Tag Archives: wonder boy

Year in Review: 2017

2017! Huh! What was it good for? Absolutely nothing! Say it again!

Disappointment of the Year: Super Bomberman R

KapowI say it every year, but the disappointment of the year is not the worst game of the year, it is simply a game that came close to being good, and… didn’t. Super Bomberman R is a Bomberman renaissance, and arguably exactly what I wanted ever since Super Bomberman 2. In fact, it basically is a remake of Super Bomberman 2, just with more modern graphics, portability, online play, and a goofy plot played out in cute, animated cutscenes. It’s the Bomberman we’ve all been waiting for!

Which is why the actual game having significant problems is such a shame. It is clear people that actually care about Bomberman (and Konami) made this game, but they really missed the mark on actual Bomberman gameplay. The graphics are great… but make it extremely difficult to see your lil’ Bomber amongst the chaos. The tiered stages are fun, but determining your exact plateau at a glance is nearly impossible. And some of the traps (ice? Really?) and stage objectives (an escort mission!?) are practically antithetical to the very concept of the bombers.

In short, Super Bomberman R should be an amazing return to form for the entire franchise; but, as it is, I can hardly recommend it. This could have been the preeminent multiplayer experience of the Switch launch…

But everybody just wants to play Mario Kart anyway, so no big deal.

Reason to not let me out of the house for the Year: Amiibo, again

Amiibo!

I want to be very clear about something: If Nintendo decides to release Super Smash Bros. 4 Switch, and uses that as an excuse to do an entire run of 2-Player Alternate amiibos, or, God help us all, “Final Smash” themed giant amiibos, then I’m going to have to jump off a building. Or at least stab my eyes out. Something to stop the inevitable accumulation of even more Nintendo merchandise that I convince myself doubles as some sort of physical DLC. Just, please Nintendo, don’t make me have to cut off my own hands. Please.

Compilation of the Year: Mega Man Legacy Collection 2

I now can finally say I own copies of Mega Man 9 & 10 in physical form, and it’s my annual excuse to post this again.

Everything is coming up Mega Man!

Remake of the Year: Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap

So scenicI’ve never been a giant fan of the Wonder Boy series, because the gameplay has always been a little too close to The Adventures of Link for my taste, and, while I love that game, it can get very frustrating, very fast. Could I have a little range to my attacks? No? Fine, whatever, I really felt like trudging through that forest full of slimes all over again. Thanks. Oh, and don’t get me started on the whole “how health works” system. You want me to spend how much on an extra life that could potentially drop from a random octopus anyway?

But I’ll stop complaining and talk about the good stuff: this title got me to actually enjoy a Wonder Boy game! Hooray! It’s still a very, very annoying Genesis game, and there is just nothing that is going to make “there are a thousand random shops and you need a guide to compare their inventories” any fun, but, man, is this thing pretty to look at. Between the “version switch” button and the gorgeous modern graphics, there were enough quality of life improvements made to Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap that it kept my interest throughout. And that’s the best a remake of a “forgotten” title can achieve.

Title of the Year: Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue

So similar...Kingdom Hearts might be an easy punching bag around here, but when you see such a ridiculous title, you’ve gotta take notice. In this case, it’s not that the title is word garbage like other winners of the coveted “Title of the Year” award, it’s about the fact that Kingdom Hearts somehow requires a 2.8. We already blew 2.5 for the remakes, the almighty 3 is reserved for a game that will never be released in our lifetimes, so 2.8 is the only option. In fact, it will be downright amazing if Kingdom Hearts 3 isn’t released in 2018, because that would mean a game that pretty much exists to promote KH3 would have been released at least two years before its “real” big brother. Or maybe we’ll see a 2.999999 by then…

System of the Year: Nintendo Switch

Ah, nappingThis was the easiest decision on the list. The Nintendo Switch is basically a WiiU+, and that is all I ever wanted. My gaming habits are such that I have… a really short attention span, and being able to migrate from the television to “I’m watching Riverdale now” mode allows for more control than I’m used to having over my library. For years, portable games have been portable games, console games have been console games, and never the twain shall meet. Now I can play my big widescreen games on the TV, get to a more “grindy” area, and casually enjoy the same experience while I’m paying slightly less attention. Now I can play Switch every last hour of the day properly budget my time!

And Nintendo seems to be completely aware of this, too. Breath of the Wild is an amazing, engrossing title… but it also has 120 shrines that seem to be designed to be tackled on a boring bus ride. Super Mario Odyssey has seventy craptillion Power Moons, and you can’t tell me that you’re supposed to explore New Donk City entirely in one sitting. Even some of the less AAA titles, like Mario + Rabbids or Fire Emblem Warriors, seem to be designed with the Switch’s chief appeal in mind, and that’s just peachy.

The Switch isn’t perfect (for some ridiculous reason, it can’t play Super Metroid yet), but if every year is as good for the Switch as its launch, this might wind up being the best system in videogame history, for both software and hardware.

Game of the Year: Sonic Mania

Tails!2017 might have been a horrible year for reality, but it was an amazing year for gaming. NieR: Automata was a long-shot to ever exist, changed the very concept of what a videogame could be, and also somehow sparked a robo-butt renaissance. Persona 5 was the long awaited sequel to Persona 4, already one of my favorite games, and featured the most stylish gameplay and music I’ve seen in a decade. Super Mario Odyssey is just a joy to play from start to finish, and you can control a flappy dinosaur. Breath of the Wild redefined what a Zelda game could be. Even Cuphead could potentially be my game of the year, if only because it reminded us all that you don’t have to be the next Skyrim to change the face of gaming. Man, if we get even one more game like Cuphead in the next decade, I’ll be happy (this includes Cuphead 2, incidentally).

But Sonic Mania? Sonic Mania taught me to love again.

I’ve been playing Sonic the Hedgehog games forever. In fact, I’ve been playing Sonic games as they’ve released as long as the franchise has existed. I gnawed through Sonic Heroes when it first dropped, and learned to live with the werehog one stretchy limb at a time. I played every last 2-D Sonic GBA and DS game, and grimaced as I was told that this was how Sonic always felt. Was… was that true? Were my memories of OG Sonic some illusion of age? Some nostalgia for a game that never truly existed? Was I tapping into a lost dimension every time I booted up my Sega Genesis?

The answer is, obviously, a resounding no, because Sonic Mania is the real Sonic the Hedgehog 4 (& Knuckles).

I’m not going to write another thousand words on why this game is great, but it’s amazing, and it validated my own memories, and, unlike every other amazing game this year, I’m probably going to replay it again from start to finish within the decade, so it’s my game of the year. Sorry, Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash, you were this close.

Games I’m sure are great, but I haven’t played: Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Horizon Zero Dawn, Agents of Mayhem

It was a really good year for games! I’ll get to them before next year! Maybe!

Games I’m sure are great, but I still haven’t played: Overwatch, Doom, Undertale

Look, I’ve got the physical version of Undertale coming from Fangamer with some Christmas dough, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to play that this year! Okay!?

Gogglebob.com Introspection 2017

Damn wormFor reasons of my own making, this year has been surprisingly busy since about July. Don’t be concerned, gentle reader, things were complicated for fairly good reasons (or at least expected reasons), but it did make my “hobby blog” a little more difficult to keep on schedule for the last half year or so. But fear not! There’s a reason the FGC didn’t miss an update (give or take that one bout of Trump-induced constipation), and that’s because I genuinely like writing about videogames on this blog. It’s weird! I still maintain that I’m surprised the site has lasted this long, but here we are! Weird! Here’s to another how ever many articles I have in me!

(Though if you’re looking at the Wild Arms 2 Let’s Play updates in real time over at that one forum, you may have noticed a little slow down. Man, I should have waited until Fall to start that thing up.)

Anyway, I’d love to offer some additional insight into the process or something here, but it’s just a matter of playing games, writing about games, and occasionally making weird videos about games. Gotta pick your battles there. And, in that spirit, here are a few articles that haven’t already been linked that I liked this year:

FGC #225 Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow
FGC #243 Dragon’s Lair (NES)
FGC #261 Spice World
FGC #277 New Super Mario Bros. 2
FGC #294 Skullmonkeys
FGC #316 Injustice 2

And I would be remiss if I didn’t note this was the year I started streaming with some random knuckleheads, which is always a good time. Hey, guys, when do you want to do that again?

And on that note, I’m calling this a year reviewed. See you next year! Or this year! Writing things in advance is confusing!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Ninja Master’s! Ninja Master’s… what? Guess we’ll find out! Please look forward to it!

FGC #126 Super Adventure Island 2

Can you dig it?The Theory of Evolution has been contested practically from its inception, back when Charles Darwin hopped back on the HMS Beagle and a deckhand started reading his notes and shouting, “Nuh uh!” Since then, Evolution has been a very divisive topic. This is to be expected, as a healthy portion of the population seems to believe that the mere existence of evolution somehow precludes the existence of a caring deity/universe. As such, Evolution’s opponents have composed a litany of “problems” with the theory over the last century, seeking to disprove a scientific theory with “scientific” facts that are primarily grounded in subjective reasoning. Yes, there are problems with the Theory of Evolution, but asserting that no one has actually seen a chimp give birth to a human isn’t going to slay the big bad Science Dragon.

A similar assertion is that Evolution doesn’t make enough “sense”. This anti-theory goes something like, “why don’t we still have tails, they’d be useful!” or “what’s the deal with the pinky finger? Male nipples? Appendix? We don’t need any of that!” In short, if Evolution is responsible for transforming monkeys into big, bad humans, why didn’t it make us, ya know, better? We’re apex predators, and why isn’t that more literal? We should have crazy head spikes and murder claws and laserbeam eyes! Evolution isn’t real, because if it was, we’d have more dangerbeasts running around.

And to that I offer the counterexample of Super Adventure Island 2.

Adventure Island, the original “Adventure Island 1”, is the story of Master Higgins, a half-naked man on a quest across islands to rescue a princess (Tina, her sister, came later). Adventure Island is, basically, the prototypical “endless runner” game. Higgins must keep moving forward and gulping randomly appearing fruit, because, should he ever go hungry, he will die immediately. I think it’s some kind of psychological disorder. Whatever the reason, Higgins must devour all, and will only find assistance in the form of primitive axes Not the other thing(okay) or skateboards (what?), while everything else on the island exists only to one-hit-kill our tropical hero. It’s a hard life.

It’s also Wonder Boy’s life.

Wonder Boy was a Sega Arcade title, and, when Hudson Soft was tasked with porting the game to home consoles, they dropped the titular Wonder Boy, and inserted their own company mascot, Takahashi Meijin aka Master Higgins, into the starring role. This means that, ultimately, Wonder Boy and Adventure Island had the exact same starting point, give or take a baseball cap.

Wonder Boy changed immediately. Wonder Boy 2 aka Wonder Boy in Monster Land became much more of an “adventure” type game. Wonder Boy collected and spent gold, spoke to “helpful” medieval villagers, and even gained a life gauge to weather all those monster hits. While there was a regressive Monster Lair quest in there, by and large, Wonder Boy continued on this adventure trajectory straight on through to Monster World IV, which dropped Wonder Boy entirely for a Wonder Girl, but still maintained the delightful adventure trappings of the franchise.

Adventure Island, meanwhile, iterated only on the established “endless runner” gameplay. In fact, while each Adventure Island sequel did add new innovations, it seemed like each game also dropped a useful skill. Adventure Island 2 introduced an inventory system and the ability to ride dinosaur pals (before Yoshi ever bust out of his shell), but also lost the ability to upgrade powerups and stage checkpoints. Adventure Island 3 added a duck command (eat it, Mega Man), but forsook backtracking and mobile bosses. And SNES launch(ish) title Super Adventure Island picked up gorgeous graphics but eschewed any and all dinosaur pals. Alright, Hop scotchmaybe the games weren’t released in that order, but close enough…

Adventure Island 4 (for the NES) was a departure from the runner basics of the previous titles. It… also never got out of Japan. I’ve never played it. I should look it up some time. I hear there’s an Eggplant Wizard in there.

Super Adventure Island 2 is theoretically (I can’t play every video game!) a continuation of Adventure Island 4’s innovations. SAI2 is an adventure game. Master Higgins drops the grass skirt for a full set of armor, trades his hammer for a sword and magic wand, and rafts around various “adventure islands” in pursuit of treasure and items. Every “stage” has straightforward objectives like “fight the boss”, but also hidden treasures gated behind abilities you’ll earn on other islands. There’s an overworld and a menu screen. There aren’t many “villagers” to speak to, but you can return to talk to the king for tips on betrothed rescuing/wife swapping. There’s an inn that restores health and magic. And if you don’t spend half your time skulking around the map looking for heart containers, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Adventure Island is again, after a few years of divergence, a Monster World game.

And, frankly, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had with Master Higgins. Everything that was Adventure Island got tossed in the garbage (Higgins has amnesia, so he doesn’t even remember his strange fruit compulsion), and, in its place was basically The Legend of Zelda: The Adventure of Link 2. Even that Higgins on a raft sprite Dang turtlelooks pretty damn familiar. Considering The Adventure of Link never saw a proper sequel, it was a blast to find similar gameplay on the “revolutionary” Super Nintendo. Pretty graphics, engrossing exploratory gameplay? What’s not to like?

And I’ve been asking that for years, because what do Super Adventure Island 2, Monster World 4, and The Adventure of Link all have in common? They’re evolutionary dead ends.

Wonder Boy/Monster World was just plain never seen again. “Zelda” obviously saw sequels for the rest of time, but none of them seemed particularly beholden to The Adventure of Link’s gameplay. And as for Master Higgins? Well, Adventure Island made it past the SNES in the form of the WiiWare title Adventure Island: The Beginning. It… wasn’t any good. What’s more, it was a return to the “original” Adventure Island gameplay, and completely dropped any and all adventure elements to accommodate Higgins’s enormous appetite. Sorry, folks, 2-D Adventure games just don’t work.

Video game producers are not making games for the hell of it. Obviously, every video game designer, from the staff at Nintendo to that one lonely guy coding Centaur Panty Fighter 2, wants to see their game succeed, and, during production, believes that the game being produced will be accepted. In short, there are dedicated, intelligent designers responsible for Wonder Boy and Adventure Island that both came to the same point of creating 16-bit, 2-D adventure games. And they both completely failed, taking the franchises with them.

Take a look at observable, historical evolution, and you’ll see that it’s a process, and even when it has the best of intentions, well… sometimes it doesn’t quite work. Evolution is Evolution, and part of evolution is failure. Adventure Island might just be Mauritius.

FGC #126 Super Adventure Island 2

  • System: Super Nintendo, though also available on the Wii Virtual Console. Not the WiiU Virtual Console, though…
  • Number of Players: Sorry, no co-op adventuring for you. Just one player.
  • Seriously?The Adventure of Master Higgins: Seriously, this game is biting on Zelda 2 so hard. You could argue LOZ:TAOL didn’t invent the rhythm of “go to dungeon, beat boss, find some random knickknack in subdungeon to access next dungeon, repeat forever”, but when you’ve got a game that also teaches a hero “random magic”, “upslash”, and “downslash”, then similarities start to become apparent.
  • Favorite Island: The “ice stage”, Hiya-Hiya Isle, is a tower containing a “puzzle” that involves tossing an ice block off the top so it can destroy an ice barrier in the basement. I think that’s neat. The stage’s layout vaguely reminds me of Ducktales’ Moon Stage, too, and that’s always a good thing. Also, the boss of the level is a Wooly Mammoth still frozen in ice. Master Higgins… can’t you just walk around that dude?
  • Did you know? There was an anime based on Adventure Island… sorta. It featured the little fairy creature that occasionally helps Master Higgins during his adventures, and she was responsible for banding together a group of random children to rescue a kidnapped Master Higgins and Tina. Bomberman was in one episode. It ran for 51 episodes and a movie. Clerks the Animated Series aired two episodes.
  • Would I play again: Yes. I like this game. Back when I was cashing in points on Club Nintendo, one of my last “purchases” was this very game. Granted, it’s because I had already purchased pretty much everything else offered, but I think I chose this one over downloading a random Castlevania game I also already owned.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Ichy and Scratchy the Game for SNES! Another SNES game, this time of… decreased quality. Please look forward to it, I think!

Turtle meat