverse on the way to the real destinations, most of which are always new. Fusion, as a set of map data on cartridge, may be slighter than other games, but its play structure demands areas to be revisited often several times before the basic sequence of the scenario is over. In so doing it doesn't risk repetition in wearing the same locales thin because as a game it's also extremely invested in a sense of environmental dynamism facilitated exactly by these repeat incursions. Creatures that lurk in the station show signs of themselves through anticipatory glimpses or simply through the wreckage left in their wake; doors may be totally trashed and the ceilings and walls ripped through to create new environmental configurations in spaces thought previously understood. An early visit to a sub-section will present the player with insect larvae, which upon departing have progressed to pupae--later still, the imago stage is reached and the location transformed in the challenges it poses and how it should be navigated. The specific spatial choreographies of the plotting ensure that these detailed environmental processes aren't overlooked, as the shifting circumstances of the rapidly deteriorating habitat slot Samus into a reactive, crisis relief unit of one, whisked from one near disaster to the next all the while carrying all the risk herself.

It must be stressed that Fusion is a hard game in the context of its series and likely outside of it too. This is mostly achieved by tuning the damage values incurred by Samus significantly higher than other games have, to a degree that it can hardly be read as accidental or undeliberate. It's then to be read in the context of a hunter being hunted via her own means, subject to the same shivering terror she once inflicted on others; the play mechanics must reflect accordingly of the newfound frailty even in a form empowered. A career athlete is still one even after life-threatening and altering sickness, and even as contrivance mandates each Metroid present the Samus-building-herself-back-up narrative again and again, Fusion is the only one where not only storytelling minutiae rationalizes the act but lends it additional gravitas in recovery from bodily trauma and reshaping oneself into something close to before, but not quite, and maybe that's for the better in the end. The harshness of surviving in Fusion builds and supports the arc of Samus taking the first, tentative steps in her new life and existence, while being haunted and punished harshly along the way by the specters of her own past. Post-traumatic adaptation is literalized in the parts of herself she regains along the way--for the first time, organically and intrinsically as part of her--by facing past nemeses and turning those experiences into strength, and the player is right there with her, in the boss fights that chart as the hardest in the series, but also the most compellingly executed to that end, as they are built on the understanding and honing of the fundamentals of Samus's abilities and do not tarry in running through their own patterns in dictating the pace of the encounters. They are as madcap or strategic, cumbersome or elegant as anyone wants them to be, and none of it's accomplished through anything but confidence in the player's own internalization of the tools afforded to them; they are there for both them and Samus to take control.

The miracle of Metroid Fusion is that it's a game that in its time ushered in the return of a series that had previously hit its definitive high and then disappeared for a time that by objective reckoning was lengthy, but in the less tapped-in age decades past felt exponentially longer of an absence. When it did return, it did not lean on a sure formula, as the previous game had even then been canonized as a trailblazer. Instead, it made changes and took risks: the protagonist fundamentally altered visually and existentially; the game structure fashioned into a new modular script; series iconography like Ridley and the Chozo in the (mercifully) most reduced roles they would ever have. The reason why I increasingly value the game can be found in these characteristics that define it, as the last moment before the image of the series settled into a set of interchangeable aesthetics, design goals and repeated iconography for all time, sustained by a loop of still-notable absences and a resetting just-give-me-something-please return-to-form rhetoric. This was the time that Metroid went away and came back changed, and it might as well have been an evolutionary dead-end that it did so.
 
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