Saturday, January 9, 2016

Tri Force Heroes? Huh?

(I still can't get over that spelling. It's always been Triforce. Always.)

Wait, what? There was a new Zelda game released 3 months ago that I haven't mentioned once on this blog? Huh. You learn something new every day.

Anyway, Tri Force Heroes. Pretty fun, I guess, although multiplayer isn't really my favorite aspect of the Zelda series.

Where to start, where to start...

Well, I got this game on launch day, as I tend to do for most Zelda games. As of writing this, I've 100%'d the game on singleplayer, and I'm waiting to finish Four Swords Adventures with my 2 friends before attempting to 100% multiplayer. I've beaten the game on both modes, though.

And yes, I have more than 2 friends. I swear. I just worded that weirdly.

As a whole, I'd rank this game above Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures. That being said, I still believe the singleplayer is better in Four Swords Adventures, so if you're looking for a one-player experience, that's the way to go. Trying to play with one person in this game is, to put it simply, incredibly tedious. You can only control one Link at a time, leading to a lot of switching around. In theory, this should take triple the time. In actuality, it takes 1.5-2 times as long. It's still annoying.

The way I see it, to truly 100% the game, you have to beat every challenge both on singleplayer and multiplayer, due to the fact that there is an in-game chart that tracks your progress in both modes. I first beat the game and some challenges online with random people, but as the game goes on and the challenges get harder, this became a very unrealistic goal. With the 25% chance that you'll actually get the level you want, and then another 25% that you'll get the right challenge, it became infeasible. So, I decided to wait for my friends to get the game, and that I would go ahead and 100% singleplayer first.

I have to say, it took an incredible amount of patience to beat every level and every Drablands challenge playing by myself. There are 8 worlds, with 4 levels in each world, and 3 challenges per level plus the regular playthrough of the level. In total, that equals 128 times playing through various levels, not including failures that require you to start the level over.

So in short, it's tough.

Some of the later timed challenges are brutal when playing singleplayer. Controlling 1 Link means that you either have to walk everywhere 3 times, or stack all the Links together and carry the other 2. Both of those options takes time, and in some of the later levels almost speedrun-level preciseness is required to succeed.

Oh, and there's this one level that requires Links to balance on platforms. Normally this shouldn't be too much of a problem, but when you can only control one Link at a time, that means you have to rapidly switch back and forth just to keep both of them from falling. The miniboss of this stage is also built on this mechanic. And when it comes to the "Don't fall at all!" challenge, meaning 1 slip-up and you're back to the start?

Ugh. Kill me now.

You. I... I hate you.
Anyway, I'm on the other side now, and I have a feeling playing local multiplayer with friends won't be nearly as infuriating as playing alone, or with strangers online.

I noticed that I've been sounding mostly negative up to this point, but don't get me wrong, I still think this is quite a good game. Almost none of my complaints would even be applicable if I wasn't such a completionist, so many of those gripes are self-inflicted. Single player wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't doing each level 4 times, and online wouldn't be so infuriating if I didn't care so much which challenge got randomly selected. If you're not going for completion, this game is quite an enjoyable experience.

The level design is very clever. I love many of the puzzles, and the levels themselves (for the most part) are wonderfully designed. The boss fights are good fun to, and that final boss was spectacular. I can't wait to play through some of these with my friends.

Another thing I loved about this game was the challenge. Despite what I may have implied above, I love that this game is actually difficult. The last Zelda game I would go so far as to call "challenging," puzzle- or combat-wise, would probably be the Oracles or Majora's Mask. Maybe the Wind Temple in Wind Waker. This changes that. It provided a good challenge on many occasions.

Another thing that helps put this game above Four Swords Adventures is the costumes. I love the costume mechanic, and it really adds variety to the gameplay and how you go about solving puzzles. In a way, it reminded me of the masks in Majora's Mask. There are some instances in which a particular costume might break a puzzle or challenge, but the wonderful thing is that you had to play through the challenge regularly to even get the materials for that costume! It's a great mechanic, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 100%ing the costume collection is a LOT more enjoyable than 100%ing the challenges.

I still haven't touched the DLC content, so I can't really talk about that yet.

The graphics aren't much different from A Link Between Worlds, and the story is probably the worst in a Zelda game since Four Swords. But that's okay, because multiplayer Zelda games have never been about story. When playing Four Swords Adventures, I often found that my friends and I would button-mash through the story text just to get back to playing the game. This game is no different (although there is much less dialogue to button-mash through).

Overall, I'd recommend this game if you have 1 or 2 "Zelda friends," have an internet connection, or are a die-hard fan. It's got a great amount of replayability, and the gameplay is fresh and inventive.

Well, that's all I really have to say, I guess. Take care, everyone. Until next time!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Emulation (Part 2)

Alright, where were we?

Picking the somewhat controversial topic right back up where I left off last time, I'm going to cover the Wario Land series now. It's a somewhat under-appreciated series that, as I mentioned before, spawned from the Super Mario Land games on the original Gameboy.

I've already talked about the first one, so that leaves II, 3, and 4. And I'm still not exactly sure why they decided to go with Roman numerals for the second game.

Anyway, Wario Land II was initially released on the original Gameboy, and then released for the Gameboy Color a few months later. Even though I'm trying to play all original games on my list and stay away from remakes, I don't exactly consider the GBC one a remake, since it's essentially the same situation we had with Twilight Princess on the Gamecube and Wii. Except this time, one has color and one doesn't.

Wario Land II started a whole lot of gameplay elements that would carry over into the next two games (fitting, seeing as it was the first game to officially separate from the Mario series). It's a really neat game, and I enjoyed it a lot. It's close, but I think I prefer this one to WL1. The overworld map is gone entirely for the first part of the game. Once you beat the game, you unlock a sort of flowchart-esque level select screen that somewhat resembles a world map. While at first I didn't think I'd like this, it grew on me pretty quickly. Here's a picture:

That somewhat straight line of pictures down the middle represents the main levels of the game. The "main story," if you will. Now, what was cool about this game is that it actually had 4 hidden endings. For the most part, they were pretty tricky to find, and it was pretty likely that you'd play through the main part of the game without even knowing they existed. However, once you unlock this chart and you know which levels house secret exits, the endings become a bit easier to find.

Now, there are 5 main chapters in the game, and 5 hidden chapters. As you can see, there are only 5 total endings, though. This is because one of the chapters serves as an "alternate reality" for one of the main ones. Another hidden chapter actually branches in a certain level, in which you can either continue with the hidden chapter or branch back to the main story. This added a lot of variety to the levels and it was an incredibly fun feature. Upon completion of all of the levels, given that you've also collected all the treasure, a final (very challenging) level was unlocked, complete with a secret 6th ending to the game that's generally considered the "true" ending.

As for the levels themselves, they each hidden treasure like in the first Wario Land game. And that's about where the similarities stop. This game introduced the recurring element of Wario's invincibility. Instead of enemies killing him, they would transform him in some way, turning a platformer into a sort of puzzle game. This was brought back in Wario Land 3, and I'm quite fond of it. It's a much-needed breath of fresh air after all of the 2D Mario games.

Speaking of Wario Land 3, this brings us to our next game, Wario Land 3. 

I probably could have worded that better... whatever. I'm tired.

Anyway, Wario Land 3 combined the overworld aspect of Wario Land 1 (which I really liked) with the invincibility/puzzle concept of Wario Land 2, and fleshed them both out further. Overall, this game was incredibly deep and expansive, and it ultimately took me a very long time to complete. Each level now had 4 treasures instead of 1, each with a hidden key to go with it. On top of this, the levels were often up to 4 times the size of those of previous games, and the gameplay time really showed this. Overall, I loved the game even more than 1 and 2, but it did seem a bit tedious at times.

(I'm a sucker for overworlds)

The usefulness of the treasures was a definite plus, though. I liked the fact that you could use treasures to unlock new levels and areas in the world much more than just having them to put on digital 8-bit display.

And lastly, we arrive at Wario Land 4 for the Gameboy Advance. From what I've seen, this game often gets thrown under the bus for being different or getting rid of the invincibility mechanic and whatnot. Honestly, though, I love this game. I really do. I like it better than any of the other games in the series, and it's truly one of my favorite 2D platformers of all time.

The graphics and art style are gorgeous. The music is absolutely stunning. The level design is ridiculously clever. I can't say enough good things about this game. I only wish I'd had it as a kid on my Gameboy Advance. 

This was one of the prettiest levels in my opinion.

I don't really have enough time or space to go into too much detail about this game, but overall the combination of art style, music, and level design really made the game to me. I'm really glad I got to play this game, and I never would have even touched it if it weren't for emulation. It can't be all that bad... right?

Anyway, around the time I was playing Wario Land II, 3, and 4, I was also playing Mega Man X, X2, and 7. 

Mega Man X was a fun game. It made a lot of changes to accompany the transition to the SNES era, and it's a lot more complicated and deep than the original Mega Man series. I liked it, but I can't say I share the opinion many people seem to have about it. This game is praised all over the place, but I can't say I'd title it as the "best SNES game" or anything. It's good by Mega Man standards, I suppose. Although I have to say, the story is really good for a 2D platformer. 

Mega Man X2 was also fun, although I think I preferred the original more. The levels were a bit less creative, but it was still a fun experience. I liked how the story continued over from X1. 

Almost the polar opposite of X, most of the complaints I've heard about MM7 were pretty much absent when I played the game. I found it a lot better than I'd have expected it to be based on what I'd been hearing. I liked 7 about as much as X, and a fair bit more than the original 6 NES games. 

After 7 I moved on to X3, and I enjoyed this quite a bit. It's definitely my favorite X title so far. There was a lot of room for customization, ranging from body upgrades to various types of Ride Armors (mechs). There was a lot more optional content in this game, and I enjoyed that. The story also has 2 different endings, and although I'm normally not a fan of games with multiple endings, this one is an exception. Both of the endings were pretty awesome, and not too much was changed from one to another.

And, as of writing this, I'm currently about to beat Mega Man 8 for the PS1. It'll probably be a while until I write my next "emulation update" post, as I want to cover enough games so it doesn't end up being 1 or 2 sentences long. 

I also started the Final Fantasy series at the same time as X3, something I've been meaning to play for a long time. It's quite a commitment, but I decided to play through the first 9 games in the series. As of now I'm about halfway through 2 (even the NES ones are quite long), so I'll just stick with my thoughts on 1 for the time being. 

I have to say, Final Fantasy is easily one of the best NES games out there. It's primitive, sure, and a lot could have been improved, but the world is huge for such an early game. Keep in mind that it was released just a year after the first Zelda. 

Here's a sense of scope in comparison to Zelda 1:

There are several bugs with the combat system, and the story is very sparse, but for an NES game, I can see why it was so popular at the time of its release. A lot of people recommend the remakes of this game, but I can't say I agree. There's just some kind of charm in the old, retro 8-bit feel that really grabbed me. I really enjoyed this game, and I'd recommend any fan of retro games to play it. It's a ton of fun.

And, I suppose that's it. I'll try to get another update post up in a few weeks to share my thoughts on Final Fantasy 2, 3, Mega Man 8, and Metroid 2. See you then!

Monday, September 21, 2015


Hey everyone, just thought I'd make a quick update about what games I've been playing recently and all that.

For a bit of time now, I've generally been playing games in 2 distinct groups. Part of my time has been dedicated to what I call "home games," basically anything I can play on Wii U/3DS/XBox; games that are relatively recent. And then there's "computer games," or... basically, emulation. I tend to play these throughout the week. At school, at home while procrastinating doing homework... You get the idea.

Now, before you jump on me for *gasp* emulating (if that's what you were going to do)... let me clear something up first.

I started using emulators on my MacBook back when I wanted to play Link's Awakening, sometime after beating Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask for the first time. At the time, I didn't have a 3DS, so I didn't have any reasonable way to play the game outside of emulating it. That being said, I now own the game, as well as a 3DS, so that's all cleared up.

Anyway, being a (relatively) young gamer, I clearly missed a whole lot of games from the NES/SNES/N64/PS1 era. Almost all of the games on my "to emulate" list (yes, that's an actual thing) are older games that I missed out on. Often, I'll even buy the game legitimately once I have enough money. Not that this completely justifies it, but I'm not exactly willing to pay 5-10 dollars for 50+ retro games that I could easily just play for free on my computer. Sorry if it sounds blunt, but it's true. I know it's not entirely ethical, but in my mind, I've given enough money to gaming in my life that I don't exactly feel too guilty emulating some older games.

Anyway, defensive rant aside, I just wanted to make this post about my endeavors into older games and whatnot that I've been playing on my computer, as well as what my to play list consists of. I know, it sounds nerdy and somewhat ridiculous, but I just wanted to get my records on paper. Virtual paper. On my blog. Something to look back on in 20 years and think, "Wow. I spent a lot of time playing games."

So, that aside, let's get started.

I believe, after emulating the first 4 Zelda games, I started with Super Mario Bros. I played through SMB 1-3, as well as Lost Levels (with heavy use of save states, I might add), before coming up with a definite list as to which games I wanted to play. But, being me, I had to make an organized list where I could write down all the games I wanted to play sometime in the future. Over the course of a few months, I managed to create a list about 100 games long. After looking at it, I don't really plan to finish the list for another 5 years or so. Kind of like a long-term plan for what I want to do with my life.

Heh. (I'm joking, I swear)

Anyway, I moved on to Super Mario World for the SNES, and in that time I also beat Mega Man 1 and 2, also with heavy use of save states. Those games are hard. Although, I'm proud to say that I've now gone back and beaten both 1 & 2 without save states on my 3DS. See? I told you I bought some games. I'm not an entirely bad gamer.

After SMW and MM1-2, I ended up physically typing down my list so I could glance at it whenever. As a matter of fact, here's a picture:

Not that I expect that to make sense to everyone. I used a lot of abbreviations just to make it all fit vertically on my screen...

Anyway, I enjoyed the first 4 Mario games. 1 and Lost Levels (I played the Japanese Famicom version, so technically SMB2) were really similar, and the latter was incredibly unforgiving. Super Mario Bros. 2 (International one) was very different, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. And Super Mario Bros. 3 was a blast. I didn't realize all it introduced to the series, and it started a lot of traditions. And then I loved Super Mario World. It felt like an upgraded SMB3, and improved in almost every way.

Mega Man 1 was alright, although incredibly difficult. Mega Man 2 was much better. Still difficult.

Anyway, I proceeded to play through Mega Mans (Men?) 3-6, in coordination with SMW2: Yoshi's Island and the Super Mario Land series for Gameboy.

Yoshi's Island was better than I was expecting. I adored the graphics and music, and the gameplay was a nice change of pace. The final boss is definitely one of my favorite bosses in any Mario game. The only thing it was lacking was an overworld. They could have easily done something like in Super Mario World for an overworld to make the game better, but that's alright. It was a whole lot of fun nonetheless.

Mega Man 3 I felt was a bit of a step down from 2. Even a glance at the title sequence shows how much less detail there was put into the game:



That being said, the music was incredible. Mega Man 4 was a bit better than 3, but still wasn't outstanding. It was also around this point that all the games started to blur together. And then, I know this is a very unpopular opinion, but 5 is actually my favorite out of the original series. I loved the story and the whole plot twist in the intro, and the robot masters were pretty cool too. I also loved 6 (specifically the level design).

Again, I'm judging these games as if they were all released at once. I'm sure if I played them as they came out back in the day, my opinions would be different. 6 wasn't all that different from 1 or 2.

Alright, Mega Man aside, let's go back to Mario. Sorry if this is getting repetitive, haha. I'm just trying to cover all the games I've played up to this point.

Super Mario Land, by the way, was one of the very first games for the original black-and-white Gameboy. It was very short and very easy, but it was still fun. I beat it in one sitting, in about an hour and a half. Super Mario Land 2, on the other hand, was incredible. It had a killer overworld, awesome levels, much better graphics, was much longer, and it introduced Wario. Pretty impressive for a black and white Gameboy game.

Now, here is where the Super Mario Land series kind of turned into the Wario Land series. Super Mario Land 3 is subtitled Wario Land, which then spawned an entire series. For now, I'll just call it Wario Land. Wario Land felt a lot like Super Mario Land 2, but this time, Wario was the main character. It had a similar (but somewhat improved) overworld, and similar gameplay. However, Wario used hats as powerups instead of mushrooms and fire flowers. The game also introduced the concept of treasure found in other Wario Land games.

For the sake of brevity, I think I'm going to end this here. I don't want this post to get too long and monotonous, haha. I'll follow this up with a part 2, and I'll cover the games up to where I currently am in the list (playing Final Fantasy 2 and Mega Man 8). It shouldn't be too long before I get that post up, so let's all hope that I don't succumb to procrastination as usual.

Thanks again for reading, and I'll see you next time!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

So Long, Club Nintendo

As you've probably heard, Club Nintendo recently shut down a few weeks ago, after having been open since 2008 in North America, and since much earlier in other regions. I don't believe Nintendo's announced the reason for discontinuing it, although they've said they plan to make a new rewards program.

Anyway, I've been using Club Nintendo since around 2011, and over the years I've managed to collect quite a few prizes from registering my games. I know North America often got the short end of the stick in terms of prizes, but I still really enjoyed spending my coins on various items, and I'll be sad to see it go.

As a sort of send-off for Club Nintendo, I thought I would make a post showcasing all the various collectables I've gotten from the service. Since the website is now actually closed down, I won't be able to check my rewards history, so there's a chance that I might be forgetting some things. (Probably should have thought of that before it shut down. Oh well.)

One of my first rewards, I believe, was the Majora's Mask soundtrack you see on the left. I can't quite remember what year I got it, but I believe it was the Platinum reward for 2012. Maybe 2011.

Then, as you can see, there's the Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U soundtrack on the right, which I got earlier this year for registering both versions of the game.

Some time later, as a bonus for registering some game (Super Mario 3D World, I believe), I was able to get the digital version of Pikmin 3 for free. I meant to pick this up in the summer of 2013 when it came out, but I never really had the funds to do so, so I had to pass it up. When I later learned that I could get it for free, I downloaded it sometime after Christmas 2013 (that's when I got 3D World).

A bit later, (or maybe earlier?) I picked up this 3-poster A Link Between Worlds set. It might have actually been the Platinum reward for 2013, but I'm not sure. I remember I never got Platinum in 2012, but I did in 2013, so it makes sense this would be it. 

Personally, my favorite is the one on the bottom, with Link looking out over the lake. I loved this artwork when I first saw it, so I was thrilled to get it in poster form. The other 2 posters are cool, too.

This was my Platinum reward for 2014, after they (sadly) stopped giving out physical rewards for Platinum and Gold. I still haven't gotten the chance to play it, and I've never played an Animal Crossing game before in my life, so I can't say much about this yet. I'm looking forward to playing it when I have more time, though.

This was one of my last rewards from Club Nintendo. I got this sometime in 2015, or maybe in late 2014. It's a Zelda themed 18-game carrying case, and it's even got some neat artwork on the inside of the cover. It's shaped just like a regular 3DS game case, and it's pretty cool. I've gotten a lot of use out of this.

Lastly, we have this Majora's Mask puzzle. This was part of the final batch of rewards they announced back in February. It was tied for the most expensive one with the Majora's Mask tote bag at 800 coins (most likely to promote Majora's Mask 3D). I figured I would never really get much use out of a tote bag, and I didn't really like the black artwork on a black background look, so I went with the puzzle.

It actually took me quite a bit of time to complete. I've got a few pictures of it while I was still building it:

The absolute hardest part of this puzzle is the part you see left out of the picture above. There are about 40 identical-looking black pieces that form the background, and it's really just a matter of trial and error to get the pieces in the right places. Just look...

These 33 pieces are all the EXACT same shape, with little to no color on them, and you're somehow supposed to figure out where each one goes. Sometimes you get 2 pieces that are so similar, you'll end up putting one in the wrong place thinking it's right, until another piece comes along that doesn't fit with it. It was frustrating, and these few pieces took almost as long as the rest of the puzzle combined.

That, on top of the fact that I'm no good at puzzles whatsoever, made it a bit challenging. When I finished it, though, it looked pretty awesome, and it was still a fun experience.

I was pretty surprised to see that it actually glowed in the dark after I turned off the lights at night. It's a bit hard to see on camera, but I tried to get a few good pictures of it.

I promise, you can see more of it in real life. It's a pretty cool touch.

All in all, I'm going to miss Club Nintendo. I certainly didn't participate in it for as long as I could have, but I still managed to get quite a bit of enjoyment out of the rewards I got. Here's to hoping the next rewards program is even better, and that North America actually gets better prizes this time around.

Thanks, and I'll see you next time!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

E3!!! Yay?

Well, another year, another E3. Luckily, this year I was actually home for the week of E3, so I didn't have to catch up on all the news a week later.

But, in the end, I don't think I could have picked a worse E3 to be at home for.

Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't hate Nintendo's presentation like a whole lot of people did. I didn't even dislike it. They showed some interesting stuff, and I thought it was decent. If I had to describe my feelings in one word, it would be disappointed. Nintendo's E3s in recent years have been amazing and spectacular, with last year's setting the bar incredibly high. But this year, we... really didn't get much. At all.

The biggest new announcement, for sure, was Star Fox Zero. I've never been a huge Star Fox fan, and I've only played 64 and one of the Gamecube ones at a friend's house (Assault, I believe), but I definitely plan to get this one when it comes out. The gameplay looks fun, and despite everyone's complaints about the graphics, I honestly don't see what the problem is. They're not realistic, sure, but when do Nintendo games ever have realistic graphics? The gameplay looks pretty similar to Star Fox 64 with some additional features, and overall it looks pretty fun.

But that was honestly the biggest announcement they had this year, and it was the very first thing they showed.

After a bit they showed Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (still not used to that spelling of "Triforce"), and at first, I thought it was some kind of spinoff. It looks fun, but really similar to Four Swords, and I can't say it's exactly what I was expecting. I like Four Swords quite a bit, but I can't say I prefer it to many other Zelda games. It looks good enough, though, and as usual, I'll be getting it on release day.

My one worry for this game is the online. That seems to be a huge aspect this time around, but I'm really worried about whether Nintendo understands that people love to troll when they're anonymous. I have no idea what they're going to do (if anything) to deal with trolls in this game. Normally, it's not too much of a problem in games, but in Zelda? They could just repeatedly jump into a pit and deplete your heart gauge, or just refuse to move and hinder your progress in the level. It should be interesting how that turns out.

And then, well, the only other announcement I somewhat care about was Metroid Prime: Federation Force. It doesn't look very good, but, it's Metroid, finally. Something is better than nothing... right? I hope so.

Oh, and then that Paper Mario/Mario & Luigi crossover looks pretty good. I've never played any Paper Mario games, and I've only played Dream Team as far as Mario & Luigi goes, but they're both series I plan to play in the near future, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Other than that, we got some information on Xenoblade Chronicles X, although none of it was new, and some more on Yoshi's Wooly World, which we also knew about. Both games look incredible, but as far as the presentation went, we didn't really learn anything new.

The Animal Crossing board game looks absolutely terrible, in my opinion, and I'm not too interested in the actual series, so I'll probably pass on Happy Home Designer. The new Fire Emblem looks pretty good, although I've still got to restart and (hopefully) finish Awakening.

All in all, it was okay. I'm still really upset that there was no Zelda U, though. HOW in the world does it make sense that we got more information a year ago at E3 than we did this year? It's like they went backwards in development. I know a lot of people were pretty upset about that, too.

Anyway, enough ranting for now. Again, I didn't hate E3, but I really think Nintendo made a huge mistake by choosing to show Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival and Tri Force Heroes over Zelda U and maybe a new actual Metroid Prime game. I really hope next year's E3 will be a bit more exciting.

That's all for now, though. Take care.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Random Journal Thing (Mario, Pokemon, and stuff)

Now how's that for a title?

Haha. Basically, I just wanted to make a sort of mini-post before I'm gone for two weeks. Recently I've been playing quite a few new games, and I thought I might as well make an update as to what I've been playing.

First of all, I finally 100%ed both Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 about 2 months ago. That includes playing the game a second time as Luigi in Galaxy, and getting all the Green Stars in Galaxy 2. I've had those games for such a long time, but that was my first time truly completing them. Honestly, I enjoyed Galaxy 1 a lot more than I had remembered. I always remembered liking 2 better, but I think my feelings might have changed recently. I just felt that the larger galaxies were more memorable and overall fun to explore this time around. A few that really stuck out to me were the Freezeflame, Dusty Dune, Toy Time, and Melty Molten galaxies. In case you were wondering, for whatever reason.

I really liked the Purple Coin star here. Going up to the top of the mountain and long-jumping off was awesome.
Climbing up that pillar and looking down was a lot of fun, as was the rest of the level.
Scaling the robot as it falls apart around you was cool.
And then I just loved the whole area in this galaxy. Blasting out of the volcano was a plus, too.
All in all, they were better than I remembered them being, and I remembered them being pretty good. I still think I prefer the Super Mario 64 and Sunshine type of Mario games, but they were a lot of fun.

Otherwise, I've been playing a lot of 3DS recently. I just beat Pokemon Y and Kid Icarus: Uprising a week or two ago. I've had Kid Icarus for about 2 years but never really took the time to sit down and play through the whole game. Pokemon Y I got for last Christmas, and I just finally beat it after playing on and off for a few months.

Kid Icarus really exceeded my expectations. I remember playing it before when I first got my 3DS and not being too impressed, but I really enjoyed it this time through. I managed to beat every level on 4.5 or higher difficulty, but I'm still working on the challenges and such. The game really has a lot of similarities to Smash Bros. It makes sense, because the games have the same director, but I didn't realize before. There's a similar trophy system, a challenges system, and all the chests look the exact same.

As for Pokemon Y, I enjoyed it too, although I can't say it's my favorite Pokemon game. I've yet to play Gold/Silver/Crystal, and I never touched Black/White/2, but as for right now I'd put it above Red/Blue/Yellow and below Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald and Diamond/Pearl/Platinum. I still had a whole lot of fun with it, though, and it was nice seeing all the new Pokemon. Since I skipped Gen 5, there were essentially had twice as many Pokemon that I had never seen before. I chose Froakie as my starter and Charmander as my second, and the team I beat the Elite Four with consisted of Greninja, Charizard, Yveltal, Lucario, Roserade, and Haunter (still need someone to trade with to get Gengar). Afterwards, I managed to catch Zygarde, Mewtwo, and Moltres.

I have to say, the legendary birds in this game are a pain. I can't exactly remember if it's been like this in other non-Gen 1 Pokemon games, but you have to track him down in the wild 11 times before he finally goes to the Sea Spirit's Den so you can catch him. And when you look in your Pokedex to see where he is, you have to walk all the way there, because flying will cause him to move somewhere different. And even when you do walk there, there's still a chance he's moved away by the time you get there. But I finally did it, so that was rewarding. And I used my Master Ball on Mewtwo.

I still have no idea what the Chamber of Emptiness is for. It's a little cave with nothing in it just south of Route 22. Maybe some event was planned for it? I'm not sure.

Anyway, that's about it. I'm still playing the game every now and then, but I've done most of what I wanted to do in the game. I completed the endgame Looker Quest, too.

And yeah, I actually took the time to take in-game pictures. Lame, I know. Might as well.

As of right now, I'm in the middle of 4 games. I'm playing Xenoblade Chronicles, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, and Donkey Kong 64.

I got Xenoblade and Monster Hunter for my birthday on June 8th and just started them last week. NSMB2 I got for last Christmas (I think I actually made a post about that), and DK64 I bought on the eShop.

And Xenoblade Chronicles is one of the most amazing games I've ever played. Wow, I have so much to say about this game, but I'll save it for another time. It's just such a great game so far. I'm playing the Wii version, so yes, it was more expensive, but I'd have to say it's worth it. It just feels like a home console game, I guess.

Monster Hunter 4 seems pretty addictive so far. It's pretty fun. And New Super Mario Bros. 2 is, well, Mario. Same as usual. I'm actually pretty close to beating it, and then I'll only have 1 more to go. So far, it's been way easier than any of the other 2D Mario games I've played, but I still like it. I can see why people say it's repetitive, though. Doesn't do much new. I still haven't played enough of DK64 to say anything about it, but it seems a lot like Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie, which is always good in my book.

And that's really what I'm up to right now. I plan to start Super Mario 3D Land when I'm done with NSMB2, and Metroid Prime 2 once I'm done with DK64. After Monster Hunter, I'll probably try to play Fire Emblem: Awakening again. I never really gave it that much of a chance before, like Kid Icarus: Uprising.

Anyway, enough rambling. That's it for my update! If anyone's reading this, tell me what games you're playing. Do it. Or else.

Not really sure where I'm going with this...

Well, I'll see you in the next one. Hopefully I won't be gone too long, but you can never know with schoolwork and the like. Bye!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Prime Example of a Great Game


Get it?

Yeah, Metroid Prime. I missed this gem of a game on the Gamecube back when I was younger, most likely because it was rated T and I was quite young. I got the Trilogy as a Christmas gift about 6 months ago, back when it was being sold for an ungodly price and right before it got released on the eShop for $20.

But I'm not too mad. I prefer physical copies anyway, and as far as I know, the prices haven't dropped too much since the digital version came out.

Anyway, back to my point. I finished Prime 1 a few months ago, but due to my preoccupation with my summer job, schoolwork, other games, and general procrastination, I neglected to write about it until now.

I have yet to start Prime 2, so I really haven't even gotten much of a feel for the entire trilogy, but if the next 2 games are even half as good as the first one was, I'll be happy.

It actually took me quite a while to beat this game. I ended up logging about 22-ish hours by the time I beat it, but it took me about 4 months overall. I wasn't too consistent with my playing, and schoolwork always tends to get in the way too. But I finally did, and here I am.

And man, what a game. Before this game I had very limited experience with the Metroid series; I had finished the original NES one and then played about 20 minutes into Super Metroid. Other than that, I was in the dark. I was a bit skeptical about how the whole first-person perspective was going to mesh with the Metroid gameplay as a whole, but I soon realized it's less of a first-person shooter, and more of an adventure game that happens to be in the first-person perspective and involve shooting. Long story short, it's amazing.

The best part about this game for me is the feeling of isolation. The large nonlinear worlds helped quite a bit, too, but the feeling that you're alone really stood out to me. It mixed with the music and lack of any NPCs to give you an almost lonely feeling, although it wasn't as unpleasant as that sounds. If you haven't played it, the underlying story isn't readily apparent either. You have to scan inscriptions and logs and stuff to actually understand what's going on. No one really tells you anything.

Come to think of it, that really doesn't sound appealing at all. I doubt I would have been interested if I read this before playing it. It's hard to put into words, I guess. You really just have to play it to understand.

That being said, there were a few times where I wasn't entirely sure where to go or what to do, but I guess that's part of the fun of the game. You've got to really enjoy exploration to get into this game.

The boss battles are nothing short of spectacular, either. I won't spoil too much, but there's this one that involves fighting a giant rock monster and you have to use your thermal visor to find its weak points and...

Yeah. It's pretty cool.

And there are some parts of this game that are incredibly eerie. There's a section where you have to journey inside a Space Pirate-made structure (they're the main enemies of the game). You get to this huge chamber, and as you make your way to the bottom there are chambers with Metroids all around you. If I remember correctly, this is your first actual encounter with them in the game. When you get to the bottom, you pick up the Thermal Visor, and immediately, the power goes out and it gets dark. You can use your newly acquired Thermal Visor to see, but even then, visibility is still limited. As you make your way back up in the darkness, the Metroids burst out of the tanks and attack you. I was honestly pretty freaked out at this point. It probably didn't help that I was playing around midnight, by myself, in the dark, but... It made me jump a few more times than I'd like to admit, haha.

The Research Core

Other parts are pretty freaky, too. Throughout the game you can scan logs made by the Space Pirates about all the tests they're doing. They're fusing some Metroids and some test subject Space Pirates with a radioactive mineral called Phazon, and it describes the test subjects' conditions and how they become unstable and sometimes berserk, and it's a bit unsettling. Eventually you get to fight some of these so-called "Elite Pirates," and I wouldn't exactly describe them as pushovers, to say the least.

There was one bit of text that really stood out to me for some reason, but first I'll need to give a bit of backstory. There was a native race called the Chozo that got wiped out due to the Phazon brought to their planet by a meteor, but they succeeded in sealing most of it away before they died out. The Space Pirates are trying to use this Phazon to their advantage, and they need the Chozo artifacts to gain access to it.

"There have been numerous incidents involving spectral entities at Chozo Ruins sites. Several personnel have been assaulted by these Chozo Ghosts; few have survived. Survivors speak of swift attacks from nowhere, brief sightings of the enemy, then nothing, only to be followed by another attack. Science Team believes these attacks are in response to our efforts to recover Chozo relics and Artifacts. Somehow, these entities are able to interact with the physical world, and it appears they wish to keep their Artifacts to themselves. We will make them pay for such arrogance, for even ghosts can be destroyed."

Again, I'm not quite sure why, but this one really resonated with me. It's just one of the many pieces of backstory in the game, and it's not hard to miss. The game really has a feeling of depth when pieces of story like this aren't too obvious, and can only really be found by looking for them.

And then we get to the graphics. As I've said before, I'm not a sucker for graphics, but this has got to be one of the best-looking Gamecube games out there, and it was released toward the beginning of the console's lifespan. I could easily see this game being a mid-cycle Wii game if I didn't know better. The little touches really help this game to look as beautiful as it does. For example, if you're in a rainy area, when you step outside and look up, rain droplets will collect on your visor. Look down or walk under something, and it stops. If you walk through steam, fog will build up on your visor. And sometimes, if the lighting is right, flashes from your arm cannon will cause you to see a reflection of Samus's face within the visor. It doesn't sound like much, but it really helps add to the depth of the game.

And, well, that's basically it for my gushing about this game. It's absolutely fantastic, and I'd recommend getting Trilogy on the eShope to just about anyone. $20 really is such an awesome price for 3 full games in one. I'd gladly pay $20 for just the original Metroid Prime. Anyone who enjoys exploration will definitely enjoy this game. My only complaint is the backtracking required in later parts of the game, but it's still fun discovering new areas you missed when you came through the area before.

I'm looking forward to starting Prime 2, but first I've got some other games I want to finish up. I'll probably make a more casual post about my current game agenda, and also my thoughts on E3. This post ended up looking way more formal than I expected, haha. Anyway, that's really all I wanted to say. Hopefully I won't be too lazy (or forgetful) to make another post in the near future.