[ Hacksterpiece Theatre is a regular column devoted to fun, odd, and interesting retro game hacks. ]
When I first played Super Metroid in April 1994, it was the most incredible gaming experience I'd ever had up to that point. Period. The atmosphere created by its top-notch graphics, music, and gameplay was palpable, enveloping me deeply into an incredible world of sci-fi fantasy and exploration.
There was only one problem with this otherwise excellent game: once you had finished it — exploring every nook, finding every secret, and collecting every power-up along the way — you had squeezed nearly every ounce of replay value out of the game. For years I wished so badly for a new Super Metroid, even if it were the exact same engine with a completely new world to explore. Well, my friends…in 2006, that wish was granted. Fans of this seminal work can explore the planet Zebes all over again in a new hack by Drewseph and crew called, quite simply, Super Metroid Redesign.
Like Deja-Vu All Over Again
Super Metroid Redesign is exactly as its title says: a complete redesign of Super Metroid. It has a completely new world map, some new items, physics changes, and a few other new features. These features are probably best explained in the "readme" file that comes with the hack, so I'll quote that below:
Something that always bothered me has been the horribly slow falling speed in this game. Every time I jumped I felt like I was wasting time waiting to land on the ground. My reason for changing it is backed up by a Pirate data in Metroid Prime that states Zebes total mass nearly equivalent to Tallon VI. I also Favored changing the physics because in every SM hack I've played I get bored rather quickly because I already know everything there is. I know where I can wall jump, that I can bomb jump places, that I can easily get around this place by doing another thing. I have also modified bomb jumping to return to the fast falling speeds of M1 and Metroid Prime. Many tricks you knew in the original will need to be relearned which brings back that "unfamiliar" feeling of gameplay. THATS why I changed the physics.
There are 2 new major upgrades that Samus will need to complete her adventure. One of them is required, the other a simple weapons addition to enhance your fire power. Hi-Jump boots now come packaged with Spring-Ball.
Wall jumping has become a bigger part in this hack. IF a wall is rocky and has a gripping surface then Samus will be able to wall jump off of it. However if the wall is a smooth pipe, or an algae covered seawall, then Samus won't be able to get ANY grip to jump from. A new technique that was Alien to SM has finally been added to the game as well, and you'll need to use it carefully if you wish to get all 100% items.
Stirrings from the retrogaming community say that this hack possesses a quality that is quite common among game hacks: extreme difficulty. In fact, I've read much criticism on a few forums that SM: Redesign relies too much on the difficult "wall jumping" technique to pass certain areas of the game, while others say it is not much of a problem. I'll let the reader make his own decisions on that point. I myself have not played through the game very far because it is, indeed, very hard. Still, this is the first significant Super Metroid hack out there (that I know of), so it is worth passing along.
Let Me Play it Already!
I typically include a fully playable version of the hacked game in my HT columns, but in this case, the hack is so recent that I'd rather not annoy its creator by doing that.
Also, Drewseph seems to regularly make updates to the patch, so you should probably look at the official page for the latest version. Nonetheless, I am mirroring version 2.1 (final) of the patch on VC&G for posterity: you can download the Super Metroid Redesign v2.1 Header or Headerless patch. You'll have to find and patch the game file yourself using the Lunar IPS (file mirror) tool. If you need help patching, post a comment or a message on the VC&G forum.
[ Update: 09/18/2007 - Here's a complete world map of Super Metroid Redesign. Special thanks to Brian Clark for sending it to me, and to Kapow for making it. ]
[ Update: 02/03/2012 - I updated the patches from v1.7 to v2.1, which Drewseph says will be the final version of the Super Metroid Redesign patch. I also updated the mirrored Lunar IPS tool from v1.00 to v1.02]
Have you found or made any cool, funny, or weird retro game hacks that you'd like to share? Send 'em along!