Designing a game is challenging. It requires the designer to know exactly what he's looking for in the game even before writing the first line of code. In order to make a succesful Metroid game, I had to study all the games, understand how they work, and then design my version.
When I contemplated the idea of a remake, I did the most obvious research first: Play the original again. I have to recognize, I kinda cheated. I played it on a Super GameBoy cartridge, instead of the original GameBoy. Most of the atmosphere and desperation was lost because of playing in a comfortable TV, just because batteries are really expensive here in Argentina.
I also used a printed version of a map I found in GameFaqs, so I didn't get too lost.
It was a great experience to play it again so many years later, suddenly the game was a lot easier than before, except of course the final battle. Playing with a B&W color sheme and the lights off is quite a trip.
Having completed and learned the "feel" of Metroid 2, I researched on everything I could find about the game. The story, Samus' backstory, secret worlds, etc. Tool Assisted Speedruns pushed the little game's limits and showed how you could skip entire areas by diving into lava.
Then came Super Metroid. It was hughe, until now I hadn't completed the game. This was a good excuse to play the best platform game on the SNES. After that I played again Zero Mission and Fusion, paying a lot of attention to how the engine works. Physics, frictions, speeds, jump heights, how walljump works, etc. Speedruns of Zero Mission are very interesting, since the game was designed with speedrunning in mind. It was then when I set my first design goal: The player must be able to play like this in my game.
So, I had the game in my mind finally:
- Zero Mission style graphics
- Samus should be fast and versatile like in ZM, so exploring would be easier
- The game should run smoothly, preferably at 60 fps
- There will be shortcuts for the speedrunning player
I then started with the engine. The most stable platform engine I found was Martin Piecyk's, it is solid and easy to customize. I ripped some of Samus' sprites using VBA and placed them into the engine. In a matter of minutes Samus was already jumping and running.
Having a platform game featuring Samus is easy. But making a full fledged Metroid game would be a challenge.