Super Metroid Articles RSS Feed | Super Metroid RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Rumor: New 2-D Metroid in Development Wed, 17 Jan 2018 11:34:42 -0500 Steven Oz

On the heels of a Nintendo Direct, a new rumor has spread about the future of the Metroid series. Spotted on the ResetEra forum and then linked to the Nintendo Switch Reddit:

"AFAIK, there's an unannounced 2D Metroid game on development on a really early production state. Can't say the studio though, don't want to jeopardize my source."

The Resetera user who has started the rumor is Mocolostrocolos. This user is no stranger to reporting, and his posts on the forum have proven to be true in the past. For instance, Mocolostrocolos leaked 100% accurate details about Metroid: Samus Returns before the game was ever mentioned by Nintendo. 


As with most rumors, you have to take some of this with a grain of salt. The user seems to have some inside sources and has secured Metroid info before. Is Mocolostrocolos spot-on with his latest rumor as well? 

5 Games That Need to Be On the Gameboy Mini Mon, 23 Oct 2017 17:40:01 -0400 Allison M Reilly

With the Classic SNES Mini out now and the just revealed SNES-styled New 3DS XL coming shipping on Cyber Monday, rumors are circling about the development of a Gameboy Mini. Recent news about the rumored handheld and a recently registered trademark by Nintendo suggests it is, in fact, in development.

And although I don't know if the Gameboy ought to be any smaller, I do love the idea of a Classic iteration of the handheld featuring the best Gameboy games that were ever made. If a Classic Gameboy Mini ever does see the light of day, these are the five must-have games we want included. 


What would a Classic Gameboy Mini be without Tetris? This puzzler was the pack-in title for the original Gameboy and remains one of the most well-known block busters of all time. It's certainly the one and only video game my mother will play.

What makes Tetris spectacular is that the game hasn't needed much updating or re-imagining over the years. Sure, there've been games that try to mimick it, like Puyo Puyo, but nothing comes close to the original's panache. It was awesome in 1984 and it's still awesome in 2017.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

Link's Awakening originally started as a prototype for the Gameboy, one meant to demonstrate all that the handheld was capable of. But as all great stories about great video games go, it ended up being fun, too. So it was ultimately released to great fanfare.

That's why Link's Awakening has Yoshi and Chomp Chomps in it and ultimately, doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the Legend of Zelda franchise. Nonetheless, because of the game's role in the handheld's history, this installment ought to be included in any Classic Gameboy Mini that releases.

Super Mario Land

Much like Link's Awakening, Super Mario Land is also a departure from what we know and love about the Mario universe. It doesn't take place in the Mushroom Kingdom. There's no Bowser, Luigi or Toad. And it introduced us to Princess Daisy (for anyone who wondered how she suddenly appeared in Mario Tennis).

Overall, Super Mario Land was pretty, well, super. And it quickly became a staple for Gameboy owners back in the day. All the more reason why it should be a no brainer for the Gameboy Mini.

Metroid II: Return of Samus

The true sequel to original Metroid and prequel to Super Metroid, Metroid II is the only game in the franchise to come out for the Gameboy. Some say Metroid II is the weakest game in the franchise, but when compared to other Nintendo games, the title is often highly praised.

It was also influential in the development of future games in the series, as Metroid II introduced new abilities and methods of exploration that are hallmarks of the series today. So although it doesn't quite get the hype and attention the way the NES and SNES games do, Metroid II was (and still is) an amazing game. 

Kirby's Dream Land

Kirby's Dream Land introduced players to one of the most lovable video game characters of all time -- and led to plenty of sequels across several consoles. It was also a fantastic game for both younger, less experienced players and well-seasoned gamers.

We don't learn of Kirby's signature pink color and copy ability until later games, but none of that would've happened without Kirby's Dream Land and its success. Overall, the game was well-received and something would be missing if the Classic Mini Gameboy did not have Kirby's Dream Land. The game started "it all" in so many ways.


What are some of your favorite Gameboy games? Would you purchase a Classic Gameboy Mini if it came out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Nintendo Announces SNES Mini Classic Edition Mon, 26 Jun 2017 13:03:52 -0400 LuckyJorael

Nintendo announced today the Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition, a mini version of the grandfather of gaming systems. The new system comes with 21 pre-loaded games, an HDMI cable for compatibility with new high-definition TVs, one USB charging cable with an AC adapter, and two controllers. 

Nintendo of America's Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, Doug Bowser, said:

While many people from around the world consider the Super NES to be one of the greatest video game systems ever made, many of our younger fans never had a chance to play it. With the Super NES Classic Edition, new fans will be introduced to some of the best Nintendo games of all time, while longtime fans can relive some of their favorite retro classics with family and friends.

The Super NES Classic Edition looks like a tiny version of the classic console and comes with the following games:

  • Contra III: The Alien Wars
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • EarthBound
  • Final Fantasy III
  • F-ZERO
  • Kirby Super Star
  • Kirby's Dream Course
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Mega Man X
  • Secret of Mana
  • Star Fox
  • Star Fox 2
  • Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
  • Super Castlevania IV
  • Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Metroid
  • Super Punch Out!!
  • Yoshi's Island

Yes, that's right. Not only does the console have 20 of the best games from the SNES era, the SNES mini includes the never before released Star Fox 2. Players only have to beat the first level of Star Fox to unlock its sequel.

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition releases September 29 and retails for $79.99.

Metroid Should Be at the Top of Nintendo's List of Switch IPs Tue, 13 Jun 2017 10:10:18 -0400 ThatGamersAsylum

Nintendo is one of the most famed video game developers and publishers in the world. And the company only got that way by having a strong stable of historically great and influential IPs. For every Mario and Zelda that garners a ton of attention, there's a Star Fox or Kid Icarus. It is in this latter category that we find one of Nintendo’s most historically influential IPs: Metroid.

Previously I’ve talked about how Capcom has mistreated Mega Man in recent years, both by slapping us in the face with an unwanted cartoon and by neglecting to release new games in the series. I’ve also talked about how Konami has mistreated the Castlevania series in the last few years. However, you wouldn't know it, given their wanton disregard for these series in recent memory, series that were once the cornerstones of their respective publishers’ business strategies.

If you look back at the GBA era, you will find an embarrassment of riches for the Mega Man franchise. Similarly, Konami strongly supported the GBA and DS with two separate trios of great games that were in the same vein as Symphony of the Night. But this was never the case for Metroid. Looking over the timeline of the series' history reveals a drought of titles in spite of the quality and success the franchise has often celebrated.

However, before we do that we must establish that this is a symbiotic relationship; the Switch needs Metroid just as much as Metroid needs the Switch. This is thanks to the fact that, behind Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there aren't many titles available for the Switch-- exclusive or otherwise.

Image courtesy of François Coutu

This is even more important thanks to the fact that Nintendo is no longer in sync with the cycles established by Sony and Microsoft. One of the big reasons that the Wii U failed was that it wasn't a significant upgrade over its competitors while being more expensive and having a significantly smaller library; something that the Switch also suffers from. While the Switch was not released as far into the PS4 and Xbox One life cycles as the Wii U was with the PS3 and Xbox 360, it's still three years and hundreds of titles behind the curve. 

Obtained from Wikipedia

There has been no shortage of great games from Nintendo in recent years. Excellent new IPs like Splatoon have popped up and gotten sequels. Meanwhile, older IPs have been given the chance to redefine themselves and truly shine, like Fire Emblem (which only recently received a new entry), or The Legend of Zelda (whose most recent entries have all bucked long-held trends in favor of experimentation and innovation).

But the only two Metroid games released since 2007’s Metroid Prime 3: Corruption were Metroid: Other M in 2010 and Metroid Prime: Federation Force in 2016. The former was an action game that tried and failed to revitalize the series. The latter was an online multiplayer FPS that had nothing in common with the Metroid series except for its name. After 30 years, there have only been 11 entries in the series (not counting a pinball game and a Prime collection for the Wii).

Federation Force Made Fans Look Favorably at Other M.

To understand exactly how much of a travesty Nintendo’s treatment of our titular Samus has been over the years, we need to put things into perspective. And there is perhaps no better way to do this than looking at the third entry in the series: Super Metroid.

At the time of its release, the series was already about eight years old. Keep in mind, this was in a day and age when publishers were generally pumping out sequels on an annual or biannual schedule. While Nintendo isn’t your average publisher, this slow approach holds true over the course of the series.

But this is neither here nor there because Super Metroid revolutionized video games. Its design was sleek and simple, yet complex and deep. The game’s quiet, somber -- yet alien -- world, combined with a stellar soundtrack, served to create an atmosphere that set a new bar for what people knew could be achieved through video games. Its controls were intuitive and tight.

Oh, and it helped pioneer its own subgenre -- which Castlevania: Symphony of the Night would later cement -- Metroidvania. This formula centers around players exploring a world that slowly becomes more and more open as they earn new gear or abilities that let them reach new areas, thus making previously inaccessible areas accessible.

We’ve seen this used and bastardized so much in modern times that we take it for granted. But in Super Metroid, you didn’t merely unlock items that allowed you to backtrack to previously barred-off locations. Instead, many of the items allowed you to navigate the world in completely different ways, like using the ice beam to freeze enemies, which then let you use them as platforms. In fact, Super Metroid has become infamous for all of the complex ability interweaving that lets you complete the game in myriad ways -- some the developers had never intended.

In spite of this, however, the game doesn’t break. Instead, its design masterfully withstands some of the deadliest challengers around, namely, players and time itself.

Super Metroid didn't just revolutionize the industry ...

It’s still the golden standard for its genre today.

But should this treatment really come as a surprise in retrospect? After Super Metroid’s 1994 release, we saw an eight-year hiatus for the series. Meanwhile, looking at releases following Mega Man 2 or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night -- those series’ respective groundbreaking titles -- reveals dedication to these key franchises after revolutionizing the industry. Finally, in 2002, Nintendo brought us the great Metroid Fusion and Metroid Prime games.

Metroid Prime would be the series’ first foray into the realm of 3D. This was a full six years after Super Mario 64 and four years after Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mega Man Legends, and Castlevania 64, which all saw their respective series branch out into the third dimension successfully (Mario and Zelda), prosaically (Mega Man), and horrifically (Castlevania). That’s right, a full console generation after we were capable of pulling off 3D, Nintendo finally decided to make a 3D Metroid. We saw this repeat again last generation, as the Wii U -- like the Nintendo 64 before it -- also saw Nintendo skipping out on new Metroid titles.

Despite the Wait for and Expectations of a First-Person Metroid, the Metroid Prime Trilogy Delivered.

Metroid Prime joined a long line of titles before and after that proved that Nintendo was willing to take creative risks on series. Sometimes it pays off, like with the Metroid Prime trilogy, and sometimes it doesn't, like with Metroid: Other M. But it's precisely because of their propensity to innovate and challenge norms that it's been so surprising to see them push one of their most innovative series to the backburner. Does anyone really doubt Nintendo's ability to make another great entry in this series, whether it be 2D, 3D, or even something new like VR? 

If you didn’t already understand what makes Metroid great and the hardships of their fan base, then perhaps you now do. We need a new Metroid on the Nintendo Switch because we need to see a return to form for Metroid. We need a new Metroid because Metroid is as historically great as much as it is currently relevant. Because this series is underserved as much as the Switch itself in its infancy is also underserved. Because we need a new, genuine Metroid title just as much as we want genuinely good games.

So heed our call, Nintendo, and Make Metroid Great Again!

Should Schools Have a Required Gaming List? Mon, 24 Oct 2016 04:13:36 -0400 Aaron Grincewicz

Way back in high school I remember having a 'Required Reading List' in English class. The list is nearly standardized among schools. Most of the time it includes titles like; To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, The Scarlet Letter, Lord of the Flies, and other classics.  

Movies also have a similar list in some schools. With films like; Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and Gone with the Wind being standard. If your teacher is cool enough, they'll also consider movies like Star Wars, and Aliens

In case you haven't heard, times have changed. Gaming is mainstream, and in some cases, in our DNA. Video games have influenced pop culture and many other aspects of modern life. Games have been such a part of my life that if the Animus were real, a ton of my memory sequences would involve playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. That is also the reason I would want my kids to have an appreciation of the gaming classics. 

While I'm sure everyone has their idea of what criteria a game must meet to qualify for such a list, I'll dive into some that I would recommend in my class. A lot of the games would most likely be from Nintendo due to the family-friendly nature of the company.  The less time a school has to deal with upset parents, the better.

Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue are a great way to kick off a semester.  Not only is Pokemon just as popular as ever, but the games are amazing. Students would discover the origins of the monster-catching craze, and could also study how accessible the gameplay is, some aspects of character design, and even the financial impact the sales had on Nintendo.

Super Metroid would be great to study in time for mid-terms. Regarded by many as one of the greatest games ever, it's gameplay still holds up, and has been imitated many times, but arguably never duplicated.  While the game is light in the story area, the level and boss design are nearly unparalleled. Shadow Complex would be a great modern alternative, but it's often better to start with the roots.

For the final exam, my class would study my personal favorite, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  This game nailed so many things, but the soundtrack, boss design, and Hyrule itself stand out most to me. Ganondorf is also an excellent example of what makes a great villain/Final Boss. Not only was his power intimidating, but the game showed he was smart, too.

What do you think? Should schools be equipped to teach students about the games on which their parents and teachers spent so much time? Do you have kids, and want them to try your old favorites? Which games should be on that list?

What Makes Resident Evil So Great, and Whether Or Not Its Future is a Problem Mon, 19 Sep 2016 08:00:01 -0400 Rettsu Dansu

E3 2016's Resident Evil 7 trailer is a fantastic example of what I love about that expo. It's the reveal of a game that no one was expecting but are nonetheless excited for -- in such a way that it absolutely blows your mind. Barely anyone expected to see that title at the end of the trailer. The realization that everything you just saw was the new Resident Evil, a main entry in the series that goes back to horror in a way that we want it to, was a fantastic feeling.

Or is it? One of the reasons it was so unexpected was because the type of game shown off in that trailer -- and in the demo. It isn't quite Resident Evil. Despite major changes throughout the whole series, it's always been about biological monsters, not whatever we have so far. Arguably, we could have a situation like in Resident Evil where the enemies are sort of human, before their heads fall off and giant centipedes come out.

What's more important though is the way in which the first part of that trailer, and the demo, present horror. The classic Resident Evils (1, 2, 3, 0 and Code Veronica) create horror through resource management, environment, and atmosphere, while the direction for RE7 seems to be one that focuses on the mystery and the unknown. It's not bad, not bad at all, but it's not what Resi fans want. Capcom has promised that the tone of the demo wasn't particularly representative of the full game, however the second trailer is incredibly similar and hasn't cleared anyone's doubts.

But it's Not All Bad

That being said though, there are a number of things the demo has shown us that I think people don't seem to have noticed. These things connect Resi 7 to previous titles in the series, design wise. So, if you haven't played the demo yet or just haven't noticed them, I'm here to explain to you what these things are.

First, however, I'll need to explain what makes the classic Resident Evil formula so great, to give you an understanding of why it's important that these aspects return.

Dodgy Controls


Yes, I just said that. Resi's control scheme is a large factor in how scary it gets, however most people focus on how frustrating it can be.

The original RE games use 'tank controls'. Unlike most games in which you point the joystick in the direction you want your character to move, your character is instead controlled much like a tank. Basically, pushing the stick forward moves your character forward, and pushing sideways rotates your character. You have to first rotate your character before you begin to move.

Now, I could argue that once you get used to it, the controls aren't that clunky, but the obvious question would be 'why can't we just you just have normal controls?'. In my opinion the slightly higher level of concentration required to control your character means that if you get stressed or scared the controls can start to get in the way. Thus increasing your level of stress and fear. However, there is a much more important reason.

Knowing Where You're Going


Resident Evil was born in an era in which video games were still figuring out how to give players control over the camera in such a way that movement in 3D works perfectly (arguably, we still are). However, Capcom decided to completely ignore it and gave the player absolutely no control over the camera at all.

Resident Evil's world is portrayed to the player through an interconnected string of static camera angles. The camera rarely moves, however as soon as the player moves out of view the camera changes to a different one somewhere closer to the character.

Tank controls are required in this situation to prevent the player from being disoriented. Consider how this camera would work where the player is allowed the usual control scheme.

Say the player moves left across the screen, the camera angle changes and suddenly 'left' is a completely different direction  in relation to the player. The character would immediately change direction. If you don't understand what I mean, play the first Devil May Cry and you'll find out. In the tense, claustrophobic situations Resi presents, this could ruin things. With  tank controls, forward always means forward no matter what direction we're looking in, and it's easier to determine your character's movements.


Enter the Film-Like Horror

So why do we need this type of camera? We need it for horror.

A good horror film creates fear through 'sensory deprivation'. We fear what we can't truly understand, so when a film removes our ability to see the danger it forces us to use all of our senses and focus our attention on the scene in an attempt to figure out what's going on. When we begin to realize that it's difficult to determine where the danger is, where it could come from, or even how dangerous it is, that's when fear starts to settle in.

Resi's camera angles achieve a very similar affect. Enemies usually come from outside of your viewpoint. You can hear them, sometimes even see their shadows, but you aren't allowed to move the camera to see them. It creates this haunting atmosphere that the player becomes immersed in simply because they need to concentrate on every clue the environment offers that danger could be around the corner.


Holding Long

However the film techniques used in the original Resident Evil's don't end there. Here's one of my favorite examples:

There's a technique in film called holding long. This term is used the director doesn't end a scene as soon as we think it would. For example, a character leaves a scene and we're left watching the same spot. It causes us to concentrate on the scene and wonder in suspense about what could be happening.

There's a cinefix video that explains this quite nicely.

The remake of the first Resident Evil actually manages to utilize this technique. Not just through a cutscene, but through the gameplay itself.

We have been taught through thousands of films that when important events stop occurring the scene changes. This is why holding long on a shot is effective. Throughout the first couple minutes of Resident Evil we are taught that when we walk out of view, the camera changes. Which is why when this happens, it's weird.

To give you some context, at this point in the game you've seen your first zombie. You're unable to kill it yourself so you feel quite weak. As you explore more of the mansion, you hit a dead end and find a knife. You pick up the knife and turn back, however for some reason you walk right off the screen and nothing happens.

Now this doesn't have quite the same effect, as a gamer would probably assume that the game has some lag or it's frozen. What's really important is what happens next.

Without the player's control, Jill walks backwards into view. This causes the player to question the entire situation, until they see the hand appear from around the corner and they understand what has happened.

This combination of suspense and then release is the essence of horror, but the addition of a disconnect between the player and the game makes you feel helpless and confused. It adds to the suspense as suddenly the game doesn't work how we were taught it should.

What's even better is that this scene has three main purposes: The first is to teach you how to use the knife, it's not easy to get out of there without being grabbed by the zombie and having to use the melee weapon. The second is to teach you that the game will sometimes pull this type of thing on you. The third however, is the most important.

You Are Never Safe

The reason why the appearance of a zombie in that location is truly confusing is the fact that we were backtracking. The player had already been through that hallway, had seen that there were no zombies in the area, and had probably assumed that they were safe.

But a zombie turned up anyway.

Resident Evil is a game about exploring a mansion, hence the term Resident Evil. As you explore you'll be returning to places you've been before in order to solve puzzles. Unlike games like Castlevania Symphony of the Night or Metroid enemies don't usually respawn once you leave the area. Once an enemy is dead, it stays dead. Unless you don't burn the body, in which case you're screwed.

Again, we're taught to think a certain way. Surely when I return to an area I've been to, it should be safe because I killed all the enemies. But no, certain interactions trigger certain events to occur in certain areas.

For example, you defeat a snake boss and pick up a key. You go to use the key somewhere else, returning to a previously explored area. However, this time the windows smash and some more zombies jump in. You never know what could set off an area to have more enemies, and this creates an environment where you feel like anything could come at you at any time.

And this is all emphasised by music. If you never understood how music could create emotion, then play Resident Evil. The safe room music is so superbly done that even though its the safest place in the game, you still feel afraid that something could break in. It's mainly soothing music, but with this creepy undertone that reminds you that while you're safe now, you have to go back out there at some point.

This feeling would mean nothing if Resi's gameplay didn't fit. The areas you explore in each game are metroidvania-like, in which you scour the mansion for things to find, meeting locked doors and enemies along the way. Eventually you'll find a key that allows you to unlock certain doors, requiring you to go back to each area and see where that key works. Let me just say that this is really fun, the feeling when you find a key is like no other. It's a feeling of endless possibility... until you get that message that says the key has no more use and you throw it away.

This design encourages backtracking, which allows the constant fear of danger to take full effect. If we were constantly moving forward then there wouldn't be too much to be afraid of.

However, none of what I just said would be scary if it wasn't for the way that Resident Evil deals with death.

The Death Penalty

I could write an entire article about how video games should penalize you when you die, because in my opinion it's something that's really hard to perfect.

Every fear portrayed in a film usually connects to death. What truly scares us is either being so immersed that it feels like it's happening to us, or that we don't want those characters to die.

This doesn't work in a video game, the developers can't just have you die and end the game altogether. So any fear of the death of your character is immediately removed once you die the first time, and see your character come back to life afterwards. There are only a few games where permanent death works.

Fearing death in a game helps to make the game more immersive. It allows tense situations to be tense for the player. Really, any game could be improved with a proper death penalty. However, horror games require them, because horror games need to generate fear.

So this asks the question of how we penalize the player when they die. The obvious answer, which is what most games use, is to cause the player to lose progress. Either pushing the player back to a checkpoint (pretty ok), back to the start of the level (pretty mean), or back to the last save (even meaner). Dark Souls has its own rather unique method of punishment in which you lose your unused exp, however this doesn't avoid the major problem.

Losing isn't Fun

We play video games to have fun, arguably, and this is where death penalties create issues. There's almost no way to take something away from the player and have them actually enjoy it, it just doesn't work.

The more you take away from the player, the more tense the situation is. Therefore it's almost impossible to create an incredibly tense situation in which the player doesn't feel terrible once they end up dying.

Unless You Cheat

Resident Evil takes the incredibly mean route and forces you to load your last save when you die. This isn't always great because you could forget to save and end up losing hours of progress. What's even meaner, however, is that saving in Resi requires you to use a finite resource, and it isn't too common either. This means that you have to spread out your saves so you don't run out.

Basically, if you die in Resi you have quite a lot to lose. Or do you?

Resident Evil is a game about learning, as I've said before. It's about finding items and using logic (and sometimes just guessing) to find out where you need to use those items. A player who knows what they're doing can finish the game in a couple hours.

What this means, is that even if it was 2 hours since your last save, if you die it would only take you about 10 minutes to get back to where you were. Most of that time you just lost was spent finding where the items are used, now that you have that information you don't waste that time. Not only that, but you know where all the enemies are so there's no need to be cautious.

This -- in a way -- is the best of both worlds. When you're being attacked by enemies, in the heat of the moment all you can think about is the amount of time it's been since your last save, so it's tense. But if you eventually die, it doesn't sting so much because you begin to realize that all you need to do is run to a couple of specific rooms and you'll be back.

This doesn't work for all games, because not all genre's can have this puzzle style implemented. We can't really learn from RE in this retrospect. However, Dark Souls has a similar situation, in which you learn your enemy's patterns and learn how to deal with them better. So perhaps this is just an aspect of good game design.



In my opinion, the way that Resident Evil deals with death is integral to creating fear while playing it. There are a number of things that I haven't mentioned that other people might think are just as important, such as resource management, atmosphere, or zombie dogs. But I don't think any of them would be scary if we weren't actually worried about the death that came along with it.

This is exactly why I think that RE contains examples of good jump scares. It's quite popular recently to hate on jump scares, and with good reason. They're an easy way to make people scared, but they're usually used way too often and with not enough thought put into them.

Here's the problem, a jump scare isn't particularly a "scare", it's more of a simple reaction. It's your body reacting to possible danger by waking up all the muscles, and it's unpleasant. You could argue that it's possible to "fear" a jump scare, but I would say that that's more like the way one would act when they're about to experience pain. This is the same feeling the people abuse to make people go insane through torture.

This could explain why we enjoy watching people play games with jump scares in them, but there isn't as much enjoyment to be had when you play one yourself.

When a jump scare is used in a well directed film, or Resi, it makes us jump, but also creates fear because they have some weight behind it. The appearance of a monster in this fashion is scary because it means that the characters could get killed by it. In RE's case, you yourself have to actually point your gun at them and shoot them. The player jumps not just because the brain is waking up, but because they themselves need to be awake to act.

If a monster enters the shot and leaves for the sake of making you jump, it doesn't really have the same effect.

Onto the Future

2000 words later, let's go back to Resident Evil 7

So RE7 has a lot of fans rather skeptical. The demo and it's trailers appear to give off an atmosphere of general creepyness, cooking pots full of cockroaches, weird men appearing out of nowhere, and a creepy run-down house. This kind of horror is something similar to Silent Hill or a number of horror indie games. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, other than it becoming rather cliche recently. However, it isn't what makes the Resident Evil series unique. But let's look at a number of ways Resi 7 could be returning to the original formula.

First of all, it's rather difficult to tell how RE7 will deal with death. Since the only way to die in the demo is to finish it, there's no way to find that out. However, there's one thing that's rather important that we need to consider.

Welcome to the Family, Son

The first thing you do in the demo is find a tape player, with no tape. Then you progress in the house and find a cupboard, which is locked by a chain. You then reach the end of the house and find pliers.

You use the pliers on the chain, which unlocks the cupboard revealing a tape, and you then use the tape on the tape player.

This might seem really simple, but this means a whole lot. What this indicates is a style of gameplay in which items must be found, and we must backtrack in order to use those items. It's an incredibly simple progression, you simply move forwards then backwards, but if the demo is in any way indicative of the full game, I think this means we'll have that same puzzle style of game with items and exploration.

And This is Really Important

If we have a game that focuses on exploration, then this creates a format for a number of the horror aspects I talked about before. It allows for random enemy placement, and replacement, that creates constant danger. This is something I'm sure other people have picked up on, but it doesn't get the focus it deserves when discussing the game.

And that previous scene isn't even the only hint towards items found through exploration, there's a hidden fuse that opens a door if you do things in a different order. Players have also found an incredibly hidden, albeit useless, axe hidden deep in the demo. This type of gameplay is what truly made Resident Evil for its first five games, and when they dropped it for RE4, that's when the series began to be more and more action focused. To me, the resurgence of this mechanic is what could make Resi 7 more Resident Evil. However, fans do still have their worries.

The First-Person Camera

RE7 is the first main series title to be in first person, and this does create some issues if Capcom really is trying to return to formula. With a completely controllable camera, you lose the camera angles that made the original games so cinematic, and loses an integral part that made the games truly scary.

So how much of an impact will this have on the game? Well it depends on how well Capcom can design the game for fear. There are still ways to create horror with a controllable camera, and there are more ways to create horror in a game than just utilising film techniques.

But this is what made Resident Evil unique. In our current era, there are so many horror games that use the same techniques. Any currently thought of design to make horror has probably already been done to death. Resident Evil is probably the only one to make horror in such a way, and even if it's not the most successful at least it's unique.

So Why Can't we Just Use the Old Way

The obvious reason for why Resi 7 is first person is because it's going to be in VR, third-person games just don't work. But there is a bigger issue.

The majority of people don't like tank controls. They just can't be bothered to wrap their head around a needlessly complex control scheme. In this day and age, when we want Resident Evil to be relevant again, we need to it to appeal to as many people as possible. I know quite a few people who, even though they'd probably love RE, just get frustrated by tank controls.

But as I said before, tank controls and the camera angles work hand in hand, you can't have one without the other. If we remove the tank controls, we have to remove static cameras.

This is exactly what happened with Resi 4, tank controls were removed, and a different camera control scheme was designed. The over the shoulder, 3rd person, camera definitely worked, but it lead towards an action focus. Now, Capcom is probably trying a third time to make this work, with the only camera system they have left to try.

Will it Work?

I'm not particularly at liberty to say, but I think it could work. We haven't truly lost the same sensory deprivation as before. There aren't many enemies in the demo, but you can still hear footsteps and creaks in different rooms as you progress. This is mostly used to creep you out, but it could hint to a later use of sound to indicate the presence of enemies in the full game.

There's also the scene in the demo where one of the characters calls your attention, and you look over to him. Once he's done talking, you look around and realise that the other character, Andre, has dissapeared.

You can still control the camera and watch the other character leave, but a first time player will get distracted and believe that Andre has just mysteriously been taken. It's this kind of design that makes me feel hopeful, as Capcom has used events to move the player's attention, and effectively forced a camera angle in a certain direction.

Most games would probably remove control from the player to show them what they want you to see. This way feels more fluid and immersive, because in a way, it is the player's choice to look in that direction.

The Story

The story is probably the biggest thing people complain about. The generic, Silent Hill-esque atmosphere and the lack of connection to previous games.

There's certainly some slight connection to the series: an umbrella logo in the game, on a helicopter, in a picture, in a hidden room, accessed by playing the demo a second time, and activating a secret (little bit of a stretch).


As I stated before, Capcom has said that the plot and tone of the demo isn't representative of the full game. However, despite the first trailer being mostly for the demo, there are some things shown in that trailer that are nowhere to be seen.

There's a montage of clips at the very end that has a certain atmosphere. There's this creepy music and a bunch of unsettling shots of forests and other things. I can't quite put my finger on what exactly the tone is, but I don't feel that it's the same cliche-creepy that we get a lot. It's actually the part of the trailer that intrigued me the most, even before I knew it was Resident Evil 7.

There's also a number of shots where things seem to deteriorate quickly, such as the wolf head. This seems to me like some kind of connection to biology, it might be a stretch, but for me this is what gives me the idea that they won't be ditching Resident Evil's biological roots.

There are a number of things in the second trailer, however, that seem a lot less biological and that create a cliche-creepy tone. The being said, it barely shows us anything. It's possible that this is just an early stage in the game where we first see the enemies we're fighting.

The monster that attacks the player could turn out to be a product of the bio-organic testing Umbrella does, but there's really no way to tell. From what I hear the character in the trailer is one that the player is trying to rescue in the full game, so perhaps the tone of helplessness is only portrayed because that character is truly helpless.

I don't think this is a representation of how the game will turn out, but a representation that Capcom doesn't know how to make trailers.

So Should We Be Worried About Resident Evil 7?

The short answer: probably not.

I mean, we shouldn't be sitting around wondering if a future game will be as good as we want it to. There's better ways to spend our time. There's absolutely no way that we can tell exactly what kind of game Resident Evil 7 will be until we can play it for ourselves, who knows what the entire experience could be like?

But as to whether or not we can predict Resi 7's quality, I think the community's current predictions are a bit too exaggerated. Resident Evil fans have been burnt too many times to be hopeful, and overhyped games have been so frequent recently that any depiction of what your game could be is not going to convince anyone anymore.

I myself am hopeful that Resi 7 will return in some ways to the original formula. It would be nice to see those things return.

Is it a problem that some things are different?

Well, I'd like to say it isn't. We're in an era currently where plenty of developers are trying to return to what their games once were (New Super Mario Bros., Ratchet and Clank), but they aren't trying to improve on that original formula at all. So instead of returning to glory, we get something we've already gotten.

It's actually quite interesting to see Capcom attempt to bring back aspects from the past, but also try to improve on them for a general audience.

And if it turns out to be just like P.T., well then we'll finally get Silent Hills.


Best retro gaming buys: SNES games under $100 Tue, 16 Aug 2016 07:12:07 -0400 kate.farrow

Last week’s post gave you the hardware. Today’s post will give you the must-have games for your Super Nintendo. The best SNES games don’t come cheap, but these tried and true titles are worth it. Part two of this series includes games that can be bought for under $100.

Part One: SNES games under $50.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island - $33.99 and up (used)

You play as one of a variety of Yoshis, who, in some terrible twist of fate are now responsible for keeping baby Mario from being kidnapped whilst saving baby Luigi from baby Bowser and Kamek. I distinctly remember the final battle with Bowser being far more metal than it really is.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - $38.59 and up (used)

Again, snag a used copy for less than $40. Hyrule will thank you. Your fact of the day: This game is known as The Legend of Zelda: Triforce of the Gods in Japan.

Super Metroid

Super Metroid - $56.97 and up (used)

The heyday of Samus Aran.

Final Fantasy III

Final Fantasy III - $49.02 and up (used)

One of the most iconic Final Fantasies. This title was not released outside Japan until a 2006 Nintendo DS remake.

Secret of Mana

Secret of Mana - $61.89 and up (used)

Another incredible SNES game, notable for using real-time battle instead of turn-based like many of its contemporaries. Not many were made, so it is harder to get than some other titles.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Best SNES games of all time!


I’m always looking for new awesome products, so please send me your favorites at

6 Games The Speedrunning Community Can't Get Enough Of Thu, 09 Jun 2016 13:04:33 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs


I Wanna Be The Guy


And now for something completely different. I Wanna Be The Guy is notorious for its difficulty -- and that, of course, enticed the hardcore speedrunning community. Whereas Spelunky trades on its uniqueness and random level generation, I Wanna Be The Guy's cache in the speedrunning world comes from the fact that the game, at heart, is all about pattern recognition. 


For speedrunners, this game is everything they love about speedrunning Super Mario Bros., just dialed up to 11. Yes, the game is insanely difficult, but the paths through and around each obstacle are decently clear, so it's a matter of stringing together that one perfect run and entering that zen-like flow state. Plus, at the end of the day, it's just insanely satisfying for viewers to see a game like this taken down that fast.


What's your favorite game to speedrun? Let us know in the comments! And hey, if you can't get enough speedrunning, make sure to check out our guide on how to speedily run through Dashes in Mirror's Edge Catalyst!




Spelunky is an odd case. Since it is procedurally generated, there will always be an element of luck to any Spelunky speedrun. Having said that, however, this randomness means that speedrunners need to constantly be on their toes. They cannot rely on rote memorization, and must use their general knowledge of the game and how level seeds are usually assembled to set new records.


Though Spelunky is not as popular as the previous games on this list, its following in the speedrunning community is surprisingly loyal, and that's due to the fact that, quite literally, speedrunning the game is a completely unique experience, mixing luck and raw skill.


Super Mario 64


Now, if we're talking about sequence-breaking and games that have countless glitches and exploits that allow for insanely fast completion, Super Mario 64 needs to enter the conversation at some point. As you can see above, sequence-breaking can allow a skilled player to beat this game in under 6 minutes. And if you've been paying attention, you know that those times are only about a minute slower than the fastest times for the original Super Mario Bros. on NES.


In addition to these "sprint" runs of Super Mario 64, the variety the game offers in terms of levels and objectives makes 100% speedruns unique as well. In particular, the fact that each stage features a star that can only be earned after 100 coins are collected means that players must plan their paths through each stage in creative ways, using all of the movement options that Super Mario 64 has to offer.


The Legend Of Zelda: The Ocarina Of Time


Of course, a big reason that The Legend Of Zelda: The Ocarina Of Time is on this list is that it is often hailed as the best game ever made. But Link's debut on the Nintendo 64 has so much more to offer to speedrunners apart from nostalgia and great gameplay.


Like Super Metroid, speedrunners of Ocarina of Time must be creative and sequence-break in order to post a quick time. However, what sets Ocarina of Time apart is the plethora of glitches and techniques that players can use to increase move speed and fly across the map. Many Nintendo 64 games, and other games from the first generation of 3D gaming, are favorites of the speedrunning community for this reason. Since the technology was not perfected yet, there are plenty of exploits for speedrunners to find. This not only makes for good times, it also means you can finally skip that damn water temple.


Super Mario Bros.


Whereas Super Metroid sticks around in the speedrunning scene because of its open nature, Super Mario Bros. sticks around for the exact opposite reason. Speedrunning Super Mario Bros. is a fairly linear experience. The best path through the game has been mapped out many times. The challenge this game offers speedrunners is the pursuit of perfection.


It's almost like an Olympic sprint in that fractions of a second often make the difference between a record-breaking run and one that does not, so speedrunners shave those precious moments off of their time whenever they can, keeping their momentum, making pixel-perfect jumps, and generally entering a supreme state of concentration and flow. It's cathartic to watch as well, especially since speedruns of the game generally hover around 5 minutes due to all of the warps.


Super Metroid


The speedrunning community owes a lot to this game. Super Metroid was and remains one of the most popular games to speedrun because it was one of the first to allow players to "sequence-break". Since Super Metroid is such an open game and power-ups are scattered all across the map, progression is linked to when and in what order these power-ups are collected. Sequence-breaking occurs when a player, either using glitches or pure skill, is able to skip a "required" power-up or sequence in order to complete the game faster.


Because there are so many power-ups in Super Metroid, and so many different paths to take, going for a speedrun at any completion level offers huge potential for creativity in how to tackle obstacles.


And that's not even mentioning the ridiculous 100% completion speedruns. There are so many different ways to speedrun Super Metroid, and so many different viable ways to attack each speedrun, it's really no surprise that it's still a mainstay for the community.


Speedrunning is as popular as it's ever been. No longer relegated to a small corner of a convention game room, the speedrunning community has exploded in recent years and brought the concept of beating a video game as fast as possible to the mainstream. It's not just the wonderful Awesome Games Done Quick events every year-- there are countless new games (Undertale and Shantae and the Pirate's Curse, to name a few) that specifically reward players who choose to speedrun them.


So with Summer Games Done Quick right around the corner on July 3rd, it's a great time to pay tribute to the games that speedrunners always seem to come back to.

5 BAMF Female Antagonists Who Deserve Your Attention Wed, 16 Mar 2016 05:27:52 -0400 Cresta Starr


Sarah Kerrigan


Even though she was left for dead by her own people, she manages to survive the Zerg and eventually learns to control them. Despite how many times Jim Reynor goes out of his way to save her from the Zerg's grasp, Kerrigan inevitably causes chaos wherever she goes.




She struggles between her humanity and her evil ambitions to take over the universe. She has so much depth -- and in defiance of all adversity, always comes back. Which is why I ranked her number 1.




Do you agree? Disagree? Have any other female antagonists I left out? Comment below!



Final Fantasy VI

Much like Poison from Final Fight or the main character from Journey, the sex of Jenova from Final Fantasy VII was never really determined. However, most fans identify her as female.




Everyone remembers Sephiroth as FFVII’s greatest villain.  In actuality, without Jenova, he wouldn’t have power at all. It was Jenova who conquered Earth way before he went on his murder spree. She’s traveled through space and time space, destroying life on each planet she lands on. When she's done, she is on to the next one.


Alma Wade


As the only child to make this list, Alma is a little different from the rest of these ladies in the category, because she was only 3 when Armacham Technology Corp. started to experiment on her. Her psychic abilities were so advanced that she was able to terrorize the staff in their dreams.




Aesthetically, she was horrifying -- rather reminiscent of a ghost child straight out of a Japanese horror film.


Mother Brain

Super Metroid

Mother Brain is an AI who's sick of everything and everyone's crap. She mind-controlled the pirates that invaded Zebes, and used them in an attempt to reset the universe. She even morphs into a dinosaur out of sheer rage.




No matter how many times you encounter her over the course of the Metroid series she has no qualms with killing you...or anything that stands in her way.


Brooke Augustine

Infamous: Second Son

Brooke Augustine is the typical case of someone who starts off wanting to help people like herself. However, things changed over time and her intentions developed in to something ugly.




At first, she wanted to save the conduits by capturing them all and placing them on Curdun Cay. After funding was pulled from the Department of Unified Protection, she pretty much lost her mind and went on a murderous rampage to prove her program still had a place in world. She was willing to do whatever it took to achieve her “idea” of safety -- even if it meant framing innocent conduits.


Every game needs a good bad guy -- or in this case a bad gal -- to "stir the pot", if you will. The following ladies break the mold when it comes to typical female roles in gaming. These antagonists span different genres and different platforms.


So in honor of Women's History Month, let's take a look back at my favorite leading bad girls from the past!



You need to calm down about Metroid Prime: Federation Force Thu, 13 Aug 2015 07:04:07 -0400 Michael Slevin

Take a deep breath, drink a glass of water, it is going to be okay.

Look, I get it. We are all disappointed that we aren't getting a traditional main-series Metroid game. That doesn't mean that we should be setting the town on fire and looting our local electronics store.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force has been, unsurprisingly, unpopular. It is, in the words of Dr. Evil, "the Diet Coke" of Metroid: it's not quite Metroid enough. But a petition? I mean come on guys, let's all calm down.

Just because we don't get what we want shouldn't mean we hate what we have. 

I haven't played Federation Force, and until I do I will reserve judgment. You should too.

Fallout Shelter is nothing like Fallout 4 and the world continues to turn.

And while we wait for a truly new Metroid game, we have countless other titles to choose from. And not just AAA games like Fallout 4 or Star Wars Battlefront, but really good Metroidvania games.

Try Axiom Verge, or even the Dark Souls series. These are games that are really great Metroidvania games. No, Samus isn't in these games, but then again Metroid isn't really about story or character. It's about tough battles, exploration, and perfecting your reflexes.

I mean, we know what happens when we get story/voice acting in Metroid.

So what is there to complain about? The game is in the Metroid franchise? That may be lame to some, but Fallout Shelter is nothing like Fallout 4 and the world continues to turn.

By the way, I'm quite sure a lot of you who are complaining haven't even played every Metroid game. I know I haven't.

Go to the backlog, I know I would love to go back and play Metroid Fusion since I missed out on it. 

In conclusion: You will not be getting a new "true" Metroid game. Not this year, and in all honesty probably not next year either.

I'm disappointed too, but we have Star Fox Zero, Super Mario Maker, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Zelda Wii U and other Nintendo titles to look forward to. 

So let's take a step back and stop bashing a game that we haven't even played just because a new, traditional Metroid game is not on its way.

Rewind Review - Super Metroid Thu, 09 Jul 2015 11:03:29 -0400 David Fisher

Today is Day 3 in my Metroid series rewind reviews, and with this glorious day comes the time for Samus Aran to leave the 8-bit caverns of the Gameboy and the Nintendo Entertainment System. After landing in the year 1994, Samus Aran has officially grounded herself on the glorious hardware that is the 16-bit Super Nintendo.

That's right Metroid fans, we are revisiting what many consider to be the poster child of the Metroid series, a game so well received by its fans that all games that have succeeded it (save for a few) have all been considered mere peasants before its stupendous image, a game so great that even to this day it still bolsters a 96 average score on Metacritic. We are - of course - talking about Super Metroid.

As is the case with all of my Rewind Reviews, Super Metroid will undergo a review process through the eyes of a 2015 critic. No nostalgia glasses, no excuses, no praises based on hardware, and no sparing myself from the flamethrowers of readers. Nothing will spare this fan favorite from anything that we - as modern gamers - would expect from the genre today. Now that I've stalled long enough to get my Varia suit on to spare me from the heat of the fans, let's take a look at Super Metroid for the SNES.

The Plot

While I would give a warning that this section will contain spoilers from the earlier Metroid titles, we are almost 30 years after the original NES version of Metroid, as well as 20 years after the release of both Metroid II and Super MetroidThat being said, if you plan on playing Super Metroid before either of the two predecessors then I feel obligated to warn you that this game spoils the ending of both games within the first five minutes of gameplay.

If you don't believe me watch the video below. You have been warned.

While the first cinematic in the Metroid universe is by no means the most beautiful piece by today's standards, Super Metroid's opening is actually quite remarkable. The reason is that despite not having fully-voiced high-quality videos, the game manages to tell us what we need to know about the previous games, as well as what we need to know about this game in a timely fashion.

Super Metroid tells us right away what Samus Aran's previous accomplishments are, what has happened between Metroid II and Super Metroid, as well as why Super Metroid is now taking place, all in one convenient sprite-animated cinematic. The rest of the plot, however, is told in-game without a single word; the story is told purely through gameplay.

After a brief encounter with series antagonist, Ridley, players land on Zebes in an attempt to hunt the space dragon down and retrieve the baby metroid. As players venture through Zebes for the second time in their Metroid career they will immediately take note that they are being watched by a camera that activates the very first second they pick up the morph ball upgrade in Brinstar. Traveling through the various areas reveals that not only has Ridley returned, but the entire Space Pirate hierarchy, eventually ending with Samus facing Mother Brain once more in Tourian. The most powerful moment of story through gameplay, however, comes through the game's ending.


When players fight Mother Brain they find themselves powerless to defeat the towering creature as it blasts them with its Hyper Beam, taking away all of the player's energy as Samus is forced upon her knees. What happens next, however, is completely unexpected. The very same baby metroid we were supposed to recover comes to our aid, attacking Mother Brain before coming down to give its energy to Samus.

The metroid's efforts are soon punished by Mother Brain as it kills off the baby metroid with a blast of energy. The moment makes us sympathize for the creepy alien creature, and with our newfound cause for vengeance we proceed to blast Mother Brain to oblivion.


While the story is by no means a deep and meaningful plot, it provides us with what we need - a goal, just like all previous Metroid titles. Unfortunately, my praises for the plot end here since this was excusable for the 8-bit NES and Gameboy. As we hit the later part of the Super Nintendo's lifespan we should be expecting something more.

The cinematic recap at the beginning of the game does nothing more than what the instruction manual already provides. While the recap is much appreciated, it is equally pointless. By this time in Metroid's career it should have something more concrete for players than "Oh no, the Space Pirates are back! You have to stop the previously thought to be dead Space Pirates on Zebes (again)! Help us Samus!"

Simply put: if Super Metroid's plot did not exist, it would not matter. While it is far from a condemning point, a game that wants to sell a story needs to have one that is a little more solid than a rehash of the original Metroid with a baby metroid slapped on for good measure, especially considering it is the third installment in the series.


The Beautiful:

For the first time in a Rewind Review I have added a section for "beautiful" gameplay mechanics. The reason for its inclusion is that Super Metroid does what a Super Nintendo Metroid title needed to do. All of the improvements that were made in the Gameboy title have been carried over to Super Metroid while some have been further improved. These features include: eight-direction aiming, an even larger array of items, the ability to choose which of said items are active at any given time (something that to this day has never been reimplemented), as well as every single other upgrade to gameplay that Metroid II provided.

In-game instructions replace the need to constantly look back at instruction manuals.

Super Metroid marks the first time that players are provided with in-game instructions for various items that they find during their adventure, meaning players will no longer have to rely on the instruction booklet to figure out what their newest tool does.

The game also has finally implemented a map/navigation system, providing players with a means of actually knowing where they are going or where they have been.

The Space Pirate boss, Kraid, is so big that he takes up five whole map slots.

The creature total has also increased to a whopping 85 individual sprites. That is twice as much as Metroid II, and four times as much as the original NES game.

Bosses in Super Metroid are larger than ever before, and their weaknesses are that much harder to exploit as a result. Many of these boss creatures make it near impossible to avoid incoming damage which encourages players to explore Zebes much more thoroughly so that their chances of survival will increase. Add on the hundreds of "sequence breaks" in the game's otherwise linear exploration and players will find themselves unable to recreate two identical playthroughs unintentionally.

The Ugly:

Some readers may wonder why I have skipped straight to the ugly section in this review, however, there is method to my madness. While Super Metroid has given me reason to introduce the "beautiful" section, it suffers from some major faults or failings that could have been easily resolved even during the Super Nintendo's lifespan.

One of these faults is the poorly thought out control scheme.

The image above portrays the typical Super Nintendo/Super Famicom controller. Note that the controller has a total of 8 buttons excluding the d-pad. This is two more buttons than a later Metroid title - Metroid Fusion - had to work with. The issue I am beating around the bush about is the dedication of the B button to the run command, and the Y button to the "turn off special item" function. Neither of these buttons serve a reasonable functionality since players never have a point where running is pointless or unruly, and likewise the missiles or super missiles could have simply been assigned to either of the buttons that would be otherwise free. Not only would this allow for players to be more agile during gameplay, but it also would smooth out gameplay by removing the tedious nature of swapping through the game's 5 special weapons and instead limit the select button's use to changing between the grapple beam or x-ray visor.

While Super Metroid does allow players to change their controller layouts, it does not change a thing since running is still necessary for the Speed Booster and Shinespark abilities. The L and R buttons could also be freed up since the diagonal aiming can be accessed by pressing up and left/right on the d-pad simultaneously, or the L button alone could be used for it like in Metroid Fusion or Zero Mission to make space on the R button for the grapple beam.

Another issue is that the platforming does not control as tightly as it did in either Metroid (NES) or Metroid II: Return of Samus. This is odd considering the fact that one would expect the platforming to remain the same. However, Samus's jumping deceleration is so sharp that it feels as though you have come to a complete stop before she begins jumping diagonally. This is also a problem when considering new platforming mechanics such as the wall-jump which can leave players stuck in the "hell" area for some time as they try to figure out the wall-jump's odd sensitivity.

On the topic of weapons, Super Metroid also marks the beginning of a recurring issue for the 2D Metroid titles in particular: Samus's near-invincibility during the later parts of the game.

While energy tanks, missile expansions, and the screw attack have made Samus a formidable warrior in previous titles, the ability to use all beams simultaneously (save for the plasma and spazer beams) make the player nearly impossible to kill by the time they reach the game's final boss. This completely ruins the immersion of the game since the battle with Mother Brain becomes less of a triumphant battle against the forces of evil, and more of Samus moping the floor with the final boss's grey matter. In fact, if it wasn't for Mother Brain's over-exaggerated reaction to each hit from the hyper beam, you could swear that you could have killed her with the baby's armor boost and your ice-wave-plasma-charge beam alone.


The game's soundtrack bolsters a 16-bit sound engine that allows for much more eerie music tracks than ever before.

While Super Metroid has become slightly dated in terms of gameplay, its presentation has not aged one bit. The high detail of the of the game's sprites have allowed Super Metroid to age gracefully compared to modern games that rely on 3D models since it appears more of a result of intentional art direction as opposed to simply being a forced art choice dictated by the hardware of the time.

The creatures, bosses, environments, and even Samus herself look - for the first time - as though they all belong to the same game.

Everything looks and feels like you are traveling through Zebes for the first time, even if you have played the original NES title. While this alone does not excuse the game's lack of a properly designed story, it more than compensates for it by providing an enviorment that makes you feel isolated, something that only a select few Metroid titles have managed to recreate ever since. If that is what Metroid as a series is all about, then Super Metroid does it best - at least for the 2D games.

The Verdict

Admittedly, Super Metroid is a game that is difficult to take off its pedestal. While the game does have a few flaws in terms of controls and fluidity, it addresses issues from the previous Metroid titles and exceeds all expectations. The game is solid and provides players with improved game mechanics, updated visuals and sound, and any background information on the series that they need before starting their new adventure. That is what a good sequel should do, and that is what Super Metroid does.

With that said, I give the game an 7/10 since the clumsy control scheme and lack of true innovation compared to its predecessor set it back when we consider the hardware limitations of this game and its previous installments. The game, while being stellar as a standalone title, does not separate itself far enough from formula to warrant an 8 score.

Despite these shortcomings, I recommend Super Metroid as a starting point for any newcomer to the franchise. The game is truly the first solid title in the Metroid series, and the story recap mixed in with great game mechanics make it a good starting position as players can quickly get a grasp of what Metroid will have in store for them from this point onward.

With that Day 3 of my Metroid Rewind Review series comes to a close. Be sure to check back on this article, or GameSkinny for future reviews as we make our way from the original 1986 Metroid on the NES to the 2010 release of Metroid: Other M. What are your opinions on Super Metroid? Does the game deserve the Holy Grail status that the game has? Do you agree that later titles streamline controls and gameplay further, leaving Super Metroid more outdated than fans are willing to believe? Voice your opinions in the comment section below!

Reviews in this Series:

The Five 2D Platformers you need to play Wed, 01 Jul 2015 11:12:15 -0400 Michael Slevin

Platformers are my favorite genre of game, and there are a ton of great games to play within the genre.

Everybody has games that they haven't gotten to, so to add to your list here are five platformers you need to play at some point in your life.

5. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Forget best platformers, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one of the best games of all time. With incredible pixel art, music and gameplay, this game is an absolute masterpiece. You can pick this one up on PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 even though it was originally a PlayStation game. 

4. Sonic the Hedgehog 3

Oh, how we miss the days of good Sonic games. Despite the infamous recent Sonic games, I still love the blue blur, and Sonic 3 is a part of what makes him great. In this adventure, we meet Knuckles the Echidna, who is actually an antagonist, who we see more of in Sonic and Knuckles. Sonic 3 is the best platformer the series has to offer and, if you get the chance, Sonic and Knuckles is great too.

3. Mega Man 2


This is one that is close. I am only doing one game from each series, otherwise we would see multiple Mega Man games and multiple Mario games. I feel that Mega Man 2 is the best that Capcom has to offer providing great music, incredible bosses who grant unique weapons upon defeat, and world-class gameplay. Mega Man 3 and Mega Man 9 are also among my favorites in the series. 

2. Super Metroid

This one might be a little divisive, as many people consider Castlevania: Symphony of the Night to be the better game. Super Metroid is one of the best games ever made, and set the stage for Symphony of the Night and define the Metroidvania game genre. The incredible music and art, level design, and a desolate world all contribute towards Super Metroid being one of the best games of all time. Super Metroid certainly surpasses any side-scrolling Metroid, and perhaps is only surpassed by its first-person shooter cousin, Metroid Prime.

1. Super Mario World

This one is tough, I can see multiple Mario games being on this list. Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Bros. are both worth your time. The reason I feel that you must play Super Mario World is because it perfects the 2D Mario formula. This masterpiece introduces Yoshi, who plays a critical role in the game's story. Sprite art and music are both great, but the elite-caliber level design is what makes Super Mario World an absolute must play. 

What 2D platformers do you think are must-play? Let me know what you think in the comments!

The second one was better! 10 video game sequels better than the originals Tue, 19 May 2015 20:04:21 -0400 The Soapbox Lord


Well that was not too painful right? So which sequels did I miss or make the mistake of including? Let me know in the comments!  


Bioshock 2


Wait, what? Am I crazy? (Yes.) Have I lost my mind? (Most assuredly). Don’t run away! Hear me out on this one.


Yes, Bioshock is a landmark game and by all means a classic which showed what narratives in gaming could accomplish. However, the gameplay and design had some issues. Bioshock 2 added some welcome improvements over its predecessor. The silly pipe matching minigame you had to do when hacking? Gone and replaced with a real-time mechanic that made sense! Dual wielding plasmids and weapons? You betcha! More weapons? Why not?


Sure, the game was not perfect. The role of the Big Daddy could have been fleshed out more, and there were obvious content cuts for whatever reason: it is still a remarkable game. The multiplayer is not too shabby either! It’s high time we looked back on this game and gave it a fair shake. 


Street Fighter II


When the original Street Fighter was released in 1987, no one could have anticipated what the sequel would do to the gaming world. With the release of Street Fighter II four years later, Capcom cemented the series’ legacy and ushered in an era of popularity for the fighting genre.


Street Fighter II improved upon the original in every way: better graphics and sound, a larger, more varied cast, depth of combat and mechanics, stages. Everything was better. The game was immensely popular and led to many kids losing their lunch money for a chance to play one more time. Capcom is not foolish, and has ported the game to over fifteen systems and consoles. The game has also seen an HD re-release and inclusion in several compilations. If you haven’t played this game by now, please share your secrets with me!


Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast


Before anyone objects to this not being a direct sequel, allow me to explain. The first game in the series was Star Wars: Dark Forces followed by Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II while Jedi Outcast was the third one in the series. However, since it is named Jedi Knight II, I am considering it a sequel to 1997’s Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. It absolutely makes sense!


Jedi Outcast undoubtedly had a slow start and some strange puzzles, but the payoff was worth it. Once you received your lightsaber and Force powers, the game became an entirely different beast. The combat made players feel like a Jedi slashing through hapless Stormtroopers (don’t forget that dismemberment code!) and using Force powers at will. The duels with Dark Jedi and members of the Sith were among the highlights of this gem. Add in a multiplayer where you could reenact Highlander with your friends, and you have one of the best Star Wars game ever made. The Force is strong with this one. 


Advance Wars: Dual Strike


Again, I am cheating here, but Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising was more of a map pack than a true sequel; not so with Dual Strike. By releasing on the then-new Nintendo DS, Dual Strike was able to utilize two screens and advanced hardware for the series. Boy did it!


The addition of a second screen allowed players to absorb tactical info on the fly without having to open any menus. The battles were also massive, with most stretching far beyond your screen. The addition of a tag team mechanic with your commanders (who had powerful abilities that change the tide of battle) allowed for tactics to change on the fly. The addition of multiplayer and some other modes ensured pocket generals had many reasons to return to glorious turn-based warfare. 


Mega Man 2


While it may come as a surprise, the original Mega Man was not a huge hit with players or critics. Nevertheless, Capcom trudged on with a sequel and released Mega Man 2 in 1988. The gaming world has never been the same since.


With Mega Man 2, Capcom unknowingly unleashed a classic onto an unsuspecting populace. Critics and players worldwide were enamored with the Blue Bomber and made the game a critical and commercial success. To this day, the game is regarded as the best in the series, as well as one of the best games ever made, as well as having one of the best soundtracks in gaming! Not too shabby, eh?


Super Metroid


Note: Awesome fanart by Elemental79.


I am cheating a little bit here. Technically, Metroid’s sequel was Metroid II: The Return of Samus for the original Gameboy, which was by no means a bad game. However, Super Metroid is a more worthy and fitting sequel. Released in 1994 for the Super Nintendo eight years after the original Metroid, Super Metroid showed the time away did wonders for Samus.


Despite releasing at the same time at the PlayStation and Sega Saturn, Super Metroid showed what the SNES could do. With great art design, a terrific soundtrack, tons of new weapons, and a vast world to explore, players were eager to once again step into the power suit of the badass bounty hunter. Who can forget the awesome fight with Mother Brain at the end? Super Metroid is the stuff legends are made of. Now how about an HD remake or a new entry in the series, Nintendo?


Assassin’s Creed 2


As much as I have my issues with the series, I cannot deny the impact Assassin’s Creed 2 has had on the series and gaming as a whole. The first Assassin’s Creed was a love-it or hate-it affair. While some gamers loved exploring the world and assassinating targets, many players were annoyed by the lack of mission diversity and wonky controls and combat. Assassin’s Creed 2 changed the naysayer’s tune.


With improved controls and combat, more mission diversity, and a better-designed world to explore, Assassin’s Creed 2 was everything the first game should have been. However, Assassin’s Creed 2 also started the yearly release cycle Ubisoft continues to foolishly follow. Opposite and equal reactions indeed. 


Rayman 2


The first Rayman is a challenging and legendary platformer and just so happens to be the top selling game for the original Playstation in the United Kingdom. The game was by no means a slouch.


Rayman 2 took the limbless hero into the realms of 3D and the results were one of the best platformers one can play. The transition to the third dimension allowed for more imaginative worlds and levels for our hero to explore. Add great level design, fun abilities, and a hopping soundtrack, and you have a recipe for success! 


Heroes of Might and Magic 2


While Heroes of Might and Magic 3 is considered the crowning achievement of the series, you can’t overlook the second entry in the series. The first Heroes of Might and Magic was met with a fairly middling upon response back in 1995. The sequel is what the thrust the series into the limelight and into gamer’s memories and long, long nights of “Just one more turn” syndrome.


By refining the gameplay, fleshing out the story, and creating the video game equivalent of cocaine, New World Computing ensured players would not be forgetting about this series anytime soon. You can purchase these classics for only $10 apiece; so you get the addictive nature of narcotics without the terrible effects on your health for a bargain! 


Mass Effect 2


Mass Effect was an ambitious and terrific game which really showed what the 360 and PS3 could do with its massive scope and gorgeous landscapes. However, the game had issues. Performance issues, technical hiccups, awful inventory management, and clunky combat weighed on the experience, but not enough to ruin it. Mass Effect 2 rectified those issues and then some.


By streamlining and redesigning the game, the final product played smoother and was a more enjoyable experience. Add in a gripping tale where death is a real possibility and a great cast of characters, and you could forgive BioWare for eliminating a lot of the RPG mechanics from the first game. Mass Effect 2 is a terrific game with one of the best narratives in gaming. And the MAKO no longer handles like a drunken gnome riding a wild boar! A win for all!


Who doesn't love a good sequel? Since you awesome readers responded so well to my last post on sequels, I proudly present a sequel to my sequel post!  (The irony is thick with this one.)


As with the last one, the sequels here made improvements over the originals, and in some cases, blow the original completely out of the water. I have also tried to limit the games to direct sequels or else this would go on forever. So shall we begin the sequel to the sequel? (Seriously, I’m making my head hurt with this).

The Problem With Backtracking Wed, 25 Feb 2015 18:36:24 -0500 Elijah Beahm

There's a lot of decrying these days for games that add filler content, just as much are there are complaints for those that don't have "enough" content like The Order: 1886. One of the most hated aspects of games with filler are backtracking sections where you must traverse a level you've already gone through before. I've thought a lot about this, and I'm beginning to question if we're looking at things the wrong way.

What is Backtracking and Why is it so Horrible?

So, say you've never played a game with backtracking -- what does that mean? Well, it would mean the levels never go back to any previous rooms and/or set pieces you may have participated in before. Every part of the level design forces you forward, and you can never go back.

If your mind is thinking back to NES-era gaming, you are on the right track. Mario in particular forced you to never go back, and always keep moving forward. While you could go back an inch or two, you really couldn't go back and try again for that 1-UP block or get all the coin boxes you missed.

Now, take a game like Halo: Combat Evolved, where on several occasions you walk back the way you came and/or reused path ways to reach new areas of levels. One level in particular is a reversed and expanded version of a previous level in the game. When Halo: Combat Evolved: Anniversary  released, it was criticized for this. In particular, in Game Informer's review, Matt Miller wrote:

Unfortunately, because the gameplay has been left unaltered, players are also stuck with some of Halo’s less fondly remembered features. Disastrous checkpoint placement can regularly derail the fun. You’ll backtrack through almost every level in the game at some point. Shields recharge slowly, and the health system regularly leaves you badly damaged right before a big fight. The lack of objective markers will often have you searching through empty corridors long enough to push your patience to the limit. We were more accepting of these flaws a decade ago, but time and advancing design make the frustrations more noticeable.

Now for comparison, a review by Eurogamer of the original 2001 release:

The one downside to this heavily scripted story-led malarkey is that the game is depressingly linear at times, shuffling you from one encounter to the next and rarely giving you any real choice in where to go or what to do. While running around space ships and Halo's interior you will find an amazing wealth of locked doors which keep you from straying from the one true path, with occasional neon arrows conveniently painted on the floor to point you in the right direction in case there was any doubt. The outdoor settings look fairly open at first sight, but although there's more freedom of movement there are still only one or two paths open to you most of the time thanks to steep-sided canyons and the occasional rock fall.

You see, as gaming has evolved, our priorities in level design have shifted. Once upon a time, a game like Halo: Combat Evolved was seen as too-linear, which is almost laughable now. Instead, now we're complaining about it requiring us to explore its levels thoroughly and backtrack. This is the tip of the confusing iceberg when it comes to backtracking's acceptance in the gaming community.

Bats, Dragons, and Inconsistencies

You see, this isn't a problem exclusive to shooters and platformers. Even role-playing games like Dragon Age have had to grapple with this. Dragon Age 2 attempted to focus on a single city for its campaign, and as a result you often went through familiar districts, outskirts, and streets. It was heavily criticized by fans for this.

Responding to this, Bioware released Dragon Age: Inquisition not even a whole year ago, with two large regions to explore, on top of hours of unique story content. Now, Inquisition has been criticized for doing the exact opposite of Dragon Age II. Not all games have had a problem with this criticism though, and that's where things get really weird and nonsensical.

Why is Batman here? Well, because Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham series is, amongst other things, a Metroidvania game. The subgenre involves unlocking upgrades for greater traversal and combat options, a tightly woven yet large world to explore, and lots of backtracking. Somehow though, I doubt you've heard anyone complain about repeatedly visiting the Arkham Library or having to go back into Intensive Treatment at the Medical Wing.

This is where the criticisms start to feel awkward, as backtracking truly is something the Arkham games have leaned upon. Not only can you backtrack, but completing each entry to its fullest extent and several specific missions require you retrace your steps. And yet, Rocksteady's gotten by pretty well with minimal complaint. What does this mean?

The Real Problem

You see, the problem itself isn't backtracking. It's both how the backtracking is executed, and modern gaming trends. On the former front, I feel Jon X. Porter at Venture Beat put it best, in his article Backtracking: You’ll Need the Blue Key to Read this Article:

What's important about these games is that you never backtrack for a single-use device. Doom's system of red and blue keys is fine for its small levels, but when put into a larger game, such as the original Devil May Cry, it becomes not just irritating but unsatisfying to wade back through.

Contrast this with the previously mentioned Morph Ball from Super Metroid and the numerous places throughout the game where you can use it. It's not just some throwaway item you immediately discard — it's an essential part of your arsenal that you'll use for hours to come.

Whenever we're reintroduced to a level in a game, we need something new to keep us invested and interested. Some games like Alien: Isolation let us unlock new areas and obtain new gadgets, much like Arkham and Metroid. Other games like Halo 3 and Half-Life 2 use a consistent flow in their levels to give a sense of cohesion and making the levels feel like real places.

The best consistent flow games also change the scenario within their levels as you retread them. In Halo 3's level Crows Nest, as you defend a UNSC base, you face different enemies as the siege progresses and you run around the base helping your allies. You go from turret sections in wide hangers to tight corridors constantly, rarely given a moment to breathe. The level design in such games needs to be dynamic and flexible, supporting a variety of approaches.

The other part of the problem is that as games have progressed and yearned for being more like "cinematic" and being more "like a real movie", we've stepped away from older styles of design that properly used backtracking. Shooter level designs were maze-like once, yet now games like Crysis 3 and The Last of Us are praised for offering us minor amounts of non-linear level design.

With games like Uncharted, Gears of War, and The Order: 1886, any ounce of backtracking can become an annoyance due to just how restrictive it can be. The more scripted the level design, the more a player has to follow what the designer intended instead of changing it up how they want. So then it feels more reptitious, and is far more obvious and lacking in fluidity.

The backtracking becomes more contrived, and doesn't even have an exploration element to lean upon. Thus, it feels more forced than it already was. While some games like Batman: Arkham City find a happy middle ground, it's clear a lot of developers still can't find the right footing for this. Unfortunately, this is also impacting the latest generations of games.

For instance, in Techland's Dying Light, while the open world offers you plenty of options, it's linear sections are some of the worst backtracking in recent memory. This is especially clear during the climax, where you constantly are being made to retread through incredibly specific paths. These paths that might only make sense coming from one direction, but you have to go both ways regardless.

As much as we jest and joke about how developers design single-player campaigns, there's a real issue here. Backtracking alone is not the solution to expanding modern level design, nor is it the lazy, corner cutting level design trick some take it to be. The problem is that we are seeing a marked decrease in proper backtracking.

When used properly, backtracking can be a great asset and add to the experience. We should praise games for doing backtracking right, along with criticizing those that do it wrong, as we would any other facet of a game. That way developers can improve it, instead of attempting to abandon it altogether.

10 Most Memorable Songs In Video Games Sat, 06 Dec 2014 09:21:08 -0500 Death Metal Hero


10.) Hotline Miami - Miami


Some of you might say that Hotline Miami seems a bit out of place on this list, and to a degree you're right. But to be completely honest, I feel that Hotline Miami has one of the best and most memorable soundtracks of any game in the past ten years. The simple yet constant repetition of the main riff, followed by the thumping bass and drums makes this song one of the most instantly recognizable video game themes in recent times.


9.) Earthworm Jim - New Junk City Theme


Composed by the legendary Tommy Tallarico, it should come as no surprise that one of his games made it on the list. With its atmospheric synth keyboards, gallop-like bass riff, and progressive song elements. New Junk City is an instant classic among gamers young and old alike.


9.) Sonic 2 - Chemical Plant Zone Theme


Many would suggest the “Green Hill Zone” Theme from the original Sonic, but there is something extremely catchy about the Chemical Plant Zone theme. From the upbeat feel of the song, to the tidal wave of keyboard riffs. Although both themes are highly memorable, I feel this one is just a bit better.


7.) Killer Instinct - Main Theme


Very few fighting games have a strong and memorable soundtrack like Killer Instinct does. There is a lot of really good songs in Killer Instinct but the main theme has the most raw power to it. The heavily distorted guitars with the atmospheric synth keyboards bring a unique sound that is easily recognized by any fan of the fighting genre.


6.) The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time - Hyrule Field Theme


For some gamers this is the theme song of their childhood. Not only is Ocarina of Time one of the best Legend Of Zelda games of all time, it also has the best soundtrack in the franchise. The sweeping string section, the steady march of the snare drum, and the blasting horns makes this one of the most recognizable themes in video games.


5.) Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow - Bloody Tears


Although bloody tears first appeared in Castlevania II for the NES, the remake of the song for Dawn Of Sorrow is by far the best iteration. The gothic and symphonic elements that were in the original song shine through in this version. This upbeat track has one of the most memorable piano riff’s in the history of video games.


4.) Super Metroid - Brinstar Depths


Very few themes in video games are as atmospheric and memorable as Super Metroid’s “Brinstar Depths” Exploring through the depths with this theme playing truly brings the alien world to life. Everything about this theme song is near perfection from the piano riff to the synth “Ah’s” Every instrument brings a new level of depth to this masterpiece. 


3.) Megaman 2 - Dr Wily Stage 1


The Megaman franchise is loaded with amazing theme songs and memorable enemies. But when you finally reach the first stage of Dr. Wily’s fortress, Capcom decided to bring their best. Very few themes have the inspirational impact as this theme does, it’s like an E-Tank for your will power.


2.) Final Fantasy IX - You’re Not Alone


A truly heart-wrenching moment in the Final Fantasy franchise. After Zidane learns that he is only made to destroy, he falls into a major depression. Questioning himself and the friendships he has made, he is determined to finish the story alone. The choir that comes in halfway through the song is the powerhouse effect, which is guaranteed to send chills down your spine.


1.) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island - Baby Bowser’s Theme


The second phase of the Baby Bowser fight in Yoshi’s Island is by far one of the most epic moments in the Super Mario franchise. The shrieking synth guitar sets the mood perfectly for this boss battle; eerie and evil. Then the song explodes into a thrashing heavy metal jam. There’s nothing quite as epic as heavy metal jam during a gigantic boss battle.


Over the years we all have experienced a lot of epic and memorable songs in the realm of video games. Without music, our most cherished moments would only be a sliver of their full potential. The music in video games is a puppeteer pulling on the strings of our emotions, making the hatred we feel for the villain all the stronger, and the lover for the hero more personal. I have chosen to leave out some of the more obvious 'famous' songs for more personal choices.

Nintendo Says the Wii U Has More Games than You Think Thu, 04 Dec 2014 17:43:48 -0500 Michael Falero

Nintendo contends that its Wii U console now has plenty of games, and it's using social media to make its case.

In a recent tweet on the Nintendo UK Twitter handle, Nintendo has attempted to face head-on the claim that the Wii U lacks a library of decent titles to choose from. The tweet includes the hastage #TheTimeisNow and a link to cheeky "logic" flow chart.

Nintendo reviews some of its best-selling Wii U titles and franchises with the flow chart, including Super Smash Bros.Mario Kart 8, and Hyrule Warrirors. It also makes a point of mentioning its titles available on Virtual Console, recent high review scores of its newer games, and special bundle offers for some titles.

(For a larger view, click on the chart below to open in a new tab.)


Nintendo has been trying for some time to dispel the notion that its game selection is inadequate compared to the likes of the Xbox One and PS4. That was one of the main critqiues of the Wii U early on in its run, but it seems that more and more consumers are deciding to take a chance on the console. Back in October, Nintendo reported that it had reached 7 million sold units. It also finally turned a profit this autumn due to Wii U and 3DS sales, the release of Mario Kart 8 and the continued success of older titles.

The Nintendo UK tweet also linked to a YouTube video showcasing some cutscenes and gameplay from popular Wii U titles (see below).

For more on the Wii U, check out the Top 10 Wii U Games and our gift guide for Nintendo fans.

Top 10 Nintendo Franchises Sun, 28 Sep 2014 22:18:49 -0400 Brian Spaen


1. Super Mario


Series highlights:

  • Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES - 1990)
  • \n
  • Super Mario World (SNES - 1991)
  • \n
  • Super Mario Galaxy (Wii - 2007)
  • \n

What did you expect? Nintendo's favorite plumber is not only their most successful mascot, but it's the most popular. Super Mario titles have sold well and Nintendo has no problems throwing the mascot on a game that may not sell as much, but Mario will spawn title sales.


Whatever their last names are, both Mario and Luigi deserve getting some props. They've been a part of the Nintendo franchise from the beginning, and it will never dissolve.


2. The Legend of Zelda


Series highlights:

  • A Link to the Past (Super NES - 1991)
  • \n
  • Ocarina of Time (N64 - 1998)
  • \n
  • Wind Waker HD (Wii U - 2013)
  • \n

What else did you expect? We've barely talked about the top-down action adventure with a hint of RPG elements, but it's exactly what the doctor orders after a long week. The long quests featuring Link are both legendary and unique. While the series has gotten a tad stale with the same names again and again, changing things will help them in the long run.


Ocarina of Time, the first title on N64, is regarded by some (including me) as the best game ever created. Every title's been a stellar hit, but when the games kick ass, you can easily be talked out of it.


3. Pokemon


Series highlights:

  • Pokemon Red/Blue (Game Boy - 1998)
  • \n
  • Pokemon Yellow (GB Color - 2000)
  • \n
  • Pokemon Crystal (GB Color - 2001)
  • \n

You can't deny Nintendo's most infamous small mascots. It's hard to keep track of them all -- especially since they branched out and don't try to play cross-country games. The original concept of having 150 total monsters and needing to play two games and trade with others playing a different cartridge was ideal -- even though you left with no points.


There's only one franchise -- Pokemon -- that's sold over 260 million total titles in the franchise.


4. Mario Kart


Series highlights:

  • Mario Kart 64 (N64 - 1997)
  • \n
  • Mario Kart Wii (Wii - 2008)
  • \n
  • Mario Kart 7 (3DS - 2011)
  • \n

What was played before Super Smash Bros. ruled the college dorms? Nintendo 64's rendition of the Mario Kart franchise. MK64 is widely hailed as the franchise's high point, and the sequels have since kept up with its formula with the music, sounds, and familiar tracks.


The Mario Kart franchise is the second-best selling product under the Mario umbrella with over 100 million copies, topping Madden, Assassins' Creed, and even the realistic racer, Gran Turismo.


5. Donkey Kong Country


Series highlights:

  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (Super Nintendo - 1995)
  • \n
  • Donkey Kong 64 (N64 - 1999)
  • \n
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii - 2010)
  • \n

The Super Nintendo trilogy was one of the most beautiful looking games in the 16-bit era, and while some didn't love the transition to a 3D platformer, the series ultimately fell to a sudden halt after Rare bolted to Microsoft.


It made a triumphant return nearly 10 years later on the Wii with one of the hardest remakes in the franchise. DKC Returns will give absolutely anybody fits, even the masters of the original platformer during the SNES era. Even though DK64 has its place in history, it's hard to say this franchise doesn't thrive on its 2D brilliance.


6. Mario Party


Series highlights:

  • Mario Party 3 (N64 - 2001)
  • \n
  • Mario Party 5 (Gamecube - 2003)
  • \n
  • Mario Party 8 (Wii - 2007)
  • \n

Agreed, there's very few Nintendo franchises as uninventive as Mario Party, but I'll be damned if it isn't one of the most fun. Any game will test the patience of any video game player that truly says they don't get pissed if things aren't going their way in a multiplayer contest.


Despite just having numbers after the titles, each game does have their own feel and uniqueness that fans will be asking for their favorite at a party. Ever have some buddies over and trying to figure out what to do with a case of beer? It doesn't get much better than a round of Mario Party.


7. Metroid


Series highlights:

  • Super Metroid (Super Nintendo - 1994)
  • \n
  • Metroid II: Return of Samus (Game Boy - 1991)
  • \n
  • Metroid Prime (Gamecube - 2002)
  • \n

It wasn't the best selling Nintendo franchise, but it featured one of the company's most unique and great games. One of the best platformer titles of all time -- Super Metroid -- is a game that many tried to mimic but couldn't duplicate. Even the jump to a first-person shooter felt comfortable because it didn't feel forced, weird, or much different from the predecessors.


Metroid deserves to sit next to all the other popular Nintendo franchises. It won't be the first that comes off the tongue, but it may have had some of the best games ever created under the company's umbrella.


8. Wii Sports


Series highlights:

  • Wii Sports (Wii - 2006)
  • \n
  • Wii Sports Resort (Wii - 2008)
  • \n
  • Wii Sports Club (Wii U - 2013)
  • \n

Not many people would immediately think about Wii Sports as a franchise, but it's one of Nintendo's most successful games in history. The packaged add-on to the Wii console generated so much conversation that the franchise itself has sold over 109 million copies. Wii Sports was essentially a demo of what the Wii could do in its early stages. Unfortunately, the revolutionary machine couldn't do much past it, and gamers preferred the traditional controller over the Wiimote and Nunchuck combination.


Still, the original five-sport demo was a blast to pop in whenever you were bored, and the sequel was just as fun with the additional games and play modes -- regardless of how simplified they are. Don't tell me there weren't multiple playthroughs of the 3-point challenge in basketball in Wii Sports Resort!


9. Mario Sports


Series highlights:

  • NES Open (NES - 1991)
  • \n
  • Mario Tennis (N64 - 2000)
  • \n
  • Mario Super Sluggers (Wii - 2008)
  • \n

Realistic sports are a blast to play, but sometimes it's fun to add a little bit of craziness to it. Midway had the infamous NBA Jam and NFL Blitz titles, but Nintendo added their own spin with their most popular mascot and his friends. From the NES to the Wii U, Nintendo has always had a wide variety of sports titles featuring the plumber.


Just trying to narrow it down to three titles is next to impossible. Outside of a solid football title, a popular North American sport, if there's any sport that you want to enjoy on a Nintendo console, a game with the mustached mascot will generally exceed expectations.


10. Super Smash Bros.


Series highlights:

  • Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 64 - 1999)
  • \n
  • Super Smash Bros. Melee (Gamecube - 2001)
  • \n
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii - 2008)
  • \n

Who knew that putting Nintendo mascots in one big four player brawlfest would have become so popular? The series kicked off with the insanely fun N64 debut, but the series hit its high point with SSB: Melee, a game that ruled dorms and parties throughout the turn of the millennium and partly why the Gamecube was as successful as it got. For a series that just has three titles, selling over 22 million copies is a true testament to how fun the game is.


There's nothing quite like Nintendo franchises in the video game industry. It's why the Japanese giant continues to publish on their own systems -- there's a huge variety of games that simply can't be found on other consoles or the PC.


The reason for why the rankings are as they are is a combination of popularity, sales, and the historic value of the series. Each of these franchises own a piece of history that will be stored in Nintendo's vault and be treasured for the rest of time. Generations will pass, and with each new one that comes, they'll get to admire where not only it all began, but the legendary chapters since.


Enjoy a ranking of the best 10 Nintendo franchises of all time, and debate which you think should be higher or lower on the chart, or if you believe a franchise has been left out.

The Evolution of Video Game Soundtracks in the '90s Thu, 24 Jul 2014 09:26:24 -0400 Josh Squires

The gaming community has a fractured collective memory when it comes to the history of games in general, but specifically when it comes to video game music. As a gamer who started playing around 90-91, I remember video game soundtracks evolving from the beep-beep-boop background sounds of carefully orchestrated 8-bit songs to the much more listenable 16 and 24 bit soundtracks and beyond.

For those who don't remember, there was a time when Video Game Music (VGM) was its own entity--an established and separate music genre which gave rise to the old-school gaming music legends we know and love (think Uematsu or Kondo). It had its own subculture anchored in gaming. To a degree it still exists, but this was a major development at the time. No one had taken video game music composition too seriously. This was particularly true for North American releases (Japanese releases had high quality scores as early as 1989) From 1990 to 1999 that changed--dramatically.

The Evolution of Video Game Soundtracks

Though superstars like Uematsu already had cutting edge soundtracks to their name prior to 1990, it would still take considerable time before mainstream gamers would take notice. Moreover, music for most video games at the time were very simple and rather generic (and perhaps also a bit grating).  With the exception of stand out games (largely RPGs, often JRPGs), the industry didn't get the whole soundtrack thing sorted out until the mid '90s. That's largely thanks to Nintendo.

Nintendo decided against moving from 16-bit to 32-bit, even though most of their competition was rushing to compete in the 32-bit space. Nintendo instead allocated resources to improve the quality of 16-bit games which meant investing more time in producing higher-quality graphics (like cutting edge 16-bit titles like Donkey Kong Country) as well as more listener-friendly and engaging music.

That was just the start. What game soundtracks like Donkey Kong Country, Castlevania: Bloodlines, and Super Metroid brought to the table were something other than frenetic sounds designed to evoke a sense of motion or urgency. They added atmosphere--a very distinct sense of place, emotion, and character. This was especially true in Super Metroid, the soundtrack for which evoked the feelings one might experience investigating a dangerous planet. There are haunting ambient tracks as well as energetic and sinister tracks. Unfortunately, the soundtrack really missed the mark with boss battle themes. These were often synth-bass heavy with no small amount of airy, shrieky synth sounds layered on top--a sign that video game soundtracks still had plenty of room for improvement.

There were slight improvements, but overall most games--particularly action games, were abused by what could only be described as a Japanese Prog-rock acid trip. I like Dragonforce and I maybe like a Dream Theater song or two... but this style of video game music was downright abusive. Have your doubts? 

What if every game you played for the next two years sounded like that? Welcome to the mid-'90s in video game soundtracks.

Of course there were stand outs. In 1996 Wild Arms was released and we all (well, at least those of us playing RPGs at the time) felt a collective sense of relief. When people talk about great game soundtracks, we all tend to gravitate to classics like Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, and the like. Wild Arms stood out for taking that same great compositional skill and then applying it to a theme. A mid-western/ spaghetti western theme, to be exact. And here's the thing--it was good. Like, REALLY good.

Of course, Wild Arms retained a lot of the traditional JRPG musical tropes: Prog rock tracks, world music influences, and a propensity to get a little cheesy. The track "Bringing it Back to the Soil" is clearly meant to evoke some sense of a tribal (perhaps Native American) atmosphere, but really it's just a bit frenetic and oddly reminiscent of FF VIII's "Liberi Fatali"--you know, if it were performed as a tribal music piece.

Fortunately, 1997 was another banner year for the progression of video game music. This was the year some real legends were born. It was the first time I could ever recall other gaming friends seeking out soundtracks for games. In case you don't already know, 1997 was the year Final Fantasy VII and The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time were released.

One game took video game soundtracks in a different direction in 1997. Goldeneye: 007. The soundtrack to the game was based on the score from the James Bond film of the same name. The game included transitional changes in music. For example, you might start a level in an elevator and the music would be elevator music, but the music would change when you left the elevator. It seems like a small detail--and it was, but it also added a level of polish to the video game that made it more immersive.

It took a year, but eventually everyone had caught on to the fact that quality video game soundtracks mattered. 1998 saw games that had fantastic scores (Kartia, Metal Gear Solid, and Xenogears). Amid this flood of improved soundtracks, one stood out as entirely unique.

It is 1998 and we've reverted to the original, 8-bit Gameboy platform. This was one of the most unique 8-bit scores ever created for a game. The tracks more than adequately conveyed the sense of boyish (or girlish) wonder and determination that setting out as a young pokemon trainer might evoke and it was accomplished with a more finite palate of sounds than non-handheld consoles.

1999 saw video game soundtracks reach a temporary plateu. The top scores belonged largely to JRPGs who seemed as though they'd gotten into the groove of making beautiful and memorable video game scores. This was the year that Star Ocean 2, Legend of Legaia, and Thousand Arms came out. It was the end of a decade of major progress in video game soundtracks and the middle of this year we would see the final (for now, at least) change in video game soundtracks.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was one of the first games I or anyone I knew had ever played that featured music from bands on the radio. It featured a lot of underground bands that weren't on the radio. Names like Bad Religion, the Vandals, and The Ernies were the CDs I was buying at Tower Records or Sam Goody, but to have them in my video games in a context that made sense was nothing short of a gaming miracle.

The Modern Era of Video Game Soundtracks

1997 through 1999 set the groundwork for the amazing scores that were to come. It wouldn't be long before games like Halo were producing blockbuster film quality scores (that got better with each iteration of the game). Eventually, high profile composers would even begin contributing to video game soundtracks, delivering us video game soundtracks that rival film scores and eventually even be nominated for Grammy Awards  alongside Hans Zimmer and John Williams. 

What is Speed Gaming? Part One Tue, 06 May 2014 18:27:04 -0400 Pendy_617

I was sitting on my couch playing FFXIV:ARR when my roommate said, "Hey you seen this video?" The video in question was someone playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Pretty normal, except then I saw that the video only lasted 29 minutes. Again, nothing special--I figured it was just highlights or something funny. Turned out the video was a highlight. A highlight of this guy beating the game in about 24 minutes. WHAT?! This game I spent months on as a child and played over and over, this guy was destroying it in 24 minutes; and you know what... it was awesome!

After watching someone just dominate one of my favorite games, I needed more games, more speed! So I did some research on YouTube and found that this was not a small community of a few guys doing glitches and cool tricks. This is a worldwide separate culture of gamers that just loved gaming and loved speed.

So What Is Speed Gaming Exactly?

Despite what most people might think right away, Speed Gaming is much more than just beating the game as fast as you can. For example, this is a bingo card for Zelda:OoT. This is just one of nine racing categories on But it's not just games like Zelda. Games such as Super Mario:64, Super Metroid, and Pokémon Red also have bingo cards. All the games have certain categories and objectives that you must meet and then beat the game. There are limits on what glitches you can and can't use. So the objective is always speed, but there are many rules and other things to consider when trying to speedrun. 

Glitches, Tricks, and Just Really Good Playing

Speedrunning is more than just being an amazing player at whatever game it is, and make no mistake, no matter how many tricks and glitches there are, they don't take the place of practice and good play. The reason for the photos above is to talk about a crazy glitch in Zelda:OoT. If you use the bottle and ocarina and do some frame perfect jumps, you will be teleported to a specific spot in the game rather than being taken to the cut scene at the end of beating a dungeon. 

That is obviously the most basic explanation possible, but I don't want to explain the programming behind these glitches in this part of the series, rather I want to expose more people to this community of gamers. Next time we will look at Twitch, Speed Doms Archive, and how these organizations are raising literally millions of dollars for charity. Click here for Part Two.

100 Best Boss Fights: 80 - 71 Thu, 13 Mar 2014 12:45:39 -0400 Death Metal Hero


Part 1: 100 - 91


Part 2: 90 - 81


Part 4: 70 - 61


Part 5: 60 - 51




If there is a boss fight you would like to see on the list, please let me know.

71.) Dark Souls - Ornstein and Smough

While fighting a single boss in Dark Souls can be extremely challenging, fighting two just might be your worst nightmare. Both Ornstein and Smough have different attack patterns as well as different attacks. This is by far one of the hardest fights in Dark Souls. Might want to practice your tuck-and-roll technique.

72.) Turok - The Mecha T-Rex

What is more scary than a T-Rex? How about a T-Rex that shoots lasers and breathes fire? The original Turok was very hard, but reaching the Mecha T-Rex was a challenge by itself. Hopefully you have plenty of ammo and health, because this dinosaur will chew you up and spit you out.

73.) Streets of Rage - Mr. X

A pretty straight forward fight. Beat the crap out of Mr. X. Well, Mr. X has a boatload of health and sends endless waves of enemies at you. Make sure you don't get in his line of fire. His assault rifle deals a massive amount of damage. Definitely make use of the metal pipe in front of the chair, it can be a life saver.

74.) Double Dragon Neon - Giga Skullmaggedon

Double Dragon Neon is an awesome reboot to the Double Dragon franchise. The boss fights are hard and playing with a friend is always a good time. After defeating Skullmaggedon for the second time, he teleports into outer space. Billy and Jimmy soon chase after him, but are turned into super powered robots. Not only is Giga Skullmaggedon extremely fast, he also hits like a truck. Watch out for his skeleport attack; that can kill you instantly.

75.) Punchout - Mr. Sandman

Punchout is a hard game that has a massive learning curve. Memorizing each competitors fight patterns is a challenge and a half. But Nintendo saved the best and hardest for last. Mr. Sandman will knock your block off and then some before you can put a dent in his health. All that training has got to pay off, right?

76.) TMNT IV: Turtles In Time - Super Shredder

TMNT IV is by far one of the best TMNT games ever made. Fighting super Shredder is icing on the cake. Not only is getting to him hard enough, but the actual fight is a nightmare. Getting close to him will only result in you getting hurt by his fire aura when he attacks. He only has three attacks: fire, ice, and some green stuff. After you begin to chip away at his insane amount of health, he starts moving and attacking even faster.


77.) Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock - The Beast

I think the latest installment of the Guitar Hero franchise was the strongest and the coolest. Rush's 2112, and Dragonforce? Pretty awesome indeed. But I think the best part of the entire game was fighting The Beast. Megadeth made a song JUST for this fight--how awesome is that!? Not to mention that there are three Megadeth songs total: two to warm up and the third aptly named Sudden Death. The song is at a finger blistering speed, too. Better shake the rust off, here comes a tendon shredder!

78.) Chrono Trigger - Lavos

Lavos was an amazing fight that spanned through time and space. Thinking that the Lavos Shell was Lavos itself until you were prompted to enter the shell--that is when things got serious. A two phase fight that etched itself into the grey matter of my mind. Make sure you have plenty of potions and revives.

79.) Resident Evil 2 - William Birkin

Dr. Birkin definitely has a lot of stamina, seeing as you fight him half a dozen times. Each time he transforms into something more hideous and disgusting, the last two transformations being the most disturbing: a dog-like creature, and a wall of flesh. Let's hope your survival skills are in good shape--because you are going to need all the supplies you can get to defeat this monster.

80.) Super Metroid - Mother Brain

Super Metroid was a terrifying game for me as a child. From Crocomire, to Ridley, Super Metroid was full of epic boss fights. But fighting Mother Brain was the best fight. What started off as an homage to the original Metroid fight turned out to be one of the most intense battles I have ever experienced.


After destroying Mother Brain (or so you thought) she rises up as a monstrous beast of steel and flesh. Mother Brain then promptly decides to kick in Samus's face, until the last metroid shows up and saves Samus, sacrificing itself to get our hero god-like power to finally defeat Mother Brain. Don't forget about the three minute timer after the fight. I hope you have your Nike's on, because you're going to be running for your life.


There have been some really cool, and most epic boss fights in the history of video games. But with there being so many, how do we know which ones are the best? It's all a matter of opinion, with that said this is my list for the 100 best boss fights of all time. 




What makes a boss fight the best? Well a number of things; The fight has to be memorable, it can also be epic, or outright insane. A boss fight can be unforgiving in difficultly, or it can be as simple as pressing the A button. Whatever the boss fight is, all that matters is that I enjoyed it in one way or another.