You like metroids redux

About 25,000 people have looked at it over the past week thanks to casual links from Joystiq and specifically Penny Arcade, and in my typical fashion of doing the right thing too late to matter, I figured I might as well give the Metroidvania section — also known as! — a thorough overhaul now that those links are going away and no one’s going to read it anymore. Or rather, that I’d finally fill in all the blank descriptions to give at least a little hint of why each title appears on the list.

Of course, if I really had my druthers I’d genuinely overhaul it and start over from scratch, but free time is something that I don’t precisely have a surfeit of. And it would probably be a better idea for me to poke around and bring old, forgotten articles lost in the GameSpite wiki matrix up to code in any case.

Meanwhile, I’m adjusting to my tiny new computing existence. I cut frivolities out of my personal budget and bought one of the brand-new 17″ MacBook Pros at the beginning of the year, and it’s been pretty much the best computer I’ve ever owned — a genuine portable desktop machine. I gave my fiancée my aging, decrepit laptop to use on the road, which was very well-intended but ultimately pretty pointless: She does a ton of photography work, which means processing enormous RAW-format files, and the computer she’s using is Apple’s first-ever Intel-based system… which is to say, not entirely up to snuff. What I mean is that it takes her about a day to wheeze through batch processing a single shoot. After watching her sit and coax her machine to survive its task for an entire day this weekend, I realized that the only right thing to do would be to pass my mighty behemoth of a system along to her. No greater love has a man for a woman than this.

As for myself, we definitely couldn’t afford another 17″ system, but I do too much layout and graphics work to get by with the old wheezing geezer, so I compromised and cut out the rest of my budget’s frivolities in order to pick up a 13″ MacBook Pro. It is very… small.

That’s a good thing, and a bad thing. It’s bad because the screen has about 2.1 million pixels fewer than I’m used to. I wish, at the very least, this smaller system had the same pixel density as the larger machine (which fit the 1920×1200 resolution of a 24″ iMac into 17 inches of screen space), because it turns out the Internet is no longer designed around a trifling 1280 pixels width and I wouldn’t mind squinting if it let me see whole webpages in one go. The Mac OS isn’t really designed for that resolution, either, for that matter. But, I’m slowly adjusting, and it’s not so terrible… although I need to figure out how to reset my iTunes window, since I migrated all my personal data and files and settings from the old machine. OS X’s migration feature is seriously amazing and makes it possible to clone one machine onto the other with about a dozen simple mouse-clicks, but I don’t think Apple stopped to consider that people might actually have to migrate to a smaller screen someday. Since all my settings were carried over perfectly, my iTunes window is currently so large that the resize handle at the bottom right is impossible to interact with, and the + button causes it to compact into a floating controller window rather than simply making the standard window fit the screen. So thanks for that, Apple.

On the other hand, having a smaller system is kind of great. This thing is very slightly larger and very slightly heavier than a netbook, which is to say light and extremely portable, but the guts are considerably more robust. The one notable difference is that it has only half the L2 cache of the larger system… but beyond the occasional slight pause for queuing up operations and the fact that someone cut away about 65% of my pixels, I don’t feel like I’ve particularly made a step down here. And after just two days, my shoulder is already thanking me for the two pounds I’ve trimmed from my notebook bag.

Of course, the new system has a rather pitiful graphics card, which I’m sure I’ll regret when I want to play the latest 3D masterpieces on Mac… oh, wait.

26 thoughts on “You like metroids redux

  1. For games, there’s always Aleph One, which should run like butter on the new laptop. What better way to break in a new Mac than playing the best series ever made for the platform?

  2. Not sure if this will work, but try resizing your iTunes window by holding Option and left clicking the plus sign. Doing this is supposed to reset the window size to “ideal”.

  3. I believe smacketh is right – that’s the best I could find when I Googled iTunes keyboard shortcuts.

  4. Circle of the Moon was developed by KCE Kobe, who made the N64 Castlevanias. Legends was developed by KCE Nagoya (who did the horrible Saturn port of Symphony of the Night).

  5. I got a 13″ unibody Macbook when they first came out, and I adore it. (I think this is the same thing, with a few spec upgrades, as the 13″ Macbook Pro.) I came from a 17″ Dell behemoth. Being more portable was a huge improvement. My work requires either programming or writing, and the smaller screen has made little impact on that.

  6. Monster World IV was listed on the page under SMS games. It’s another game that deserves a sequel that was left unmentioned in this week’s feature. (Though I’m guessing, or at least hoping, you only forgot.)

  7. “Circle of the Moon was developed…”

    This stopped me dead in my tracks for a second, then I got the connection. Good to know! Circle of the Moon is not so good, but I’m also not surprised to see it’s not the work of the same people who did Legends AND Symphony for Saturn. Gross!

  8. Oops, Kishi’s right. God, Konami’s big compartmentalization in the ’90s was the stupidest thing. I can never remember which team did what, except that anything not from KCE Tokyo was probably going to be kind of lousy.

  9. I think you can add another Metroidvania title to the NES section. Adventure Island IV. It’s a late NES title and looks great.

  10. Looking at that page again prompted a quick visit to the Blaster Master article. This, unfortunately, prompted a rise in my blood pressure when I found the bit that talks about the flying enemies in the game moving along parabolic arcs. They’re not parabolas, they’re sine waves! I realize this is a totally stupid thing to get upset over, but it is important to use science (and math) correctly.

  11. Why doesn’t Cave Story have a link to one of the Cave Story articles? or SotN for that matter?

  12. You should restructure the Metroidvania links so that you can’t access them in linear order.

  13. No, it’s fine. I just feel doofy for leaving the page incomplete until AFTER it had been seen by tens of thousands of people.

  14. I should write about Adventure Island IV, since I actually have a cart (kudos Jeremy) and know details of its being translated.

  15. Articles linked from the metroidvania page are specifically focused on those games’ genre-specific qualities and their evolutionary accomplishments, which is why Cave Story and other articles aren’t linked there.

  16. I didn’t get a chance to play Circle of the Moon until I got a Gameboy Advance SP. All of the problems with lighting I hear about were non-existent on that platform. I won’t argue that CotM is one of the greats, but it’s not even close to bottom of the heap of portable Castlevanias; nono, that title belongs to Harmony of Dissonance.

  17. As much as webpages are not designed for smaller screens anymore, me and my small laptop greatly appreciate that you limit the width of your website, Parish.

  18. For the computer stuff, most of my Mac gaming nowadays is through either Boxer (DosBox frontend for Mac: or ScummVM, both of which let me play classic PC games :D

    And Doomsday HQ when I feel like some Doom/Heretic/Hexen.

    For the Metroidvania list, I’m surprised you mentioned Wonder Boy in Monsterworld for Master System (which is actually fairly linear), and not the superior sequel, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap.

    You may also want to consider adding Aquaria ( to your list for PC/Mac games. While you swim rather than jump, it is very much a metroid-style game.

  19. Although it is a bit more linear in design, and definitely not 2D, Batman: Arkham Asylum scratches my Metroidvania itch.

  20. Yeah, I had a feeling, given that Penny Arcade sent 20,000 readers this way with a casual mention of Arkham Asylum’s non-linear qualities. I’m having trouble getting past the game’s aesthetics, though. Someone described it as “Jim Lee meets Unreal Engine 3,” which is dead-on, and also is a combination of two things I really can’t stand looking at.

  21. Another game that fits in the Metroidvania style is Lost Winds on WiiWare. It fits all the criteria. The whole world is open from the get go, your just limited by your skills in getting around. Granted its a short game, but then again the same can be said for alot of Metroidvanias.

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