Has the Metroid/Metaloid Origin typo been used already? Ah, yes – it was in the news piece. Serious hat on for a sentence or two, this is the follow up to the popular METAGAL and from Retro Revolution, ported by 7 Raven Studios and published by Eastasiasoft.
Given the keys for the weekend, I took the game for a spin (longer than the weekend, mind), and this is what I think: it’s alright. More on the positive alright than a meh. It’s not going to blow you away, but the attention to detail when it comes to a retro vibe, Metaloid Origin fires on all cylinders.
Lucian Corp are ravaging the lands of all sorts of raw materials, so it’s your job to defend and fight off this threat, sending them back to… well, anywhere but your home planet. Taking place over nine biomes, you’ll get to pack your Bermuda shorts, North Face beanie and numerous other travel gear as you get to see the glorious 16-bit-like world.
But this isn’t a leisurely journey: you’ve got a mission, and other than occasionally dreaming of sheep, as an android, your three playable characters are all indifferent to anything other than the goal: take out the threat.
The three characters are Erika, Zeta and Neva, and they are proud to call themselves Predators, though nothing to do with the you-know-what franchise. With their own defined skill trees and upgrades, each has their for points, such as elemental attacks. After choosing <ahem> Normal difficulty, instead of Hard, I went for the fire-based Predator Erika.
Each character has the same movement, basic attack, special (with a cooldown) and a dash, and it’s up to you and your endeavours to unlock their full potential. With Erika, for example, you can upgrade her gear and perks through progression but unlock better weapons almost immediately (immediately, as is you can grind the first level to unlock something like the flamethrower. Speaking from experience).
Eventually, you’ll be able to do all manner of tricks, but the key part to Metaloid Origin is gem collecting. Gems serve as currency in the game for upgrades and unlocks, but also as your continues. There are three health ranges, and when you lose it all, it’s game over, but you can spend 50 gems to continue. As they are in abundance, I never experienced a point where I couldn’t continue, though I have to admit, the boss battles got me.
Generally speaking, Metaloid Origin is a reasonably straightforward (ish) game. You’ll move whichever character from left to right in areas that vary in size. Sometimes you’ll have a series of floating platforms and environmental hazards to navigate before moving to the next area. Others serve as very simple corridors with little but gems and health to collect. There aren’t any dedicated checkpoints, but you’ll usually appear at the most recent area you entered.
Enemies are versatile with an excellent selection – each with their quirks but note that the flying units are often the worst if they swarm you. Like Cathedral, they can fly underneath you and through platforms. You can only shoot left and right, so you have to jump and shoot. Also, note that there is a dash button to do long jumps – indispensable for reaching mandatory sections, but the timing for these is quite erratic. There were so many times where there was a slight lag, and I’d dash off a ledge without jumping – despite pressing jump.
The core part of Metaloid Origin is well made with some good level design, variety of enemies and obstacles. The thing that peed on my chips was the boss areas: they behave like I do in an RPG with a tank build and charge at you, and I didn’t enjoy these bits so much. With restricted aiming, it’s all about jumping at the right time or even dashing along the floor should an enemy pounce on you. Their health bars are reasonable in that you can do damage, but I found myself taking far too much damage from colliding with them, as well as their attacks.
On my first end of boss section, I died about three times and decided to take a break. Returning a day or so later, I had to restart the biome, but to my joy, I had managed to retain all the gems I’d accumulated. Within about two or three screens, I’d managed to squirrel away enough for some upgraded weapons and then everything was peachy again. This was a bit of an olive branch for the weaker players/those who like to power up before proceeding. You can effectively grind areas to upgrade your character should you be struggling. The downside, it takes time and patience.
Metaloid Origin feels very nostalgic, and perhaps Mega Man fans will warm to this but don’t unfairly make too many comparisons. With the added upgrades and unlocks on offer and a Hard difficulty, this action platformer should appeal to both the grinding types (ish) and those looking for a bit of a challenge.