Dashed Expectations

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2016 9:45 am 
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1998 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Easily one of the greatest titles in existence, and I almost missed out on it. Here's the thing, and this is kind of embarrassing to admit: I never wanted to get into the Legend of Zelda franchise for an incredibly petty reason: It was popular. People praised the series, it was constantly at the top in Nintendo Power, it just made me feel sick. But then, one day, we all decided, "OK, Mr. Greatest Game of All Time. Show me what you got!"

...It sure showed me a thing or too. And I'm happy for it.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. If there is ever a reason to own a N64, it's this magnificent beast of a game! The 5th game in the franchise, our young hero Link leaves the comfort of the Kokiri Forest as he learns that darkness will consume the land of Hyrule and it is his destiny to stop it. In order to do so, Link must gather the three Spiritual Stones across Hyrule, play the Song of Time on the Ocarina of Time, and stop evil from entering the Sacred Realm and gaining access to the powerful Triforce.

But here's where an already good game takes an interesting twist:

Our hero is sealed within the realm for seven years because the Master Sword that guarded it deemed him too young to be a hero, and thus put him in hibernation. This created a pretty big backfire since the evil Ganondorf was able to just walk into the Sacred Realm without trouble. Our now adult Link must go back into a ruined Hyrule to awaken the Six Sages and stop the King of Evil Ganondorf.

This seven year mechanic, with the Master Sword and Ocarina of Time being the key, created a changing world. What parts of Hyrule you could go to and what was within the world differed greatly depending on whether you were playing as a child or as an adult. A peaceful and prosperous Hyrule Castle Town as a child would be teeming with horrible monsters as an adult after Ganondorf takes over.

OOT also brings with it an incredibly memorable list of characters, including childhood friend Saria, ranch girl Malon and her father Talon, the mysterious Sheik, Princess Zelda herself... That's just the tip of the iceberg. These are characters that stick with you, despite the fact that this was an era where the story didn't get too complex. It was a very simple "good vs evil" with a seven year time travel mechanic built in, but maybe the simpler plot is what made all these characters, major or minor, so memorable. They really stood out, especially when you reunite with ones you met as a child when you come back as an adult.

The dungeons were impressively designed, the boss battles were clever, the different tools Link can use were fun to use... You could spend all day pointing out just how down near perfect Ocarina of Time is. It's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of game.

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 9:27 am 
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1999 - Rayman 2: The Great Escape

Another great title that I almost didn't get into. This time it had to do with its rather, how to say, bizarre art style and characters. It looked a little too out there. Still, after my mother brought it over one day, I finally went ahead and gave it a try.

The lesson, which is something that I know I've heard many times as a kid, was, "never judge a book by its cover." What I ended up playing was fun right from beginning to end!

Rayman 2: The Great Escape is the latest of Michel Ancel, a dev I've come to greatly respect thanks in no small part to this game here. It may be a sequel to the original side scrolling platformer, but it really has no relation to the first game outside of our hero.

The story begins actually with the bad guys winning. Robot pirates from outer space have kidnapped many citizens of the world, including Rayman, and have also destroyed the heart of the world, splitting it up into 1,000 Lums. All hope seemed lost, until Ly the fairy and Globox hatched a plan to break Rayman out of his cell. Now, Rayman must seek out the four masks to awaken Polokus, for with his power, Rayman will be able to stop Admiral Razorbeard and his band of pirates and save his friends.

While there were certainly things to collect, Rayman 2's 3D platforming was very different from others of the era. Rather than exploring large open worlds trying to find every trinket, you followed a mostly linear path, picking up whatever you can find along the way. In a sense, it actually stayed closer to its roots better than something like Mario 64. Combat was surprisingly fun, involving a targeting system to strafe as you avoid enemy fire, and upgrades were spaced out nice and evenly. Each level felt unique and different, with completely different hazards, traps, puzzles, secrets.

It's probably one of the more well loved Rayman titles out there, which is why UbiSoft has gone to great lengths to port it to every system under the sun. Can't really blame them, honestly.

But for me, this was the gateway game to trying new things out, new genres, new weirdness. Sometimes, you just come across something you didn't expect to like, which just makes it feel more rewarding when you do come to love it.

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:10 am 
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2000 - Pokémon Gold/Silver

1998 was pretty important for North American audiences. We got hit with what would actually turn out to be the second most profitable video game franchise of all time: Pokémon. Who though catching and battling little monsters would be so entertaining?

Not wanting to just sit on their success, Game Freak brings us the first true sequel to the original games with Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver. These games were improved upon the original in virtually every single way. The type effectiveness was better tweaked, the coding was a lot more polished, better QOL stuff such as multiple bag spaces were added, and that's just stuff that was fixed from before. It introduced a slew of new features such as breeding to make your ultimate partner, a day/night cycle to better create immersion, full use of the GBC's colour palette, reworkings of status conditions to avoid "unfair" scenarios, and thus far the only generation to date to include a second region to explore (specifically, the original Kanto region from the first games).

It's really what everybody wanted from a sequel: The same gameplay, but vastly improved. But more importantly, this showed that this franchise had real staying power. Red/Blue showed us the games had potential, but I know a few that said it was "just a fad" and would die down like everything else, but Gold/Silver proved that the company was committed to making this more than just a one off success story.

And now, on the year of Pokémon's 20th Anniversary since its Japanese release, I'd say they've pretty much succeeded in that regard. It's a franchise that continues to improve and continues to be a lot of fun.

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 4:05 pm 
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2001 - Super Smash Bros. Melee

When writing this list, I've come to a rather interesting conclusion: The Gamecube had an amazing launch at the end of 2001! There was the new take on Mario with Luigi's Mansion, the birth of the Pikmin franchise, some really great third party stuff like Super Monkey Ball and Star Wars: Rogue Leader: Roge Squadron II...and of course, this big title that is still played heavily to this very day: Super Smash Bros. Melee.

The original 1999 Super Smash Bros. was a great experiment hindered by its small budget, but after the game performed way above expectations, a ton more development went into its GCN sequel, and the results are night and day. The gameplay was smoother and faster, there was more than double the amount of playable characters, single player was hugely expanded on, and more.

Smash Bros., to me at least, was always more of a celebration of Nintendo's history than anything else, and they really took that to heart starting with Melee with the introduction of Trophies. These were in-game collectibles you could find of various different characters you could see across history, each coming with a short description of who or what it was supposed to be. It was a touch that absolutely wasn't needed, but as an enthusiast, it really scratched that itch for knowledge.

Melee also gave rise to a new kind of fighting game fan in the competitive scene. Unlike other fighters out in the business, this wasn't about wittling down your opponent's health to zero, but more like a glorified sumo contest. And years of hard practice have made for some spectacular showcases of people making use of every little nuance that each character is capable of, way above a level I'm capable of.

While there have been Smash Bros. since then, people still like to fall back to this one since it seemed to get every single mechanic just right. And again, to think it came out just mere weeks after the GCN launched, this was the game to go back to when you and a bunch of pals were hanging out.

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2016 10:21 am 
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2002 - Metroid Prime

8 years.

That's the length of time it was since the last Metroid game when 2002 rolled around. Despite the amount of importance and greatness Super Metroid brought to the table, the fact of the matter was that it just didn't sell the kind of money Nintendo wanted to see. So despite the promise of "See You Next Mission," fans were left waiting. There was talks of a N64 game and Samus made appearances in Smash Bros., but no actually Metroid game was every brought to us.

Enter the GCN era, where newcomer Texas company Retro Studios were tasked with giving Metroid a bold new direction. At first, I was pumped because we are finally getting a new Metroid after all these years...until I heard that it would be in first-person.

I almost completely lost it. How could a game with such an intricate level design and sense of exploration like Metroid be reduced to a linear style game like Doom or Quake? There's nothing wrong with those games, but they weren't Metroid. I was beyond upset!

But, I was so starved for a new Metroid, I decided to play it...and it exceeded well beyond my expectations. They didn't just take Super Metroid into 3D, they perfected it on the very first try! I was blown away!

Everything might have a first-person perspective and you do shoot things, but that was where the similarities between Metroid Prime and other FPSes ended. All the hallmarks of a great Metroid were there: A large world to explore, various power-ups that let you access new areas to find, deadly boss battles, even some puzzle solving was thrown in.

The story takes place between the events of the first two games. Samus has defeated the Space Pirates for the first time and picks up a distress signal orbiting the planet Tallon IV. As it turns out, it was a Space Pirate Frigate made up of stragglers from the Zebes base and they have been conducting some experiments using a mutagen called Phazon. After Samus defeats a giant parasite, meets an old enemy and escapes before the ship explodes, she makes her way to the planet's surface itself to put a stop to the experiments the Pirates are conducting.

What I especially enjoyed about this storytelling is, outside of voiceless cutscenes, a lot of it was pretty optional. You could read logs from Pirates (translated by your visor) or the ancient Chozo that had lived on the planet to get a lot more lore and story bits if you so wanted, and it added a lot more personality to the universe, personality I didn't even know I wanted. But these small bits of flavor were enough to satisfy without going full blown cutscene-o-rama like some games ended up doing.

By putting you inside the power suit, Metroid Prime became an experience. From small details such as ripples of water after you climb out of a pond, to being able to change to X-Ray vision so detailed, you can even see Samus's bones in the arm cannon and how she fires the weapon.

But more than anything, Metroid was back, and it was a wonderful time to be a fan. Metroid Prime is absolute perfection, and I had doubted it possible. Well done!

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 8:47 am 
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2003 - The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

I had an internal debate about this one. There were a few 2003 games that made the shortlist. But this Zelda game with a different take on the art style was what won out. Care to know why?

Because I still know people who can't acknowledge how good it is. Personally, that is. And I want to let them know, right here, right now; The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the best Zelda game!

Now, let's start with a small confession. I was a bit turned off by the cel-shaded art too, at first. But here me out for a second! In the year 2000, back when Nintendo did an event known as Space World, they showcased a demonstration of Link and Ganondorf getting into a sword fight that used graphics that looked closer to what Ocarina of Time had. People had assumed that this was what our newest Zelda was going to look like, so when it was revealed to look more like this, people flipped. It wasn't "real," it looked like it was for kids, that kind of thing. I was feeling that way a bit too.

Still, I gave it a try, and you know what? This game really is fantastic! Here, let me break it right down for you:

Once upon a time, there was a land called Hyrule, where evil was thwarted by a hero clad in green known as the Hero of Time. However, evil soon reappeared and engulfed Hyrule once more. The people prayed for the hero to return, but he did not appear, and so they left their fate to the gods in hopes of a future. That kingdom is now long gone, with no one knowing what became of them and soon fell to legend, save for one small island where it is customary for boys to wear green tunics when the come of age. Enter our protagonist Link, who is celebrating his birthday when, after saving a pirate girl from deep in a small forest, sees his own sister get kidnapped and goes on a quest across the Great Sea to save her.

As the name suggests, the Great Sea is incredibly vast! It is probably one of the largest Zelda overworlds around (though I'm sure BotW will beat it easily) and you will be exploring these islands on your own talking boat known as the King of Red Lions. And this is where I end up absolutely adoring Wind Waker. Using the baton to change the wind, I looked forward to seeing what each island on the 7x7 grid map had to offer. Each one felt like it had a real purpose for existing and worth actually going to and seeing what secrets lay inside. Sometimes, you can find a chest with some rupees, other times you could encounter a Great Fairy who will give you more storage or power, and even still you could find mini dungeons with some nice rewards at the end. And that's just what's on the islands! You could also hunt for sunken treasure, battle giant squids, find a mysterious ghost ship, there was a lot to find in the Great Sea.

It's not without its faults, mind you. The number of dungeons is a little lackluster, the beginning is really poor, sailing can feel long, and the infamous Triforce Hunt was padding to the extreme. But the stuff it does well, it does extremely well. The puzzles were clever, the characters were memorable, and as stated, exploring each and every island made everything worth it.

And then there's the graphic style, the big issue I still see people take from this. From a screenshot, it might not seem like much, but honestly, it needs to be seen in motion. It is really a cartoon/anime that is in playable form. The characters have a lot of emotion in their faces and movements and the bright colours really help everything stand out. The animations are fluid and drawn out beautifully. It still looks gorgeous to watch even today, in contrast to its "realistic GCN brother" Twilight Princess, which is all muddy and gross to look at now. It's so good to look at, I daresay it didn't even need an HD re-release (though the QOL stuff it adds still makes the game worth it for those with a Wii U).

And for anyone that calls it kiddy...I just need you to watch that final battle scene when Link deals the final blow. That is not at all a kid friendly end to an enemy.

Wind Waker. Best Zelda. That's my stance and I'm sticking with it! Unless BotW turns out to be everything I think it is...

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 3:25 pm 
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I, too, look upon Wind Waker very fondly, although I'll admit a lot of that is simply due to the fact that it was my first ever Zelda game.

With that said, its direct sequel, Phantom Hourglass, was soooo underwhelming by comparison.


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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 6:18 pm 
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I feel like Nintendo did shoot themselves by showing that Link vs Ganon fight in an OoT style, it really did Wind Waker no favors. The Wind Waker is the ultimate example of 'graphics do not make a game', and probably for a different reason. Its visual does look really great with the details and expressions characters make, but everyone just hated it for being cutesy and stuff. I adored the game, unlike most games I put down at a time, I came to really love this one for a lot of what it did. The HD remaster fixed so much that it's almost perfect. Also agreeing with Pikminpulator, Phantom Hourglass was not the sequel Wind Waker deserved. It's ok but it's under whelming for several reasons. I feel like a 3DS sequel that wasn't top down would have been great, it is strange to go from a 3D Zelda to a 2D top down one...

Everything else on this list that I played, I agree with and they're just great. No other way to put it.

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2016 11:54 am 
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2004 - Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

I always feel a little sad when I look at the current market of Paper Mario games. They just can't even come close to the high bar that Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door set. There are pages of greatness within, but let's start from the top of the book.

The first sequel to the unusual N64 RPG Paper Mario, The Thousand Year Door sees our favourite plumber in papery form once again when Princess Peach informs him of a legendary treasure that may be found in the town of Rogueport. She mails him a treasure map, but this is no ordinary map! It is a magical one that can point our hero to the locations of the seven Crystal Stars needed to open up the fabled Thousand Year Door, where the treasure is said to be sleeping. But along the way, we learn that the Princess has been kidnapped, but not by Bowser this time, but from a new race of baddies known as the X-Nauts, who also wish to open the Thousand Year Door themselves. It is now a race between the two forces as Mario tries to collect the stars and save Peach!

That's the basic storyline in a nutshell, but the game goes far, far deeper than that. Like its predecessor, each game is split into chapters, but what really makes things work out this time was that each chapter felt so contained with its own sub-plots, their own unique gimmicks, and more. One chapter has you gathering a bunch of little critters through a giant tree, another has you become a professional MMA fighter, and even another takes place almost exclusively on a fancy train ride with a terrorist attack plot hidden among the passengers. While the main focus is in opening the Thousand Year Door itself, it's these smaller plots that really take the shine.

The locales that Mario visit are also very different than what you normally would expect from the whimsy of a Mario game. Rogueport, the central hub, is a seedy place you would expect out of something like a gangster movie before a cute Mario title. There's a town covered in perpetual twilight, a deserted island full of ghosts, a forest where everything is monochrome, and more. Nothing here was standard. Were Mario himself not involved, you could just as easily mistake this for a different game.

The combat itself is wonderful. Building on the original game's system, Mario and his partners have access to a lot more actions (and they aren't exclusive to just badges anymore) but what really helps it stand out is the fact that all fights take place on stage as if they were acting out a play. This isn't just for looks, though, this is an actual gameplay mechanic! As you battle and win and level up, your audience gets bigger, which means more people cheering you on and possibly giving you items (or more chances for hecklers to ruin your life) and the faster your "star power" fills up, allowing Mario to perform spectacular moves. Mario and his partners also need to keep the crowd excited, not only by performing well in battle, but doing it in style as well. That's not even getting into the fact that props and light fixtures could mess with you at a moment's notice. It adds a nice, silly, but fun new take on the battles.

Outside of combat, Mario has pretty much embraced his papery self. While the original used the paper aesthetic as an excuse to not have to make full 3D models, the devs at Intelligent Systems fully ran with the idea, making Mario fold like origami to solve puzzles and making background pieces change up in exactly a way you'd expect paper to act, such as ripping a "piece" of the scene off to reveal a hidden staircase, or flipping it like a book to make a bridge. They are rather cute touches.

But ultimately, what keeps me coming back is its diverse cast of characters. At first glance, they appear to be classic Mario characters but wearing outfits, but deep down, they have real depth to their personalities. We have a Koopa that is rather shy and wanting to avenge his father, a Bob-omb who lost the love of his life to illness, a secretary-manager Toad trying to find out what happened to her missing brother at a seedy arena, a villainous siren who is constantly getting mistreated and punished by her older sister for reasons that weren't even her fault... That's but a handful of the major characters you meet in the game, and the minor ones are no slouch either. These are characters that you care about, that you want to hope for a happy ending for. In a Mario game of all things! This entire thing was a story worth experiencing over and over again.

It was fun, it was very different, and it had some great writing all around. One of the great RPGs, and it stars a man known for just jumping on an enemy's head!

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2016 6:22 am 
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2005 - Shadow of the Colossus

This title was quite the experience. With a grand total of 16 enemies in the entire game for such a large scale world, it doesn't sound like much, but Team Ico's Shadow of the Colossus proved that there was a lot more than what you would think.

Our adventure begins with a man named Wander and his horse Agro carrying with them a girl named Mono, who was a maiden that had been sacrificed for reasons the game didn't really explain. He wishes to restore her, but to do so, he enters a forbidden land and makes a deal with an ancient being where his wish will be granted if he slays the 16 colossi that roam the land.

The gameplay is made up of basically two parts: Find the colossus, and then defeat the colossus, and all of it involves using the environments to solve platforming puzzles. Our protagonist isn't exactly a strongman though, in fact he's kind of weak. He can only grip onto things for as long as his stamina holds and he's actually really clumsy with that sword he wields (though he's got a pretty good shot with the bow). As the name implies, the colossi are massive beings, and trying to kill them with a sword is almost like someone trying to stab you with a toothpick. But the colossi each share something in common: Glowing weak points. Wander needs to climb these colossi (who will attempt to shake him off), find these spots, and then stab them with his sword. Black blood oozing out is a sign that you are succeeding and with a little more, the giant beast will be brought down, though not before Wander is hit with some black entrails that warp him back to the main temple.

It can feel a bit janky and might be hard to get into at first, but I think this was done deliberately so. Wander is a simple man with a simple purpose: He wants to revive this girl Mono, and he's willing to do whatever it takes. But as you continue to fight more and more of these beasts, something starts to come across the players mind: Do the ends really justify the means?

The game gives you quite a look into the morality of men without really outright spelling it out for you. You enter a land full of giants, yet not a single one of them ever attacks you unless provoked (and even some don't even do that). They posed no danger to the greater world, no malice. And now your character enters their domain and is killing them one by one, all for the sake of one person.

It's that sort of mentality that I had as I played through this game that really gave it a special edge over just about anything else. I mean, it also helped that each colossi had their own unique mechanics to try to get to their weak points, but the solemn theme of the game is what makes it special to me. We humans are flawed creatures, driven by our own selfish desires. This game shows us just who the real monsters are in the end.

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2016 12:32 pm 
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2006 - Ōkami

Around the end of the year, and the end of this console generation, there were two different grand adventures that had our protagonist take the shape of a wolf. While one was far more anticipated and successful, I think Kamiya Clover Studio's little tale was the much better game overall.

Ōkami takes place in a more fantastical part of Japan, where many myths and legends of the country are made real. You play the role of Amaterasu, the Shinto goddess of the sun, taking on the appearance of a pure white wolf. She had battled the fierce 8 headed serpent, the Yamato no Orochi, along with master swordsman Nagi, and saved the village of Kamiki from its terrible ritual of sacrificing maidens. However, the great wolf sacrificed its life for those and a statue was erected in its honour. Several years later, Orochi was been resurrected thanks to one man's foolishness, and darkness once again covers the land of Nippon. But with the blessings of Sakuya, Amaterasu, origin of all that is good and mother to us all, is brought back to the land to bring light from her sun once more.

The immediate thing that stands out is that the sharp edges of the graphics make it look like it came right off a canvas, and that is pretty much exactly what the team was trying to achieve. This isn't just a stylized look, however; It is integral to the game! Amaterasu has power over what's known as the Celestial Brush, which lets her literally paint calligraphy onto the game screen. By creating various shapes with the brush, different things can happen, such as creating bridges, growing trees, calling upon the sun or the moon, and many more. Although, due to her long slumber, Amaterasu has lost many of her original powers and must seek out the other Celestial Gods to get all of her powers back.

Of course, the forces of darkness will stop at nothing to remove this threat to their vile deeds, but Ammy is far more than capable of dealing with threats. On top of being able to use the brush to deal damage to enemies, she also has access to a multitude of weapons that can be used in combat, such as reflectors, beads, and even swords, with each one playing differently from the other and each style excelling better against certain enemies.

One thing I found to be incredibly fascinating about this title is how much Japanese folklore was crammed into it. It's kind of like Shrek, minus incredibly dated pop culture references. It would be exhausting to list them all, but it's worth looking into if you are interested. For anyone with even an inkling of Japanese tales, this is a must look at...even if many of the portrayals of the game have the tongue firmly planted in its cheek.

And wow, is this game just gorgeous to look at! Another example of how art style triumphs over pure graphical power. It is literally a painting come to life. I didn't want to leave for a long time, which is good because this is a very long game indeed. Even when you think it's going to end, another curve ball is thrown your way!

It's a shame Clover shut down not long after this game came out. They deserved so much more acclaim and sales.

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2016 12:32 pm 
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2007 - Super Mario Galaxy

The Wii had taken the world by storm at this point, though it was mostly for its very easy to understand controller where the motions of it reflected into the game itself. This was all fine and dandy for more casual players who may not have gotten into video games before, but what about those who were a bit more advanced?

Thankfully, Super Mario Galaxy was there to save us, bringing us probably his best 3D adventure ever. It's the same song and dance your used to: Bowser kidnaps Peach and Mario has to save her, but now it has been taken into the reaches of outer space.

By running across various different sized planets and soaring through like a comet, our favourite plumber makes use of mechanics involving gravity itself in order to traverse the various different star systems as he collects Power Stars to try and find his way to the center of the universe, where Peach is held. It gives a fresh new perspective on what we thought we already knew about platformers. You could jump up and then suddenly get pulled by another planet's gravitational force.

And each set of worlds feature that same Grade A level design you've come to expect, with new mechanics and power ups all the way through. He can fly as a bee, be pushed around in a bubble, surf on a manta ray, and much more.

And if just finding the stars isn't enough, there's even the added difficulty of all the different Comet Stars, where you take on an already completed challenge but with an added twist, such as a strict time limit, obstacles moving faster, or even having to defeat a boss with only one hit point.

Honestly, it's one of the most fun I've ever had with a 3D Mario game ever. It truly is one of the great ones in his library.

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
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2008 - Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness

This one is a bit of an odd one to add, no doubt. Many reviews really place these games rather low and I'm positive there are actually better quality titles out there...but for me, this game, and the series as a whole, is one that I find to be very personal.

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness is the second set of games in this subseries by Chunsoft, released in time for the 4th Generation of Pokémon. These titles are what's known as a Roguelike, a gameplay style where you explore randomly generated areas in a tile based movement scheme. But the catch is that nothing moves until you do, so it's very turn based without actually looking turn based. You have access to the standard Pokémon movepool, though the attacks are very different from how they are portrayed in the main games. For example, a Thunderbolt, while being a standard powerful attack in the main games against a singular Pokémon, is now an AoE attack that hits all opponents surrounding you. Because of this, you need to create more, how we say, interesting movepools when going through these "mystery dungeons."

However, the gameplay itself isn't why I keep coming back to this game and others from its series. Far from it. In fact, it can get old relatively quickly and I wouldn't put any blame on you if you grow tired of it. Instead, this is a game I adore purely for its story. Pokémon games aren't known for their deep storytelling, but this series always has the best writing in the entire franchise.

It begins when our protagonist (you) wakes up to find out they've been turned into a Pokémon, but you have lost all of your memory of how that came to be. You befriend another Pokémon who is trying to be a great explorer, though is very timid to go sign up all alone. The two of you manage to join Wigglytuff's Guild and begin your journey to see what these mystery dungeons have waiting for you. However, a vicious plot is happening behind the scenes as time is standing still in various locations, and if this isn't stopped soon, the world will end.

It doesn't sound like much on paper, but the character interactions as you progress really sells it for me as a lot of them really do act like the Pokémon we know and love, with you being the odd one out. In truth, these kinds of stories have always fascinated me growing up, where an average person is suddenly pulled out of their comfort zone and forced to mingle with a new culture, sometimes, though not always, involving involuntary transformation, as is the case here. It is a neat little experience to play as "you" in a theoretical scenario where you are no longer human and need to blend in.

In fact, I became so affixed with this series, I ended up basing a lot of my time writing up stories and comics based on the franchise involving my character as he grew more and more, learning new things and discovering new feelings. It is something I still identify with to this very day.

That's why this game is up here, because it just means a lot to me personally. It isn't that great, some would say even bad (I wouldn't go that far), but the impact it left on me and my imagination is why I needed to include it on my list. For the record, I went with Explorers because that is the best one of the entire franchise.

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2016 10:45 am 
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2009 - Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure

Around this time, I have finally gotten comfortable with the idea of trying new things if the premise is interesting enough, and man, I can't think of any other game that tried what Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure did. The game is described as a hybrid of platforming and puzzle, but they took that idea far more literally than most.

Henry Hatsworth, the highest ranking member of the Pompous Adventuring Club, is on a quest to find the pieces of the Gentleman's Suit, which can be used to access the puzzling world where hidden treasures and riches can be found. However, upon finding a golden bowler hat and putting it on, his age drastically decreases to that of a young man and monsters start appearing all over the world as the mysterious "puzzle realm" slowly tries to reach its way to the real world. Henry Hatsworth must quickly find the other pieces before things spiral out of control, though his rival Weasleby intends to get the parts first.

Using the DS's two screens, you can flip between the "real world" and the "puzzle world" with a quick push of a button. While in the puzzle world, time in the real world stands still, but the puzzle world is constantly moving, even when in the real world. The real world consists of your standard action platformer, where you can jump and use your sword/cane to attack various enemies. However, upon doing so, you don't actually defeat them, but send them to the puzzle world. When in the puzzle world, well, it's basically Panel de Pon/Puzzle League/Tetris Attack. The tiles slowly rise up, and you must clear blocks by matching three or more of the same colour, either horizontally or vertically. This is how you ultimately defeat the enemies that are sent back to the puzzle world. If you don't clear the blocks before they reach the top, the monsters will return to harass Henry Hatsworth once more. But the puzzle world also has access to other goodies if you can clear the right blocks, such as recovering health, attacking enemies on the real world, or filling up your "special meter", which can be used to power up Henry and give him access to firing projectile shots.

This game has a lot of fun just being absolutely ridiculous, and that's why I love it. The part that ultimately sold me was a short video when the game was just coming out that demonstrated a special action simply known as "Tea Time." After clearing a lot of blocks of enemies in the puzzle world, if you fill the special meter up to its absolute maximum, a button will appear on the bottom screen, and when pressed, will activate Tea Time. The action will freeze as our hero enjoys a cup of tea with other pompous British gentlemen as a short snippet of Mozart's "Turkish March" plays on piano, before switching to a heavy metal remix as our hero jumps into a giant mech made of gold that gives him access to a ton of powerful moves to destroy enemies with! It is as ridiculous and as awesome as it sounds, and that's just the start. The bosses range from a Fabio-like opera singer to a decrepit old man who is stuck in a wheelchair and must rely on his heavy-bound nurse. It's hard not to at least smile at the sheer absurdity of the game.

If there is one detraction, however, it's that after World 2, the game becomes very unforgivable, with obstacles becoming very hard to avoid and enemies really hurting Henry. If the difficulty was toned a fair amount, this game would virtually be perfect. Still, if you can get over that incredibly bizarre difficulty curve, this game is a pure joy to play and, dare I say, a jolly good show, old bean.

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 Post subject: Re: 30 Years,, 30 Games
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 7:51 am 
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2010 - Monster Hunter Tri

My first Monster Hunter title, and like for at least a few who first tried it out, I had this initial reaction: I didn't like it, because I really didn't understand what I was doing. The long slog to when things get interesting and you start to grasp the fundamentals of how to play really put me off...at first. But like some things in life, with enough patience and dedication, I came to actually really like this series, and it all began with Monster Hunter Tri on the Wii.

Our newest Hunter (that's you) has arrived on Moga Village, a small coastal village, where they are currently being plagued by unusual and devastating earthquakes. The believe that the cause of this is coming from a large monster known as the Lagiacrus, and so they hire you to come and save them from this threat. However, you happen to be a bit of a fledgling Hunter, so you've got to sharpen your skills and craft some better gear before you can challenge this threat and save Moga.

Monster Hunter is a game of intricacy and patience. Some would say that the combat feels sluggish or slow, but that was a deliberate design choice. You aren't super powered beings of awesomeness, you're regular men and women wielding massive weapons used to slay creatures that are several stories tall. Everything feels weighted the way it should be and it becomes a game more about watching what the monster does and less about just attacking. One small misstep could cost you the mission. This can be a major put off for a lot of people, and I can understand that. But for me, that's kind of part of the joy of Monster Hunter. You have to actual learn and understand patterns of monsters, see how they move and when they are most vulnerable, and your weapon is an extension of yourself.

It's a game of repetition as well. Fighting the same beasty over and over again to get the right parts needed to craft the better armor/weapons can seem daunting, but it is a necessary evil, I feel. The more fight the same monster, the better you are at seeing the patterns coming, and the better you become and hunting in general. Armor can only save you so far. When you get down to it, it's your own skills and knowledge that will save you. It's much more of a thinker's game than you think. And every time you down one, you always feel like such a badass by the end of it.

But of course, the most fun anyone can have that any Hunter will tell you is to go and play with friends. Getting online with a couple of buddies to take on even more challenging monsters can make for a great afternoon as you try to increase your Hunter Rank as high as you can go, fighting things that a solo player couldn't possibly take on without a ton of dedication. And I will say this: The community is probably the most friendly and helpful in all of gaming. While the majority are known for being rather toxic or elitist (and that's not to say MH doesn't have any of that), for the most part, fellow Hunters just want others to hunt with them, probably due to it being a bit more niche in North America compared to Japan, where the series is massive. It feels more personal.

And my journey all began here, with me taking on a Lagiacrus using a Great Sword in Monster Hunter Tri.
...Swimming was kind of bad, though...

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