Phonetic Hero

Happy 30th Anniversary, Metroid!

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On 8/19/2016 at 5:25 AM, BardicKnowledge said:

The side-event to get the Super Missiles stands out as something Nintendo probably would not have done, though it's over so quickly once you know what you're doing that it isn't a big deal.  Any longer and I wouldn't have enjoyed the departure from standard gameplay.  

I'd agree with that except that I also wouldn't have expected the endgame sequence of Zero Mission as something Nintendo would have done, and for exactly the same reason.  Except that it's lengthy and is a big deal.  Both are what I meant by "gimmicky sections" that I didn't care for.

Finished the game last weekend.  The difficulty tanks hard at the end, with the last several bosses being facerolls.  Interestingly, all the secrets are much easier to find than in official Metroid games, but to make up for it, there's no X-Ray Scope and enemies don't drop Power Bombs, so you have to search for them intelligently.  Also many of them are much more difficult to actually reach, with several requiring some fancy shinespark tricks that not all players will realize are even possible.

And while I was at it, I started up Metroid Prime.  So far, I'm really not enjoying it.  The exploration route is completely unintuitive to me, and I'm having to backtrack a lot to figure out where I'm supposed to go.  I have a very poor feel for first-person movement, especially jumping, so I have a hard time telling what areas of a room I can reach.  I also can't rely on my old Metroid experience, since it's made by a different developer and have several different design strategies (like the Zelda-like sigil rooms). I'll keep going for a while, but so far I can't tell why it's considered such an amazing game.

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2 minutes ago, MindWanderer said:

I'd agree with that except that I also wouldn't have expected the endgame sequence of Zero Mission as something Nintendo would have done, and for exactly the same reason.  Except that it's lengthy and is a big deal.  Both are what I meant by "gimmicky sections" that I didn't care for.

Finished the game last weekend.  The difficulty tanks hard at the end, with the last several bosses being facerolls.  Interestingly, all the secrets are much easier to find than in official Metroid games, but to make up for it, there's no X-Ray Scope and enemies don't drop Power Bombs, so you have to search for them intelligently.  Also many of them are much more difficult to actually reach, with several requiring some fancy shinespark tricks that not all players will realize are even possible.

And while I was at it, I started up Metroid Prime.  So far, I'm really not enjoying it.  The exploration route is completely unintuitive to me, and I'm having to backtrack a lot to figure out where I'm supposed to go.  I have a very poor feel for first-person movement, especially jumping, so I have a hard time telling what areas of a room I can reach.  I also can't rely on my old Metroid experience, since it's made by a different developer and have several different design strategies (like the Zelda-like sigil rooms). I'll keep going for a while, but so far I can't tell why it's considered such an amazing game.

I don't think that the Shinespark tricks required in AM2R are more difficult than those required in Fusion and Zero Mission for 100%, fwiw.  And though I like the extension of Metroid 1 that Zero Mission offers, I will say that I would have been livid if it were inserted into Metroid 1 proper instead of being placed after, if that makes sense.

As for Metroid Prime: Though you may not be comfortable with first-person movement as much, the reason it's so well-regarded is because it absolutely has the best platforming physics (e.g. requiring jumping) of any first-person shooter ever.  Consider the platforming sections in Turok: Dinosaur Hunter for N64 or some other game, and it's a whole new world.  In 2002, the graphics were also out-of-this-world good, which doesn't hurt at all (seeing accurate reflections, including Samus' own face in the right lighting, was a new thing back then).  The Morph Ball sections are about as good as you can possibly get in 3D as well.

Not saying you have to like it or anything (Newt doesn't particularly care for them either, and he loves 2D platformers), but I'll say that there will probably never be a _better_ conversion of the franchise to 3D than the first Prime game.

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15 hours ago, Bleck said:

if you don't like the Metroid Primes, you're wrong

It's growing on me now, definitely getting more used to it.  I'm still finding it challenging to navigate, definitely a learning curve.  It doesn't help that I don't have a lot of FPS experience.

The version I'm playing is the Trilogy on Wiiware.  Sounds like the consensus is that I should skip MP2 in any event?  If it's even more tedious than the first one, sounds like a pass.

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No no no, don't skip it. Evaluate it for yourself. There's just me and Pete badmouthing it, and even I'm only doing it tongue-in-cheek. I do like parts of that game. It's worth giving a shot.

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There are definitely some great moments. I say play till a little way into the last area (the Sanctuary) and if you hate it, stop playing because it only gets worse at that point.  But hey that's just me, plenty of people like it even more than the first!

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On 25/08/2016 at 7:46 AM, DarkeSword said:

No no no, don't skip it. Evaluate it for yourself. There's just me and Pete badmouthing it, and even I'm only doing it tongue-in-cheek. I do like parts of that game. It's worth giving a shot.

Well you must have liked the Torvus Bog music. Your rendition torvus clockwork was the first remix I listened to that I would be completely fine with if it replaced the original track. Unless you did the track because you didn't like it.

I agree though. Don't skip Echoes. I would have to say the first is my favourite out of the trilogy. Echoes and corruption both have good points and bad points. Echoes had annoying ammo and big difficulty spikes at points (at least for me). But a great, if somewhat dark atmosphere. Corruption had too many cut-scenes when navigating, and I feel the supercharge function was used to little.(Although, that is probably a realistic approach.) But it had a good balance between leaving you alone in the world, and interacting with the GF.

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12 hours ago, Miyakan said:

Well you must have liked the Torvus Bog music. Your rendition torvus clockwork was the first remix I listened to that I would be completely fine with if it replaced the original track. Unless you did the track because you didn't like it.

No I'm a huge fan of Metroid Prime's soundtracks.

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Well, 5 months later, I finally finished Prime.  My thoughts:

From an artistic standpoint, it's amazing.  The music is great, more atmospheric than melodic, but it nails the atmosphere.  The aforementioned reflections of Samus's face on the inside of the visor are brilliant.  The environments are gorgeous.  It's all just really, really solid.

However, it's clear that the gameplay was shoehorned in to an artistic vision.  Platforming when you can't see your feet is just a bear.  The gimmicks applied so that you have to keep switching visors and guns are forced (Color-coded enemies?  Enemies that can become invisible to light or infrared or x-ray, but not all three at once?), and all that nice art design goes out the window in heat or x-ray mode.  I already found it hard to navigate and locate enemies in first-person, so playing with different visors just made it worse.

The map design is also really poor at times.  The fact that they had to keep popping up hints to tell you where to go next, where the 2D games unlocked new areas in an intuitive manner, says a lot.  And that they had to railroad you into revisiting certain areas by looking for "artifacts" to unlock the last area meant that they failed to lay out the maps in such a way that you'd explore them fully and enjoyably anyway.

The worst moment was right after I got the Ice Beam.  There's an effectively one-way passage right after that which deposits you in front of the sunken ship, which conveniently can be entered with the Ice Beam.  Seems to be the right way to proceed, right?  So that's just what I did, since the hint to go to Phendrana hadn't popped up yet.  That section is underwater, but you're going down so it doesn't impede you much.  Seems like it would be set up like AM2R, where you have to navigate in water without the Gravity Suit for a little while on the way to get it (which you ultimately do).  But no... at the bottom of this long underwater shaft is a barrier where a popup informs you that you need the Gravity Suit to proceed.  At this point I would have just reloaded to my last save, except that there was a save right in front of the barrier, and I had used it.  So I spent the next half an hour climbing slowly and laboriously out of the underwater shaft.  This took so long because without the Gravity Suit, vision underwater is horrible, and there are enemies that blind you if you get too close, and are invincible from far away, so they were constantly either knocking me down or blinding me during my jumps.  Just horrible.

So I will probably not be playing the other two games in the series.  I would watch someone else play them in a moment, but first-person platforming needs more justification than this to work right IMHO.

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I played metroid prime before I had the opportunity to play any of the 2d metroid games. The only one I have even started is metroid fusion, and I got stuck on one of the bosses near the end and haven't gone back to it.

I would have to say that I haven't found exploring in fusion very intuitive either. I recall many times getting an ability that would have allowed me to explore a previous area better, only to be blocked off by a convenient explosion or elevator stoppage that forced me to go through a completely new area with no idea how I was supposed to get back later, resulting in what I felt was a very linear path that only opened up towards the end once you have everything! By which time I had forgotten previous areas and so would need to go through each area room by room to make sure I hadn't missed anything. Maybe the earlier ones do a better job. Having played prime on both the Gamecube (At least twice) and the Wii, I did find that by the end I could map out paths to get me from A to B in the quickest possible way. It wasn't quite so easy in Echoes due to occasionally having to switch between worlds, and Corruption took away the interconnection by having completely separate areas and being able to quick fly (with slow cutscenes) to convenient landing pads throughout the worlds.

It is a pity that the great visuals just go out the window with certain visors. They have the same thing in Echoes and corruption to some degree, although I think the echolocation visor is the worst for visual fidelity. I actually quite liked the xray visor aesthetic as the were very thorough, being able to see Samus' skeleton, stuff like that. For any teenager who wishes they could have xray vision, just show them the xray visor and say "Are you sure you want to look at skeletons all day?"

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On 1/23/2017 at 5:28 PM, MindWanderer said:

The map design is also really poor at times.  The fact that they had to keep popping up hints to tell you where to go next, where the 2D games unlocked new areas in an intuitive manner, says a lot.  And that they had to railroad you into revisiting certain areas by looking for "artifacts" to unlock the last area meant that they failed to lay out the maps in such a way that you'd explore them fully and enjoyably anyway.

[Ice Beam to underwater segment example]

I'll grant you most of your points, at least in that I think they're subjective enough that I don't think critical discussion is all that necessary, particularly your gripes with 3D platforming.  I often dislike 3D platforming too, but personally I find being able to "see your feet" doesn't help all that much (Devil May Cry, as just one example, has some AWFUL platforming sections).  I'll even let your complaints about the visors being gimmicks slide, even though I disagree (and I think saying the gameplay was "shoehorned" into the artistic vision is extremely overdramatic imo haha)

The map design I found to be pretty brilliant though, with a few exceptions.  One of these is the one you mentioned, right after Ice Beam - it tripped me up EVERY TIME for many, many playthroughs, and it is especially annoying with poor visibility before you get Gravity Suit (I have absolutely no idea why they made that choice).  In general though, there's very little backtracking involved (MUCH less than some other titles in the series) and every time I play it through, I'm consistently blown away by how well everything comes together once you hit the Phazon Mines:

  • You proceed through the Mines for the first time and grab power bombs
  • On your way out, you notice a pile of rubble in front of a morph ball mechanism that can be power bombed away, which leads to Grapple Beam
  • Nearby, there's an elevator to Magmoor Caverns, which takes you VERY close to where you need to go next to grab the Plasma Beam
  • There's another elevator nearby that leads to Tallon Overworld, where you grab the X-Ray Visor
  • Yet again, there's an elevator nearby that leads back to the Phazon Mines, which is quickly traversable and makes progressing to Omega Pirate easy

As to your other points regarding the game's layout, you can turn off the hint system in the options menu if you'd rather just explore (this was the beginning of the hand-hold era of video games, after all).  The Artifacts I had no issue with - 2 are very easy to find early on, and when you visit the Artifact Temple for the first time and place them, you get hints about almost all the rest of them.  The hints have locations in the form of area names coupled with word-for-word room names, and planning a route to get them quickly isn't very difficult at all.  It also fits into the games narrative really nicely and it gives me an excuse to look for other pickups on the way, so I personally have no issues here.

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That's literally nearly the opposite experience with the Phazon Mines.  I chose the wrong direction to explore that area at least 3 times, twice involving the large lava/ironworks room at the very bottom, and climbing back up out of that room takes forever.  Part of that was due to my not knowing that the X-Ray Visor not only let you look through some walls, but revealed invisible platforms, and the quick "back door" route into the Phazon Mines from the surface requires using one of those.

I found the Plasma Beam pretty quickly, but I actually got the Grapple Beam extremely late--not only did I not suss out the correct direction to look for it in, but I accidentally found a skip, not realizing it was a skip because it was just a very difficult jump not unlike all the other difficult jumps, that let me get much further without the Grapple Beam than I was supposed to.

I found about half of the artifacts naturally, but my point isn't that they were hard to find, it's that they were meaningless MacGuffins, not actual upgrades like everything else in earlier Metroid games (other than the bosses--of which, in Super Metroid, only one of which wasn't required just to proceed anyway).  Meanwhile, the actual upgrades were hidden extremely well--I never did find the missile upgrades for Wave or Ice, and finished the game at 81%.  Plus, in other Metroid games, a new upgrade would let you enter new areas if you backtracked, although sometimes those areas were small; to get the artifacts, often you could get all the way up to them but not actually collect them without the right upgrade (e.g. one that required Plasma Beam in Phendrana).  Plus, the game just wouldn't let you scan all the artifact hints at the beginning--there were a few I could have collected the first time though if I'd had the hints, but no.

Certainly 3D platforming is harder to get right than 2D, and DmC is a great example (one of its major problems was also in visibility, with its terrible camera angles, and I still personally found it easier than Metroid Prime).  But while lots of 3D platformers do get it right, very few first-person games have even arguably decent platforming.

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I love everything about Metroid Prime 1, but I do agree that the artifacts weren't really handled well there, or throughout the entire Prime series really. The macguffins were handled best in Prime 3 IMO, where they were a bit more naturally scattered and easier to pick up as you travel than in Prime 1, and though they were required to complete the game, their usage came piecemeal throughout a side area with huge amounts of atmosphere that made their usage super memorable. But even there, those pickups weren't integrated with the game nearly as well as everything was integrated with the game back in Super, for example.

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