The best Rom hack of 2017 is already here. Metroid: Rogue Dawn is a prequel to the events of the original NES Metroid. This ambitious Rom hack pushes the limits of what the NES can do. You will forget this isn’t a Super Metroid romhack after a short journey into this epic game.
The original Metroid game begins with Samus Aran arriving to the planet Zebes to destroy the lair of Mother Brain where weapons are being made harnessing the stolen Metroid’s powers. Rogue Dawn tells the story of how the Space Pirates came into possession of the Metroids by stealing pure samples from the Federation while orbiting the Metroid’s home planet SR388.
The 3-man team who spent about 2 years on this project has just released the mostly complete Beta 3. Right from the first moments, you know there’s some new plot elements coming when the opening mission statement is signed “General Ridley”, that’s right, you’re the bad guy in this prequel. Dawn Aran is a human agent captured as a child and trained by Ridley. The resemblance to Samus and the last name Aran are one of the game’s mysteries. Some speculate that she is Samus, others say its her sister. The game does answer some of these questions if you persevere.
The game adds tons of things to the original Metroid. Most interesting is the plot points. You will come across Space Pirates who give you information, Federation soldiers who will attempt to derail your mission, or surrender and give you information. This added plot element really makes the game more deep and intriguing. There is a plot and it is going somewhere as you play through the game. I don’t want to spoil any of it. The creators also have a sense of humor. You’ll notice words in the formation of blocks and find some jokes here or there if you dig deep enough.
The graphics are some of the best I’ve seen on the NES. Each area is teeming with life and feels very active when compared to most NES games. It really feels more like a SNES game with so much atmosphere. Areas from Metroid 2: Return of Samus and Super Metroid are re-created in glorious 8-bits graphics. Almost every aspect of the game has been overhauled. There’s an in-game map like in Super Metroid. There are underwater areas and new enemy types. The music is excellent. It reminds me of everything that’s great about the original’s Soundtrack and also class NES musical masterpieces like Guardian Legend.
You can also wall jump in this version and, like any good Metroid game, there are secrets everywhere. Another technique that is important in this version is chaining enemy hits to propel yourself upwards. The scale of the game seems much bigger than the original and there are bosses, power ups and everything you’d expect from Metroid. It’s pretty amazing to see how many little references to the series’ other games are here.
Nintendo is serious about protecting their copyrights. Just recently they shut down the 3D Zelda site and sent a cease and desist to an amazing fan-made Metroid game. However, romhacks seem to be one of those legal grey areas that are harder to control. Technically, this is just some lines of code that create a patch for a ROM. Other games such as Super Metroid Zero Mission don’t seem to be getting shut down, so it seems like we’ll get to see the final. But just in case, you can grab the patch before its too late.