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An Illustrated Life

Metroid Chronicles Has Moved, And So Have I

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Hello Dear Readers,

A few months ago I started to realize that my blog was going in a very different direction than in its inception.
The fact is that while An Illustrated Life is a great title for a doodle filled blog upon which a slacker in the winter of his teenage years shares amusing anecdotes from his life, it is not a great name for a blog upon which a twenty-something aspiring writer talks mostly about Video Games (and very little about his real life).

So it’s time to move on. Where to? To my new blog AB XY

I have big plans for the future and I hope that you, My Dear Readers, will follow me there. 

Thank you for reading this stupid blog over the last few years, and thanks for being awesome.

-David

The Metroid Chronicles Chapter 5: Of All The Planets In All The Galactic Federation

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The dust settled and the screams of a dying Metroid filled the cavern. If I remembered correctly this Space-Hunter had destroyed 34 Metroids; that left only five.

She had hired me as a guide but as it turned out, I could barely keep up. I have to admit, SR388 had left me shaken. I may have acted cool as Sir Cucumber, but for all of my bravado and feigned self-confidence I was a nervous wreck; and it was starting to show. What little respect she may have had for me was gone, and we spelunked the next few miles of desolate subterranea in silence.

Several hours later I saw a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye, an all too familiar pale glowing green flash of movement. Before I even had time to reach for my plasma-pistol, the heat of my client’s missiles whizzed by. There in front of us lay the carcass of an Alpha Metroid, the first one we’d seen in days; something seemed far too easy.

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This one was new. I now know it as an Omega Metroid.

That serious dame filled the damn thing with at least thirty missiles before it went down, and for the first time I saw on her face that which I myself had tried so hard to hide; fear.

Later, though I could not tell you how much so, she told me there was only one left. In the caves behind us lay dead three more Omega Metroids, the last of which we had barely escaped with our lives.

All wild-life had long since become scarce, they knew this part of the planet belonged to the Metroids. We entered through a passage and the air changed; the damp, musty cave smell was replaced with the stench of life-the stench of birth.

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Several Metroid hatchlings filled the chamber in an instant. They were fast and they were hungry, before I knew it one had attached itself to my head. I could feel my life slipping away.

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Just as the world around me started fading to black, there was a flash of cold and the diabolical suction had stopped. With a blast, the creature affixed to my cranium shattered and I fell to my knees. My savior reached out her hand to help me up, her helmet now planted firmly on her head, hiding whatever emotion was playing across her face. I fell into her arms and nearly fainted with relief.

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She pushed me off brusquely and started walking away, turning her head back slightly and saying “Not far now.”

We entered the cave ahead of us with weapons at the ready and eyes scanning the darkness for any sign of movement; but the Queen Metroid wasn’t hiding, she didn’t need to.

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She was monstrous, her body filling most of the cave. Her size was matched only by her speed, her lunging mouth only barely missing me over and over again.

After many minutes of dancing around her vicious attacks, getting only a few shots in, her snout hit me at full force and I flew across the room, slamming against the wall and falling to the ground. I looked up to see Samus staring calmly into the eyes of the beast, she retracted into her ball just as the Queen lunged forward. I watched with disbelief as my client was swallowed whole, the faint light of her suit visible through the Queen’s translucent neck as she traveled down into the monster’s stomach.

The Queen turned her attention toward me and I thought all hope was lost, when a faint clicking sound started to come from her stomach. The beast let out a screech as the bombs inside her went off and the Space-Hunter flew out, leaving behind the decimated corpse of the Queen.

Finally our dark mission was over. I could barely contain my excitement at the prospect of tasting fresh air for the first time in what seemed an eternity. I sprinted through the dark and in my haste failed to realize that I was alone. I turned around to see one last Metroid; but this one was different.

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That dame was just looking at the newly hatched baby Metroid with another emotion I had never seen on her face; pity.

I knew then that our mission to destroy every last Metroid would not be completed. 

 

Metroid II is a great game, and honestly a huge improvement on the first game. I am so excited to see where the series goes from here! I am also very excited to draw in color again.

Check back soon to see me start my journey into Super Metroid. 

The Metroid Chronicles Chapter 4: Genocide

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Unlike the initial title in the series which transports you straight into the depths of the planet, Metroid II: The Return Of Samus begins on the surface. Samus’ ship floats in the middle of a valley, to the right there is a steep rock wall and to the left lies the entrance to the underground maze of SR388.

Also unlike the first game, Samus starts this adventure a bit more powerful. Her health starts at 99, her missiles start at 30, and she can use the morph ball from the very start. She can shoot downward, which is nice to have when you take a leap of faith down some alien shaft, not knowing what might be beneath you.

This boost in power from the start left me feeling much more comfortable to explore and I ran down the first few hallways with abandon. SR388 is not a friendly place though dear reader and very shortly I entered a chamber occupied only by what looked like a giant immobile Metroid. I approached cautiously, missiles at the ready. Out of the monster burst the next stage in its evolution: the Alpha Metroid.

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I had no idea that there were multiple stages of evolution in the lifespan of a Metroid! I dispatched the creature with a few missiles, only losing about half of my health in the process, and as I left the chamber the whole planet shook as if mourning the loss of one of its children.

From then on the goal was clear to me. I had to hunt down and destroy the Metroids in each section of the map. In this way, Metroid II is far more linear than the previous game. For the most part, each section must be completed before moving on to the next.

That is probably a good thing, since the black and white coloring of the game can make it pretty hard to tell some areas…

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apart from others.

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There are some pretty distinct locations in the game though. My personal favorite is what appears to be a giant temple in the middle of an enormous cavern.

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It really sets my imagination ablaze, as most of this game is very wild and naturalistic. With the exception of a few robotic enemies, SR388 seems to show little sign of intelligent life, so I can’t help but wonder who could have built that giant structure.

Much like in the first game, I found many useful items while adventuring through SR388.

The Ice Beam is back; It works better this time around because it doesn’t unfreeze an enemy when you shoot them a second time. Also, it looks like a Samus is shooting dragon fruit.

Then there’s pretty much the coolest power-up ever.

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The Spider Ball allows you to roll up walls and across ceilings, which is totally rad. That being said, it can be pretty damned frustrating to roll across a ceiling for 5 minutes only to realize that there was nothing there to find in the first place. And later you find the space-jump, which pretty much makes the Spider Ball useless… Okay, so maybe the Spider Ball isn’t that great.

The Spring Ball is awesome, it lets you jump while rolled up into a ball, but you have to pry it out of Arachnus’ cold dead hands before you can use it.

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Samus gets some new firepower as well. The Spazer splits into 3 shots and the Plasma beam does a ton of damage. Oddly enough though, you find them about 10 feet apart from each other.

Metroid II is full of new enemies too. Some of them are even a bit scary, others a little less so…

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In the end though, the Metroids really take center stage. The destruction of their increasingly terrifying transfigurations is the crux of the game after all. But I have to say, their evolutionary pattern is a bit… confusing.

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Tajiri-San would not be pleased.

Check back soon to see how this monochromatic story ends.

Metroid Chronicles Chapter 3.5: Well This Is Awkward

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Let me tell you a story.

Yesterday I was finally going to sit down and write Chapter 4. I know I shouldn’t try and write the dang thing the day I want to publish it, but like I’ve complained about before I’m terribly busy. The problem is that when I sat down to write, I did just that…. I sat, and sat. I tell you, few times in my life have I experienced writers block so profound.

"What the hell?" I thought to myself, "Why is this so damn hard?" Then I thought about it and I realized that I played Metroid II nearly a month ago. Obviously I remember what happens in the game and all that, but most of my thoughts and ideas for the post itself are fuzzy at best. Looking at my 3DS I even have a few doodles the significance of which escape me now. 

So of course that leaves me with only one option. I have to play through the game again. In one sitting. Tonight.

So why am I posting this? Why not just play tonight and smooth this over  with nobody being the wiser? Because I want to get you guys involved.

Tonight I am going to be Live-Tweeting the play-through and the writing/drawing process as well as whatever undoubtedly delirious thoughts pop into my head.

Follow me @DavidOchart or check out the easy little widget thing below. Send me some questions and interact if you want, it will probably keep me sane.

#MC4Marathon

Chicken

The Metroid Chronicles Chapter 3: Space-Hunter Noir

At started out like any other job. I was looking out my window at the filthy city skyway and dictating the details of my last case to my space-typewriter, the miniaturized ion-cannons buzzing away comfortingly as they zapped the dark details onto the space-paper. 

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That was when she walked in. Six feet three inches tall, long blonde hair, and the weight of the universe on her shoulders. Her eyes, beautiful as they were, seemed to be missing something. Whether it was sorrow, anger or some long buried pain, something had caused a deadness in those enchanting eyes. I couldn’t tell you what she was thinking or where she came from, but I could tell you one thing; this dame was tough, tougher than me (though I would never let her know that). 

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"Are you the guide?" she asked with a voice that matched her eyes. 

"Who’s asking?" I replied.

She brushed off my feeble attempt at being coy and continued, “I need your help. The federation has assigned me a job that’s a bit… messy.” 

"Murder is extra you know."

"It isn’t murder technically, more like a hunt."

"What do I look like, Teddy Roosevelt?"

She shot me with what I first mistook as a smile, but soon realized was a look of annoyance.

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"So are you in or not?"

I took one look outside and two swigs from my flask before saying “Why the hell not, where are we going?”

"That’s classified."

That’s the problem with these federation gigs, everything is on a need to know. “Well damn, can you at least tell me whether or not I need to rent a ship?”

"Don’t  bother" she said with a smirk, as she pressed a button on her wrist.

And that’s how it started. I didn’t know where the hell I was bound or when the hell I’d be back, but I had a feeling that this dame was far more dangerous than anything we might face.

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From the very beginning, Metroid II feels like a much more advanced game than its predecessor. The game has far less slow-down, there are more enemies at one time that do not respawn the second they go off screen and most importantly, the game does away with passwords and replaces them with save-states. The only obvious technical downgrade is of course the fact that Metroid II is in black and white. This is not necessarily a bad thing though; being made up of lines and shades rather than just a few neon colors Samus actually looks like a person. If the first game looked like a crude painting, then the sequel looks like a rough sketch.

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For those unfamiliar, here is a basic outline of the story. After her first encounter with the Metroids, Samus is sent to their home planet to eradicate them. Every last one. At the bottom of the screen there is a countdown that goes down every time you kill a Metroid, evoking a sense of real melancholy. Samus is single-handedly causing the extinction of an alien race that the Galactic Federation really knows nothing about. 

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Despite my intro though, this is not a pulp story; I honestly just really wanted to write and draw some Film Noir inspired goodness. The black and white aesthetic could just as easily have inspired a musical. 

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No, Metroid II is a horror story

Check back next time as I enter the subterranean maze of Planet SR388.

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Whining Yeti Returns

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I want to be posting on here so much more, but I’m stealing 5 minutes on my day off between making wedding calls and designing T-Shirts to post this reused picture.

Anyway, check back soon for the next chapter of the Metroid Chronicles, more stupid anecdotes and the start of a new series (Oooooh, mysterious).

Countdown

Between Tera going to school full time and me trying to balance work and writing, we can be fairly awful at getting wedding stuff done. 

I wish I was a vampire cause then I could not sleep and have an extra 8 hours to do stuff every day. That’s the only thing I took from Twilight.

The Metroid Chronicles Chapter 2: Empowerment

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Quick question before I jump back in to Metroid. Planet Zebes is supposedly the Space Pirate fortress right? So why is it that of the 32 enemies in the game, not a single one of them is a Space Pirate? What the hell were they so occupied with??image

Anyway, back to the game.

Picking up where I left off, I discovered that I had not explored the first two areas nearly as thoroughly as I had thought. I went back and discovered tons of powerups and add-ons and let me tell you, I may have started out feeling a bit like a weakling but that quickly started to change.

Along the way, my health and missiles were growing constantly. Then i get the Varia suit, which reduces damage by half. I also got the Ice-beam, which freezes enemies in their tracks.

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In Norfair I discovered the high-jump and the screw-attack, which are just incredible. I then stumbled upon the Wave-Beam, which is super powerful (if a smidge inaccurate).

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Combine all that and no longer did I cower in fear at the sight of an enemy, in fact I started destroying with abandon. Zebes became my blood-lust fueled subterranean playground; all that power made me feel like a FREAKING SUPER SAIYAN!

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What’s great about the power-ups is that they are largely optional. You can get through the game with very few of them, though it would be excruciating. I myself am not a masochistic gamer, more often than not opting for the path of least resistance, but there are those who would play through this game with as few powers as possible and have an absolute blasty blast.

After gearing up I figured I should try to take on Kraid and Ridley, the two mini-bosses of the game. I assumed that starting with Kraid would be the way to go, as he is located in Hideout 1 and Ridley is in Hideout 2. In actuality, though I found Ridley to be a bit of a chump, Kraid was an absolute douche.

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Ridley took me like a minute and a half to take down, but Kraid took at least half an hour.

After defeating both baddies my missile reserves were sitting at around 250, which made me feel like even more of a badass. But there is a twist dear reader, for all of this power, all of these extra energy tanks and missiles just lured me into a false sense of security. “This should be easy right?” I thought to myself, “I can take this, right?”

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Upon entering Tourien, reality punched me right in the face and my frail humanity became oh so very tangible. I am talking of course about the titular Metroids, the jellyfish-crab monsters that the space pirates so desperately want to use against the galactic federation. These things are completely evil; if they attach themselves to your face, you are going to die. That’s it. The sudden uptick in difficulty left me a bit shocked.image

After barely making it through Tourien and destroying mother-brain, I escaped the depths of Planet Zebes with only 1 HP. 

Upon reaching the surface I made a shocking discovery, Samus Aran is a GIRL???

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Seriously though, Samus being of the female persuasion is common knowledge now, but back then it was a huge plot-twist! 
I guess when you barely have a plot, you don’t need much of a twist.

All in all, Metroid is a great game. It has some archaic game-design as all NES games do, but I’d say this game holds up better than most. More than anything it makes me so uncontrollably excited to see where the series goes from here; and as I write these words, Metroid II: The Return Of Samus is downloading onto my 3DS.

Check back soon and follow my adventure as I enter the great unknown of the Gameboy sequel.

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