2012

Game: Chrono Trigger (Square, Super NES)

Compiler: Rick Bruns

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

 

It's often been said that the end is near.  Devastation, chaos, extinction, the end of the world as we know it.  But many prophetic proclamations offer some hope that it can be prevented.  Perhaps we need to stop fighting each other.  Perhaps we could be more conscious of what we are doing to the planet.  Or perhaps we can put our hopes in an odd team of seven time-travellers which include a mute kid, a frog, and a robot - whose theme song feels like we've been "Rickroll'd".  But if the future refuses to change, then Lavos will awaken...in 1999.  Oh, wait, maybe they've already saved us then.

 

Speaking of '99, if you discount the five April Fools' joke maps, Chrono Trigger has the distinction of being the 99th (real) game featured in the Maps Of The Month feature!

 

Chrono Trigger is widely renowned as one of the best RPGs for its time, or perhaps of all time.  Quite fitting that it should stand the test of time, given its temporally-warping narrative.  Few games before this captured the essence of time travel.  The story weaves us from merely waking up to attend the Millennial Fair in 1000 A.D. to preventing an alien being from unleashing havoc in 1999 A.D., but not before visiting prehistoric and post-apocalyptic periods...and The End Of Time itself.  Each time period is vastly different, each a world of their own, but they are all connected and their similarities and differences really make you understand the scope of this adventure.  Created by Square, known primarily for its Final Fantasy series of games, it's nice to see a game by them that can stand on its own without the Final Fantasy branding (well, at least if you overlook the PlayStation remake bundled with Final Fantasy IV in a package called Final Fantasy Chronicles).  This year has seen some stellar Square RPG efforts recognized here...we've had the remake of the first Mana game and the best 2D Final Fantasy game, and now this.  Thanks to Rick Bruns and his desire for tackling one of his favourite games (despite being so epic that it almost intimidated even him), we can add this incredible adventure to our atlas.

 

So to recognize the effort put into this truly timeless classic, Rick Bruns's Chrono Trigger (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for December 2012.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Shining Soul II (Sega, GBA)

Compiler: xyzbilliu

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to xyzbilliu's Shining Soul II (GBA) maps.

 

When the kingdom of Klantol is threatened by monsters, King Marcel seeks a hero to defend the country.  By means of a tournament, he hopes to find such a hero.  Whether you're a Brawler or a Sorceress, that hero could be you!  Does your soul shine?

 

An action RPG you can take with you on the go?  Yes, please!  Improved in many ways over the original, Shining Soul II is a great way to enjoy a portable game often compared to Diablo.  With depth, customizability, and lots of replayability, you nay be revisiting Klantol.  Until you know your way around, though, there's xyzbilliu, who has a knack for mapping less commonly known RPGs.  And thankfully he has found this diamond in the rough for us, so we can enjoy these maps!

 

So to recognize the effort put into bringing this gem to light, xyzbilliu's Shining Soul II (GBA) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for November 2012.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Gargoyle's Quest II: The Demon Darkness (Capcom, NES)

Compiler: vorpal86

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to vorpal86's Gargoyle's Quest II: The Demon Darkness (NES) maps.

 

The sequel to the Game Boy hit, Gargoyle's Quest II: The Demon Darkness once again puts you in control of Firebrand, as he tries to save the Ghoul Realm - this time, on the NES.

 

This bigger adventure still features a large RPGish world and lots of side-scrolling platforming action.  Though by "platforming" I mean a lot of flying.  Have you ever seen so many spikes?  (Definitely not a place for Capcom's other hero, Mega Man...)  Not to mention fire.  Careful you don't get impaled or incinerated while you're admiring the awesome graphics.

 

It's not as linear as other Capcom games on the NES, so if you are to survive a trip from the town of Etruria all the way to Breager Palace, the Ghoul Realm is one of those places that you and Firebrand will be glad we have maps for!  The Labyrinth of Mirrors map is especially handy.

 

So to recognize the effort put into making the Ghoul Realm traversable, vorpal86's Gargoyle's Quest II: The Demon Darkness (NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for October 2012.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Little Samson (Taito, NES)

Compiler: TerraEsperZ

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

 

When the land of Forgy is threatened by Ta-Keed, the Prince of Darkness, it's up to the wielders of the Magic Bells to save the day!  Enter Little Samson, Kikira the Dragon Lord, Gamm the Rock Lord, and K.O. the Enchanted Beast (who takes the form of a cute mouse).  Using their unique abilities, they will traverse over a dozen areas to put the big hurt on the "big bad".

 

It's NES platforming action at its best, with multiple characters, charming music and cool boss battles.  Little Samson has amazing graphics for the NES, using a wide range of colours - without looking saturated, and a high level of detail - without looking cluttered.  TerraEsperZ also indicates what the criteria are that determine which stage you will go to next, since the game is not entirely linear.  This game is really something...being released on the NES after the Super NES had already been around for over a year probably hurt Little Samson's chances at being a bigger hit...but that doesn't mean we can't love this game now!

 

So to recognize the effort put into mapping one of the most underrated NES games ever, TerraEsperZ's Little Samson (NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for September 2012.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Final Fantasy VI (Square, Super NES)

Compiler: FlyingArmor

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to FlyingArmor's Final Fantasy VI (Super NES) maps.

 

It's been quite a year of milestones for VGMaps.com (10 year anniversary, 20,000 maps), and so here we have another one.  This is a special Maps Of The Month featurette, as it is the 100th!  And so what game would be fitting for this momentous occasion?  Why, Final Fantasy VI, of course.

 

(Yes, Final Fantasy VI is the proper title, as the game is now known worldwide.  It has always been the case in Japan, but the rest of the world didn't initially get the "real" Final Fantasy II, III, or V localized, so IV and VI which did manage to cross the ocean were originally released as II and III to not confuse Western gamers.  Square then decided they would go ahead and release VII and all future games onwards with consistent numbering regardless of region, and so the attempt to avoid confusion by renumbering IV/II and VI/III ironically created more confusion when Square rereleased those titles - and rerelease them they did, again and again...)

 

So what makes this map set of Final Fantasy VI worthy of being recognized in the 100th Maps Of The Month featurette?  First off, the game itself is nothing short of amazing.  The sixth instalment of Final Fantasy is probably universally recognized as the best 2D entry in the longest-running console RPG series which turns 25 years old this year, so if I wanted to honour a Final Fantasy game at all in 2012, why not the best?  It's a huge game - around 70 maps, and many of them are quite large, with very beautifully detailed and intricate graphics.  And it's no secret that I love console RPGs, and it's kind of a no-brainer that console RPGs are exactly the kind of games that almost require labelled maps - and labelled these are.  FlyingArmor has clearly taken the effort to make sure these maps are accurate, mapping regions even slightly beyond where the screen can naturally scroll, and arranging the multiple areas within a map with care, as if the mostly-expected "chest and door labelling" wasn't already a fair bit of work for some of these areas!  Despite my lamentations that Final Fantasy games still haven't been mapped very much considering the popularity of the series, I don't mind that it's taken almost two years for FlyingArmor to map this as thoroughly as he has.  A shout-out to Osrevad and Reidrex for the overworld maps, as well!  And these were finished very recently, and I clearly didn't want to wait longer than necessary to honour this!  From the Lete River to the Phantom Train to the Floating Continent to Kefka's Tower, we now have one of the best-ever video games immortalized here on VGMaps.com.  If you ever embark on an adventure with Terra and the Returners to defeat the evil empire led by the insane Kefka, whether it's the first time or the nth time, you'll certainly know the way.

 

So to recognize the effort put into mapping one of the greatest 2D console epics of all time, FlyingArmor's Final Fantasy VI (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for August 2012.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap (Sega, Master System)

Compiler: Maxim

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Maxim's Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap (Master System) maps.

 

Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap begins with the final dungeon from the previous game, Wonder Boy In Monster Land.  But this time, after the defeat of the MEKA (or Mecha) Dragon, our hero is transformed into a dragon - or rather, a "lizard-man" - and has to escape the collapsing castle, though he is no longer as strong as he once was.  And so he goes off on another adventure, and along the way he takes on different animal forms - mouse-man, piranha-man, lion-man, and hawk-man - before returning to his "hu-man" form.

 

This game is often considered one of the best Master System games - or even one of the best games of its generation, period.  It's not hard to see why.  The world is large and interconnected.  The different animal forms, with different abilities, make revisiting areas interesting.  With so much to explore (and re-explore), it would be quite handy to have some maps, so, you guessed it - our resident Sega fan, Maxim, gets a long-overdue Mapmaker Of The Month recognition for this gem in the Sega Master System library.

 

So to recognize the effort put into allowing us to escape the dragon's trap, Maxim's Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap (Master System) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for July 2012.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Lufia & The Fortress Of Doom (Taito, Super NES)

Compiler: FlyingArmor

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to FlyingArmor's Lufia & The Fortress Of Doom (Super NES) maps.

 

A large castle, atop an ominous floating island, housing evil deities who call themselves the Sinistrals, well deserves the moniker of "Fortress Of Doom".  The Sinistrals seek to conquer the world, and certainly the humans don't care for that.  It's up to the hero, a descendent of the swordsman Maxim, to defeat the Sinistral army once again, as his predecessor had, ninety-nine years earlier.

 

I'm sure I sound like a broken record when I rave about fully labelled RPG maps.  But why shouldn't I?  RPGs tend to be long games with many areas; here there are over 80 maps by FlyingArmor, all fully labelled.  Sure, there's the usual labeling of the contents of treasure chests - the dungeons of this game seem to have a higher-than-average number of them -  but there are also many hidden items not in chests in non-dungeon areas, which you can locate with these maps.  Not only are the treasures numerous, but the floors and doors and stairs too.  I always say it's handy to have a guide when playing RPGs thoroughly, but this is one of those games where I really mean it.  If you never get lost here, especially in those towers, you can thank FlyingArmor, who's no stranger to the cartography of RPGs.

 

So to recognize the effort put into saving us from doom, FlyingArmor's Lufia & The Fortress Of Doom (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for June 2012.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Cave Story (Studio Pixel, PC)

Compiler: ummwat

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to ummwat's Cave Story (PC) maps.

 

For the past ten years, VGMaps.com's contributors have brought you screenshot maps from thousands of video games.  But most of them have been console games by big-name developers.  It's time now for a different sort of game to be recognized, and though it's a well-known game now, Cave Story originally started out as a freeware indie game by the work of one man, Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya, put together during his free time.

 

Our hero begins his adventure by waking up in a cave.  He comes across a village of the rabbit-like Mimigas, and soon learns of "the Doctor" who is up to no good, attempting to take over the world.  It's up to the hero to save the day by defeating this megalomaniac.  But to do so, he'll have to traverse a large network of caves within a floating island.

 

Influenced by and an homage to the great 2D platforming adventures that Pixel grew up playing, there are shades of Metroid and Castlevania, which naturally makes it a good fit for VGMaps.com.  So what are you waiting for?  Whether you're playing the original PC freeware version or one of the later ports, you should get out there and stop the Doctor, with ummwat's maps if you need a guide. 

 

So to recognize the effort put into acknowledging a great indie game, ummwat's Cave Story (PC) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for May 2012.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (Nintendo, Super NES)

Compiler: Peardian

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Peardian's Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (Super NES) maps.

 

Eggs.  They are part of a good breakfast.  They are scrambled or hard-boiled, or prepared in a multitude of other ways.  They are also a natural wonder.  They contain new life within.  Observed in a particular holiday, the represent a rebirth, breaking out of a tomb.  They are painted.  They are hidden.  They come in chocolate or candy forms.  They are also projectiles.  They can stop a baby tyrant lizard and his wizard's minions from kidnapping babies who are destined to be heroic plumbers.  How can you not love eggs?

 

Or, for that matter, Peardian's Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island maps?  A real labour of love, there is almost three years between his first and last maps for Mario and Yoshi's first chronological adventure together.  As are most Mario games, this game is a real treat visually.  With a unique pencil-crayon style, it is more detailed while also more cartoony than even the original Super Mario World.  Though not advertised as such, the game contains a version of the Super FX Chip (you know, the processor involved in polygonal Super NES games like Star Fox), that occasionally shows its 3D processing power with rotating platforms, particularly in some castles.  And speaking of rotating, how about that Raphael the Raven boss battle?  Wow!

 

But rather than just singing the praises of the game itself, how about Peardian's work on mapping this game?  This has been a longtime project for him.  And the time and effort shows!  Labelling doors and pipes, showing all the in-game tips, adding a few more including boss battle tips, showing the contents of crates and "?" clouds, and making clear the location of every Red Coin - this is effort beyond mere screenshot-stitching.  (And Peardian has sent me revisions and corrections of maps constantly, a testament to his dedication and perfectionism.)  And how's this for going above the call of duty - animated images showing Yoshi's Island and World 6 as they appear on the title screen, original images showing what they look like from above, and mapping the debug room, too!  Considering the technical challenges that Peardian likes to take on, and his obvious preference for which game series to map, it really comes as no surprise that Peardian gets the honour for work on this game, but that doesn't make these maps any less spectacular, or any less worth the Maps Of The Month.

 

So to recognize the effort put into mapping even more Mario, Peardian's Super Mario World 2 (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for April 2012.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo, DS)

Compiler: Piranhaplant

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Piranhaplant's New Super Mario Bros. (DS) maps.

 

In recent years, on the tenth of March (i.e. "MAR10"), I've tried to play a Mario game to celebrate one of the greatest - if not THE greatest - video game characters of all time.  Also, the 3DS turns one year old this month - and yet, despite its predecessor's popularity, we have only had one other Maps Of The Month recognition for it.  I'd say it's time to have another!

 

New Super Mario Bros. on the DS is, perhaps, not a surprise in any way.  We know Bowser's up to his tricks, we know we've got to save Princess Peach, and we know there's going to be jumping and stomping and using power-ups along the way as we trek across various sorts of worlds.  The title of the game is simple and unsurprising too...New Super Mario Bros....yep, it's a Super Mario Bros. game through and through, and it's new(er).

 

But that's not to say it's bad.  On the contrary, it's good.  Though there are certainly differences between every Mario game to keep them fresh, the core gameplay remains mostly the same.  If it's tried-and-true and we never grow tired of it, you know there's no need to fix something that isn't broken.

 

And like every Mario game, it just looks great.  The game's stages are colourful and varied.  There's lots to see, but also lots of secrets to find.  Piranhaplant has fulfilled any need to see each stage in their entirety for us here on VGMaps, and gets his second Mapmaker Of The Month recognition for it.  No Star Coin will elude you now!

 

So to recognize the effort put into mapping more Mario, Piranhaplant's New Super Mario Bros. (DS) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for March 2012.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Sword Of Mana (Square Enix, GBA)

Compilers: Troy Lundin, Tropicon & Paco

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Troy Lundin's, Tropicon's and Paco's Sword Of Mana (GBA) maps.

 

Sword Of Mana is the prequel to Secret Of Mana, as well as a remake of the Game Boy game Seiken Densetsu (as it's known in Japan), also known as Final Fantasy Adventure (in North America) or Mystic Quest (in Europe).  Like any other Mana game, it features gorgeous graphics and captivating gameplay.

 

You know what I really love?  If you haven't guessed it, I love maps of RPGs, thoroughly marked with everything I would need to know.  I mean, wow, just look at the "Hot House" in this game.  Despite being a small area, there's so much info there!  That truly is hot.  And though the majority of the maps featured as Maps Of The Month were each created by a single person, it's such a wonderful thing when people can work together to create something beautiful.  Troy Lundin created the raw maps, then Tropicon and Paco filled in the sprites and details.  That's teamwork!

 

So to recognize the effort put into working harmoniously, Troy Lundin's, Tropicon's and Paco's Sword Of Mana (GBA) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for February 2012.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Shining Force: The Legacy Of Great Intention (Sega, Genesis)

Compiler: xyzbilliu

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to xyzbilliu's Shining Force: The Legacy Of Great Intention (Genesis) maps.

 

With New Year's comes the making of new resolutions.  These great intentions usually lead to a legacy of failure, as one's yearly gym membership goes unused after the first month.  But older than that cycle is the Legacy of the Ancients, which refers to the Dark Dragon, a being who has been sealed away for a millennium, and is about to return.  Will you travel across the kingdom of Runefaust to the Castle of the Ancients to stop Darksol from reviving this ancient evil?

 

The Shining Force games are tactical RPGs originally for the Sega Genesis, a console which isn't usually remembered for its RPG selection.  But this game is an earlier example of a tactical strategy game, where one must manage positions of individual units during a battle.  Surely that distinction should count for something, and xyzbilliu has immortalized this legacy by mapping it all out.  All eight chapters, and all thirty battles (with mini-maps for each) are here for your viewing (and strategizing) pleasure.  Thanks, xyzbilliu!

 

So to recognize the effort put into fulfilling the intention to map this game, xyzbilliu's Shining Force: The Legacy Of Great Intention (Genesis) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for January 2012.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

 

Congratulations and thanks to the Mapmakers of 2012!