May. 19th, 2017

kjorteo: Screenshot from Daedalian Opus, of a solved puzzle with the text "GOOD" displayed on underneath it. (GOOD)
Another one I figured I'd power through and cross off the list because it probably wasn't very long--I mean, it's Metroid. If you take more than five hours to beat any 2D Metroid game, you're not very good at Metroid the way it's "supposed" to be played.

(Note: I am not very good at Metroid the way it's "supposed" to be played.)

AM2R (or "Another Metroid 2 Remake") is an unauthorized fan-made... well, Metroid 2 remake. It basically is to Metroid 2 what Zero Mission was to the original Metroid: take the original game, update it to around the level of SNES/GBA sensibilities, add an auto map, and add the modern equipment Super Metroid invented (Super Missiles, Power Bombs, Speed Boster, Gravity Suit, etc.) and possibly make up new sections to justify needing them.

This game does an excellent job fixing a lot of Metroid 2's issues: the world is no longer a non-Euclidean impossibility, and the Super Metroid quality of life improvements (auto-map, beams stacking instead of you only getting one at a time, etc.) are an absolute Godsend. However, there are still some gameplay issues that are sort of core to Metroid 2 itself and that the AM2R devs had to recreate, such as the "seek out and kill every Metroid on the map" mechanic being a bit repetitive and needless at times. (Again, let me just make it very clear that I'm not blaming them for this, and that this is strictly the source material's fault.)

My biggest issue is that Metroid 2 feels more authoritarian about its enforced order of exploration than some other Metroid games. Yes, every Metroid game secretly is all about only letting you progress in one area at a time, but the better ones do a good job hiding that. In a well designed Metroid game, unlocking new areas will feel like something you have the power to access now (for example, being able to reach a door on a high-up platform after you acquire the High-Jump Boots.) In a badly-designed one, it will feel like something the game is allowing you to access now (for example, as unopenable gray doors that flash and become openable when the plot says so. This is why Fusion is the worst game in the series, by the way.)

Yes, I'm setting all that up to complain about the Metroid 2 earthquakes. Come on, they were heavy-handed back then and they're heavy-handed now.

Other issues that are either AM2R's fault or that AM2R could have fixed but didn't: Some later areas have to stop to load. (The first time this happened to me, I thought my game had frozen. Fortunately I just had to give it a moment.) Backtracking can be a chore when the world map is so big and there are no Castlevania-style teleport rooms. Every single Metroid life cycle stage feels like a damage sponge when mixed with how hard they can be to hit in the first place. Even that Alpha they put right before the first Omega is still a long and careful fight when nothing else from that stretch of the game should even slow you down anymore. The knockback effect Zetas and Omegas get is a neat way to show that they're powerful/a big deal, but not when they have the power to send you flying out of their room and reset the fight. Also, the chirpy monstery sound effect when they explode sounds a lot like "Oh noooo" and now I feel bad for killing them. Thanks. :(

That being said, these are mostly minor issues, and the game is still phenomenal overall. I used to say Zero Mission was my favorite Metroid game, but AM2R easily does all that Zero Mission does and more. We'll see how my mood fluctuates after the dust has settled, but we may just have a new champion.

As a random aside, though, (and this one's not an actual complaint,) can I just point out how weird the item distribution order is in this game? It gives you the Space Jump--something that's usually an end-game item because basically you can fly--shockingly early. Instead, it jealously keeps Super Missiles, of all things, away from you until much later on. Those came in early Brinstar in Super Metroid, and seeing them promoted to near-endgame status here was unexpected. It plays with almost the entire item table like this; I had the Space Jump, Screw Attack, and even Gravity Suit before I had the Ice Beam. (Though, to be fair, once you have the Space Jump and Spider Ball and mobility isn't an issue anymore, you really only need the Ice Beam for the "freeze and then missile" Metroids.) It works, definitely. It is clearly and carefully designed around what you're meant to have at each point. It's just that what you're meant to have is so unusual compared to other games. Not a bad thing, mind you. Just... huh. Strange.

Anyway, I beat it with a clear time of 6:15:Something and an item get rate of 91%. I looked up a map to find what I was missing, but it's mostly just Missile/Super Missile/Power Bomb tanks here and there around the map. Apparently nothing special happens when you get 100%, as opposed to Zero Mission where that got you a new version of the endboss. So... eh, not really worth the backtracking, in that case. Like, I could, but it would take time and it wouldn't do anything, so whatever. I did get the obligatory "perform an extended sequence of convoluted Shinespark shenanigans just to get a missile tank" expansions, so really, it's complete enough.

Edit: Or not. Please continue on to the COMPLETE entry for AM2R (RG+/Hard Run) for more on this game as I went through it again.

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kjorteo: Pixel-style portrait of Celine's face (Default)
Celine Kalante Love

September 2017

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