Engaging Metroidvania Platformer, Needs Better Map
Download Size: 6 MB
Time Played: 4 hrs.
Manual Dexterity Required: High
Time Spent Backtracking: ~45 min.
Was Getting 100% Worth It? No
What I'd Pay: $5
Steam Price (2/26/12): $5
Imagine Metroid as a puzzle game: dozens of rooms connected by a central hub, some of which you have to solve to proceed, and others you just pass through and solve later once you get the necessary upgrades. That's 1000 Amps in a nutshell. For the most part, it delivers, but Flash slowdown and drains that force the player to backtrack make the game drag.
You play Plug, a service robot in an electric tree that has gone offline thanks to some mysterious Intruder. Your ultimate goal is to drive him out, but first you must restore power to the tree's rooms and collect the upgrades necessary to take him on. You restore power by touching Power Nodes; once you touch every Power Node in a room, it stays lit. If you leave before you activate every Power Node, the room goes dark again.
In addition to it being your job, Plug needs the rooms lit to use his abilities to their fullest. His jump height is increased for each Power Node active, and he needs at least one active to use his teleport. (His teleport also has an annoying tendency to disable any adjacent Power Nodes when activated.) Various obstacles, hazards, and even enemies that disable nearby nodes make things difficult. There's even rooms split into 2 or more parts, which led to situations where I had to tap the jump button to leap exactly one square above a Power Node (without entering the room above) and immediately teleport to another part of the room to activate it without deactivating the previous Node. That demanded a lot more finesse than I first expected when I started the game.
Unfortunately, the Flash running the program interferes with such finesse. The game seems to push it to its limits. The cursor often slowed down when the screen got too busy, sometimes Plug kept moving after you released the key, and whenever I played for an hour or more, the game noticeably slowed down until I restarted it.
This just exasberates some of the drains & one-way platforms scattered throughout the map. In some rooms, there's holes that drop you into a different section of the map with no shortcut back. When most of the map is dark, this just means you have a new area to explore, but when you're trying to finish that last section, it means you get to spend 5-10 minutes getting back there. The worst example is at the end of the game; it's possible to fall past the final upgrade and spend 10-15 minutes getting back there. I wish the game had more warp portals to counter this, or just skipped such trap doors entirely.
The confusing map interface doesn't help you get around, either. It is in the same greyscale as the game, and instead of blocking out the background entirely, it just dims it. You get greys mixing and clashing until you have trouble telling what's background & what's map. Combine that with an inability to scroll the map around and you have one of the most frustrating maps I've seen in a game.
It's a pity the map and one-way drops make the endgame so frustrating, because for the first 2 hours I really enjoyed the Metroidvania puzzle action. Finding enough Power Nodes to reach that one ledge, or figuring out the perfect spot to teleport from/to, were engaging and fun. It was only when the game became more backtracking than puzzle-solving that it became a chore. Completing 100% was particularly aggravating; its extra ending just set up a sequel instead of explaining anything. It's still worth the $5, but save yourself some grief and just finish the game instead of trying to 100% it.