Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Metroid: Zero Mission Revisited

After the announcement of Samus Returns, I decided to return to my endeavor from last year, where I started revisiting various Metroid titles, both Metroid II - Return of Samus on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console and Metroid Prime Hunters at the time. For now I want to replay several 2D Metroid games on the Wii U Virtual Console, where I started with Zero Mission, because there was a discount available at My Nintendo and because I haven't played this game since 2008, where I first got into the Metroid franchise.

Similar to Metroid Fusion, I never owned Zero Mission on my original GameBoy Advance. And I'm kind of glad that I didn't, because I can't imagine myself ever completing this game without the help of Restore Points. The amount of pixel perfect input perfection required to perform the various Shine Spark stunts in order to get some of the pick ups is just ridiculous. Especially the one Energy Container at Chozodia, where you have to hit several slopes and quickly store another Shine Spark, probably would have broken either my fingers or my GameBoy Advance, if I ever had tried this on the original version. With Restore Points it's doable, because if you screw up a single part, you just have to repeat this (given you saved right before it) and not start over from the very beginning.

What also took me quite a while was the Missile Expansion in the lower right corner of the Ridley area, because I tried getting this as early as possible... Other than the Shine Spark sequence to get there, you also have to get through a maze of dissolving blocks. It's a lot easier to do with the Space Jump ability, but then you would have to return there later in the game, which costs a lot of time. So, this time I tried to do it without it, which took many tries... There's lots and lots of mastery in this game.

Another infamous example would be within the tunnels of Brinstar, where you can get a Super Missile very early in the game, right after obtaining the Speed Booster and the Spring Ball:

It's probably even necessary, if you want to get a 100% item rating under 2 hours, which is required for some of the endings. I'm not gunning for this, though, I'm settling with completing the game on both Normal and Hard. Other than Other M I hadn't beaten any Metroid games on Hard / Hyper Mode yet, because usually I felt like the games were hard enough on Normal Mode or I had trouble getting past the first big boss. But this time I'm up for a challenge.

Hardest part was probably the Mother Brain boss fight, which is absolutely atrocious in any difficulty. I actually had to go back and collect some missing Super Missile packs (6 of them do the trick), because otherwise this fight is just endlessly frustrating. Again having Restore Points made the whole thing more bearable. Another really bad part are the two Black Space Pirates at the end of the escape sequence in the Mother Ship. Not fun.

But I like, how in a New Game+ it does show, how many items there are in each area and how many you found already. This is really helpful, because on my first playthrough I had to study maps on the internet in order to find some of the last Missile Expansions that I had missed....

In general Zero Mission isn't one of my favorite Metroid games and probably never will be, despite this being a solid title. I really enjoy, how they remade the first game and translated it into the style of Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion. That's really well done, but they had to up the ante and that's where this remake failed me. I don't like running away from invincible foes in video games, so I ultimately found the whole Zero Suit section of the game to be not enjoyable. It even kills a good part of the replay value for me, which is probably why I never bothered with replaying this game up until now...

It's also a very long section of the game, where they've created this massive maze on top of a game world that already wasn't very easy to navigate to begin with. You can waste a lot of precious time just getting from A to B in this game. And this makes me look forward to the teleport stations in Samus Returns even more, because this feels like one of the best possible additions to the franchise (they had teleporters in Hunters, but there it wasn't all that helpful).

It also ruined a part of the continuity, which Retro Studios tried to establish with Metroid Prime, where Samus has some of the abilities from the first game ready in the beginning, but she loses them. It's almost like Sakamoto actively wanted to discredit Metroid Prime, where he likes to remind everyone that he isn't involved with the Prime series. That they added the Gravity Suit, Power Bombs and all the other typical upgrades to the remake also felt a little bit uninspired and to a degree unnecessary.

Anyway, it was still quite fun and I'm looking forward to replaying Super Metroid next month.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Nintendo Classic Mini: SNES Announced

Nintendo announced the Mini Classic version of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System with the following list of games:

As I thought last year, when the NES Mini was announced, the main problem with a potential SNES Mini would be missing games. In my case I only was worried Terranigma, because this game never appeared on any Virtual Console, but I'm also missing one of my other favorites: Harvest Moon. Those two were my absolute favorite SNES games next to A Link to the Past and Super Metroid.

And there are plenty more renowned titles missing from that list: Donkey Kong Country 2 & 3, Secret of Evermore, Seiken Densetsu 3, Lufia II, Chrono Trigger, Illusion of Gaia - to name a few. The SNES is known for its great RPG library, but Nintendo didn't make good use of that.

Starfox 2 is certainly an interesting surprise, however, where I would like to see more of that in the future. I'm sure Nintendo has some more interesting unreleased goodies up their sleeves.

Anyway, it's not for me, I'm happy with the Wii U Virtual Console, where I at least can play Harvest Moon. And I won't have to worry about getting one of these things, which might be difficult, because Nintendo doesn't like to match the demands these days.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Breath of the Wild Adventure Log, Entry 36

Star Fragment Farming

Overall I have taken a pause from Breath of the Wild for the last month, but now and then I returned to farm some Star Fragments, usually to do something at the side while voice chatting with people. So far I have been gunning for Silver Lynels, but because the drop rate of Star Fragments is so low (around 5%) and because you have to wait for a Blood Moon to do it again, it felt quite stagnating.

This is why I was trying the Dueling Peaks method, which you often see on GameFAQs as a recommendation for Star Fragment farming. All you have to do is warp to the Shee Vaneer Shrine on top of the Dueling Peak, get to the top and observe the sky towards the northwest between 9PM and 2AM. You want to look between the Great Plateau and Hyrule Castle:

Don't look at Lake Hylia or the swamp area, because otherwise the Star Fragment might drop into the water and disappear.

Anyway, at first this method didn't work for me at all. I had luck in the first night, but then I didn't get any more Star Fragments. This had me frustrated, because this method seemingly wasn't more effective than the Silver Lynel fights, while standing around and waiting for nothing was super boring...

But I was doing it wrong. I made the mistake of skipping to the next night with a fire right after 2AM. And that's where the mistake was. You have to skip to the next morning first and then skip to the night. And voilĂ ! A Star Fragment! In fact, this method was so effective that I got one Star Fragment on every single night. With within a few hours I was able to farm all the Star Fragments that I still needed for the amiibo armor and more.

When one falls, just mark it with your scope and teleport to the nearest shrine. The Star Fragments usually dropped around Wahgo Katta Shrine for me and were very easy to collect. And contrary to some statements that you might find, this works on any moon phase, even during a Blood Moon:

Just make sure to bring a Flame Blade. This way can quickly ignite a fire on top of Dueling Peaks and it will also keep you warm so that you don't have to equip any warmer clothes.

Well, I now got enough Star Fragments to upgrade all remaining amiibo gear, including the ones from the new Link amiibo released last Friday. And this concludes my efforts to upgrade all armor in the game, so the DLC may come.

Current Progress:
  • Koroks: 710/900
  • Map Rate: 84.28%

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Metroid: Samus Returns - Legacy Edition Pictured

So, we're getting this in Europe:

Steelbook that looks like a GameBoy module of Metroid II - Return of Samus, a Virtual Console copy of said game, Morphball key-chain, Screw Attack pin, artbook and the soundtrack from the North American Special Edition. Looks nice, definitely getting this!

This also balances the fact that we didn't get the Master Edition of Breath of the Wild in Europe. But overall everyone would be happier, if the Special Editions were the same in all regions. Because as it is right now one region will always be jealous of the other.

But Nintendo seems to have lots and lots of problems these days with providing the fans with the goods. It's getting quite frustrating to be a Nintendo fan and collector.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ever Oasis: Random Dungeons

Grezzo's new game is going to be released this Friday and marks the return of Koichi Ishii to the Action RPG genre after the Mana series. There's a demo right now available in the Nintendo 3DS eShop and it was also showcased at the E3 Treehouse Live stream this week.

I think the game looks quite enjoyable, but I probably won't be getting it anytime soon. I still can't help but wonder, how this game would have been as The Legend of Zelda: Ever Oasis. The main character feels very similar to Toon Link with his behavior and attitude, while they could have used different races from the franchise as your party members, e.g. the weasel girl could have been a Gerudo. But having this as its own unique IP is probably for the better.

However, there was one thing that really had me intrigued: the randomized dungeons. Randomization in Zelda is something that I've been thinking about for some time now and that Grezzo now showed the skill to create randomized dungeon was a very welcome surprise. I wish that they'd already did that with Tri Force Heroes. If each area in the game had randomized levels, similar to how Four Swords did, the game could have offered a much longer replay value.

In the very least I think that random dungeons are the future of Multiplayer Zelda games. And it's good to know that Grezzo has the ability to provide them.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Breath of the Wild: The Master Trials @ Treehouse Live

In today's E3 2017 live stream Nintendo showed off the first DLC contents for Breath of the Wild. You can watch this here. It's somewhat painful to watch, but it gives away some new information...

They did showcase all the armor and it's quite underwhelming. Other than the Korok Mask, which signalizes nearby Koroks, and Majora's Mask, which makes it harder for enemies to spot you, they don't seem to offer any special functionality. Midna's Helmet has Guardian Resist and the Phantom Armor more Attack Damage, but those are no new abilities. The Tingle costume even doesn't seem to have any special attributes other than a "Night Speed Up" set bonus. Why not let it make you float longer? Or find more Rupees?

To make things worse, all of the DLC armor behaves like the Nintendo Switch Shirt. If you (accidentally) sell any of it, there's no way of re-obtaining the pieces. And that's just not acceptable, because everything in the game should either be locked or re-obtainable. They could have just easily added it all to some merchant, like Granté's collection, or make it so that you can't sell them. But instead they went through the trouble of inserting a "If sold, this rare item can't be replaced" sentence to the descriptions of all the new pieces...

This is all quite disappointing and seems to lack a certain level of refinement.

The "Trial of the Sword" works similar to the Den of Trials in Tri Force Heroes. You will be able to enter the Middle Trials and the Final Trials, once you've reached them, however this will be at a disadvantage, because you start with nothing at the respective floors, while starting from the beginning might net you with valuable items. In Tri Force Heroes it was similar, where collecting fairies in the easier zones will come in handy in the "Baneful Zone".

It also seems like you're not allowed to use your Champion abilities within the trial. So, the only thing that will be of help from the outside are upgraded Runes and any additional Heart Containers and Stamina Vessels.

Overall it looks like an interesting challenge, but it's just put together cheaply by recycling various assets in the game to create a new series of shrine-like levels. As with the new armor it almost feels like a different, less experienced team is developing the DLC...


Day 3 had a second segment for the "Master Trials" DLC, which you can watch here. It was pretty much the exact same showcase as the first one, but they did show the "Trial of the Sword" in Master Mode briefly. It confirmed that there really are no red enemies in this Mode, while in Normal Mode you probably won't find any golden ones.

It might even be that Hyrule Compendium in Normal Mode really is fully completed already and any new enemies only appear in Master Mode. Instead of introducing a new boss for the upcoming dungeon in the "Champions' Ballad" they probably could also just use all four Blights again... But let's wait and see, how the first DLC really behaves.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Metroid: Samus Returns Announced

Watch the trailer here and the Treehouse Live segment here.

This was a welcome surprise for Metroid fans next to the announcement of Metroid Prime 4. And this will already be available September 15th in Europe and get two nice amiibo and a Special Edition with a soundtrack (the European version even gets more extras).

I personally had envisioned a 2.5D Metroid game for Nintendo 3DS for the longest time now. Last August in my Future of Metroid article I also described, how Nintendo could remake Metroid II - Return of Samus in the style of Metroid: Other M. And now it looks like I'm getting all of this.

This also does explain, why Nintendo took measures against the fangame AM2R, because these projects are very similar. I can still advise every Metroid fan to try it out, if you can still find it on the internet, because it's really well done. But from what I've seen I'll probably like Metroid: Samus Returns even more.

It feels more like a real Nintendo product, despite it being developed by MercurySteam. But they are doing a good job here and even seems like they were reacting to some issues that have arisen with AM2R. One of the biggest problems of the fangame was how most damage is dealt by enemies running into you. And the melee counter attack is such a nice answer to this! The fights look a lot more dynamic and the different Metroid stages so much more threatening. The Gamma Metroid shows a lot of new tricks (it can even walk around), while the Zeta Metroid seems to be on a similar level to the Omega Metroids in AM2R.

I also find the "Aeion Abilities" intriguing and I like, how they improved the SR388 world design with teleport chambers and alike. It really feels like a proper remake by Nintendo standards. AM2R was still great and I enjoyed it a lot, but this is the real deal.

My only gripe I have with the game is that the graphics could probably be better. But since it's developed for the years old Nintendo 3DS this is to be expected.

It's still nice, how the Nintendo 3DS is still getting new games and finally a proper Metroid title after all these years. MercurySteam even has experience Metroidvania-like games thanks to their Castlevania: Lords of Shadow series, so this was probably a good choice. At the same time Sakamoto doesn't seem to insist on any narration this time, so that we don't get another Other M story here. So, this looks overall very promising.

Metroid is back, Baby! And the title couldn't be any more fitting, since it has been exactly seven years since Samus' last game.