From Metroid to Minitroid

Posted: April 11, 2011 in Gaming, Previews
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As a regular gamer, how often do you find yourself disillusioned with the industry, jaded by the torrent of remakes that all shatter the beautifully-crafted originals?

Unfortunately, this happens far too often, to the detriment of many a gaming franchise. For reference, examine Starfox, damaged irrevocably by the less-than-impressive third-person manifestation on the Gamecube, Conflict Denied Ops which absolutely crippled the Conflict franchise by transforming it into a FPS, or the hotly debated Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast. Maybe I’m being a little harsh, and at very least I respect the decision to move forward, experimenting with a title in an attempt to enhance it rather than let it stagnate – it’s just a shame when it horribly fails. Thankfully, there are some titles that are able to update and create incredible sequels. Fine examples of this can be seen in both the Legend of Zelda and Metroid franchises, taking simple 2D classics and rendering them in 3D with new worlds, enemies and narratives. The latter is what I shall focus on within this post…

Glorious nostalgia

With various adaptations in the series, some less well-received than others (Metroid – the Other M, mentioning no names), it is no surprise that fans have turned to their own ingenuity to create fresh sequels. And my God, have they been working hard! Check them all out here: http://www.metroid-database.com/fanapps.php

The most recent creation is a glorious tribute to retro 2D gaming, harking back to Metroid’s finest format. Minitroid, so far just a tech demo, has been put together by a three person team: Construct Programmer Tokinsom, an artist Betatronic, and music composer Jamie Billings. They’ve been working on it for about a year, uploading updates via Tokinsom’s youtube account, but it’s no surprise that the game is still only in demo form when you see how comprehensive it is! The game takes everything that was right about Metroid – the simple side-scrolling shooting system, the expansive 2D environments, the in-depth exploration and strategy application – and throws in a new protagonist, a mini, chibi-style Metroid. Despite wearing the classic orange spacesuit, she is almost cute!

Mind the gap!

At its core, Minitroid is classic Metroid gameplay, with all the familiar commands and power-ups. Moves are limited to ducking, jumping (with a double jump) and shooting (including a charge shot with your default weapon, and added missiles), with additional moves unlocked as you discover new ups (the Speedcore, allowing Minitroid to dash also enables her to long jump). And don’t forget the Morph Ball and Bombs! Enemies are varied, requiring alternating tactics in order to kill them efficiently, as is the gameworld, a mass of adjoining levels formed from many different colours and textures. For a game so simple in design, it is remarkably detailed. Adding to the classic feel is Billings’ beautiful chiptune soundtrack, transporting you right back to your gaming childhood. It’s highly reminiscent of the original game music, creating an audible sense of fantasy and sci-fi to complete the sublime environments that surround you.

Open Sesame!

The game has a good learning curve, essential for enjoyable but rewarding gameplay. Enemies are fairly easy to combat, especially when you’ve discovered their path of movement and attack, and they often drop missile and health refills. Save points are located throughout the game, at challenging intervals – you’re very grateful when you find them, but won’t have to work too hard in order to do so. The greatest difficulty isn’t survival, it’s working out how in God’s name you progress from one area to another, but with a little time you’ll manage it! (And if you can’t, unlucky because there are no walkthroughs!)

Minitroid is the perfect combination of shoot-em-up action and puzzle/strategy; you must use initiative to uncover new areas, whilst experimenting with the power-ups you’ve earned in inventive ways to progress. Despite being only a demo, the game is solid and detailed, and well deserves a few hours of your time. Show your support for a growing indie game industry and check it out!

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