Friday Favorites #6: Favorite Levels and Locations

Settings in video games are very important in terms of atmosphere, design, and storytelling. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Gold Saucer, Final Fantasy VII

Basically, a minigame town. The minigames include Mog House, which is like a brief virtual pet game, basketball, and arm wrestling. Though your first visit is probably the most impressive due to the minigames being their most fresh, subsequent visits will allow you to fight in a battle arena and race your own chocobos. The music is fun and peppy, too. 

It will be worth seeing how Gold Saucer will be presented in the FFVII remake… sometime in the next three years. :I

2. The Sunleth Waterscape, Final Fantasy XIII

The Sunleth Waterscape is a fun and beautiful place to explore with great music.

3. Fortune City, Dead Rising 2 and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record

The sun may have set on Capcom’s open-world zombie-slaying series, but I’ll always have fond memories of the first few games (I’ve yet to play 3 and 4). Fortune City, an honage/parody of Las Vegas, allows DR2 to expand on the foundation of the first game. There are several secrets, weapons, slot machines, survivors, and psychopaths to find. The Off the Record rerelease adds a new area to Fortune City: Uranus Zone, a theme park.

4. Silent Hill

Silent Hill arguably had its strongest appeal with the first four games made by Team Silent. They created a town that was dark but atmospheric and compelling. It was also fun to explore parts of a city that you would never get to in real life. If Silent Hill is ever rebooted, whoever is in charge needs to portray the town as a character unto itself, and put real craft into designing it.

5. Raccoon City, various Resident Evil/Biohazard titles

Like Silent Hill, Raccoon City was once a nice, quiet little town with some dark secrets. Silent Hill still lingers somewhere out there, but Raccoon City met its apocalyptic end when the US government decided to nuke the town to contain the bio hazard outbreak plaguing it. 

Though RE/BH is more physical than metaphysical, exploring Raccoon City in such games as RE2, 3, and Outbreak has a similar appeal to Silent Hill in that we’re exploring places we’re not supposed to. Tee-hee! 

6. Dracula’s Castle, Castlevania/Vampire Killer

Dracula must have one hell of an interior design team, because every time a hero invades it, it has changed considerably. One consistent installation is the Clock Tower, featured in most CV games.

My first CV game was Symphony of the Night, so I’m partial to it. It’s one of my top five favorite games, and has my favorite vision of Dracula’s castle due to the atmosphere, enemies, and gorgeous music. Highlights include a creepy cavern; an underground water vein; a colosseum; a library; and the Royal Chapel. I ❤ the irony of Dracula having a chapel in his castle.

The stained glass in the background moves as you walk through the room. The effect blew me away when I first played through the game.

7. Melody Town, Kirby’s Epic Yarn

It has not come up much yet, but I loooove Kirby and his games. Melody Land is a very fun level in a very fun game. Imagine a stage in a platformer where every platform is a musical instrument that makes a sound when you interact with it. That’s Melody Land.

8. New York, Parasite Eve

The Chrysler Building

PE offered a recreated version of New York  with some landmarks to explore, which was pretty cool for a PS1 game.9. Rapture, BioShock

I really loved BioShock. Rapture was a gorgeous place to visit. The extremely well-done fire, ice, and water effects helped.

Perhaps one day, I will do a different version of this article for fighting game stages. 

What are your favorite locations in games?


Final Fantasy XIII: Final Stats, Thoughts, and Trivia

I’m a little disappointed… that I did not put quite as much detail into the game’s final chapters as I did the earlier ones.

I thought that this would be a slightly longer LP by about three parts.

I like Final Fantasy XIII, though I have wondered if that was because I love Final Fantasy so much that I really needed XIII to be a success for the sake of it. However, redoing this LP confirmed that I still fell for the grandeur of the game, and the characters’ storylines. Some events in the sequels have extra resonance in the context of this game that I had forgotten while I was playing through them. I really want to talk about them, but I can’t yet. :3

Continue reading Final Fantasy XIII: Final Stats, Thoughts, and Trivia

Final Fantasy XIII Part 10

October 18, 2010: Three months. That’s how long it took for me to get back in the saddle again.

Well, two and half, technically.

Allow me to describe Barthandelus’ basics. He has 3.3 million HP, nasty lasers, debuffs, and two particular moves you’ll come to hate: Thanatosion Laughter and Apotosis. The former is just a brutal laser barrage. The latter neutralizes all of your buffs and cures his debuffs.

Continue reading Final Fantasy XIII Part 10

Final Fantasy XIII Part Nine

July 13, 2010: I sure anticipate meeting this fal’Cie.

After a horrifying detour, we rode Roly-Poly into the Sulya Springs. It was beautiful. A springs situated in a ravine – waterfalls and small rainbows everywhere.

Vanille asked to see Serah, and she reflected on meeting her.

Day 9, Bodhum. Vanille and Serah gabbed on the shore. Nature painted a glorious sunset for them.

This place was beautiful, and it was my Focus to destroy it,”, narrated Vanille.

Vanille has more love than most fal’Cie on Gran Pulse or Cocoon. Continue reading Final Fantasy XIII Part Nine

Final Fantasy XIII Part Eight: Free Will

May 2, 2010: Sazh wondered about whatever force allowed the ship to phase through the building. I cringe to think of it as another fal’Cie meddling in their business. Haven’t we had enough of them?

A floor above, beyond the tunnels, lied a more open area. When the party stepped out, a large insignia – the l’Cie “brand” – appeared on the floor. The l’Cie’s brands glowed with intense heat.

I somehow failed to bring up the brands before now. All ‘Cie have a brand somewhere on their bodies. Snow’s was on his forearm; Vanille’s was on her thigh.

Continue reading Final Fantasy XIII Part Eight: Free Will

Final Fantasy XIII Part Seven

April 22, 2010: On one of the side docks on the Palamecia, Lightning and the others were menaced by a storm dragon. After the party defeated it, another one flew overhead. Before the second dragon attacked, there was a giant explosion. Somebody blew a hole in the deck from the inside out. And…

…a chocobo flew out, chirping joyously. It was Sazh and Vanille! We got the band back together!

Vanille and Fang embraced. Vanille said she had something to tell her companion, but Fang told her now was not the time.

Continue reading Final Fantasy XIII Part Seven

Final Fantasy XIII Part Six

April 18, 2010: Sazh and Vanille escaped to the entrance to the Fundland attraction. PSICOM dropped a big, fat mech on them.

After Sazh and Vanille wrecked it, Dajh came running out after Sazh. “Daddy!”

Dajh hugged his father and said, “Got you!”

How did you find me?” asked Sazh.

Because you promised.” Continue reading Final Fantasy XIII Part Six

Final Fantasy XIII Part Five: The Cavalry

April 16, 2010: Hope guided Lightning through a passage to an underground complex managed by the fal’Cie Carbuncle. Instead of the cute little rascal you may remember from Final Fantasy VIII, this game’s Carbuncle its a rotating crystal with a creepy face on it.

Light realized something profound after an offhanded comment by Hope—the fal’Cie treat the people of Cocoon like pets. But if any Cocoon citizen became a l’Cie, that care was withdrawn like a spiteful parent.

They worked through the complex to the city square. PSICOM and the Guardian Corps closed in on them from all sides.

Until Snow busted through the crowd of soldiers with the Cavalry l’Cie woman in tow. He summoned Shiva in Gestalt Mode and canvassed the square in ice in a spectacular CGI cutscene. Continue reading Final Fantasy XIII Part Five: The Cavalry

Final Fantasy XIII Part Four: In This Lifetime

April 4, 2010: Before leaving this protracted segment in the Gapra Whitewood, Light and Hope are menaced by a plant/lizard thing. I suggest having a Commando/Synergist Paradigm before staggering it with the Dualcasting (Ravager/Ravager) Paradigm.

The Aster Protoflorian has some brutal attacks that require more than a mere Potion to recover from.

Getting past this beast was “Operation Nora, Phase One” according to Hope. After the duo defeated it, Lightning told him that “You did well.”

Continue reading Final Fantasy XIII Part Four: In This Lifetime

Final Fantasy XIII Part Three: The Worst Birthday Ever

March 30, 2010: We wrecked a piece of leftover Pulse machinery and received an Omni Kit. This allows us to upgrade our weapons and accessories at save points. All those items that seem useless are components for upgrades.

The upgrade system could have been better handled. Progression is very slow and requires a ton or components, from what I remember.

Eventually, Lightning revealed her plan: infiltrate Eden, the cradle of the Sanctum. Vanille and Sazh were reluctant to join her; but since Hope believed that destroying Eden would doom Cocoon and Serah’s Focus, therefore hurting Snow, he tagged along with Lightning. To get to Eden, they had to cut through Palumpolom. Continue reading Final Fantasy XIII Part Three: The Worst Birthday Ever