Sunday, May 23, 2010

Counting Down to 1

I actually made a Sunday musing today. But I didn't want to pull an April Fool's and make you wait. So, here is the rest of my list of my favorite cartridge games:

5. Super Mario RPG Super Nintendo, 1996- When Nintendo and Square (now Square-enix) join up, good shit happens. SMRPG moved the plumber out of his flat 2D realm into a 3D esque territory with a Chrono Trigger battle system and a world to save. This is the first time Mario was rendered into a 3D image and the platform aspects greatly reduced. This was a more live-action Mario that would level up, get special abilities. Unlike other RPG's, you had greater control over Mario. You could jump. You could swim, sort of. Environments were also rendered into a 3D world for Mario and his friends to interact in. It's not just the graphics that make this game great. The story took a step forward in the Mario legacy. It wasn't just about saving the Princess. Bowser joined your team and you had to save the world from an evil magician sword and repair the star road. It's a great combo of story, game play, and graphics that make this an enjoyable game.

4. Donkey Kong Country Super Nintendo, 1994- Mine cart level. Still my most favorite platform level of all time. Donkey Kong became the god guy in the DKC series. He wasn't throwing barrels at Mario. Instead, he was throwing them at bees, and fish. Why? Well to reclaim his stolen banana pile, of course. (Kids. Games didn't need an elaborate story to be great a few years ago.) DKC, for me, was about fun platforming and integrated 3D visuals. Before Super Mario RPG, DKC took over as one of the first to have a 3D generated character. It was still a 2D game, but had a 3D look. Levels ranged from tropical jungles, to the depths of the ocean, to volcanoes, and a mine shaft. Riding around in the mine cart still makes me smile. You can't beat the simplistic joy of DKC.

3. Sonic 3 Sega Genesis, 1994- I consider this my favorite because it was a progression of the Sonic franchise in the right direction before it was mucked up. Sonic evolved into a brighter, colorful, engaging game. It was the standard gotta beat up Robotnik, collect as many rings as you can, added in another sort-of bad guy, get the chaos emeralds, and save the world. It gave more life to his side-kick Tails, and allowed the second player to take control of him. Granted the use of Tails in second player was kind of crappy at times and if you fell off the screen, all hope was lost until you regenerated a minute later, but it was enjoyable to have be there with Sonic and be useful. What I love about Sonic 3 were the detail of the levels and the overhaul of the Star Post levels. The star posts were gives a top-down view with a crazy 3D board with speed insanity. The levels were redone to provide more depth, longevity, and texture. It made the game more alive and brought Sonic to a new level of maturity. Before he got slammed down by Sega.

2. Final Fantasy IV Super Nintendo, 1991- Between this and FF6, it rotates as one of my favorite games of all time. FF4 is the first time that characters were focused as the main point of the story. Previous iterations characters were known for their jobs, and little else. Back story was limiting. Basically you're the hero and you and your friends are going to save the world because you were chosen to do so. FF3 introduced the characters as orphans, but it was not until the Nintendo DS re-release of the game that they were provided with names and personalities. FF4 broke out of that cycle and created a memorable, though ill-fated, cast of characters. It also expanded upon the story arc and played with multiple themes, love, sorrow, light and dark, destiny. They're staples now. Back then, they weren't around. The intensity of the story makes it worth the play through. It was the start of what became the Final Fantasy that we know best.

1. Final Fantasy VI Super Nintendo, 1994 - Truly an epic role playing game, and still one of my favorite games of all time. Even better then 7, 8, and 9. Sorry fan boys. If you are a real FF fan, you would know the greatness of FF6. It has war, science, art, steampunk, and mechs! You can play as a mog (moogle). You have a psychopathic bad guy that exceeds all evildoing by ten fold (Sephiroth has nothing on Kefka in the crazy sector). It is everything that we love about Final Fantasy but refined. It also has one of the best soundtracks of the series. One of the first games to have a synthesized voice for the song "Aria di Mezzo Carattere." This game has one of the most diverse, and extensive song collection of any cartridge game. "Dancing Mad" is roughly 17 minutes. I have played this game over a dozen times, easily. The characters and the story always tug at my heart. Undying love for this Final Fantasy.

And there you go. That wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.


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