I am a pathetic Pavlovian Dog when I hear these three words: "It's like Metroid."
My addiction has caused me to own every Castlevania since SOTN (yes even the okay PS2 ones) and every metroid game. When I started seeing videos for Shadow Complex I became quite excited for the possibility of a well-made, modernized Metroid. It's like dreams come true! So I just wanted to give some reasons why this game could be awesome upon Wednesday's release. Or not.
Why this game has the potential to be awesome:
1. An indie heart with a good publisher to support it. These arrangements always make me happy. From what is sounds like, Epic hasn't interfered in or imposed anything into this game, just providing financial support. Also, the creative director for the game is named Donald Mustard. Please tell me he is a colonel.
2. XBLA is a good choice for both its price and easy distribution A very common remark about this game is that "I can't believe it will only be 1200 MS points! I would have easily paid more than $20 for this!". This makes me very happy. Also, no, I'm not xbox-biased. I would have said the same thing if it was coming to PSN.
4. LOOK AT IT. IT'S JUST LIKE SUPER METROID. IT EVEN HAS THE LITTLE MAP IN THE CORNER.
Please tell me there will be a little jingle when you get items and power-ups.
Why this game has the potential to utterly screw this up:
1. I don't want a story, just throw me in and let me figure things out. Ok, I already know this isn't going to happen already, but one of the things people consistently say about Metroid is that it is a game that throws you in and say "get to it, we have an instruction manual if you have issues". If you are going to go the obligatory intro scene route (and it looks like this is the case), make it short. Tell us what needs to die and let us go.
2. This goes double if you're going to derail this with cutscenes Please, at least do them on-screen. I know a comic book writer is penning this story, but if I'm trying to play though the game, and it cuts to any cheesy comic book panels that swoosh in, I am going to be pissed.
3. Bigger is not always better. One of the things Col. Mustard said about the map of Shadow Complex is that the game will occupy a space of 780 map grid squares, utterly massive compared to Super Metroid's paltry size of 256 squares. That's really awesome and all, but does that mean every room in Shadow Complexwill be unique and serve a purpose, or does it just mean there will be a ton of copy and paste corridors? I'll take 256 awesomely made areas instead of 780 mediocre ones.
4. Give me an even flow and progression. I shouldn't have every item thrown at me at once, but provide me with an upgrade when the time is necessary to get one. People who have played Super Metroid will understand what I am getting at here.
5. Don't make backtracking painful. Backtracking is a common trait of the exploratory platformer genre. However, it should be fun to do so and not total searing pain. Backtracking, for the most part, should be optional if you want to get extra items, not an essential cornerstone of the game. I'll summarize what I mean here.
Good Backtracking = finding power bomb upgrades in Super Metroid. Do you need to? Not really. Can you do so if so inclined? Of course!
Bad Backtracking = The keys to the Dark Temple in Metroid Prime 2. OH GOD NO.
..so yeah, fingers crossed on this Wednesday's release.
We have all done this. The minute you open a boxed game of Risk and see the neatly boxed rainbow of figurines. You don't pull out the board and lay it out. You don't roll dice and set up your initial turns for world domination. The first thing you do is take out the little figures and make little explodey noises.
This is the story of why I can't ever play real time strategy games correctly.
The first RTS I ever had in my home was Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty. It was a game that opened a whole new world of gaming opportunities to me. I wasn't just one guy fighting evil, I had a whole army, a whole world to control! And by control, I mean "neatly build things next to each other and don't bother attacking the enemy to win the game."
WHY ARE YOU ATTACKING ME I'M MAKING THINGS LOOK NICE
As you can tell by the screenshot, everything in this game fits into nice, neat little square quadrants. This led my young mind to believe that everything had be be organized in little IKEA-esque aesthetically pleasing squares. Square buildings would always be with square buildings and rectangles would be with rectangles, and would always be built touching each other (a major RTS no-no). My rationale was, "well, major cities have buildings in neat little sections directly connected to each other, why not my elite military base?" I also obsess over building everything I possibly can. Every iteration of every type of building had to be there (and neatly placed!), or I felt that I was somehow failing to have a good base. I would never build copies of buildings either. Why does my happy little village need two factories? There's already one! Do all of you build two Walmarts in the same place too?
My other major problem with RTS's that fits into my obsessive-compulsive playing style is the building and management of my units. I have a complete inability to understand the need for having a variety of units. I also can never memorize which unit counters what (I avoid Starcraft for said reason), so I go with what big and shoots rockets. Or, I would do the opposite and build nothing but human soldiers to line up in front of my base or perch on random rocks. However, somehow I really enjoy this, even though its a really stupid thing to do. I never know when to deploy and attack as well, and If I do in that rare case, actually tried to attack someone, I always made wanted to march straight forward and do so in a line, sending in one after another. If this was the War of American Independence, I would probably the guy that would have sided with the British because they wear nice uniforms and march in neat, straight little lines. And then my ass would be shot off by colonists zerg-rushing out of the forest in their sensible camouflaged clothes. It was always about making it look good on the computer screen without regarding the rules of RTS engagement.
I play like this, only I usually would spend an hour trying to put them in a nice little block.
So, when it came time for me to play my brother or anyone else on LAN or online, needless to say I was annihilated. I couldn't even manage playing on a campaign on easy. If there was a mission that required managing limited units without building a base (like in Starcraft), forget it, I was already dead. It was after all of these matches (even against an easy CPU) I realized that I will always suck at this genre, even if I did like all of the little details.
To conclude, I am much too obsessed with aesthetics to ever play and RTS in a serious or efficient manner. Why? Because I have too much stupid fun playing around with everything like toy soldiers by myself. I haven't touched an RTS in years, though I always catch myself seeing all the boxes of modern PC RTS games on the store shelf and considering dropping the cash to play them. I was even given a copy of Red Alert 3 that remains unplayed to this day. I'm pretty sure that I would just embarrass myself if I even attempted to buy and play StarCraft II, especially with the level of experience required to play and RTS with anyone in this day and age.
Unless, you know, there are some really pretty looking buildings and soldiers to set up and play with.
Have some pictures of things I've made out of pixelblocks out of boredom in the meantime .
I'm always wondering how nerdy it is to blog about videogames in one's spare time. Is it a mark of insanity, an urge to be creative, or a just a desire to do something out of incredible boredom ? There are some topics I would honestly like to write about, but I'm backed up on other writing endeavors at the moment.
Maybe a next post will have more words and professionalism.
 I know making things out of pixelblocks isn't art, but it sure is therapeutic.
 Considering blogs, it's usually the case.