Category : Super Nintendo

RGB Question – My Favorite RPG

A question that I am asked frequently as a Retro Gamer is what is my favorite RPG. Honestly, if you travel or work with any nerdist culture, this question is vitally important and may truly cause you to win or lose friends. Lucky for me, I am secure enough in my social capabilities that I am not afraid to share it. So without further ado, here you go.

My favorite RPG is Final Fantasy II. Yes, I know it is FF4 in Japan but we live in America so deal with it! ūüôā This game was a great creation that came to life early in the Super Nintendo haze. Prior to the release of FF2, I had never actually played too much in the RPG world as most RPG’s on NES were far too difficult. Of course, when you consider that I was only 10 when this game came out and I would have been 9 or younger when NES RPG’s were released, it makes sense that FF2 would have been my first real exposure to the world of RPG’s.

ff2I could give an extensive review of the game but that is best saved for later. For a quick summary, the game was released for SNES as FFII and was the first major RPG available for the console. It follows the dramatic story of Cecil Harvey, a Dark Knight and orphan who gives his life to serve the city of Baron – the capitol city of the world. He leads the Baronian Air Force known as ‘The Red Wings’ and we find him as he attacks the defenseless people of Mysidia to steal the Water Crystal (one of the elemental power sources of the world). When he returns to Baron, he expresses his disdain for the actions and is relieved from his leadership post and sent on a quest to the village of Mist where he is supposed to deliver a package. His best friend, Kain, follows him and the two reach Mist only to have the package explode and burn down the village of defenseless summoners save the sole survivor, Rydia a young girl whose mother died after a battle with Cecil and Kain. Cecil realizes that Baron is evil and he is supporting the evil so he decides to rebel against the king. The king hires a dark man named Golbez to run the Red Wings and he ultimately is revealed to be Cecil’s brother Theodore who has been controlled by the ultimate evil. As the story goes, Cecil returns to Mysidia after a near-death experience as a dark knight where the people LOATHE him and try to find ways to hurt or kill him. He agrees to climb Mount Ordeals, face his darkness, and he is transformed into a Holy Paladin. From that point on, Cecil becomes a holy warrior and makes an amazing group of friends. In the end, he and his friends face off against the ultimate evil, a lunar monster named Zemus (later transformed into a being of pure hatred, Zeromus). Cecil and his team return to Earth as heroes, he marries Rosa, his childhood friend and the two become the new king and queen of Baron.

Why is it my favorite? Let me count the ways! – Reason One – A True Redemption Story

Cecil, Dark Knight and Paladin

So why is this game my favorite? Well there are many reasons. The first reason is that I love the idea of the central storyline which is that darkness can be transformed to light and that strength alone is not enough to win every time. The transformation of Cecil from Dark Knight to Paladin is a terrific and personal thing to me later in my life. In my early teens and even some of my early 20’s, I was a very dark person with many issues. I didn’t mind hurting people if I would gain from it and I didn’t believe much in any kind of moral or spiritual good. However, when I was 24 (circa 2005), I faced my own darkness when I risked losing my wife and many friends due to my own selfish behavior. I released the darkness and gave myself to God and let Christ change me through and through. Much as Cecil was a creature of darkness who gave up his darkness because he realized his life was on the wrong track, so did I. Very few RPG’s even now have truly done a good job at showing a true redemptive story like the one in FF2. The guy who willingly killed people and did bad things realized the error of his ways, repented, went through a major change and become the ultimate good guy. That’s a story that I can relate to and so can many other people.

Reason Two – The Amazing Storyline

If you didn’t grasp this with the first heading, let me re-iterate. The storyline of this game is amazing! Not just the main storyline of darkness being replaced by light. Every one of the twelve characters you can have in your party at various points have a great back story. They don’t just appear out of NPC Land and help you. You at least understand some of their stories as you meet them. As the game goes on, ALL of them grow and mature as people and their actions have a significant impact on the storyline and the player’s perception of the world. If one of the characters dies (which they do in this one) you actually feel genuinely sorry for them. When the game ends you will feel sad that you didn’t get to see how they all ended up in the future (though there are a few additional game ‘sequels’ that lets you catch up with your favorites). The world itself is a living, breathing story that you feel as you play the game and it makes me, as a player, genuinely care about the world my hero is trying to save. Before I played FF2, I didn’t even think video games really cared about a story and this one really changed that perspective for me. If the story of FF2 was made into a book or movie, I would read/watch it often. In fact, I loved the story so much that I actually wrote my own comic books with the characters in other stories (what is now known as Fanfiction) because I didn’t want it to end. Even now after I have played the game literally hundreds of times from start to finish, I still feel my old love for the story and characters with each play through. In fact, I usually play through it at least once a year even now.

Reason Three – The World is NOT Black and White

Rubicant, the Lord of Fire

Prior to the release of FF2, most of the video games I had played had a very black and white storyline. These people are the good guys, these people are the bad guys. The bad guys do bad things and the good guys win. You really never questioned the motives of the bad guys or even the good guys in the story of most games. But that all changed for me when I played FF2. Sure, the story does have a clear duality in that good and evil both coexist and one tempers the other, but the world is NOT black and white. I might face a villain in the game and my first impression is HAH! I am going to get you bad guy! Then they speak to you before the fight and tell you why they are doing things and I actually have to stop and think… wait… that’s not such a bad idea. The most prime example of this was the Lord of Fire named Rubicant (Fiend of Fire in the original English translation). Rubicant is the leader of the 4 elemental lords and is the right hand man to Golbez (the main bad guy for most of the game). He is vicious and is really hard to beat when you face him. But when you hear him talk you realize he has better morals than most of the ‘good guys’ Cecil encounters throughout the game. He expresses he is very sorry for what happened to one of the main character’s (Edge) parents and that he did not approve for them to be harmed. He talks about how he believes that the world is full of bad people and he has simply chosen to side with the “Least” bad person he can find. Did I mention that he even heals you before you fight him? After you defeat him, he ends up giving a pep talk to the character whose parents were recently killed and tries to teach him that rage and anger are dangerous and will lead to harming others – wait… isn’t he a “Fire” guy? That’s my point! The example I gave is one of the MANY examples found in the game. In fact, the reason the ultimate bad guy, Zeums, wants to destroy earth is that he believes that the people of the Earth are too weak and impressionable and he had been opposed to the people of the moon (Lunarians) having any allegiance with them. I mean it’s still a bad motive but you have have to pause and think about it.

Reason Four – Travel in Style!

The Big Whale Airship

Okay, so this reason is kind of petty but I don’t care. FF2 has a million different cool ways to get around in the game. When the game begins, your character is on an airship – one of my favorite RPG vehicles bar none (ask my IRL friends how many of my tabletop games DO NOT feature an airship. LOL). As the game goes on, you drive a hovercraft, you ride a boat, you can take a Chocobo anywhere (even flying black ones), etc. This game also has THE MOST airship choices in any FF game that I know of. Your first airship that you actually control is called ‘The Enterprise’ (Too bad it isn’t a starship) and you can fly it around for a good while. Then, you later acquire the Falcon (If they called it the Millennium Falcon I would KNOW something is up). When the Falcon crashes, you have to get it repaired and later you must use it to fly int the underground portion of the world. Later on you actually use a hook ON the Enterprise to pick up the the hovercraft. How cool is that? But the grandaddy of them all is the final airship – The Big Whale. Sure, the name is kind of weird but this airship is ACTUALLY a starship. Yup, you HAVE to use it to get to the moon to face the ultimate evil (TM) but you can actually pilot the thing around on Earth which is crazy because it is bigger than most of the cities (at least as far as map tiles go). This ship comes with a sleeping quarters and even a Big Chocobo on board. You can’t get much more Final Fantasy than that! I also love that the ultimate airship even has its own theme song that just oozes awesomeness. Sometimes I would just cruise around in the Big Whale to listen to its BGM.

Reason Five – Music!

Speaking of BGM, another great reason why FF2 is the best is the music scoring for the game. Yes, it is still MIDI as that was all that the SNES was capable of producing but the MIDIs were legendary. Let’s start with the title screen which features the “Final Fantasy Crystal Theme”. Words can’t describe the way this song is made but it is a pretty, harp-driven song which serves as the main theme for many of the future FF games, listen to the main themes of even FFVII and you will hear it! Then there is the Red Wings theme which you hear at the beginning of a new game – it is a pompous song with a ‘marching’ feel to it that will remind you somewhat of the Imperial March from Star Wars. At various points in the game, a main character or main supporting character may suffer an intense tragedy or even die. The music that is played is so haunting and painful that it still hurts me to hear it. Not sold yet? Well the Paladin theme that plays when Cecil transforms features this solitary tonal ‘gong’ sound in the early measures and eventually builds to this deep and emotional song with many different layers and you can feel the tension as Cecil turns back on the life he knew and starts a new one. Did I mention the awesome Big Whale song? What about the ‘Chocobo’ theme? All of these are awesome too. Golbez’s theme is one that strikes terror into your heart with this scary organ-sounding melody and minor chords. I could go on and on. The bottom line is the the music in a game or movie sets the tone for the scenes as the movie plays. Every BGM from the game is perfect for the time it is used. Don’t believe me? Check out, the famous BGM remixing site. The remake gallery of FF2 music is one of the biggest ones on the site!

Reason Six-Paradigm Shifting of Gameplay

This reason is one that also encompasses most of the other items mentioned above but will tie this all together. FF2 hosts a MOTHERLODE of gameplay revolutions that were virtually unheard of prior to the game and became staples in the RPG video game world for years. The game had the ability to change the organization of your party members both on the battle field and on the¬† map. Your battle field allowed for two rows of heroes and many of them could not do their best work if they weren’t in the proper place (archers, for instance could not shoot unless they were on the back row). If you changed the position of the person in the ‘center’ of your party list, that person actually appeared to be walking around on the map. So if you got tired of looking at Cecil, put Rydia up front. The game also featured the first known use of ‘Monster Summoning’ which became a staple of the Final Fantasy series (and many others). The game was the first RPG of its time to feature the Active Timing Battle (ATB) system which made it so that faster characters (and enemies) attacked more often than their slower counterparts and allowed for the battles to play out more like they might in real time. Some of the enemies are impossible to beat if you don’t use the ‘Slow’ spell on the enemy or use Haste on yourself – they may attack 4 times per your team’s one time. The control interface made great use of the D-Pad, all 6 buttons (A, B, X, Y, L, R) and even start and select.

All in all, the game was an amazing accomplishment in gaming that has set more standards than any other game of its time and even since its time. Sure, the new games out there may have flashier graphics, full stereo music, 3D worlds, etc. But they just don’t have the same ‘soul’ as FF2. That is why I will forever consider FF2 as my favorite game and the best RPG I have ever played.¬† RGB is outta here!


Runsaber – Fun but a Letdown

I recently got all of my old ROMS and various tools moved from my old HD to a new HD and it occurred to me that although I managed to capture a screen cap of the End sequence of the ridiculously catchy Runsaber, I had never captured an image of the last boss. Come to think of it, I couldn’t even remember what the last boss of Runsaber looked like. So, I decided I needed to run back through the game again and capture this image. In fact, I realized that very little information is published about RunSaber and yet it is a pretty fun game.

The Story

For those who are unfamiliar with it, Runsaber was created in 1993 by Hori Electronic but published to Nintendo by Atlus Studios. The premise of the game is this… many years in the future the planet Earth is so polluted that no one can really live here and many people have moved to space stations (Elysium anyone?). Into this void, an unnamed scientist has created a revolutionary chemical that is designed to destroy all pollution on the planet and return life to normal. Unfortunately, when areas of the country are doused with the chemical, it doesn’t actually get rid of pollution, instead, it causes people and things to mutate and go out of control. The new super mutants basically spread across the world and cause so much havoc because normal people cannot hurt them. It seems as though the scientist knew about this ‘side effect’ before the chemical was released but he kept it a secret so that he could create his own army of super mutant killers. Into this darkness, a light is found when super human cyborgs known as “Sabers” under “Project Saber” are created to combat the menace. The first saber, Kurtz, is a fire saber but malfunctions and vanishes. This leaves the beta and gamma models… Allen, the lightning saber and Sheena the Ice saber. You take control of one of these two Sabers and go about ridding the world of the evil scientist’s mutant army.

The Sabers

So what is a saber? Well they look like a person but have – well – light sabers that look cooler than the ones Lucas invented. They also can generate energy to their feet as they kick which has presumably the same effect as the light saber. Lastly, each Saber can call out their ability and launch a full screen attack. Allen yells the word “Light!” and generates a lightning dragon and Sheena yells something and generates a rainstorm of ice. Allen appears to consist of greenish yellow energy as that is what his saber, kick and special attack appear as on the screen. Sheena’s is a purple/red colored energy of the same type. As you go about the game, you actually meet and subsequently fight Kurtz. He yells “Fire!” with his attack ¬†but oddly, his energy appears to be white. They move pretty quickly and look downright awesome as they chop and kick their way through enemies. The game occasionally lags when you call out one of their special attacks because it does some pretty awesome stuff with the graphics of the time. I love that these guys are like ninjas. They literally climb all over walls, ceilings, scaffolds, you name it, they climb on it. You can actually crab walk in an entire circle around a scaffold and go from under it, to sideways, to walking on it without even moving the D Pad much. They move so fluidly that I often randomly grabbed things that I didn’t intend to grab and sometimes found specials that way.

The World

Man… this game was WAY ahead of its time. The music is this awesome techno driven music that sounds pretty cool on an SNES console. Think beats that sort of “splat” crescendos much like the 90’s techno music of the day and highly techno sounding guitars. In fact, DJ6i’s first song, HeadAsplode would probably fit right in with the Run Saber soundtrack. The levels are pretty cool too… very polished and remind me of something like an SNES rendering of the world in Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’ (my favorite movie of all time). The enemies are creepy and somewhat comical. The average soldier looks kind of like a human with a squid head that randomly turns into a machine gun (no… that’s not a typo). There are flying creatures that really have no description that do them justice. There are rolling cannon looking monsters that often cruise around the area you are in and blast you. Some monsters appear out of the walls while others are randomly walking around.¬†There are countless pitfalls, spike roofs, changing terrain, invincible blasting machines shooting fire or electricity. The list goes on and on.

Unfortunately the world only has 5 levels… yup… 5. The first four are on your map when you begin the game (Taj Gate – kind of like West Coast USA, Tong City – Reminds me of Shanghai meets Blade Runner, Jod Valley – South American rain-forest with dinosaurs even, Grey Fac – Umm.. Greece and Paris?) and after you have beaten all of these, the scientist’s hideout, Bruford (looks like the island of Dr. Moreau on the outside) rises from the sea. Yeah… I guess all of those awesome soundtrack songs and the crazy graphics use didn’t leave much room on the cartridge for a fully immersed story and large world map.

Game Play

This is one of the things that sets this game apart from many of the other games of its time. I have already talked about how easy it is to control your saber and how quickly you can move about the platforms like a ninja. In the center of the character screen is a little square with a purple arrow that points you to the direction you need to head. When you consider how HUGE a single level is in this game, this is an amazingly useful tool. Also, the further you get from the intended target, the more incessant the blinking and ringing noises from the arrow get. Sure, you can see the place the map wants you to go but it is up to you to use ninja skills to reach your destination.

Each stage has a series of mini-bosses that prevent you from getting to your destination. They range from the unusual to freaking bizarre. The first mini boss is a mutant who busts out of an old missile casing and commences to shoot you with a bazooka and otherwise try to injure you. Then there is a boss that is basically tentacles or wiring (hard to tell based off the graphics) that shoots missiles out of the wall. Seem tame? Okay… at the beginning of the Jod Valley stage, you fight an Andean Condor – no big deal. But when you kill it, it’s head remains on the grass moving about as if talking and a random gray monster who utters a sound like the famous “Toasty!” from Mortal Kombat comes by and STEALS the head. Later on in the series, the same freaky monster drops the head of the condor on the ground and you faces a mutant zombie with a bird head… yeah… kind of an acid trip.¬†As you approach the mini boss sections of the game, the guiding arrow mentioned earlier changes to blinking the word “Alert!!” and it will stay active the whole time you are fighting the boss because sometimes it is actually hard to tell when the fight is over.

Now the next game play item of note are the actual bosses. The first boss fight in the game has got to be one of the most interesting fights I have seen in a while. Your character has to jump on to a USAF jet (Harrier or F-16, hard to tell) and fight¬†on the outside of the jet WHILE it is flying! Basically the jet has been ‘possessed’ by the mutants and you have to kill three of them. The first one is a creature who morphs out of the middle of the jet between the cockpit and the back fin. The next one morphs out of the tail wing. The final one is this floating head looking thing that busts out of the cockpit. The first two guys are easy enough but the last one fights you WHILE THE JET IS SPINNING around. If you fall, you die. When you finally kill the monsters, your character leaps from the jet like a boss and it blows up. How cool is that?

Boss number 2 actually created a fuss with Nintendo. She is a statue of a lady who waits for you on top of the highest point in Taj City. She is sitting on her side as if laying down and looking at you sideways. I guess the censorship rules were such that having a women laying in this pose even slightly seductively was against the rules at the time. Now, the woman’s head has been replaced with something like a corpse’s head which add to the further creepiness of this boss. The third boss is forgettable, it is basically a floating cyber head that spits fire at you and it growls angrily when you hit it. Even though it wasn’t a tough boss, the developers liked it enough that you see it again in the last stage. The fourth boss is certainly one of the weirder ones, it basically looks like a worm/slug thing that rises out of the floor and hurls fireballs at you but imagine that the snake/worm thing looks partially decayed and has a bulbous and vein covered head. When you beat him, this guy turns all 2D and falls off the screen.

Now, the map suddenly changes and you see a fifth location, Bruford, that emerges from the ocean and this is the hideout of Mr. Scientist. This stage is just funky and long. There are lots of long drops where you must kick at things as you go to kill them followed by climbing up an almost identical screen on a series of elevators and then going down again. Finally you must face Kurtz for the last time and then you drop through a hole and face the Scientist.

The Scientist – Last Boss

Easily one of the greatest let downs in Run Saber is the last boss… the Scientist. The story of the game doesn’t much talk about him other than mention that he created the mutant toxin and is trying to turn the world into zombies in his control. Do we get some crazy scene where the scientist explains why he did what he did then hops into some mutant contraption to fight you? Nope. The only way you even know this guy is the bad buy is because he has this eerie laugh that you start to hear at each boss fight and in this scene he does it aloud and you know it is him.

So what does he look like? Well… he’s a two story boss meaning you have two separate platforms at different levels which you must use to fight him. You only see him from the torso up and looks like he is basically a giant body with a skeleton and muscle layer but no skin. Honestly, he reminds me of what Freddy Krueger might look like if he took off his shirt and had no knife glove. Yeah… he looks like this:

The Scientist

So what does this dude do? Well… not a whole lot. He basically has three attacks. The first attack is that he spits these energy maggot looking things out of his mouth from both sides – nothing like having Freddy vomit maggots all over you. The other attack is to use either his right or left hand which hover on and off from their respective sides of the screen but they are large enough that you can see them a mile away. The other attack is more of a creative use of the environment. You have to hit his head to drop the protection on his stomach (presumably his weak spot) and then attack before the shield goes back up. Unfortunately, if you jump to avoid a flying fist or energy maggots then you may fall to your doom.

After hitting this dude several times and not knowing whether or not he is even feeling it, he will finally die. The screen basically goes bright and then you see several fireballs explode on his body and The Scientist is no more. That’s it! There’s no complicated death scene, you don’t even have to fight a second stage boss – the golden egg of console gaming. Nope… it’s just over.

The End

Okay, so maybe the let down of the boss fight is saved by a cool end scene. Maybe we get to see the amazing rebirth of our home planet as the pollution suddenly heals itself! ¬†Maybe there is a cool scene that shows the player what good they did. Well??? NOPE. Unfortunately, there is no real closure in the end. Basically, the end scene shows the credits rolling in the foreground while the background features what appears to be a little girl running across the field. As the girl makes her way closer to the end of the scene, we see the forms of our two sabers watching on. The little girl is embraced by the parents that she has been running to throughout the entire end sequence and then it’s over. That’s it. You get nothing else!

Final Words

So now we have come to the end of Run Saber. I will call it my Final Words so Jerry Springer doesn’t come after me. The game is beautiful in design and has a totally awesome soundtrack that was way ahead of its time. The characters are awesome and fluid but have no real story behind them. You can attack with awesome light sabers and beat up mutants but in the end, the game leaves the player feeling somewhat let down. The story does not engage the player at the beginning and the progress of the game doesn’t really add to that engagement. Some of the worlds are very unique and interesting and it truly has some cool parts that make it fun to play. But in the end, you will find that you don’t really care about saving the Earth, the final boss makes it obvious why he failed at taking over the world and the end sequence is less than stellar. So if you want a fun and quick romp with characters that are a mix of ninja and Jedi and don’t really care if the story will interest you then Run Saber is a great game for you. If nothing else, play it once to see how awesome the characters are but don’t feel surprised if you are ultimately let down in the end.

RGB out!

Falling Apart for PLOK

Picture this… It is the early-mid 1990’s, the SNES system has already started to gobble up all of the market share for the console wars in North America. The console had it’s first platformer in Super Mario World, it has already started to catch the eye of many development companies in Japan who are considering making North America a major market and many American companies are starting to hop in on the bandwagon.

Platform games had become a staple of the SNES culture as they drew the attention of both newbies to the system and captured a niche market for the gamer who wanted to scour through levels upon levels of platforms, sometimes jumping off a cliff as they attempt to jump to what might be a secret platform in hopes of finding EVERY secret and reaping the rewards of getting ‘The Best Ending’ and bragging rights among their friends for being the first one to do so. Yet as the games became popular, they also became saturated in the market and one could almost guess that if they picked up a game from the now large array of SNES games in that section of their favorite movie/game store (yes, they used to be the rage) that they had a 50% chance of the game being a platformer, a 25% chance of it being an RPG, and a 25% chance of it being something that did not fit into any particular category. The platform genre for SNES¬† featured such heavy hitters as Super Mario World, Aladdin of the Disney fame, and Bubsy which was famed to be the next Sonic the Hedgehog (a lofty title it never attained).

Into this mixture enters the seasoned, yet often unknown Pickford Brothers,¬† Jon and Ste, who had created many games for everything from Atari to the IBM PC but rarely ever got their names includes in any of the credits. They wanted to release a game that was creative, unique, fun, and rather challenging. After discussing a strange world they had both dreamed up, they decided to create a map for “Akrillic” which was in the region of “Polyesta” (are you picking up on the theme here?). After some more concept work, the Pickford Bros. created Plok and it is one of their most¬†commercially successful video games the two were credited directly on.

Your character, Plok, looks much like a Play-Doh experiment with 4 floating appendeges (similar to what a Mii looks like on the Wii). In the course of the game, you battle through the world of Akrillic beating up such unique things as the giant mouths with tuxedos known as the Bobbins Brothers, annoying and disgusting creatures known as Fleas that have infested the land, and many other strange monsters. What is unique is HOW you do so. You throw your arms and legs at your enemies (Ro-KE-to-PUNCH!) often in a succession, leaving Plok as nothing more than an immobile lump of clay while you wait for your appendeges to return.¬† Sometimes Plok must sacrifice one of his appendeges for a set period of time by punching or kicking at a ‘hanger’ switch which will retain your limb until you either complete a nearby task or until you make it to the end of the current level and on one or two occasions you actually have to fight a boss with less than your full array of limbs.

But don’t think you are limited to this option,¬†what good would a platformer be if you did not have a few cool powerups? Scattered through the world are several “suits” that Plok will change into (in a humerous scene where he changes behind a curtain in the middle of the level) for power complete with specialized music for each suit. You can pick up the blunderbuss which changes Plok into an outfit Sherlock Holmes would be proud of and allows him to repeatedly shoot a blunderbuss with buckshot. Also, there is a flamethrower powerup which lets you blast gouts of huge flames at your foes as well as awesome boxing gear for much stronger punches, a badass rocket launcher suit and even twin pistols with a cowboy hat. This is a wonderful change from the duo-tone, rather undetailed primary sprite that is Plok. Did I mention¬†the music?… oh the music!

Did you think it was over there? No! Not at all! If you really have the time to try and get to all kinds of odd and hard to reach places in the levels, you will find several “Presents” which Plok can use either for the level or for the entire game that make the going much easier including such things as the Buzzsaw jump among others. Furthermore, as you get deeper into the Brendammi Bog, the place where all Fleas come from, you will find that Plok gets to use all kinds of awesome vehicles to get through the levels here including a motorcycle, a jet bike and many others. You finally descend into the Flea Pit and beat the disgustingly cute “Flea Queen” and rid the land of Akrillic from Fleas forevermore!

This game is really a fantasic game with a breath of fresh air for when platform games are getting old and annoying. However, don’t expect the game to be easy. In fact, one of the biggest complaints the Pickford Bros received was that the game was too hard for the average gamer. I say NAY! Sure, you might have to devote several hours of time to getting all the secrets but the game’s universe is so quirky, strange, and fun that you won’t consider it a chore. Not to mention, the game features a much better music than a majority of the other platformers of the era and some of its most popular tunes from the score such as “Creepy Crag” and “The Flea Pit” live on as remixes. Can’t get much more famous than that, can you? So clear out a few hours a night, fire up your emulator and give this cool platformer a go, you will be thankful that you did!

8 Bit Composition with Mario Paint

Super Mario Paint

Game cover of Super Mario Paint

I feel it is only fitting to begin my trek down memory lane with a look at Good Old “Mario Paint” composer since it was one of the first inspirations for this blog. The game itself actually had many pieces you could chose from. There was a PaintBrush like application where you could draw pictures and save them and then later on edit them. It also had a unique animation studio that, although quirky, was far too complicated for the average player and light years ahead of its time. Another fun option was the “Coffee Break” which was a strange game in which your cursor was a hand with a flyswatter and you would swat ‘gnats’ which made a humerous “ung” sound when killed and sometimes you faced a ‘boss’ gnat that was much harder and more dangerous.

But nothing else was quite as unique and fun as the “Composer” software. This part of the game was so exciting and interesting that it lives on as a flash download from UnFun Games and allows you to make complex music files and even arrange different songs together. A feature unheard of in the original game. This application and the game for that matter, received a revival in recent years and led to a stream of YouTube videos with Mario Paint renditions of such songs as “Through Fire and Flames” by Dragonforce, “What Is Love” by Haddaway. Just search on YouTube for the song and include “Mario Composer” as part of the search.

Thanks to an interest sparked by looking at Mario Paint, I found my way to another awesome software called MuseScore¬†that lets you create music by placing real notes on a real clef. It’s also free! So if you have a desire in your heart to be a muiscal master, grab an emulator and play with Mario Paint or go grab the MarioPaint Composer from UnFun. Happy MIDI’ng!