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Playing Every Hack of Metroid 1 (so You Don't Have To)


definitely not a robot
Thanks. I got sidetracked by some cartography related fun, but I hope the wait wasn't too long.

Anyhow, the way I've been making these updates is by recording input files in an emulator, so I can just replay later and take as many loseless screenshots as I'd like. In this case, I was to save myself by replaying the movie file to just before I made my mistake, making a savestate, and then starting a recording from there. Living in the future is great!

After doing a vertical screenwrap and then jumping a bunch to realign the camera to my position, I'm able to pull off this shortcut, which took about a minute. (I'm not sure if this actually saved any time.)

Regardless, my rush to just continue on with the game meant that I didn't even think to inspect whether the lava in the orange room was fake, meaning that I ended up missing the Long Beam down there. (Whether or not this qualifies as being unfortunate is a matter of opinion.)

Having exhausted stuff to do in Brinstar, I head straight to Norfair. Before we start exploring though, let's have some words from the readme:

Almost all of the items and the entrance to Ridley's lair have been
switched around or hidden in new locations. The layout is nearly identical
to the map in normal Metroid but the creatures are in different areas.
By almost "all of the items" being moved around, he means 4 out of 17 (or 6 if we're feeling generous). In other words, this area is pretty similar to the original.

For instance, going left at the start still has us encountering a fake wall, and nets us two missile tanks before we reach a dead end.

Going right tells a similar story --- same horizontal shaft and a very similar vertical shaft, though the Norfair Ice Beam has been replaced by the Wave Beam (which I decide to snag). This sub-area has otherwise been unchanged, so I get the five missile tanks in it as well.

Going down the main vertical shaft, we find the High Jump in the same place as normal, with the same hidden passage behind it.

With a well-timed unmorph-jump from a bomb, we are able to clear this hurdle without the Ice Beam, allowing us access to the hidden half of Norfair.

Now here's where things get interesting. You see in the ceiling up there that there is a secret passage going up. However, since the position of that passage and the platforms have been slightly modified, it is impossible to go upwards by normal means (infinite bomb jumping is essnetially impossible in Metroid 1). Given that the Screw Attack is up there in the vanilla game, I want whatever's up there.

Crawling up one screen isn't too difficult, and nets us a second energy tank. Nice.

Unfortunately, upon exiting the energy-tank room it looks like the scrolling got messed up. This room should be scrolling vertically, but now it's scrolling horizontally.

In Metroid 1 there are two types of doors: doors that switch the scrolling between horizontal and vertical, and doors that force the next room to be horizontal. The former type is used almost everywhere, and the latter type is basically used only in the context of the Chozo item rooms. Unfortunately, these connections are determined different structures (not the doorcaps), and without a collision viewer they look identical. In this case, it looks like the author got them mixed up, and now we've gotten ourselves stuck.

...or have we?

Due to the scroll shenanigans, the energy tank room is now vertically scrolling, so I wallcrawl down a screen.

At this point, I could go to the left side of the screen, touch the door tiles on the wrong side of the screen (thanks to the horizontal wrap-around), thus putting me in a horizontal room with fixed scrolling. However, my brain was being a bit extra when I was recording this, so I did something different:

I head rightwards to the other corridor and try wallcrawling down another screen. However, since wallcrawling requires, ya know, a wall to crawl through and there's a notable gap in the wall, I end up in a weird pickle. I managed to make it down another screen, but I couldn't fix the camera, so now I'm navigating offscreen.

With some luck, I'm able to touch the door tiles while offscreen, and from first picture somehow the screen scrolls down and to the left, so I end up back in that vertical room with the scrolling still broken (though down another level).

Sometimes I don't understand this game.

Through the application another wallcrawl and offscreen door touching, I'm able to get the screen to scroll right like I wanted, though for some reason I ended up offscreen. By moving left towards the door (which locks the camera in place), I am able to get back onscreen.

Finally, we're free at last. (Though I would have been free sooner if I had been slightly smarter.)

If none of that made any sense to you, then consider yourself lucky.

Anyhow, we're on the path with the candy-looking platforms. In the original game this would take us to an energy tank.

In this hack, however, it takes us to the Screw Attack.

With all of that, I felt like we should just deathwarp back to the beginning of Norfair.

Going to the bottom of the main shaft in Norfair still takes us to this eye-bubble room, though after it is a bridge room with a new door. However, since I lost my patience back at the door snafu I opt to go down to Ridley's Lair rather than explore.

Next up: Let's beat these bosses and get this hack over with.


definitely not a robot
In the interest of expediting the completion of this LP (and for the sake of providing some visual interest for a hack so close to the original) I'll be providing maps of the routes it took through the hideouts in this update.

Here's how I went through Ridley's Lair:

(I'm not sure why the lava structures are glitched here.)

Aside from not falling down the fake hallway, this route is pretty similar to how i go through the area in the vanilla game. Astute readers will notice that I missed out on both of this area's energy tanks, since they were moved and the shenanigans in the previous update deflated my zest for exploration.

The missiles hidden in this room hidden above the ceiling to the left of the start are missing. They were moved to a new screen at the top of the left-most shaft in the area. I didn't even think to go up there, so I guess that was a good hiding spot for them. Good job hack (I guess).

However, there is a place later on with that exact same screen with a hidden passage in the ceiling, but it actually leads to a missile pack.

This screen with the really tight jump under a low ceiling has a copy of itself directly beneath it, so you can jump back up if you fail it (like I did). However, making the jump doesn't net you a reward, unlike the original game (which gave you a missile tank).

Ridley's room scrolls vertically. The original game used the door-type that forced horizontal scrolling in the previous screen, but this hack switched the screens around and that was left unaccounted for. If I had collected the Long Beam, I could have camped underneath the platform in the now-harmless lava. However, even without that strategy, Ridley goes down easily enough.

Behind Ridley there isn't any energy tank. This is because that Ridley was moved one row up, while the energy tank was kept in place. I didn't notice that detail, so I decided it was high time to leave the area.

I opted to deathwarp back to the beginning of Ridley, then to the beginning of Norfair, and then to the beginning of the game. Along the way, I somehow lost my second energy tank. (All that wall-crawling was for naught!)

Bombing at the bottom of the main vertical shaft from the beginning does indeed lead us to an elevator, and it indeed takes us to Kraid.


definitely not a robot

My first instinct here is, perhaps foolishly, to throw myself down to the bottom of this vertical shaft.

This shaft appears to be same shaft that lead to Kraid in the original, though instead of Kraid being at the bottom we got a missile tank (which appears to respawn upon death, though I'm not sure if you keep the missiles).

A couple embarrassing deaths later and I lose my patience. I thus pop open Editroid to look at the map. A quick glance tells me that I probably need the Ice Beam to get to Kraid, and that there is an Energy Tank nearby in Brinstar.

So I return to Brinstar and get the Energy Tank (which is a screen above the room with the first morph ball barrier) and then re-grab the Ice Beam. We're now ready to properly take on Kraid.

The layout of Kraid's lair is pretty similar to the original. The main difference is the shaft on the right that once lead to Kraid now extends up to new elevator, and that Kraid himself is hiding out up by the original entrance to the area.

Going up from this screen either takes some tricky finagling with the Ice Beam or going down and taking the loop back up. I manage to finagle with the Ice Beam, though it took a couple tries.

This is the screen that I thought needed the Ice Beam from my brief scan of the map, though I guess the blocks on the side just mean the high jump is required.

Either way, the Ice Beam makes it easier to fight Kraid. My preferred strategy is to freeze a lint spike in place and put myself in front of it so I can fire away without worrying about knockback. Maybe it's not the most elegant solution, but I was able to win the damage race in this case.

Unfortunately, the hidden energy tank did not spawn. I checked the editor and verified that it is indeed supposed to be here, so yeah... that's early Metroid 1 hacks for ya.

Frustrated, I deathwarp back to the start of Kraid, and find that I lost an energy tank yet again.

Even more frustrated, I book it straight to Tourian just to get the game over with.

Tourian is entirely unchanged.

With only one energy tank, I die once against Mother Brain. Fortunately, since the Zebetites stay dead I finish her off on my second go and safely escape.


Sadly, Metooid Remx II never came to be. :-(

In conclusion, this is one of those hacks that is one on hand too unambitious and similar to the original to really justify its existence, while on the other hand so unaware of the limitations it had to work with that it still managed to reach beyond its grasp. Some testing would have alleviated some of the hack's problems, but fixing the item-related glitches was beyond the abilities of most hackers back in the day.

Fortunately, if you ever decide to go ahead and play this hack (or make one of your own), there is an easy way to avoid all the item-related problems. Just pop open Editroid, find this option, and then click it:

Boom! Your hack is instantly better than anything made before 2009. (I joke, but we will run into these problems again and again.)

Anyhow, I don't really have anything else to say about this hack. Have some maps instead:

Here's a handdrawn map I made as I was playing. It's pretty easy to tell where I lost patience with comprehensively mapping everything, and it's funny to see where I accidentally had things run into each other.

This map was generated using Editroid. It's pretty similar to the original overall.

Next up: Pitoid, a hack made in 2000 that wasn't released until 2016.


Red Mage
Staff member
Is there a brief under the hood description of why this one keeps loosing track of your items? For that matter even Metroid X lost an E-Tank on death.


definitely not a robot
Is there a brief under the hood description of why this one keeps loosing track of your items? For that matter even Metroid X lost an E-Tank on death.
This is a very good question, and I'm glad you asked it, because you made me look into it. This is what I got from skimming over the disassembly:

Item data is stored in two different places in ROM: (a) in each area bank, and (b) in the title/password bank. They are stored in different formats and are used for different purposes, but the game expects them to agree.

The item data in the area banks is more verbose. It contains the onscreen positions of the items, and is also used to spawn some non-item things such as elevators or palette switchers. (This is the only item type that MetEdit edits.)

The item data in the password bank is more compact, and only stores the item's type and location on the map (bitpacked into two bytes). Editroid refers to this as "Password Tracking Data"

When you collect an item, the game appends it to a list that has the same format as the password tracking data (that the disassembly calls "UniqueItemHistory").

When you enter a screen that may have a power-up item, the game takes the area's item data, converts it to the password tracking format, and then checks that the item is not in your unique item history before spawning it.

When the game calculates your password upon death, it iterates through password tracking data, and for each entry checks if there is a match in your unique item history. If there is a match, a bit in the password is set. If not, then nothing is set. This means that if there is an item in your unique item history (in RAM) that is not in the password tracking data (in ROM), then it doesn't get saved.

When you load from a password it checks each bit that corresponds to an item and adds it to your item history. If an item is not in your history, then it is not added.

Unfortunately, this does not seem to explain the apparent inconsistency of the bug. However, given the complexity of this system, it's easy to imagine several different points of failure in that respect.

(Maybe I'll get around to making some fancy pictures like Retro Game Mechanics Explained or adding proper citations to the disassembly, but this should suffice for now.)

As far as Metroid X is concerned, I think it moved an item or two in Ridley's Lair (which, when considering all the other problems the hack avoided, is quite odd).


definitely not a robot
Anyhow, apologies for the length of time since the last update. A new Super Metroid hack, called Vitality, was released on the October 17th by MetConst's resident stoner-artist, Digital Mantra. I played through it twice and have maybe spent a bit too much time watching streamers play through it blind. It's pretty good, and is surprisingly approachable in terms of difficulty. I recommend it, with the caveat that the ending has some potentially objectional content.

I'd love to talk about it more, but this thread happens to be about hacks for some other game.