Time and time again fans surprise us with projects born out of their love for Nintendo franchises despite the obvious legal issues. One franchise in particular that seems to generate substantial fervor is Samus Aran's very own backyard, the Metroid series. As years go by without a new mainline entry in this revered science fiction saga, fans make do by filling the gaps with tribute projects like music albums, illustrations and sometimes even all-new games.
And now we have another fan-made tribute. To call Metroid: Rogue Dawn merely a NES Metroid hack is doing it a severe disservice. Yes, the hack is built on the game engine that powered the original, but you will find it hard to spot any existing game assets in the final product since developers Grimlock, Optomon and snarfblam replaced the entire map with custom art tiles, added all new music and even managed to code in some impressive visual effects (like rain!) that weren't present in the original cartridge.
Here's the background to the game:
Rogue Dawn is an unofficial prequel to the original Metroid game released in 1986. 30 years later we bring you the events that unfolded before Samus's famous "Zero" mission on planet Zebes. The original Metroid manual tells us about a deep-space research spaceship that was attacked. Pirates seized a capsule said to contain a newly discovered life form in a state of suspended animation. Rogue Dawn surrounds these events that led up to the theft of the capsule which ultimately placed the Metroids under the control of Ridley and the Mother Brain. The mission to acquire the capsule is placed in the hands of one of Ridley's best kept secrets. A rogue human agent trained and manipulated by Ridley from a young age. Taken as a child from a Federation colony obliterated by Ridley's faction she was initially just another test subject slated to undergo horrific experiments. Ridley decided to instead manipulate and mold her into a weapon, his first human servant and dark agent. Primed yet untested she is sent out on her "zero" mission to retrieve a newly discovered biological specimen in the possession of a Federation research crew orbiting planet SR388 and prove her worth. Her name is Dawn Aran.
Metroid: Rogue Dawn looks more like a late generation, early 1990s NES game and sometimes even amazingly close to a Super Nintendo release. If you still have an American version of the NES Metroid cartridge, nothing is stopping you from trying it out by grabbing the patch and using it on your RetroN 5 or Retro Freak. You will simply not believe just how polished the whole experience is until you try it. It also reminds us how much we would love to see a new entry in the franchise - 2D or otherwise.