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FGC #404 The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Let’s talk about limits, phobias, and easy mode.

Limits are important. The old yarn about videogames is that, thanks to the virtual unreality of the digital world, you can do anything in a videogame. And anyone that has actually played a videogame knows that that is bull hockey. Super Mario Bros. is an amazing game, but can you do anything in the Mushroom Kingdom? Heck no. Mario might be able to jump higher than any basketball star, but he still has a limit, and cannot, say, jump straight to the goal flag right from his first bound. Mario is very limited in his movements, but, if you notice the world around him, you will see that his entire universe was designed exclusively for these limits. There is no jump that Mario needs to make that he cannot clear. There is no villain that he must destroy that does not have a weakness. And, since Mario is limited to only running and jumping (and not, say, negotiating with wandering turtle hordes), there is no problem that cannot be solved with that moveset. Mario is limited. Videogames are limited; but that is why they are “games”. A game with no limits and no rules is just a playset, and, given the dismal sales of Endless Ocean, games are exactly what gamers want.

But the best videogame limits are the ones that are completely invisible. Mario isn’t limited by his jumps, he’s super! You can do anything in Grand Theft Auto… except maybe go inside a building. The latest WRPG has incredible freedom and insane realism, though maybe your hero can’t hop over a waist-high fence. But all of these limits are there for a reason, because without them, there would be no game at all (or, in some of the “open world” cases, because otherwise the title require three decades to actually be released). Limits are what make videogames fun, and if they weren’t there, it would be bedlam every time C.J. jumped all the way to a moon nobody ever got around to modeling.

Unfortunately, not all limits can be invisible.

CreepyLink is one of your more limited heroes in your typical Legend of Zelda title (though maybe not in at least one recent entry). He can’t jump (except when absolutely necessary). His traditional offensive options are generally sparse (the sword is a mainstay, but have you ever really tried to take out a Helmasaur with bombs or hammers? They both suck). And, even when Hyrule has been expanded to Switchian levels of size, it’s still a fairly narrow chunk of geography. Mario often vacations in the far off corners of the galaxy, but the best Link can hope for is a quick jaunt to a flying whale’s dreamscape. Or, like in this entry, a visit to Hyrule’s next kingdom over, Termina, where a crash landing moon is going to abolish all life in the immediate area. And all Link can do, as ever, is run around like a cucco and hope that talking to everybody saves the day. Oh, and there’s a time limit now, too. It’s there, and you’re reminded of it every few moments. Actually, that time limit is integral to the entire experience, so you’re more likely to be reminded of it every second.

And, like so many limits in videogames, this is technically a good thing. For possibly the first time in a Zelda title, there is some genuine suspense. The end of the world is coming, and if you don’t do anything, you’re going to be toast in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1. That moon is always there, looming, stalking your every move. You have to complete this dungeon in a timely manner, or everyone is going to die. If you don’t rescue that monkey, if you don’t find the right route through the canyon, if you don’t listen to goddamn Tingle, that moon is going to come crashing down, and it’s over, “Hero of Time”. Or maybe you choose to believe that there is no danger. Maybe you aren’t saving the world from a horror-moon, and you’re working hard because you want to see how much you can complete in a “cycle”. After all, the real world isn’t in jeopardy, and a dead Link doesn’t really mean anything. It’s all about getting what you can get done in your time limit, and, if you have to reset the three day cycle all over again, that’s just the price of “wasting” time. You lose some progress, and that sucks, but it happens.

And that’s the scariest idea of all.

Going for a dipI genuinely believe videogames are art. I also genuinely believe videogames are wastes of time. But in the most literal sense! Videogames are amazing and fun, but the chief way a videogame will punish a player is through wasting time. What is the number one result of “losing a life” in practically any game? It’s a loss of time through having to repeat a section. In other cases, you may instantly respawn, but you also work up to a “continue”, and the threat is that you are one step closer to losing progress. Dying, but with extra steps. Some RPGs have adopted the method of letting you keep your story progress, but you lose gold, equipment, or experience… so you’ve just lost a different kind of progress. And what’s worse? Losing a life and having to respawn somewhere “further back”, or a game where your “life” is captured, and you have to search all over the place to rediscover your lost comrade? That might be up to personal preference, as the end result is the same in both cases: lost time. You could have beaten the final boss by now if you didn’t waste so much time on all those deaths, right? Heard it all before…

So, suffice it to say, by Majora’s Mask’s release in 2000, after a solid decade of gaming like a maniac, the idea of “death = lost time” was already drilled straight into my noggin. Losing time was the enemy, and a game where the hook was that time was constantly against you, and not knowing what you were doing at all times could lead to more lost time… The concept scared me. Hell, I was downright frightened by the idea that I could fill my wallet with rupees, gain every last magical item, and then lose it all because I dawdled too long in a swamp shooting gallery. It didn’t help that this was also the second 3-D Zelda, and the concept of proper camera control was still in its infancy. I’m supposed to find five random kids around town? In only three days? How am I supposed to pull that off when I can barely see around corners? I was never good at finding random skulltulas, so I was already pretty screwed if this game expected me to find hidden children and masks within a time limit. I knew my skills, I knew my limits, and I knew that there was no way I could have ever saved Termina back in 2000. I had so little time as it was, I wasn’t going to waste it on a game that was built around wasting even more time.

So thank Miyamoto for The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D.

Poor LinkIn a lot of ways, Majora’s Mask 3D is an entirely different game. The all-important bosses have been dramatically altered, swimming is an entirely different ball of beavers, and, most importantly, a “save anywhere” feature has been added. This is a game changer, literally, as it means that the game’s saves are no longer tied to losing all progress within a cycle. One of those “frightening” features from the original release has just flown straight out the window. Even better, the presence of constant saving means that some of the more… fiendish minigames can now be savescummed. Not saying I’m a cheater (okay, I absolutely am), but knowing that I won’t lose all my progress to a damn deku scrub minigame goes a long way to putting my mind at ease. And those dungeons lose their bite when a puzzle can be solved over the course of a half hour, and then “reset” so the game only thinks Link only spent thirty seconds on that block pushing. Avoiding lost progress is easy!

And that’s just it: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D is Majora’s Mask Easy Mode.

And… I think that’s the only way I want to play the game.

Beat itI never completed Majora’s Mask on the N64. In fact, I only really got into playing it at all on the Gamecube Zelda compilation, and, even then, I barely cleared the first palace. It was just too stressful, and that looming threat of losing progress, that unflinching limit, scared me off. I could contentedly sail the seas with Pirate Link, or I could suffer under the gaze of an ever-judging moon. That was no choice at all! But the 3DS version was different, because I could go at my own pace, and I didn’t have to live in fear of an oppressive limit on my play time. I suppose the limit was always there, as that moon certainly hadn’t gone away, but it was so much less oppressive. And “less oppressive” always translates to “more fun”. It may have been easy mode, but without that easy mode, I never would have experienced this entertaining, quirky Zelda title.

So what’s the moral of this experience? It’s not that limits are inherently bad, and it’s certainly not that you should live in fear of arbitrary challenges. No, I suppose our moral today is that sometimes the best way to enjoy a game is suck it up, admit you’re a weenie, and go ahead and play it on easy mode. Don’t limit your experiences by arbitrary skill echelons, and just have fun the way you want to have fun.

You’re allowed to be afraid, but don’t be afraid of easy mode.

FGC #404 The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

  • System: N64 (but only with an expansion pack), and then again on every Nintendo console since. Well, not Switch, but give it a hot minute, I’m sure it will get there. The latest version (with vast improvements) is available on the 3DS.
  • Number of players: This ain’t Mask of Four Swords, buddy.
  • Other Majora Issues: I also may have avoided playing Majora’s Mask initially because it is creepy as all get out. It’s not even that Resident Evil kind of deliberate creepy. It’s more like everything is just… wrong, and Link is trying to save a world that shouldn’t even be in the first place. And I’m still fairly convinced that this all happened because that’s a natural reaction to looking at Ocarina of Time character models.
  • These guysFavorite Character: Everybody wants to talk about Anju and That Kid, but the greatest, saddest love story in Majora’s Mask is the tale of Mikau and Lulu, the Zora lovers. No matter how much Link can control time, Mikau is always going to wind up seagull bait, and Lulu is always going to be stuck talking to a young boy that is wearing her lover’s death mask as a magical prop. Man, this is a weird game.
  • Favorite Mask: There are so many options! Fierce Deity and Lovers are great choices because they’re so insanely difficult to obtain, but that would ignore all the great dumb ones, like blow-yourself-up-all-the-time mask. And the bunny hood was so good, it infiltrated other games! But my pick goes to the Stone Mask, because the idea that it makes Link so plain, he is virtually invisible is fun and biting social satire. It’s perfect!
  • Did you know? This was the first place we had a Tingle breakout. It was mostly contained to balloons and map making, and the little bastard wasn’t too much of a drain on resources, but it seems the infection was destined to grow in later years. As of this writing, he has been mostly relegated to spin-offs, but vigilance is always necessary.
  • Would I play again: The 3DS version? Yes, absolutely. The original N64 title? No, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… to air the Duck Dynasty for Xbox 360 stream from last Friday night! If you missed it live, it’s new to you! Please look forward to it!

What is even happening!?

Wild Arms 2 Part 16: Sea, Save Files, and Sielje

Previously on Wild Arms 2: Odessa had its own private plane, but now it doesn’t. Why? Because ARMS kicks ass, that’s why.

We received a hovercraft for our troubles, and now it’s our job to clean up the mess.

But before we do that, we, for the first time in three updates, have free reign of the planet again. We can go anywhere! Do anything! Refill our arms! Visit Ashley’s girlfriend!

This ain’t Chrono Trigger, you don’t get a rare armor for remembering to visit Lucca’s dad. Lame.

Okay, after hitting the item shop (and dropping Tim off at the Personal Skills shop), it’s time to head back out into the world.

And check out our rad new hovercraft! Let’s go surfin’ now!

FGC #365 Bravely Second: End Layer

SEND PLAYERHi, my name is Goggle Bob, and I enjoy cheating.

Like many addicts, I started young. Classified Information was my favorite section of Nintendo Power, and I owned a Game Genie before I owned nearly every other NES game. And why? Because Nintendo games were hard, dammit. There was no way I was ever going to beat Gradius, but I might have a chance once I learned the Konami code. Simon’s Quest was too difficult for my young mind to understand (or for anyone with an aversion to graveyard ducks), and Final Fantasy I wouldn’t even attempt without a healthy guide. And it may have been considered cheating, but how the heck was anyone supposed to know what ARUB did before burning a valuable spell slot for testing? Do you understand? I had to cheat, or else these games would have remained unbeaten! I did it for you!

Of course, my cheating ways have continued through to this day. Full disclosure? I used save-hacking in both Lightning Returns and NieR Automata when I hit brick walls in my playthroughs. For Lightning, I just could not mentally deal with wasting time in a “the clock is ticking” adventure, so I nabbed some end game gear early to deal with a boss or two. In NieR’s case, I figured I already played through the game “for real” on my Route A, so every other ending could just deal with the fact that 2-B is now Level 99. Do I regret that I “cheated” on these games? Mostly no. I might lament the lack of having an “untainted” initial experience, but, as I’ve said many times before, videogames are now made of so many moving parts that I hardly consider “grinding to beat this boss” a viable missing piece. NieR is amazing, the gameplay is fun regardless of your strength, and I’m not crying if a boss fight only takes five minutes instead of ten. Cheating makes games better!

FRENCH WORDSBut the downside to cheating is that you are… cheating. There’s a stigma with any kind of dishonesty, and, while the Ten Commandments might not have made distinct references to thou shalt not dishonor Yoko Taro, the implication is clearly there. Is there a difference between drawing for an hour in Final Fantasy 8, trouncing the world in Triple Triad, or just plain downloading a “new game plus” save file that is already loaded to bear with all the Firaga charges you’d ever need? Two techniques are an exploit available within the game itself, and one is “cheating”; but what’s the difference if the end result winds up the same? And, for that matter, why the hell do I have to grind in yet another Dynasty Warriors-esque adventure just because I want to unlock that final character? I want maxed out stats right now, dammit.

And this all traces back to the inevitable push and pull between developers and players. There is still an emphasis on hours spent (wasted) in a game, so that all important “forty hours of gameplay” bullet point has to come from somewhere. Who cares if thirty of those hours are spent on meaningless fetch quests because your hero won’t level up without ‘em? Not the developer, because “respect the player’s time” isn’t exactly a high priority since… ever. Stage select codes were once a standard in videogames, but they were still codes. Secrets. Programmers didn’t want to play through the same stupid introductory levels to test Level 13 every day, but they never had any problem with a player banging their head against that particular wall over and over again thanks to a game over. And, to be clear, I’m not saying that videogame designers are unfeeling sadists, simply that there is, and has always been, a desire for videogames to be long (and possibly longer than they have to be). Cheating “spoils” the intention of the original creator, but it also might save you about a billion hours in the Turbo Tunnel. It’s a victimless crime? I don’t think Soraya Saga is going to come in and wreck up the place because I turned KOS-MOS into a Level 99 monster in her first dungeon, but am I doing other players a disservice by ignoring the carefully calibrated battles of Xenosaga in my exhaustingly long Let’s Play? I did feel the need to “explain myself” then (and now)…

So, naturally, it is a rare title that encourages the player to cheat.

KUMA SHOCKBravely Second: End Layer is the sequel to Bravely Default, a JRPG that already encouraged quite a bit of kinda-cheating. We American audiences only received the “upgraded” version of Bravely Default (technically subtitled “For the Sequel”), which included a number of quality of life improvements, such as a fast forward button and the ability to disable all random battles (or double said battles, assuming you’re in a grindy mood). This seemed only fair, as BD arguably cheated quite a bit itself, as it reused its maps and bosses something like five times over the course of one adventure. Personally, I like that kind of thing, but I also like Robot Master rematches and Doc Robot, so, ya know, maybe I just like repetition. Yes, I probably just like repetition. Repetition is a part of us all. Regardless, Bravely Default built in to its main game a number of features that could be mistaken for cheats in any other JRPG, and the game was clearly better for it.

Bravely Second didn’t add any more overt cheats (you can’t just turn off boss encounters and enjoy the story or some such thing), but it did expand the roster of available jobs. We’ve got some ridiculousness, like Catmancer and Patissier (that would be a weaponized pastry chef), some variations on an old theme like Bishop and Wizard, and at least one completely useless job (Guardian). And then we’ve got this dork:

BARK

That is the Exorcist job. What does an exorcist do? Well, what’s important is what they undo… which is everything. The Exorcist has CTRL+Z as an ability, and can, for fairly minimal MP costs, “revert” any enemy or ally to a previous turn’s state. The benefit of such is obvious: if a party member is currently dead, but had full HP two turns ago, smack ‘em with an UNDO, and we’re back in business. No need for white magic, no need to worry about if you’re casting a curaga spell when you should be casting arise, no need to even think past this turn: all you need to know is that UNDO is going make everything better. Oh, and if you’re curious, you can also Undo MP usage, BP (character action) usage, and maybe even install a MP regen ability so your exorciser always has enough power to cast whatever Undo spell is necessary. Basically, with Exorcist abilities, you have the capability to always steer a battle in your favor.

And it feels like cheating.

SpooookyExorcist is an ability in Bravely Second like any other. It’s provided by the game without any external apparatus, and is even an ability that is earned naturally as part of the story (as opposed to being one of the many optional jobs). Exorcist didn’t show up by accident, it was a planned, intentional part of the game. UNDO isn’t a random exploit discovered by some nerd on Gamefaqs, it’s the entire point of the job. There is nothing “cheating” about using this ability. It is 100% kosher in all versions of Bravely Second, but it is still ridiculously powerful. Every other healing ability instantly pales in comparison, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that something so right could be anything but so wrong.

And that feels amazing.

Do you know why I like cheating? I like cheating because it makes me feel like a God damn dynamo. Rolling up to Chrono Trigger’s Yakra and stomping him with a Level STAR character? Wonderful. Blasting past a “scripted loss” battle because my protag is incapable of death? Sign me up. And now, here in Bravely Second, I’m granted the ability to take a mulligan on any critical loss or even just an inopportune use of resources? There is nothing I want more. Cheating is empowering, and, hey, I can quit any time I want to. It might not be the developer’s intention, but playing a videogame to enjoy said videogame is 90% of the reason I ever pick up a controller, so bully to developer feelings. If I want to be the strongest Dynasty Warrior right out of the gate, let me, and let me revel in tearing across this blighted world of faceless mooks.

Cheating, or even just something that feels like cheating, is entertaining, and should be an allowed option in more games. So thanks for understanding and enabling my cheating self, Bravely Second.

FGC #365 Bravely Second: End Layer

  • System: Nintendo 3DS. Incidentally, a Bravely Collection for Nintendo Switch wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, hint hint.
  • Number of players: Ringabel is the number one player in Bravely Default, but he is not playable in this game. So zero playahs.
  • That's the ticketFavorite (Non-Gamebreaking) Job: Hawkeye is basically Mage Knight (Spell Fencer) again, but with less sexist/slightly more racist outfits. That’s… kind of a win? Catmancer is second runner up, because it’s a blue mage, but with cat summoning. … Sometimes I think this game exists to appeal only to me.
  • Favorite Asterisk Holder: Cú Chulainn is a centaur, but he’s a centaur by mistake, as he was revived from a damaged totem that accidently fused the warrior with his horse. And he’s cool with that! He died, was reborn, and wound up with a half-horse body, and he’s perfectly okay with such circumstances. Just happy to be alive. We should all be as accepting.
  • Play to the Audience: There is now double the number of beautiful but almost entirely empty towns. Are you happy MMM?
  • Sexual Dimorphism is a Scourge: Ringabel is no longer a member of the party, but he spends most of the story as an inter-dimensional knight that saves the party at key points. Agnès is no longer a member of the party, but spends the majority of the story as a kidnap victim who is randomly possessed by an angry ghost. In the end, Agnès steps down from her position as pope/target, and becomes a farmer’s wife. Ringabel continues his job as omniversal space cop. Unacceptable.
  • Aw, thanksDid you know? Magnolia is a new party member who hails from the moon (yes, that moon). She randomly speaks in French as a sign that English is not her first language, and moon language is apparently French. However, in the Japanese version, it’s English that is the moon language. Hey! The Tick made that joke, first!
  • Would I play again: I would love to see a rerelease of Bravely Second… mostly because playing the whole game from the start again seems like such a waste. It’s not a short game! And I still haven’t finished a bunch of other 3DS JRPGS! But if I get over my own backlog, Bravely Second is definitely on the menu.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Snowboard Kids! … Yeah, I’m sure that’s just a coincidence that a snow-based game will be our Christmas pick. That totally happened. …. Don’t tell Santa I’m cheating. But please look forward to it!

She looks so smug
For no reason, here’s the best character.

FGC #099 Captain Planet and the Planeteers

The power is mine?Captain Planet and the Planeteers: the Animated Series is a television show that taught a generation about the importance of conservation.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers: the NES Game is a video game that taught a generation that conservation is impossible in the face of practicality.

While this may be a personal failing, I do believe that most video games turn their players into ludicrous conservationists as a matter of course. I’d claim it all started with Pac-Man, when carefully limiting your power pellet consumption was the difference between eat or be eaten, but it’s been an integral part of action games from Space Invaders (those poor barriers!) to Halo (I might need this ammo later!). JRPGs are even worse. Consider Final Fantasy 4: a third of your early game party is a seven year old child who just lost her parents. Were this reality, I’d have Tellah tossing every barrier spell in the universe on the poor kid, force the Dark Knight to dash ahead of every hit, and, on the rare occasion I let an attack sneak through and injure the fragile girl, she’d be guzzling (applying?) potions en masse until the boo-boo was all better. In actual gameplay, though? Suck it up, ya baby, I’ll heal you when you’re good and critical, we’ve gotta save our MP for that octopus. Don’t you dare drink that ether, missy. Ethers are for the final dungeon only. One of these days, Rydia, bang, zoom, to the moon!

If you’re anything like me, you’re saving the megalixers and dark matters straight through the final boss (“There aren’t any more monsters left, it’ll be fine!” “No! Precious!”), and consider it a personal failing to ever see an elixir, ether, or other consumable item count reach zero. Sure, I haven’t used a basic potion in battle past the first hour of this game, but I’ll be damned if I don’t have 99 of ‘em at all times. Just in case! My greatest failing is in the midst of my greatest triumph, though. I have practically memorized the NES Mega Man games, but it requires almost superhuman will on my part to so much as open the Mega Menu and pull out a robot master weapon and its “limited” ammo. Granted, like a lot of things, I blame my problem here on the Boobeam Trap, that nefarious Wily boss that requires a full stock of Crash Bombs, and taught me forever to be Zoom?leery of wasting dear energy, lest I be forced to grind Joe Mechs for ages. Whatever the reason, much as I love the Magnet Missile, It’s rotting away for any occasion that isn’t Hard Man, because what will the neighbors think if I (gasp) run out of energy? The horror.

Considering video games seem to teach conservation to the point it encourages hording, you’d think Captain Planet and the Planeteers would be a natural fit for the medium, even back in the day when we were only accumulating mushrooms. For those of you who missed out on the best children’s programming not involving radical cats Ted Turner had to offer, Captain Planet and the Planeteers featured five teenagers without attitude from all over the globe that each received magical rings from the spirit of the Earth, Whoopi Goldberg. The Planeteers fight a variety of Eco-Terrorists that are blitheringly insane, like Hoggish Greedly, The Rat King, and Tim Curry, who all have plans that go something like “dump oil in the oceans, piss off some polar bears, and then I guess I’ll conquer the world with greased up penguins.” The Planeteers are a bunch of failures, though, so summoning the blatant Superman analogue Captain Planet is an inevitability, and, after Cap predictability has a moment of crisis when he whiffs aerosol or something, he rallies and saves the day by turning into a hurricane, rock monster, or beaver. Whichever is most destructive.

While, yes, the show sounds practically indistinguishable from the likes of Power Rangers (complete with an advisor character that should, by all rights, be effectively omnipotent… but never seems to leave the house), the constant ecological message of Captain Planet set it apart from its contemporaries (and got real annoying, real fast). No, viewer, The Gun Showyou can’t summon a superhero to battle your villains, but you can use slightly fewer paper towels every day, so that way Dr. Blight won’t have any reason to mow down a rainforest. And while you might not be able to control o-zone holes, maybe try to turn off the lights when you’re not in the room. Could you at least turn off the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth? All this and more was drilled into the audience harder than Looten Plunder drilling for oil, so by the time a kid had watched a week’s worth of Captain Planet, you better believe reduce, reuse, recycle was happening.

For all its messages, Captain Planet was a pretty good show for superhero hijinks with or without the Captain. While being a soaring, cyan superhero would be pretty nice, most of us would still settle for being able to control Wheeler and the flamethrower that was attached to his index finger. By all accounts, it would be pretty hard to make a Captain Planet and the Planeteers video game “wrong”. I mean, the whole five (let’s say “heart” is “holy”) elements thing was already an established trope in gaming, throw in some run and ring-sling action, and maybe a dash of Superman gameplay for bosses, and you’re all set. Game practically makes itself!

Alas, it was not to be. The basics are there, I suppose. There are five levels, and each is split into two sections. The first is always a vehicle of some kind, which plays, more or less, like a Gradius-style shoot ‘em up, complete with one-hit kills and endless waves of opponents. Sometimes there’s a distinct Zoomgoal, like chasing down a truck that’s attempting to poison our bears (or something), but generally it’s pretty straight, fly-left-to-right gameplay. The second half of every level involves summoning, and then playing as, Captain Planet, who, thankfully, seems to retain all of his superpowers from the show, including the ability to fly, punch, and transform into a fireball. Cap, mercifully, has a lifebar, and the general challenge of these areas is flying around NES-style confusing mazes to find (and punch) the villain du jour. The whole setup might not be my first choice for a Captain Planet video game, but it’s not as ridiculously off the mark as Fester’s Quest.

But there is one place where the game falls ludicrously short. See, practically every action in Captain Planet requires “ammo”. While you’re in the Geo-Cruiser (or whatever vehicle the games tosses in there) you’ve got full mastery of the five elements… but any of the practical elements are severely limited. Wind, for instance, grants you a pretty damn useful shield, but it runs out of steam in about the same time it takes you to exhale. Heart, meanwhile, barely uses up any energy, and it allows you to… occasionally inconvenience penguins. Oh…kay? Fire is practically unlimited, though, which is good, because it’s your primary attack… except in that underwater stage, where, for some strange reason, it’s completely ineffective. Hope you enjoy hurling rocks with all the effectiveness you’d expect from Geordi La Forge!

The worst, though, are the Captain Planet stages. Captain Planet has a lifebar, but that same lifebar is what fuels his powers, so good luck surviving when your every action saps your strength. I’ll admit, given how fragile Captain Planet appears to be during the television series, this whole setup is pretty canon, but it’s still an absolute bear to actually manage. It wouldn’t even be all that bad if Cap’s powers weren’t 100% required in many, many areas. While Fire and Earth elements are pretty much just offensive, Water element shines through these areas, as there are many obstacles, like generic sludge and radioactive orbs, that require Water form to Squishypass. Don’t have enough energy to transform because you’re down to 1 HP, though? Well, too bad, best just to kill yourself or pray that an energy powerup is somewhere within flying distance. Sorry, Planeteer, you didn’t conserve your resources properly, and now Captain Planet has to die.

That, unfortunately, is the moral to the children playing Captain Planet and the Planeteers. It’s not that conservation is important; it’s that conservation is impossible. I’ve never met anyone that completed Captain Planet for the NES… or at least completed the game without abusing a Game Genie for infinite energy or infinite lives. Conservation goes out the window when you’re cheating, and taking that lesson forward to adulthood is approximately the complete opposite of Captain Planet’s goal. Being good to the planet is hard, kids, so why not say screw it, cheat, and live a life that’s a lot more comfortable. It’s the only way you’ll achieve that all important ending, so do what you have to do.

This is Goggle Bob reminding you to save the world. Unless it’s difficult/inconvenient, in which case, you should either quit or cheat until it’s easier. The power is yours!

FGC #99 Captain Planet and the Planeteers

  • System: Nintendo Entertainment System. There are other versions, but I’m pretty sure they’re completely different games, so they’re not getting counted.
  • Number of Players: One. Sorry, five player, all Planeteer action is just a pipedream.
  • Favorite Planeteer: If you’re roughly my age, male, heterosexual, and didn’t have a crush on Linka, Mistress of Wind, I don’t want to talk to you. She was such a jerk to Wheeler! And that accent! What more could you want from a woman?
  • Do you still sing the Captain Planet theme song apropos of absolutely nothing? Yes, but only the part sung by the Planeteers. Good news: you can be one, too.
  • Have a Heart: Alright, I know everybody mocks the Heart power, but Level 4 sees the Planeteers using Heart to deliver elephants to stomp missile platforms into oblivion. Which would be more useful in a Final Fantasy game: Firaga or Summon Elephant? That’s what I thought.
  • Did you know? Speaking of Heart, Ma-Ti, the young, Brazilliant orphan with a monkey, was voiced by Scott Menville, who went on to be Robin, leader of the animated Teen Titans… and then Robin, buttmonkey of Teen Titans Go. Some guys just can’t catch a break.
  • Would I play again: Never. It’s a cute curiosity, but the game really dislikes the player, so I’m not touching this one again for a good, long time.

What’s Next? Well, according to the records here… yes… it appears the next FGC entry will be #100. With that in mind, I’m lifting all restrictions on ROB. Yes, Random ROB isn’t truly random, as, like I mentioned during the Reader’s Choice Challenge, there are some games that I consider off-limits for one reason or another. But, as it’s the occasion of the hundredth entry, ROB can pick any damn game he wants. What will it be? Well, come back for our next entry, and I’ll show you. Please look forward to it!

Poor Planet