Super Mario Odyssey! (Whimsical Weekend #18)

I bought this game on release date (October 28), but between having a full-time job, some unspoken second thing, and wanting to finish Breath of the Wild main quests first, I never had the pleasure of playing it until 2 days later. That said, I enjoyed the crap out of the game and managed to 100% complete it in roughly 45 hours overall. Now, don’t be deceived by quantities (namely that I’ve spent 125 total hours on Breath of the Wild as of now), because I have to say that Super Mario Odyssey has a better ratio of quality to time spent. But, comparing the two games is like comparing apples to oranges, so I’ll just discard any further notion of doing so.

First off, a synopsis. Bowser schemes to arrange a marriage with Peach, and Mario has no choice but to interfere. However, Mario starts off being kicked off Bowser’s airship and lost in some mysterious location, his hat torn to shreds. Fortunately, this mysterious location happens to be the hometown of a hat-like ghost named Cappy, who meets Mario and ends up becoming his sidekick by giving him special powers, notably the ability to control particular creatures. While Bowser is out wreaking havoc and stealing valuables from a multitude of kingdoms, Mario and Cappy give chase, hoping to eventually rescue Peach (and Cappy’s sister, Tiara, who accompanies Peach throughout the story).

Simply put, Odyssey has a rather standard plot, but you can’t expect much different from a main series Mario game, eh? I mean, what makes a Mario game good is the music, atmosphere, and gameplay.

Starting with the music, Odyssey has a great soundtrack all around, with both original compositions and blasts from the past. Here’s a list of my top 3 picks in ascending order: Bowser’s Castle 2, Steam Gardens, and Honeylune Ridge: Caves. (As a side note, I have to say: The Wooded Kingdom music always reminds me of Llama by Phish.)

In terms of atmosphere, I don’t have much to say on the matter, except regarding the quirky characters of the game. I mean, there’s not much that I can say about everything else, because I’m not the type to be easily moved by any sort of scenery or inspired by any sort of theme. Anyways, regarding the characters… I’ll start with minor notes regarding minor characters.

  • The residents of Shiveria are adorable. My favorite minor characters, hands down.
  • “OTEP” is a nonsensical word said by the human NPCs of the game, particularly the bassist of Metro Kingdom. It’s become a meme on Twitch, so don’t be surprised if you see the word thrown around every now and then (to say the least).
  • Not exactly a character, but darned if Burrbos aren’t the most annoying enemy in the game. They’re like Miniblins from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. They die in one hit, but they respawn constantly, make annoying noises, and are extremely pesky with their means of dealing damage.

Next up: talk about Cappy. His powers are irreplaceable, and he definitely tries his best to be a helpful sidekick. Although his help occasionally comes in handy (particularly when it comes to postgame moon/coin hunting), it’s mostly redundant to people (like me) who end up having learned more about the game than the developers would expect (specifically when it comes to gameplay techniques and normally self-explanatory moments). It also makes me curious that he and Tiara pronounce his name more like “Kyappy” than “Cappy”, presumably because the voice actors are Japanese. More importantly, his cries for help after being captured by Klepto are really annoying.

Now, last but definitely not least is the gameplay. I want to say there hasn’t been a Mario game with such satisfying movement since Sunshine or 64. Granted it kinda follows in the footsteps of 3D World, but the cat suit is not absolutely needed (in other words, taking damage does not absolutely negate the fastest form of movement). It’s no secret that Odyssey was developed at least somewhat with speedrunning in mind, considering the movement options, skippable cutscenes, Koopa Freerunning, and a few sequence breaks that Cappy comments on. Even so, it can just as easily be played casually by virtue of its design. What’s also cool is that there’s a multitude of 2D sections in the game despite it being 3D, and even with some throwbacks to age-old games such as Donkey Kong and SMB1.

And contrary to 3D World’s linearity in design, Odyssey has two types of collectibles: moons and purple coins. Some of the purple coins may be a major headache to get (read: Lake Kingdom underwater zipper and Bowser’s Kingdom lantern), but the concept of purple coins makes the game more of a collectathon like Sunshine. (3D World only had stars, stamps, and maybe flagpoles.) I mean, some of the moons were also a pain, namely:

  • Dark Side moons 3 and 4 (Breakdown Road: Hurry! and Breakdown Road: Final Challenge!) – This is the start of a series of challenges that are repeats of earlier moons except that you have to use Cappy to get in and therefore can’t use him within the rooms (like how Super Mario Sunshine secrets have Shadow Mario stealing FLUDD). Well, I didn’t know they were repeats at the time; most of them I did before the original moons. Anyway, it’s some tough crud, lemme tell ya. Although, admittedly I was a bit too search-happy with this particular challenge, but the long jump sequence is challenging regardless.
  • Dark Side moons 5 and 6 (Invisible Road: Rush! and Invisible Road: Secret!) – Honest to goodness, there were times when I felt like I was clearly stepping on the giant Poison Piranhas but ended up somehow getting hit instead. Deceitfully difficult stuff.
  • Dark Side moons 11 and 12 (Yoshi on the Sinking Island and Fruit Feast on the Sinking Island) – This is not part of the series mentioned above. I find it cool that you can directly control Yoshi in this game instead of riding on his back; it feels a bit more like symbiosis than the usual master-servant relationship. Even so, I didn’t know, nor did I think I needed to know, about Yoshi’s climbing technique, so my first playthrough of the challenge consisted of sideflip fluttering and a whole metric frick ton of deaths. I mean, at least the fruit counter doesn’t reset when you die, but it’s always agonizing when the lava catches up (usually no thanks to the spike ball cycles), especially at high HP.
  • Darker Side (a.k.a. Champion’s Road 0.5), although apparently some major skip was discovered for that level. This was actually the first place where I realized that you could control Glydon.
  • Moon Kingdom moon 16 (Found on the Moon, Good Dog!) – It wasn’t in any of the craters that the dog could access, so I had no clue where it could possibly be. I tried using Hint Toad, but the hint he gives only points to the dog, so I just had to keep trying. Turns out the moon is between the debris-filled crater and the straw dummy for moon 7 (Moon Kingdom Timer Challenge 1).
  • Moon Kingdom moon 28 (Mysterious Flying Object) – I went through so much trouble trying to figure out how to catch the UFO, not realizing that the solution was simply a homing cap throw.
  • Metro Kingdom moon 36 (Celebrating in the Streets!) – I missed this secret the first time, and it was such a pain to find it postgame, even with the help of Talkatoo and the Hint Toad.
  • Cap Kingdom moon 7 (Slipping Through the Poison Tide) – Somehow I didn’t notice the hole in the gate across from the entrance at first, and that was also the location of three of the purple coins that I was missing before I realized.
  • Cap Kingdom moon 13 (Taxi Flying Through Bonneton) – I was confused when Hint Toad led me to the binoculars, and that was when I figured out that there are certain moons that require looking at oddities in the sky. (Others include Cascade Kingdom moon 25, Metro Kingdom moon 59, and Bowser’s Kingdom moon 39.)
  • Cap Kingdom moon 17 (hint art) – I thought for so long that those were carpets like in Tostarena; I never imagined people on the moon. The blue circle in the background was the main giveaway, though.
  • Sand Kingdom moon 76 (On the Eastern Pillar) – This one was a pain—but possible—to get without motion controls. That is to say, I was on gamepad at the time, so I didn’t even think motion controls were possible, but I painstakingly found a way to get the moon anyway. What I did was I went to the Tostarena Ruins Sand Pillar location, went to the pillars closest to the east of the nearest Bullet Bill cannon, lured a Bullet Bill from the south pillar, took its hat off at the north pillar, and threw Cappy at the very northeast corner of the pillar while luring the Bullet Bill to where I threw him. This allowed me to reach the box without shaking at all, just holding Y.
  • Luncheon Kingdom moon 53 (Diving from the Big Pot!) – While capturing a Lava Bubble in the giant stew pot, do a rather precise jump to the smaller stew pot on top of the slots building in the plaza. The consequence of failing? Having to warp to the Top of the Peak Climb checkpoint and get back to the giant pot. This particular moon wasn’t a huge struggle, taking me only 2-3 tries, but it set forth a greater struggle that I had on moon 50.
  • Luncheon Kingdom moon 50 (The Rooftop Lantern) – I did this right after moon 53, so I did the exact same thing for this moon, and it was a whole lot more painstaking due to being slightly farther away and having a smaller hitbox. (It took me upwards of 10 tries.) That was before I realized that I could just take a Fire Bro. from beyond the Path to the Meat Plateau checkpoint back to the plaza.
  • Mushroom Kingdom moon 28 (Courtyard Chest Trap) – Aside from the Chest Trap in Seaside Kingdom that’s precisely like Super Mario 64, this was the first Chest Trap mission I had done. I had no idea what was going on, thinking that I had to kill all the zombies in the order specified, and I frustratingly died once or twice before realizing the truth behind it.
  • Mushroom Kingdom moon 33 (Knucklotec rematch) – Those zombies were so pesky.

And regarding 100% completion, I did almost everything on my own—”almost” as in, I tried not to look up anything (although I was tempted to look up Bowser’s Kingdom purple coin locations) except the best farming spot for coins (that being the secret stage of moon 37, the beanstalk at the west wing of the castle) and 2 of the required captures (specifically the Poison and Fire Piranha Plants).

At any rate, the gameplay of Super Mario Odyssey leads me to believe that it’s not entirely complex but not entirely mindless—that is, just the right balance between simple and clever for a Mario game. I find that the Bowser fights are particularly well done in that Bowser seems to have a surprise for every cycle. Even in the first fight in Cloud Kingdom, the last cycle has Bowser performing a counterattack instead of the usual fare of being pummeled while doing nothing back. Then the second fight has him throwing rocks that can’t be punched, more as the fight draws closer to the end. Another surprising thing to me was the third cycle of the third Bowser fight (unlocked after obtaining all 880 unique moons). Normally, Bowser throws a fixed number of rocks before bursting out in evil laughter and leaving himself vulnerable, but in the cycle in question, he never stops throwing rocks until you approach him and pummel him. (But you have to be quick, otherwise he’ll jump away.) You could always do that in all the other cycles of all the fights, but I never imagined until then that such a thing was possible. (Being able to control Bowser after the fight was also a pleasant surprise!)

And even though I’ve finished the game, I easily came to enjoy watching speedruns of it, primarily on account of how slick the movement is and how so many tricks are revealed that I never knew in my first playthrough.

Final verdict: There is no such thing as a perfect game, but Super Mario Odyssey comes very close.

 

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

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At a standstill 3 (Whimsical Weekend #17)

First off, I’m still in the process of going for all the endings of Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2. As of last time, I took care of the Planeptune, Leanbox, Lastation, Lowee, Human, and Conquest endings in that order, so I only have the Holy Sword and True endings left.

The Land and Human endings are basically just the Normal ending with a bonus cutscene after the credits, so not much beyond the standard fare of cutesy aftermath. Conquest ending, on the other hand… I’m still reeling from that jank. It requires a complicated set of criteria to be done before the end of Chapter 5 (a.k.a. the Planeptune event after defeating three of the Four Felons), and I now realize that the developers were right to make it so.

I’ll try not to go into too much detail (for the sake of avoiding spoilers and saving the detailed talk until I finish the entire Re;Birth series), but I will say that Conquest ending has a fairly similar plot line to Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest (hence “Conquest” is in both names), only it’s smaller scale and with less painstakingly difficult battles, but with a greater touch of guilt and loneliness as the plot advances (granted I haven’t finished Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest, but that’s the best comparison I can draw). And actually, seeing the more morbid events unfold made me think back to when I played through the Zero Escape series, which is a far cry from what I’d normally expect of a Neptunia game. That said, I’m guessing that the other two endings won’t be quite as intense (but probably at least more intense than the Normal, Land, or Human endings).

While I’m at it, I never really explained to what degree I play through the installments of the Re;Birth series before I consider myself “done” with them. Along with making sure that I’ve seen all the endings, I also strive to unlock all characters, complete all quests and colosseum battles, fill the image gallery (in other words, each ending done on a separate cycle of a single playthrough), and unlock all plans. Anything beyond that would be…excessive, I imagine.

Other than that, the only notable thing I’ve been up to is continuing my Breath of the Wild playthrough, in which I’m up to 108 shrines, 231 Korok seeds, 10 memories, 30 Shrine Quests, 44 Side Quests, 4 Great Fairies, and 231 Hyrule Compendium entries  (64 Creatures, 58 Monsters, 35 Materials, 70 Equipment, and 4 Treasure).

…Yeah, that’s really all I have to say for now.

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

I have been playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Whimsical Weekend #16)

…and I must admit that I’ve become quite obsessed.

Back in early August, I caved in and bought a Nintendo Switch bundle pack with Breath of the Wild (including DLC) and, ever since August 18 when I unpacked everything, I haven’t spent a single day without playing the game. (It is currently the only game I have for Nintendo Switch, but I might consider getting Puyo Puyo Tetris, and I definitely plan on getting Super Mario Odyssey.)

After 70 total hours of playing, my current progress is as follows:

  • All Divine Beasts freed
  • Full Stamina Wheel
  • 12 Hearts
  • 83 Shrines
  • 105 Koroks
  • 12 Main Quests
  • 23 Shrine Quests
  • 30 Side Quests
  • All Sheikah Slate runes, completely upgraded
  • All Towers activated
  • 4 Memories (out of the main 12)
  • 45 Hyrule Compendium entries
    • 20 Creatures
    • 16 Monsters
    • 5 Materials
    • 2 Equipment
    • 2 Treasure
  • 3 Great Fairies

In all this, I have and will, above all else, try not seek any help online. Granted, I did look up that there are 120 Shrines, 900 (!!!) Koroks, 15 Main Quests, 42 Shrine Quests, and 76 Side Quests…but simple quantities like that are acceptable in my book.

Despite that I got DLC with the bundle pack, I plan not to indulge in any of it until I’ve beaten the game normally, and I won’t beat the game normally until I feel fully prepared to do so (i.e., once I feel like I’ve discovered enough areas on the map, or at least recovered the remaining 8 memories and pulled out the Master Sword (in that order)).

Anyway, it’s been quite an adventure, honestly. If I had to describe the game in just a few words, I would describe it as an Elder Scrolls + Skyward Sword hybrid. That is to say, it has all the open-world goodness of an Elder Scrolls game, with bundles of aesthetics and mechanics reminiscent of Skyward Sword.

Not only that, but the puzzles within the shrines and such are brilliantly designed to require plenty of brain power (as in, not much hand-holding here) while not quite being on the echelon of a dedicated puzzle game. That said, I recall having trouble with more than a few portions of the game. Before I go on, though, note henceforth that when I say “I had to,” I actually mean “I felt like I had to.” Just think of it as an abridgement, really. Anyway, so…what exactly I struggled with:

  • Fighting a Guardian for the first time (in Great Plateau, with no ancient weapons or anything like that)
  • Surviving the path to Zora’s Domain for the first time
  • Fighting a Lynel for the first time
  • Immobilizing Vah Ruta without missing any shots (I thought this was mandatory at first)
  • In Sha Warvo Shrine (the one near Flight Range, along the path of the Vah Medoh quest), it took me way too long to realize that the penultimate platform block had an opening concealed from the view of the fan before it.
  • In my first fight against a Talus, I only used arrows and Lizal boomerangs, being blissfully unaware of the possibility that I could simply climb up on that enemy (when the time is right, of course) and go ham on its weak spot.
  • The Yiga Clan Hideout took me three tries to sneak through. Everything past the second guard is a huge pain, like a ridiculous jump in difficulty compared to the beginning. On the third try, I had to avoid everything except the Mighty Banana stash. As in, from the closest opening to the stash, I paraglided all the way to the final stretch, having to creep around the suspecting final guard. It was a struggle at first, believe me…but the final result felt so easy, despite feeling a bit wrong.
  • Climbing one of the towers (the one with the ancient sentries and the Pools of Malice) was a pain, and so was even finding Gerudo Tower (let alone without traversing the desert).
  • All those “Major Test” Shrines (and even a Savage Lynel that killed me) on the path of searching for Gerudo Tower
  • The two upper terminals of Vah Naboris were a humungous pain to get to. All I could think to do was haphazardly shoot arrows through whatever openings I could find near the Pools of Malice, and I eventually managed to find and destroy one of the eyes blocking my way.
  • Getting through Lost Woods—particularly the second part, where you have to follow the embers of a lit fire to get to the end
  • Facing intense cold and heat for the first time
    • In the case of intense cold, I didn’t know that Rito Armor existed until after doing the midair arrow shot training, so I had to keep a Torch with me at all times…until the training, during which I had to fight the bitter cold.
    • Intense heat was much tougher to deal with. I can’t imagine the intended way of going through it, but I went all the way to the southern mine of Eldin, making sure to keep healthy by way of healing items, Mipha’s Grace, and the hot spring near the southern mine…and then hunting down 10 Fireproof Lizards to complete the quest for the fireproof armor. (Side note: I tried to take a picture of one to take advantage of Sheikah Sensor +, but I learned the hard way that taking damage forcibly takes you out of camera mode.)
  • Wrapping my head around how the Goron cannons work, specifically that you have to hit the lever with an equipped weapon to get the cannons to turn
  • I used up 2 Ancient Arrows during the attack on Vah Rudania. On the path to the second cannon, I didn’t really think outside the box and ended up having to fire at two sentries that were giving me a hard time. The path to the third cannon was also quite a handful, but that was when I realized that the path to Vah Rudania is designed with a way to take out the sentries without engaging them in direct combat.
  • Rock Octoroks and phase 2 of Fireblight Ganon have a particular trait in common: They suck in their surroundings, and they fire a projectile that deals ridiculous damage. In the case of Rock Octoroks, I had to fire a precisely timed arrow between the interval of when they spit the projectile and when they hide in the ground. In the case of Fireblight Ganon, there was nothing else I could do. That was when I realized: If a monster sucks things in, simply feed it a Remote Bomb! Since then, needless to say, Rock Octoroks have become much easier to deal with.
  • Fighting the Igneo Talus on the isolated platform surrounded by lava (that thing knocked me into the lava so many times before I figured out how to fight it…)

So, those are things that I struggled with but ended up prevailing over. And even now, I still have some mysteries on the back burner:

  • The fourth Great Fairy
  • The Keo Ruug Shrine riddle
  • The Eighth Heroine (I plan to not fully explore Gerudo Desert until I complete this quest…however I do it)
  • Savage Lynels with clubs (seriously, I can literally only get a flurry opportunity from one of those attacks…)
  • How to snipe the eyes of the thunder and fire dragons, like sniping the eye of the freeze dragon after liberating it from the calamity

To end this off, I’ll try to think of particular things that I like and dislike about the game.

Pros:

  • Nods to other games in the series
    • The Divine Beast names
      • Vah Ruta is named after Ruto, the Water Sage of Ocarina of Time
      • Vah Rudania is named after Darunia (literally an anagram), the Fire Sage of OoT
      • Vah Naboris is named after Nabooru (and Urbosa even says that in the cutscene after freeing the Divine Beast), the Spirit Sage of OoT
      • Vah Medoh is named after Medli, the Earth Sage (is that even the proper term…?) of Wind Waker
    • Part of the Rito Village theme is remixed from the Dragon Roost Island theme of Wind Waker
    • Locations like the Linebeck and Mercay Islands (Phantom Hourglass), as well as Darunia Lake (OoT again)
    • Kass plays Epona’s Song (from OoT) on accordion when at a stable
  • The minigame music (that plays during the climbing challenge, footrace, and such) and Talus battle music are particularly catchy
  • Champion powers can be really helpful, especially Mipha’s Grace and Daruk’s Protection (that sort of mechanic is reminiscent of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, now that I think about it…)
  • Sidon is a cheesy yet somehow likable character, and baby Zora and Rito are adorable.
  • Stuff that I’ve already mentioned

Cons (take these with a grain of salt; I freaking love this game):

  • Random undead and Chuchus are pesky (especially when I try to sneak up on some random enemy or group of enemies)
  • Rain hinders climbing to a crippling degree
  • They removed Beetle’s signature “THANK YOU!!!” from Wind Waker…and now his most notable line is “Saa, saa!” (which is essentially Japanese talk for urging Link to buy/sell something)
  • That freaking blood moon… Well, that in itself isn’t too bad, considering it makes Lynel and Hinox drops significantly easier to hunt for, but it irritates me that the same old dag-blasted cutscene plays every single time after the first blood moon, and you have to press X and + to skip it. I mean, what’s so important about seeing it any more than once?
  • If you approach a Divine Beast while it’s preparing its attack on Ganon, the game moves you to one set point nearby. …Why not just have Link turn back and take a few steps, similarly to how the boat in Wind Waker makes a U-turn if you hit the edge of the map?

For now, this is the best that I can use words to express my admiration for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Next time I talk about this will probably be when I complete the game to a satisfactory degree.

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Brain Food #1 (Whimsical Weekend #15)

 Yo. Let it be known that I stayed up late trying to get this done, even though I spread my effort throughout the week instead of the usual protocol of saving it all until the last minute.

This week, I will be introducing a new series for this blog. It’s called Brain Food, and the premise is that I will ask myself a silly question on my mind and, of course, answer it.

The question of the weekend is…

If I had to make a Super Mario 64 ROM hack but could only change the music, how would I change it?

(For those unfamiliar with the term “ROM hack,” refer to http://sm64hacks.com/thread-992.html)

Now, I’m not here to discredit the original music of Super Mario 64 (on the contrary, I would describe it as timeless), and I don’t actually plan to do what the question entails. This is entirely hypothetical, and purely for enjoyment.

For the individual music changes, I will cover as many different areas/events as I can, including areas that are different but have the same music normally (e.g., Bob-Omb Battlefield and Whomp’s Fortress), but excluding the title screen, courtyard, credits theme, and non-looping jingles (which are 100% okay as is). I’ll also try to use as few Mario games as I can, but no promises about Nintendo games.

File select

Puzzles (Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney)

Hmm… Which file should I select? What am I getting myself into? These sorts of questions and perhaps more are what surfaces on the mind during file selection. Thus, a serene tune that nicely complements thinking is the best fit for the file select screen.

Peach’s Castle

ACDC Town theme (MegaMan Battle Network 3)

Peach’s Castle can best be described as a hub world of sorts, where most of everything else is located. Such also describes ACDC Town in the Battle Network series, and the theme in question has the same sort of upbeat yet welcoming charm that befits Peach’s Castle.

“Why 3 in particular?” you may ask, and that is because 3 was the game that introduced me to the Battle Network series and has the most memorable ACDC theme of the Battle Network games I’ve played.

Bob-Omb Battlefield

Pop Star (Kirby 64)

Bob-Omb Battlefield is the first world (like Pop Star in Kirby 64), is filled with round creatures (Bob-Ombs), and introduces the wonkiness of the game. No doubt in my mind that Kirby 64’s Pop Star theme would be a great match.

Miniboss battle

That Person’s Name Is (Bravely Default)

This theme applies to King Bob-Omb, Whomp King, Eyerok, and Wiggler. I was tempted to come up with a custom theme for each one, but on the basis that Super Mario Star Road only has one type of miniboss theme, I decided to discard that idea.

Quite honestly, this is one of the most memorable battle themes that I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. In my experience with Bravely Default, it’s the sort of tune that made me want to keep playing to the end, for better or for worse. (It may not be applied to that many situations in this case, but that doesn’t matter.)

Koopa race

Boss Battle II (Diddy Kong Racing)

Nothing says “I’m in a heated race with this eccentric creature” quite like the good ol’ Diddy Kong Racing boss theme. It’s always been a catchy tune, and it fits well with the Koopa races in Bob-Omb Battlefield and Tiny Huge Island.

Whomp’s Fortress

Crystal Fortress (They Might Be Giants w/ Strong Bad)

Kind of a joke this time. The “Fortress” part is the main justification of it.

Homestar Runner was a memorable part of my childhood, and nowadays I have occasional nostalgic cravings to satisfy (mainly along the lines of “What was that one toon/sbemail with [insert phrase/event here]?”), and following homestar_ebooks on Twitter is part of the reason for that.

Sleeping Piranha Plant theme

Eternity’s Moment (Bravely Default)

This music is surprisingly catchy, yet it fits the theme of an unsuspecting sleeper, like an undisturbed Piranha Plant in Whomp’s Fortress. Not much more to say there.

Cool Cool Mountain

Snowpoint City (Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum)

Fits the essence of an entry-level area blanketed with snow. Snowpoint City is, after all, the first residential area in the Pokémon games to canonically feature any sort of snow. Quite fitting for Cool Cool Mountain.

Inside the cottage (CCM)

Icirrus City (Pokémon Black/White)

And this tune fits the atmosphere of being in a snowy area but being sheltered enough to where you can play around unhindered. It’s also hype enough to go well with racing a penguin.

What I didn’t realize is that there are apparently two versions of the Icirrus theme: with and without percussion. Back when I played Pokémon Black, I didn’t really pay much attention to how the music tracks—let alone that of Icirrus City—varied among seasons, but I’m guessing the track without percussion is associated with winter (because it’s more fitting that way).

Aquarium secret

Underwater (Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald)

What better tune to describe fumbling around in an aquarium than the underwater theme of Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, widely known (or at least to me) as the theme of fumbling around underwater to try to figure out how to progress the story past Tate&Liza? Ah, good times in both situations.

Jolly Roger Bay

Gloomy Galleon (Donkey Kong 64)

Both Jolly Roger Bay and Gloomy Galleon are water levels, ship-related levels, and even the fourth level in their respective games. No better match here, I’d say.

Because the ship in Jolly Roger Bay has its own loading zone, I would give it separate music, namely the Ship Ruins rendition of the theme.

Big Boo’s Haunt

Pumpkin Hill (Sonic Adventure 2)

“I ain’t gonna let it get to me; I’m just gonna creep.” Granted Big Boo’s Haunt doesn’t really have any pumpkins, the spookiness of it matches with the spooky vibe of the Pumpkin Hill theme.

Sonic Adventure 2 (Battle for GameCube) was another one of my childhood games, as well as the first Sonic game that I remember fondly.

Merry-go-round (BBH)

You in Wonderland (Persona Q)

Merry-go-rounds are fun…but not when they’re invaded by spooky creatures. Just like how Persona Q worlds (particularly You in Wonderland) always tend to have some sort of uncanny aspect with their theme. As in, the theme in question conveys some sort of fun, albeit a demented sort of fun…if that makes sense.

Peach slide

Beach Street (MegaMan Battle Network 3)

In the spirit of my decision to associate the ACDC Town theme with Peach’s Castle, I figured that the Beach Street theme can be considered a sort of upbeat and playful theme. Appropriate for playing around on a slide and trying to get some sort of record time.

Wing Cap / shell theme

Waterskip Slider (Amazing Island)

The feeling of being able to move around in a whole different, more majestic way. That sort of feeling is conveyed well in the Waterskip Slider theme of Amazing Island.

Under normal circumstances, the theme accompanies a minigame where monsters build up speed by running across a large ramp, jump at the end of a ramp, and skip across the water so as to achieve a record distance.

And, conveniently, the aspects of gaining air and staying above the water’s surface are also characteristic of the Wing Cap and shell, respectively.

Wing Cap stage

Gentle Breeze (Trauma Center DS 2)

You don’t hear much of the normal music in the Wing Cap stage, and when you do, you’re most likely falling into the sky-colored abyss or stranded on the island containing the switch, so I figured: “Why not just go with a meme song?” The song also works because it has “breeze” in the title, and the stage in question is in the sky.

Bowser in the Dark World

Liberation Mission (MegaMan Battle Network 5)

The premise of liberation missions in MegaMan Battle Network 5 boils down to clearing darkness from a treacherous area. That’s how it first seems when searching for Bowser in the Dark World: “I’m gonna defeat Bowser and be done with this!” Yet in reality, the story of MMBN5 doesn’t end with a liberation mission…nor does Super Mario 64 end when you enter a warp pipe.

Simply put, the tune is for a place of darkness and treachery, but far from the finale.

vs. Bowser 1

Boss Theme (MegaMan Battle Network 5)

Once again in the spirit of my previous decision, this music plays more than a few times in the main story of MMBN5, and mostly when fighting the boss of a liberation mission. Just putting two and two together, plain and simple.

Hazy Maze Cave

Forgotten Forest (Phoenotopia)

Hazy Maze Cave and Forgotten Forest are not nearly at the same relative progress point in their respective games, but the two areas have two key aspects in common: (1) It’s easy to get lost, and (2) getting lost may result in death. That’s what led to the association here.

Oh, and both areas can be skipped in their respective games.

Metal Cap theme

Because It’s Midnite (Limozeen)

“Bringin’ the metal back to where it belongs!” I don’t know if this song is really metal (and I always have a hard time distinguishing musical genres), but I really couldn’t think of anything else.

Metal Cap stage

We Don’t Really Even Care about You (sloshy)

In the spirit of saying “in the spirit of” my previous decision, I figured it would be funny if the Metal Cap timer were to expire in the Metal Cap stage and leave a totally non-metal track in its wake. Because, guess what? They are related.

Lethal Lava Land

Hot Damned (Super Meat Boy)

The intensity of Super Meat Boy music doesn’t exactly fit with the lightness of Super Mario 64…except when you can’t help feeling like the music isn’t intense enough. Such is the case with Lethal Lava Land. I mean, the place is chock-full of destructive fire everywhere, yet the music there is the same as in a freaking desert (which, let’s be honest, isn’t nearly as intense).

With that in mind, wouldn’t the music of the Hell world of Super Meat Boy be appropriate?

Inside the volcano (LLL)

Devil N’ Bass (Super Meat Boy)

In the…volcano is even more intense, and thus could use more intense music than the outside. Also, the BGM is associated with Dark Hell, which makes sense in conjunction with the previous choice because the volcano is not as exposed to light as the rest of Lethal Lava Land.

Shifting Sand Land

Pecan Sands (Wario World)

Like Hazy Maze Cave, Shifting Sand Land is far from the final level, and yet somehow is befitting of the final level music of some other game. Pecan Sands can’t be skipped in Wario World, but the music associated with it is intense and desert-like enough to work in this situation.

Inside the pyramid (SSL)

Relic Castle (Pokémon Black/White)

Hey, look, a music choice of an interior area that has nothing to do with the music choice of the exterior area! It may not be quite as intense as the exterior music, but it honestly fits exploring the interior of a sand-infested pyramid where lots of falling is bound to happen.

Dire Dire Docks

Battle for Storm Hill (Donkey Kong Jungle Beat)

Okay…maybe this might be a bit too intense, but my thought process was that Dire Dire Docks is somehow Bowser’s territory, considering how there’s a Bowser-branded submarine (at least for the first star) and an accompanying hatch leading goodness-knows-where, and so it’s kinda like the Battle for Dire Dire Docks…if that makes sense.

Simply put, the music is rather appropriate for the first star, but perhaps a bit too intense for the others.

Vanish Cap music

You Can’t See Me (John Cena theme)

Painfully obvious, but I love the theme and the meme.

Vanish Cap stage

Stage Builder (Super Smash Bros. Brawl)

All I could think was that the Vanish Cap stage had so much unused space…even in the DS remake. That said, you can’t completely remake the Vanish Cap stage in the Brawl Stage Builder (or any Smash Stage Builder for that matter), although some elements look like they can (notably the platforming just before the blue switch).

Bowser in the Fire Sea

Magmatic Magnetics (Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 2)

The loop provided cuts off awkwardly (e.g. at 2:29), but at least it gets the point across, that being that the area accompanied by the music is fiery and has a boss up ahead. (In the case of Re;Birth 2, it’s the place where you fight the grunt villains for the last time (at least in Normal End).)

This song is one of the coolest dungeon themes in what I’ve played of the Hyperdimension Neptunia series (which, granted, isn’t much), and I especially like the double bass towards the middle of the loop.

vs. Bowser 2

One Two Three (Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1)

From the same series, but not from the same game. I mean, I have to say as a whole that Re;Birth 2 took a step down from Re;Birth 1 in terms of music selection, but perhaps that’s mostly because of the poor audio balancing in Re;Birth 2. (Most noticeably, few if any tracks in the game can rival the loudness of the world map theme.)

Anyway, from what I’ve played of the series, One Two Three has to be the best track of all (and one of my favorite battle themes of all time), and it plays when you fight a low-tier dangerous enemy (at least in Re;Birth 1). Kind of a fitting description for Bowser 2, despite that he has a trick up his sleeve compared to Bowser 1.

Snowman’s Land

Arcterra Theme #2 (Metroid Prime Hunters)

When the snow area gets more intense, you can bet that a theme of intergalactic exploration would be more fitting than a theme of some peaceful town, even if both are covered in snow. There’s also arguably more treachery in Snowman’s Land, what with the violently windy breath of the giant snowman, the blanket of ice that somehow has the same effect on Mario as a pit of lava, and the water that drains HP faster and provides no healing.

Inside the igloo (SL)

Land of Immortality (Bravely Default)

This theme plays in a snowy town full of magic-operated machinery that keeps everyone healthy. The igloo in Snowman’s Land may not be that extreme, but igloos have a protective enough design to promote lifespan to some degree. So, I guess it works?

Wet Dry World

On our way / City in the sky (Dokapon Kingdom)

This one is kinda hard to explain. There’s some kind of magic in raising the water level (as there is magic in Dokapon Kingdom), there’s a town in the depths of the area, and the backdrop is…kinda weird for what the level is supposed to be. Weird thing meets weird thing, and they end up like peas in a pod. That’s how it is in every case, really.

Tall Tall Mountain

Justice RIP (Fire Emblem Fates)

Conquering a mountain is a bit like conquering the army of a sunrise land, hence the association here. The music chosen is one of the more intense tracks of the game, and Tall Tall Mountain is one of the last five levels of Super Mario 64, so the association makes sense in multiple ways.

Secret slide (TTM)

Ninjape Rally (Donkey Kong Jungle Beat)

If you’ve seen all the slides in Super Mario 64 (granted there aren’t many), this would most likely be the last. Thus, it’s only appropriate for the associated track to have some sense of finality, being the last character race of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (and in the final kingdom, no less). There is also a bit of sliding involved in the aforementioned race.

Moreover, the secret slide in Tall Tall Mountain is arguably more tricky than Peach’s slide; although there is no time limit for the former, such is more than made up for with the forked path and quarter pipes.

Tiny Huge Island

Conquest (Fire Emblem Awakening)

Exploring two parallel worlds of different sizes is a grand undertaking. It almost seems like taking on random treachery in an otherwise peaceful area where exploration is obligatory. That’s the kind of feeling that ties this music with this area, I think.

Wiggler’s cavern (THI)

Infiltrating Hostile Territory (Bravely Default)

I’m sure anyone would consider it hostile if there were some giant worm wriggling around and making a scene with its anger. And also, getting the red coins in here is no simple feat, considering the varied heights and surface areas of the platforms within, combined with that gruesome abyss at the bottom.

Moreover, one Bravely Default track transitioning into another sounds like a plan, right?

Cloud secret

City in the Sky (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess)

Like the Wing Cap stage, you won’t be spending very long in here without the Wing Cap, so might as well not do much with the music, right? Also, City in the Sky is one of the later dungeons of Twilight Princess and…well, like the cloud secret, takes place in the sky.

Tick Tock Clock

Clock Tower (Donkey Kong Jungle Beat)

It was between this and the Ancheim theme of Bravely Default, but I figured the latter was too desert-y, whereas the Clock Tower music of Jungle Beat would be perfect for the occasion of scaling a treacherous, daunting, and tower-like clock…if you can even call it a clock. (It definitely is in the case of Jungle Beat, but I don’t know so much about Super Mario 64.)

Rainbow Ride

Cloudy Heights (Donkey Kong Jungle Beat)

Both settings share one main trait: If you mess up one little thing, it will most likely cost you dearly. While Rainbow Ride involves grabbing stars with elegance, Cloudy Heights is where you get a massive heap of bananas (I’m talking at least 3000 if done correctly) or cry trying. Basically, they both bring a sort of exotic difficulty to the table as opposed to the rest of the levels in their respective games.

Endless stairs

The Song That Doesn’t End (from Lamb Chop)

Do I even need to explain this? (I don’t know the song all that well, but I’ve heard/seen references to it when I was young.)

Bowser in the Sky

Ripple Star (Kirby 64)

It’s dark, and it has a grand sense of finality. What more to say?

vs. Bowser 3

Grand Finale (Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story)

Okay, when I said I’d try to use as few Mario games as I can…this is the one Mario game that I will use. (Well, it’s a Mario & Luigi game if you want to split hairs, but that’s still Mario if you ask me.) Regardless, the final boss music of Bowser’s Inside Story is really upbeat and intense—perfectly suitable for any sort of final fight involving Bowser.

 

Well, I hope this turned out to be an okay first installment of Brain Food, in spite of how rushed it ended up being as a whole.

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

At a standstill 2 (Whimsical Weekend #14)

It kinda pains me to be doing this when my last “At a standstill” post was Whimsical Weekend #12, but once again, I just don’t have any particular writing topic in mind right now. I did mention freelance coding before, and I’ve been really into it as of late, especially considering I can see the light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel. That and the regular work routine are making it difficult to think about anything else.

I would like to briefly touch upon a few things, though. First off, I take back what I said about the Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth series; I’d rather cover all three installments en masse after all. (I also plan to re-watch the anime afterwards, because that was a blur to me the first time I watched it.) I mean, I decided to start playing Re;Birth 2 last month and managed to achieve the Normal Ending (rather anticlimactically, I must say), and there seems to be a lot more ground to cover for the remaining endings, what with the Shares and Lily Ranks and such. For now, I will say that Re;Birth 2 took a step down from Re;Birth 1 overall, but I won’t explain why in full detail.

Second, about the same time I started Re;Birth 2, I actually bought the secondary story (Conquest) for my copy of Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, considering the advent of newer Fire Emblem games and that I haven’t gotten the most out of the Fates series yet. But dang, man, I’m sixteen chapters into Conquest on Hard mode, and I have to say that the difference between Birthright and Conquest is the difference between Super Weenie Hut Jr.’s and the Salty Spittoon. (Shoutouts to SpongeBob.)

And finally, I’m thinking that I should later get around to speedrunning Phoenotopia more seriously. My mindset as of late has been: “Wait until a golden opportunity to stream,” but now that I think about it, that’s a terrible mindset to have. I mean, I set my expectations too high when I stream, only to be disappointed when I end it off at an inevitably early time because I can’t get a run past Bandits’ Lair due to my rust. Coupling that with the fact that I get few opportunities to stream in the first place (considering I still live with my parents, and I don’t know when would be a good time to change that), I now realize that I’m probably better off just recording offline instead. And yes, I do still plan to improve my times, even in any% and 100%. (For both categories, I recently devised new strats that I don’t plan to discuss right now. Also, my times in All Moonstones and All Medals could definitely stand to be more optimized, the more I look back at them.)

So, um…that’s about it.

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

Fantasy story follow-up (Whimsical “Weekend” #13)

 Yo.

It’s been more than half a year since I first talked about that one fantasy harem series (Cinq du Soleil) that I’ve been working on in my spare time. And somehow, over the past week or so, it’s been on my mind more than anything else I’ve been doing lately.

I mean, I said at one point that I wasn’t going to do a follow-up until I finished the story, but that was before I realized a vital limitation of Google Docs: As the number of pages in a document increases beyond 100, the document also becomes increasingly laggy. I went up to Chapter 7 (if I recall correctly) on a single document, but it was when I finally got fed up with the lag that I decided to start splitting the chapters into groups to be placed in separate documents. That is to say, the document I linked in the first post now only contains introductory content and Chapters 1-5, and I also have a document for Chapters 6-9 (simple but obligatory joke intended) and a to-be-determined set of chapters from 10.

Introductory content + Chapters 1-5

Chapters 6-9

I don’t have as much to say at this point as I did in the introductory post, but…

  • Since completing Chapter 1, I’ve had the tendency to end chapters only when the main characters sleep. I’ve also desired to add more concepts and characters to the story, which basically led to the later chapters getting longer. To put that into perspective, the first document is 87 pages long, while the second document is 101 pages long.
    • Heck, when I first wrote Chapter 9, I went all out on it. I recall Chapters 6-9 collectively being over 110 pages excluding interludes, and Chapter 9 alone accounted for a whopping 42 of those pages. It didn’t take long for me to split the chapter into two pieces: the first one (Chapter 9) being 25 pages, and the second (Chapter 10) being 17 pages.
  • I decided to add an “Interlude” section to the end of every chapter. This idea came about when I realized, before the information updates of Chapter 2, that there was a short aside conversation between Yue and Toru (which was, at the time, the first three lines of the current interlude of that chapter), and I hadn’t really considered making a similar thing for other chapters. Only sometimes (like the case of the interlude before I implemented interludes) do the interludes clarify otherwise unknown or incomprehensible aspects of the plot, but others of times they’re just purely for the heck of it.
  • In a similar vein to the “Information updates” sections, I recently decided that I would initiate later chapter documents with earlier chapter summaries (for instance, the 6-9 document has a summary for Chapters 1-5).
  • The next point is not only a spoiler of Cinq du Soleil Chapter 5, but also of Volume 12 of the Mondaiji light novel, so I shall hide it with white text in brackets. Highlight at your own risk. [In Cinq du Soleil, I included a plot twist that Dealer is Yue’s thought-to-be-dead sister (Diana Panishi). In the Mondaiji light novel, it is revealed that the character Faceless is Asuka’s thought-to-be-dead sister (Ayato Kudō). (I mean, Faceless isn’t portrayed as masculine, but that’s beside the point.) The thing is, though, I wrote that Dealer was Yue’s sister before I read that Faceless was Asuka’s sister, even though Mondaiji Volume 12 was published before I even started Cinq du Soleil. Coincidence? I think so.]
  • Dealer’s Treasure name was changed from “Trump” to “Lucky Draw”, to avoid confusion with the current President of the United States. I came up with the initial name more than two years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that I decided to change the name.
  • I had to make another shoutout to good ol’ Kili Surtr Muspelheim. In Chapter 7, Will, the Chief Elemental of Spirit, performs magic attacks by snapping his fingers, like how Kili does in the Fafnir anime.
  • I might have to say that Chapter 8 has been the hardest to write so far, particularly the beach visit and the aftermath thereof. It might be because I’m the type to care more about game-like concepts and plot points than how the characters interact from a casual standpoint.
  • It’s never like I’m totally finished with the chapters I’ve already done. Sometimes I can’t help scrutinizing my metaphorical footprints and, if something seems even a bit off, correct it accordingly.

I think that’s all I have to say for now. I’ve definitely been having fun with this story as I intended to, even if I struggle to find inspiration from time to time. As for the next set of chapters, I’ve gone up to 12 and done a tiny bit of 13 (currently on page 63 of the next document), although I’m thinking there are a few revisions to be made there, and I can’t make any promises regarding how close exactly I am to declaring that set as completed.

Speaking of not making promises, I wonder how long I’ll continue the story as a whole…

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

At a standstill (Whimsical Weekend #12)

Yeah…I’m not even ashamed to be posting this on Monday midnight. The truth is, I haven’t been motivated at all to come up with a proper post over the course of these two weeks. I’ve just been going through the standard routine of going to work every weekday and using my leisure time to indulge in whatever forms of entertainment may tickle my fancy. In particular, watching Twitch streams while doing some freelance coding is what I’ve been into lately. (Whom I watch depends mostly on the time of day, but twitch.tv/360chrism is definitely the stream where I hang out most.)

I suppose, if there’s anything I would have felt like writing about if I had taken more time to think, it’s Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1. Part of me wanted to save such talk until after completing the entire Re;Birth series, but later on I thought, “Well, it was recently that I decided that I had played the first installment to my heart’s content, so…” Wait, actually, I was considering optimizing the equipment of at least my main party members (Blanc, Noire, Vert, Ram, Neptune, and Nepgear), and I never really got around to that, so perhaps delaying that sort of talk is for the best.

I was also considering talking about the Conceptis Block-a-Pix app now that it’s recently come out on Android (I don’t have an iOS device), but there’s not much to talk about, considering I’ve done an entire analysis on the form of puzzle in question, so I’ll just say here what little I have to about the app. My main beef with it is: If you create a box around a number, the area of that box can exceed the number of tiles required by that number, whereas the site applet has a constraint for that. Second, in greater puzzle sizes on smaller screens (e.g., 30*45 on an 854*480 screen), it’s hard to tell ‘6’s from ‘8’s. The second one is not of dire importance and definitely not an easy fix (considering it’s the standard Conceptis font), but I’m hoping the first one gets fixed in a future update.

I guess that’s all for now.

 À la prochaine! (Until next time!)

…Hopefully I’ll actually have a substantial post by then…