fxblue's Ratings and Reviews
SM Redesign: Axeil Edition by Drewseph [SM Exploration], rated by fxblue on Jul 13, 2015 (Star Star Star Star Star )
81% in 26:00
Edition 1.4
I played with my brother trading off over znes netplay. Very little savestates and no TAS tools were used, so this is as close to a legit run as I could make.

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Innovation and Standing Apart
* Redesigned feels like no normal Metroid hack, the new positive adjustments to Axiel feel very good. The only thing that I couldn't get down was infinite bomb jumping, but everything else was solid. I had no issues with shinesparks, spacejumps or screwattacks. For the most part the "skill automated" hype is accurate.

* There is many new small touches all over the hack, new sprites and nameplates show a level of polish many hacks dont have. Redesigned is clearly an undertaking in crafting Zebes. It feels much more like you're truely battling through an entire planet used as the space pirates base. The planet shifting makes Zebes feel like a real volatile place and gives character to the world you're explorint. I really enjoyed this aspect of the hack, and only wished there were more of it or that the shifts created bigger changes to the map.

* The new mapping and hints system is an incredible help but I'm still left wanting more out of it due to how complex Redesigned's maps are. I did use the express elevators but also found myself forgetting which elevator goes to what area very often since they are just blank. I would love to see them being color coded. This goes double for the doors, so many doors to keep track of would cut down on the backtracking if you didn't have to revisit an area just to see that it's a gray door or something else.

* I used hints very sparingly and only when I swept the maps for a while. They worked very well, right up until Grapple where it failed and SpaceJump where it didn't seem so obvious on continuing on due to you hiding an enemy behind a sandfall it was easily missed.

* The Lost Caverns is almost worth loosing the Wrecked Ship over except that it's merely a convoluted puzzle that will make the player become very frusterated and may only stumble onto the solution by blind luck. It was definitely interesting but the player will either spend far too much time guessing wrong and hate their life, or just breeze through the LC in no time with barely a glimpse at it. I would have preferred the Caverns as it's own big area to conquer and leave the maze til the end since it was intriging but short lived once you knew the way.

* One of the biggest beneficial changes to Axiel was the midair-morph. Many of the morph jumps are much easier now but this doesn't always work when it should. So the experience isn't flawless and the player must be able to midair morph at least a few times on their own. Though I suspect this is just an oversight. It feels incredibly fluid when it does work though.

* Beam Combo was a cool addition but felt strangely out of place in a spot that could easily be missed, yet it's so critical to have for the final run against LowerNorfair and Tourian.

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Difficulty
* The remade Redesigned rooms and general placement in Axiel 1.4 is a big step forward from the cruelty of the original Redesign. Instead of outright killing you however, now it seems like this hack punishes you by wasting your time. An improvement in difficulty but not much better for fun when it becomes too tedious to aquiring items, or progressing requires you to go through multiple tricks spanning many rooms. And if that's your design then you can expect people to use save-states.

* I didn't mind the acid since I learned early on that it was death and there was never really a point where I had to dive into it and pray. At first I thought it was a bug, but after paying attention to the suit I noticed that it was on a timer.

* There's lots of intentional decisions that Drewseph makes that ultimately hold the hack back from being a great experience that I could reccommend. The artificial fake difficulty where the core fundamentals are swapped around with no way to tell what will happen. Intentionally being locked in morph, knocked out of spacejump, Xray sometimes doesn't work on blocks, and so on. It just isn't fun, and it's a sin of good game design.

* The difficulty for Lower Norfair is either incredibly difficult or incredibly easy(with screw attack) which seems like a pretty odd trade off for such a critical item. Meanwhile Tourian was either very easy or very difficult with the Metroid rooms. The ending metroid rooms being the worst of it all, for all of the impressive work done to the AI the metroids just feel like a very stupid "challenge" that most players will just give up on, as it was some serious hell. But fhe final feeding pit metroids don't seem like a difficult thing to fix to me, just allow the supers to fire faster instead of having such a very long delay.

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Fun Factor and Pacing
* Overcoming Redesigned's challenges feels great when you understand what to do, or you have the chops to pull it off. (Sans locking your abilitys) But there's too many cases where you put in a lot of effort, mearly to unlock a faster path. This isn't an an adequate return for your work when you spent a lot of ammo or had to chain shines. This only punishes players to extra tedious routes if they can't pull off tricks. And if you're just going to gate shortcuts by skilled chains, that's not very good design.

* I found this hack to be very much hit or miss, there was some really great designed challenges like HellsRun, Crocomire, Ridley but then there was just some incredibly annoying ones as well like Phantoon, Botwoon and Draygon. Meanwhile others were a complete pushover like Kraid, Golden Torizo, and MotherBrain. An odd sense of the difficulty curve being all over the place.

* Lowest point of the hack was definitly Maridia when Drew changes the rules constantly with almost zero consistency. Maridia was just a slow and boring area filled with annoying artificial challenges. The only consistency for Maridia is if it will waste your time, it's going to happen.

* Redesigned doesn't really have much flow to the maps and actually puts constant tripping and roadblocks in your path designed to slow you back down and kill any speed you had. In early Crateria there's a huge amount of enemies that you will run into. The only plus to this sort of cobbled layout is that speedbooster chains are much easier to spot.

* There is far too many gates, or tedious areas where you must unlock to progress. Including poorly communicated 1-way gray doors that must be unlocked from the other side. Many many times I would open a new area just to be immediately blocked by a 1-way gray door, this actively discourages exploration which is a red flag for a Metroid game. I don't mind the feeling of circumventing the pirate's security systems but this is done to an excessive degree where it wears thin and becomes a chore by the time you reach Tourian which is the worst of it.

* I would get rid of the underwater segment of the escape through the depths as it's just slow and boring instead of difficult and exciting. There isn't a sense of tension until the top of Crateria filled with water as you close in on the final stretch.

* Locking the best item behind an easily failed 'puzzle' that you need a stopwatch for is unnacceptable to me. I would much rather you tied the chozo quests to unlocking the screw attack than having the chozos unlock Tourian which makes no sense in canon and it would feel like a true reward for your exploring instead of just a tedious quest to unlock Tourian, which is the most tedious area of the hack.

The last thing players want to do after battling through Tourian's final rooms is to turn around and go blow up all of the zebtites back through all of Tourian... again. Everything in Tourian after clearing the metroids is just incredibly dull and long for legitimately no reason.

The instant death laser gates in Tourian are not difficult so much as an annoyance that players will learn trial and error not to slip up and may loose progress by one swoop. Please get rid of the tractor beam and have it repell you instead, at least for the horizontal ones where touching one instantly kills you.

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Conclusion
If Drew improved the pacing, fixed the metroid difficulty and eased up on his incredibly linear pathing "my way or the highway" that changes established rules on a whim then it would be more fun to play. Metroid is loved because you had many tools at your disposal for very different skilled people and thus can be enjoyed by all ranges. Thanks to the physics locks, Axiel 1.4 edition only has 1 way to play it, Drew's way... and that's a turn off.

Becuase of that his hack flies against a large part of what makes a Metroid game so great. I would have enjoyed this hack much more if it wasn't holding me back even after I earned the abilities it never feels like I have very much freedom being pushed along the linear path. I would have prefered zero ability-disables and letting me walljump freely with the occasional slippery wall instead of the majority being too slippery. At the very least never lock abilitys I should be able to do in any other situation just because you don't want the player to find a better way... Not being able to crumble jump sucks but the worst is the morphlocks and Maridia's sand.

I missed seeing the old MB shaft of Metroid1 in the original SM, as well as the Wrecked Ship and the boss statues that had a feeling of mystery and wonder that this hack never really comes close to. Seeing the same platform sprites and gates all the way through makes for far less interesting changes in the scenery than vanilla, but the final Norfair area right before Ridley was a cool callback to Metroid1.

At the end of the day I was able to finish Axiel 1.4 when I couldn't finish the original due to the Chozo fetch quest and the excellent new hints-system remedied that, so it's easier at least on the map and exploration layout but it still needs a good bit of tweaking to really make it accessible and fun.