Tag Archives: star fox

FGC #423 Super Smash Bros.

Please join special guest artist Pooch and myself in examining the deadly sins of the Smash Bros.

Lust, Sin of Donkey Kong

This is where it all started for the Nintendo empire: an ape that really, really wants to sling a random woman over his shoulder and carry her Arceus-knows-where. But there is little question what Donkey Kong is going to do when he gets there! He’s a big, naked ape, and she’s a beauty worthy of a Jump Man’s gaze… we already know what happens if you fail to climb that construction site. Donkey Kong Juniors don’t just pop out of eggs! Sure, one could claim this is all borrowed imagery from King Kong, but King Kong didn’t just stand next to Fay Wray beating his chest and smiling all day.

Of course, this interpretation is primarily based on DK’s maiden voyage, and not his later games. You know, the titles where he tries to save his bananas from being devoured by toothy crocodiles. Come to think of it, Freud might have a thing or two to say about that. And that’s even before you get to the part about him banging his bongos

Gluttony, Sin of Yoshi

Yoshi must consume.

He? She? It. It is an eating machine from the absolute moment it is hatched. Give or take a flutter jump, it seems the only way a Yoshi burns excess calories is by producing hollow, projectile eggs. Everything else is ingested, and the difference between delicious fruit and a screaming koopa troopa means nothing to this unrelenting lizard. All is sustenance to Yoshi, all must be consumed, and that never stops from cradle to an inevitably oversized grave. There’s a reason a certain plumber recently seems to leave his “noble” steed at a stage’s goal post; if a Yoshi were to traverse the entire Mushroom Kingdom, the nation would become nothing more than a reptile’s pizza topping.

Envy, Sin of Kirby

Yoshi is an animal. Kirby is unappeasable desire.

Kirby started as yet another 2-D platforming hero at a time when such a mascot character was produced roughly every seventeen seconds. However, Kirby was very different from his brethren, as he had amazing skills right from the moment he awakened. Projectiles? Just a matter of sucking in literally anything that is readily available, including plain air. Extra health? Pep bottles and Maxim Tomatoes grow on trees. Even flight, the most coveted of all platformer powerups? Well, ya don’t need any raccoon tails for this cream puff.

But it wasn’t enough for Kirby. Kirby needed more.

As of Kirby’s Adventure, Kirby gained the ability to copy the skills and powers of his opponents. Later adventures granted Kirby the talent to use multiple skills at once, combine them, or even convert his stolen skills into living assistants. Whom… he could devour again later. Why would he do that? Because Kirby can only have so many abilities at one time, and what is this ability compared to that ability right over there. Who cares if that power is attached to an ally?

And “must have it all” is such an integral part of Kirby that it followed him to Smash Bros. It has shadowed him straight through the series, and, as of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Kirby is capable of gaining nearly 75 different abilities from every last fighter.

But, of all those abilities, Kirby can only use one at a time…

And Luigi is standing right over there…

Is he even using that fireball? I bet Kirby could use it better…

Greed, Sin of Link

Link is often portrayed as a simple boy who claims the sword of a hero, heroically challenges a malevolent despot, and eventually saves an entire kingdom from an awful, certainly pork-scented fate. Link has gone by many names, but often earns a title such as “Hero of Time” or “Hero of the Wilds”.

He also earns literally more rupees than he can carry.

And enough food to feed the kingdom.

And treasure from literally every tomb, crypt, well, dungeon, and castle for miles.

And, in the end, the entire royal family owes him a debt.

And then he reclaims a magical wishing triangle that will gratefully grant him anything he wants.

And to think, he was already looking greedy when he decided he needed two hookshots

Sloth, Sin of Pikachu

Now we shall consult the Pokedex, Book of Oak, Chapter 25:

25:1 When several of these Pokémon gather, their electricity could build and cause lightning storms. … 25:8 This intelligent Pokémon roasts hard Berries with electricity to make them tender enough to eat. .. 25:11 It stores electricity in the electric sacs on its cheeks. When it releases pent-up energy in a burst, the electric power is equal to a lightning bolt.

So, to summarize, Pikachu is smart, generates electricity, can summon lightning storms, and can readily expel the power of a lightning bolt. Assuming a lightning bolt’s one billion joules of energy can be properly converted and utilized, that’s enough juice to power a lightbulb for six months. Assuming Pikachu only has a charge that powerful once day (and can’t be infinitely restored in seconds at a local Pokémon Center), a single one of those shock rats could power a city with approximately one minute’s worth of effort a day.

But what does Pikachu do?

Well, let’s just say that the coming energy shortage and associated apocalypse isn’t bothering the yellow mouse one iota. Pikachu has a party hat, and he’s going to use it, dammit.

Pride, Sin of Fox McCloud

James McCloud lost his life to the betrayal of Pigma Dengar, and failed to stop Andross, a mad scientist that sought to conquer the entire Lylat System. Fox McCloud thus inherited a gigantic starship, and the massive debt incurred by the production of such a craft. Fox, strapped for cash and perhaps anxious for a little vengeance, decided to fight back against Andross’s forces, and gathered the Star Fox team to save the galaxy.

And he did!

By himself!

Yes, Fox McCloud may have flown with Peppy, Falco, and Slippy, but who was the one that saved their Arwing’s asses every time they got into a scrape? Fox even piloted an experimental submarine just to show some random marine biology who’s boss. And did the whole team battle the giant floating brain of Andross? Nope. Just Fox. So is it any wonder that when Dinosaur Planet was threatened eight years later, Fox was alone in a rotting ship with a rusted out robot? Of course not. Why would Fox ever ask for help? He saved the damn universe! All by himself!

Team Star Fox has reassembled on occasion, but history has proven it will always be undone by the pride of Fox McCloud. Yes, he’s an ace pilot, but what is the cost of being “the best”? Fox could never maintain a permanent relationship with his closest friends. Fox could never maintain a real relationship with the princess that once left her planet for him. If ROB wasn’t bolted to the Great Fox, Fox would be completely alone in the very universe he saved.

No friends, no items, just Fox, alone, at his final destination.

Wrath, Sin of Samus Aran

Samus Aran is murder incarnate. She has committed genocide at least once, and, in the event said genocide doesn’t take, she gets the call to commit some good ol’ fashioned clone genocide. She has also eliminated fellow bounty hunters that were infected by phazon, and took no time waiting to see if a vaccine for such a condition was even possible. Oh, and there’s the little matter of how she was duplicated by her prey twice, and both times the “evil twin” was exactly as destructive as OG Samus. The “Dark” Samuses were just pointed in an inconvenient direction…

And then there’s the matter of Ridley. Ridley is a space pirate that has committed his share of sins, up to and including killing (and maybe devouring) Samus’s parents. Obviously, he should be punished for such an act. In retribution, should he be killed? That’s a question for the philosophers. But should he be killed over and over, at least four times, by the same person? That seems a bit excessive. And then cloned, reborn as an infant, and forced to desperately survive on the same space station as the hunter that killed him in the first place? That’s not a punishment, that’s a horror movie. And Samus is the pure, unstoppable vision of wrath they put on the poster.

Mario… who… uh…

Um… Mario is pretty alright. Hrm. Guess not everybody is a bad smash brother…

FGC #423 Super Smash Bros.

  • Here come the brosSystem: We’re technically just profiling the original N64 release here… so that one. It was the N64! This might be the most important Nintendo franchise to come out of that system. Or the only franchise to start on that system…
  • Number of players: Super Smash Bros. completely justifies all four N64 controller ports. Mario Kart and Goldeneye are pretenders to the throne.
  • Special Thanks/Credit: Once again, the venerable Pooch is responsible for the art of this article. All of it! Except the screenshots! Duh! Hit Pooch up for some commissioned art when you have a chance. Mention this article and get a resounding, “What? Really?”
  • Speaking of Art: Check out that box art.

    Poor lighting

    Link looks so confused!

  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: It is rather amazing how much of “Smash Bros.” was right here at the beginning. They might not be distinct modes, but the start of things like Smash Run or Endless Smash is obvious in the single player campaign, and every bit of the presentation seems like a prototype for the eventual celebration of gaming that Smash Bros. would become. Even the intro seems overtly cinematic… for an N64 game, at least.
  • Favorite Character: It’s Samus Aran. It’s always Samus Aran.
  • Follow your Dreams: According to an interview from 2008 (Brawl time) Sakurai initially just wanted to make a new, four-player fighting game with original characters (apparently it would be called… Dragon King? Isn’t that already a JRPG?). Unfortunately, he knew that new fighting games had a rough time attracting an audience, so he “borrowed” a few Nintendo heavies to put together a demo. Nintendo didn’t approve the project (or the characters being tossed into smash world) until a demo featuring Mario, Samus, Donkey Kong, and Star Fox was presented. And the rest is videogame history.
  • FINISHCome to think of it…: That means “out of his Arwing Star Fox” was created for the demo, and Sakurai didn’t go for an already more established 2-D character (like Yoshi). Of course, it’s not like he was going to throw Ness in there, and Kirby wasn’t exactly meant for polygons…
  • Ridley is too big: Ridley appears in the background of the Zebes stage. With his appearance in the opening of Melee, and his status as a boss in Brawl and 4, it’s pretty clear that his turn as a starring character in Ultimate was an inevitability.
  • Did you know? According to the credits and my ears, the Pokémon of this title all use the original 4Kids English voices. That is why Jigglypuff sounds so… right.
  • Would I play again: That’s a good question! It’s weird how Super Smash Bros. feels simultaneously like every other Smash title, and also its own thing. Each character seems to have at least one overpowered move (thank you, Pikachu lightning), and the balance is completely insane as a result. Why play with this old, broken man when there’s a better boy right there on the Switch? On the other hand, the nostalgia here is strong, and it’s always fun to PK Lightning smash a piranha plant. So hard to decide!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Brain Dead 13 for the Playstation! From famous franchises to… not so much. Please look forward to it!

Poor petey

FGC #391 Star Fox 64 3D

Let us review how it only took one greedy pig to ruin the universe.

Here is Pigma Dengar.

Oink

First, we shall consider Pigma’s past. Pigma was a member of the original Star Fox team. This gang included not only Pigma, but also Peppy Hare and its leader, James McCloud. And, if you examine the infrastructure of the original Star Fox, you’ll find that being a mercenary space pilot was a pretty cushy gig. Sure, you were flying across the universe straight into danger on all fronts… but it certainly paid well. The Star Fox custom ships were all the latest in technological advancement, and, let’s be real here, that costs a pretty penny. And then there’s the Great Fox, a gigantic, airborne aircraft carrier that could quickly hop around the galaxy. James needed a 70 year loan to purchase that incredible ship… and I don’t care what planet you’re on, a bank isn’t going to hand out that kind of scratch without a flawless credit rating. Essentially, history shows that, prior to the Lylat Wars, Star Fox was making bank.

But Pigma wanted more.

WeeeeeeIt might be speciest, but Pigma was a pig through and through. Pigma was perfectly willing to sell out his companions and entire operation for, what, a few pieces of silver? The whole Star Fox operation was squashed in one day thanks entirely to Pigma’s greed. The cunning pig led James McCloud and Peppy Hare into a lethal trap, and only Peppy was able to escape with his life. James was gone, Peppy was wounded, and Pigma had indisputably switched sides. It was this event that would then inevitably lead to rise of Andross, and the Lylat Wars would occur shortly thereafter.

And consider Andross: he may have once been the most hated ape in the galaxy, but, one way or another, Andross’s tale is one of an underdog. Andross was singularly brilliant even as a child, and was focused on protecting his home planet of Corneria. However, his ambitions outstripped his abilities, and, in a fateful accident, a chunk of the capital was outright obliterated. General Pepper, seeing no other recourse, exiled Andross to Venom, a planet so inhospitable, it was literally named for poison. But Andross thrived in this environment, and, from the nothing that was a demon class planet, Andross had amassed an army. It was then that he was able to tempt Pigma to his side, and put an end to the original Star Fox team. Andross came from nothing, had all of his resources stripped away, and was still able to successfully launch a rebellion with the help of one greedy pig that already had more than his fair share of wealth. Andross was hated and reviled, but no one can say he merely inherited that title.

I hate everything!And, while we are speaking of privilege, we must consider Pigma’s lost quarry: Peppy Hare. Peppy escaped that fateful trap that finished James McCloud, and hopped on home to relay the news to Fox McCloud, son of James. Fox was an excellent pilot in his own right, but was he prepared to take up the Star Fox mantle? Was he at all qualified to lead a team of mercenaries on a blood quest to avenge his father? Or was Fox less fox, and more a lamb to the slaughter? Peppy never seemed like a vengeful hare, but he did immediately conscript his inexperienced “nephew” in a bloody war without a second thought. And, advanced or not, did anyone truly believe that four ships would succeed in stopping Andross where an entire army had failed? And who the hell thought it was a good idea to make the amphibious mechanic a pilot? Was this “team” thrown together with the same care as a middling salad? We now see Star Fox as a group of heroes that have saved the universe on multiple occasions, but, at the time, it was just a bloodthirsty rabbit and a kid that inherited his father’s empire. One might suppose we should be thankful was Fox McCloud was firmly on the side of the angels.

But Pigma certainly was not. Star Fox was assembled to destroy Andross, and Star Wolf was assembled to counter that vanguard. Or was it? Data on the Star Wolf team prior to the Lylat Wars is sketchy at best. What we do know is that Andross was responsible for the Wolfen craft that the team employs, and we’re all well aware that Andrew earned his seat at the table through being Andross’s nephew. But Pigma? It’s unclear how Pigma joined the gang. Was he with Star Wolf from the beginning, or did he join only when Andross offered a bounty? Are the rumors true, and Pigma is also the reason Fox and Wolf have an eternal rivalry? Whatever his origin, Pigma was certainly a member of Star Wolf exclusively for the paycheck, and, ace piloting skills or not, he was only interested in “finishing the job” for the money.

Which he didn’t. Star Wolf failed, Andross failed, and Star Fox brought peace to the galaxy. Pigma was out of a job.

SpicyBut greed doesn’t evaporate after a single setback. Pigma may have been financially and morally bankrupt, but it was still a big galaxy, and not being accepted by polite society never stopped this pig. Despite being targeted by the Cornerian Army, Star Fox, and Star Wolf (his former companions), Pigma was able to make a living as a pirate.

And then his greed nearly destroyed the universe. Again.

Aparoids, mechanical monsters from the furthest reaches of the galaxy, invaded the Lylat System. These insect-like creatures may have been merely a galactic annoyance, but Pigma thought he could make a quick buck by getting his hoggish hands on a Core Memory, and selling it to the highest bidder. His plan may have worked… except the core assimilated Pigma, and transformed him into a galactic engine of destruction. Mecha Pigma then severely damaged the climate control center of Fichina, and effectively killed an entire planet. Before he was finally destroyed by Star Fox, Pigma had left an indelible scar on the face of the galaxy, and all in the name of buying a bigger pig pen.

So is there a moral to Pigma’s story? He had it all, gave it away for more, but, in the end, died a penniless captive of his own avarice. “Don’t be greedy” seems like a pretty obvious lesson here, but maybe there’s something more. Maybe we’re supposed to realize what greed does: that, given the option, there are some people that would absolutely choose to endanger everyone and everything in the name of profit. Maybe the moral is not to avoid being this type of person, but to never enable someone that would even think of doing such a thing. Greed is bad, we know that, but perhaps it is more important to guard against the greedy than worry about the dominion of our own hearts.

Though, one would suppose, a coda is important here.

Right?There are some that say Pigma survived. Despite the destruction of the Aparoid hive, Pigma lived on, now fused with the core he stole long ago, and became some manner of… space box. This new creature is neither living nor dead, though seemingly possessed of Pigma’s repellant personality. Perhaps this is the ultimate fate for one so fueled by greed. Perhaps, trapped in a prison of his own making, screaming at the void and attempting to distract heroes from their real goals, perhaps that is where greed leads in the end.

But that kind of appropriate punishment will not bring back the lives lost.

Beware the pigs of this galaxy, citizens. Beware the pigs.

FGC #391 Star Fox 64 3D

  • System: Nintendo 3DS. If we’re talking about the original, which we’re not, then you’d have to hit the N64.
  • Number of players: Multiplayer is still possible, right? Let’s say four. Wait, they dropped the on-foot mode? Lame.
  • Hey, genius, none of this is canon anymore: Yes, Star Fox Zero apparently has rewritten the Star Fox timeline once again. And maybe Star Fox 2 is now partially canon, too, thanks to the SNES Mini? I don’t care. Star Fox 64 got the coolest strategy guide, so it’s the most canon.
  • Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: I’m not generally a fan of the Star Fox series, as I prefer my shoot ‘em ups to be 2-D, and the 3-D perspective somehow doesn’t work with my brain (I have a tendency to gauge distances wrong… and smash right into things. Sorry, Fox), but Star Fox 64 is my favorite of the franchise. Maybe I just like charging lasers? Or maybe it came out at just the right time to be the only game available on my only current system for a few months (thanks, N64!). Whatever the reason, this is the only Star Fox title that ever really clicked with me, and the 3DS version only makes it better. So time to pay, Andross!
  • Tanks a lot!Other Vehicles: This is also the first Star Fox game to get bored with Arwings, and introduce the tank and submarine. They’re both awful, and I hate them. I don’t understand how some videogames keep making tanks awful, but here we are.
  • For the ladies: Katt Monroe appears to be the only woman in this entire war. This would bother me more if I wasn’t dreadfully aware of what happens to women in the Star Fox fandom.
  • Did you know? If you battle Star Wolf more than once during an adventure, they will return with “battle damage” and cybernetic enhancements that presumably cover their many scars. And Wolf himself gets a pile of band-aids. Considering how furry that dude is, that has got to be painful.
  • Would I play again: Probably yes. Out of many Star Fox games, this one seems to be my one return engagement, and sticking it on a portable system doesn’t hurt. And I can punish a pig, which is always good.

What’s next? Random ROB… can be kind of funny sometimes. As you may be aware, I “roll” Random ROB pretty far in advance, and, by complete coincidence, it created its own theme week thanks to three sequential games that actually all work together well. So, next week we’ll start with Rocko’s Modern Life: Spunky’s Dangerous Day, and kick off TV Week, a week featuring games based on TV shows. Please look forward to it!

Off to the next adventure

FGC #147 Metroid Prime Pinball

I'm hearing the theme song in my headHave you looked at the roster for Super Smash Bros. recently? No, not the latest iteration, just plain ol’ N64 Super Smash Bros. And, in this case, I’m talking about the exclusive, “members only” original eight selectable characters (sorry, Ness, I love you, but you were obviously a dark-horse choice). You’ve got Mario, who, before and since, has appeared in more videogames than any other videogame mascot[citation needed]. Donkey Kong is on a similar echelon, and he arguably started the trend of Nintendo “mascots”. Pikachu was a newcomer at the time, but that little fuzzball has practically conquered a generation or two. Kirby and Yoshi (the original Pokémon) might not be quite as prolific, but they’ve both headlined everything from puzzle games to lightgun shooters. And Link? Link needs no introduction, and might be considered the “coolest” character in gaming despite (or because of) being rather silent.

Consider that every character I’ve named thus far has starred in a Saturday morning cartoon.

Then you have the Nintendo space heroes, like “Star” Fox McCloud. Fox always seemed made to appeal to the kiddies (daring, cartoon animal ace pilot), but has yet to garner enough popularity points to net those lucrative licensing deals and pay off the Great Fox. Come on, guys, they gave him an entire planet of friendly dinosaurs and a deviantart-bait magical princess girlfriend, and he still couldn’t score so much as a spin-off until 2016’s Six Nights at Slippy’s. It’s good that Star Fox is still getting games at all, but it seems a little unusual that this pillar of the Nintendo universe hasn’t been ported into something a little more modern. Sure, shooters are dead, but this fox has legs (apparently), give him something new to do.

And, finally, we have the lone (confirmed) female of the game, Samus Aran, space bounty hunter. Metroid is currently a reputedly dead franchise (note to Nintendo: I will be perfectly happy to have this article look completely Icydated in exchange for a glut of new Metroid games), and, even when it was still on life support, it was considered, at best, to be mishandled. Super Metroid redefined the genre, but its 2-D descendants were improperly managed or far too derivative (or both). Metroid Prime was a revelation, but Metroid Prime 2 seemed like a typical FPS disguised in powersuit trappings, and Metroid Prime 3 was madly uneven. And Metroid Prime Hunters? Ugh, please don’t remind me that existed.

But… Metroid Prime Hunters is important, because there was a brief, shining moment in Nintendo’s history when Samus Aran was used to sell systems.

Alright, yes, that might be an exaggeration, but the Nintendo DS, eventually one of Nintendo’s most popular and experimental systems (ah, the heady days before the touch screen became standard) initially shipped with a game… or at least a demo for a game. Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt…. wasn’t much of a demo. The single player portion was practically nonexistent, but the multiplayer portion of MPH:FH was an eye-opener. Now, for the first time, you could compete with your friends in a “networked FPS” style death match, but you didn’t need a single wire or powerful PC, just a DS and a buddy within shouting distance. The DS might not have offered many options at launch, but Metroid-Doom dominated any place you might find a bunch of congregating nerds (like, I dunno, a college, for instance?) and probably sold more DS systems than Tetris DS ever would.

So, when Nintendo decided to produce a new upgrade for the little dual screen that could, they looked again to their favorite daughter, Samus Aran. The DS was to receive a new rumble pack accessory, and what better way to sell rumble in a videogame than with pinball?

Pew Pew… It’s really the thought that counts.

Metroid Prime Pinball is a very weird game. As the story goes, MPP was first conceived when someone at Nintendo noticed that A. Nintendo randomly makes mascot-based pinball games, and B. Samus, super serious space bounty hunter, often turns herself into a ball. It’s like peanut butter and applesauce! So, while most Nintendo franchises feature characters that just kinda bounce around like pinballs anyway, pinball was hoisted on Metroid, a franchise best known for measured exploration and deliberately paced powerups. Because, ya know, Samus Aran can turn into a ball. What’s more, rather than make this a “simple” collection of Metroid-themed pinball machines, Metroid Prime Pinball has a plot and level progression, with bosses/challenges that bar progress until they’re slain/completed. Pinball doesn’t work like that! There’s a reason we never saw Pinball Quest 2, dammit!

But, against all odds, it somehow does work. Metroid Prime Pinball isn’t exactly the best game on the DS, it’s not even my favorite pinball game starring a Nintendo character that can inexplicably become a ball; but, hey, it ain’t bad. While pinball purists would likely have an issue with my favorite parts, I’ve found that this game holds my interest over many pinball games by virtue of randomly inserting more traditional Metroid gameplay. Okay, really, it’s not Metroid gameplay at all, but it’s all inspired by Metroid gameplay, and that’s close enough for a pinball game. For instance, In order to attain that coveted high-score, you must collect bounties, and, while some of these bounties involve simply steering ball-Samus at enemies, many times a bounty will cause Samus to come out of her shell and start shooting that beam cannon. Or there’s an artifact at the top of a cliff, so you’re to alternate L & R to pull off a proper wall jump. Still got itOr there’s a boss to slay, so it’s time to whip out the missiles. I like pinball, but I like pinball a lot more when I’m given something else to do every other minute. Oh, bless you, Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. You’ll always be there for me until I see something shiny.

Unfortunately, given most people don’t seem to remember this game exists at all seems to be proof that Metroid Prime Pinball wasn’t much of a success. Metroid: Other M or Metroid Prime Hunters may be reviled, but at least people don’t think you’re talking about some kind of Club Nintendo promotion when they’re mentioned. Metroid Prime Pinball happened, guys! It was a full game! It was pretty alright!

It’s a shame that this game is so forgotten. Metroid Prime Pinball proved that, like Mario, Yoshi, or even Pikachu, Samus Aran could break out of her typical gameplay bonds and do something else. Yes, Metroid defined a genre so permanently it has literally become synonymous with 2-D exploration games, but Mario defined platforming, and he’s doing just fine on the go-kart circuit, too. Samus Aran could be a perennial Nintendo star like Link, and MPP proves it.

And don’t pretend that doesn’t matter. The current gaming landscape is choked with dudes that look just like me (maybe they’re a little less handsome), and, while I appreciate the compliment, I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more lady bounty hunters in the mix. Nintendo is better with diversity than most (by virtue of promoting electric rats and pink eldritch horrors equally), but its big two are still a pair of white guys. You don’t see an hours long demo featuring Linkle on the E3 floor, nope, it’s grade-A, grandma-approved, straight white male elf all the way. He’s even right handed now, because left-handedness is only for freaks and presidents.

It’s nonsense like Metroid Prime Pinball that makes kings and queens out of characters. Link has been fighting Ganon for ages, but he was spouting catchphrases at princesses well before he was the Hero of Time. Mario was ubiquitous on the NES, saving the Mushroom Kingdom, refereeing Mike Tyson, and then playing golf all in the same week. I might not expect Samus to sell the next big Nintendo console, but upping the profile of Nintendo’s only starring fantasy female (that is in no way a princess) could only be a good thing. Yes, I pretty much just want more Metroid games, but I’ll gladly buy another Metroid Prime Pinball to see Samus as the salesgirl for the latest Nintendo thingy. Samus Aran should have her own pair of bongos, dammit! Wait… that might have come out wrong.

So thank you, Metroid Prime Pinball, for proving that Samus can do more than explore musty old planets. You might not have been the best game, but you helped a struggling space bounty hunter, and that’s enough.

FGC #147 Metroid Prime Pinball

  • System: Nintendo DS, with rumble pack accessory!
  • Number of players: Oh yeah, there is a two player head-to-head mode that even features its own unique stage. It’s just as exciting as 2-player pinball is meant to be!
  • He’s too big: Ridley manages to fit into a board that is almost entirely his own. It’s also the most frustrating stage, because if Ridley knocks you out, you have to go and retrieve an artifact from an earlier stage. Pinball doesn’t usually require savestates, but here we are.
  • Favorite stage: You wind up playing the first two tables very often thanks to how the game is “shaped”. That said, the Tallon Overworld area is pretty fun, and makes seeing “the same ol’ stage” again and again entertaining with its multiple ways to score. Oddly, its sister level, Pirate Frigate, comes off as boring, and should be escaped immediately.
  • Did you know? Metroid Prime Pinball is the spiritual successor to the Gameboy Advance’s Mario Pinball Land. That would be the pinball game that nobody liked.
  • Would I play again? I was surprised by how much I enjoyed replaying this game, so, yes, but only on the condition that it’s a downloadable, portable title. I’d fire this thing up for a few rounds here and there when around town, but I doubt I’ll ever put the actual cart back in my 3DS’s slot ever again.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… to be quiet. I’m going to make #148 into #9 here, and deal with a different kind of robot for the next update. Please look forward to it!

Winner!

FGC #007 Rygar

You're no FirebrandI never studied Child Psychology, so I don’t know if there is a term for this, but there’s a peculiar period of time that I recall vividly from my own childhood when, having gotten past the whole “the universe started with my birth” fallacy, I moved on to acknowledging that everything I know and have experienced has come before, and, like I am seven years old now, my father was once seven years old himself, and his father before him. There must be a name for this period of development, where the world grows just a little bit smaller, and you know, deep down, that your love of grilled cheese may be, without even knowing the word for it, hereditary. A genetic memory, aided by your environment, to guarantee your life the strophic form of your forefathers.

Then again, I played Nintendo as a kid.

I will defend Nintendo (the company, not the system I referred to in the previous paragraph) until my dying breath, because they keep beach city weird. As I write this, Nintendo’s latest release is taking the world by storm, and it’s all about cute squid girls painting structures with Alec Templeton precision while defending the values of either cats (yay!) or dogs (cretins!). And that’s one of the more straightforward plots from Nintendo, lest we forget the next big Nintendo release features anthropomorphic animals piloting starships that turn into robot chickens to combat a giant brain. Nintendo’s own iconic mascot has a mushroom-dependency problem, but, don’t worry, he’s a doctor.

Hate to see the Dark World versionAnd if you’re reading this, I bet that last paragraph actually made sense to you. In fact, I bet it made sense to you without even having to think about it. Okay, maybe not the Templeton reference. Regardless, thanks to an overexposure since childhood, so much “Nintendo logic” makes perfect sense to our metroid-shaped brains, so imagining a flesh colored creature capable of devouring the stars themselves is not so much scary as it is a gentle reminder that emperor penguins are not to be trusted with food supplies.

The greatest and worst thing about childhood is not having anywhere near the experience points necessary to level up to being a useful member of society. Being a child sucks for being taken seriously, but it does leave a lot of space for magic and wonder and imagining that big, amazing world that’s out there and waiting for you the absolute minute you clean your room and are allowed back outside again. And that kind of thinking, combined with the previously mentioned knowledge that “everything has come before” leads to some weird conclusions.

Koopa Troopas?I’m talking about jumping on turtles.

Playing Rygar as an adult, I have to fall back on that hoary old chestnut of “what were they smoking?” Frankly, I’ve always hated that expression, as it reduces imagination to a substance, as if someone needs external stimulus to produce something as “whacky” as a talking cat (!?!), but in this case, it’s a little unusual that the first thing a Roman warrior encounters on his journey to save his land is… a giant shuffling turtle. But don’t worry, I got this, I know what to do.

Rygar, jump on that turtle.

Here’s where Nintendo (generally talking about the system again) gets dangerous. Rygar is a great wealth of repeats from other video games and sources, and, as a kid, if I saw the same thing twice, I figured it must be some archetypical facet of the universe that I am just now discovering. Much like the Castlevania trilogy taught me that whips are the deadliest weapons ever devised, Rygar confirmed a few sneaking suspicions…

1. Turtles (non-mutant) are nature’s mobile trampolines (see also: Super Mario Bros)
2. Yo-Yos are capable weapons (see also: Star Tropics, Goonies II)
3. Greco-Roman warriors being revived for battle is a normal thing (see also: Altered Beast)
4. Grappling hooks are basically elevators in rope form (see also: Batman, Legend of Zelda)
5. Floating Islands? Completely normal. (see also: All of Japan’s output for a solid decade)

I am eternally grateful that I live in an area that is devoid of turtles or yo-yo stores, as either would have likely lead to my incarceration at a young age.

Okay, that joke was a little woodenWhile I eventually acknowledged that maybe Nintendo games are not a valid way of discovering the world, I did internalize many video game lessons from Rygar and its ilk. I didn’t play Rygar until I was a little older than when I played some other beloved NES franchises, so it may have been my first metroidvania where progression seemed “gated” and deliberate. Remember that childhood naiveté I mentioned earlier? That led to a number of games, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest comes immediately to mind, working on magic and fuzziness more than actual programming (“That ferryman finally took me where I needed to go! I guess he just does that sometimes. Now, time to randomly jump in every lake!”). Rygar is the first game I can remember ever having a nonlinear structure, but enough hints (in the form of scary bald men) to make everything gel into a much more cohesive whole (and it probably helps that there weren’t villages full of dicks lying to me). You’re literally telling me I need the crossbow to proceed? Oh, good, that means I can stop jumping into this pit over and over again expecting to finally bridge the gap. Many people fault modern gaming’s “tools as keys” and “explain away” design philosophies, but we should all remember that every video game has the potential to be someone’s first game, and an informed gamer is a worthy gamer.

Just watch those gamers around the turtles.

So very uglyFGC #7 Rygar

  • System: NES
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Number of Identical Old Men in Ancient Argool: Innumerable
  • Shield as an offensive weapon: Ill-advised
  • Gonna talk about the sequel? No.
  • Is there a robot involved? You better believe it
  • Did You Know? In the American version, Crash Man is the hero, while Clash Man is the villain. In Japan, Crash Man is the villain, and the hero is unnamed. Air Man works best across all versions. Wait… I might be thinking of another game.
  • Would I Play Again? It was kind of neat playing this again for the first time in ages, but I like to accomplish something in a game sitting. Rygar is impossibly long and completely devoid of a password or save feature, and it’s not really a “pick up” game. I will probably play Rygar again if it becomes the last video game on Earth… and most books have been destroyed. And it’s raining.

What’s Next? Random ROB has chosen… Wario Ware Inc.: Mega Micro Game$. Great. A blog about video games about a video game about creating video games via playing video games. We’re going through the looking glass, people, so please look forward to it!