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A Night at the Met...troidvania

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Every time I play Metroid Fusion, I like it more. I liked it at the time it came out, of course, but when Zero Mission came out I thought "well, that eclipses Fusion easily," but as time goes on, I find Fusion more and more interesting. The "out of bounds" exploring is a big part of it - honestly, when I played Portal years later (as I came to that game several years late, like in 2010 or so), it reminded me, of all things, of Metroid Fusion in the way exploring areas that you weren't "supposed" to felt... sneaky on the players part, which no other Metroid game has done, imo.

It's a fun game with great aesthetics*, and the traditional Talking Time complaint that it's not as sequence-breakable as Super Metroid** holds no water for me. I never cared about that. It's not as linear as it's reputation and doesn't suffer for the linearity it does have.

*including the Fusion suit, Vaeran

**which may just be Brickroad's opinion, I'm not sure, but those arguments from like 2008 or whatever about Fusion stuck with me, so apologies if that's not the consensus here any more, since that guy hasn't been here for years.


EDIT: Ugh, I didn't mean to start a new page, go back and read Peklo's excellent post to which this is sort of a response. Or someone quote it so it's on this page.
 

RT-55J

definitely not a robot
(He/Him)
Speaking of Metroid Fusion, somebody has been working on a randomizer for it. It's not publicly released yet, but it's approaching completion (probably within the next month or two). I had the chance to play a pre-rolled seed of it and watched some speedrunners test out some more seeds. From what I've seen, it works astonishingly well (provided you have a decent working knowledge of where the hidden items are). There's a whole lot of weird, alternate dependencies to consider that are never relevant in the vanilla game, which ends up giving it a bizarrely similar feeling of working outside of the game's intended bounds. Personally, I think the randomizer's existence will render complaints about Fusion's linearity moot.

For the sake of the thread's score count thingy, I got 55% of the items (entirely by accident), every major item except for the Wide Beam (I think that's 14 items), and the best ending.
 
I'll never enjoy Metroid Fusion but I respect what it does and that it did try to do something different, both in regards to gameplay and aesthetics. It's hard to be the immediate game in the shadow of Super Metroid, and like Peklo said, the subsequent games have retreated to mostly mirroring the structures and visual iconography of Super Metroid.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
Okay, so, after umpteen tries I finally got past the Chapter 5 double-boss in Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. (I had to cheese the second form with Invisibility to finally get past it.) Then the Chapter 6 random enemy difficulty ramps up again, and I'm just not sure I can take it. The experience rewards from non-bosses are so low that grinding takes forever, and gaining levels doesn't actually seem to afford you much advantage regardless. I've collected everything on the map that you can reach before Chapter 6. Am I missing something, or is this just a "git gud" situation that I'm likely to just give up from?
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I adore what Metroid Fusion did. Bearing in mind it's a portable game to be played in chunks it still gave us the Super Metroid experience, just in nuggets. And it took that opportunity to tell us a more in depth story. It's a fantastic game.
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
I played through Iconoclasts recently. Pretty good! Kind of an Owlboy/Cave Story vibe, though the story ends up a bit vague and there's not much reason to replay. Did Carrion a while back too. Currently trying out Death's Gambit but it is... difficult.
 
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Mogri

Round and round I go
(he)
Staff member
Moderator
Okay, so, after umpteen tries I finally got past the Chapter 5 double-boss in Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. (I had to cheese the second form with Invisibility to finally get past it.) Then the Chapter 6 random enemy difficulty ramps up again, and I'm just not sure I can take it. The experience rewards from non-bosses are so low that grinding takes forever, and gaining levels doesn't actually seem to afford you much advantage regardless. I've collected everything on the map that you can reach before Chapter 6. Am I missing something, or is this just a "git gud" situation that I'm likely to just give up from?
I think this is the point at which you might consider running past enemies without killing them -- as the d6 indicates, this is the final chapter, so if you can skip those monsters that deal way too much damage, you should be able to reach the last boss and finish the game.
 

Torzelbaum

????? LV 13 HP 292/ 292
(he, him, his)
I think this is the point at which you might consider running past enemies without killing them -- as the d6 indicates, this is the final chapter, so if you can skip those monsters that deal way too much damage, you should be able to reach the last boss and finish the game.
I think the windstorm spell can also do a number on those enemies (based on what I saw in the Speedrun from GDQ).

And Beowulf - do you have all of the HP, MP & Spirit Level upgrades?
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
I think the windstorm spell can also do a number on those enemies (based on what I saw in the Speedrun from GDQ).

And Beowulf - do you have all of the HP, MP & Spirit Level upgrades?
I did have all the upgrades, though in poking the last couple of corners I found the Chakram, which (at least for my playstyle) made a real difference for the last area. I blew all of my money on items, and that got me past the boss rush and the ridiculous two-part final bosses. ~6 hours of playtime total. Overall, this was good but not great; too many humanoid bosses and too little impact from XP and equipment upgrades. And Invisibility is a really clever spell that's a little broken and the only reason I got through the whole game.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
Out of those, Timespinner is what you're looking for. Extremely inspired by specifically Order of Ecclesia, only much gentler difficulty-wise.
Of those you listed, Timespinner is absolutely the Vaniest
I went ahead and got Timespinner in the Steam sale, and just finished it, and YES, it is exactly the sort of game I like. Difficulty level was manageable (and grinding actually did something), plenty of variety in weapons and abilities, good exploration factor with clever environmental puzzles, solid plot and characterization (and queer people!), multiple endings--really, everything I could have asked for. Delightful, heartily recommended.
 

WildcatJF

Red After Image
(he / his / him)
Timespinner is marvelous, it won me over when I played it last December. On top of what you described, I'd add the soundtrack is really good, too.

I beat the FDS version of Metroid this week! It's definitely prototyping the concept and has a few points that are pretty frustrating (mostly grinding enemies to replenish health and missiles), but I do have to say that once I got a few powerups under my belt it was a lot of fun, and the ending theme is a banger with all the extra instruments.

Zero Mission will be next, but I'm debating on how to replay it, haha. Broken DS or buy the Wii U VC version...
 

Beta Metroid

At peace
(he/him)
Maybe this should be its own thread, but I was curious: What are Talking Time's favorite/most fun Metroidvania powers/upgrades/abilities?

To me, some standouts include Ori's Bash. This is a supremely cool and versatile ability with a hilariously generic and not especially indicative name. It's so simple in execution: You launch in any direction from an enemy/projectile, and send them in the opposite direction. But there's so much you can do with it! The platforming utility is the most obvious and the most fun, especially when you work in portals, recycling the same projectile multiple times, or bashing off your own projectile, but it's also useful for throwing projectiles at obstacles/enemies. And especially in the first game, where your combat options are...limited to say the least, bashing enemies off ledges/into environmental hazards is often the most direct path to victory. It also combines beautifully with other abilities, like the aforementioned light projectile, and the second game's grapple. You play through a whole ton of Ori without touching the floor, and no single ability facilitates that better than this one.

Another great one from Ori is the Will of the Wisps' tunneling ability (and swimming, which is functionally very similar). I posted a video earlier in this thread that explores why this ability is nifty. It not only gives you access to a previously un-traversable type of terrain, but the game makes a lot of use of the fact you launch both into and out of viable dirt patches, turning dirt patches into specialized launch/grapple points in addition to terrain.

Axiom Verge holds another one of my favorites: the drone. Its style goes a long way to winning my heart, as it's an adorable little critter! And it even has its own laser eye, awww, such a good little bug! In many ways, it's functionally a morph ball, but being able to launch it to different locations, and also being able to body swap with it offers a lot of exploratory options.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Bloodless's umbrella hover in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Mixes navigation, evasion, defense and offense in one simple to execute maneuver that makes her incredibly fun and nuanced to play as.

Sakuya's slide in Touhou Luna Nights. It's one of the few in the genre actually worth using offensively. Also her glide, airborne propulsion by throwing knives rapidly, scattering of knives below upon double-jumping, stepping on thrown knives to use as footholds during stopped time... look, hers is a brilliantly conceived moveset in every way.

Samus's wall jump in Super Metroid and Super Metroid only. Elsewhere, it's either intentionally limited or held down by the stickier, heavier physics of later games--in Super, it's extremely fluid and holds a level of execution to the input which always makes it an engaging technique to perform because the possibility of failure exists, and thus the freedom it grants is all the sweeter.

Juste's dashes in Harmony of Dissonance. He's the only character in the series who holds a forward dash in addition to the usual backdash. More than any other Belmont, Juste's played as a successor to his heritage on all counts, as he wields Belnades-style magic and has committed, "stiff" jump arcs in the Belmont tradition. The balance found in his playstyle, to be limited when airborne and immediately maneuverable when rooted to the ground, speaks to that amalgam skillset and contrast.

Any counter or parry Lily can perform in Ender Lilies. Enemies and bosses alike can be shut down with proper application and it never fails to feel satisfying to perform as the element of risk is there in nailing the timing required.

Shanoa's Magnes glyph in Order of Ecclesia. Introduced almost immediately and used sparingly thereafter, this is one of those undercooked action verbs an entire game could be built around, if given the focus. It only really shows glimpses of the promise in the optional challenge areas at the end, but the momentum in slingshotting oneself across screens is always fantastic fun, and it is incorporated in a number of boss battles in good ways and even has some synergy with certain other glyphs.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
Double Jumps
I agree. Every game should have double jumps.

I love it when games unlock something like Alucard's bat transformation near the end, when suddenly every crack and crevice is accessible easily. I love the space jump/screw attack combination for the same reason.
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
One of the reasons Hollow Knight is so fun is that you get double jumps AND super dashes (through the air!)

I liked several of the weapons in Axiom Verge but it's been a while so I can't remember which ones (there's a lot of chaff too).
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Decided to play through Strider, since I don’t think I played it since it came out. And while it’s pretty reasonable to expect that the breakneck rollercoaster of shrugging and saying “I guess we’re doing this now” that defined Strider wouldn’t at all translate to the more laid back and exploration heavy gameplay if a Troid-em-up, by God they did it anyway.

I don’t remember the last time I played an Exploration Platformer so rich with incident; you never get a moment to stop and ask what just happened before a new objective marker pops up and tells you to derail a train or kill a dragon or turn into a bird or whatever.

I can see where it ain’t for everyone, but by george, it’s for me
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Yeah, I really had fun with it back when I played it. Very good game, indeed.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Played through Metroid Fusion, for the first time since...it came out, I think. I never thought it was bad, but also liked ZM way more, back then. And, for some reason, never revisited Fusion.

It's really, really good. Had a lot of fun with it. Some of that fun came from the added context that Peklo added with their excellent post. But what most surprised me is, how this game still tries to be a horror game, or at least tries to give you chilling moments. The first time you see the SA-X is amazing, with the lift descending, but the camera staying at the floor, when the wall explodes, Super Metroid Samus steps out and looks into the camera. With us getting closer and closer, seeing the empty eyes of the SA-X. Beautifully done.

There are, of course, the sequences where you hide or run from the SA-X, or the moment the Guardian (was that the name of that thing?) floated around behind the windows of that big room, making everything shake. But the moment that felt most intense, was when I reached the place with the blue X. I was reminded so hard of the time you first meet the Metroids in the NES game. You can stun these things, but if there is more than one, they can very easily swarm and kill you. It was my first game over screen, and I avoided them as much as possible.

The horror element seems to be pretty much ignored, when people talk about the game, but it was there in the NES game and the second one, too. Part of that is due to the minimalistic graphics - the black backgrounds of the first game make the place seem truelly alien, like you aren't on a planet with atmosphere. It's like you see space behidn you. Everything looks weird, nothing cares about you but everything is hurting you, if you annoy it. The second game feels similar, with that giant cave system you explore, in monochrome.

I feel like Super Metroid lost something there, when better graphics, and specifically color was added. Sure, the place you are at is still alien, and the creatures still bizarre, but just the addition of color seems to take away a lot of that feeling of being in a deadly place, I find. And, while I like the 3DS remake of the second game, it has a similar problem (but it's tonally a mess anyway, if I remember correctly). Fusion does have these better graphics too, but it feels like it remembered that the first game was partly a horror game, and thought about how to incorporate that into a game with more modern graphics.

So, yeah, excellent game. Low-key favourite moment was probably, when a missile tank turned out to be an X, that had taken on the form of something you seek out. Not really dangerous, but very clever, I thought.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Yeah, I agree with a lot of that. I tend to cheerlead for the first two games the most not only because they're genuinely my favourites, but because so much of gaming discourse since like... ever, has been about glorifying Super Metroid in every way possible compared to anything even remotely comparable. That's not to say it's not deserving of praise, but it can come at a cost to other works, and there are instances where the way things were handled earlier are preferable to me, so it's worth talking about the individual characteristics of each game that make them very different experiences instead of treating it as a series of stepping stones to the first actual good one where one is allowed to start caring.

Horror is definitely a draw and defining feature of the series as I conceive of it, and its absence has a part to play in the ones I feel less attached to; games like Zero Mission, Corruption (Prime as a whole, really), Other M and Samus Returns are horrific to me, I suppose, but it's not to do with the thrill of fright. The tone and the aesthetic explorations thereof become something else that I just feel disconnected to and can't work up the motivation to invest myself in, and those specifics aren't something easily isolated and laid out at a glance so it's left to trying out each game that comes out and seeing how it works out that time. Fortunately the series isn't the most overexposed around, so this isn't a constantly recurring holding pattern to subject oneself to.
 

Beta Metroid

At peace
(he/him)
I'm glad TT 3.0 is less hostile to pro-Fusion discourse than 2.0 was.

I actually just wrapped up a casual playthrough of Fusion myself. People have spoken at length at how effectively it exudes horror and tension. It is also narrative-driven, very respectful of the series continuity while clearly moving things forward.

Of the many elements I love is how the X parasites work so well in both plot and gameplay. I love how they replace the standard "floating health/ammo pickups", as well as your major permanent upgrades. And as you progress through the game, the way they'll merge with other X to create nastier enemies (including mutants like the aquatic Space Pirates) is just so brilliantly realized.

The Ice X parasites were mentioned above, and they may be my favorite part of the game. They showcase the X's capacity to adapt to their foes, and work perfectly in line with established rules: Your new suit is Metroid-based, so seeing that you're using the Metroid's inherent predatory abilities to consume X and absorb their attributes, they deliberately sabotage you with the Metroids' notorious weakness. But then you pick up the Varia Suit, and while it has previously only protected you from extreme heat, I assumed its ability was temperature regulation in both directions, and that it simply didn't have occasion to protect you from extreme cold in Super Metroid. So now you can gain substantial health from the icy X.

But what really puts the bow on this whole sequence is that when you first encounter them after picking up the Varia Suit, the icy X continue to swarm you, just as they have in all encounters up to that point. But in all subsequent encounters, they flee from you, and the ability to stun them is no longer a desperate self-defense maneuver, but a tool in securing them.

In fact, my only quibble about the whole "X = items" system isn't even a slight against Fusion. It is simply such an immersive system that perfectly integrates the game's plot with its mechanics that it makes the traditional "health orbs and literal floating missiles" pickups of every other Metroid game look odd in comparison. It's the kind of thing that you just shrug off as a gameplay conceit, until Fusion pioneered a better method and called attention to it. Even the Prime games, with all of their immersive lore and worldbuilding, can't come up with any sci-fi technobabble explanation for the health pickups, saying things like "yeah, this is 50 health. Charge up your beam to draw it in."

Also, the game is really well-designed for handheld play. While it's more linear on a "macro" level, each of its discrete sectors are more manageable for brief play sessions, and still reward that outside-the-box exploration.

Finally, just a stray observation: R&D1 got great mileage out of the GBA right out of the gate, delivering both Fusion and Wario Land 4 in the system's infancy. One less talked-about way that Fusion distinguishes itself from Super actually feels like it comes right out of Wario Land 4: having to revisit a section of the game that has been heavily altered (smashed doorways, cut power, overgrown plant life). Because this is a Metroidvania thread and there's a chance some readers may not be familiar with WL4: the entire structure of the game is going through a stage, then hitting a switch to trigger a timed escape sequence in which you have to return to the entrance, and it's usually complicated by changes to the environment fitting that stage's theme.

I'll be tackling Zero Mission next in anticipation of Dread.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I'm replaying the GBA Metroids now myself. Zero Mission is a great game but it's the lesser of the two. It doesn't subvert expectations or seriously try to be frightening.

Fusion, however, does and I think it's very much in the top echelon of Metroid. Another sequence that people haven't mentioned here that's a good example of what Fusion does well is the setup for Serris. You're told it's really fast and dangerous and you make your way to Serris' tank. It isn't there, but its shed skin is. And it's bloody massive. So it's really fast and dangerous, and to make it even better, it's huge, and you don't actually know where it is. Niiiice. The tension that it adds to the encounter is huge.

On its release people got fixated on the way Fusion locks the player into smaller areas that you still have to explore and missed the other great things that it does, getting hung up on what it isn't as opposed to what it is.
 

Gaer

chat.exe a cessé de fonctionner
Staff member
Moderator
I was always an enormous Fusion fan. I love it as much as Super Metroid. And to be honest, if the GBA didn't have only four buttons, I'd probably love it more.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
When Axiom Verge 2 came out I apparently got in the mood. After playing that, I played Carrion (not actually a metrovania despite appearances), Blasphemous, and now I'm on to Hollow Knight.

I've made good progress, I think, but I've been going very slowly, poking around places exploring, getting powerups, and so on, but not actually pushing out many progress points. Finally got my super dash, followed shortly thereafter by double jump, and now I'm ready to explore the whole woooooooorld! As opposed to actively attempting to make any progress, of course.
 

Beowulf

Son of The Answer Man
(He/Him)
I was feeling a little metroidvania, so I played Shantae: Risky's Revenge as a prelude to finally playing Half-Genie Hero. Risky's revenge is too big, too padded and too open for how few options you have at any given point. Without a walkthrough, you can spend hours wandering around trying to figure out what the hell you need to do, and that gets frustrating in a game with that many difficult-to-traverse screens. I recall Pirate's Curse being better, so I have better hopes for Half-Genie Hero.
 
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