2011

Game: Wario Land 4 (Nintendo, GBA)

Compiler: Peardian

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Peardian's Wario Land 4 (GBA) maps.

 

Wario's on the search for riches and treasure...again.  Investigating a legendary pyramid takes Wario on his fourth portable adventure, and the first original 2D platformer from Nintendo for the GBA.

 

What became evident very early on with the Game Boy Advance was that it was very much like a handheld Super NES.  And while there were some Super NES ports (now in portable form!), what was more exciting for those who had already lived through the 16-bit console era was a whole new games library of Super NESesque games!  Sure, 3D games are great, but there's a certain charm to brightly-coloured 2D sprite-based platforming games.  Wario Land 4 is one of those games.

 

How can you NOT love the colourfulness of the Pinball Zone, or the exoticness of the Arabian Night, or the duality of the Fiery Cavern?  (Yes, that's the Fiery Cavern in the screenshot!)  There are big bosses, challenging platforming, and lots of treasure to collect.  Peardian, practically the go-to guy for all things related to Mario, does it again with this Wario game.  With these maps helping you (and Wario), the Golden Diva's as good as defeated!

 

So to recognize the effort in mapping this not-so-micro game, Peardian's Wario Land 4 (GBA) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for December 2011.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

 

Game: Mega Man: Battle Network (Capcom, GBA)

Compiler: Will Mallia

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Will Mallia's Mega Man: Battle Network (GBA) maps.

 

We're well into the 21st century, and still no sign of humanoid robots that fight each other with fancy projectile weapons.  Nope, in 20XX, we're playing with virtual avatars in online games, which is probably the closest we'll get in our lifetime to Mega Man...at least, this version of Mega Man, who's a virtual partner in cyberspace.

Among the many multiple-of-5-year anniversaries this year, one that really surprises me is Mega Man: Battle Network's 10th.  Has it really been that long ago since this cyberspace version of Mega Man made his debut on the then-new Game Boy Advance?

It's clearly overdue to honour Will Mallia, the undisputed king cartographer of this particular Mega Man series on the GBA.  And he's thorough.  He's mapped out the main six games in their entirety (and consider that there are two versions of each game from 3 onwards), plus any Japanese-exclusive areas, as well as the Japanese-only 4.5.  Plus, he's labelled the items, which is always awesome.  It's obvious that there are some series loved by particular mappers, and Mega Man: Battle Network is Will Mallia's baby.  He's even mapped a stage from an obscure game from the obscure WonderSwan Color, and is working on the Mega Man: Star Force series (Battle Network's sequel series) on the DS.  Now that's dedication!

So to recognize the mega-dedication in mapping the entire series, Will Mallia's Mega Man: Battle Network (GBA) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for November 2011.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Zombies Ate My Neighbors (LucasArts, Super NES)

Compiler: Piranhaplant

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Piranhaplant's Zombies Ate My Neighbors (Super NES) maps.

 

Zombies are really popular, in movies and video games, and seem to be more so in recent years.  Sure, they're "just" reanimated corpses, but they bring to light a number of fears that people in modern societies have, like overpopulation, disease, violent mobs, biohazards and possibly bioweaponry.  Many fantastical monsters, if they ever existed in real life, could probably be taken down easily with today's weapons.  But what if the monsters were so numerous, or they are/were your loved ones?  Not so easy to fight them, is it?  And large mobs of zombies make great video game enemies, because you can have tons of them at any time, they don't need fancy A.I., they're easy to design, and from the player's perspective, it somehow seems satisfying (perhaps pandering to our own sick desires) to mow down a bunch of human-like beings that aren't actually (or no longer) considered "human" enough to evoke any sympathy.

 

Everywhere and anywhere in video games, you can find the walking dead.  Island resorts aren't even safe.  You've got some dead rising up in malls and city streets.  And let's be frank; westerns and tactical FPSes aren't the kinds of games where you expect zombie spin-offs, but there have been those too.  You can never be sure that the zombie sub-genre could ever be left for dead.

 

Before Capcom struck gold with zombies back in 1996, LucasArts and Konami released Zombies Ate My Neighbors on the Super NES in 1993.  As you strive to save every suburban resident, evil forces are out to stop you.  There's the maniacal Dr. Tongue, along with vampires, giant babies, chainsaw-wielding psychopaths, ants, and of course, zombies.  In over four dozen levels, most that are titled like B-movies, you might want some help to save all your neighbors.  That's where Piranhaplant comes in.  This is the first Mapmaker Of The Month honour for Piranhaplant, which is overdue.

 

So to recognize the effort put into mapping this delicious game, Piranhaplant's Zombies Ate My Neighbors (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for October 2011.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Battletoads (Rare, NES)

Compiler: TerraEsperZ

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

 

Ah, Battletoads.  Rare's answer to the TMNT craze.  Zitz and Rash, two of the three Battletoads, must rescue Princess Angelica and their teammate Pimple from the evil Dark Queen.  That's a good enough reason for some amphibian action!

 

...Make that aggravating action.  Some NES games are well-remembered for being quite difficult, and undoubtedly Battletoads is one of the most infamous in that regard.  There are over a dozen stages, but I'm pretty sure very few people can get past the third stage.  And that's a shame.  The stages are quite varied; there's some platforming, rappelling, racing, surfing, riding on the backs of giant snakes, and a high-speed gravity-defying unicycle chase with a hypno-ball-thing on your tail.  This game has it all!  If you've never seen all of this game (as I imagine most people haven't) and its awesome graphics (the usual bright neon colours found in many Rare-developed NES games are actually well-balanced here), you can see for yourself here on VGMaps.com and save yourself the trouble of mastering the Turbo Tunnel.  Check out the labyrinthine Terra Tubes - no doubt one of TerraEsperZ's favourite stages based on name alone.

 

I almost didn't want to honour TerraEsperZ again, after all, this is his eighth recognition in as many years.  But I could not ignore the awesomeness of the animated "The Revolution" stage.  We have a few other animated maps on this site, but none with the size and complexity as the penultimate stage of Battletoads.  Absolutely mesmerizing.  Sorry, that friend of a friend of yours, the only guy you know of that's claimed to have beat Battletoads, has got nothing on TerraEsperZ, who's mapped every angle of the Dark Queen's rotating tower.

 

So to recognize the difficulty put into mapping this infamously difficult game, TerraEsperZ's Battletoads (NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for September 2011.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Golden Sun (Nintendo, GBA)

Compiler: Paco & Stefan Mahrla

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Paco & Stefan Mahrla's Golden Sun (GBA) maps.
 

The worlds of RPGs are usually very large, with many different areas within them that could be complex, varied, and/or large themselves.  In this genre, maps can be quite essential, whether for navigation or for locating items.  Screenshot maps in particular are not only helpful, but they also let you see how vast, detailed and beautiful games in this genre usually are.

 

And yet, while RPGs tend to be large, they can yet be small enough to fit into a tiny GBA cartridge.  Since RPGs were among the most popular games on the Super NES, the Game Boy Advance - which often feels like a portable Super NES - was of course going to be host to several more RPGs.  Among the first RPGs, developed exclusively for the GBA by Camelot, was Golden Sun.

 

Isaac and Garet, with the help of the Djinn creatures they find along the way, travel across the world of Weyard to recover stolen stones, which, if placed in the elemental lighthouses, would fully unleash the power of Alchemy upon the world.  From sunny Vale to the Venus Lighthouse, it's at least a pretty and brightly-coloured adventure.

 

Stefan Mahrla originally mapped out some areas, and Paco added to them and completed the rest of the game, so they share the honour this month.  That's some teamwork right there...real synergy...or perhaps, Psynergy?


So to recognize the teamwork and effort put into mapping this RPG, Paco & Stefan Mahrla's Golden Sun (GBA) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for August 2011.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Duke Nukem II (Apogee, PC)

Compiler: High Treason

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to High Treason's Duke Nukem II (PC) maps.

Duke Nukem is back!

In this 1993 sequel to the 1991 classic, Duke is kidnapped by aliens who want to use his brain with a powerful weapon to threaten the Earth. Duke isn't too keen on the idea, and escapes, and then you help him save the world and get revenge on the aliens.

As a computer gamer, one thing I miss from my pre-teen/teen years is shareware. Remember that? Shareware games are kind of like a demo concept...you can, and was intended that you should, share copies of the game with others. Typically, or at least was common with Apogee's games, you'd just get the first episode, and if you liked it, you could purchase the rest of the episodes (though those weren't meant to be shared). Between 1990-1995 (coincidentally, when I had my first computer but right before I got the Internet), Apogee made great shareware games that I have fond memories of. Most of the time, I only had the first episode of these games, but that was fine enough for my short attention span - and limited allowance. And there's just some nostalgia of swapping 3.5" floppy diskettes back in junior high, or purchasing new shareware games with simple packaging (usually just an envelope with an amusing blurb about its contents or a clear plastic case with a generic screenshot insert) whenever we passed by the stationery/supplies stores, for just a few bucks.

Duke Nukem II is one of those great shareware games. Large areas, lots to shoot at, items and keys to find, this game had it all! Well, except for 3D and over-the-top vulgarity...but that'll come soon enough. New mapper High Treason takes on all four episodes completely and reminds us that a not-quite-as-ridiculous-but-still-hyper-masculine Duke Nukem adventure is still a great time, even without inappropriately dressed women.

So to recognize the effort put into this great bit of nostalgia from forever ago, High Treason's Duke Nukem II (PC) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for July 2011.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Super Metroid (Nintendo, Super NES)

Compiler: Rick Bruns

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Rick Bruns's Super Metroid (Super NES) maps.

 

In what is widely considered the definitive Metroid game, Samus returns to Planet Zebes after Ridley has stolen the baby Metroid from Ceres.  Old foes as well as new ones await Samus as they guard weapons, tools, and powers that she would try to reclaim and utilize to explore the planet and save the universe from Ridley, the Mother Brain, and the Space Pirates once again.

 

Planet Zebes was previously visited in Metroid for the NES (or Metroid: Zero Mission for the GBA, if you prefer), but some of the planet was supposedly ravaged when the destruction of the first Mother Brain triggered a self-destruct.  However, you can still see traces of the old Tourian and Brinstar here.  Even if you didn't recognize that connection to a previous game, you would still appreciate Nintendo's attention to detail, like the extraordinary area design where the locations all fit together neatly, organically and with continuity, as if this were a living, breathing planet, helped along with some of the best graphics on the Super NES, or maybe any 2D game.

 

Hyperbole?  Maybe a little, but however you look at it, it's still a very well-designed game that remains incredible to this day.  Super Metroid ranks high on many "best game of all time" lists, including placing #1 on such a list by EGM in 2003.  The game design is clearly the inspiration for Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night on the PlayStation and Saturn, as well as the 2-D Castlevania games on the GBA and DS.  If not for Super Metroid, we might not have those Castlevania games, or other so-called "Castleroid" or "Metroidvania" experiences.

 

Here at VGMaps.com, we love these large-world, non-linear action-platformers in particular.  There's a "wow" factor in being able to see how all the caves and tunnels and rooms fit together in an incredibly huge map, and such a map is also incredibly handy to find all of the items in the game.  Though Super Metroid is one of the most-loved games of all time, it's quite a daunting task to dare reconstruct the entire planet into maps (one for each area, plus a huge one of the entire planet), but Rick Bruns stepped up to the challenge and managed to do it.  It may not have taken under three hours, but it was worth it to get this "Mission Complete", and a Mapmaker Of The Month honour for Rick Bruns.

 

So to recognize the effort put into this "100% completion" in scouring all of Planet Zebes, Rick Bruns's Super Metroid (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for June 2011.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: E.V.O.: Search For Eden (Enix, Super NES)

Compiler: Tropicon

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Tropicon's E.V.O.: Search For Eden (Super NES) maps.

 

Gaia, the Mother Earth, has created you and put you on prehistoric Earth.  It is her hope, and your quest, for you to become the perfect creature and join her in Eden.  You begin as a basic, unremarkable fish, but through surviving encounters with other animals and encountering mysterious crystals, you will eventually evolve into other forms, and finally a mammal - and if you play your cards right, perhaps even a human.

 

It's survival of the fittest, according to Darwin, and whether you believe his theories of biological evolution or not, you have to admit that it makes an interesting concept for a video game.  Or, at the very least, it's a bit more unique than another generic fantasy RPG, sci-fi shooter or cutesy platformer.

 

Tropicon (whose name sounds like the name of a species) mapped out this charming game from Enix - from the Ocean Of Origin to the Entrance Of Eden, and all the locations in between.  He's also marked off all life that you can interact with EOVP and HP amounts.  You have a better view of the whole world than any bird-man in their floating fortress, thanks to these maps that he put together for us!

 

So to recognize the effort put into searching out Eden, Tropicon's E.V.O.: Search For Eden (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for May 2011.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Spear Of Destiny (id Software, PC)

Compiler: DarkWolf

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to DarkWolf's Spear Of Destiny (PC) maps.

 

The Spear Of Destiny, also known as the Holy Lance or the Lance Of Longinus, pierced Jesus's side as he hung on the cross. A number of artifacts are claimed to be this Spear Of Destiny, which could have mystical powers as suggested by modern legends. Adolf Hitler, with an obsession for such relics, may have had this at one point in time, and whether true or not, inspired this Wolfenstein 3-D prequel.

Before his adventures in Wolfenstein 3-D, B.J. Blazkowicz tried to reclaim the Spear Of Destiny from Nazi forces. In these twenty floors, he'll have to contend with the usual Nazi soldiers and labyrinths, but ultimately he'll have to face supernatural forces as well. With DarkWolf's maps, expertly derived from the game data itself, losing your way is one thing you won't have to worry about.

This game was mapped by DarkWolf, who also contributed maps of the same style as those of the original Wolfenstein 3-D (which was honoured in July 2008) and the Blake Stone games. He's shown that a third dimension doesn't stop a dedicated game cartographer!

 

So to recognize the effort put into spearheading new mapping techniques, DarkWolf's Spear Of Destiny (PC) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for April 2011.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament (Codemasters, Genesis)

Compiler: Maxim

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Maxim's Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament (Genesis) maps.

 

Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament is a racing game featuring the popular Micro Machines toys, with racetracks and obstacles composed of everyday objects.  Though not the first game of its kind (obviously, there's the first Micro Machines game on the Sega Master System, among other consoles), there are a few things that make this game stand out.

 

Firstly, it came in a special cartridge, called a J-Cart.  J-Carts included two more controller ports on the cartridge itself, allowing four controllers to be plugged in at once.  Secondly, besides the obvious four player action, you could actually play with up to eight players: two players could share each controller to control separate vehicles!

 

And also, our resident Sega fan Maxim not only mapped this game very well, but he did so with a program he wrote himself: the Screenshot Autostitcher!  How fitting that he'll enable our machines to micro-manage screenshots starting with a game about Micro Machines!  This game was his opportunity to introduce this valuable tool to the community of video game cartographers who continue to add to this site week after week.  Anything that makes our job easier is certainly welcome, so thanking him for the Screenshot Autostitcher is long overdue.

 

So to recognize the effort put into automating mapping, Maxim's Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament (Genesis) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for March 2011.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Mega Man ZX (Capcom, DS)

Compiler: X GOD, HIVOLT & rmexesaito for the RockMan Memorial Hall - Extra Hall

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to X GOD, HIVOLT & rmexesaito's Mega Man ZX (DS) maps.

 

In the year 24XX, two couriers, Vent and Aile, are delivering an artifact known as Biometal Model X.  But when they are attacked by Mavericks, the Biometal gives them the power to Megamerge into Mega Man Model X.  They meet Prairie and the Guardians, defenders of the Outlands, and they search for the remaining Biometals and eventually face Serpent, the evil president of Slither, Inc.

 

The gameplay is similar to the Mega Man Zero series.  There are several missions to undertake in the game's various Areas.  Defeating bosses and obtaining more Biometals (clearly based on X, Zero, and characters from Mega Man Zero) allows Vent/Aile to use more weapons and abilities.  Despite being four hundred years old, this concept remains - a Mega Man game wouldn't be one without it!

 

However, unlike the original series and the X series, there is a lot of retraversal.  It may be easy to get lost as more and more Areas become available.  So we turn to X GOD and his partners, HIVOLT and rmexesaito, who have contributed many of the later Mega Man games, including this one.  These maps are functional, of course, but also allow you to enjoy the incredible detail in these futuristic graphics - quite impressive, even for a DS game, and even for a Mega Man game!

 

So to recognize the effort put into these "ZXy" maps, X GOD, HIVOLT & rmexesaito's Mega Man ZX (DS) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for February 2011.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Kick Master (Taito, NES)

Compiler: sprays

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to sprays's Kick Master (NES) maps.

 

Let's kick off 2011's Maps Of The Month with Kick Master!  When the kingdom of Lowrel is ravaged by the evil wizard Belzed, it's up to Thonolan, a martial artist, to save the kidnapped princess Silphee.  Maybe not the most original video game storyline, but this hero really kicks butt...and kicks everything, really.  After all, the game's title makes clear what his specialty is.

 

Though Kick Master was published by Taito, this game is developed by KID (Kindle Imagine Develop), who has created some very detailed NES games under different publishers.  Take a look at their two G.I. Joe games (with Taxan and Capcom) and Low G Man (also published by Taxan).  Mapper sprays has recognized this artistry, and this is his second recognition for the Maps Of The Month for one of KID's NES games (the previous being for G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero back in November 2009).  Between the Witches' Forest and Belzed's Haunted Tower, you and Thonalan will encounter sharp graphics and large bosses, and sprays can help lead the way.

 

So to recognize the effort put into these butt-kicking maps, sprays's Kick Master (NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for January 2011.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

 

Congratulations and thanks to the Mapmakers of 2011!