Thursday 5 July 2012

Vigilance on Talos V

There is only one major issue I have with Super Metroid - it's a SNES game. Try as I might to sit down and finish it, Nintendo's unique take on audio coupled with the slow and dark nature of 16-bit Zebes means I often struggle to keep my eyes open while playing.

Thankfully, there are alternatives. Here's one; Vigilance on Talos V, released in 1996 for DOS. Gradient heavy mid-90s graphics, questionable voice acting, low production values... it's perfect.

Built by one bloke and released to the public in shockingly small numbers, Talos V is a Metroid clone - a breed you don't see too often in the wild. What lies within should come as no surprise to any fan of Samus - you wander through caves and tunnels, defeating aliens and collecting upgrade, allowing you to progress further. There's a plethora of secrets and tons of stuff to explore - it's Metroid, essentially, and I shouldn't have to explain what Metroid is.

As opposed to having a giant playfield with various themed tunnels, Vigilance on Talos V game divides itself into three large "worlds", each comprised of several dozen screens. Though you're still greeted with Metroid-esque room transitioning, areas on the whole seem to be a bit bigger in Talos V, so it's easy to lose track which direction you've come from. Not only that, but the game fails to replicate the most important part of Super Metroid - the map screen, and as players need to use teleporters scattered across the map, it becomes very easy to get lost.

Indeed it would be unwise to say the game is perfect, even though I just did - the side effects of being built entirely by one man include fewer layers of polish than you'd expect from a Nintendo title. The graphics are often stray into ugly territory, and the level design could be better. Features such as the grappling hook are challenging to use for the wrong reasons, and the hit detection is sometimes noticeably off, potentially leading to cheap deaths. What's more, the save stations do not max out the player's health and the user interface is a bit cluttered, so one has to be extremely careful at times to avoid running out of equipment.

That being said, the music is more than adequate, and Talos V does occasionally have an unique idea of its own which it puts into play. Most of its shortcomings are made up by the fact it takes hints from one of the best Nintendo games ever made, and the game is more than capable of delivering several hours of entertainment.

Yes, the only real concern of Vigilance on Talos V is its lack of map screen, something which games of this nature really need, else you're destined to waste time travelling around in circles wondering where to go. Obviously it's not really a Super Metroid beater, but it's a welcome change from the norm and would have brought a great deal of enjoyment to my younger self had I owned a copy back in the day.

So yes, get yourself on Google and track this one down.

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