Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Metroid: Zero Mission Revisited

After the announcement of Samus Returns, I decided to return to my endeavor from last year, where I started revisiting various Metroid titles, both Metroid II - Return of Samus on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console and Metroid Prime Hunters at the time. For now I want to replay several 2D Metroid games on the Wii U Virtual Console, where I started with Zero Mission, because there was a discount available at My Nintendo and because I haven't played this game since 2008, where I first got into the Metroid franchise.

Similar to Metroid Fusion, I've never owned Zero Mission on my original GameBoy Advance. And I'm kind of glad that I didn't, because I can't imagine myself ever completing this game without the help of Restore Points. The amount of pixel perfect input perfection required to perform the various Shine Spark stunts in order to get some of the pick ups is just ridiculous. Especially the one Energy Container at Chozodia, where you have to hit several slopes and quickly store another Shine Spark, probably would have broken either my fingers or my GameBoy Advance if I ever had tried this on the original version. With Restore Points it's doable, because if you screw up a single part, you just have to repeat this (given you saved right before it) and not start over from the very beginning.

What also took me quite a while was the Missile Expansion in the lower right corner of the Ridley area, because I tried getting this as early as possible... Other than the Shine Spark sequence to get there, you also have to get through a maze of dissolving blocks. It's a lot easier to do with the Space Jump ability, but then you would have to return there later in the game, which costs a lot of time. So, this time I tried to do it without it, which took many tries... There's lots and lots of mastery in this game.

Another infamous example would be within the tunnels of Brinstar, where you can get a Super Missile very early in the game, right after obtaining the Speed Booster and the Spring Ball:

It's probably even necessary if you want to get a 100% item rating under 2 hours, which is required for some of the endings. I'm not gunning for this, though, I'm settling with completing the game on both Normal and Hard with 100% items. Other than Other M I hadn't beaten any Metroid games on Hard / Hyper Mode yet, because usually I felt like the games were hard enough on Normal Mode or I had trouble getting past the first big boss. But this time I'm up for a challenge.

Hardest part was probably the Mother Brain boss fight, which is absolutely atrocious in any difficulty. I actually had to go back and collect some missing Super Missile packs (6 of them do the trick), because otherwise this fight is just endlessly frustrating. Again having Restore Points made the whole thing more bearable.

But I like how in a New Game+ it does show how many items there are in each area and how many you found already. This is really helpful, because on my first playthrough I had to study maps on the internet in order to find some of the last Missile Expansions that I had missed.

In general, Zero Mission isn't one of my favorite Metroid games and probably never will be, despite this being a solid title. I really enjoy how they remade the first game and translated it into the style of Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion. That's really well done, but they had to up the ante and that's where this remake failed me. I don't like running away from invincible foes in video games, so I ultimately found the whole Zero Suit section of the game to not be enjoyable. It even kills a good part of the replay value for me, which is probably why I never bothered with replaying this game up until now...

It's also a very long section of the game, where they've created this massive maze on top of a game world that already wasn't very easy to navigate to begin with. You can waste a lot of precious time just getting from A to B. And this makes me look forward to the teleport stations in Samus Returns even more, because this feels like one of the best possible additions to the franchise (they had teleporters in Hunters, but there it wasn't all that helpful).

It also ruined a part of the continuity, which Retro Studios tried to establish with Metroid Prime, where Samus has some of the abilities from the first game ready in the beginning, but she loses them. It's almost like Sakamoto actively wanted to discredit Metroid Prime, where he likes to remind everyone that he isn't involved with the Prime series. That they added the Gravity Suit, Power Bombs, and all the other typical upgrades to the remake also felt a little bit uninspired and to a degree unnecessary.

Anyway, it was still quite fun and I'm looking forward to replaying Super Metroid next month.


Eduardo Jencarelli said...

Regarding the shinesparking puzzles for some of the items, they get easier with enough practice (this is a game that encourages multiples playthroughs in order to unlock every gallery photo). I can do the Chozodia E-Tank with ease nowadays, and I've never used restore points in that case. One missle expansion that still gives me trouble is in Ridley's Hideout where you have to jump a line of destroying blocks to get to it. That's the one I still use restore points.

But if you want a real challenge, try playing Hard Mode while aiming for 15% items, which unlocks one of the more interesting gallery pictures. You have to change your strategy completely for the Ridley fight, fighting through Tourian Metroids is an exercise in patience, and Mother Brain becomes a living nightmare. That's when I really used restore points. I spent 90% of the MB fight screwattacking between the two platforms, since I actually needed to restore my missile ammo (I only had 2 missiles and 2 super missiles).

The Metal Ridley form at the end actually becomes harder if you collect all 100% items, and even takes more damage (up to 15 supers). Even with full E-Tanks, he can kill Samus in two hits on Hard Mode.

Also, it is possible to clear the two black space pirates at the end without taking damage, but I'm not going to spoil the strategy.

TourianTourist said...

Well, when I went through Hard Mode, naturally I had less trouble with the Shinespark sequences thanks to the previous practice. Even the aforementioned Missile Tank in the Ridley area only took me a few tries. So, yes, of course you get better with practice.

But it's certainly not enough to make me go through the game with only 15% or in under two hours. Maybe if I didn't have any other games to play, I would try this, but as I said, I will settle for the 100% in Normal and Hard.

With that I already knew about the stronger Metal Ridley, so I'm not sure, why you're telling me this. You could have told me the strategy about the Black Space Pirates, though, because I obviously have no clue and no interest in returning to this game. But I guess, you can make them chase you upwards and then shoot them, while they climb, or something like that...

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

I don't really like posting spoilers, but that's pretty much the strategy. You space jump into their area and go immediately back up. Both pirates try and climb the wall, but if you position yourself just at the edge of the upper ledge, they can't finish their climb, and get stuck at the wall, giving you ample time to shoot them dead.

TourianTourist said...

Good to know, thanks!

EHX said...

My late 2 cents, yes the Shinesparks are tight, but personally I think it's the coolest move to ever exist (especially after watching "And She's a Star") so I'm not really bothered by having to redo it. (Unless I gather over an hour of footage despite using a savestate/restore point at the start of the chain, that's a bit much. Only happened to me in one ROM hack though, but I could see it happen with Fusion's secret message too.) Basically, Zero Mission is my favorite official game for the very reason you're not getting warm with it. I've actually recorded some Shinesparks that are completely pointless, done just for fun (not uploaded, but I might).