A look at that rarest of treats: A classy ROM hack

For this week’s Gintendo stream I finally spent some time with something I’ve been meaning to try out for quite a while, ever since it was released at the beginning of the year: A ROM hack total conversion of the original NES Metroid called Metroid: Rogue Dawn. It turned out to be quite good, with the kind of flow I like in an exploratory game. I don’t know if it was fun to watch, but I spent a lot of time searching for paths forward and accidentally going back the way I had originally come through alternate means before finally stumbling across the proper route. From the hour I’ve played, Rogue Dawn seems designed in a way that almost frustrates but then rewards thoughtful play with a satisfying resolution. I dig it.

I managed to make it just far enough into the hack to finally reach the part that took it beyond a simply facelift and reshuffling of the original game: At the end of the stream, I found an item that adds a new wall-jump mechanic that reminds me a bit of the one in Strider and, natch, Super Metroid. Though it’s much easier to pull off here.

I have been told the final area of the game degenerates into fiddly ROM hack expert-play nonsense, which is a shame, but I’m still intrigued enough by what I’ve played to want to find out for myself. Probably not on a stream, though. As lost as I ended up becoming in this game, I can only assume it’s going to get a lot worse further in, and constantly jabbering about what I’m doing is not really the key to successful concentration in a sprawling video game world. Nevertheless, a pretty solid ROM hack — much better than the innumerable low-quality hacks of yesteryear. Maybe give it a shot for yourself, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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2 Responses to A look at that rarest of treats: A classy ROM hack

  1. Super Boy Alan

    This *is* pretty classy. The music is not not quite as memorable, but it seems serviceable enough. As a composer I’d be curious to see what I might have come up with myself for such a project, but I imagine the technical side of things restrains what can be done, especially within the context of a pre-existing ROM. Metroid on NES had, what… 128 kilobytes for the entirety of PRG ROM?

  2. Brain Breaker

    If you haven’t already, you should check out the blatantly Metroid-influenced MSX titles Cross Blaim by dB-Soft, which actually started out as a completely different game (there were screenshots in magazines and everything) until the developers saw Metroid, and Seimei Wakusei M36 by Pixel (subcontract developer of many FC, GB and SFC games), which was almost shameless in its presentation. I guess the fact that “Mother Brain” is in the subtitle was kind of a giveaway…