Sequel to Metagal, Metaloid Origins is a 2D classic run-and-gun action platformer that should please fans of 8 and 16-bit Mega Man titles.
There are a total of three playable character, each sporting their own unique abilities which adds quality replay value. The story ultimately remains the same no matter which playable cat you choose as the good guy android cats are fighting against the evil robot army. Each of the nine stages also take about 20 minutes to clear for first timers but speed runners will probably keep this game on their radar thanks to the fluid dash mechanic. Wall jumping also feels good and it is nice to have auto fire when holding down the attack button instead of having to perform rapid taps.
One of the stand out features of each of the playable robot cats are the unlockable and upgradable skill sets. Like Mega Man X, players can find an occasional, optional power-up when exploring each of the left-to-right stages. At the same time, each stage is littered with gems are sort of the equivalent to Mario’s coins. Once collected, they can be spent at any time at the menu screen to unlock enhancements. This collect-and-spend system gives players incentive to destroy enemies and go out of their way to collect these purple crystals. Each enhancement is also worthwhile so players always have a carrot dangled in front of them. At the same time, these are totally optional so skilled players can always try and complete the campaign without unlocking anything if they want to impose self-challenges.
Each stage is rather lengthy and features a mini-boss and a stage ending boss. The Mega Man callbacks are even more prominent here as the player must enter a simple quiet scene before jumping into the one-on-one boss battle. However, each stage is sequential and must be played in a specific order although they can be replayed at any time. The stage select screen also lists the collectables that were missed for completionists. Players also have access to a speedy motorcycle racer vehicle which spices up level design whenever it appears.
As fun as this run-and-gunner is, there are a few issues that are not game breaking but definitely annoying. First are the frame skips. The game will often drop noticeable frames when attacking enemies, usually the first one in each screen, stuttering horribly for a couple seconds. Playing a 2D sprite-based pixel art game should have no trouble running on a PS4 so it is shocking to experience this issue to often. Each stage is also long, a bit too long in my opinion, and also features some occasional cheap enemy and hazard placement. Block pushing puzzles also make an occasional appearance because, you know, everyone loves pushing blocks. And that is exactly the problem – pushing. Players can only push blocks, not pull. This means if you mess up, which is easy to do, you need to backtrack to exit the screen, then re-enter to reset the block’s default positioning. Many platforms also bend at 45 degrees but the playable cat always gets stuck on the lip. It is a little disappointing that these weird issues were not smoothed out before the final release but for a $6.99 game, it wouldn’t be fair to be too harsh.
I wound up liking Metaloid Origins a lot more than I thought I would and found it actually growing on me the more I played. The unlockable abilities can easily sink their teeth into you, the pixel art is welcomed, and the action is well done. Thanks to the multiple difficulty settings, the pacing is also well designed so even casual action fans can enjoy the experience. Just be warned, the final boss battle is a brutal, unfair gauntlet of attrition. Being honest, I was not able to beat the final form so I was unable to see the ending, which is rather frustrating, even when playing on the lowest difficulty. It is a shame because the other bosses were beatable with a couple trial runs to learn their patterns but this final boss is tedious and stupid. Weird quirks aside, this is one origin story you should keep on your radar.