Most of you who still remember me know that I wrote a little musing back in April about Metroids. Now, while those little bastards still bug the ever-living hell out of me, I still love the other conventions of the series; mainly the exploration, discovery of new items and the like. Hell, half the fun of those games is going back to an area with an item you needed, then blasting a hole through whatever wall/door/enemy that blocked your path. That, I feel, is what made the series great.
Granted, Shadow Complex took everything great about the Metroid franchise (minus its vile, head-sucking namesakes of course) and gave it a serious overhaul. While I still whistled the "Item Collection" tune every time I picked up an armor upgrade, that isn't to say the whole game felt like a Metroid "clone". In fact, Shadow Complex did an excellent job in separating itself from the franchise that (mostly) inspired it. Jason has to rely more on sneaking around in the beginning to avoid getting shot full of holes by the bad guys, who unfortunately don't start out as little weak space-beetles that shuffle back and forth. No, these are fully-armed, fully-trained secessionists, and they will completely F you up if they see you. Well, they will on the harder difficulty levels, anyway. If you're playing on easy, they may as well be weak-ass space beetles. Still, the game proved that the age-old tradition of "blowing up every single square inch of rock to find a hidden passage" still works, even over twenty years later.
However, the only gripe I had with the game was its length. As Impressed as I was with the game, I felt it could've been a little longer. Okay, a LOT longer. I remember getting to the lake at the very end of the game (actually, that happened YESTERDAY), feeling my eyes light up as the lake drained to reveal an impressive-looking hidden fortress that made Cobra's Terror Dome look silly and laughable in comparison. I originally thought that this was only the midway point, and that maybe I'd have a whole other section of the complex magically open up and allow me access to a whole new host of goodies.
Ten minutes and two nuclear launches later, I found myself staring at the end credits. Part of me wasn't too surprised; I mean, it's a frickin' MetroidVania. Most of them don't usually run over two hours or so. But a tiny nugget in the back of my brain hungered for more; it demanded more items to collect, more bad guys to shoot/punch/catapult/disintegrate via curbstomp, and although I immediately started over on insane, it just didn't have the same impact as earlier. I kept saying aloud to myself "Man, I already killed these guys. It's just not the same!"
I don't know, I guess I've just been spoiled in recent years, what with all the 40-hour epics the big game companies keep churning out year after year, sucking the hard-earned funds out of my bank account and keeping me glued to my TV screen. Maybe I just lost the romance that I once found in playing a 2-hour game over and over just to find every last item, and for what? Just to say that I did it? That I wasted Zod-knows how much time, effort and energy guiding a fictional character through air ducts and hangars just to find every last grenade pack? Holy Crap, what have I been doing with my life? I could be out shaping the world in my own image, helping usher forth a new golden age for Humanity!
...ah, screw it. I still gotta beat the Master Challenges!