2004

Game: Little Nemo: The Dream Master (Capcom, NES)

Compiler: Chiasm

 

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Chiasm's Little Nemo: The Dream Master (NES) maps.

Long before Capcom diversified into many genres, it was most known for its platforming games on the NES.  Among their Mega Man and Disney-licensed games was another platformer called Little Nemo: The Dream Master.  Though based on the classic Winsor McCay comic from 1905-1911, the gameplay could easily be called original.

Instead of blasting everything in sight like some game heroes might, Nemo goes through most of the game armed only with a bag of candy.  When he needs skills to get around obstacles, or when he must actually resort to fisticuffs, he throws some candy out to feed and tame potential animal companions, each with their own unique skills.  At the time, this was uncommon in video games.

The game isn't terribly obscure, but isn't the first game that comes to people's minds when they think of the NES.  In a 1991 Nintendo Power article, "Unsung Heroes of the NES", Little Nemo: The Dream Master was one of the underrated games they mentioned.  If you haven't played this game before, you might want to check it out.  And if you need help getting around, check out the maps.  The maps that Chiasm made are pretty thorough - instead of just showing the stage layout, the NPCs, animal friends, keys, and teleportation-like exit points are marked.  Beautiful, complete maps - and useful!

So to recognize the effort put into making these beautiful and useful maps, Chiasm's Little Nemo: The Dream Master maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for December 2004.

 

Game: Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (Konami, NES)

Compiler: Wileee

 

For this month's "Map of the Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Wileee's Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES) map.

I once wrote a detailed list about trends in sequels.  The second game in a series is often the most well-known, or the one with a special version (ie. Metal Slug, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Street Fighter, World Heroes, Fatal Fury, etc. etc. etc.), or, as in the case of Castlevania (and Super Mario Bros. and The Legend Of Zelda and a few others), the second part might be a totally different type of game from the first and third.

Before the recent "Castleroid" games (as in, clearly based on the 2D Metroid games), Castlevania games were usually stage-based platformers.  But Castlevania II: Simon's Quest was an early departure by having a less linear adventure.  Simon Belmont was apparently not very good at killing Count Dracula the first time around (but then again, it now looks like no one knows how to kill him for real), so he goes on a quest (hence the subtitle) to retrieve a few of Dracula's body parts to reassemble him again to kill him again.  Say what you want about the story, but it sets up a different sort of gameplay.

Dracula's castle (apparently often referred to as "Castlevania") is usually where nearly all of a Castlevania game might take place.  But in this game, Simon's checking out more of Transylvania, going through towns, forests, swamps, and creepy places galore.  He's buying stuff from NPCs, using items to get past obstacles, and often getting lost.  But he wouldn't be if he had Wileee's map.  Yes, a single map, a huge map, that shows everywhere that Simon might be on this journey, indoors and outdoors.  It may be a terrible night to have a curse, but it'd be a lot worse if you have no idea where you are.

So to recognize the effort put into making this large and complete map, Wileee's Castlevania II: Simon's Quest map will be known as VGMaps.com's Map of the Month for November 2004.

 

Game: The Goonies II (Konami, NES)

Compiler: TerraEsperZ

 

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to TerraEsperZ's Goonies II (NES) maps.

The Goonies is a movie that I meant to see for a long time, and finally did recently.  It must still be somewhat popular because every time I went to the nearby Blockbuster Video, it was always rented out.  At least, every time I was thinking of renting it, until the time I finally did, which was actually a surprising number of visits.  And because it wasn't there all those times, it intrigued me more, and increased my desire to see it.

Of course, there's no point to that story, even if I tied in the actual story of that movie, because the two Goonies games on the NES didn't have very much to do with the movie.  I don't recall any giant mice that dropped bombs or a mermaid in distress.

The second game reminds me of Dr. Chaos/Friday The 13th (indoor sequences) and a mix of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Duck Tales/Legacy Of The Wizard (certain portions of the maps).  But I never got far in the game because I always got lost.  If I ever do try this game again, I'm sure I'll be thankful for TerraEsperZ's Goonies II maps.

So to recognize the effort put into making these beautiful and useful maps, TerraEsperZ's Goonies II maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for October 2004.

 

Game: Pokémon: FireRed & LeafGreen Versions (Nintendo, GBA)

Compiler: Jaromaru

 

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Jaromaru's Pokémon: FireRed & LeafGreen Versions (GBA) maps.

When these maps were first submitted to me long ago (based on the Japanese version), Route 01 was the 1000th map that I put up for this site.  I actually had a lot of maps that day, besides the already-numerous Pokémon FireRed & LeafGreen maps, but if I counted them when they were listed alphabetically it came out to be that.  VGMaps.com's 1000th map turns out to be the map of the remake of the first area of the greatest-selling RPG franchise on the most popular handheld series from the longest-running major game company, Nintendo.  Wow, that's a mouthful.

This particular set of Maps Of The Month is also well-timed, as it coincides with the North American release of the game.  This is also the first time that we've had a repeat of a Mapmaker of the Month.  Congratulations, Jaromaru!  Pokémon games are quite large with numerous maps, so to repeat that feat with this franchise really is something.

So to recognize the effort put into making these numerous and complete maps, Jaromaru's Pokémon: FireRed & LeafGreen Versions maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for September 2004.

 

Game: Kid Icarus (Nintendo, NES)

Compiler: Bergles

 

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Bergles' Kid Icarus (NES) maps.

Kid Icarus is kind of a cult hit.  When Kid Icarus first came out, it was considered to be Metroid's sister franchise.  Lately, Metroid has enjoyed huge success.  Kid Icarus, still nowhere to be seen.  It never even got a Super NES game...poor Pit only had adventures on the NES and Game Boy.  Who knows why or how the "Captain N: The Game Master" cartoon had Kid Icarus characters on either side...

For the NES game, Bergles has mapped out everything that this game has to offer.  Horizontal stages.  Vertical stages.  Dungeon rooms.  And, if you don't mind spoilers, Bergles has even captured each of the different endings, while also listing the criteria for each.  You don't see maps this complete that often...

So to recognize the effort put into making these informative and complete maps, Bergles' Kid Icarus maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for August 2004.

 

Game: Super Mario World (Nintendo, Super NES)

Compiler: Stefan Mahrla

 

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Stefan Mahrla's Super Mario World (Super NES) maps.

I've often said that the best games from Nintendo's biggest franchises were mostly on the Super NES. Link had The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past. Samus had Super Metroid. Kirby had Kirby: Super Star. And Mario had Super Mario World. Though many people (myself included) would often debatedly suggest Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) or Super Mario RPG: Legend Of The Seven Stars to be Mario's best game, Super Mario World at least was something no other game can claim to be - the launch game of Nintendo's best home console (excluding handhelds), the Super NES. Though again, that's subjective.

Now while you may differ in opinion as to which console had the best games of Nintendo's franchises, and if Super Mario World is really among the best of Mario's, you'd have to at least agree that Stefan did a fine job of mapping this landmark game. Stefan's contributed many other maps before, but completely mapping this game, a particularly beautiful, cute, colourful and well-made game to begin with, is definitely some of his finest work. The game is fairly lengthy as well...wow!

So to recognize the effort put into making these beautiful and complete maps, Stefan Mahrla's Super Mario World maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for July 2004.

 

Game: Pokémon: Ruby & Sapphire Versions (Nintendo, GBA)

Compiler: Jaromaru

 

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Jaromaru's Pokémon: Ruby & Sapphire Versions (GBA) maps.

Pokémon was a latecomer, one of the last big-name games for the original 4-colour Game Boy. It was the original mega-collecting-and-trading handheld RPG that spawned several other collecting-type RPGs, many of which used the idea of dual-cartridge versions that Pokémon had (Red & Green in Japan, Red & Blue elsewhere). It had its sequels on reiterations of the Game Boy - Gold & Silver on the Game Boy Color, and then Ruby & Sapphire on the Game Boy Advance.

Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire may not be the most visually stunning GBA title, but is indeed a very cute and colourful game. Sure, its tilesets are more colorized versions of past Pokémon games' tilesets, but they are adequate. The simplicity of the graphics is not at all a bad thing - besides, the game is deep and long, even without trying to "catch them all".

Because the game is so large, with many locales, deep caves, tall buildings, etc., I think it is absolutely amazing that Jaromaru took the time to make just about every map anyone could need, and more. Some maps have variations to them: The Cave of Origin differs between the two versions of the game, Shoal Cave has high tide and low tide, And Lilycove City has a "before" and "after" shot. Jaromaru didn't miss those...what a keen eye!

So to recognize the effort put into making these beautiful and complete maps, Jaromaru's Pokémon: Ruby & Sapphire Versions maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for June 2004.

 

Game: Mega Man III (Capcom, NES)

Compiler: Revned

 

For the very first "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Revned's Mega Man III (NES) maps.

First off, I'd like to say, and many people would probably agree with me, that Mega Man III is the best NES game of the Mega Man series. It was probably the peak of 8-bit "Mega Mania". For some reason, after this game, I find the series repetitive (especially when they try to introduce a new villain, but oh, it's Wily again...why even bother?), the colours really bad (especially in V and VI), and something not as memorable about the gameplay overall. Whereas Mega Man III introduced Proto Man (or rather, Break Man), Rush the Robodog, the coolest Robot Masters ever, and also has, unique to this game only, revisitations of some of the areas to fight all of Mega Man II's Robot Masters, who were also pretty cool. (Oh, yes, and the sliding ability was new too.) It probably could've had a much cooler final boss but overall it still ranks higher than all the other games in the series. So naturally the first step that Revned took to get here was to pick a great game loved by many, and that he did.

Revned made all of the maps in the game, even Break Man's stage, for completion. And consistency. If there was a formal point system for grading maps, there would probably be bonuses here. Because of the consistency, I couldn't just point to any one particular map this month, I chose this whole series since they all fit together as a whole.

Each map is carefully put together, with pixels perfectly lined up. Now this may sound like a moot point but not every map that I receive have been made with this kept in mind. What makes these maps especially more impressive is how he kept the moving backgrounds and foregrounds consistently the same throughout the maps, as if it were a perfect "frozen-in-time" snapshot of the entire area. Note the lava flows in Shadow Man's stage and the lights and gears in Spark Man's stage (and/or their revisits). These are the kind of details to watch for that make game cartography difficult, yet also hard to notice without pointing it out. I've heard it said, regarding visual effects in movies, that "the best effect is one you didn't see". Similarly, you'd probably notice if any errors were made, but when he made them so well you wouldn't recognize the effort put into them. But I'm sure that there was quite a lot of energy put into all of that.

So to recognize the effort put into making these beautiful and complete maps, Revned's Mega Man III maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for May 2004.

 

Congratulations and thanks to the Mapmakers of 2004!