If there’s one Nintendo series that’s been quiet for far too long, it’s most definitely Metroid. However, whilst most fans clamour for a brand new adventure in the tale of Samus Aran, others have taken matters into their own hands. Once again proving the lengths to which some gamers will go to honour their favourite retro franchises.
As such, let me introduce you all to Metroid: Rogue Dawn, a fitting fan-made homage made by three dedicated Metroid fans. Unlike many fan-made games though, Metroid: Rogue Dawn has not been built from the ground up. Instead Rogue Dawn is actually hack which uses the original game to power it, and it most certainly does power the game.
Yes Rogue Dawn may use the original Metroid as its core, but you wouldn’t know by looking at it. There’s improved visuals which utilise custom art styles created by the developers, a brand new soundtrack, and even some added gameplay additions such as mini maps, all of which push the NES’s 8-bit hardware to its absolute limits. It’s incredibly impressive, adding an incredible amount of depth to one of the 8-bit era’s classic experiences.
What’s more Metroid: Rogue Dawn doesn’t just re-tell the story of the original Metroid, it actually acts as an unofficial prequel. Here’s some further details regarding the developer’s prequel plot:
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.
Obviously to play Metroid: Rogue Dawn you’ll need a copy of the ROM file from a Metroid cartridge. After that you can head over to the Metroid: Rogue Dawn page over on Romhacking.com for a full guide on how to patch the original Metroid ROM with the Rogue Dawn hack. This can then be played on consoles such as the RetroN 5 or Retro Freak.
The need for the original ROM, combined with the Rogue Dawn’s nature as a game hack, will obviously be something that’ll divide opinions on the project. However, you really shouldn’t underestimate this as just another hack.
Developer’s Grimlock, Optomon and snarfblam clearly care an awful lot about the Metroid franchise, and 8-bit gaming in general. That much is clear as soon as you start to play Metroid: Rogue Dawn. As such, if you’re someone still clamouring for a new Metroid experience, then you’ll definitely want to give this a go for yourself if you have the chance. In many ways it’s like the directors cut you never knew you wanted.