For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Peardian's Paper Mario (N64) maps.
Bowser, equipped with the Star Rod, captures Princess Peach and attempts to take over the Mushroom Kingdom. Yep, it's the standard Mario game plot, with or without cosmic artifacts. But Paper Mario on the Nintendo 64 is an RPG, so the journey is full of new characters and areas, even if both ends of the narrative are what anyone would expect. Traditionally turn-based RPG battles are injected with skillful button pressing, first seen in the previous Mario RPG game, Super Mario RPG: Legend Of The Seven Stars on the Super NES. But Paper Mario would go on to become a distinct series with the "paper"-style as a neat effect, and also a gameplay element, in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door on the GameCube and the return to platforming in Super Paper Mario on the Wii.
Peardian, our resident Mario fan, has mapped several Mario games before, and has received the Maps Of The Month honour multiple times for them. But mapping Paper Mario is a particularly amazing feat, because of the 3rd dimension. 3D! There are vectors and polygons to contend with, and scale and optimal camera positions to figure out. This isn't the same as screenshot-stitching, folks. This is hardcore cartography.
And hey, it's the first N64 game to be honoured, too. And it's an RPG, which Peardian handles with the kind of care strategy guide writers take; a full bestiary with stats, shop catalogues, chest contents and hidden items revealed, and helpful strategies. That alone is good enough for the Maps Of The Month honour, 3D or otherwise. But this set of maps proves that VGMaps.com can still be relevant for the fifth generation of video games and onward!
So to recognize the effort put into the first complete set of maps for a 3D console game, Peardian's Paper Mario maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for December 2009.
For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to sprays's G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (NES) maps.
The G.I. Joe film may have been a big screen hit this summer, but the Joes have been around for decades. The 1980s incarnation of G.I. Joe is certainly one of the most "toyetic". There were hundreds of action figures and all sorts of crazy vehicles. And besides toys, there was also a Marvel comic, a cartoon series, and an animated movie...so it should come as no surprise that it had two NES games as well.
Also back in the day, licensed games weren't quite as guaranteed to be bad. When handled by good developers, such as Capcom or Konami, a video game experience that includes characters from other media could still be a good video game experience. The first G.I. Joe NES game wasn't by either of them, but rather, Taxan. And it was still an involving platformer.
It had multiple Joes to choose from, and they had different abilities. There was a variety of bosses, of course, recognizable as Cobra members or vehicles. The gameplay was also mixed; besides the usual horizontal and vertical platforming fare, there were also bases where bombs had to be placed at particular locations that changed depending on how many times you'd gone through the game. Since these maps are featured here, it's obvious that we're thanking sprays this month for providing us with this navigational intel. It's certainly good to know your way around these Cobra bases. And knowing is half the battle!
So to recognize the effort put into helping us take down Cobra, sprays's G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for November 2009. Yo Joe!
For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Zeric's Castlevania: Rondo Of Blood (J) (TG16) maps.
Akumajō Dracula X - Chi no Rondo, as it was originally known on the PC Engine (the Japanese version of the TurboGrafx 16) is one of the underrated Castlevania games. However, it directly influenced Castlevania: Dracula X (Super NES) and the incredible Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night (PSX), and many sprites from this game are reused in the GBA and DS games. The game was finally released outside of Japan in 2007, both as a remake and also in its original form under Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (PSP), whereby the English name "Castlevania: Rondo Of Blood" was made official. When originally released, it was certainly one of the best-looking games of its time.
The last time Zeric received the honour of "Mapmaker of the Month" was in December 2007 for Mega Man 8, the first time a PlayStation game was a part of this monthly feature. Zeric adds two more firsts with this month's, by having the first TurboGrafx 16 game and the first (formerly) Japanese-only game to be recognized here. Congratulations!
So to recognize the effort put into mapping this Japanese TurboGrafx 16 classic, Zeric's Castlevania: Rondo Of Blood (J) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for October 2009.
For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to FlyingArmor's Paladin's Quest (Super NES) maps.
It's time to start a new semester at school. Maybe even a magic school. No, I'm not talking about Hogwarts. I'm talking about the Magic School in Lennus, you know, the one next to the Tower of Gabnid that houses an evil being named Dal Gren, and if you release it, well, you might as well get moving because it's time to save the world. Such is the scenario of Paladin's Quest.
Though it plays like most 16-bit RPGs, it looks considerably different than most. Firstly, the palette is different - you don't see the green forests and brown or grey mountains like you might expect from other entries in the genre. Nope, now you've got blue tress, green or purple mountains, and smatterings of pink everywhere. Round trees, egg-shaped buildings, and pod-shaped treasure chests give the game a very unique style.
FlyingArmor, a (relatively) new mapper here, has begun a mapping career on VGMaps.com with maps of Paladin's Quest so you can see for yourself, if you haven't played this game before. And all of the items that can be found are clearly indicated, so these maps make the perfect guide if you do want to explore the world of Lennus. This debut effort is certainly worthy of the Maps Of The Month status.
So to recognize the effort put into mapping this stylistically unique (but somewhat obscure) RPG, FlyingArmor's Paladin's Quest maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for September 2009.
Compiler: Will Mallia
For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Will Mallia's Flashback: The Quest For Identity (Super NES) maps.
Conrad's lost his memory. He was chased by police and wakes up in a jungle, with only a holocube as a clue as to what he must do. And that is to use "Prince Of Persia-esque" platforming skills to get back to Earth, and the save the planet from those who would destroy it.
Similar to Out Of This World and Blackthorne, this cyberpunk platformer has smooth animation but is dependent on precise control. You may send Conrad off a drop to his doom or run straight into trouble simply by being careless with the buttons. Conrad's going to suffer through a lot of deaths before you can get him his memory back - Will Mallia's maps should help a bit, though we can't promise that it still won't be challenging.
So to recognize the effort put into this 16-bit flashback, Will Mallia's Flashback: The Quest For Identity maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for August 2009.
For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to xyzbilliu's Beyond Oasis (Genesis) maps.
Beyond Oasis (known outside North America as The Story Of Thor: A Successor Of The Light), is an adventure game with some RPG elements and an overhead view. It's the kind of game you'd expect to see on the Super NES, but is instead on the Sega Genesis! And it looks good - not just with the detailed graphics, but the fluid animation.
If you get lost while helping Prince Ali master the powers of the Gold Armlet in his quest to stop the bearer of the Silver Armlet, xyzbilliu's maps should help. Though the game may be relatively shorter and more linear compared to other games in the genre, it doesn't mean you won't lose your way. But go ahead, take the scenic route - the Kingdom Of Oasis is one of the nicest landscapes you'll find in the 16-bit Sega universe.
So to recognize the effort put into making maps for a game that deserves more exposure, xyzbilliu's Beyond Oasis maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for July 2009.
For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Revned's Rolando (iOS) maps.
In this iPod/iPhone game, you tap, tilt, and touch your screen to help roll the Rolandos through Rolandoland. There's not much to say about the premise of Rolando, but the gameplay, though intuitive, will not be as simple to master. You'll have to skillfully maneuver around obstacles and enemies and across the treacherous terrain.
Revned liked this iOS application enough to figure out a way to capture the cartoonish landscape. Revned's renders are a radical resource if you really need to figure out the best route to roll your Rolandos across Rolandoland. Really.
So to recognize the effort put into creating the first iOS game maps for VGMaps.com, Revned's Rolando maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for June 2009.
For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to RT-55J's Batman: Return Of The Joker (NES) maps.
When the Joker is on the loose, it's up to Batman to save Gotham. No matter how many times the Joker (somehow) escapes, the Caped Crusader will stop his nefarious schemes, even if he has to work his way through seven stages to do it!
Not based on a movie or television series like most Batman video games are, Sunsoft's Batman: Return Of The Joker is renowned as having some of the best graphics on the NES. While Sunsoft's graphical detail on the NES is astounding (see the original Batman game or Blaster Master, for instance), they bragged that this 8-bit game had 16-bit graphics! It didn't really, but it certainly put most of the NES library to shame.
RT-55J recognized this achievement and set out to immortalize NES graphics at their best. Even the dingy sewers of Gotham look amazing. It couldn't've been easy to map out the jetpack areas, either.
So to recognize the effort put into mapping one of the most detailed NES games ever, RT-55J's Batman: Return Of The Joker maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for May 2009.
For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to JonLeung's Metroid Dread (DS) maps.
When the Galactic Federation encounters Space Pirates mining for lost Chozo artifacts, they call on bounty hunter Samus Aran to investigate. Samus travels deep into the planet Ilpstra I, stopping the Space Pirates from uncovering anything dangerous. Like in any Metroid adventure, she collects many artifacts and tools along the way. Here, she ultimately dons the long-lost Final Suit and battles a mechanical statue, Kaiser Ridley, also equipped with the Final Suit, in a showdown that (unsurprisingly) leads to the destruction of the planet - but at least the galaxy is safe again (at least until the next Metroid game).
The DS's touch screen adds a new element to the familiar 2D Metroid gameplay - the Scan Visor from the Prime series returns here, and assists in first-person segments which you interact with using the stylus (such as shooting Seeker Missile door targets and soldering broken circuits with the Plasma Beam).
Now, how will you make your way through the tunnels of the planet? And find all the equipment? And escape in time? That's where these maps come in handy. Every room and every item is laid out for your perusal. Kaiser Ridley doesn't stand a chance!
So to recognize the effort put into mapping the latest 2D Metroid adventure, JonLeung's Metroid Dread maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for April FOOLS' 2009.
For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to rocktyt's The Legend Of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA) maps.
When looking for something green to wear this month, it's not likely that you'll end up wearing an advice-giving birdlike hat that is capable of shrinking you. But that's what happens when Link meets Ezlo, a Minish sorcerer who was transformed into an avian-styled cap when betrayed by his apprentice, Vaati. Link must stop Vaati to save Princess Zelda and the kingdom of Hyrule in this single-player adventure that expands the story seen in the two multiplayer Four Swords games.
Like any 2D Zelda game, the game is bright and colourful, featuring an overworld rich with variety in landscapes and puzzles. The dungeons are, as always, full of devious challenges but provide Link with the items and equipment necessary for him to complete his quest. If you need more help, rocktyt's maps will ensure that you won't get lost...but as with any Zelda game, they look pretty nice, too!
So to recognize the effort put into mapping the last 2D incarnation of Hyrule, rocktyt's The Legend Of Zelda: The Minish Cap maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for March 2009.
For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Maxim's Sonic The Hedgehog (Master System) maps.
In 1991, Nintendo's biggest rival, Sega, wanted a new mascot. And so they created a blue hedgehog who could run really fast. An unlikely hero? Not any more or less than a plumber who jumps real high and eats mushrooms. And so Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog held his own, even in his debut, up against Nintendo's Mario, who was fresh from the success of Super Mario Bros. 3 and just about to enter Super Mario World. Mario and Sonic epitomized the 16-bit console wars.
However, though Sonic helped sell many Sega Genesises, this month we're looking at the 8-bit version of it; this was the final game for the Sega Master System (at least in North America). It was actually released shortly after the Genesis game, and some European versions of the redesigned Master System (appropriately named the Sega Master System II) included Sonic The Hedgehog as a built-in game.
Maxim, our resident Master System fan, mapped out all six zones (which includes eighteen acts) and the eight Special Stages. Now we can all marvel at one of the Master System's most amazing-looking games; particularly impressive are the Jungle Zone and Labyrinth Zone.
So to recognize the effort put into making the maps of the Master System's swan song, Maxim's Sonic The Hedgehog maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for February 2009.
Compiler: Will Mallia
For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Will Mallia's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time (Super NES) maps.
It's a new year, which for us comes every 365 (or 366 days). Unless, of course, you're a Ninja Turtle in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time.
In the fourth Nintendo-console TMNT-branded beat-'em-up, the Ninja Turtles are thrown into various periods of time, including the (typically expected) prehistoric era, some futuristic ages, and a few periods in between. Shredder's goons are also chronologically displaced into these moments in history, but beating up Foot Soldiers is timeless. So unsheathe your bō, katana, nunchaku, or sai, and unleash some Turtle Power!
While you wouldn't get lost in arcade-style games, it's still fun to see the colourful, detailed graphics that Konami was able to pull off on the Super NES. Will Mallia, a regular mapper and a fan of arcade games, has immortalized this time-hopping adventure.
So to recognize the effort put into making these "timely" maps, Will Mallia's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for January 2009.
Congratulations and thanks to the Mapmakers of 2009!