Today we begin our playthrough of the PS4 remaster of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, an action RPG where one must collect myrrh in order to protect our village from the deadly miasma.
Okay, so we’re two-thirds of the way through the 30 days’ worth of video game posts. And I still haven’t found a more eloquent way of describing that. Anyway, we’ve got another “what’s your favorite something-or-other” topic to discuss, my favorite game genre. As usual, I find this to be a pretty difficult question indeed because I have a wide variety of favorite games spanning several different genres. Continue reading Day 20: Favorite Video Game Genre
I recently had the great pleasure of replaying Metroid Prime, a masterpiece on the GameCube that is considered to be one of the greatest games ever made. Metroid Prime has a lot going for it, including a focus on exploration over fighting and detailed, immersive environments, the latter of which is greatly helped thanks to the game’s atmospheric soundtrack.
Today’s post will list my top five songs from the game, with the exception that this list is not going to include the music that plays during the credits, as that is easily one of my favorite songs of all time, making its inclusion in the list a bit unfair…and a bit redundant. Continue reading Top Songs from Metroid Prime
I get stressed very easily. You have no idea how much a tough battle freaks me out or the mere thought that I might be unable to progress through a game, causing me to ponder with unease all the fun I might be missing out on if I’m never able to overcome the challenges set before me. I know these are just games. They are for fun, and thus, there is no pressure to complete them. There are no global consequences as a result of our inability to traverse a series of tricky obstacles or pummel a monster into submission, but that knowledge doesn’t seem to help. And yet, what would seem like quite a contradiction is the fact that I seem to like stressful games.
Or something like that. Continue reading Fruit Has Never Before Been This Exciting
As I work my way through the old Squaresoft games, the next one I tried was “Final Fantasy IX”. When I first started this game, my initial impressions were not great, and I think a lot of it had to do with the game straying from what I expected it to be. You see, most “Final Fantasy” games tend to be more on the serious side, while this one was rather goofy. Plus, many of the games kind of have a mix of fantasy and sci-fi, while this one was more strictly fantasy, another thing that rather disappointed me. And I was unsure about the style of graphics. So I was being pretty judgmental about this game, I think.
Because there really is nothing wrong with this game. It was a lot of fun. I really liked some of the characters. (Freya was awesome. Vivi was awesome. And Eiko was just plain adorable.) I also liked that the characters had unique abilities, so there was some actual strategy in who you chose for your party, when in most games, the characters really aren’t distinguishable from each other in anything more than appearance. It had a good story, as well, even if I never understand the plots in these games. And Kuja was a pretty interesting villain, even if I really wish he didn’t wear what appears to be a thong. I really don’t understand that decision. Not by him. Not by the company. Not by anything in existence in the universe. Continue reading Why I Shouldn’t Have Judged FFIX
United We Game’s February community posts continue, with today being the day the Duck will present you all with my entry on the topic of levels in the “Mario” series. Gamer or not, pretty much everyone’s heard of Mario, and there’s a reason this squat plumber is so popular even after people have been playing his games for over three decades. Because the games have something in them for everyone. They have good, old platforming goodness through a wide variety of environments, an innocent charm that people of all ages can enjoy, challenge (and boy, can they be challenging), not to mention princesses to save and big Koopa Kings to toss. There are so many “Mario” levels out there, and yet they still manage to find ways to do something new with each one and make them stand out from the rest. So I decided for my post that I would list my top five “Mario” levels, and to make it fair, I am going to list my top level from each of my five main “Mario” games in order from least favorite to top favorite. The games I considered for this post span 1991-2010, “Super Mario World”, “Super Mario 64”, “Super Mario Sunshine”, and the two “Super Mario Galaxy” games.
5. Okay, this first one is not strictly my favorite level from a particular game. I chose it more because I have some good memories associated with this level that I can’t really claim to have with the others. This level is Stand Tall on the 4 Pillars, which is found in Shifting Sand Land from “Super Mario 64”. In this level, you go into the pyramid and fight the boss, called the Eyerock (consisting of two hands with an eye on each palm, a surprisingly common boss in games), for a star. As I hinted at before, the level itself is not that exciting, but the last time I played this game was the very first time in about 10 years of owning it that I finally got 100%. And this particular playthrough consisted of my very first time through this level. Ever. So, for one thing, getting to play an entirely new level in a game I had been trying to beat for a decade was pretty exciting, which is one cause for my fond memories of it. The other reason is what took place while I was playing it.
I remember I was relaxing in my most comfortable chair one afternoon playing this game. It was quite a peaceful time, and for some inexplicable reason, my cat, Alex, decided to jump onto the chair with me, which he had never done before and never did ever again. The chair was much too small for the two of us, so he had to settle with largely laying on my lap, making it that much more fun to play the game. And this happened to be during this very level, which was also a surprise, considering it was my first time through it and my first time ever seeing this boss. And so I will forever have pleasant memories of playing this level one lazy afternoon with a comfy chair and a cat on my lap.
Video from Youtube user: MrGamingZone
4. My next favorite level comes from “Super Mario Galaxy”. This level, despite not being a fan of the fiendish creature called the bee one bit, is Bee Mario Takes Flight, a level in the HoneyHive Galaxy. And I just love it, for many reasons. To start, it’s just such a cute level. It’s so bright and colorful, with cute, cheery music. And then there’s the bees. Not just Bee Mario, but the regular bees in the level. While most bees are terrifying and evil, these bees are just so darn adorable! I’m not kidding you! They are so cute! They are plump and fluffy, and they make adorable sounds when you go up to them. Honestly, it’s mainly the adorable bees that make me love this level, not just Bee Mario, even though he can be pretty useful, the way he can fly and climb around on certain surfaces. But, I guess in the end, it’s really the adorable bees that make this level great. This level and the bees that populate it are the bee’s knees.
Video from Youtube user: Overhazard
3. My next favorite level kind of bends the rules a bit. This one comes from “Super Mario Galaxy 2”, and my favorite level from this game is, without a doubt, Return of the Whomp King from the Throwback Galaxy. I’m kind of cheating here because, oh, my gosh, this is actually a level from “Super Mario 64”! A bit ironic, as I honestly was not a huge fan of “Super Mario 64” (it was so darn hard, and that’s why it took me a decade or so to beat!), but this level was just so great because of the pure nostalgia. This level is a replica of the second world from “Super Mario 64”, complete with the same delightful music and everything. And it makes me happy because it was a world I actually liked from “Super Mario 64” (because, unlike most of the game, it was much easier). Then, you get to fight some Whomps. I like Whomps. They look goofy. (Even though we all know Thwomps are better.)
Video from Youtube user: omegaevolution
2. My second favorite level comes from “Super Mario World”, the Donut Ghost House. I always liked the ghost houses. They were creepy, with the spooky music and the dark interiors, not to mention all the ghosts (the big ones were so freaky!), and they were confusing, with all the doors and the strange order in which you had to go through them in order to escape, but that was what made them fun. And I just love those old-fashioned Boos. Adorable. Except the ones that follow you when you look away. That’s rather scary. And so, since these levels were my favorites from the game, I just chose this one because it’s the first and because it’s the easiest. Easy is good.
Video from Youtube user: BURTTtv
1. And my favorite “Mario” level, as you’d expect, comes from my favorite “Mario” game, “Super Mario Sunshine”, despite this one being the most different, but maybe that’s why I liked it. I love this game, and I always loved Noki Bay most of all, a rather beautiful place with peaceful music and towering cliffs (which are, oh, so fun to climb), and I actually found the water to be even prettier when it was purple and polluted. This level was so lovely and had such fun platforming that I always loved visiting it. And as odd as it is, my favorite level in this place was Eely-Mouth’s Dentist, where you go underwater and clean the teeth of this giant eel. The boss music in this game is quite awesome and epic (even when you’re playing dentist), and I just found it so darn satisfying cleaning up all those filthy teeth (except it was gross when some of them came out). Maybe I’m a weirdo for getting such a rush from cleaning eel teeth, but I did, and that’s why I found this level to be awesome.
Video from Youtube user: Anon7906
Duck, Dentist of Eel Teeth
Behold, the first of United We Game’s series of community posts on “Mario” levels, this one by Hatm0nster AKA Jacob, fellow administrator of United We Game!
Mario has been Nintendo’s flagship franchise since they first burst onto the scene with Super Mario Brothers for the NES (Or with the Donkey Kong arcade game if you want to get technical). It takes quite a bit to maintain that kind of staying power for more than 25 years, and we can rest assured that it’s not the portly plumber himself who’d the cause for the series overwhelming success. No, instead it’s always been Nintendo’s ingenious ability to consistently push the boundaries of level design as we know it. Nearly every main series entry has shown us new ways to explore the world with our mustachioed friend, and has left long-time fans with a lifetime’s worth of memorable locations that we can’t help but mentally revisit from time to time. The following are but just a few of my personal favorites.
Pachinko Machine (Super Mario Sunshine)
I’m not sure if that’s really the name or not, but that’s how I’ll always remember this one. It’s not a very popular level due to its stupid level of difficulty compared to the rest of Super Mario Sunshine, but for me that’s kind of the point. It took so many tries to beat this level the first time that I honestly couldn’t even give you a ballpark figure (it was A LOT.) but few things over the years have beaten the feeling of triumph of finally beating it after so many tries and so many failed strategies. Finally beating that stinking machine made all the frustration totally worth it and forever cemented the level as a favorite…as odd as that may sound. J
Luigi’s Purple Coins (Toy Time Galaxy – Super Mario Galaxy)
Finishing this level was actually one of those few things that beat the feeling of completing the Pachinko Machine level. It’s a challenge that, even though it’s stupidly hard, I heartily recommend that every Mario fan should at least attempt. This was the single hardest challenge I’ve ever faced in a Mario game. The challenge is simple, collect all the coins in the level. However, that simplicity comes with a catch: you are given just a little more than enough time to get them all, and you can never touch the same platform twice. It’s hard, unforgiving, frustrating in the utmost, but like the Pachinko Machine, the feeling of beating it is almost unmatched! It stretches your command of Mario’s abilities to their very limit and walking away victorious feels like earning your platformer mark of mastery! If you haven’t tried it, go do it now! You don’t know what you’re missing!
World 8 – First Tank (Super Mario Bros. 3)
My first experience with Mario was with Super Mario Brothers 3 (The All-Stars version on the SNES), and for the most part I found it pleasant and fun until one stormy afternoon when I warped myself to World 8, and wow. I was really young at the time, so going from bright and happy to what looked more or less like hell was kind of scary. And what’s more, the first level played differently. It wasn’t a regular stage, but an army procession filled with intimidating machines of war and projectile-death all over the place! I did beat it eventually, but that incredibly jarring transformation has stayed with me ever since. I suppose that’s why it’s a favorite, it turned everything about the tone of the game one its head and yet still built on the pre-established gameplay. It caught me off-guard, something that no other level has ever managed to do.
Castle 1 – (Super Mario World)
This was the level that hooked me into Super Mario World! Up until that point the game had offered up the usual platforming fare: jumping, swimming, quirky blocks, and power-ups, but then this castle comes along and suddenly I get to not only climb all over the screen but flip to the other side too?! It was just too incredible! Instead of jumping over enemies, I could climb behind them. Instead of jumping on their head, I could punch them off! What sorcery was this?! The mechanic wasn’t used much afterward, but I didn’t care, the simple fact that I could do something like that was just too exciting to write-off.
Bowser in the Dark World (Super Mario 64)
Everything about this level was, no is, perfect! This was the one that convinced me that Super Mario 64 was not only good, but special. It starts off by just dropping you into the thick of it. One second you’re looking at Peach’s face transforming into Bowser’s ugly mug, and the next you’re in a new level unlike anything else in the game before it and told to find your way out…if you can! The obstacles are daunting but just challenging enough to keep you cautious, the music drives you forward with purpose while simultaneously inspiring a sense of awe and wonder; There’s a secret star to be found, extra lives for those that dare attempt to retrieve them, and it’s all finished off with our first face to face with a 3D Bowser! I have played this level dozens of times over the years and it has never gotten old. All those incredible feelings from that first encounter still surface after dropping into it and have barely diminished. Is it the best Mario level ever made? Objectively, no. Probably not. But for me it’s the pinnacle. From feel, to design, to challenge, to tone, for me this level is flawless!
I could list so many more, but stopping there just feels right. The Mario games are just so chock-full of wonderful places that even some of the great ones wound getting forgotten. These were just the ones that left the biggest impression on me. What are yours? Are they all favorites because they were just wonderful to explore, or was it the rush of beating them that enabled them to rise through the ranks into favorites?
I’ve been busy, so I’ve been a little slow on posting lately. But, I’ve finally gotten around to providing you all with another taste of written joy. Day 4 of the 30 day video game posts (wow, I’ve only done 4…) is your “guilty pleasure” game, whatever that is. I suppose this is referring to a game that I enjoy, but feel a bit silly admitting that I enjoy it. Well, I have several games that I have fun with that I am also a little embarrassed by, due to their childish nature. One of those games, and the subject of this post, would be “Bomberman Generation”.
Now, I am not embarrassed in the slightest by my one other console (I have a few handheld ones, too, though that number has dwindled in recent years, as one unlucky game got sold) “Bomberman” game, “Super Bomberman 2” for the Super Nintendo. (In case you’re wondering, it really was super.) I would only be reluctant to admit I own it because mentioning the word “bomb” aloud is not a good idea. But, other than that, it is a delightful game where you get to control cute, little Bomberman through several worlds, blowing up obstacles and enemies (though, I do admit the concept sounds terribly violent). A good time if there ever was one. Due to the great joy experienced while playing this game, I decided to buy “Bomberman Generation” for the GameCube.
Here’s where the guilt comes in. This game is a lot different from the game I enjoyed on the SNES, aside from the fact that someone named Bomberman is in it, and he uses, well, bombs (I doubt the accuracy of the “man” part of his name, though). This, ahem, Bomber-boy is taller now than the stubby version I was used to and creeped me out to no small degree. And the game, while being many years newer than the other one, still uses lots of bright, cartoonish colors (which isn’t really a bad thing, but I’m getting to my point!). Along with cutesy sound effects. And obnoxious voice acting, including some occasionally indistinguishable dialogue from Bomberman himself (did you just belt out “vessel” or “special”?).
All of that combined to produce a game that felt rather childish (except for the villain wearing no pants, which should not be seen by anyone, young or not-as-young, alike), and it seemed like someone my age had no business playing it. To top it off, they added Charaboms, which are basically Pokemon. I don’t know how they fit into the game, and I don’t understand why I must make these things engage in battle, or why they insist on making ridiculous sounds all the time. Leave the Pokemon to the actual “Pokemon” games, where they, frankly, do a much better job of it. They have no place in “Bomberman”, and it further made me hope very hard no one would walk in while I was making the goofy things fight each other.
Despite some discomfort playing such a silly game, it still was fun, hence it is my guilty pleasure game, and not just my guilty game (like some of the “Spyro” games not made by Insomniac, which had plenty of guilt, but very little pleasure). I did have a great time playing the game. It was much fun, with the right amount of challenge, and I enjoyed trying to find all the secret card items, even if they don’t really get you anything that great. It still retained some similarities to the SNES “Bomberman” game I loved, whilst including some very familiar multiplayer (who doesn’t enjoy blowing up their friends?). It was a silly, but cheerful, game that provided me with hours of, sometimes embarrassing, fun. There you go, another topic discussed.
A Guilty Duck, Even Though I Did Nothing Wrong!
Today’s topic of the 30 day game posts, as you can guess, is a game that’s underrated, and the first game that comes to mind is “Vexx”. I’ve actually written about this game before. “Vexx” is quite a wonderful game, but I have only met one other person that has played it. It is a platformer made by Acclaim, for the GameCube, XBox, and PS2, and while very few have heard of it, it is a very fun, very unique game I think many would enjoy.
I love this game so for many reasons. For one, the locations are unique and beautiful. Vexx’s world was torn apart, so each location is floating. And each place is so different. There’s the strange tower behind the waterfall in Timberdale. The desert with the giant dragon skeleton and a maze of underwater tunnels below. There’s the giant dome of water in the Below, where you’ll find smaller domes with various puzzles and challenges inside. There’s also the lovely Summit of the Sages, home of three giant stone heads with vastly different secrets inside. As time passes in these places, the locations change as day turns to night and back again. Nighttime sees enemies become more vicious and the music more sinister, making you want to run and find a sundial to change time back to the relative safety of day. The music in this game is beautiful, as well, consisting of violins and pianos and other such things. The game is quite a challenge, too, which is nice when so many games nowadays are too easy.
The game is also filled with variety. You collect Shadowwraith Hearts to progress to the next world, and each one has a riddle associated with it. Solve this riddle, and the heart is yours. Sometimes this involves platforming. There’s the occasional boss battle (this game actually has few of those, which is good, because they are tough). There are times when you must collect items, like soul jars and heart shards. There are puzzles, as well, like the block puzzle in Daggercrag and the statue puzzle in the Below. The riddles are a lot of fun, and in a small way, I like to think of it as a platformer version of “The Legend of Zelda”.
The game is not perfect, though, and is lacking in some areas. There is very little story in the game and very few characters, as well. But, the game is still fun enough and the gameplay varied enough to make up for that. And Vexx, the main character, has personality of his own. This guy has attitude, and while he’s small, he, like the game, should not be underestimated, as he has some razor sharp Astani War Talons to pummel his enemies with. Plus, I can’t dislike someone who flips off the main villain. Or kicks a goblin-like creature in the you-know-where to get an item the fiend’s holding out of reach.
So there it is, “Vexx”, an extremely underrated game. Sure, this is not the game to play if you’re in the mood for complex stories and interesting characters, but it’s still a very fun game to play, nonetheless. It can be pretty darn hard, too, but it’s fun enough that I wanted to keep trying. I loved the challenge and the variety and the unique locations and music, which all make this game really stand out for me. If anyone wants to try out a game that isn’t so well-known, give “Vexx” a chance. At the very least, it won’t be something you’ve seen a million times before.
“Lost Kingdoms II” is much better than the first game, and the music is no exception. So I listed my top 10 songs from the game with links to Youtube.
10. “Cathedral” is played in the Grenfoel Church. The music, as expected, sounds like it’s played on an organ. It is a bit more dramatic than it needs to be, though.
9. “Obeonix Gorge” is an icy place with pretty music. I like the parts with the harp especially.
8. “Leod VIII’s Theme” is the theme of Leod VIII. I really don’t like this creepy guy, but he has a good theme song. It sounds like a harpsichord and has a bit of a sinister sound to it.
7. “Isamat Urbur” is a really weird place that seems to belong to the Isamat Urbur cultists. The music is simple, with a single sound repeated throughout the whole thing, with a few other sounds added in parts. That repeating sound does a good job at making one feel rather uneasy in that place.
6. “Runestone Caverns” is played in both parts of this level. I love how this music is calm during parts and then it gets all dramatic. It goes well with trudging along through the caves while nothing much is happening, then all of a sudden oh my gosh what is that weird ball of light waaah!!! That’s what it makes me think of.
5. “Krasheen Mountains” is played in the mountains. It is a rather epic song that definitely makes you feel like you’re high in the mountains. I especially like the part that starts around 0:50.
4. “Battle Theme” is the song that plays during boss battles. It is fast and epic.
3. “Bhashea Castle” is a creepy place that was swallowed up by the Black Fog 200 years ago. The music for this level is also very creepy and sounds almost like ghostly voices. I love this song, and it does a good job making me feel lonely and like somebody might be watching me.
2. “Ruldo Forest” is a beautiful, slow song. It fits the area really well and gives the place a mysterious feel. I didn’t really notice certain parts until I really listened, and there are almost mournful sounds at times that gives the place a bit of a lonely feel.
1. “Coliseum” is played in the Sacred Battle Arena. This music is fast and awesome and is the best song of the game.
Sacred Battle Duck