No Yoshi is an Island

April 3, 2011 at 2:45 am | Posted in Video Games | 10 Comments
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I don’t know why Yoshi makes me so happy. Perhaps it’s because I have such fond memories of playing Yoshi’s Island when I was younger. Perhaps it’s because everything in his world is so weird and funny and cute…

See those puffy white things? If you eat them then your pupils will get really small, you’ll completely lose your balance, and the world will wave back and forth as if you’ve had too much to drink. The level is very appropriately named, “Touch Fuzzy Get Dizzy.” Besides hallucinogenic dandelion puffs, you will also be shrunken and eaten by a frog (your only way out being to shoot eggs at its uvula), sent into outerspace to fight a crow by pushing spikes through the other side of the planet (which I suspect was an inspiration for Mario Galaxy), morphed into trains, cars, helicopters, and submarines, and chased by someone named “Tap Tap the Red Nose.”

The world is highly interactive for a Super Nintendo game, which is probably why I spent so much time replaying it… Besides wanting to get 100% on all the levels so I could unlock bonus mini-games and secret levels, I also wanted to uncover all the little hidden details that made the world feel so creative and whimsical. In one of the levels, there’s a row of enemies standing above you. Their goal is to pass a bomb from one side of the room to your location so that they can hit you with it… But if you stomp the ground while the bomb is being passed from enemy to enemy, whoever is holding the bomb will prematurely drop it, causing the poor butterfingers to lower his head in shame as his peers disapprovingly shake their heads.

I could go on and on about how much I loved the gameplay, the puzzles, the character art, the music, and the world… but the thing I love the most about this game was how it inspired me. When I was younger, I used to subscribe to Nintendo Power (I also got grounded a lot for calling the Nintendo Power Hotline, but that’s another story)… My favorite issue was #77 because it had an article on Shigeru Miyamoto that completely fascinated me. This was the first time I’d ever heard anything about the creator of Super Mario Bros. and I was immediately impressed by him. When I was growing up, I always found myself immersed in some sort of creative activity… I drew comics of my friends on the side of my math homework, I procrastinated practicing my Classical music assignments because I was too busy improvising new songs or figuring out how to play the music from Little Nemo the Dream Master on the piano, I wrote stories and designed new levels in Megaman, and I was always imagining. The more I learned about Shigeru Miyamoto, the more I felt like I could relate to him and how he saw the world. Yoshi’s Island was like this big crazy manifestation of all that creativity… and after reading that Nintendo Power article, it became my dream to work in the video game industry; I promised myself that I would never abandon my creativity and that I’d always try to look at the world with a childlike heart.

So that brings me to the latest video:

This is my improvisation of the ending theme song from Yoshi’s Island, which was written by Koji Kondo. It’s beautiful and sweet; a perfect way to end the game. The premise of the game is that Kamek (a wizard and caretaker of Baby Bowser) has foretold that Mario would stop Bowser in the future… so he sends his cronies to kidnap Baby Mario as he’s being transported by the stork to his future parents. The cronies are able to kidnap Luigi and the stork, but Mario falls safely onto the island of the Yoshis. Shortly after, the Yoshis set forth to rescue Luigi and the stork so that the babies can be delivered to their parents. At the very end of the game, the parents hold up Baby Mario and Luigi, and “heroes are born” is shown at the bottom of the screen. Right at that moment, the Super Mario Bros. “level completed” riff from the original game is been worked into the composition… it’s so beautiful… I’m slightly embarassed to admit this, but I get tears in my eyes during that part.

Anyways, I hope you like this rendition… and if you’ve never played Yoshi’s Island, I hope you get the chance to play this wonderful game. Who knows, maybe it’ll inspire you, too.

Favorite Video Games

May 23, 2010 at 3:08 am | Posted in Video Games | 101 Comments
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I need to take a break from working on boss battles in Melolune (too many variables, my brain is gonna explode!!) so I decided to write a quick post asking all of you, “what are your favorite video games and why?” I love this question. It’s always one of the first things I ask people once I find out they play games. Here are mine:

1.) Chrono Trigger

This is by far my favorite game of all time. I love how the story is initially simple, but grows deeper and more complex over time. I still remember how moved I was when I found out one of the major plot twists in the Kingdom of Zeal, and how sad I felt when Azala said to Ayla, “we have no future” ;_; The art was incredibly detailed and beautiful, the music was memorable and evocative, and the gameplay was fun. I hadn’t experienced turn-based battles before, so at first I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t fight enemies the way I did in Secret of Mana… but I quickly acclimated and developed a great appreciation for how balanced everything was, and how fun the double and triple combination attacks were. I remember looking forward to watching the battle animations everytime I learned a new move. The ending was great, and the “New Game+” option made it easy to go through the game again looking for all the fun little secret endings… All in all, it was a fantasic game.

2.) Starcraft

Yes, that’s my Hydralisk figurine which was given to me by George when he still worked at Blizzard.

For starters, one of my secret nerdy-dreams is to someday commentate for a live Starcraft pro-match. I was first introduced to Starcraft back in college. My dorm floor was filled with gamers, and I was naturally curious about this game that everyone seemed to be playing all the time. I decided to ask about it, and soon enough it was installed on my computer and a bunch of people were arguing over how best to teach me how to play. Despite this, the most coherent explanation I got was, “Make guys who will make these buildings, then use the buildings to make armies and go kill stuff.” … Um… yeah… thanks guys… So as you can imagine I didn’t do too well at first. After a while though I decided I wanted to get good, so I played through all the campaigns (I loved the story so much that I ended up reading a few of the novels), and played a bunch on battlenet. I even spent some time playing in Korea, haha… but that’s another story. Basically, it’s an incredibly fun and engaging game (so engaging in fact that I often play a game instead of taking an Advil if I have a headache or leg cramp or something) with a really cool story.

3.) Megaman 5

I love the original NES Megaman series in general, but the reason I chose 5 was because I had such a personal attachment to it as a child. When we had to write about 3 accomplishments in school, I chose overcoming my fear of elevators, something else I can’t remember, and beating Megaman 5. The game was so fun, the levels were the perfect length and the bosses were the perfect level of difficulty… they didn’t frustrate me to the point that I was stressed out afterwards, but they were hard enough that I felt like I had accomplished something when I beat them. The graphics were basically top notch for the NES, and the music was SO GOOD. Oh and I got such a kick out of the intro and ending sequences… (“Protoman!??”)

4.) Yoshi’s Island

Cutest. Game. Ever. There is a level called “Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy.” I actually first learned about Shigeru Miyamoto from reading the special Nintendo Power that talked about this game. I remember thinking, “wow, that guy must be so creative to come up with something like this.” Besides being cute and having a really charming art style, the gameplay was excellent… great player control, some of the most interesting and satisfying sidescroller puzzles I’d ever played (like that one bonus level where you have to navigate through a confusing pipe maze)… And I loved how in the very last bit of the ending credits song you can hear the original Super Mario Bros. riff worked into the score as they hold up Baby Luigi and Mario and it says “Our heroes are born!” ^_^

5.) Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past

I don’t know how many times I’ve played this game… Yet every single time I play it, I’m just as excited to finally get Zora’s slippers or the magic hammer so I can explore those blocked off areas. I catch myself spending time just exploring the world… I love the little grove where that musician guy (Poe?) is playing his flute for all the forest animals who run away when you get close… I love how you can swim underneath that castle bridge and find a hobo who hooks you up with an extra jar. The dungeon puzzles make you feel smart. The only thing I didn’t like was how in the beginning your uncle says, “Zelda is your…” and then you never find out… she’s my what? My sister? A vampire and here’s a million dollars? (100 points if you get that reference)

It’s tough making this list… there are so many games that I enjoyed that it’s tough to rank them like this. I think my list changes a lot too depending on my mood. Sometimes Secret of Mana is up there, Twilight Princess, E.V.O. The Search for Eden (which is totally one of those games that no one has ever heard of, despite the fact it was awesome and I have a very strong hunch that it inspired Spore), Star Tropics, Maniac Mansion, Megaman 2-4 and ZX, the first Suikoden, Super Mario Bros. 3, Puzzle Fighter, DoTA… So many great games.

So yeah, how about you? What are some of your favorite games? ^_^

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