Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action Adventure
Publisher: Epic Games
Developer: Chair Entertainment
Release Date: August 19th, 2009
Price: 1,200 Microsoft Points ($15)
Today I downloaded the latest and likely greatest, Xbox Live Arcade game,Shadow Complex. Since I had so much fun writing my Adventure Quest forDragon Quest IX I figured I’d do something similar for this wonderful new arcade game I picked up. To start with, any Metroid fan alive would do well in downloading this game. Think Super Metroid, but with a completely different storyline, setting and all around feeling and you’ve got yourself Shadow Complex. When I say “think,” what I really mean to say is, this is a carbon copy of Super Metroid but with all the changes I just mentioned. That’s not to say the game doesn’t have any originality. It’s just that if the classic formula isn’t broken, don’t fix it and that’s exactly what Chair Entertainment, the game’s developer, has done.
When you start the game you’re given a few details on its storyline. Essentially Jason Fleming and his girlfriend, Claire, are taking a nice trip when they get separated and Claire gets kidnapped. Within seconds Jason’s off to her rescue. Things do get a little deeper as you progress, but not for a while. Ironically the first gameplay section actually features the deepest portions of story bits, and even then not much is revealed. I’ll leave the story up to you guys to discover for yourselves. Anyways, the idea here is to think of videogames as they were when Super Metroid came out, meaning, don’t think of the storyline at all lol. That couldn’t be any truer than in Shadow Complex. The story is simply a placeholder for the action, oh which there’s plenty.
Once Jason explores a bit of the mountain range he lost Claire on, he quickly stumbles into a bizarre underground facility. It’s from this point forward that the game plays virtually identical to Super Metroid. You’re going to notice me say that over and over again because it’s so true. While the game is completely 3D, movement is restricted to two directions, left and right. Just like Super Metroid, exploration is vital to your survival, and you’ll have to earn power-ups in order to progress. Let’s say you come to a green coloured door, the only way to open said door is to find some grenades. Doesn’t this sound familiar? The game even features the EXACT same map system used inSuper Metroid. That means you can see secret nooks and crannies by just looking at the map.
My first play session this afternoon simply introduced me to the gameplay mechanics and the very basic storyline. The first thing that blew me away was how long it has been since I’ve played a game like this. Sure the GBA and DS have had action adventure games like Super Metroid; consoles haven’t seen these types of games in over a decade. So as soon as I started to play, I got this massive nostalgia feeling come over me. I didn’t expect that to be completely honest. The other thing that struck me was the game’s appearance. No word of a lie, this looks like a next-gen game. Considering this title is 1,200 Microsoft Points ($15), it has the production values you’ve come to expect from an Epic game. Honestly guys, this game looks stunning. Compared to all the other crap out on the various download services, I’m blown away here. I’d actually pay $30 or more for this game. The soundtrack is also excellent. There are some piano pieces here that are nothing short of surprising. You just don’t see these sorts of production values on a download title.
I will admit that the controls take a little getting used to because unlike Super Metroid where you could only aim diagonally, by pressing the L and R buttons on the SNES controller, here you have full freedom via the right analog stick. So it takes a few minutes to get used to running and aiming at the same time. Your primary fire is done via the right trigger, with secondary fire coming from the right bumper. Grenades and the like are considered secondary weapons. You can even speed dash by holding the X button down. The standard double jump is also back with a new upgrade, the triple jump! If you’re not sure how to get past a certain door or other obstacle, just press the left bumper to shine your flashlight on the texture to see what it’s made off. A color code will tell you whether you need grenades, rockets, etc to bypass it. The flashlight acts like Super Metroid’s X-Ray Scope. In fact every single weapon, or gameplay feature, down to the grappling beam are featured in Shadow Complex.
I may have only found the grenades and a new gun for now, but I spent a ton of time exploring the early portions of the game. I noticed by the achievements that the game can be completed in less than two hours, but somehow I doubt I’ll do that in my first play through. Since this is a complete throw back to the classic SNES game, I certainly WILL play it again when I finish it. I’ve also unlocked three quite easy achievements, but I’ll go for more as I progress. I must have played for around an hour and a half, perhaps a little under but already I’m in love.
Shadow Complex even features several challenging tutorials which eventually award you another lofty achievement. I’ll continue this log until I complete the game, but since I haven’t put too much time into the game, I just wanted to give my initial impressions. As you can tell by now, they’re glowing. If you call yourself a gamer, BUY THIS GAME! If you love old school videogames, than you’ll feel exactly as I do. Super Metroid finally has a game that can follow it as it was meant to be played, on a console!