Metroid Dread: Anxiety-based Horror.

“Lets be real, Samus is seriously one bad@ss girl. That stance with this creature in her way says it all.”

While I haven’t played every Metroid game (like many franchises I love), there’s something horrific yet adventurous about the Metroid series. Playing through Super and 2, running around these desolate, alien world fighting pirates and causing genocide, I get invested in how the developers managed to create a living world with nothing but pixels. The isolation gives an eerie vibe: there’s no one there to guide you. You’re with these dangerous creatures in these caverns; this is there home. Now blow it up.

Traversing in these alien worlds is incredibly fluid. Everyone knows and talks about how industry breaking Super was, with its unique approach to platforming that allows players to really feel in control of the environment. What I love about the 2d Metroid games are any mistake I make is mine and not the game…eh, sometimes. It’s a challenge but once you get the hang of it, it’s a fun Sci-fi experience that rewards you for understanding how it works.

When I saw Dread, I was excited. For the first time in 15 years, a new 2d Metroid was coming. First impressions were what I fell in love with, the alien caverns with additional machine civilizations, while the introductions of the EMMI gave this horror-like vibe. After playing through the Metroid 2 remake, I felt prepared for what Nintendo and MercuryStream had to offer in this new installment. I even watched my brother play Metroid Fusion on his Wii U just to catch up on the story. I got the game Sunday and played the first 2 hours. So, what are my thoughts?

Terminator theme intensifies

I love that the game doesn’t hold your hand and ruin any future playthroughs. So many other games pause just to tell you how to press the A button. Not Metroid Dread. It respect your time and your intelligence while still teaching you the core fundamentals of its gameplay. Plus, it wasn’t very difficult to get the hang of things. Which is great, cause this game expects you to.

Perfection. Right away, the game immediately takes you to the start up screen. No introductory video telling you what’s coming; the game will speak for itself…as much as a small cartridge can. With the red foreboding planet in the background, you’ve become aware that this game will be different. This game is all about survival.

After the opening cutscene, the gameplay is more fluid than ever. Samus felt incredible to control. Every wall jump, slide, counter, and ledge climb was smooth, becoming a major improvement from the Metroid 2 remake. Nothing felt grating and nothing felt like conflict with the game, which made traversing ZDR a pleasurable experience. The game doesn’t just thrust you into the fire, since it made the first area an area to understand its mechanics. The good thing is that the tutorial didn’t halt any progression every minute. A screen appears at the bottom to tell the command, but you can still move around in real time.

“Showers haven’t been the same since the beeping and booping.”

The main draw of Dread are the EMMIs, research machines hacked by an unknown party to attack Samus. Like S-AX, or as I liked to call the Sax, this enemy chases you around and is an instant kill. The difference is that EMMIs are in select locations but these locations are within a majority of the map, so you’ll need to go into them several times to progress. I was terrified by this every moment I say their grid entrances. The execution of this mechanic was so good because I felt so helpless and I didn’t want to go in, but the game was like, “haha, get in their bitch!”

I don’t play a lot of horror games, so never before had a game make me take a break to catch my breath. It took a lot of intermediate mastery of movement and a lot of planning to avoid or manipulate the EMMIs movements to get through their territory, but the sheer panic I felt when they spot me supplemented a subtle fear of them. Nothing in these areas felt cheap, sometimes, and the EMMI’s A.I were surprisingly intelligent, though I could tell where their placed. Besides that, their movement is so organic in nature that it was as fluid as Samus. Plus, the game gave a little window to knock them off…but it’s very rare that it’ll happen. The mechanic was incredible and a joy to play. Once you hear their signature call, it’ll stick with you.

The animations and graphics were stellar, some of the best technical and artistic designs I’ve seen on the console. It’s the best looking game on the Switch, from the lighting of areas perfectly matching the environments to the way machines and creatures moved. There may be some stutter, like area transitions, but the game’s presentation is consistent and smooth like nice butter.

“Opening up Spotify…”

If there’s one thing I didn’t like, as of right now, are the constant cutscenes. Some were fine, like most of Adam’s speeches, and they were just as pretty as the game itself, but it got a little annoying when I wanted to play the game. Thankfully, after a few hours in, it gets toned down a bit. I will say, some of Adam’s dialogue repeated the same information over again, making them redundant. It clashed with the simple tutorials, plus many of the cutscenes were already visual clues on what to do. This might be since I’m used to Super and 2, where it’s non stop platforming goodness. The good thing is the cutscenes are skippable so repeat playthroughs can send you straight into the action.

Overall, the game was an incredible experience and is easily the best Switch game out now. I do know its on the short side, apparently clocking in at 9 hours, but it’s something to expect from the 2d Metroid games. I’m very excited for what’s to come towards the end and I recommend you play it for yourself. Metroid Dread proves once again that the best games are the one’s where it’s not just mashing the A button over and over again to win.

My First Painting Project: The Gundam Unicorn!

For another anxiety induced project, I’ve been trying to paint my HG Gundam Unicorn Destroy Mode for the past 2 months. And by painting I mean trying to get the right tools for it and having a mental breakdown.

The first step was decide on what to paint and, really, it wasn’t quite hard. Basically, my project consists of all the grey parts and the V-fin. I wanted to go for a darker look for the grey and a pristine and consistent look for the fin since the base fin ignores the Unicorn mode. These are the paints I chose:

“Yes, they are all lacquer and, yes, I don’t know what I’m doing.”

The idea was to make the Unicorn as realistic and anime accurate as I possibly can, while giving the figure better details. I had the idea of making the outside beautiful while making the inner frame dark like the Earth Federation in the show (no idea how taht’ll turn out). I used Gunpla markers first, but they were pretty flawed in execution due to their crustiness and the fact that the tips are easily breakable. After the death of my white marker, I decided that painting would give a better paint job. If only I knew the cost to such perfection.

The first issue came with budget. I am an unemployed poor dude. Getting the necessary tools came with so many risks that I wasn’t sure of what to do. I knew spending so much on supplies was a bad idea, but I was determined to make the kit as beautiful as possible. I mean, I spent $28 on it.

The next problem was research. I watched a lot of videos on how to paint, but a lot of them gave different responses. What tools I need, what it should look like, and how to actually paint. This culminated on my first try of painting…which was the next circle of hell. I didn’t know about dilution, which was surprisingly hard to find an answer, which meant that I wasn’t sure on how much I needed to thin the paint. All the pigments stayed in the container, which was a pain to get out because I didn’t own a paint stirrer and they kept spilling and drying on the canister. Is that why it’s called paint, because of the pain?

Then, the plastic ice cube container was a horrible idea because it couldn’t hold the paint or the paint thinner, and any paint that spilled due to the awful nature of the container tips meant I couldn’t have it hold other colors without it mixing. Plus, at a certain extent, the container had a indent on the sides that caused too much liquid to spill into another. The paint was getting everywhere as I tried to thin the paint as much as I could to get the milk consistency everyone was talking about (which I’m still not sure is what is needed from metallics). I didn’t know about buffering at the time, so I was confused as to how the paint should look on the plastic spoon. I also didn’t have a respirator mask, so the 3 hours of using the stuff meant that I probably caused some lung damage. Admittedly, I’m horrible at paying attention and having focus with the how-to tips (probably why I suck at writing), so by 3 am I only painted one part.

“I got this syringe thinking that it could be good to take out the paint. Poor bastard had no idea what was coming.”

My cheap and budget solution didn’t go well and now I’m stuck with Dark Iron that’s thinned to a point where I’m not sure if its correct or right, a syringe that being a b!tch to clean, and a bunch of supplies that might get melted if I clean with the thinner. I learned a lot the hard way and I’m now trying to comeback with a better mindset and more preparations. I’m hoping to get some bottles, a paint stirrer, and a good mask to do another attempt. For those who are clearly better than me, let me know in the comments any tips to be better or any complaints that I’m a dumb mother-

Writing Updates and My thoughts: The Struggle…

Remember how I was writing stuff? Yeah, me neither. Guess I just wanna discuss how cool second drafts can be since I’m in the process of rereading my first draft. Everyone says it but I’ll reiterate: second drafts are necessary. It’s common for many starting writers have this idea that the first draft has to be perfect. It’s not and reading it will prove it. It also proves how easy it is to slip into depression.

It’s terrifying to accept that our first execution was bad and hand our babies to others for criticism, but it’s something all writers have to do. I’m not perfect at it and you’re not perfect at it. Unless your a published writer, in which case please don’t hunt me down.

But second drafts are a way to improve upon the story and refine it before you inevitably have someone else read it. Some ideas may stick or not while others may lead to new and more expanded upon concepts that can with execution. I’ve definitely had some ups and downs with this, especially with how long I take with school on my shoulders, but it helps give ideas depth rather than seem like after thoughts.

Now, I wanted to give some tips that I’ve been learning to share with writers hoping to get better.

Realism vs Believability: I’ve been struggling with this a lot when I was doing more worldbuilding, despite my story being as unrealistic as possible. I think this fear comes from how, when there are story inconsistencies or bad writing, readers and viewers will go, “that doesn’t happen” or “that’s unrealistic.” I also see this from how they like it when something fictional can actually happen in the real world, and I found myself agreeing with shows like Gundam. Because of this, I feared that my story, no matter how fictional it was, has to somehow fit within the lines of reality. I blame my mind’s bloodlust for Youtube Comments. This, of course, is bull and stupid. Suspension of disbelief exists for a reason. A story, to be good, has to set itself up to be believable within the terms of its own world, such as explaining why kids can beat up a god, but also keeping in mind how people, if the story has humans, would react to a situation. Stories don’t have to be realistic to be good, but they have to stay consistent in their tone, characters, and world rules to be believable.

Backstory and Character Creation: Going in-depth into your own character helps give a story depth and create a character who’s believable and consistent. Now, not everything you write will make it to the page. But, it gives a better mindset into how to write this character, how they react to things or people. It also gives the readers their wants, needs, hobbies, likes, dislikes, and everything about them aside from the plot. A character should serve the plot, but the plot shouldn’t restrain the primary character. Minor characters are an exception, since not every character can reasonably have depth, but the main or important ones should have traits and characteristics so depth and consistent that they feel like real people instead of cardboard cut outs. It’s hard, but worth it.

Write Everything Down: One of my main drawbacks with Maladaptive Daydreaming is keeping everything in my head. Don’t do this, it’s not a good idea. Write stuff down so that way its physical and readable. Sometimes, the worst and best ideas show themselves in actual words instead of our generalized, malleable brains.

Villains: This is more of my own bias. Well, most advice is, but this is the most bias from me. I know that I discussed how important backstories are, but I feel like a tragic or sympathetic backstory is becoming an easy out for bad guys, such as Thanos and Kovira. This works well for a lot of villains who see themselves as the real hero in their plots, like the ones I just listed, or the real tragic villains who are doing what they do due to either protect someone or because tragedies happened in their life, like Anakin Skywalker’s turn to Darth Vader. But don’t do this if your villain is supposed to be the worst person ever because that could lead to unwanted sympathy from them that overshadows their horrible deeds.

“If every villain has to have some kind of deep backstory or some kind of sympathetic motivation, then why are 2/4 of these villains so memorable. Is it because they’re dragons? It’s cause their dragons. isn’t it?

I remember Steven Universe’ ending disappointing me the first time I watched it because it tried to redeem White Diamond. Now, schedule wise, Cartoon Network was horrible and it was hard for me to keep every detail in mind. However, the biggest detail that’s not hard to forget is how the Diamonds corrupted every gem on Earth and they rule the Gem World in a tyrannical rule. Like, their evil. Plus, White Diamond’s introduction perfectly set up her villainous character. Her empty stare, her referring to Pink Diamond’s rebellion as something to “get it out of her system,” and the fact that she doesn’t let Steven speak. Her character’s white theme has a sort of “perfection” to it, which is something I appreciate. Black is the classic evil, but white is the more twisted kind of evil. The show has been building up to how horrible the Diamond’s rule has been and showing White as a villain not to mess around with. I certainly don’t think death was necessary (I don’t think all villains need to die for there to be a conclusion) but I found it so wrong that the show and characters just forgive her and made her this quirky, lovable person in Future as if she didn’t cause mass trauma for her people. She didn’t really face any consequences for the deaths and conquest she’s caused, if anything she got a slap on the wrist, making her a weak villain in terms of character and resolution. I get forgiveness is the point of the end, but White Diamond was a villain who really didn’t deserve it.

Not every villain should be so sympathetic that their murders and destruction becomes justified, and throwing it in becomes weak writing. Sometimes, people like it when the villain is just the biggest douchebag ever. Don’t be afraid to make the bad guy…the bad guy.

Anyway, that’s all I have for this quickee. It was just gonna about Metroid Dread, but I decided to add some other stuff. The Child of Light Part 2 will come out next week while everything else will have to be pushed back. I definitely want to do Kamen Rider Saber to see whether or not my harsh criticisms were true, but I’m still afraid of the fresh hell that might come. I’m also trying to figure out the Mailing List thing but since not many people are subscribed I’m not quite sure what to do. Until then, see you later.

-Samuel Argueta

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