Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 20, 2021

Why does Starfield look so generic to me?

Help me readers. Why does Starfield look so blah to me?

I’m tired of fantasy tropes. I’m also tired of sci-fi tropes.

Is there any science fiction in this game? Or is it just some audiovisual elements that we’ve seen and heard a thousand times? Why does every sci fi game have to use similar minimalistic symbols? Why does none of it stand out? Why the same beepy sound effects? “These are the settled systems.” Oh shoot me already.

“Shut your jibber jabbing, Malstrom. You don’t like it, go make your own game!”

OK, Mr. Snotty Reader, I will! One tester reports back to me, “The background of this game is really different! It’s not fantasy. But it’s not like any science fiction I’ve ever seen. It’s like you’ve created fantasy elements out of quantum mechanics.” Which I have.

This didn’t happen because I was a genius. It happens because I actually read science fiction books. There’s a ton of great stuff out there. Stuff you don’t see represented in Hollywood or even gaming media.

The reason why Star Control 2 and Babylon 5 have very similar stories is because the authors used the same source materials, the same sci-fi books. Today, we call Star control 2 trailblazing in the gaming space and Babylon 5 trailblazing in the TV space. But they were trailblazing because their source material wasn’t another game or TV show.

Maybe I’m making more of it than I should, but it feels like these sci-fi games are based on prior sci-fi games or based on sci-fi movies which were based on prior sci-fi movies. Nothing feels fresh. At least, not to me.

I did find this story about Starfield.

This is going to sound cliche, but I mean it,” Howard said. “When you look up in the sky, there is this drive to know, what is out there? Are we alone? What are the origins of space and time and all of those things? What role does religion play in some of that as well? So, we do get into some big questions. I think a game like this is a good place to do that.

“There are movies and books that have done it as well, but we haven’t seen a game do it in this way. And we’ll see how successful we’ll be.”

Not with the cliches that build up the base of the game, you won’t. Han Solo in space? Really? Incredible that no one is mentioning Privateer. Todd Howard is an Origin fanboy, so I think it is suspicious he’s not bringing that game up.

Above: Privateer was Han Solo in space!
Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 20, 2021

Email: Metroid NES has a Save hack

Readers might be interested in trying out this rom hack for the NES
Metroid if they find the game too grindy. It adds a save file system,
and also you start with full health after you die. It adds a little
map you can bring up and scroll through, though it doesn’t fill in
like later games.

https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/1186/

Only downside is you lose the attract text at the intro screen.

How did t hey lose the attract text at the intro screen? Stupid hackers.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 20, 2021

Email: Metroid Prime kinda sucks

Hi Malstrom,

here is something that has been bothering me for a while. Metroid Prime, the
original one, is not that good of a game. For the record, I did play on the
Wii, which has the more fluid controls. Here is what Prime does perfectly: the
atmosphere and the feeling of isolation, of being on your own on a hostile
alien world, on a mission you might not return alive from, but you soldier on
anyway.

The graphics, while not impressive from a technical standpoint today, still
hold up quite well in how they communicate the environments. Every single room
is unique and feels like it had some purpose on that world. The music is very
alien, non-human, especially in the Chozo ruins and on the Tallon overworld.
The fact that the space pirates have their installations on the planet gives
the whole mission a sense of purpose and urgency: you are not here just to
beat the final boss, you are here to stop whatever crazy experiments they enemy
has going on.

You might have noticed the problem: none of this is how the game actually
plays. The basic gameplay is fine: you run, you shoot, you explore. The problem
is that the content in which these mechanics are used is taking too many cues
out of Aonuma’s Zelda book: your progress constantly gets interrupted by
stupid bombing puzzles, mandatory scanning (scan these five arbitrary points to
open the door), and items are no longer weapons, they are just convoluted
keys. How many times did you have to curl up into a ball, roll into a cavity
and detonate a bomb to activate some crane or extend a platform? It even
breaks the immersion, because now I have to believe that both the Chozo and
the Space Pirates locked their everyday access points behind some needlessly
convoluted mechanisms. Remember the spider ball? Now it only works on on the
intentionally placed magnetic rails. The boost ball only exists to pass those
pipelines, which only exist in order to give a boost ball a purpose. None of
them change how you view the level the way items did in the 2D games.

And then there are the bosses: in the 2D games, even Fusion and Zero Mission,
the bosses were just tough enemies, you dodged their attacks and unloaded
missiles into their face. It was about twitch reflexes in dodging and aligning
your shots. Did you get greedy and try to get a few more missiles in, even if
you might end up taking a hit? Or did you play it safe, knowing that it might
take longer? Did you power through as fast as possible, hoping that your
reserves would last longer than your enemy’s or did you go for minimal damage?
In Prime all bosses follow the Aonuma boss pattern: you lock on, then circle-
strafe around the invulnerable boss, wait for it to telegraph its attack,
dodge and counter with the item you got in that region, then unload a few
missiles. Goto 1, repeat until boss defeated. It’s that period of waiting that
gives the illusion of a hard fight, but all that is really happening is that
you get impatient and rush in before it’s your turn. Ridley is the worst
offender in that regard, his invulnerability time frame is like 90% of the boss
fight.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the Triforce, I mean artifact search. Before
you can enter the final area of the game you have to find all of the hidden
artifact items. Some you will pick up along the way, but most are out of the
way and you have to backtrack all over that map. That is when it hits you with
how slow the game actually is, 3D makes everything slower. And you better
remember where the Chozo ghosts are, because once they appear you’re not
getting through that door until you deal with them.

Why am I writing this? Metroid Prime was very well received and sold greatly
for a game on the GameCube, so who cares? It clearly did many things right and
those did outweigh the bad at least at that time. But there is the danger
that when a game is elevated to legendary status it gets declared flawless.
Nothing is flawless, everything as workarounds and compromises to compensate
for shortcomings. But when it is perceived as flawless, these compromises get
instead treated a the Right Thing, the proper way to design games. I skipped
Prime 2 and went to 3 instead, and it has inherited every single flaw of Prime,
but turbocharged now, with its own bloat on top of that (motion gimmicks,
cutscenes and characters no one cares about). I think the worst offender in
this regard is still Ocarina of Time: all its compromises have become a
template for not just for later Zelda but for 3D action adventure games in
general, instead of re-evaluating the formula and trying to fix its flows
instead. This video was posted on your blog already, but it does a great job
of pointing out all the flaws and compromises of OoT:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOC3vixnj_0

I never said Metroid Prime was flawless.

I played Metroid Prime 1 and 2 on the Gamecube. I 100% completed Metroid Prime 2.

I haven’t played Metroid Prime 3 yet (I know… I know…).

I actually agree with you. I think Metroid Prime was copying Zelda too much in too many things. Metroid Prime 2 was a complete rip off of the light world/ dark world mechanic of Link to the Past.

One could argue that the sales of Metroid Prime was because people thought it was Nintendo’s ‘Halo’. Not only did I see many copies of Metroid Prime in the used bin (I bought my copy for $5 used!), Nintendo must have some market data verifying this. Where else did Metroid Prime Hunters come from? (I’d love to see that game remade for the Switch or something else. Very Quake like gameplay.)

I think Metroid Prime’s overuse of the visor scanning really got in the way of harming the flow of the game.

The reason why I don’t attack Metroid Prime for these things is for the same reason I don’t attack Breath of the Wild for its problems. BOTW has shitty dungeons (Hyrule Castle was superb though), it has the stupid stealth sequence in Gerudo as well as the cross dressing Link. All that shit was bad shit. I really hated Link’s fishy and furry friends.

But the point is that BOTW was the correct direction for Zelda. If Nintendo was rationale, they would identify those problems and make BOTW 2 better. What is going to happen instead is that Nintendo is going to be irrational, declare what they ‘want to do’ is what the market wants, and do it anyway. BOTW2 will be a regression back to Aonuma Zelda with the ‘open world’ being more illusionary than reality.

When Metroid Prime came out, where were Mario and Zelda? Mario was doing Super Mario Sunshine. What dogshit was that? Zelda was doing Wind Waker. Metroid Prime could have become a very different game.

Metroid: Other M is what Metroid Prime could have been.

One thing I really, really dislike about Metroid Dread is the adoption of more and more anime style into Metroid. That is not where I think Metroid should go.

Metroid Prime nailed the soundtrack, atmosphere, and general feel of Metroid. Do I dislike some of their gameplay choices? Sure.

But Metroid Prime always felt like someone really loved Metroid. I don’t get that feeling with Metroid Dread.

I liked the Metroid Prime spinoffs of Metroid Pinball and Metroid Prime Hunters.

One big point you miss about Metroid Prime, emailer, is that Metroid Prime really encapsulates Samus Aran inside a suit that is like a tank. With the Gamecube version, if something flashed, you would see Samus’s reflection in the glass which was a sweet touch. The path Sakamoto wants to go, which is represented with Metroid Dread, is remove the suit entirely and make Samus a ninja! She is acrobatic princess! Sakamoto made ‘Zero Suit Samus’. Sakamoto is the one who destroyed Samus’s suit in Fusion for blue-green ninja outfit.

It always puzzles me why Sakamoto has that take on the Samus suit. To me, the suit is the main character of the game. The suit allows Samus to turn into a ball. The suit is so awesome that even a woman can do dangerous things. What Sakamoto is doing is making Samus into Wonder Woman with the suit being nothing but an extension of her body.

What I love about Metroid Prime is that it gets the big picture of Metroid right. Metroid Prime doesn’t make Samus into a super ninja. They focus on the suit. They focus on the atmosphere. I still listen to the soundtrack in my car.

I suppose I’ve been doing this for so long, I can sense what would happen if the game went another way. Metroid Prime could have turned into something very, very different. Other M gives a glimpse into that.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 20, 2021

Email: Metroid Dread Sales

Hey Master Malstrom –

I’m not sure if this warrants a blog response from you, but I imagine you’ll get a laugh out of this. I live in a smallish town in New England, and I ended up somehow getting an extra copy of Metroid Dread. Given the fact I already had a copy of the game, I went to see if I could return my duplicate to my local Walmart to exchange for a different game. Customer service turned me down on the return, not because I lacked anything in their return policy, only that they wouldn’t take returns on it because they HADN’T SOLD A SINGLE COPY since its release. I wasn’t even mad after they turned me away. I just kept laughing that Nintendo spent so much on marketing campaigns for the game, and clearly hasn’t paid off in my area.

Thanks for reading this, and have a great day.

Do you have any thin-black-single-women-who-live-in-apartments in your area? That is the marketing focus on for Metroid Dread.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 19, 2021

Email: What in the World?

Hey Master Malstrom –

I wanted to get your opinion on what seems to be happening in the the world of Metroid fans these days. Apparently there’s a movement of people actually defending Metroid: Other M, calling it “Brave,” “Ambitious,” and even “Underrated.” Have you noticed this phenomenon with any other series of games? I guess people’s tastes change when the standard of quality is lowered. I just never thought I’d see the day when Metroid: Other M would be considered anything other than a failed attempt at a Metroid game.

https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2021/10/random-forget-dread-its-all-about-metroid-other-m-on-twitter-right-now
Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re doing well.

First of all, twitter is not the real world. Neither are Gaming Message Forums.

“You take that back, Malstrom!” squeals an enraged hardcore gamer.

But I won’t.

Other M is soooo bad, Nintendo now pretends it doesn’t exist. Other M is now the Metroid equivalent of the CD-i Mario and Zelda games.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 19, 2021

Email: So I Played NES Metroid

Greetings Master Maelstrom!

I’m writing this email because I’d like to thank you. I’ve always been told that NES Metroid was a rough product of the late 1980s, an unplayable mess and that everyone should stick to Zero Mission because it has a map. After reading what you’ve said about the original Metroid lately, I remembered I got it on the 3DS’s Virtual Console a long time ago and thought: “What the hell, I’ll try it!” and so I did, and it was an amazing experience I won’t forget so early.


Sure, it was HARD, probably the hardest game I’ve played yet. Samus moves at a glacial pace (compared to modern Metroid) and it’s clear why: you have to be careful, or else two little Brisntar crawlies can kill you (as you said, Zebes wants to kick your ass at all costs). I can’t express the relief I felt when I got my first energy tank. The game does not have a map, but as you’ve said, the vertical shafts work like hubs, and when you see them as such, navigation gets easier and makes much more sense. I even drew a map!


And suddenly I realized I was having pure, genuine fun. It got me hooked! I went to bed at 3am because of it, and only did so because my hands were cramping due to the 3DS’s small buttons and d-pad.

Then I explored Brinstar entirely (at least that’s what I thought), and went to Kraid’s Lair. I had two energy tanks, some missile expansions and felt so badass! Then, in the first room I entered, the enemies literally annihilated me by the entrance door. I tried to explore the area, but damn, the enemies kicked my ass so hard. At that time I got really frustrated and gave up on the game, only to return an hour later haha, this time with a map. I then realized I should’ve gone to Norfair, so I could get the High Jump Boots, which would allow me to get the Varia Suit (which I would never have found by myself, it’s so well hidden haha).


But do you think having a map made things easier? No sir, I still was on my toes through the entire game. But after getting the Varia Suit and the Screw Attack (and some energy tanks on the way), I felt badass once again, and the enemies became a somewhat smaller threat. And I say “somewhat” because even with all the upgrades I got later, if I were not careful, the game could still beat me!


It took me 7 hours to reach and kill Mother Brain (the game throws so much stuff to hurt you, the hardware literally can’t handle it haha) and I thought I would never play it again, but here I am, starting a file on Metroid Planets (a simple menu with map improves this game a lot, how many of these older games can be improved so much with so little?).


I still haven’t played Dread, but I think it means a lot that they had to come up with an almost unbeatable enemy to cause fear whenever it appears, but this 1986 game can pull it off throughout the ENTIRE playthrough. I think the only “unplayable” part is having to grind to replenish your health (and the fact that some of these ever spawning enemies are surrounded by lava shows how sadistic this game can be). The fact that even the smallest enemies could kill me even with all upgrades made me feel tense until the end (the soundtrack helps a lot too, by looping those strange yet awesome melodies).


And one final thing: this game is cool. When I went from Brinstar to Kraid’s, the transition was simply cool. I kept going between these areas because I was awestruck by what they made with simple pixels and sounds. When Kraid’s theme start playing, it’s like the game is telling “brace yourselves, shit’s gonna get ugly now” and the way Samus arrives at the area is so… theatrical! I even made a video of it and posted on social media ( https://imgur.com/a/JclYrOl ).


Anyway, this email is long enough. Thank you again for providing gaming wisdom to us all!

I’m really happy you gave Metroid a shot. People should try giving Legend of Zelda and Zelda 2 shots as well. But Metroid is clearly the harder game. Metroid is hard by NES standards of difficulty. Today, the most annoying thing about NES Metroid is refilling your energy tanks.

NES Metroid is a very intense game, and it really hasn’t been matched by its sequels. Super Metroid nails the atmosphere, but the game is a little too easy compared to NES Metroid. Super Metroid is more like “Aww, pretty flowers,” while NES Metroid is like “Fuck you, player! Into the lava you go!”

NES Metroid only needed two buttons and a D-pad to be fun. One of my problems with Metroid Dread is that it uses too many buttons. You’ll get massive hand cramps during Metroid Dread boss fights.

But it did sound you got what we called the ‘Nintendo thumb’ where the NES game would tire out your hand. And what is amazing is that you went back to it.

To think that such an experience was there in 1986. Today, the year is 2021. Damn, I’m old. But if I could transport you, the incredible emailer, to the year 1986, what do you think your reaction to the game would be? It would be your reaction today multiplied times a thousand.

During the NES Era, we had Mario Mania, Zelda mania, and Metroid was like a cult! These games were SOOO GOOD and the competition had nothing like them. Everyone became obsessed with the NES. When you think about it, the NES was putting out Killer App after Killer App, one after another on a quality level I’d never ever see again.

I think one reason why the NES library gets so well remembered is because it was very fast to figure out which were the ‘bad games’ and ignore them so we could concentrate on the good ones. How many times did people play and replay Super Mario Brothers 3? Or all the Marios?

Today, a bad game still takes five to ten hours of your time before you realize it truly is bad. In 8-bit Era, it took about five minutes!

One thing I think you’ve realized when playing NES Metroid and that many people do not see today, the game is beautiful. There is something so… haunting… about it. The music was deliberately made to be distortions, the opposite of heroic harmonies. The harmony comes only when you get the powerup. On an audio level, NES Metroid is sheer genius.

I really wish Metroid II came out for the NES instead of Gameboy. Can you imagine how awesome that’d been? I’m glad we got Super Metroid, but Metroid could have used another entry on the NES. Preferably one with a save pak and faster way to refill energy. A Metroid between NES Metroid and Super Metroid? That’d be the sweet spot!

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 19, 2021

Email: Metroid Dread

So I played the game (I know you said you’d play it so we don’t have to, but I couldn’t help myself) and I’ll just say this…its not in the same league Metroid, Super Metroid or Metroid Prime.  I did enjoy this better than I did Fusion or god forbid Other M.  I think I’m in about the same camp as you in terms of likeability – I probably enjoyed it more than you, but I think what really was driving me forward was the same thing that you just talked about in your last post.  I’m desperate for some new 2d Metroid!

Maybe Prime 4 will be amazing.  One can hope…


On a side note though, I did chuckle at the Jaffe review of this game.  If you have a chance, you should check it out.  He complains about the difficulty of hidden blocks, lol.  I think it’s probably a small miracle that Dread turned out as middle of the road as it did.  Sad thing is its probably the best we can hope for given how modern developers look at these games.

I hope Metroid Prime 4 is on the Switch 2. I expect Metroid Prime Remake next year for the 20 year anniversary of Metroid Prime.

I enjoyed Fusion more than this game. But I’ve only played Fusion once and never bothered to play it again. Also, I own both Fusion and Zero Mission cartridges. I didn’t emulate the shit.

I think there is a huge appetite for meaty 2d games. All we have making them today are indie companies which are very… erratic.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 19, 2021

Email: Everyone is jealous

Master Malstrom,

You recently responded to my email about Apple and said that tech companies are jealous of video games. I find this amusing because Nintendo has always seemed to be jealous of tech companies like Apple.

If you recall, during the insanely successful Wii era, some people knocked Nintendo by saying that they make “cheap” hardware. Nintendo took great offense at this, and Iwata set on the company on a technological mission. Innovation suddenly became more important than profit. As a result, we got the 3DS featuring 3D and Streetpass. We got the Wii U with TVii which was supposedly going to transform the way we watch TV. Of course, all of this turned out be a bust. And all because Nintendo wanted to be Apple.

I’ve never been able to fathom this because it seems to me that working in the video game business would be one of the coolest places you could work (despite how tough it is). Maybe it’s just human nature that we always think the grass is greener somewhere else.

Yamauchi had a phrase: “The NES is a box people buy to get to Mario.” Miyamoto and Iwata didn’t like that statement. They wanted the hardware, itself, to have value.

The comparisons between Apple and Nintendo during the Wii Era were media driven.

The reason why the 3DS was made was because ‘now is the time for 3d’. They are obsessed with 3d.

The reason why 3DS and Wii U had all this non-gaming stuff in it was because they thought they could tap into the ‘expanded market’ as well as give additional value to the console. It’s not just a ‘games console’. It can now act as a TV channel guide or something.

If anything, Nintendo was copying Sony. Sony would always put in junk like that into their consoles and declare that is the reason why they sold. It’s why Nintendo made a Gamecube with a DVD drive. But what really sold PlayStation consoles was the games library especially ‘killer apps’ such as Grand Theft Auto 3. Anyone saying anything else is deluding themselves.

PSP was supposed to sell left and right because of the non-games functionality of the device. Maybe some people bought it for that. But when Apple and other companies put out iPods and video players, all of that became useless bloat for the PSP. The PSP sold primarily to play the games on it.

The comparison between Apple and Nintendo might be due to Iwata saying Nintendo is an integrated hardware and software company like Apple. I wouldn’t take that to assume that Nintendo was trying to BE Apple. I take that as confirmation that both companies (well, modern Nintendo) and Apple share the same Atari roots.

When media were pummeling ‘Nintendo doomed’ because of smartphones, Nintendo liked my point that smartphones were mobile PCs. They’re not in the same market as a dedicated gaming hardware. The desktop PC is to the home game console as the smartphone is to the handheld game console. It’s not that hard to understand. But the media is interested in creating conflict because that is the only way how stories can be made. Remember when they asked Iwata what he thought of the Ipad, and he innocently replied, “I think it looks like a big Ipod,” and the media went bonkers with that trying to stir the pot.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 19, 2021

Why does Metroid Dread have no attract mode?

When I turned on Metroid Dread for the first time, I waited… and waited… and nothing happened. It was the most boring title sequence I’ve ever seen.

But if you look at prior classics, they put in attract modes. Super Mario Brothers and Legend of Zelda have attract modes. Chrono Trigger has an attract mode.

The appeal of the attract mode is that it establishes the vibe and gives instruction to the player before the start button is pressed.

Consider Super Metroid’s Attract Mode:

This is really cool. It shows unique abilities and how Samus can use them to interact with the world. Sometimes they gave me ideas to go and try out. Just the background droning and gameplay really establish a unique vibe that is quintessential Metroid.

And who can forget the attract mode of Metroid 1?

The music, world-building, and vibe are brilliantly created in one simple title screen. The title fades for a paragraph which is the ‘story’ of the game. Kill Mother Brain.

“But we’re not in the arcade era anymore, Malstrom,” cries the reader. “Attract modes are obsolete.”

Bullshit. If anything, they’re more needed than ever because of streaming. While the streamer gets ready, the game sits on the title screen. It’d sure be nice if the title screen did something.

Even Metroid Prime had an attract mode! And it came out in 2002! Why did it have an attract mode?

Because the developers LOVED the Metroid games. Super Metroid had an attract mode. Therefore, they would put in an attract mode too. The attract mode shows different things such as blasting enemies and bouncing around in morph ball mode. Cool stuff.

As for Metroid Dread, all you get it a redone original title theme. Even the title logo looks extremely lazy. Hell, I could make that in GIMP today. The lettering is all one color. And the ‘planet’ might as well be clipart from a website. The Metroid Prime logo looks much cooler despite it being nearly twenty years old(!). And while the original Metroid title screen is 8-bit basic, it does have those space pyramids which are super cool.

Metroid Dread strikes me as an ‘ambition’ game, not a ‘labor of love’ game. Mercury Steam might as well have been making a Castlevania or Sonic game.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 19, 2021

Email: Metroid Dread indeed is broken

Master Malstrom, sir,

It’s been years since I last went to your blog and for quite a sensible reason: it’s been years I have not even turned on my Nintendo Switch. I skipped the Wii U, got convinced by BoTW to get a Switch (and a few other games such as Mario Kart 8 as I did not have a Wii U). Being a bit younger than you (I am 35), I was a SNES kid more than a NES kid. You get the picture.

I was a real fan of Super Metroid as a child and really enjoyed my playthroughs of the original NES game and also of Metroid 2. I was glued to my controller like never in a long time when the first Prime got out on Gamcube when I was 16 or so and got really disappointed by Fusion. never played any Metroid since Fusion.

But Dread intrigued me. A Chozo warrior, looks interesting. 2D ? Interesting. Enough to make me buy the game and get back to the Switch. But I should have been wary of what you pointed out in a recent post: I have a job, a wife, and many occupations being involved in several activities, having an impact on local and national civil life as a volunteer, but also for doing sports and learning music (learning an instrument is long hard practice and work). I am dedicated to all these things because I actually put some work in all this. And so word that Dread came out only got to my ears because a nerdy friend of mine who indulges a bit too much in games (in my opinion) for a father of 2 talked to me about it. Loving the franchise and what made it was it were
at its peak, I should have known that if the game was worth it, it would have gotten to me in spite of my life being very busy. Through what my life is and not by word of mouth from someone who watches the E3 reports eagerly.

But this email is too long already. I read you “Metroid Dread is a broken game” post earlier because I felt something was off with Dread and I thought “it’s been a while since I read Sean, what does he think about it ? Does he even still post ?”. And you article is spot on. The game has qualities but they just don’t make up for the issues you pointed. And the worst: the game lies to you. It makes you think you are free to explore this labyrinth but you are actually on rails all the time.

And just after reading your article this morning, I still wanted to give it a shot for what it’s worth and it was the last straw: I collected my first power bomb (what I think is a power bomb) reserve. I thought “sweet”. And this is where the game tells me “you have collected an unknown object, you cannot use it yet”….

Really… ? I find a way to do something that was not intended by the developer and discover they put in place something to actually forbid me to do what they did not intend me to do ? I wasn’t even angry. I was not furious. I just sighed and had a sarcastic grin. Yes it was that bad. I would rather have been so angry I broke my joypads smashing them on the wall. I dont know if this is just being used to Nintendo disappointing me or life experience making me brush it off because, well… no one was hurt except my inner child after all.

Best regards

Now THIS is an email. Note that he didn’t say he went to IGN’s review. He didn’t say he went to Resetera’s thread. He went here. So many things he said that the reader might miss.

This is a Metroid veteran. How did he learn of Metroid Dread? Word of mouth from a ‘hardcore’ gamer (or ‘too enthusiast’ gamer). The ‘fantastic marketing’ apparently never reached the emailer. I’m still waiting to see if thin-black-females-who-live-alone-in-their-apartments were successfully sold on Metroid Dread.

Despite him being a Metroid veteran…

“I should have known that if the game was worth it, it would have gotten to me in spite of my life being very busy.”

What I think he is saying is that if Metroid Dread was really good, the emailer would be into the game. But he finds he is not into it or into it only in a cold way.

I’m not sure what the emailer’s views are on other games, but let us use BOTW. If you play BOTW, you really get into the game. You are enjoying it so much that you don’t feel like you are missing out on other things outside.

Contrast that to Metroid Dread. It’s a disgruntled feeling inside you. You’ve already invested some time, and the game can be fun in some places. But you don’t want to return to it. You just want it to be over. You want to return to what you were doing before Metroid Dread.

Now does that sound like the interaction a really good game should have?

I was addicted to the 8-bit, 16-bit classics. I would play Civilization all day and night. World of Warcraft? Addicted! Only with WoW did I ever feel like a video game was destroying my life, but I never felt these classic games in the past were a waste of time. Games are fun. If I am having fun, then the game is doing its job.

At best, Metroid Dread can be addictive. You got the new power up and want to go further. If you stick it through a boss fight, you might feel endorphins as the boss dies. And yet… the game never feels fun. It’s a very strange feeling.

Like Kup from Transformers where everything reminds him of something else, every game reminds me of another game. But I can’t place my finger on what Metroid Dread is making me feel. It’s like playing another 8-bit Mega Man sequel which is ‘better’, yet I’d rather cuddle back with Mega Man 2.

Part of the issue is that Metroid Dread is made by a Western team as opposed to a Japanese team. That is definitely altering the feel.

I don’t know how to describe the feeling, so I will express it like this. It feels like Mercury Steam looked at Metroid Dread as their time to show everyone how genius they are. They see all these other indie Metroid titles, and they see the constant praise Super Metroid has. “We’re going to beat Super Metroid,” they high five each other in dude bro fashion.

It feels like the entire Metroid Dread design is all about Mercury Steam’s low self esteem. Instead of trying to make a fun game, Metroid Dread appears designed to undercut Super Metroid.

Morph ball? It is a late find. Why? To undercut Super Metroid. The design decision wasn’t made to make it fun, simply different, almost like a type of spite.

Boss fights? We have bullet hell. So extreme! So incredible! Oh, Mercury Steam’s game is so much better than Super Metroid (which didn’t have bullet hell boss fights)!

Melee combat! YEAH! X invading everything. YEAH! A ten hour game? YEAH!

The game has no heart. It doesn’t feel like a labor of love. It feels like a labor of ambition. It’s as if Mercury Steam said, “We will make a better game than Super Metroid and then we’ll be the gods!”

There is too much wrong in Metroid Dread to call it a labor of love. If Metroid was actually loved, you’d think they’d at least have a memorable soundtrack.

Metroid Prime was a labor of love of Metroid. While Metroid Prime was ambitious, no one was sure whether or not a 3d Metroid would work. This is why Metroid Fusion was released at the same time. If the market rejected 3d Metroid, they could have the Metroid Fusion.

What is most interesting is that people love to play Metroid Prime today.

I doubt people will love to replay Metroid Dread. After the honeymoon phase, all the flaws will become more and more apparent. And will people be replaying Metroid Dread decades from now? Not like they do with Super Metroid.

The emailer may not realize it, but I am currently reviewing older console games. I am reviewing the entire NES library. How do I measure value? It is determined by how often the game draws me back to it. And games that push me away… well, Metroid Dread keeps doing that. There is too much bullshit gimmickry in the game (e.g. EMMIs, cutscene-where-you-push-button-at-exact-time, bullet hell boss fights, linear areas, most upgrades doing nothing but unlocking gates, etc.).

“Mercury Steam’s Ambition” would be a better title for Metroid Dread. It doesn’t feel like there is any love in this game, just low self-esteem, just people with a chip on their shoulder trying to prove themselves.

Aside from interpreting the design of the game to be this way, there are some other indicators. Mercury Steam takes people out of the Metroid Dread credits if they weren’t there more than 25% of the development time. Why did they do this? Because they thought the game would enter ‘legendary’ status and didn’t want the ‘low contributors’ to be using Metroid Dread to prop themselves up. There are stories of Mercury Steam being abusive to employees and protecting certain people at the top.

It sounds to me that Mercury Steam has it’s collective head up it’s ass. Metroid Dread feels like a game with its head up its ass.

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