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Favorite Games

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords
System Shock 2
System Shock 2
Hyper Light Drifter
Hyper Light Drifter


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Played in 2024


Games Backloggd

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Metroid Fusion
Metroid Fusion

Apr 23

Hyper Light Drifter
Hyper Light Drifter

Apr 16

Doom 3
Doom 3

Apr 14

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Apr 07

The Neverhood
The Neverhood

Apr 06

Recently Reviewed See More

You know what? This isn’t just Super Metroid. This is Superb Metroid!

Despite having played several other metroidvanias in the past, I never actually tried to delve into one of the franchises that gave name to the genre, mostly because at the time I had a general avoidance of older games due to thinking they could have “aged poorly”…

But here’s the kicker! That past version of me from 2021/2022? HE IS FUCKING GONE (for the most part)! And it’s about time I came back to a genre that I was obsessed with in the past in some capacity, by going all the way back to the game that started it all!

The NES, short for Nintendo Entertainment System, is a video game console that, while I admire it, I don’t really like the idea of going all the way back to actually playing those games more than theorizing about them, the biggest reason is that for some of the more well known titles in the NES, looking back at them with the power of hindsight, though not as obvious as it is with franchises like Ultima, most of them just planted the seeds for what would grow into full blown trees with later entries, some of them ended up growing fast enough that they are still fairly solid like Castlevania and Super Mario Bros, but for others like Final Fantasy or Metroid… Yeah, I’ll pass.

And speaking of Metroid, its seed would eventually grow, but only in the NES’s successor for the next generation, the Super Nintendo, however, the seed that had grown into a small sprout with Metroid 2 on the Game Boy, would very suddenly grow into a Big Fucking Gun Tree, one so big that several people would eventually try their hands at getting as many fruits from there as humanly possible in a short amount of time, memorizing everything about the tree and finding out the most effective way to get through each branch and collect the most fruits as fast as they could, and to this day people still try their hands at such task, AKA speedrunning. But if that wasn’t enough, that tree would go on to inspire many, many other gardeners (or developers) to try and plant trees inspired by that one, even creating an entire genre (alongside Castlevania: Symphony of the Night) called Metroidvania. And yet, even if we try to ignore this game’s long-lasting cultural impact within gaming, this is still one of the medium’s finest touchstone classics.

But what makes Super Metroid so compelling in the first place? Well, there are many reasons for why, and by many, I do mean it.

Crateria: A Strong Introduction

As soon as Samus touch its foot on Zebes for the second first time, the game immediately manages to instill both a sense of curiosity and fear on the player, curiosity as it makes the player hooked and eager to explore this wonderful “new” planet, touching on the human desire to explore new worlds, and fear as the place seems completely empty of any life, as a foreboding track plays in the background, further accentuating the feeling of exploring the ruins of a desolate planet completely unknown to the player, not helped by the fact Samus just escaped from Ridley invading a research station to steal the Baby Metroid there, so on top of that there’s a sense of something lurking around in the shadows, waiting for your presence to then attack you. That’s until you get the Morph Ball where the first game ended, and something like that does in fact happen, and what was once ridded from life is now filled to the Brinstar brim with enemies ready to kill anything potentially invading Zebes.

Super Metroid nailed the introduction so hard it could probably pierce through marble pillars, not only by introducing some of the fundamental aspects of the core gameplay loop to the player, but also by excellently establishing Zebes as a setting in every way imaginable, but especially gameplay and presentation. And speaking of the latter…

Brinstar: A Phenomenal Presentation and Atmosphere

As it can be noticed in the first ten minutes of the game, the presentation is amazing!

First of all, this is one of the most visually impressive in the SNES, and that’s saying a lot. The graphical leap of the Super Nintendo, going from a 8-bit to a 16-bit console, really allowed the developers to bring Edson Samus Arantes, Zebes and its denizens to full life here, with the colorful yet dimly lit colors giving an extra edge to Samus and especially to the enemies, Ridley and Mother Brain especially look even more alien and menacing than ever, and every area standout from one another due to their unique environmental detail along with their stark color palette, there’s a reason why most renditions of Metroid’s most iconic characters, both within and outwith the franchise itself, use their Super renditions as their main source of inspiration for their look. And soundwise it’s also great, having a mix of eerily ambient tunes to accompany this game’s most atmospheric moments and catchy upbeat songs that complement this game’s more action-focused moments while keeping the player going forward.

All of this combined makes for one hell of an atmosphere, one of feeling alone in a stranded alien planet while everything in there tries to murder you, and that’s what draws us into exploring those alien worlds, isn’t it? The idea of exploring worlds that would seem impossible to do otherwise in real life, ones that seem completely out of the ordinary, and then trying to get as much out of exploring it as possible, whether by understanding the inner workings of there or simply gathering every possible loot you can get…

Norfair: A Powerhouse of Mobility and Murder

But normal human beings can’t feasibly traverse the entirety of Earth itself, let alone a planet as dangerous as Zebes, they would probably die in one way or another.

Don’t worry, Samus Aran got you covered, and with some damn fine movement at that. Since we are talking about one of the games that established the Metroidvania, you slowly unlock Samus’s true power instead of immediately getting everything right off the bat, and with every major upgrade unlocked, it opens up a slew of new possibilities for you to go through every crevice of Zebes, and by the time you reach Mother Brain, you will have become a invincible god. There is one ability though that is available from the start that can fundamentally change the way you approach the entire game:

The Wall Jump

Where as in other games from the time like Mega Man X the wall jump is as simple as pressing the jump button against a wall repeatedly to climb up that wall, in Super Metroid that requires mastery, as you must be spin jumping against a wall and then go to the opposite direction of that wall and press the jump button WITH THE RIGHT TIMING! It’s incredibly satisfying to master the usage of wall jump, as it allows for the player to sequence break through levels that not only accommodate, but even encourage learning how to properly use the wall jump. And that’s not even the only hidden movement tech in the game either, there is also the Shine Spark which allows you to jump insane heights as long as you get enough momentum to use the speed booster.

And speaking of the upgrades themselves, they are all really fun to use in their own right. As I mentioned in the first paragraph of this section, they all open up new possibilities for uncovering secret upgrades in incredibly rewarding ways, but aside from that, a lot of upgrades make traversing the map incredibly fun as well, as you can just blast through every area at a quick pace to make backtracking engaging, with notable ones being the aforementioned Speed Booster which allows you to run at a insane speed as long as you gather enough momentum through running in a large straight line, and the grappling hook which, when latched onto specific blocks, will allow Samus to launch herself from larger gaps.

All of this lends for some of metroidvania’s, heck, even some of 2D platformers’s finest controls and movement ever seen, movement which many metroidvanias still haven’t quite matched. But here’s the kicker…

Maridia: An Incredible World and Level Design Chock Full of Secrets

You can’t simply make a game with controls as good as these without putting them to good use, don’t get me wrong, you can literally do that, but that would make it a pretty lackluster experience, wouldn’t it (isn’t that right Jedi Academy)? Here’s where I finally talk about the elephant in the room:

The level design

It has some of the most intricate level design ever seen. It manages to be both linear and open-ended at the same time, never feeling too confusing and always being pretty clear where to go but also open enough to encourage you to explore it to its fullest, and damn there is a lot to unpack here, there are a ton of hidden collectables, and by ton I mean so many that by the time I had beaten the game, I hadn’t even got 60% of progress in the game, and it was still fun as hell to find out all the upgrades I did find, since the game forces the player to fully learn how to best use every upgrade and movement tech and will make many concessions to the 100% Nutcases who want to get the most out of exploring Zebes.

Now about that “linear and open-ended at the same time” stuff, despite how big its levels are in comparison to any contemporary released at the time, the game still manages to communicate to the player where to go really well, not only in how the game generally teases you on what's to come with all the gateways (literal or figurative) locked behind different upgrades, but also in how the pathways are always cleverly designed in a way that the player still ends up knowing where to go but becomes willing to engage with what’s outside the main path towards the next major boss/upgrade, and even when you need to use a bomb to progress through, it’s often fairly logical where you need to use the bomb, all of that without ever explicitly telling you where to go (unlike some other titles in the same franchise).

Actually, I was going to reach the ultimate conclusion here but…

Wrecked Ship: A Interactive Painting Disguised as a Game

The reality is that thinking about Super Metroid started to slowly lead into a path that at first I wasn’t willing to consider talking about at all, but now I just cannot stop but think about this:

What separates video games from mediums like cinema, literature and music?

The most obvious answer would be how a video game actively forced the viewer to engage with the work in a tactile level, and thus not only absorbing its sights and sounds, but also participating in the game world in some form or capacity, and a game will have roadblocks that will test the player both physically and mentally. What I think best describes video games as a medium though is that the developer is essentially a painter, the game itself is one big painting carefully made so that it portrays everything they want to portray in there, while leaving enough space for the viewer to play the role of a different painter trying to find new ways to fill in the blanks both literally, drawing new things and leaving those paintings marked with your own ideas, or figuratively, soaking up what’s already there and trying to find meaning to it.

What does all of this have to do with Super Metroid though? Well, the artistry in the game lies on how its world is structured, if you just look at it you can beat the game just fine, but the real deal is in trying to understand the inner workings of what’s present in that painting, or, to put it better, trying to get the most out of exploring every crevice in the game to then reach an ultimate conclusion to what’s actually there, and that also seeps into another major aspect of this game, its visual “storytelling”, where nothing outside of the opening cutscene is explicitly told to you, and because of that, this lends an extra layer of mystery to planet Zebes, as even after leaving it, it’s still unclear how the alien lifeforms found there actually behave, and then there’s also a sense of loneliness whenever exploring the planet as Samus doesn’t speak, and neither does the enemies as they are too busy trying to murder you, and then you get to Tourian and it’s probably, in my personal opinion, one of the most disquieting moments I’ve ever seen in any Super Nintendo game outside of Earthbound, as Samus trudge through the mechanical lair of Mother Brain, and hears a unfathomably alien ambient song, and as you think she is destroyed, she brings her true form to life, an demonically terrifying amalgamation of flesh and steel.

Tourian: A Definitive Conclusion

Super Metroid is one of the best and most influential games of all time, that should be obvious by now, but the reality is that not many games have even attempted to replicate most of what makes it such a iconic game in the first place, even other titles in the same franchise couldn’t quite capture what made Super Metroid the SUPER Metroid, and even after the release of so many great metroidvanias like Guacamelee 2 and Yoku’s Island Express, games that brought their own new spin to the genre by focusing on a amazing and varied combat system or even completely redefining how we traverse worlds in metroidvanias, this one is still one of the very best, I mean, there’s a reason why people have done so many speedruns of this game (and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night).

And if you somehow still haven’t played this, why are you slacking off from playing it?

People give BioShock shit for this all the time, but DOOM 3 is the actual poor man’s System Shock 2 meets Half-Life!

I can’t understate how bad DOOM 3 is. It's the best example of what would happen if someone looked at both of the previously mentioned games and tried to superficially imitate it without understanding why those games worked so well.

DOOM 3 is one of the prime examples of id Software’s dark age, where basically everyone from the old guard, save for John Carmack and a few others like Tim Willits, had left the company, and thus was gone the personality and charm that made id Software’s prior works so memorable, and was replaced with a studio that seemed stuck in the past and didn’t know how to make games fun anymore, where as Valve continued to rise to the top after the huge success of the Half-Life franchise.

Now, conceptually the game itself does sound interesting, it takes the foundation of the original DOOM games, specifically DOOM 64, which was already leaning into horror with the atmosphere, and goes all the way into survival horror territory, or at the very least, it could have? Because here’s the main problem, DOOM 3 feels very much confused, it doesn’t know what it wants to be, and ends up trying to be three things at once, and failing at all of them as well.

But I guess I’d need to explain why those other games work in the first place, to then explain why this one doesn’t, so here we go fellas…


Arguably the most obvious point of comparison, down to even plot beats being ripped straight from it, Half-Life is known for its masterful use of environmental storytelling and player immersion, taking cues from the original DOOM games and making it much more grounded than “marine tears through demons”, but what truly makes Half-Life Half-Life is its gameplay. See, the gameplay itself isn’t just about running around the map killing monsters, and what in DOOM would be diversions from the core gameplay loop (the key/secret hunting) is integral to Half-Life, between gunfights there are also puzzles and platforming segments, and areas can even vary in how their gameplay is structured, going from survival horror-esque segments in the more claustrophobic segments of the Black Mesa facility, to engaging in firefights with the military and the monsters in the desert and etcetera.

In summary, Half-Life is a game that constantly shifts in pacing to make it never get stale, making it so you are never playing through the same chapter for too long (barring Surface Tension), and since often some sections come with setpieces that excellently manage to introduce you to that one chapter, it makes every one of them stand out from each other.

Also ‘On A Rail’ is a very good level.

System Shock 2

System Shock 2 is a pure survival horror at its core, and it manages to knock it out of the park. Using Thief: The Dark Project’s Dark Engine, enemies have audio cues that instill the paranoia on the player, and creates fear not because of the unknown, but because you know there is a looming threat close to you, but you don’t know where they are exactly, and even rooms that might seem safe could have a Cyborg Midwife rushing to your position and messing with your day, and that’s not getting into how your weapons could jam during battle, or you could run out of healing items, or other unfortunate circumstances, though all put in contrast to the RPG systems that allow you circumvent those situations in a number of different ways. And System Shock 2 is no slouch at storytelling either, and is even stronger at it than Half-Life, still similarly using incredible environmental design and storytelling, but also audio logs that spectacularly capture the horrors of being trapped in a place such as the Von Braun while it goes all downhill, seeing the last words of crewmembers, whether they are dying or being turned into part of The Many, is incredibly chilling, and at times the story can reach even philosophical levels, as questions about being an individual or mistakes from the past start to creep up on the player.

I don’t want this to turn into a full blown System Shock 2 review, so to cap it off, the game consistently manages to create horror both with its narrative and moment-to-moment gameplay, while still giving you the tools to fight back against it, or even outright break it (grenade launcher and full agility go bonkers).

Right, back to sadness and darkness, AKA DOOM 3.

DOOM 3 tries to imitate several aspects of these two games, but fails at almost all of them, especially in its (non-)story. And speaking of which, the story is… Fine? Like, it’s pretty much just Half-Life 1 with a bit of System Shock in there as well for good measure and… That’s it. It just lacks the spark that made either of these games from a narrative perspective so interesting, look at the main antagonist for example, he (and Hell) lacks the complex and downright philosophical overtones of S.H.O.D.A.N and The Many as well as the mystery and visual storytelling of Xen and the black ops. Really, it’s barely above Quake 2 in terms of story, except there are more cutscenes than just the ones between each level.

But yeah, that’s still far better than the gameplay itself, which is, at least for almost 80% of the game, shit.

A lot of the gameplay in DOOM 3 feels like a trickle. The weapons are mostly terrible, lacking the beef that they had in the first three games and at times feeling more like peashooters in comparison, especially the INFAMOUS shotgun, and another problem is that it tries to be a survival horror game where you have to deal with low ammo and such, but at its core it’s still a DOOM game, and those two things gel very badly with each other. The enemy encounters are just very lacking for the majority of the game, just repeatedly reusing the same “Imp appears out of a monster closet/portal to kill ya” at a rate having a drink shot for every time that same setup was used would lead me to the fucking hospital, or the even more obnoxious “small melee enemy spam” that the game loves so much that the game has two different enemy types that serve for literally the exact same purpose, be as obnoxious as Fanboy and Chum Chum, and the few interesting enemies the game uses sometimes are either very underutilized like the Pinky (who has got a radical redesign here), or appear way, way later in the game. The level design is generally very dull and boring, just taking place in very samey industrial corridors that would make Quake 2 look like Pizza Tower, and due to taking place in those very samey industrial corridors, significantly cutting down on opportunities for interesting level design beyond reusing the same incredibly flimsy attempts at horror, and by horror I mean “oh look here’s an Imp just behind that door that you could not possibly predict unless you already knew it was there” kind of thing, and after a quarter of the way through the game, I was just expecting for every two rooms to have something like either of those previously mentioned types of encounters, while all following the exact same structure of “pick that keycard/pda to get through that door”, where as 1, 2 and 64, while still following a similar structure, at least incorporated puzzle elements into the mix to make getting each keycard more challenging than just “go through all of those corridors killing enemies”, and occasions that remotely resemble those puzzles from those games are VERY few and far between.

And the end result is a game that is BORING… Really, really, really BORING. While not having many diversions from the core gameplay loop of killing demons isn’t the worst thing, that gameplay loop in question is so repetitive, irritating and busted that after the first hour it becomes a exhaustive slog, and by the time I beat Hell, I was begging for the game to end there.

And speaking of Hell, I want to dedicate a whole paragraph to Hell, the only level that manages to be almost genuinely good and isn’t boring beyond belief. Hell is the highlight of this game, for starters this level is probably the one that best captures the feeling of being in Hell, possibly in the entire series even. You truly feel like a mere mortal that managed to get into a place no one should ever dare to, and the hellish architecture and art direction of this puts every other DOOM game up until that point to shame (yes, I am being serious), I mean just look at that loading screen, it’s so fucking foreboding and awesome it makes me wish the entire game was half as good as this. And in the gameplay department this doesn’t disappoint either, at the start of the level you are starved of ammo and is already forced to fight a Hell Knight with only your shotgun, and this is the ONLY time in the entire game where the atrocious spread of it actually makes a gunfight in this game more intense. The latter half isn’t quite up there, but it still brings to the table some challenging combat encounters using stronger enemies and more tight levels, and the best part is that it ends before boredom starts to creep up, albeit it ends in a disappointing boss fight like with every other DOOM game before it, but at least the game ends in a high note here…

Too bad it doesn’t end in Hell!

I wish every other level in the game was as good as Hell, especially in the art direction (though there are some that try).

Because in terms of sights and sounds this manages to take Quake 2’s already pretty uneven art style and make it even more bland and uninteresting here. As I said before, most levels are just boring gray industrial corridors over and over and over again, and even when there’s a different room that isn’t just that, it’s still unremarkable due to how everything else blends itself together in my mind, and I don’t think that can attributed solely because of its setting, since later on there a few moments that do try to go for something different and start mixing those industrial corridors with hell and it's pretty awesome, but they are tainted by the fact that at their core they are still those same corridors you have been seeing since the very beginning of the game.

And I don’t think this game’s setting is the root cause of this problem, specifically because if I look at a System Shock 2 (literally), while the game does take place almost entirely in a massive Star Trek-esque starship, every area in the game looks and feels different from one another even if they happen to have a similar color palette, most notably because of how each room is carefully laid out to fit that deck’s purpose, and consequently creates several memorable and noteworthy rooms because of that, and that’s not even getting into all of the body horror galore of The Many. DOOM 3 also aspires to do levels that feel like tangible real places, but it lacks the ability to do something interesting with them, and even when it does, it’s way too late in the game. Going into the sounds, they are just there, and when they aren’t just there, they suck. Again, weapons sound more like peashooters or Nerf guns, but that’s par from the course at this point.

Just before wrapping this up, this game is really not scary, I don’t know if it is because it’s a horror shooter and I am naturally far less scared of games where you can directly fight back against the source of those horrors, but yeah, DOOM 3 failed to scare me at all, most notably because of the overuse of the already mentioned to death monster closet jumpscares that are very flimsy to begin with and quickly become predictable, but maybe that’s just me and in reality this is one of the scariest games of all time according to a professional gaming journalism site like IGN or Kotaku (if the latter is even professional).

I might be sounding (or reading) like a broken record at this point, but yeah, DOOM 3 is really that bad. There are certain things I do appreciate and even like about it (again, the Hell level is great, and it does start to pick up steam at the last quarter), especially their ambition in trying to turn DOOM into pure horror affair, but they are bogged down by literally every other bad thing this game does that it is no wonder people don’t really talk about it in the same way they do about Half-Life 2 or F.E.A.R, or even lesser known ones like Dark Corners of the Earth.

They couldn’t even get killing demons right. I’ve seen bad Devour clones that put more effort into how enemies died than DOOM 3.

Though at least it probably still isn’t as bad as Rage…

Yume Nikki is one of the most important games ever despite its seemingly small scope, paving the way for several RPG Maker games inspired by it in one way or another, as well as one of the most iconic surrealist games of all time, and for very good reasons.

In several ways, Yume Nikki isn’t really meant to be understood in any conventional way, nor is it meant to be played with the mindset of expecting a conventional game.

Yume Nikki as a game strips down the gameplay down to the very basic cycle of walking around like an idiot, soaking up in its atmosphere and occasionally finding something new, though the main difference is that where as in other games, such as Super Metroid, the reward for exploring the map to its fullest are upgrades that make you more powerful, finding new areas is the reward here, with some of the “power ups” merely changing the look of Madotsuki and nothing else (while others aid in traversing the map), but in the end they are still pretty cool.

But what truly matters in the game is what’s present (and what’s NOT present) in each location you find. Mind-bending landscapes where the borderline nonsensical reigns over anything else, seemingly endless black voids where surreal entities and abstract images coexist, and even the (arguably) more grounded places manage to feel just as strange as everything else due to their haunting atmosphere, helped by a stellar soundtrack which really sells the vibe of every place, all of that make the game arguably more harrowing more so by virtue of exploring a world so uniquely alien and terrifying as Madotsuki’s perturbed mind than that of an actual threat hiding around the corner. But eventually you start getting accustomed to the world’s idiosyncrasies, and consequently starts to get a better hang of the environments both based on their map layouts and their sights and sounds (for better or for worse), and the game itself is absolutely ripe with imagery and symbolism, and thus, much like the best surrealist and abstract art, it’s up to you to find meaning in everything you find throughout the game, and that’s the magic of Yume Nikki, isn’t it? Finding sense in everything found throughout the seemingly endless dimensions of abstract images, and piecing together all of it to find a meaning to Yume Nikki, or maybe not doing that at all and just soaking up all of it as it is and leaving it at that, that works too.

Now you may be wondering why did I rate this game only a mere three stars out of five despite everything I said so far?

SHORT ANSWER: IT’S BORING! Or rather, it BECOMES boring.

Long answer: When you first start, everything seems and feels extremely bizarre, and thus, it ends up being incredibly compelling and rewarding to explore each location and sometimes find new things, helped a bunch by other secret places and events that are entirely optional, making your first time reaching those moments really friggin special.

HOWEVER, it does get tiring when you have to do that to accomplish a goal as dull as “Collect 24 Effects”, especially with the slow as a snail speed of Madotsuki, and no, the Bicycle doesn’t make this much better. What starts as engrossing and bewildering starts to become annoying and exhaustive to go through, and I’ll admit I used a guide to find out how to get the rest of the Effects after I got 14 of them or so, since some of them are fairly tricky to find as well, which I would appreciate more if not for the aforementioned slow speed. Pro tip: Get the Bicycle ASAP, and then start using the Bicycle Glitch to get through most areas as quickly as possible.

I get that most people will look past this and still adore it for everything else, and I can perfectly see why, but when the whole gameplay loop involves something as mundane as walking and nothing else, that one flaw starts to get on me. And to me, the game manages to be boring both intentionally and unintentionally, and the latter part is the issue.

In summary, I do really admire what this game does (and did to indie gaming as a whole alongside Cave Story), it is an absolute piece of art that broke the boundaries of what video games could be at the time, to the point where several games were inspired by it, including fan games like the famous Yume 2kki or .flow… However, I could also say something similar about other games I far prefer to play over Yume Nikki.

TL;DR - I admire the hell of what Kikiyama did, but I don’t like actually playing it, and I’d rather just watch about it than playing it, but I don’t know, maybe YOU will find those “flaws” as something that adds to the experience of playing Yume Nikki, and I'm fine with that.

Edit: Who the fuck changed the cover art in IGDB? Come on bro the other cover art was so awesome, but now it's replaced with this dull as a plank stuff!