Games of the Decade

We are in the final stages of 2019 and are nearing the end of another decade in video games. Yes, I know it’s “not actually the end of the decade” and all that, but for convenience I’m going to make up this list a year “early”. The past decade has been great for gaming; our wonderful hobby is enjoyed by more people every day and we have seen new ways video games can be pushed in terms of technology and as an interactive artistic medium. Video games as an industry have surpassed movies and music in terms of revenue and I would even dare to say popularity as gaming is light years away from the niche hobby of basement-dwelling loners as nearly everyone partakes in some aspect of video games; I haven’t even mentioned the rise of platforms like YouTube or Twitch. I have, after much deliberation and numerous lists scribbled on my desk, created two separate lists for my games of the decade; one list with my favorite game of each year of the decade and another simply comprising of my 10 favorites of the decade. After looking through all(well, pretty much) the releases of the decade it’s hard to not point out 2015-18 as being downright amazing years for gaming. The early years of the decade saw some great games like the first Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2, Skyrim or The Last of Us, but outside of a few big games I don’t feel anywhere near as enthusiastic about 2010-14 as I do 2015-19.

2015 – the year that saw releases like Bloodborne, Metal Gear Solid 5, Fallout 4, Undertale, and The Witcher 3.

2016 – we received the phenomenal Overwatch and Persona 5, along with the revitalization of beloved franchises with the release of Resident Evil 7 and Doom.

2017 – the year began with a brand new Sony-exclusive in Horizon: Zero Dawn, only to be eclipsed by Breath of the Wild and the surprising success of the Nintendo Switch(yes, it was a surprise for most of us), with Super Mario Odyssey capping(get it?) off the year.

2018 – I don’t even need to say much further than – God of War, Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

***I will point out right away that while both The Witcher 3 and Persona 5 are looking to be INCREDIBLE games, I feel like I haven’t played enough of them at this time to accurately include them in my list, not entirely at least. Without further ado, here are my favorite games of each year of the past decade…

2010 – Red Dead Redemption

2011 – Batman: Arkham City

2012 – Far Cry 3

2013 – Grand Theft Auto 5

2014 – Destiny

2015 – Bloodborne

2016 – Overwatch

2017 – Super Mario Odyssey

2018 – God of War

2019 – Death Stranding

Here’s my personal favorites games of the decade. I included Red Dead Redemption 1 & 2 as a single pick, NOT sorry, I DO make these rules…

Super Mario Odyssey

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

Far Cry 5

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Bloodborne

Overwatch

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Grand Theft Auto 5

God of War

Red Dead Redemption(1&2)

That’s my list! What are your favorite games from the past decade? Let me know in the comments or just let me know how much you agree or disagree with any of the included games. I have also been working on a 2019 Games and Moments of the year that I will post soon. I’m heading back to re-watch more Star Wars movies! Thanks for reading!

Metroid Fusion

On November 17, 2002 Nintendo did something unique – releasing a pair of Metroid titles simultaneously with Metroid Prime being released on Gamecube and Metroid Fusion for the Game Boy Advance. While Prime went on to revolutionize the franchise, Metroid Fusion it seems has always been overlooked as the little brother to it’s Gamecube counterpart, despite also receiving critical praise. I recently played through Fusion and it provides a gaming experience just as terrific as when it was first released nearly seventeen years ago.

same Samus, new fusion suit

Metroid Prime and Fusion were the first games in the series since 1994’s Super Metroid on the SNES, with Samus’ only appearance on the N64 being part of the roster of flagship characters in the first Super Smash Bros game. Prime made the jump from 2D side-scrolling adventure-platformer(titles falling within this subgenre will go on to be known as “Metroidvania” games) to first-person perspective, which many were skeptical about prior to its launch. Metroid Fusion in contrast to Prime, kept the familiar 2D camera and gameplay of Super Metroid while adding a few improvements. It’s certainly understandable, thought still unfair how Fusion would not receive as much attention as Prime as it didn’t present a radical change in the formula that fans had grown to love.

Metroid Fusion begins with Samus Aran accompanying a team from Biologic Space Lab, or BSL, to the Metroid homeworld of SR388. While on the surface, Samus is infected by an unknown parasite that attacks her central nervous system and later renders her unconscious and crashes her ship. The Galactic Federation rescues Samus, performing an emergency operation as the parasite, now known simply as “X” has FUSED itself so deeply to Samus that parts of her power suit were unable to be removed. A cure has been found however, as the cells from the infant Metroid that Samus has informally adopted(the same one from Metroid II) act as a vaccine and destroy the X cells as Samus makes note of the fact it has now saved her life twice. Shortly after regaining consciousness, an explosion happens at the BSL and Samus is sent to investigate; she is not completely alone this time as a new onboard computer AI is installed to assist. Samus decides to name the AI “Adam” and states the demeanor of this new partner is strangely familiar and sounds very much like her former academy officer, Adam Malkovich. Samus’ mission to investigate the disturbance at the BSL begins by cautiously making her way to the nearest navigation room to get a better layout of the facility; the BSL consisting of a Main Deck which is connected to six individual sectors, each one comprising of a different climate. Shortly after arriving, Samus learns the X parasite that nearly killed her has infested the BSL and Samus clone has been spotted destroying areas of the lab. The X parasite possesses the ability to copy the genetic makeup of its host and has created a duplicate of its most recent victim. Due to not operating at full power just yet, Samus is strongly advised to steer clear of this more powerful copycat and make her way through the research facility. Samus is able to recover her suit abilities as she progresses through the BSL before making the discovery of a secret area full of….you guessed it, Metroids. It turns out the Galactic Federation has secretly been working on a program to breed all different types of Metroids with the intent to weaponize their power. Further adding to the dangerous scenario is the fact the Samus clone, named SA-X has been alerted to her presence as has begun to hunt her down. After confronting Adam, Samus learns that the Galactic Federation has deliberately withheld certain information and power suit abilities as they feared if she were to know what was going on she would do her best to shut down the operation; they go so far as to order Samus to remain in the navigation room as Federation forces are en route to secure the facility and the SA-X, whose powers prove too enticing to resist. Samus knows the Federation will be walking into a massacre as they are no match for the SA-X, whose power will only continue to grow, putting the entire galaxy in jeopardy. Samus successfully reasons with her AI counterpart (then revealed to be very consciousness of the her former commanding officer Adam which had been transferred posthumously) and quickly devises a plan to propel the BSL down to nearby SR388 and annihilate any remaining X parasites in the process. Samus initiates the destruction sequence only after confronting and defeating the SA-X before heading back to her ship to escape the facility. Before she can reach her ship however, she is attacked by an Omega Metroid and nearly killed before the SA-X attacks the creature head-on and is destroyed, leaving Samus to finally return the favor and absorb the power of the SA-X and obtain the Ice Beam once again just in time to defeat the Omega Metroid and escape as the BSL crashes into SR388.

The gameplay of Metroid Fusion is nearly identical to that of Super Metroid, and plays just as flawlessly. You navigate your way through the Main Deck and Sectors 1-6 and acquire various upgrades for your power suit, beginning with missiles before other handy powers like Charge Beam or Morph Ball Bomb to assist you along your way. You also earn power suit upgrades such as the Varia Suit which protects you from extreme heat or cold, or the Gravity Suit which enables you to move freely underwater. This is a central formula in Metroid games and even after multiple games still proves one of my favorite aspects of the game – finding a new toy and excitedly looking for an excuse to use it. There are many corridors and hallways to search along the way to your next objective point, with many doors being locked and only accessible AFTER finding the locking mechanism for the corresponding color; quintessential Metroidvania – exploring every inch of an area and then returning(backtracking?) to a previous section as you are finally able to see what’s behind the door or where it leads(remember that door that was locked at the beginning of the game…?). One nice upgrade is the ability to grab ledges and climb up, this replaces wall jumping as the only way to scale vertical passages, at before you get the Screw Attack upgrade(another favorite πŸ™‚ ).

The controls for Metroid Fusion feel right at home on the Game Boy Advance(or DS, as I used) and are blast to play. Super Metroid utilized the six buttons of the SNES controller, whereas Fusion accomplishes this while using only four. The L shoulder button serves as diagonal aim both upward and downward while the R button is held while pressing the B button to fire missiles. The only ability found in Super Metroid not found in Fusion is the X-Ray visor which I honestly don’t find myself missing all that much. Just like in previous games, your health and ammo are acquired from defeated enemies as Samus is informed that due to her power suit being inFUSED by the X, she is able to absorb the parasitic organisms as they float mid-air. The yellow X will replenish your health, while the green X will restock your missiles, but don’t wait too long to grab them or they will attach themselves to another nearby life form causing the same enemy you just blasted to respawn right in front of you. This is also used as a puzzle element in a couple areas as I couldn’t figure out how to proceed to the next room before realizing I had to destroy an enemy and refrain from grabbing the floating replenishment as you need to allow the X to replicate an enemy a few times before allowing you to pass.

The sound and visuals of Metroid Fusion still provide the ambience and atmosphere one has come to expect from the series and proves a worthy successor to Super Metroid. The feelings of isolation and trepidation have permeated through Metroid as a series. The Alien movies have been enormous influence on the Metroid series and the games have never shied away from showing it; Ridley – one of Samus’ most recognized adversaries is named after Ridley Scott, the director of Alien. Remember…in space, no one can hear you scream πŸ˜‰

While I love nearly everything about Metroid Fusion, there are just a few critiques.

  • The story is a bit weak(story never being the strongest aspect of any Metroid game)
  • Navigation and save stations: There are numerous save and navigation rooms scattered throughout the BSL facility, almost too many. The save stations are never far enough apart to make you moderately uneasy about losing any of your progress, a contrast to other Metroidvanias where being given the opportunity to save your game is a welcome relief. This would definitely be considered a very minor nitpick, as it was a bit of a stretch to find things I disliked in the game.
  • Difficulty spike during boss battles: The overall difficulty of the game is pretty moderate, but the boss fights can prove to be surprisingly tricky. A lot of the difficulty is the fact many bosses take up the majority of the screen leaving you a very small window to maneuver around, usually sticking to the corners of the screen in Morph Ball mode.
  • Perhaps my biggest critique is the game can at times, tends to do too much “hand-holding” in regards to mission objectives. In Metroid Fusion, your AI companion Adam frequently acts as a compass by pointing out exactly where your should head next and reminding you of details that you shouldn’t overlook. The fact there seems to be a navigation room where you are told exactly where to go every few minutes. While this may have been a decision to make the game a little more straightforward or accessible to Metroidvania newcomers, it feels like one of my favorite aspects of the subgenre has been diminished in encouraging you to explore every nook and cranny of the area as you discover health tanks and missile expansions, along with clues as to where to proceed next.
saving the day against the Omega Metroid

To summarize(finally!), Metroid Fusion is an excellent entry to the series that is every bit worthy of being called a successor to Super Metroid, which is still considered one of the greatest games of the Super Nintendo, if not all-time. The game plays every bit as well as its 16-bit predecessor and the controls, along with sound and visuals are superb considering the limitations of the Game Boy Advance 17 years ago. My favorite moment of the game is facing off against Ridley X, who is defeated rather easily by a constant barrage of missiles, before absorbing the floating X to finally receive the Screw Attack. This always represents the greatest feeling in the Metroid games, the moment when you’ve upgraded all of Samus’ weapons and power suit abilities and relish the feeling of power provided by your new toys as you go to confront the final boss of the game. There’s also the fact you can connect your GBA and Fusion to a Gamecube to unlock the Fusion suit in Metroid Prime, as well as a full-version of the original NES game to play on your Gamecube, which was pretty awesome. Metroid Fusion may not have reinvented the franchise, but it certainly is among the best the series has to offer.

Have you ever played Metroid Fusion or Prime? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to go through and write a post for every Metroid game, if nothing else to pacify myself until Prime 4 Nintendo decides to re-release more Metroid games. Well…that’s another week, another Nintendo game for show and tell πŸ™‚

Keep on playing…

My Hylian Summer Vacation

Yesterday, I finally completed my quest to play through Breath of the Wild, completing every shrine and finding every. single. Korok seed along the way. I just happened to sit down to play some Switch and felt like playing Breath of the Wild. I had been meaning to play the game some more as, there was still plenty I could cross off the list from my first play through, such as the Master Sword Trials or the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 quest. I had also just finished a weekend blog listing some of my favorite Summertime Games and had mentioned BOTW as a game I distinctly thought of the summer months, as I spent the summer of 2017 playing through it my first time. So I decided to begin the game a second time with the thought that if nothing else, I would gain a deeper appreciation for the game. There are games that you always wish you could go back and experience for the first time all over again, usually epic games like Breath of the Wild, Fallout 3, GTA IV, etc. While I knew that you can never go back to your “first time” with a game, but I do enjoy going back and revisiting games like this and note what still stands out about the game or what is it that you still dislike; I seem to do this with Zelda games in particular as I played through Majora’s Mask a few months ago with that intent. I wanted to play through BOTW again to see what parts of the game stand out or plain irritate me a second time around. As someone who by nature(?), seems prone to making things more difficult than they would normally be, I had the brilliant idea, “I’m gonna finish every shrine…and get every Korok seed too!”. Here I am today, 26 days and roughly 140 hours of gameplay later – 4 Divine Beasts, 120 Shrines, and all 900 Korok Seeds. I also thought it would be interesting to take some notes as I go through the game and write up a summary of my experience afterward.

I spent the next few weeks playing Breath of the Wild, marking out areas on my Sheikah Slate locations of shrines and Korok seeds. I will make it perfectly clear that I was using the giant fold-out map of Hyrule that came with the player’s guide I got shortly after buying the game, as well as the interactive map from Zelda Dungeon(one of my favorite sites! ). There is no way I was going to be able to find every Korok seed completely on my own, some of the locations were incredibly cryptic and it’s a wonder how some of them were ever found in the first place. I also learned that you can only place 100 stamps on your Sheikah Slate map at any given time…yeah, ONLY 100. At one point I zoomed out a bit to look at the map and it was overrun with little stamps showing the location of seeds in a specific region, and noticed it looked a bit like a map from just about any Ubisoft game. I tackled one region on the map before moving on to the next, beginning with the Great Plateau and then making my way through the Dueling Peaks region. I approached the game like a job essentially, I would wake up and try to chip away what I could after I woke up and before I would go to sleep at night. I don’t want to make it sound like I was miserably grinding away, I truly enjoyed the many, many hours spent mindless chasing marked areas on my map. It was like I just couldn’t stop, one of the highest praises I can usually give a game.

Upon finally completing all the shrines you receive a new “quest” from the monks to go retrieve your reward from the treasure chests located at the Forgotten Temple located at the northern end of Tanagar Canyon. Your reward for completing all 120 shrines is the “Outfit of the Wild” which includes cap, tunic, and trousers that resemble Link’s attire from the very first Legend of Zelda game and looks pretty cool. The “reward” from Hestu however, for scouring every nook and cranny throughout Hyrule for all 900 Korok seeds is simply called “Hestu’s Gift” and appears to be several Korok seeds layered precisely in a way to make it look like a “poop emoji” …yup…that’s right. Upon further reading, I found that indeed, the joke all along is you were collecting Korok poo…umm…great? The symbol itself is known in Japan as Kin no unko, which translates to “golden poo” and is considered a good luck charm. Adding to this wondrous discovery is also a glitch that was found in the game which makes it possible to “collect” infinite Korok seeds, it’s a good thing I like the game that damn much upon realizing the goal of collecting all the seeds was simply a fool’s errand.

In a break from my ramblings of golden Korok poo, I have listed some of my favorite aspects of Breath of the Wild, as well as things about the game that I still don’t love and would like to see changed by the time the sequel to BOTW is released. The things I loved about BOTW…

  • Hyrule – I absolutely love the giant sprawling landscape of BOTW’s Hyrule! While playing there were many regions that reminded me of areas of Tamriel while playing Skyrim, but liked even more. The rocky coastal areas of the Akkala region, with its hills and cliffs overlooking the sea are my favorite. The Wasteland and Gerudo regions providing a mostly barren, arid landscape where you deal with temperature extremes and the occasional sandstorm, making travel difficult. I also loved the Lake region of Hyrule; one of my consistent favorite areas in any given Zelda game would have to be Lake Hyrule – I first fell in love with the idyllic scenery surrounding the giant lake in Ocarina of Time, where I spent much of my time fishing. In BOTW, the massive Bridge of Hylia spans the entire distance across the lake. I also really like the Faron region with the lush, tropical environment that really reminded me of Link’s Awakening and The Wind Waker (even if it’s home to many violent thunderstorms and lightning striking). The Hyrule that Nintendo created for BOTW is probably my favorite aspect of the game.
  • Intro/Setting – The opening of Breath of the Wild is probably my favorite of any Zelda game, beginning with Link’s awakening(get it?…ok, sorry) in the Shrine of Resurrection. You are then given first views of the Great Plateau and the vast land of Hyrule spread out in front of you, in one of many epic moments of the game. The overall setting of the game is great, providing a cryptic eerie sense as you survey the ruins of Hyrule after your hundred-year slumber, piecing together your forgotten memories of just what happened before you were placed in the Shrine of Resurrection. I loved just wandering around the ruins of forts and villages, risking attack by numerous enemies, including the dangerous mechanical Guardians. This reminded me a lot of the Fallout games where you emerge from a stasis chamber to a world completely foreign to you.
  • Combat – I know the combat in the combat has been ridiculed by some after the game was released, with the majority of that I believe rested primarily on the fact your weapons are breakable(still NOT a fan). I really enjoyed the combat and felt it does stress tactics and strategy in choosing which enemies to engage and which to simply avoid; rushing at an enemy and trying to hack your way through has a very low success rate in this gameI would come across a blue-maned Lynel and think, “no way…he’s WAY too strong of an enemy to engage at this point in the game” – as I’m already pecking away at it with arrows from my Boko Bow… that didn’t end well. As much as I hate using this as a reference for anything with the slightest difficulty curve, the combat in BOTW DID in many ways remind of Dark Souls.
  • Princess Zelda – There was a greater resonance to Zelda as a sympathetic character in Breath of the Wild than in other games. In other entries, she seemed essentially a priceless artifact to be rescued, like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. In BOTW, she’s more of a three dimensional character; her frustration from the expectations placed upon her to contain the darkness threatening Hyrule and the consequences of failure to do so. We may have played the game through Link’s eyes, but the heart of the story was Princess Zelda. The irony that the title of the series has always been Legend of Zelda.

As for the things I still dislike about Breath of the Wild…there isn’t too many things. This is also some things that I didn’t hate about the game, but merely would prefer changed around a bit for the sequel announced back at E3.

  • Breakable weapons – Let’s get this one out of the way first…I dislike breakable weapons in any game, I end up spending the majority of the game cautiously avoiding the better weapons I have hoarded to that point, out of fear that they’ll just break after a couple enemies(if that). I don’t think it ruined the game by any means, it’s simply something I have never liked in a video game.
  • RAIN! – I love the traversal in Breath of the Wild, then a rain shower inevitably comes along to bring any progress to a screeching halt. In specific areas like the tropical Faron region, I understand the frequent rainstorms, but it happening at nearly that frequency just about everywhere else got a bit tiring. This is probably my biggest annoyance in BOTW, more even than breakable weapons. You are encouraged to climb just about anything and explore the land, but it becomes incredibly difficult when it’s always raining. This made me appreciate the Gerudo, and Wasteland regions, I will gladly take a sandstorm over the rain.
  • Dungeons – I really like the Divine Beasts and Shrines throughout the game, however I would like to see a more traditional dungeon layout for BOTW 2. The length and sheer number of Shrines in the game don’t provide as much cohesion compared to other titles, like Twilight Princess or Majora’s Mask.
  • Boss Battles – This may be equal parts boss battles AND combat, actually. The boss battles in the game with the different “blight” incarnations of Ganon didn’t seem to be quite as memorable as other Zelda titles. Another thing I thought was strange in BOTW is how much easier the boss battles feel than some of the higher level Bokoblins, Moblins, or Lizalfos. The boss battles can be defeated primarily by spamming arrows, and occasionally using the Runes on your Sheikah Slate, whereas the sub-bosses like Hinox or Lynels, take a much more time and strategy to bring down. This makes certain elements of combat seem a little off-balance.
  • Fishing – One of my favorite and most enjoyable activities in Zelda games has been fishing. It was curiously absent in Breath of the Wild and I would love to see it implemented in the upcoming sequel.
  • Hookshot – A favorite weapon since A Link to the Past, I really hope to see it in the next game

Over the 140+ hours I spent playing Breath of the Wild, I kept track of some of my favorite moments of the game…

  • Master Sword – The moment you pull the Master Sword has been one of the defining moments of a Zelda game since A Link to the Past.
  • Typhlo Ruins – The Shrouded Shrine quest is located in the Typhlo Ruins just north of the Lost Woods. You land on a small island covered in darkness, you must feel your way around the island and light torches along the way. The path eventually leads you to the center of the island where you find the shrine orb, hanging around the neck of a sleeping Hinox. Finding my way through the pitch black with only the light from the occasional torch felt similar to the eerie, cryptic puzzles of early Zelda games.
  • Eventide Island – The Stranded on Eventide quest begins the moment you set foot on Eventide Island. The quest takes away all of your items and equipment and challenges you to activate three shrine pedestals which are being protected by an assortment of enemies. This shrine quest, as well as most of the Faron region provided many Link’s Awakening vibes.
  • Shield Surfing – Once I finally learned how to do it, the shield surfing in Breath of the Wild is a blast!

At the end of the day, was it worth it? yes and no. Experiencing everything the main game has to offer was as great as my first time through, if anything I have an even greater appreciation for what Nintendo accomplished in creating Breath of the Wild. If you’re the type of gamer into collecting Achievements and Trophies, then you will most likely be quite disappointed in what lies at the end of your journey to 100% the game; you’ve earned bragging rights if nothing else. I did also take a few pictures to remember my “summer vacation” in Hyrule.

Wow! that was a bit longer than I had planned. Has anyone else out there played finished every shrine and seed in Breath of the Wild? What other games have you played so obsessively you felt at times that you couldn’t stop? I am quite satisfied to have this completed and will be shortly setting my sights on the new Fire Emblem game next.

Keep on playing…

My Mario Maker 2 Courses

Today, I thought it would be fun to share some of my created courses on Super Mario Maker 2( The tutorials insisting they be called “courses” and not “levels” ). Mario Maker 2 has been out for a month now and was one of this summer’s Nintendo games I was looking forward to as I had only played the 3DS version which seemed to be a slightly watered-down version of one of the Wii U’s few games that got much attention. The ability to share created levels online was the highlight of the Wii U version and to not having that option on the 3DS version was disappointing. I have spent quite a few hours of Mario Maker 2 between Story Mode, which boasts 100 different pre-made courses and in playing other user-created courses online. I have also spent a few hours trying to muster any creativity in creating some courses of my own. It’s incredible seeing some of the leve…COURSES that others have created online and I have included a couple of my recent favorites that I’ve played. I ask in advance to please excuse the lame titles I have used for my humble creations πŸ˜‰

Swing carefully…

Swinging Blooper Reel – Course ID – XB9-J2P-JHF

One of the first courses I created where the easiest thing to do I make a short course that can be completed in mere seconds, but will have a few tricky jumps thrown in here and there along with scattered enemies in an attempt to pose some sort of challenge. The first few courses I created I probably had some of the platforming sections of games like Mega Man in mind as I made a few of those so you would really have to time the jumps. You will need to swing your way through the grapple claws to reach the end before time runs out. There is an upper and lower path to take as you maneuver around the numerous Bloopers floating around.

More Bloopers…

Calamari Challenge – Course ID – J2N-D55-X36

I always loved the underwater levels in Mario game as a kid, so I wanted to try to create something similar to World 2 of Super Mario Bros. This time you need to defeat the 10 Bloopers around the area before heading for the finish. I worked in a different areas through the course via warp pipes and threw in a few Cheep Cheep to avoid as well.

Classic Castle Course – Course ID – L1T-T8T-TDF

Another creation where I wanted to bring the similar feeling to the castle levels of Super Mario World. There is nothing too difficult here, just a more straightforward trip through a lava-filled castle, complete with giant blades and Dry Bones. Bowser Jr is also waiting at the finish line.

Wintertime Coins – Course ID – RYQ-16G-GVG

The course requirement here is to collect five 30-Coins before completing. There’s nothing too difficult here, outside of a few Spinies and some falling icicles. I wanted to make an easy coin-collecting course for this one, rather than create something that makes you rage quit after dying fifty times in a row( **NOT from experience πŸ˜‰ ).

Rock Wrench & Bullet Bill – Course ID – 6XG-5FQ-QQF

Mario 3 just may be my absolute favorite game, so I wanted to create a flying ship level similar to the ones you had to clear at the end of each world in Mario 3. As you would find in the game itself, there are Rocky Wrenches and Bullet Bills throughout the course as well as the giant flame burners that one would expect to find on a flying wooden ship. You will again need to defeat Bowser Jr. before completing the course.

I do go back and play through all of my created courses; I don’t usually make them with “how many people can I get to play these courses?” in mind. I wanted to make something that I would enjoy playing myself, and I have. In addition to some of my created courses, I have included a couple others that I have played online that I really really enjoyed.

20 Seconds: Cannonball Capers – User ID – bruhhhhhh Course ID – 9QD-V7X-2JF

Along with enjoying an easy stroll through a Mario Maker 2 course, I have spent a fair amount of time( and frustration) playing other user’s speed run courses, some of these are absolutely genius…and difficult.

Super Castlevania Bros – User ID – Nocturnowl Course ID – 5WW-0MF-TMF

I started seeing different “theme” courses online in Mario Maker 2 right away; some users have created everything from movies like Evil Dead to other video games like Metal Gear Solid. There are not surprisingly many levels where other users have re-created different worlds from Zelda games, such as the Great Deku Tree from Ocarina of Time. I came across this level and absolutely LOVE Nocturnowl’s creating of Dracula’s Castle from the Castlevania games. I definitely recommend checking out this one.

That’s about it for this week! I made the Rock Wrench & Bullet Bill course the other day and thought it would be fun to show some courses in a blog post. Have you played Super Mario Maker 2? if so, what do you think so far? Let me know in the comments. See…I HAVE actually played something other than Breath of the Wild this week! πŸ˜€

Keep on playing…

Weekend Gaming Review – Small Retro Game Haul

Due to being out of town for most of the weekend, today’s post will be a summary of whatever games I was able to play over the weekend and any general video games related thoughts I had the urge to discuss. I also have included a few photos of some older games I happened to pick up over the weekend as a pat on the back for actually leaving my apartment πŸ™‚

The past week…or few weeks, rather, I have spent the largest majority of my time spent playing games was my continuous march towards completing Breath of The Wild a second time WHILE finishing every shrine and collecting every Korok seed. I first decided rather impulsively to begin BOTW a second time and thought to myself, “what the hell…I’ll see if I can get EVERY Korok seed and shrine along the way”. To my surprise, I have been able to keep grinding away and am currently sitting at 64 of 120 shrines completed and 431 out of 900 Korok Seeds, and it’s only taken me about…um, let’s see here…50+ hours so far…I have been keeping some notes and screenshots while playing as I intend to go through and write up some of my thoughts and observations from playing through the game. I can already say that I have an even deeper appreciation for the game than after my first time through…just have 3 Divine Beasts, 56 shrines, and 469 Korok seeds left…not bad πŸ˜‰

I did actually play a couple other games over the past week other than Breath of the Wild; I spent a few hours over Thursday and Friday night participating in the final Splatfest as part of Team Order against the Team Chaos’ agents of mayhem (You’ve doomed Inkopolis, you monsters!). Splatoon 2 is a great game and it’s a bit of a shame the online play can be a bit obtuse at times…like most other Nintendo online multiplayer games, sadly.

I also played a little bit more of The Witcher 3, which sounds like insanity, or I just have too much time on my hands that I would even think of juggling both Breath of the Wild and The Witcher 3 at the same time, but had the urge to go back in and play some more after I had spent the afternoon on Twitter reading about the upcoming Netflix series as well as seeing more pics of Henry Cavill as Geralt. Oddly enough, I had just mentioned in the comments below Hannie at The Hannie Corner’s post – Fifteen Games I’d Like To Beat Before 2019 Is Over that I am doubtful that I could finish both The Witcher 3 AND Persona 5 before 2019 is over. Funny how all it takes is to read about a related tv show or merely mention a game that creates the urge to play it (NOT easily swayed by outside influence at all, huh?).

My video game haul from over the weekend

This past Saturday I made a trip to my local used game store in town and picked up a few games I had been wanting to play. I bought a very nice copy of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, a game I have been wanting to play for quite some time, even more so since I finished up Link’s Awakening on my Game Boy Color a few months ago. I haven’t seen a copy of Oracle of Seasons in a while, but I would like to get a copy of that so I can play through both of them. While there I grabbed a copy of The Force Awakens that was in pretty nice condition; I never completed the entire game after it was first released and intend to correct that in the near future. The store was also having a “buy two used games, get one free” sale over the weekend, so as my freebie I took a disc-only copy of X-Men Legends for my Gamecube. Legends being another game that I played a fair amount of on my Gamecube with my younger brother after its release, but never finished. My wife and I tried it out for a while earlier today and it plays just fine, those old hack & slash type games are still fun to play after all these years, even with the fuzzy 480p GC graphics. It occurred to me after buying the games that I had taken the “poor man’s approach” to newer games, with X-Men Legends being a predecessor to the newly released Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order and a good deal of the gameplay elements from The Force Unleashed will be used(from what I’ve seen so far, at least) in Respawn’s upcoming Jedi: Fallen Order that comes out in November.

A nice copy of Oracle of Ages

During my trip out of town, I happened to stop at a couple garage sales and someone was trying to sell a DS Lite that their kids had played on but no longer use. It seemed to be in decent enough shape, and the owner offered $15 for the DS Lite, case, and a couple games included – Mario + Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games and a cartridge-only Donkey Kong game of some sort (the label on the card was scratched off and simply had “Donkey Kong” written on it). I had been wanting to buy a DS Lite, mostly as a cheaper, backlit means of playing Game Boy Advance games since I no longer have my old original “fat” DS. I gave the man $15 for the DS and everything with it and only upon inspecting and testing out the handheld I found out that the “Donkey Kong” game was actually the DS port of Diddy Kong Racing from the N64, pretty sweet :D. The DS itself is in pretty good shape as a result of the Cars protective case covering most of it; there is a bit of a scratch on the upper screen, but I believe I can buff that out when I go through and thoroughly clean it. I have seen people making and selling “replacement labels” for game cartridges online, so I can see about getting one of those so it’s not simply a piece of tape of the card. I don’t do a ton of retro game collecting anymore as I plain don’t have room for boxes and boxes full of old games…<sigh>…but it’s still fun to go and see what kind of treasure you can find. A few years ago, I stopped by someone selling a few assorted N64 games at a garage sale and notice there was Conker’s Bad Fur Day in great shape so I asked the guy standing there how much and he tells me “the games are $5 a piece”, obviously either not knowing or caring this particular game re-sells for $75+ online and at used game stores, probably my greatest find at a garage sale.

I was pleasantly surprised to find “Donkey Kong” was actually Diddy Kong Racing for the DS. You can see the scratch on the upper screen, but I think I can clean that up a bit.

That’s about it for this week, do you collect many physical copies of games, retro or not? What’s your best “haul” at a garage sale or used game store? Let me know in the comments. I’m off to try and collect a few more Korok seeds and make my way through the Gerudo and Wasteland regions of Breath of the Wild.

Keep on playing…

Nintendo Flips The Switch Lite

I don’t usually get a chance to write any new posts during the week, but had a few thoughts about Nintendo’s announcement and figured I could stand to “Switch” things up a bit…<crickets chirping>…anywho…Today Nintendo confirmed the rumors circulating that they had been working on a newer model of their mega-successful hybrid console by announcing the Nintendo Switch Lite, which releases in a mere seventy days on September 20, 2019 for $200. The newest version of the Switch is indeed a more compact version to be played exclusively in handheld mode. The Switch Lite will be a smaller all-in-one handheld system featuring built-in Joycon controllers as well as an improved battery Nintendo claims will last 20-30% longer than its bigger brother. Other notable changes to the Switch Lite include:

  • A 5.5 inch screen versus 6.2 inches
  • Not dock compatible, charges via USB-C cable
  • Does not have HD Rumble or IR Motion Sensors
  • D-pad positioned on left Joycon
  • Longer lasting battery – the example used by Nintendo was four hours of playing Breath of the Wild with the new battery versus three hours on the current model
  • Available in three different colors, including a Pokemon Sword/Shield Zacian and Zamazenta Special Edition announced as well ( looks sweet!)

I woke up this morning to read Nintendo had finally confirmed they are releasing a newer model of the Switch and spent the majority of the day reading about it, as well as perusing Twitter to see others reactions. I am genuinely excited about a new and improved(?) version of the Switch coming in September and have a few thoughts about it.

The Zacian/Zamazenta Special Edition of the Switch Lite looks pretty nice

Is the price tag worth the trade-off? – Obviously this completely subjective and depends on your needs and preferences. For someone that plays the Switch primarily in handheld mode as I know many do, as well as those with children this will be a great purchase; the Switch is perfect for commuting from work or school and surely worth the $200 price tag. Features like the HD Rumble, motion sensors, kickstand, and detachable Joycons I find myself not typically using a great deal, so other than not having the option to “dock” the console for charging purposes I think it’s justified. Hell, just the fact you have a legit d-pad to use for games like Tetris 99 seems appealing enough.

What about games you can’t play in handheld mode? – I don’t believe the list of games that you are simply unable to play in handheld mode is a very long list, with the biggest titles being games like Mario Party or 1-2 Switch. Nintendo has stated that for games such as these you will be able to connect additional Joycons to play….but…if you need additional Joycons to play games on a HANDHELD console….how do you HOLD the console? The Switch Lite does not have the built-in kickstand so there is no tabletop mode along with docked. Another game I thought of was during Mario Odyssey each level upon has specific power moons that you will need to detect the rumble on the controller to know where to ground pound to get the power moon, how will that work? I admit these probably aren’t huge deal-breakers, but it was something I thought of this afternoon.

What about the 3DS? Will we get a Switch “Pro” – Nintendo already set the precedent of making differing models of their handhelds to best fit customer needs, but with the Switch Lite being exclusively a handheld console, what does that mean for the 3DS? The 3DS was incredibly successful but is getting on in years after seeing several different versions including both XL and 2DS versions; does Nintendo plan on finally putting the little guy out to pasture? The 3DS has been home to some great games over the years and Nintendo has been committed to having both home console as well as handheld supported at any given time, but with the Switch being a hybrid of both it will be interesting to see what happens next. Also, with unveiling of the Lite, does that mean that Nintendo will be releasing a beefed-up “Pro” model of the Switch? Something with a little more horsepower( if possible) and possibly an improvement to the dock that would include an ethernet port for the “hardcore gamers” like me πŸ˜‰ that spend most of their time playing in docked mode ( translation: NEVER leave home) and would like a little more stability in using a wired connection? I would love for Nintendo to bring something like that to life, but for now I still love my regular old Switch.

How is it a Switch if it doesn’t “switch”? – I came across more of these comments than I can count today? While I agree Nintendo kind of painted themselves into a corner with the name branding, I don’t think it’s a big enough concern to warrant a lengthy response, smart guy.

How great does the rest of the year look for Nintendo? – This was my biggest question this afternoon after realizing Nintendo launched the Switch on the same day as Breath of the Wild, and will be releasing the Switch Lite on September 20 – the SAME DAY as the much anticipated Link’s Awakening remake….coincidence? The Switch Lite is releasing right alongside a Zelda game, right before new Pokemon and a few months before a new Animal Crossing; Nintendo is looking to have a huge remainder of 2019 and into 2020. Here is some of the exclusives coming out for the Switch in the upcoming months –

  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order – July 19
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses – July 26
  • Astral Chain – August 30
  • Daemon X Machina – September 13
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening – September 20
  • Pokemon Sword/Shield – November 15
  • Luigi’s Mansion 3 – November 2019

That about does it for now, what do you think of the Switch Lite?( they couldn’t have called it a “Lite Switch” huh? πŸ˜‰ ) What games are you looking forward in the upcoming months? It’s a great time for video games!

Keep on playing…

My Summertime Games

I’m going to start off by apologizing for not having a blog post ready for this past weekend, my brother was in town for the week and I didn’t have much time to sit at my computer and write anything out. I had an enjoyable week playing games and visiting our local used game store in town. As this past week was the 4th of July, I thought it would be fun to write about the games that I associate with summertime. I have made a list of the games that always remind me of those summer days as kids where my brother and I would come inside from playing baseball out in the backyard, grab a couple cold sodas, and then proceed to play some games during the hottest hours of the day. First off….

All-Star Baseball – “America’s Pastime”, this was a bit difficult to name just one single baseball game as my favorite, but the first memories that come to mind are playing the All-Star Baseball games on my N64. I started as a kid playing La Russa Baseball 95 on Sega Genesis all the way through to present day MLB The Show games. We would play outside and pretend we were hitting in major league stadiums like Ken Griffey Jr. or Mike Piazza and then head inside to continue on as our favorite players on the N64. The games have improved by light years from the simple design of the 16-bit days, and the yearly offering of MLB The Show is still probably the games I play most during the summer months. I often think of all the time spent playing baseball on N64, as well as in the backyard with friends and family, being inseparable from any mention of summertime.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater – Growing up in the 90’s and into the early 2000’s before extreme sports games like skateboarding and snowboarding seemingly went extinct, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater most successful series of the genre and helped bring extreme sports even further into popular culture of the time; remember Jackass or Viva La Bam on MTV? or when the X Games drew massive viewers on ESPN? I first played the original Pro Skater the summer of 2000 after a cousin brought the N64 version of the game over and spent the day playing. I got my mom to buy my brother and I a copy of the game from a local Kmart and we spent the rest of the summer obsessively playing it; I remember waking up in the mornings that summer just to try and collect more tapes thereby unlocking more levels. As someone unable to even stand on a skateboard( and living in the middle of nowhere) this was like discovering another world. Pro Skater, along with Rogue Squadron 2 were the first games I got when the GameCube came out in 2002. I still have copies of the first couple Tony Hawk games for Playstation that are still fun to go back and play every now and then, despite the camera and controls which have not aged particularly well. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was a huge game for me during all those summers as a kid, not to mention all of the cool licensed music that were used for the games. Ask anyone who played the game to NOT think of THPS upon hearing Superman by Goldfinger.

Mario Golf N64 – I dragged my trusty N64 into my living room a few weeks ago and Mario Golf was one of the first games that I popped in. I spent countless hours with my younger brother and our neighbor friend trying to unlock all the extra characters that you needed to first beat in Match Play, which proved quite challenging to say the least. I remember taking turns playing one hole each trying to beat Metal Mario…I don’t think we ever did? The music and sound effects from this game still bring forth all those warm fuzzy nostalgic feelings after all these years. I dragged my trusty N64 into my living room a few weeks ago and Mario Golf was one of the first games that I popped in and plan on going through and writing about the Mario Golf series as I love all the games. While many consider Mario Golf for the Game Boy Color to be the high point of the series, my favorite would still have to be the N64 version.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – Man…I can’t even imagine the hours that were spent playing this on Playstation 2. GTA: Vice City was the game my brother and I saved every cent of allowance money and traded in several stacks of games just to buy a PS2, because we knew we HAD TO GET THIS GAME. Vice City took everything that GTA 3 had pioneered in open-world games and added even more. My friends and I used to take turns playing the game for hours on end without even attempting to actually complete a storyline mission. I had never played anything like it to that point, it was so fun to run around the neon, tropical landscape of Vice City set during the 1980s. The carefree do-anything gameplay, music, and chaos that Rockstar created in Vice City is still one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of video games in the summertime.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – I ACTUALLY have a more recently released game on my list! It has been two years since I was able to get a Switch and the obvious choice of game to go along with it is Breath of the Wild. I spent the rest of the summer completing shrines and gathering Korok seeds in Nintendo’s open-world Zelda masterpiece. I had been itching to play through the game all over again, so I started another playthrough over the weekend with the intention of completing every shrine and finding every Korok seed, along with finally completing the Master Sword Trial( wish me luck! πŸ˜‰ ). There really isn’t much to say about BotW that hasn’t already been said, if you have not played it yet…YOU NEED TO PLAY THIS! The game is an experience.

Super Mario Sunshine – I am simply unable to think of summertime video games without Super Mario Sunshine being one of the first games springing to mind. I fell in love with this game from the first time I played in on my GameCube in August 2002 and Mario’s vacation-gone-awry on Isle Delfino is still one of my highlights on the console. The exotic Isle Delfino and the Piantas – its anti-pollution, fruit-loving denizens, simply evokes images of a dream summer vacation. The wonderful Koji Kondo soundtrack adds to the summertime mood as well. Despite the seemingly relaxed vibe of the game, it can be terrifyingly difficult; just take a look at some of the 3D puzzle-platforming levels in the later stages of the game. I recently wrote up a list of my “Switch Wish List” and Sunshine is one of the games I really would love to play on the Switch, as the predecessor of Super Mario Odyssey. While the camera is STILL the games biggest drawback, it is a pure enjoyable experience traversing Isle Delfino with your waterpack – F.L.U.D.D and still consider it one of the defining experiences on the GameCube. Switch re-release or not, Super Mario Sunshine is still my go-to summer gaming experience.

That’s going to be it for this week’s post, what games do you think of right away if you when you reminisce about childhood summers? What are you still excited to play the remained of the sumer? I did also pick up a copy of Super Mario Maker 2 and have been loving it so far; the depth of the course creator and insane user-created levels are really impressive. That along with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 when it releases in a couple weeks will most likely consume the rest of my summer. I still have a lot of games that I want to keep working on as the past week was spent mostly playing MLB The Show, Mario Kart 8, and an assorted few N64 and GameCube games and then of course, Season 3 of Stranger Things. I do plan to get more in the rhythm of writing weekly posts moving forward through the rest of the summer. Over the course of the week, I was able to come up with some ideas for future blog posts that I would love to experiment with as well, so I’m pretty happy about that. Happy National Video Game Day! Finally…a holiday for us gamers πŸ˜‰

Keep on playing…