Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Link Between Worlds rekindles my love of portable Legend of Zelda titles

As I approach my 30th year on this planet, the time I set aside for gaming has rapidly declined. Long gone are the days where I would spend hours fully completing games and uncovering every possible secret within the highly imaginative game worlds I grew to love over the years. Growing up, the Legend of Zelda titles were among some of my favorite, particularly the portable ones. The first and only system that I could call my own at the time was a kiwi Game Boy Color. I knew what the Zelda game series was, but I had never completed any of the games, mostly because I didn’t own any of them, but that all changed when I got Oracle of Seasons one fateful summer. 

Seasons took Link and I to the land of Holodrum, which we explored every day that summer. We met a dancer in a red outfit by the name of Din and were told by the Maku Tree to find the 8 Essences of Nature. Link and I had many different experiences as we journeyed further into Holodrum, including riding in the pouch of a Kangaroo, finding new rings to equip that strengthened us and gave us new abilities, and even changing our environments at will with the Rod of Seasons. I loved this ability as it changed the landscapes significantly and opened new paths on the World Map. 

Shortly after completing Seasons, I linked my save file with my brother’s copy of Oracle of Ages (password system and all) and completed the game fully. It was then that I moved onto playing Link’s Awakening DX (also my brother’s game), and completing it, loving every minute of the game.

As I was finishing up High School and heading into college I didn’t have a Game Boy Advance so I didn’t experience another portable Zelda game for awhile. Fast forward to a few years ago and I received A Link Between Worlds as a Christmas gift for my brother. It wasn’t until recently that I had begun playing it again seriously. Am I glad I did!

A Link Between Worlds reminds me of why I loved Legend of Zelda games on the go. The top-down view of Link as he explores is classic Zelda action at its best and as I go further through the game each dungeon I encounter is more intuitive than the last. The wall merging gameplay as a hieroglyphic version of Link is great and opens up so many new possibilities for puzzle-solving, some that I have to do a little more thinking than usual to complete. The graphics of A Link Between Worlds are also superb and some of the best I’ve ever seen on a portable Zelda title (not including the remakes of Ocarina and Majora!). The music and sound effects also do a great job of engrossing me into the game and into the lands of Hyrule and Lorule. As I continue to play A Link Between Worlds, I can honestly say that I haven’t been this excited to get through a game in a looong time. I can’t wait to get to the end and see all of what the game has to offer. 

I only talk about a few of the portable Legend of Zelda titles in this post, but what is YOUR favorite portable Zelda game?? The main ones in the series I missed out on were The Minish Cap, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. Which one should I play next and why? 

Or do you like the Console Zelda titles better? If so which one of those is your favorite?

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Mighty No. 9 Boss Strategies

Credit: Availation via Deviant Art

Mighty No. 9 is one of those games that a lot of people don't have the patience for. I dunno about you fellow gamer, but back when I was a kid in the 90s, we rarely complained about the games with glitches in them. As kids we were just happy to have a video game to play in the first place, so we sucked it up. There were obstacles that were placed between us and the completion of our game and we did whatever we could to get past them. The most noticeable of these during the NES era were hiccups in movement and other periods of slowdown when a game had too much going on, such as too many bullets or enemies on-screen. Unfortunately for the backers of Mighty No. 9 and anyone else willing to try the game out, these same problems exist in an era where every gamer expects every aspect of a game to be perfect and Mighty No. 9 is about as far from perfect as you can get. So to help with your enjoyment of the game I have comprised a list of tips on how you can better enjoy it, as well as boss strategies and an order in which to play them to minimize your death count and frustration with the game. Let's begin! Here are some things you can change in the options menu to already make Mighty No. 9 exponentially better. 

  1. Go to General Options, Audio and turn Retro BGM On.
    This instantly changes the in-game music from forgettable to an awesome 8-bit kickin tune!

  2. Go to General Options, Audio and change Voices to either Japanese or French.
    The English voice acting in this game is bad. Japanese provides a more authentic anime feel, while French provides for some audio that will make you laugh as you play.

  3. Go to General Options, Video and turn Bloom Off.
    Not sure how much this affects the slowdown, but it's advised especially for the Wii U version.
  4. Don't set your expectations too high!
    This is not the newest Mega Man with badass graphics and insanely tight gameplay. It is a decent Mega Man clone that I had some fun with.
Now onto the Boss order to maximize enjoyment! The first one to play is:

Mighty No. 7's stage, the Highway. It's a great intro level and provides some fun platforming to ease you into the game. Jumping from car to car is the perfect opportunity to learn how to use the dash jump effectively and to feel confident about the controls. Although some deaths might be had by mis-jumping and landing on the road, the stage is pretty easy to get through. Brandish is also one of the easiest boss fights in the game and can be taken out just fine with the standard blaster. 

The 2nd stage that should be played is Mighty No. 3's stage, the Power Plant.

Dynatron is one of the easier robot masters to face early on in the game. Her stage is one of the most straight-forward to take on despite the lights going off every few seconds in some parts. There's only one part of the stage that can be deemed annoying, which requires you to crouch dash (Dash while holding down) underneath two purple spinning wheels of death that will kill you instantly if you touch them. To get past this minor annoyance, inch up close enough to each wheel and you should be able to make the dash with no problem. The fight against Dyantron is pretty easy, especially if you have Mighty No. 7's power of Sword Slash, which makes her projectiles completely ineffective against you.

Next is Mighty No. 8's stage, the Capitol Building.

Mighty No. 8 has one of the worst stages of the bunch. Not overly difficult, just a pain to get through. This stage loops around from start to finish and you must “hunt” Countershade down by going in the direction of where his bullets are being shot from. Some annoying purple insta-death wires will be scattered throughout the stage, but besides that nothing else too pesky. After finding Countershade and shooting him 5 times he will transport the both of you to his boss room where you will fight. He can be taken down with little to no hassle as you avoid his shots, which he easily telegraphs (he will show you where they're going before he even fires!). Get behind him and blast away with the standard blaster. Halfway through the battle he'll create a clone of himself which is easy to distinguish from his real self. Easy boss, painful stage.

Fourth should be Mighty No. 5's stage, the Military Base. Battalion's stage is somewhere in the middle on the difficulty scale. There's nothing too crazy except for some crates that drop on conveyor belts and get in the way and some fire floor traps that will hurt you if you stand on them for too long. This stage can be made a lot easier with Mighty No. 2's ice power which lets you freeze enemies, including turrets that like to continuously fire upon you. The ice power-up can also be used to temporarily disable the fire traps. After reaching Battalion his fight isn't too difficult. Use your dash and effectively dodge him as you see which direction he's moving in. He does have a one hit kill bullet that he will shoot at you halfway through the fight, but it's easy to avoid. Using the ice power-up makes him laughably easy to defeat, but even without it Bat goes down easy.

Halfway through the Mighty Robot Masters and you've obtained the Battalion Blast power-up. This will make the remainder of the game a lot easier, as it's one of the most useful power-ups and can clear obstacles and defeat enemies quickly. Next is:

Mighty No. 4, Seismic 

The Mine is a difficult stage to navigate and it's even tougher without Mighty No. 5's Battalion Blast, I might even say impossible. By using the Battalion Blast Beck can destroy blocks of rubble that you normally couldn't clear with any other weapon. This makes the abundant purple death spike pits in this stage a little more tolerable by letting you avoid them easier. There's also a couple areas where a giant one hit kill drill (say that five times fast!) will be chasing you, making for some frantic escapes. This is one of the more difficult stages in the game, so be ready for multiple attempts as there's a lot of trial and error to successfully reach Seismic. With the Battalion Blast power-up this boss is a joke!

The sixth stage is none other than Mighty No. 1's Oil Platform.

The stage itself isn't too bad, but has oil slicked floors that can be set on fire, as well as falling towers that can one hit kill you. The worst part of the stage however is the boss fight against Pyrogen. The battle is extremely difficult if you can't read his tells. He also does an insane amount of damage if he hits you with one of his exploding attacks. The fire walls on either side of you as you battle also don't help. I suggest using the basic blaster against him and listening very closely to what he says if you want to know what type of attack he's doing. If you have the ice power-up from Mighty No. 2, his stage and the boss fight will be made a bit easier.

Second to last is Mighty No. 2's stage, the Water Works Bureau.

Cryosphere's stage isn't too difficult to get through, especially with Pyrosphere's fiery explosion power-up. There are some slippery floors and an underwater section which take some getting used to, but nothing that you can't handle now! Once you reach Cryo, her fight can be difficult if you don't know how to approach the small and pesky girl robot. She can freeze you with her freeze gun and if she's successful she will turn into a giant spiky ice ball (see above) and land on you doing massive damage. Breaking out of your ice prison after getting frozen isn't exactly easy either and will take some skilled button mashing to do so. With Pyrogen's power this fight is a lot more tolerable as you can knock her off her ice block tower very easily and damage her quickly. Even with the fiery explosion power-up, Cyrosphere can take you out quickly and effectively if you're not careful enough.

Lastly is Mighty No. 6's Radio Tower stage.

Aviator has the most difficult stage out of the 8 Mighty Nos. Being on a Radio Tower, this stage takes place in the air with wind current and all. Depending which way Beck is facing, he will either be restricted by the wind (making dashes imperative to land on platforms) or pushed easily in the right direction. This creates plenty of situations where falling off and instantly dying are a distinct possibility. The best part of this stage is the cool and well-thought out mid-level boss that has 3 different parts of the fight. After (hopefully) reaching the end of the stage you'll be met with Avi, a helicopter reporter robot. During the fight, him and his news camera will be present as well as more of those air currents you've now grown accustomed to dying so much from. Mighty No. 8's weapon makes the fight all the more easier as you can shoot your Sniper Shot into his news camera which will then reflect directly into Avi. Even so, a simple jumping error can have you plummeting to your death. Avi's rapid fire style of attack can also be an annoyance. Watching where he flies and the direction of his shots is the key to beating this pain in the butt. This stage easily wins the most attempts award.

So there you have it, my complete and comprehensive strategy guide on what order to tackle the bosses in Mighty No. 9. I hope you find it extremely useful and that it boosts your enjoyment of the game significantly. There are also a few other stages that come after you have beaten the 8 bosses, which I won't spoil for you. Happy runnin' and gunnin'!