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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Favorite Tunes #38: RPG Edition

RPGS were a big part of my gaming life, especially when I was a teenager. While I still like RPGs today, I just don't play them like I used to. Maybe someday I'll really get back into the genre and rediscover my love for it. Until then, here's a selection of ten tunes from one of gaming's greatest genres.

Main Theme - Monster World IV (GEN)

Why this game initially never saw release in Europe and America is beyond me but at least Sega has fixed that this year. On the Wii's Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade (in the Sega Vintage Collection) and PlayStation Network, Monster World IV can be experienced in full English glory. You play as Asha, a rookie warrior that the Queen entrusts to save the world. Asha is armed with sword, shield and her trusty pet Pepe, who, despite his small stature, is incredibly useful. Monster World IV has fantastic visuals, topnotch dungeon designs and a grand main theme. After a few short listens it got stuck in my head. This theme can be heard in numerous songs throughout the game. I can honestly say I never get sick of it.

Battle 2 - Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals (SNES)

If you ever pick up Luifa & the Fortress of Doom and Luifa II: Rise of the Sinistrals, here's a tip: play the second game first. The second game is actually a prequel to the first game with the first gaming picking up 99 years after the events of the second game. Confused? Anyway, Luifa II's second boss theme humbly titled Battle 2 is one sick theme. It makes each boss encounter feel like it should be an edge-of-your-seat struggle.

Cerulean City - Pokemon Red/Blue (GB)

*Sigh* Man, remember the days when there were only 151 Pokemon? Now how many of them are there? Way too many for me to keep track of. OK, so I'm not a huge Pokemon player, but even I got sucked into the hype back in the day and had his faced glued to his Game Boy the same as anyone else. Cerulean City was one of my favorite towns to hang out in, largely for it's calming theme.

Epoch - Chrono Trigger (SNES)

After using gates to navigate time, it was pretty sweet to get your own time travel machine. You could even name the thing, though I do thing the default name Epoch sounds pretty cool. You gotta hand it to Chrono and his buddies. With time travel so firmly in their grasp, they could do all kinds of things like depants Hilter in front of his troops, or invest stock in Barbie. Instead, they use it to save the world. What a bunch of goody-too-shoes.

Enemy Attack - Final Fantasy X (PS2)

I think I played around 20 hours of Final Fantasy X, long enough to see that awful laughing scene between Tidus and Yuna that everyone talks about. For all it's imperfections, I found myself enjoying this game. I love Nobuo Uematsu's music, but it was nice to give the man a break and have some other composers help bear the load. Junya Nakano and Masashi Hamauzu helped write the score for Final Fantasy X and they hammered out some incredible battle themes. Enemy Attack is X's standard boss theme, which was handled by Junya Nakano.

Chomp Attack - Paper Mario (N64)

Want instant fun? Just add Mario. Seriously, Mario's mere presence can make just about anything better. But really, credit must be given to Intelligent Systems for making Paper Mario such an enjoyable game. Mario flips and turns just as he would as if he were paper. And he does since, you know, he is. Um, anyway, this is unquestionably my favorite boss theme from the game.

Decision - Breath of Fire III (PS)

Breath of Fire III is quite the gut wrenching game. Without spoiling too much, as a young lad, main character Ryu is separated from the only family he's even known only meet back up with them as an adult where much has changed.

World of Loudening Screams - Wild Arms (PS)

After the sky opens up over the kingdom of Adlehyde, a ton of metal monsters start tearing everything up, setting the kingdom ablaze. Naturally panic ensues and there are quite a bit of causalities due to the creature's attacks. All of the music was redone for Wild Arms remake Alter Code F, but I find myself preferring the original score, especially when it comes to this track.

Barren Fields of Mist - Legend of Legaia (PS)

Nothing beats a good world map theme. Legend of Legaia's world map theme does not fill one with a sense of adventure and exploration as most world map themes do. Instead, it's a reflection of a land, shrouded in mist. You might want to leave your character idle so you can hear the song in it's entirety during gameplay. The random encounter rate is rather high in this one.

Sky Garden - Illusion of Gaia (SNES)

And we close out on an action/RPG. How's that for bookends? Will was quite the cool character. He was telekinetic and he could transform into two different beings to become even more powerful. But even in his original form, he was formidable. It takes guts to use your own flute as a weapon. In the Sky Garden dungeon, Will did the unthinkable, where he traversed the top and bottom half of this enormous complex. When traveling on the bottom half, he was walking upside down with the Earth thousands of feet below him.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Downloads #20

Mega Man (NES)

I was so excited when it was announced that Mega Man 1-6 would be coming to the 3DS Virtual Console. Today Mega Man hit the the eShop so I put some funds in just so I could purchase it. I've played through Bomb Man and Guts Man's stages and it seems to be a pretty faithful translation of the NES game. And now I can play it when I'm miles away from home. Sweet!

Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge (GB)

This one has been on the 3DS Virtual Console for a quite some time now. I wonder what's taking Capcom so long to get the rest of the GB Mega Man games to the eShop. I could always play my physical copies on my Super Game Boy or Game Boy Player, but more players should be given the chance to experiences these games.

Anyhoo, in order to show my support for all things Mega Man, I decided to finally download Dr. Wily's Revenge. It plays a lot like the original NES Mega Man, making it hands down the toughest of the GB Mega Man titles. I've actually never been able to finish this one. I think being able to save will help some but that final Dr. Wily stage is something else.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Get Equipped: The Best Mega Man Weapons

What's better than trashing a Robot Master? Getting his weapon to use on some other poor sap, of course! From stopping time, multiple blades and high voltage electricity, Mega Man has some of the finest weapons in gaming. Here are the ones I have the most fun using.

Thunder Beam - Elec Man - Meg Man, Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge

Do not be fooled by Elec Man's small stature. He is not a Robot Master to be trifled with. His Thunder Beam can cause serious damage to Mega Man, taking him out in just a few hits. Get your hands on this baby and you soon find out why he was throwing this thing around so much. Even when you aren't using the pause glitch, this weapon is insanely useful. The Thunder Beam fires forward, upwards and downwards all in one shot, making it excellent for disposing of enemies in multiple positions. It can also remove blocks just like Guts Man's Super Arm. Thunder Beam is hands down the best weapon in the first Mega Man game.

Rolling Cutter - Cut Man - Mega Man, Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge

The first of many blade-type weapons, only one Rolling Cutter can be on the screen at a time, but one is really all you need. When thrown, it moves in the shape of a teardrop before returning to Mega Man and slices a majority of foes in one fell swoop, making it an ideal weapon to use for taking out more than one mook at time.

Super Arm - Guts Man - Mega Man

You can only use the Super Arm when blocks are available, meaning you can't use this weapon all the time. I get it, that puts a limit on the thing. That being said, when you do get to pick up blocks and toss them at enemies, it's a lot of fun. At least for me. And I love how Mega Man looks walking around, holding a huge block over his head without showing any signs of strain.

Fire Storm - Fire Man - Mega Man, Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge

If you haven't guessed by now, I think a lot of the weapons in the first Mega Man game make up one of the best arsenals that the Blue Bomber has ever had. Considering, the number of enemies that Mega Man has to deal with all at once in his first adventure, a little extra protection really comes in handy. Fire Storm has offensive and defensive capabilities. It shoots a fire projectile out of the arm cannon and briefly surrounds Mega Man with a shield of flame that damages any enemies that touch it. In Dr. Wily's Revenge, this weapon was a huge help in getting through those pesky Mole sections.

Metal Blade - Metal Man - Mega Man 2, Mega Man II

Come on, you knew this weapon was gonna be on here. Few would dispute the greatness of Metal Man's Metal Blade. Mega Man nuts love this weapon for how broken it is. You can fire it in eight different directions, it uses little weapon energy and most normal enemies are vulnerable to it. Even a great deal of Robot Masters can easily be reduced to scrap with the Metal Blade, including Metal Man himself.

Leaf Shield - Wood Man - Mega Man 2, Mega Man II

Strictly speaking in the design sense, Wood Man is a pretty pitiful Robot Master. I mean, he's a Robot that's made of wood and wood can be cut and burned, making him super vunerable to the Atomic Fire and Metal Blades. But that being said, he does give you one of Mega Man 2's greatest weapons, the Leaf Shield. Pipis and Telly's were quite the annoyance in Mega Man 2 but with the Leaf Shield the threat these enemies posed was greatly reduced. If the shield has a downside, it's that you cannot move with it like later shield weapons allowed you to do. Still, it can be thrown off in four directions, which is some wonderful compensation. Leaf Shield is also great when farming for power-ups.

Magnet Missile - Magnet Man - Mega Man 3, Mega Man II

Magnet Missiles introduced us to the homing weapon. Only two can be shoot on screen at a time and their homing mechanics aren't perfect. You're better off trying to eliminate a single target at a time. Be that as it may, the Magnet Missiles are swift, often taking out a foe in a single strike, ensuring that you'll be using these things long after you've finished off Hard Man.

Shadow Blade - Shadow Man - Mega Man 3, Mega Man III

Let's make this perfectly clear. Yes, the Metal Blades are better. The Shadow Blades are far more balanced and cannot be shot in eight directions. That being said, I still love throwing this ninja star around. It has mid range, acts as a boomerang and consumes little weapon energy.

Pharaoh Shot - Pharaoh Man - Mega Man 4, Mega Man IV 

You can use the Pharaoh Shot in small form, but to get the most out of this weapon, you should charge it up. When charged, the Pharaoh Shot turns into a huge ball of energy that hovers over Mega Man's head. If it comes in contact with weaker enemies, they'll be destroyed without sacrificing the charged Pharaoh Shot. In Mega Man IV, the weapon was effective against a number of bosses like Napalm Man, Crystal Man, Ballade and even Wily's final form, doing far more damage than the Ballade Cracker.

Flash Stopper - Bright Man - Mega Man 4, Mega Man IV

Bright Man uses a weapon very similar to Flash Man's Time Stopper. But when fighting Flash Man, it was easily possible to jump in the air and avoid his shots while you were frozen in time. Nine out of ten times when he freezes you, Bright Man will take advantage of your inability to move and jump right on top of you. With the Flash Stopper, you, too, can fight dirty. Flash Man's weapon was useful for getting through Quick Man's Force Beams but it didn't work on all enemies. It also sucked up all it's power in one go and you were completely defenseless when it was in use. Bright Man's Flash Stopper temporarily freezes everything in sight, uses ammo in small doses and you can shoot with it. It is easily the best time-halting weapon. Since Star Man isn't in Mega Man IV, this is your best bet for getting past those aggravating falling crystal sections in Crystal Man's stage.

Rain Flush - Toad Man - Mega Man 4, Mega man IV

Toad Man may be one of the worst Robot Masters known to man with super manipulative AI, but don't you dare criticize the Rain Flush. A second or two after the capsule is launched into the sky, the entire screen is filled with rain, damaging everything in sight. Great for getting rid of out-of-reach pests or a few nuisances all at once. In Mega Man IV, it could harden the Quick Sand and Pharaoh Man's level, making the terrain easier to move on.

Gravity Hold - Gravity Man - Mega Man 5

I like Mega Man 5 but along with Mega Man 6, it has some of the most forgettable weapons of the series. However, Gravity Hold is not one of those weapons. There are a great number of air born robots in Mega Man 5 and being able to send them flying into the sky, never to be seen again, makes Gravity Hold one of the game's most useful weapons, if not the most useful. Bigger enemies take a few uses to dispose of, but the small fry usually disappear with one use.

Thunder Bolt - Cloud Man - Mega Man 7

When using Cloud Man's Thunder Bolt, Mega Man shoots off an an electric orb. If it does not destroy an enemy on contact, it will split into two smaller orbs that travel up and down. The weapon can also be use to turn on some of the machines in Junk Man's level, which is essential to find a few of the game's hidden items. There's a dark hallway in Shade Man's level that can be tricky to navigate if you haven't defeated Turbo Man and obtained his Scorch Wheel. But by this point in the game, you'll have the Thunder Bolt and it can be used to help you get through the darkened hall. Just don't use the Thunder Bolt on Spring Man or Turbo Man. The results are not pretty.

Junk Shield - Junk Man - Mega Man 7

The Junk Shield may not be the best shield weapon in the series, but it's still pretty darn effective. Using electromagnetism, the Junk Shield summons piles of junk that rotate around Mega Man and hit any nearby enemies. The junk parts can only absorb so much damage before they are destroyed. Thankfully, you can move around freely with the Junk Shield and still be protected with what parts remain. You can also fire particles of the shield off in three different directions.

Ice Wave - Frost Man - Mega Man 8

Not only is the Ice Wave good for shutting up Tengu Man, it works wonders when you want to clear out a bunch of pests in your way. When fired, an icicle wave quickly moves along the ground, destroying or freezing any enemies in it's path.

Flame Sword - Sword Man - Mega Man 8

Think the Battle Network series was the first Mega Man series to give Mega Man a sword? Think again. I love fighting from a distance with Mega Man's varied arsenal, but there's just something that's undeniably satisfying about slashing robots up with the Flame Sword. Maybe it's how cool Mega Man looks when he uses it, or the sound it makes when it's swung. I'm guessing the flames on it must be incredibly hot because it works just fine in water. Hands down, Flame Sword is my favorite close range weapon in the Classic Mega Man series.

Astro Crush - Astro Man - Mega Man 8

You can only use it four times before it's gone, but when the weapon makes you temporarily invincible, raining asteroids down to kill everything on screen, the short usage more than makes up for it. Since Mega Man is locked in place while he's invulnerable, this can make getting past some of those snowboarding sections in Dr. Wily Stage 1 a little easier.

Tornado Hold - Tengu Man - Mega Man 8

You went through so much trouble to get this weapon (seriously, I HATE fighting Tengu Man), and it turns out it was really worth all the effort. Tornado Hold shoots out a fan that sticks to the ground. The spinning blades create such high wind pressure that they form a tornado that destroys any poor suckers happen to walk into it or have the misfortune to fly above the thing. It can also be used to elevate Mega Man.

Flash Bomb - Grenade Man - Mega Man 8

What can I say, Mega Man 8 has a good weapon set. OK, Water Balloon sucks, but mostly everything else is pretty rad. The Flash Bomb explodes upon hitting an enemy or a wall. Because the explosion lasts for a while other enemies can wonder into the blast and get destroyed. The blast radius is also pretty sizable.

Laser Trident - Splash Woman - Mega Man 9

Ladies and gents, I give you the second coming of the Metal Blade, the Laser Trident. OK, you can only shoot it left and right, but it's still insanely powerful. It breaks barriers and shoots through shield type enemies defenses like Machine Gun Joe and Shield Attacker EX. You know Mets, those bothersome pets that have been a thorn in your side for the past twenty five years? The Laser Trident can shoot right through their protective gear! Huzzah! This weapon consumes little energy and up to three can be on the screen at once. Interestingly, the colors that Mega Man dawns when using Laser Trident resemble that of Bad Box Art Mega Man.

Jewel Satellite - Jewel Man - Mega Man 9

Without a doubt, Jewel Man is one of the lamest Robot Masters of all-time. Crystal Man was sparkly and even he looked a million times cooler than this loser. The only thing that justifies his pitiful existence is his Jewel Satellite, the best shield weapon in the entire Mega Man franchise. When activated, Mega Man is surrounded by four rotating jewels. These can deflect or destroy just about any projectile. Mega Man can also move around when Jewel Satellite is in use. Weaker enemies can easily be scrapped without the shield being destroyed. Jewel Satellite can also be fired as a projectile in whatever direction Mega Man is facing. All of this is capped off with energy consumption that comes only when the player activates the shield, meaning you can do a lot with it without losing too much energy.

Concrete Shot - Concrete Man - Mega Man 9

You get a lot of mileage out of what is essentially a common piece of construction material. Concrete Shot can be used as an extra platform for Mega Man to stand on. It instant kills weaker enemies, does critical damage to bigger enemies and can freeze the laser traps in Magma Man and Dr. Wily's levels.

Black Hole Bomb - Galaxy Man - Mega Man 9

Galaxy Man's weapon can be controlled with the directional pad and opened up to suck in enemies that get close enough to it. Enemies that are too large to get pulled in can still take damage from it. It can suck up nearly all forms of projectiles, including the ones from Wily Capsule 9 and Wily Machine 9. There was a weapon very similar to this one in Mega Man V called Black Hole, but Black Hole Bomb is a lot better since it can be aimed before you open it.

Hornet Chaser - Hornet Man - Mega Man 9

Cute little hornets that home in on enemies and attack them. They don't cause a great deal of damage but they can take out weaker enemies quickly and you can have up to three on the screen at once. The reason Hornet Chaser is here is because these little guys are also great support. They can fetch you every single power up that isn't an Energy Tank or M Can. Using a single hornet only costs one energy so they can be used in large doses. And don't they just look so cute?

Triple Blade - Blade Man - Mega Man 10

After an aggravating fight with Blade Man, you're rewarded with the Triple Blade. As the name suggests, the Triple Blade is composed of three swords that are shot out all at the same time. It cuts through the weaker enemies like butter and mid bosses are quickly disposed of with this weapon. It doesn't require much weapon energy to use either, making it spamable. If you aren't using the Mega Buster, odds are, you're clearing a path with this bad boy.

Screw Crusher - Punk - Mega Man III, Mega Man 10

Keiji Inafune's favorite Mega Man Killer, Punk's Screw Crusher is a saw blade that is thrown up in and arc and then drops down. That may not seem all that handy, but the Screw Crusher uses very little weapon energy, even less than the Metal Blade, Laser Trident and Triple Blade. At the cost of merely one unit of Energy, Mega Man can throw up to eight of these. In Mega Man III, you can only throw one on screen at a time, but in Mega Man 10, four can be on the screen at once. Due to it's very little weapon cost, it's an effective weapon to have and in closer proximity, it can be rapid fired. It also does decent damage to Pump Man and Chill Man.

Ballade Cracker - Ballade - Mega Man IV, Mega Man 10

It might not sound like it from the name, but Ballade Cracker is a bomb-type weapon. It can be thrown in multiple direction and detonates upon contact. It's great for dealing with those annoying shield type enemies as the explosion goes right through their shield.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas (2012)

Hope you all are having a happy holiday. Enjoy the photos of  my wonderful nieces and nephew opening their gifts.