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All Things Videogame Related: EXTREME VS!!


Keith
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I know some of you are still buzzing with the cool games announced at the PlayStation Showcase a week ago.  And maybe some others (or even some sames!) are looking forward to the big holiday games, like Diablo II, Metroid Dread, Forza Horizon 5, Far Cry 6, or Guardians of the Galaxy.  But 2022 is already shaping up to be a great year for games, since Inti Creates says that Luminous Avenger iX 2 will release in January, followed by Azure Striker Gunvolt 3 sometime in the summer.

If you've never played the previous Gunvolt games (of which LA iX is a spinoff), you're missing out!  They seem to be made by the team that did the Mega Man Zero games, and they feel more like Mega Man than the less-than-stellar Mighty No. 9 (amusingly, LA iX uses Mno9's dashing into enemies gimmick, but pulls it off 100x times better).  They're available on Steam (as three separate games), PS4/5, and Switch (as a "Striker pack" with Gunvolt 1 and 2, and LA iX separate).

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Easily the most memorable anything from a game chock full of memorable things. The price is a bit eye-boggling, but it's probably my only chance at getting a representation of this design ever without scratchbuilding it myself. I'll take it!

Shame there are no translucent green "wings of light," though...

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3 hours ago, Tking22 said:

Metroid Dread is frakking fantastic, that's all I really need/want to post about it. If you have a Switch, get it, it's phenomenal. 

Been playing it in between Far Cry sessions. Just beat 

Spoiler

Kraid

After going out of my way to get the Morph Ball bombs first.

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Just now, kajnrig said:

Apparently it's running pretty smoothly on emulators already, too, so... there you go.

Can confirm.  I saw the article on Kotaku.  I have mixed feelings... I support emulation and a means of games preservation, something Nintendo seems especially bad at (I was thinking that I might want to go back and play the entire saga, and realized that I'd still need my 3DS to play Metroid II, remake or Gameboy, and I think the only legit way to play Fusion or Zero Mission is an actual GBA or the Wii U).  But I'd rather that emulation not happen until the console's been replaced.

Regardless, since I did buy the game I figured I'd at least see what the emulation fuss was about.  I'll say that setting up the emulator isn't as easy as setting up one for the NES, SNES, GBA, etc, and maybe that's deliberate.  The emulators require a file that the developers seem to expect you to pull from an actual Switch that you own... but the thing is, it has to be the old pre-Lite, pre-OLED, and pre-revision white box Switch, without the latest firmware, and you're supposed to run an exploit on the Switch to get the file.  For at least the one emulator you also need a copy of the Switch firmware, in addition the game itself.  Maybe that'll deter some people.  Me, a little Google Fu and I had what I needed.  I set it up to run at 4K with 16x anisotropic filtering in full screen and play with an Xbox Series X controller on my Core i7-9770k with 16GB of RAM and an RTX  2080.  There's the occasional stutter, but it's definitely playable and there may be other settings I can tweak to eliminate the stutter.  That said, I did it more because I can than because I want/need to play on PC.  I just reached the fourth area on the Switch, and I'm not starting over.  But it is nice to know that someday when I want to play through Zero Mission, Return of Samus, Super Metroid, Fusion, and Dread back-to-back in that order I'll be able to do it all with the same hardware.*

*Probably.  I know I can do at least four out of those five; I understand that the 3DS has been emulated, but I don't feel like jumping through hoops to set it up and test it right now.

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Don't need a 3DS emulator to play Return of Samus, just Samus Returns. And Return of Samus is better anyways. AM2R is also better than Samus Returns. (I actually think Samus Returns is bad on its own merits, ignoring pedigree. That it is a terrible Metroid II remake that misses every possible point hurts more, though.)



I've actually been messing with Metroid, FDS version lately(partially just out of curiosity). There's a neat touch I like. The save screen has a coarse game timer on it that displays hours of play, but the column is actually labelled "DAYS".
Apparently even Samus Aran can't drop into an enemy fortress with no intel or reinforcements and wreck everything in sight in ninety minutes.

 

 

Meanwhile, other historical excavation reveals there's a translation of the "choose your own adventure book" version of the original Metroid. Twinetroid (metroid-database.com)

Aside from having familiar plot points from games that didn't yet exist, a remake of the escape pod scene in Alien, and Samus dueling a (human) pirate captain to the death in a swordfight... this entry of the franchise also answers the longest-standing question in franchise history: How in the HELL did that archeology team on SR-388 live long enough to get back to their ship, much less study the ruins, draw preliminary conclusions, and return with a sample metroid?

Answer: The metroids were found in stasis. It was a very unpleasant, albeit brief, surprise when beta radiation resuscitated one in the lab. And it took an entire division of the Federation Army to deal with one metroid.

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On 10/11/2021 at 11:25 PM, JB0 said:

And Return of Samus is better anyways. AM2R is also better than Samus Returns. (I actually think Samus Returns is bad on its own merits, ignoring pedigree. That it is a terrible Metroid II remake that misses every possible point hurts more, though.)

It's my understanding that Samus Returns was generally well-received?  I've heard good things about AM2R (and about how Nintendo killed it when they decided to have Mercury Steam make Samus Returns), but I've never played it.  I've played Return of Samus (I even have the VC version on the same 3DS I used to play Samus Returns), but I can't get into it.  Likewise, I love Metroid Zero Mission but I just can't do the original NES Metroid.  I'll look to see if I can still find a download for AM2R, but for now Samus Returns is still my preferred version.

Curious what you didn't like about it.  The same developer is responsible for Dread, and it's got a lot of the same mechanics (the L button for free aim, the X button being a melee counter movie, etc).

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4 hours ago, mikeszekely said:

It's my understanding that Samus Returns was generally well-received?  I've heard good things about AM2R (and about how Nintendo killed it when they decided to have Mercury Steam make Samus Returns), but I've never played it.  I've played Return of Samus (I even have the VC version on the same 3DS I used to play Samus Returns), but I can't get into it.  Likewise, I love Metroid Zero Mission but I just can't do the original NES Metroid.  I'll look to see if I can still find a download for AM2R, but for now Samus Returns is still my preferred version.

Curious what you didn't like about it.  The same developer is responsible for Dread, and it's got a lot of the same mechanics (the L button for free aim, the X button being a melee counter movie, etc).

Maybe a bit unrelated but I’m playing the original Metroid on the Virtual Console as a prelude to Dread (and I think I can understand why you can’t get into it).

Anyhow on my research on why Metroid is so beloved when the first entry in the series is so rough from a 2021 perspective I came across this video examining the differences between Metroid 2, AM2R and the 3DS remake. Maybe this interest you: 

 

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20 minutes ago, Scyla said:

Maybe a bit unrelated but I’m playing the original Metroid on the Virtual Console as a prelude to Dread (and I think I can understand why you can’t get into it).

I mean, I really want to stress that I don't think the original Metroid or Metroid 2 are bad games, because they're not.  The original was pretty groundbreaking in 1986, but there's been a lot of quality-of-life gains since then... like not having to draw the map yourself.  That's why I'm ok with Super Metroid and everything that came after, but I just can't do the original Metroid or Return of Samus anymore.

34 minutes ago, Scyla said:

Anyhow on my research on why Metroid is so beloved when the first entry in the series is so rough from a 2021 perspective I came across this video examining the differences between Metroid 2, AM2R and the 3DS remake. Maybe this interest you:

Thanks. I'm supposed to be up in five-ish hours, so I think I'm going to bed, but I'm saving that to my watch list and I'll check it out tomorrow.

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10 hours ago, mikeszekely said:

It's my understanding that Samus Returns was generally well-received?  I've heard good things about AM2R (and about how Nintendo killed it when they decided to have Mercury Steam make Samus Returns), but I've never played it.  I've played Return of Samus (I even have the VC version on the same 3DS I used to play Samus Returns), but I can't get into it.  Likewise, I love Metroid Zero Mission but I just can't do the original NES Metroid.  I'll look to see if I can still find a download for AM2R, but for now Samus Returns is still my preferred version.

Curious what you didn't like about it.  The same developer is responsible for Dread, and it's got a lot of the same mechanics (the L button for free aim, the X button being a melee counter movie, etc).

I had heard it didn't actually do very well. But I must've been wrong, since Nintendo let Mercury Steam do another one.

 

Taking it as a standalone game, I think the map design is absolutely terrible, with each area being a sprawling mess with no rhyme or reason to why things are where they are, aside from things that are clearly there to ensure you have to come back later when you collect a new powerup on the other side of the planet. There shouldn't be two rooms of lava in the middle of a sandstone temple, it makes no friggin' SENSE.

The melee counter mechanic wound up making getting around a chore since they made everything hyper-aggressive to create chances to counterattack, so you just wind up waiting for the inevitable attack so you can counter, since just running past isn't an option.

I'm also still mad about the random firebug trap costing me a half-hour of gameplay to a unique mechanic that is absolutely not obvious.
 

I have heard that Mercury Steam toned down the melee counter stuff significantly. I hope they have more thoughtful map design now, too. I've seen things I genuinely like about Dread. And as it isn't a remake of a game I hold dear, I'm less likely to get mad over story and presentation decisions.

 

Not really a problem with the game as a game, but It was EXTREMELY obvious that they didn't want to include the spider ball by the way they immediately started slathering slime all over the walls to make sure you stayed on the right path. I wasn't actually SURPRISED by that, but I WAS disappointed that they kept it in while removing the singular thing that made it fun.

 

 

 

 

As a Metroid II remake, well... Wall of text as I nerd out here.  Top-level summary, it is less a remake of Metroid II and more a caricature of Metroid II.

 

As I see it, there's three main story arcs going through the game, and Samus Returns misses all three of them. (In fairness, AM2R fumbled some as well. It was not the Metroid 2 Remake I wanted to see completed, though I respect DoctorM64 for seeing it through when everyone else gave up or just moved on, particularly as he actually had to learn how to program to make his game.)

1: There's a repeated theme in the text associated with all the games in the series that just a few metroids could wipe out all life on a planet. Metroid II is the only game to SHOW this, with non-metroid life becoming rarer and more durable the deeper into the game you get, and the final two areas featuring ONLY metroid life.

Samus Returns drops all the enemies all over everything. Every non-metroid enemy in the game is scattered over every area OF the game. Thanks you YouTube, I know that even the hatching grounds around the queen's lair are teeming with life.  (Incidentally, AM2R fumbles this subplot in a different and more subtle way, by including numerous non-metroid bosses that are actually far deadlier than the metroids themselves.)

 

2: The first metroid you encounter is just lounging around wherever. I mean, why wouldn't it? The 1200-pound grizzly bear sleeps wherever it wants, because nothing will mess with it. Through the course of the game, the metroids start nesting in more secluded and harder to access places. Little twisty tunnels in far corners, off behind hazardous terrain, and late-game in caves hundreds of feet up sheer cliff faces. To be blunt, they start nesting like prey.  One of the two omegas is unique in that he spawns pressed against the far wall of his room and facing away from Samus, implying he was running away and fights because he was cornered. Samus' genocidal rampage has taught the metroids fear. It is a Terminator game where you play the killer robot.
There's none of that in Samus Returns, just mazey pipes everywhere because Metroid is a game of mazey pipes.

 

3. SPEAKING ABOUT GENOCIDE... the manual makes no bones about the fact that Samus has taken on the task of rendering extinct a species that ain't doin' nothin' to no one, and couldn't leave the planet even if they wanted, to because someone else might decide to try and use them as weapons. The game is, to my eye, structured to make you uncomfortable with this. "Pipe enemies" don't spawn infinitely, as Samus burns out their nests(except for the one nest that the Gamma burns out before you get to it). Metroids hide from Samus, one even fleeing in terror. The keening wail of the queen metroid after you kill the last of the larvae. Hell, even the title screen soundtrack is destroyed by missile explosions and low health buzzers. Maybe the metroids DO need to die, but it is a somber undertaking, not a task one should find joy in.

And in the end, Samus refuses to finish the job. She shows mercy on the last metroid. There's a redemption arc for our killer-for-hire. While Samus Returns attempts to sell that show of mercy, it is not thematically appropriate for the game Mercury Steam created. Their game is, in its entirety, a celebration of violence rather than a condemnation thereof. The little mini-cutscenes when you melee a metroid make me uncomfortable, but it is with the thought that someone could start off with Return of Samus and end up with "cutscenes of Samus pinning a metroid to the ground and cramming her gun into its mouth would be cool, and by cool I mean totally sweet".

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I watched the video, and the author touched on several of the points that @JB0 brought up.  I think some complaints are a matter of personal preference.

4 hours ago, JB0 said:

There shouldn't be two rooms of lava in the middle of a sandstone temple, it makes no friggin' SENSE.

I haven't played it since it was my 12-hour-flight entertainment when I went to China a few weeks after it came out, but in Samus Returns isn't it a purple acid, not lava?  And I thought the remake explained it as deliberately put there by the Chozo to seal in the Metroids.

Regardless, lava/acid levels are just video game logic to me.

4 hours ago, JB0 said:

I think the map design is absolutely terrible, with each area being a sprawling mess with no rhyme or reason to why things are where they are, aside from things that are clearly there to ensure you have to come back later when you collect a new powerup on the other side of the planet.

You... might want to temper your hopes for Dread.

One thing is abundantly clear to me now, though.  While Mercury Steam retained the key plot point of Metroid 2- that Samus went to SR388 to exterminate the Metroids but wound up returning with a single hatchling after destroying the planet- it lacked the nuance of the original, and from the story perspective suffers greatly for it.  @JB0 is spot on with his analysis; while a casual observer might write facets Metroid II off as being due to the technical limitations of the hardware, the cramped, claustrophobic screen and minimal music seems to be deliberate choices.  And yes, the game deals with some surprisingly nuanced themes through its presentation- Samus is committing genocide and the Metroids, who have no way of their own off the planet, are a afraid of her, but the reduction of non-Metroid enemies as you get deeper into SR388 shows how dangerous the Metroids really are and why Samus and/or the Federation doesn't want them to fall into space pirate hands.  That nuance must have been too subtle for Mercury Steam, as the game is packed full of non-Metroid enemies, even in areas that weren't in the original, apparently because Mercury Steam wanted the game to be more "action".

However, a game can't just account for story.  It's an interactive medium, and the mechanics of that interaction matter, perhaps more.  I've played fun games with bad stories, but rarely will I sit through a bad game with a great story.  Again, as with the original Metroid, I'm not saying that Metroid II was a bad game.  With only the single NES/Famicom Metroid before it and the technical limitations of the Gameboy hardware Metroid II was a technical achievement that really emphasized the fact that there was a story behind the games.  But I maintain that Super Metroid is the pivotal point where the true Metroidvania formula was solidified.  What came before it feels kludgy and archaic, and what came after is one of my favorite genres.  For all the damage done by Mercury Steam to the story, themes, and nuance of Metroid II, the fact is that they made a game that I personally find more fun to play than the original.

Then again, I was never huge on the horror elements of Metroid.  A lot of reviewers hyped up the fact that they thought Dread lives up to its title, but half the time instead of feeling fear or dread I'm just annoyed every time I have to go through an E.M.M.I. zone.

Well, when I finish Dread I plan on going back and playing the main five in order.  Perhaps I'll substitute AM2R for Metroid II/Samus Returns.  While SR graphically and mechanically has it's lineage with Dread, AM2R might be a better fit between the other three sprite-based outings.  I know I managed to grab it before Nintendo shut it down, I just have to find it.

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11 hours ago, mikeszekely said:

I haven't played it since it was my 12-hour-flight entertainment when I went to China a few weeks after it came out, but in Samus Returns isn't it a purple acid, not lava?  And I thought the remake explained it as deliberately put there by the Chozo to seal in the Metroids.

That's the regular progress-gating thing.

There's also the "too hot without Varia" rooms, which are full of red stuff. And the ones I saw before I quit were just placed randomly. 

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On 10/14/2021 at 1:09 PM, mikeszekely said:

But I maintain that Super Metroid is the pivotal point where the true Metroidvania formula was solidified. 

I'd give that credit to Blaster Master, really. As it is codified, the genre's defining trait is "progress gated by powerups won from bosses", and that was a large portion of what made Blaster Master special(the other half was very high production values, which, well... yeah, that's the part of the genre that's expected but never mentioned). If there were any justice, the genre would be called "Blaster Mashups".

 

I do consider Super Metroid a transformational entry in the franchise, though. If Metroid was Alien, and Metroid 2 was The Terminator, Super Metroid is Judgement Day and Aliens all in one. It was a big-budget no-corners-cut action movie sequel to a smaller and less-polished horror production, and every entry since has owed far more to that action sequel than the entries that preceded it.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, and I quite enjoy Super Metroid. But it makes it hard to do something that harkens back to the series' roots, because everything(even the game's predecessors) are judged by how well they fill a Super Metroid-shaped hole.

 

 

On 10/14/2021 at 1:09 PM, mikeszekely said:

For all the damage done by Mercury Steam to the story, themes, and nuance of Metroid II, the fact is that they made a game that I personally find more fun to play than the original.

And that's totally fair. I am glad you enjoyed it as it is.

 

I actually worked hard to separate my criticisms of the game into "fair critique of the game as a game" and "what in the everloving heck did they do to my beloved Return of Samus?!".

It was very hard, because I DO love Return of Samus. I WANT to be hard on Samus Returns because of how it stands as a remake, but it isn't fair to just rag on everything about it. I spent a good bit of time when I had it trying to get into the mindset of "this isn't Metroid II, it is just some game" so I could be at least somewhat fair to it. And there ARE neat things in it. But on the whole, I didn't like it even if I pretended it was Blaster Master But I Lost My Car Keys, or Scurge 2(I was actually calling it Scurge 2 for a while).

 

On 10/14/2021 at 1:09 PM, mikeszekely said:

You... might want to temper your hopes for Dread.

I've joked that Dread is both the title of the game and a description of my feelings. I REALLY wish that Mecury Steam wasn't the party in charge.

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