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?


Friday Favorites #5: Best Video Game Intros

1. Soul Blade/Edge

This intro has it all: gorgeous graphics and music, and action. The CGI character models actually look years ahead of most games of the time.

2. Silent Hill 1-3

I kind of hesitated to put these games on this list because I thought I should include games with more original intros as opposed to one’s that feature clips from the game’s cutscenes, but considering that the purpose of this post is to list intros that get you pumped for the game, I realized I had to include these. These intros succeed because they set the mood with their imagery and some of Akira Yamaoka’s best music (“She”, “Theme of Laura”, and “You’re Not Here”, respectively).

3. Tales Series

Tales intros are like pizza: even if you don’t like an individual one, it’s still pizza. Some of them take a while to grow on me.

My fav intro sequences and themes are for Abyss, Radiant Mythology, Vesperia (Bonnie Pink’s “Ring a Bell”), Graces f (BoA’s “White Wishes”), Xillia (Ayumi Hayasaki’s “progress”), and Zestiria (Superfly’s “White Light”).

4. Chrono Cross

So CC killed off pretty much the entire cast of Chrono Trigger. At least the intro and theme totally rock. It’s all about perspective. Right? …Right? 

Squaresoft during the development of Chrono Cross

5. Fire Emblem Awakening, Fates, and Heroes

It’s scary to think how close we came to not having these fantastic games. When the sales of the series began to sink, Nintendo delivered a rare ultimatum to Intelligent Systems: if the 13th FE game dud not sell well enough, the series would end. Well, over a million units sold for Awakening alone later, here we are. 

I include these games’ intros because they are fantastic and beautiful with cel-shaded CGI and the theme songs. There is a deeper reason, but that’s for their eventual LPs, at least for Awakening and Fates… 😜

6. Persona Series

Particularly the Persona 2 duology (and their PSP ports), both versions of Persona 3, Persona 4 Arena and Arena Ultimax, and Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. Great, artistic, and intriguing animation (and downright adorable in the latter’s case) and catchy themes.

7. Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga (Japanese Version)

The North American version features the same images but a different theme song. It’s good… but the Japanese theme is great. 

8. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked

Less visually intensive than most of the games on this list, if not all of them, but the rocking theme song gets me pumped.

9. Rule of Rose

This obscure PS2 horror game has an incredibly creepy intro; yet, it’s theme is paradoxically gorgeous. 

10. Resident Evil Outbreak

This game’s intro shows the disastrous fight between Umbrella Corporation soldiers and the mutates scientist William Birkin. It could have just been an action scene, but Capcom (of all companies) went with an artistic approach with Birkin’s attacks on the soldiers fading into viruses attacking cells. The solemn orchestral theme helps. The sequel features the same theme, but with considerably less compelling imagery (a fly through of the game’s environments. In real-time.)

What are your favorite video game intros?

Resident Evil Director’s Cut Part Three: Shame Though What They Made

October 17th, 2014: Eyes of the Tiger

I got the Colt Python magnum by fetching the Red Jewel and putting it in the tiger statue in that little room on the Mansion 1F west wing.

I mentioned it because I think this is an optional side quest.

All of the backtracking in the Mansion was getting boring.

Continue reading Resident Evil Director’s Cut Part Three: Shame Though What They Made