Monday, August 18, 2008

Some of My Favorite Videogames

These are some of my favorite videogames in no particular order:

Advance Wars is a turn based strategy game for the Game Boy Advance. The game was my first real dive into the strategy genre. I fell in love with the beginning tutorial missions, whose clear instructions eased me into the deep and varied play mechanics as if I had known them all along.

The rest of the game proved equally fantastic. The unique and varied units, commanding officer abilities, balanced gameplay, clever map designs, strategy possibilities, funny dialog, solid music, and stage editor made for a phenomenal package I sunk hundreds of hours into (and hundreds more in the sequels). My only complaint with the first game was being stuck with the same 3 commanding officers for most of the Campaign mode. Thankfully, Advance Wars 2 changed officers every couple missions and made some other welcome improvements. Of the four Advance Wars games (as of 2008), Advance Wars 2 is my personal favorite.

I first attempted to play this gem around 1999 at the age of 10. It freaked me out! Playing as child Link was fine, but after turning to adult Link and encountering the sea of redead in the castle town, those club-wielding boars in the Lost Woods, and even creepier creatures Forest Temple, I was just too frightened to proceed any further. *shiver* Come 2003, I'm completely addicted to this game, replaying it more than 4 times (and one go for the Master Quest version). Of all Zelda titles, this one houses my favorite 3D dungeons, music, and emotionally engaging plot. I still discover quirky details here and there when replaying the game.

Hell yes! Kirby Super Star is my favorite videogame ever. I will happily play and replay this entire game any day of the week. Kirby is an adorable pink blob with the ability to eat his enemies and copy their abilities. The copy mechanic allows players to experience the game's platforming environments in dozens of different ways. The game's rich color palette and happy music create a wonderful aesthetic I dearly miss in more modern "polygon-pushing" titles. The game consists of 5 chapters that take Kirby on different platforming adventures, and also a few mingames for good measure.

One chapter, "Revenge of Metaknight", incorporates narrative in a very interesting way. The chapter reveals plot progression from the radio communications between Metaknight and his underlings. As the player progresses through the platforming stages, the villians comment on Kirby's position in real time as he foils Metaknight's plan to conquer Dreamland one stage at a time. I haven't seen narrative incorporated as tightly into a sidescrolling game ever since. Like the rest of the game, "Revenge of Metaknight" consists of exciting stages, boss battles and sweet theme music.

Another chapter, "The Great Cave Offensive" places Kirby on a fantastical treasure hunt as he searches for a way out of the underground cave he has fallen into. Kirby travels through underground gardens, mine-shafts, and water-filled crystaline caverns (among many more) in his search for wealth and freedom. The sheer amount of imagination poured into each of these environments astounds me; how did these designers squeeze such rich colors and beautiful levels into a 2 megabyte cartridge? The level design proves just as interesting. Collecting all 50 hidden treasures is quite a tough feat, even with the help of a strategy guide. I could gush about this game forever, so to conclude: artistry, music, level design, and play mechanics, Kirby Super Star has got it all. (Also, the 2-player rocks!)

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