Summer Gaming Challenge #2 – The Legend of Zelda

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Quick Info on The Legend of Zelda:
Console  – Nintendo Entertainment System (also released on various systems’ Virtual Consoles and the GBA)
Release Year – 1986
Metacritic Score – 86 (This score is based on the GBA re-release of LoZ)
Time it took to beat – 5h16m

Another game down, and it didn’t take as long to get through as I thought!  The Legend of Zelda is the oldest game I’m playing on this year’s challenge… heck, it came out before I was even born.  I am fond of the Zelda games, so playing the original seemed like a given.  Of course, I knew that the first game would probably be quite unpolished compared to most entries (it’s… the first game, after all), so I was really quite worried that I wouldn’t really have fun.

Surprisingly though, I really liked my time with The Legend of Zelda.  In the end, it’s still a fair amount like the other 2D entries, just a bit more vague.  But, then again, I may have ‘cheated’, as some hardcore gamers may put it.  I realized relatively quickly that I’d probably have a ton of trouble trying to complete LoZ blind, so I decided to use a walkthrough to see me through to the end.  It was a really good choice, in my opinion–I was able to see everything Zelda has to offer, without the incredible frustration I probably would have felt trying to figure out how to get to the dungeons or finding 250 rupees for a ring that I wouldn’t have known the use of on my own.  Some might argue that the exploration aspect is a key element of Zelda games… and I agree, but since the original title is older and a bit archaic in multiple ways, I decided it best to save my own sanity.

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Finding the various items that aren’t in the dungeons themselves is what I feel is the hardest part of Zelda… because not only do you have to find where to buy the Blue Ring (which halves damage), the Monster Bait (which you need in a random room of a late dungeon), or whatever else, but you also have to realize their actual use and importance.  In the days of instruction manuals, this of course was detailed in informative pages… but who is going to crack a digital manual in this day and age?

Of course, the lack of physical manuals also lead to another small problem… you don’t have an easy to access map.  Wandering around the overworld of Hyrule at first is confusing and frankly a pain–while I eventually learned some of the paths I’d often take, without a nice jpeg map I would have probably had a bit of trouble doing anything other than following the exact words of the walkthrough… and that wouldn’t have been fun!  I only really followed the guide word for word during the final dungeon, due to its complexity, so being forced to follow that the whole time would have dampened my mood a bit.

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Other than these oddities though, the original Zelda is quite similar to subsequent games.  You explore dungeons to get the pieces of the Triforce, then go and save the princess and save the say.  Honestly I felt the overall difficulty of the game got easier as it went… when I started getting more hearts and a better sword, my survival chances shot up quite.  I think the hardest dungeon of the game was Dungeon 6, with a ton of enemies that hit hard and fast.  7 and 8 were quite a bit easier, and while the final dungeon was gigantic, it can be fairly easy to navigate once you figure out the tricks… not to mention that Ganon was a joke of a battle.

Overall, The Legend of Zelda ended up being quite alright.  My experience is probably colored a bit because I used a guide, but while it’s a little outdated in some aspects, this NES original was worth the playthrough, if no other reason to see the series’ roots.  It’s still a good game, as long as you’re ready to deal with some of the old-school troubles lack a lack of direction and cryptic messages.


So, update time!  I had planned to start Metal Gear Solid after Zelda… but then I managed to lose my Vita charger.  Again.  So instead, I put Radiant Historia into my 3DS and started working on that.  Radiant Historia is a title I’ve started a few years back… and I loved it, but I got stuck on a tough boss and never felt like grinding.  However, I’m finally going to get Rosch up in level and kick that annoying boss’s ass.

I also started Earthbound… I didn’t get too far yet, just beat the first boss.  I don’t have any thoughts on it yet, to be honest.  I’m keeping an open mind though.

I may play Kirby’s Adventure if I get too overwhelmed with playing RPGs… but right now it doesn’t seem to affect me too much.  I do really, really want to focus on Radiant Historia for now, at least.  Earthbound may take a backseat for a while… we’ll see.

That’s all for now!  :)

Summer Gaming Challenge #1 – Super Mario Galaxy

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Quick Info on Super Mario Galaxy:
Console  – Wii (also re-released on Wii U as a digital download, unchanged)
Release Year – 2007
Metacritic Score – 97
Time it took to beat – 8h33m

My first game of the challenge is done!  I was already planning on playing Super Mario Galaxy just a bit before I began the challenge, so I dived right in once the challenge begun.  And it was a blast!  I love almost every minute of it.  Though I’ll probably never go back and get all 120 Stars (and then another 120 Stars as Luigi, no thanks), I had a ton of fun with what I did play, and I’m excited to play Super Mario Galaxy 2 sometime later on.  Not now, though, don’t want to burn out on Mario.

Anyway, Super Mario Galaxy makes fairly decent use of the Wiimote and Nunchuk–most of the controls are typical button presses that could easily be mapped to a control, but Mario also has a spin that’s activated by shaking the Wiimote, and the easiest way to collect Star Bits is by using the pointer on the screen to grab them.  There are a few other Wiimote related controls as well, but I won’t get too far in-depth here.  For the most part the controls work well–there’s been a couple times where I couldn’t get the spin to activate exactly when I wanted it, but out of the probably hundreds of times I had to use it, that’s a pretty darn good success ratio.

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From there, everything is typical 3D Mario–traverse various worlds, trying to find Stars to unlock more areas, eventually getting to a boss stage and fighting either Bowser or Bowser Jr.  Each main galaxy has three main stars to find, typically changing the landscape around in said galaxy, as well as a hidden star to find, and Star Comets that impose special challenges on the player for… you guessed it, more stars.  Then there’s the more gimmicky galaxies that only have one star to grab, and Luigi running around being a jerk and you having to go and save him… there’s quite a bit to do.

I’m thankful for all the different ways stars could be grabbed, because I was able to easily get to the goal of 60 stars to reach the end area without any real difficulty.  With Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, there was a point near the end where I was having trouble getting the last stars/shines needed to make it to the end area, and it would frankly annoy me.  Essentially, no, I’m not all that great at 3D Mario games, leave me alone.  But with all the different ways to get stars in Galaxy, I was able to skip over the stars that would annoy me or whole galaxies if I wanted to, and could still make the 60 star goal easily.  I feel like I could have gotten 70 stars without too much issue, as well.

This may translate to sounding ‘too easy’, and maybe it was… but I really enjoyed Galaxy regardless.  I didn’t die too often (except for some of the mini-bosses… damn you Bouldergeist!), but that just fueled my excitement to play more… because frankly, I don’t like games kicking my ass all the time.  It’s Mario, after all.

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I had a couple gripes with the game, though honestly it didn’t bring too much of the experience down.  At first, I had a ton of trouble with the swimming controls.  I eventually got used to them, but honestly, I really didn’t like them (or swimming galaxies) all that much.  Secondly, Spring Mario is pretty terrible, both as a power and how to control him–I picked for my 60th star to be in Toy Time Galaxy, and man it was stressful trying to use Spring Mario.  I believe that power’s in Super Mario Galaxy 2 as well, but I’m certainly not looking forward to it.  Finally, walking around the starship was sort of neat at first, but it really became tiresome… it would have been nice to choose which galaxy to go to from the list on the map, but then again I guess it would have ruined a little of the atmosphere (??) the game was going for.

But none of that matters too much–Super Mario Galaxy was mostly a blast.  I fear the graphics haven’t really stood the test of time… blown up on my 40-some inch TV, everything was somewhat pixely and could desperately use a ‘smoother’ type function to make Galaxy look just a bit better.  It doesn’t take much out of the gameplay itself of course, but sometimes you’re looking at these breathtaking locales and they just don’t have the same oomph as they did in 2007.  Obviously Galaxy is not an HD game, but that’s really okay–we still love the likes of 64 after all, graphics aren’t what makes a Mario game a Mario game.

I guess to wrap up, Super Mario Galaxy is by all means a classic, and I definitely had a blast with it.  I’m glad I finally got around to it after all this time (okay that’s partially a lie, I played some of it quite a few years back but never got to finish it), and I really hope I’ll enjoy the rest of the games I’m playing this year as much as this one.

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So for a mini-update on that, I’ll probably buckle down and finish up The Legend of Zelda.  My motivation to play it is a bit down lately, but I want to get it out of the way.  From there my game plans are:
Console – Earthbound
Handheld – Metal Gear Solid
PC – (when I get my new laptop) Shining Force II

I’m going to try and only do one RPG at a time–Shining Force II is the exception because not only do I not play PC games that often, but that’s also the only PC game I’ve picked for this year.  Metal Gear Solid is pretty far from an RPG, so I think it works great while I try and knock out the only console RPG on my list.

That’s about it!

Summer Gaming Challenge 2016–Let’s Go!

It’s that time of the year again… time to waste my summer playing video games.  Well, not really, but since I’m taking the entire summer off classes this seems like the perfect opportunity to catch up on some classics.

For those unaware the Summer Gaming Challenge is a challenge done at the Racketboy forums every year.  It’s where you play 10 games that are considered “classics” (in whatever definition of the word you want to use) and sound off your thoughts about them.  Since the summertime is typically hot and younger participants usually have a lot more free time, it’s the perfect period to catch up on some games that may have fallen on the wayside.

I will, of course, keep my updates here, on my long neglected blog.  Everytime I finish a game, I’ll do a write up on it.  Simple enough.  I fully plan on beating all of these games by the end of August, before my classes start up again.  Of course… since I’m really dead set on making that goal, I’ve also made sure there aren’t *too* many RPGs on my list.  Because otherwise it’d be way too much.

Without further ado, here is my list for this year:

Super Metroid (SNES via Wii U VC)
Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
Earthbound (SNES via Wii U VC)
Shining Force II (Genesis via Steam)
Kirby’s Adventure (NES via Kirby’s Dream Collection)
The Legend of Zelda (NES via 3DS VC)
Metal Gear Solid (PS1 via PSOne Classics)
Suikoden II (PS1 via PSOne Classics)
Harvest Moon: Back to Nature (PS1 via PSOne Classics)
Radiant Historia (DS)

Five console games, five handheld games (since I’ll play PSOne Classics on my Vita).  A nice split!

Well, that’s about it.  My Summer Gaming Challenge will be starting now, and I have until the end of August to beat them all!