Gaming Post 34: Xenoblade Chronicles (3DS)

The random number generator has chosen a very good game for me to write about, but it’s a very long game that some people may intend to play eventually, so I’ll try not to spoil too much about the story.

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The game I’m going to be writing about this time is Xenoblade Chronicles 3D for the New Nintendo 3DS. It was originally released for the Nintendo Wii. If you’re scrolling through Zelgerath.com, everything after this paragraph is concealed behind a “Continue reading” tag, but if you’ve clicked straight into this article, there is no such protection from minor spoilers.

Continue reading

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Gaming Post 26: Sonic and the Secret Rings

It’s been a while since I last wrote a gaming article. I’ve been mostly playing video games and adding them to my list. I have reached my 250 beaten games milestone, which I assure you I have only reached because I am willing to play crappy games alongside great ones. I’ve been putting off writing this article for so long because it was about one of the (comparatively) crappy games I beat. That’s one downside to using a random number generator to determine the order in which to write articles. You can never be sure what’s coming next.

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The random number generator has determined that the next game I should write about is Sonic and the Secret Rings. It was a vaguely interesting game which I played when I wanted to catch up with the 3D Sonic games.

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Back when I was a kid I watched VHS tapes of the Sonic cartoon and was a fan of the video game series ever since playing Sonic R on the computer and seeing a commercial for Sonic Adventure 2 randomly at a Toys R Us store. By early high school, I still liked Sonic, but I wasn’t following the game series since my most advanced system was the GameCube when the games “Sonic 2006” and “Sonic and the Secret Rings” came out. My friend Puck had a Wii and a copy of Secret Rings, but I never really played the game when I was at his house. I was far more interested back then in playing his copy of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, as I was slowly discovering the joy of the Zelda series at that point in my youth. Still, I did notice that the box art for Sonic and the Secret Rings was absolutely beautiful. I made a note in my mind that I would eventually try the game out some time in my life.

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Look at that artwork! The game must be great! …Right?

Years later (I believe it was 2012) I was enjoying having a Wii System, going down the list of games for it that had not been my main reasons for wanting to get a Wii but I still wanted to play. Of course the main reason I got the Wii was to be able to play the Super Mario Galaxy series and Skyward Sword, but at that point I wanted to play all of the 3D Sonic games. I had heard many people say that Sonic games had gotten bad in the years that I had missed, but I still wanted to play them for myself so that I could have firsthand experience with them before passing judgment.

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The game is the first in what was supposed to be the Sonic Storybook Trilogy, however, the third game never came out, probably due to the bad reviews the first two got. As such, the Sonic Storybook Trilogy is actually what I call a “Dulogy”. This first game takes place within the stories in the famous anthology known as The Arabian Nights. The main antagonist is named Erazor Djinn, who is the same genie of the lamp from the Aladdin story.

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This guy isn’t quite as fun as when he was voiced by Robin Williams.

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Erazor Djin hits Sonic with a magical arrow, and from what I can remember, Sonic has to keep running or else he will die. I think that’s how they explain why you have limited control over Sonic’s movements in this game and you have to keep moving for the most part on a single path. This is also the only Sonic game in which Sonic is wounded for the entire story.

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Sonic and the Secret Rings wasn’t actually that bad. Its gameplay consists of Sonic automatically running a certain path through an environment while the player avoids obstacles. As the game is technically a rail platformer, you have much less control over Sonic’s movements than in his other games. The motion controls are also unintuitive at first, but I eventually got used to it in my playthrough. And although the game is split up into small missions that get unlocked as you complete more of them, the environments are pretty good throughout and make up for that a little bit.

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I was planning on beating all of the challenges, but some of them were pretty difficult and frustrating because of the controls. When I disclosed this to my friend Magic on Skype he convinced me to put the game away and move on as I had already completed the main story.

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This is Sonic’s Super Form in this game. Final Forms are always pretty neat when they’re there.

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The music in Sonic games tends to be pretty great, but I was a little disappointed in this installment. I no longer expect a full soundtrack of great tracks like we got from Sonic Adventure 2, but I was hoping for at least one compelling song from this game. The main theme is called “Seven Rings in Hand”, which is played on the title screen, but I honestly can’t remember much of the song like I can for Sonic Adventure 1 and 2’s main themes. The song I remember the most from this game is about Sonic and how he’s going to rock the place… place… place…

I think the main reason why people consider recent Sonic games to be bad is not because they are technically worse than other games, but because we expect Sonic’s games to be a lot better given the series’s history. We know what the Sonic series is capable of, given that the Sonic Adventure games were great. It’s just gradually gotten worse over the years (with a brief period of getting better around 2010 and then reversing after Sonic Colors and Generations)

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The newly announced Sonic game

A new Sonic game was announced recently called “Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice” for Nintendo 3DS, and despite my better judgment, I do feel a hint of excitement. I know that the game is going to be bad, but I guess it also means I get to play through another Sonic game that has a slight chance of not being terrible. My expectations are low, so I’ll probably have an alright time when I eventually play it some day. That’s just how the Sonic series is for me now.

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Thanks for Reading! I Appreciate it! =D

Gaming Post 20: Super Mario Galaxy 2

The random number generator has chosen my favorite single player game OF ALL TIME!!! The game is Super Mario Galaxy 2. It came out in early 2010 at the end of my Senior Year of High School. At the time, I still didn’t have a Wii, but that’s beside the point.

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I remember that Nintendo used their YouTube channel really well to hype this game up. They uploaded trailers in the form of purposefully glitchy videos with upside down video titles as if they were sent through space. Here’s a sample of a trailer that was re-uploaded by a fan and was thus preserved.

I remember that I really kept up with these trailers. I don’t usually pay attention to games much until they come out but Super Mario Galaxy 2 was an exception firstly because the game looked so good and secondly because the trailers were so fun.

That was my favorite trailer of them all because it showed us a huge reference to the Mario game that started my 3D Mario adventure; Throwback Galaxy AKA Thwomp’s Fortress from Super Mario 64. At the time, my favorite single player game of all time was Super Mario Galaxy 1, but in basically every way Super Mario Galaxy 2 was better. It was almost like DLC for Galaxy 1, as there was no overlap in the two experiences. It was just the addition of some really awesome levels. Sure, you may fight a boss again in Galaxy 2 that you already fought in Galaxy 1, but you’re using a different power up, so it’s a different strategy involved.

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There was a countdown on Nintendo’s web page for Super Mario Galaxy 2’s release date, but after it reached zero, it started going up. I recorded this video of peoples’ reactions.

I actually had a bit of trouble securing a system to play this game on. As it turned out, my friend Jonah had become fed up with me borrowing his Wii System for so long a period of time, so I couldn’t actually use his anymore. For some reason, my friend Nick’s Wii wouldn’t work with the game either. For a while, my only solution was bringing Galaxy 2 and an SD card around with me wherever I went, playing whenever I could use someone’s Wii. This process was ridiculously slow, so after getting about 70 stars this way, I realized that I really needed my own Wii to fully complete the game. Around this time, a new edition of the Wii surfaced.

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The (second) best Wii System ever
The actual best Wii System ever, owned by the Queen of England
The best Wii System ever is actually the Royal Wii, which is owned by the Queen of England.

I had held myself back from asking for a Wii system for a long time, but it felt like the time was right to ask for one for Christmas. Not only did I want it to play Galaxy 2 but also to play the Zelda game for Wii that would be coming out (Skyward Sword). I had just finished the existing Zelda Series that summer while my Galaxy 2 progress was in a halted state. So, I asked my mom for the Black Wii System, and the first Christmas I came back from College, it was under the tree. I was worried that my dad wouldn’t be too happy about it, but he didn’t mind. In fact, that Christmas break, along with furiously playing through Galaxy 2 from scratch (I decided to start the game over), I taught him how to use Netflix. He was very impressed.

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I think it's pretty funny that this disc ever existed.
I found this image, and I think it’s pretty funny that such a disc ever existed. Most people just downloaded the channel for free from the Wii Shop.

The first thing I did upon getting the Wii was boot up the Shop Channel. I had a 1000 Nintendo points card prepared for this moment, and so I redeemed it and bought PacMan. I then briefly played PacMan. This was done purely for the irony.

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Gotta save some quarters

Over winter break, as I said, I furiously played through Galaxy 2. I think I was exposed to BBC Radio for the first time during quite a bit of my play-through, as my dad had it playing loudly on the computer in the TV room. Mario isn’t a story driven game, so it can be enjoyable while multitasking, consuming two different types of entertainment at the same time. I played so much of this game that I got all 120 stars in the main story and started the Green Star second story.

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Essentially, there are 120 green stars hidden throughout 40 stages in the game, 3 per stage. It’s similar to how they would later appear in Super Mario 3D World, except that obtaining one in Galaxy 2 takes you out of the level immediately to save the fact that you got it, just like a regular star in the game. They’re hidden, but you can try to listen for the sound the stars make as you travel through each level, and use the number given to each star you obtain as a hint for what part of the level you should look for the other stars in. It always goes in order; 1 is first, 2 is second and 3 is third. If you find Star 1, all the other stars are after the part of the level you found it in, and so on.

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It seems that I played about 45 hours of Galaxy 2 that week, but that wasn’t quite enough to finish the game, just because of the final level.

Now, I should probably mention that I beat this game entirely as Mario rather than Luigi. Maybe I have an excuse to revisit this game some day as Luigi. I’m still afraid of that final level though. The tool assisted speed run you just watched may have made it look like it was easy, but it was not.

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According to the calender in the data of my Wii, I played the game on March 15th during a vacation after returning to college on January 2nd. I played for hours trying to beat the final level, but it wasn’t until March 16th that I finally cleared it. Throughout the entire game I tried not to be nervous, because I knew that being nervous can cause one to make mistakes, but in the final seconds of the final level my heart started beating intensely of its own accord, and yet I still succeeded! It was a thrilling moment for me.

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Super Mario Galaxy 2 is now available to purchase on the Wii U eshop for $19.99. If you have time to play the game, I highly recommend it.

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As always, Thanks for Reading! =)

Gaming Post 11: Super Mario Galaxy

Oh boyo boy! The random number generator wants me to write about the wonderful wonderful game Super Mario Galaxy!

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I have to admit that I’m a little bit biased toward Super Mario games. I grew up considering Super Mario 64 to be the most important video game in the world, so whenever there was a game like Super Mario Sunshine or Super Mario 64 DS, I strived to complete them more than any other game (except for Pokémon games). That said, I wasn’t very good at those games, and I only really got good at 3D Mario games by late middle school and early High School.

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The crazy thing is that, without knowing what Super Mario Galaxy was, I finally finished beating the three 3D Mario games I had strived to beat for basically my entire life the week before Super Mario Galaxy came out. After finding the last blue coin and getting my 120th Shine Sprite in Super Mario Sunshine, I noticed an e-mail from Nintendo mentioning Super Mario Galaxy. Upon further research, I found out that it was the next game in the 3D Mario Series, and it was a return to Mario’s classic Power Star collecting journey. This was a welcome and timely surprise. I was sort of blown away by the coincidence of timing.

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Now, I didn’t technically own a Wii back then, but I was already borrowing the one that belonged to my friend Jonah (having used it to beat Super Mario 64 on the Wii Virtual Console). So, without owning a Wii, I bought Super Mario Galaxy for my enjoyment.

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And enjoyed it, I did. Super Mario Galaxy is an amazing game. The objective is to obtain 120 Power Stars as Mario, 120 of the same Power Stars in a second play-through as Luigi, and then 2 really easy bonus stars (one as Mario and one as Luigi) after 240 stars have been obtained.

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This can take a long time to do, and it gets pretty challenging, but I was determined by the fact that I had 100% beaten the 3D Mario series up until then and that the game was brand new. I also was aware that Jonah would eventually be fed up with me borrowing his Wii System all the time, so I had to play through the thing relatively quickly.

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As for the game itself, a lot of it had to do with gravity. The controls were pretty easy to learn, and the music was also amazing because it was orchestrated. Here’s a trailer for the game.

(Interestingly, they changed a lot of things between this trailer and the final game, including orchestrating the music)

(Final version of the music you just heard)

I highly recommend playing this game. In fact, its sequel, Super Mario Galaxy 2, is even better and available for download for Wii U. At the time of this post, it is available at half price ($10 instead of $20) but either of those prices are good deals.

You can probably find Super Mario Galaxy for $20, and Nintendo might even add it to the available downloadable games on the Wii U.
You can probably find Super Mario Galaxy for $20, and Nintendo might also eventually add it to the available downloadable games on the Wii U.

I bought a digital copy of Galaxy 2 even though I still have my original disc. I figure that it might come in handy in a party situation. My only warning is that if you start with Galaxy 2, you might become bored with Galaxy 1, but this is perhaps not true. I feel that I should mention that the levels are generally harder in Galaxy 2, as they were made for people who already played Galaxy 1.

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Enjoy the Super Mario Galaxy series if you think you might like it, and as always, Thanks for Reading! =D

Gaming Post 10: New Super Mario Bros. Wii

The random number generator wants me to write about the time I completed New! Super Mario Bros. Wii. I started and completed this game within what I like to call my “Year of Mario” which was 365 days long spanning from November 21, 2013 to the same day of the next year. In those 365 days I beat 26 games set within the Mario Universe, which was on average 1 game from that category every 2 weeks.

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I had borrowed this game from my friend’s brother, and by the time I started the game I was very eager to play it. I was always putting it off to play other games, but it finally became one of the last Mario games I had left to beat, and so it finally took priority.

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New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a part of the New Super Mario Bros. series. They are the modern 2D Mario games that often differentiate themselves with new power ups introduced in each game. I think that New Super Mario Bros. Wii was the first main series Mario game to include the ability for more than one player to play at the same time. I first tried this game out in multiplayer mode with my friend Harlan, and we did pretty well, but we didn’t get too far. The New Super Mario games are honestly much easier to play as single player games.

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The trouble with New Super Mario Bros. is that you’re not allowed to save whenever you want until you’ve cleared the main story, but saving between stages becomes crucial for anyone aiming to complete the game 100%. The real objective for completing these games is to collect all of the Star Coins. There are always 3 hidden in each stage, but they can sometimes be risky to obtain.

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By the time I started this game, I had my strategy for 100%ing New Super Mario Bros. games down to a science.  The first step is to beat the story of the game. You may see Star Coins along the way, but if trying to get them puts Mario at risk of losing a life, strongly consider ignoring it and coming back for it later. The game saves after clearing a tower or castle for the first time as well as if you get shot out of a cannon into a higher difficulty world.

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After beating the story, you can save any time between stages, so save every time you obtain a star coin. It’s totally worth it in case anything bad happens.

Whenever you are low on lives (especially during the story), stock up using this trick.

These “infinite lives” tricks are in basically every recent Mario game. They are so consistently present that I’m pretty sure Nintendo is putting them in each game on purpose. I’m very glad that they’re there. Otherwise, I might not have been able to complete the Super Mario Bros. series.

I played this game in the summer, so I started by playing it outside.

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Go play outside!

Then it eventually got pretty humid, so I finished the game in the cool basement.

The secret final world in the game is unlocked as you collect all of the star coins, and the levels there are pretty difficult. On occasion, it was helpful to obtain a helicopter hat for Mario and save before a difficult stage. If I didn’t obtain any star coins and lost the hat, I would return to my last save and try again.

And so, I eventually finished this game 100%, and it was pretty good.

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Thanks for reading! =D

Gaming Post 4: The Legend of Zelda

Oh snap! The random number generator wants me to write about Zelda 1!

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I first played this game as a part of a Legend of Zelda Collector’s Edition which I had (borrowed) for the GameCube.

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At the time, I was most familiar with the Legend of Zelda series via the Nintendo 64 title Ocarina of Time. The collectors edition featured a demo for the newest Zelda game, called The Wind Waker as well as the full versions of Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Zelda 1 and Zelda 2. I played Zelda 1 for a little while simply because it was on the disc.

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My first impression of it was that the game was really old. That observation was not inaccurate. Zelda 1 came out in 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and was one of the first video games that allowed the player to save their progress and continue playing later, which is now the norm for most video games.  Though the game was historically important, I couldn’t take the game seriously due to its outdated graphics. That is, until I finished Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask and decided to beat all of the Legend of Zelda games.

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This was my inspirational poster.

What I realized then was how fun the original Legend of Zelda can be. Essentially, the point of the game is to find and complete 8 dungeons in the relatively small country of Hyrule. Each dungeon has a fragment of the Triforce of Wisdom, and once the entire Triforce is assembled, you can fight Ganon, the Prince of Darkness.

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When you defeat Ganon, you save the princess, whose name is Zelda. The character you play as is not named Zelda. His name is Link. Link is the hero.

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I know a lot of trivia about this game. For example, the game first came out in Japan for a system called the Famicom. If one had a second controller for the Famicom, the game could use its microphone controls to kill the large bunny enemies.

It was made by Shigeru Miyamoto based on his childhood memories of getting lost in the woods and inside of his family’s house. And finally, Zelda was named after the wife of the novelist F Scott Fitzgerald, who wrote a pretty good book called The Great Gatsby.

If you want to play this game, I recommend getting it on the Virtual Console for either the Wii, the Wii U or the 3DS. The Wii U and 3DS versions allow you to use restore points, but I would personally recommend not using them. My friend Nick used restore points and regretted it because the game is so short. I can beat this game now in probably less than 3 hours if I remember what I’m doing.

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Also, there is a harder version of the game available after you beat the first version, called the second quest, but I would only recommend playing that if you are bored and have an online guide. I used an online guide for both the regular quest and the second quest. It’s possible that some day I’ll post an abridged “lets play” of this game, but I’m not sure when or if that will happen.

On to the next Gaming Post!

Gaming Post 1: Sonic Unleashed (Wii)

My plan has backfired. The random number generator told me to write about the game Sonic Unleashed for the Nintendo Wii System. This game came out for the Wii as well as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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My first impression of Sonic Unleashed came from this video entitled Night of the Werehog.

The real game wasn’t nearly as good as that video. From what I can tell, Sonic Unleashed is an example of a game that demonstrates that Sonic games aren’t as good as they used to be, at least from the perspectives of people who played Sonic games as kids and are now adults.

The game is divided into day levels and night levels. The day levels feature regular fast sonic running through courses and the night levels feature a slow monster version of sonic in which you fight many enemies.

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I don’t remember the game being particularly bad though. Perhaps that was because I went into playing it with low expectations (I was working on beating the 3D Sonic games).

Also, the first scene of the game was pretty great.

My friend Cam told me that the Wii version of Sonic Unleashed isn’t the same as the 360/PS3 version, and that the 360/PS3 Version is worse (his opinion). I’m tempted to try out the 360 version eventually, but to be honest, I’m not all that eager to play any sonic games until they get good again (That doesn’t mean I won’t).

I will consult the random number generator to determine the subject of my next gaming post.