The Arsenal of Samus Aran – The Arm Cannon Pt. 2

Welcome back to The Arsenal of Samus Aran.  This time we’ll wrap up her versatile Arm Cannon by covering beams that appear in only a handful of the games as well as her missiles.  Her primary beams were covered last time in case you missed it.

Note – There be spoilers within! (more…)

Looking Back: My Favorite Game of 2001

2001 marked the end of my high school career, and the beginnings of my college days.  My senior year had its fair share of tribulations – I spent my last significant time with Chad and Trent, lost both of them and Chris to drug addiction, crushed on, deliberated and eventually got the courage to ask my first girl out proper (and was declined), continued to avoid W. and his abuses, and had to take SAT tests.  Bleh.  On the flip side, my friendship with Anthony continued to grow, the drama program was awesome as hell (save one incident with a smart-aleck who was the son of the instructor who punched my testicles in some sort of dominance challenge – I stared at him, went to the teacher and reported the incident, and watched the torrent.  He never messed with me again), and I got a lot of kicks out of multimedia.  I began hanging out with a lot of young women this year – for some reason I felt that I got along with them better.  I have emotional understanding, significant amounts of it for a male apparently, and was able to listen to their problems and do my best to provide them with solutions, which helped my friends out a great deal, I hope.  I’ve continued to be more inclined to get along with women over most men to this day, although there are exceptions.  In short, despite a few setbacks and the loss of some of the dearest friends I had, I managed to have a solid cap to being a high schooler.  I wouldn’t EVER go back, though – I say fuck reunions. :p

College was a shock in many ways.  I grew up in a rural area which, I hate to say it, but I have to, was mostly white.  I went to college in a larger city and was flabbergasted at the cultural diversity.  It took some time to get over the culture shock, and I’m so glad I did.  It took a bit to get used to the changes in the schooling, too – I began with 17 units, mostly drama classes with a smattering of English and a Japanese writing course (which was difficult), and used the bus to get me to school and back.  I began learning how to drive at this point (late bloomer!), but it would be a year and a half before I felt comfortable enough to get myself to school via car.  I met some cool people on the bus who would become good friends I miss these days – Seth in particular was a joy to chat with.  Seth was a brilliant guy, especially at math, who aced everything he took (save one class, but the teacher was a douche and never gave A’s) and happened to be a huge Nintendo nut like me.  We spent a fair amount of time playing Smash Bros. Melee (woot) and Capcom Vs. SNK 2 (woot x 2), and Seth was responsible for landing me a Super NES!  So I have fond memories of hanging out with him, although we’ve lost touch today.  I also made many drama compadres during my tenure with that program, although, thanks to the death of Myspace as a social network and my hatred of Facebook, I haven’t talked to many of them lately.  No offense meant!  Drama was good fun, and many of the people were in multiple classes, so I had a great chance to bond with many of them.  However, I realized that I didn’t want to pursue that as a career a few years later, and changed my major to English after I had nailed the Drama one down pat.  I just didn’t want to be an actor – the fame and publicity didn’t appeal to me.  But I do love the stage and all of its aspects, and have a passion for live theater that gets fulfilled all too rarely.

I’ll save my other college thoughts for the next few posts of this, or I’ll have nothing to write about. XD

Anyway!  I acquired another new system this year – the Gamecube!  I bought Smash Bros. Melee before I had the system in my hands (which I got for Christmas if my memory is correct as a deal with my parents).  This game buying before system owning quirk  was a bit of a tradition that I wanted to continue but fell out of after this (shrug).  I had a black one, and I had a lot of great memories with it – you’ll notice Skies of Arcadia Legends, Resident Evil 4, Beyond Good & Evil, Tales of Symphonia, Metroid Prime and Zelda: Twilight Princess in my Top 30.  It felt nice to have another current-gen system, what with the Dreamcast suffering a premature death and the N64 wheezing its final breath.  I had a Game Boy Player for it, which was a nice if somewhat unneeded addition to my console, seeing as I had a Game Boy Advance, but playing GBA games on the TV was a pleasant novelty.  I also had all 4 controllers, although I’m down to three now (one broke, I think…the C sticks kind of wear out after a bit).  It’s the first console I wore out – the disc drive began to be unresponsive, so I dumped the thing once I had a Wii.  It’s the only console I don’t still own after all this time (alas, my personal Dreamcast died in 2010, but I had a spare, thank god).

This transition period is reflected in my candidates for the best game of 2001 – one N64 game, one ‘Cube, one Dreamcast, and one PS2 game.  Weird how that works.

But before we get to that, there’s two other topics I wish to briefly cover.  First off, my art began to evolve more toward its current form in 2001 in college.  I had up to that point relied on using circles to illustrate my character’s heads, which was something I wanted to get out of my system and make my characters look more human, so I began that here, and have been refining that for the last 10 years.  Secondly, and quite importantly to this site, I began Wildcat Online on August 6th, 2001!  I got a computer after a visit to my grandparents in Utah, and quickly immersed myself into the internet world I had been dabbling in with full haste.  My initial site and its long history are fully detailed out here,  if you care to read more.  And man, I can’t believe it’s going to be 10 years this August. O_O

Shortlist:


Paper Mario (N64, Nintendo/Intelligent Systems)

Taking the timing elements in battle from Square’s earlier Mario RPG outing, Intelligent Systems reinvented the concept with a unique graphical style and a more defined battle engine that pushed the action command aspect into the forefront.  A great beginning.


Super Smash Bros. Melee (GC, Nintendo/HAL Labs)

Building on the core from the N64 original came Melee, the game that launched Super Smash Bros. as a major Nintendo franchise and a system seller.  With more characters, stages, items, and moves, plus several new additions like the Trophy Mode and several new solo excursions, some still feel that this is the high point of the franchise.


Project Justice (DC, Capcom)

Capcom’s swan song for the Dreamcast is a fitting one, as it ended up being one of the best fighters on a system full of stand-outs.  Crazy-awesome characters, a versatile team system and a solid combat engine made Project Justice a joyous brawler.

In my opinion, the best game of 2001 was…

To be redecided!

Advance Wars

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

Capcom vs. SNK 2

Civilization III

Devil May Cry (video game)

Golden Sun

Grand Theft Auto III

Ico

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages

Luigi’s Mansion

Maximo: Ghosts to Glory

Pikmin

Shadow Hearts

Silent Hill 2

Sonic Adventure 2

Super Dodge Ball Advance

Super Smash Bros. Melee

Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3

Wave Race: Blue Storm

Back to 2000Forward to 2002

Gamer’s Playlist – Super Smash Bros. Melee Smashing Live!: Brinstar

I remember opening up a new issue of Nintendo Power to find inlaid a CD full of orchestral mixes from Smash Bros. Melee, which I promptly ripped out from the magazine and put into my CD player.  It’s a great disc, but nothing comes close to the emotional pull I get when I listen to the incredible performance of the two Melee Metroid themes (plus the bonus Item Room and Intro themes as segways).  It makes my heart flutter with delight.  Enjoy!

Super Smash Bros. Melee: Smashing Live! performed by the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra – Brinstar (Metroid/Super Metroid, originally composed by Hirokazu Tanaka and Kenji Yamamoto)

Artistic Discussion – The Good and Bad of Gaming Box Art: 10/1/2010

Another Mario-themed week.  Next time we’ll go back to the original format of anything goes!

Good – Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story (DS, Nintendo)

I like the art style of the Mario & Luigi games, even if I found the first game to be maddening with its controls.  This is a very effective use of a white backdrop, making Bowser, Mario and Luigi’s art pop.  The colors and style are excellent, too.  Bowser’s placement to the logo is also brilliant, as he looks like he’s about to eat the Mario Bros., which…is what happens in the game!  A wonderful piece.

Bad – Super Smash Bros. Melee (GC, Nintendo)

I may get some flack for this one, but I think it’s way too busy.  Two Mario characters sort of hurts the Nintendo free-for-all dynamic, the bordering of all of the other initial playables makes the overall shot feel cramped, and the caption is unnecessary considering how popular the N64 original was.  Pikachu sort of feels out of place, like he was added as an afterthought, and Link is doing a fabulous job stomping the hell out of that fire.  Bad aim! XD  It’s trying its damndest to be an action shot, but I guess I feel that all of the pieces didn’t sync all that well.  Compared to the original and Brawl’s, this is the weakest link.

Super Smash Bros: Giving Franchises a Second Wind Since 1999

One thing I love about the Smash Bros. games is how their effect on old/obscure/dried-up franchises is nigh magical; the series has rejuvenated so many of those franchises that it’s almost silly, bringing both big and small titles back from the brink. The fact that Smash Bros. games are pretty much advertisements for what Nintendo has to offer helps, of course (I got into WarioWare and Pikmin because of Brawl), but the truth is out there, friends, and it dates back to the very first installment of the series.

Samus is a prime (heh) example here; by the time SSB on the N64 rolled around, Nintendo’s first bounty hunter/mercenary/whatever they want her to be this week had only had three games, the last of which emerging five years prior to SSB’s debut. Metroid games have always been great, but Samus’ inclusion in SSB – which had been a long shot and a surprising choice at the time – really put her on the map, because three years following the first Smash Bros. game (and eight years since Super Metroid), two new Metroid games launch side-to-side: Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion. From here, the Metroid franchise just fucking took off like a rocket; Prime would receive two sequels (and then a compilation of all three games) and two spin-offs, the original Metroid would be released in the GBA as part of the Classic NES Series and then remixed for the GBA title Metroid Zero Mission, and in the future we have Metroid: Other M to look forward to. Metroid and Samus went from being franchise underdogs to absolute power players in the Nintendo market, becoming one of their biggest, most dominating franchises, especially amongst the western audiences. Perhaps a show of this strength can be found in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, being one of the few series represented by more than one new stage and carrying a massive, largely remixed song set – not to mention the inclusion of Zero Suit Samus as an additional character (a design first introduced in Metroid Zero Mission and teased at in the original Metroid game with the Justin Bailey code), and two boss characters in The Subspace Emissary.

The Earthbound/MOTHER series has received a much lower degree of success, Ness being largely unknown to gamers by the time the first Smash Bros. came about, but the amount of popularity it’s garnered hasn’t hurt. Unfortunately, Nintendo doesn’t seem intent to bring the love to the Western audience, what with a lack of Earthbound on the Virtual Console and a translated version of MOTHER 3. But Ness (and now Lucas) are known characters, whereas Western audiences would have absolutely no idea if Ness hadn’t been acknowledged in Super Smash Bros.

And let’s not forget Captain Falcon and the F-Zero franchise; due to the good Captain’s inclusion in Smash Bros., the F-Zero series boomed, receiving several GBA spin-off titles (of dubious quality) and (a rarity for Nintendo franchises) an anime in its honor (also of dubious quality, but hey, it’s sort of flattering I guess). While there haven’t been many mainstream F-Zero games (only three overall), Captain Falcon’s continued presence in Smash Bros. titles and his immense popularity amongst fans (mostly as a meme, but still) guarantees that F-Zero will continue to live on in some form or another.

Then comes Super Smash Bros. Melee, where three largely unheard-of franchises come to light: Ice Climber, Fire Emblem and Game & Watch. In the cases of the first and third, much like Earthbound, the most to happen was a raise in fan-based awareness; thanks to Melee, Nintendo fans who didn’t know better could associate Game & Watch to the company, providing a greater interest in the series, and Ice Climber, like the original Metroid, received a port in the Classic NES Series on the GBA.

Fire Emblem, however, managed to walk away the winner of those three; previously a Japan-only series, Nintendo took a gambit by including Marth and Roy in the US, European and Australian releases. While there was an ulterior motive involved (promoting Fire Emblem 6 and its US debut, thanks to Roy’s inclusion in Melee), the gambit ultimately succeeded as now Fire Emblem has a place amongst English-speaking countries and has seen numerous sequels in the time since Melee’s release. Marth’s presence in both Melee and Brawl also increased awareness of him as a character; this, I’m sure, is what prompted Nintendo to re-make the original Fire Emblem for the Nintendo DS, with spiffy new graphics and everything.

And then, there’s Brawl.

In this case, it’s mostly the Assist Trophies that do the advertising here, but a couple playable characters also contribute:

  • Pit has skyrocketed the general awareness of the Kid Icarus series, although we have yet to see a new installment to the franchise
  • Little Mac’s inclusion has spurned a new Punch-Out!! title after so many years of idling
  • Saki, in tandem with the Virtual Console translation of the original Sin & Punishment some years after its Japanese release, has drawn attention to the series and allowed a world-wide release of S&P2
  • Lucas and Porky have further promoted MOTHER, particularly MOTHER3 (irritating western gamers with a Japanese-only release for the title)
  • To a lesser extent, Jeff increased awareness of Earthbound
  • Olimar’s presence cements the Pikmin series as a power player
  • People actually know who R.O.B. is now
  • Starfy being an Assist Trophy has finally brought the titular character’s series to the west
  • And finally, Isaac’s presence has spurned a new Golden Sun game.

It just goes to show how much weight and power a multi-franchise crossover fighting game can sling around.

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