I explored every room I could in Aliens: Infestation, acquired and learned every power-up, and even went to the start of the area to see if I missed anything. What was I looking for? A clue on how to make my way across a large gap in a hallway that separated me from completing the game. Had I missed something?
Aliens: Infestation may be considered by most a "Metroidvania"-style game. It has your typical exploration, upgrades, and backtracking. The atmosphere is great as you slowly walk through the hallways encountering soldiers, robots, and of course, aliens. It's also a bit creative by allowing the player to rotate between different marines, each with his own personalized dialogue. Metroidvania is one of my favorite genres, so I was happy to play this game while I waited for Shadow Complex 2.
Then I got stuck.
I looked online for any videos or written walkthroughs that somebody may have posted on the situation. Nothing. The location was too vague; nobody seemed to mention it. Maybe I missed some sort of grappling hook. I looked through the five-page manual for a clue on the game's possible upgrades. How helpful do you think that was?
After two days of no progress, I had almost given up when I remembered another game that stumped me in a similar fashion many years ago: Super Metroid. My roadblock then was a hallway with a collapsible bridge that I couldn't get across in time. After failing that for hours, l dialed my friend's number.
"Hey Jimmy, do you remember that really long hallway in Brinstar that has a collapsible bridge? I'm totally stuck on it. How do you get across it?"
"You mean the one you can run across? Dude, you know there's a run button right?"
Run. As I remembered my friend laughing at me a decade ago, I checked an Aliens: Infestation video on YouTube. Were they running? I pulled out my DS and loaded up the game. I thought I had checked every button already, but then I held the right trigger. I sprinted to the gap, leaped, and easily made it to the other side. How did I not notice the run button? The same way I didn't notice it all those years ago.
When I first played Super Metroid, I tested out every button. When I tapped the A button, Samus hopped. Pressing X made Samus shoot her arm canon. I hit B and…nothing. If only I had made Samus walk while holding down B, I'd have realized she could sprint. I later learned that fans appropriately called that bridge the n00b bridge. Turns out I wasn't the only one who got stuck there.
You'd think that after a decade I would have learned how to play a Metroidvania game. Amazing how Aliens, the franchise that inspired Metroid, has reminded me that old habits die hard…and that I'm horrible at Super Metroid.