Metaloid: Origin

If someone played Retro Revolutions previous game Metagal, they will be happy to hear that with the sequel they have made improvements across the board. Unfortunately, improving every single facet of the game only brings Metaloid: Origins to the status of an alright video game.

The first thing the player is met with when starting a save file is a character select screen. There are 3 different characters, called predators, to choose from and of course their look is very anime inspired including cat ears built into Erika’s helmet. On the bottom of the screen will be a series of icons displaying different abilities the character will be able to unlock. In what becomes a running theme for the game, none of them are explained. I had to run the first level with each to get an idea of just the starting load outs in order to make my pick.

I started my actual playthrough with Zeta because I liked the base weapons slight spread and the fact that her first special ability shot a wall of electricity in both directions. After picking my difficulty, a choice between Normal and Hard, I was taken to a stage select screen. This was where the first realization that this was not Mega Man hit me because the levels were arranged in a linear fashion and only the first was available to me. From that point on the levels unlocked one at a time and while it’s possible to go back and replay previous levels, the feeling of choice was completely gone.

The other realization was that there would be no system like that of unlocking and using boss weapons in a strategic order. There are different weapon types but they are unlocked by using the in game currency known as Soulrium. The first of two problems with this is that all of the weapon types beyond the default use the same ammo reserves that deplete very quickly. The second is that this currency is used for everything including needing it to respawn. This makes it that you better unlock the additional weapons before you get to the challenging levels because it will cost you 50 Soulrium each time you die, that is until you have none left, at which time the respawn is free. It’s an odd choice.

So after making these selections, you find yourself in the first level and come across the first few tutorial tips. Here we go back to the lack of explanation as you will be giving tips like holding the dash button and a direction will let you move faster. What’s missing here though is actually telling you which button is your dash. You will need to trial and error every function like changing weapons, swapping abilities or even using them.

Once you have figured out the controls, things get a bit better. The minute to minute gameplay is very much like what you would expect from a Mega Man title. Work your way from left to right while jumping over pits and shooting anything that moves. There are health and ammo pickups to grab and the ability to replay levels allows for the exploration required to get the collectables. In this case, energy tanks and armor pieces are replaced by large crystals and extra abilities. There is even a nice dose of pacing changes provided in the form or auto scrolling shooter levels or vehicle segments.

While the controls are vastly improved, some situations like trying to jump vertically off a ladder or vertically onto a ladder still need a lot of work. In addition, a lot of the level design is done in a way that creates a lot of cheap difficulty spikes that are in no way based on loose controls. Instead, jumps are surrounded with ranged enemies just looking to pick you off with a single hit that initiates the games knock back mechanic, tossing you right into the pit you were trying to clear.

There are no difficulty spikes quite like the boss fights at the middle and end of the fairly long levels. These are not insurmountable but they are situations where the mentality is to throw as many counter attacks or debris tossing abilities into one fight that even when you have the pattern down, you will need a good amount of luck coupled with it to succeed.

Despite everything just mentioned that is meant to impede your progress, the 9 total levels will only take you about 3 hours to complete, on normal at least. A forgivable offense considering the very budget price but even at such a low cost, it’s tough to prioritize this title over others in the genre that do it so much better.

It was almost impossible to look at the game and not feel like a comparison to the Mega Man franchise was inevitable. To Retro Revolutions credit, it’s the same gameplay style and the graphics are done amazingly well to capture the same feeling of the 16-bit classics unfortunately that is where the similarities end. This doesn’t make it a bad game but it does unfortunately keep it from being a really good one.

~~Sandro Luketic~~

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