2014

Game: Solstice (Software Creations, NES)

Compiler: Guillaume Saint-Amant

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Guillaume Saint-Amant's Solstice (NES) maps.
 

Morbius the Malevolent kidnaps Princess Eleanor of Arcadia, intending to use her in a ritual sacrifice to become the Evil Baron of Darkness.  Shadax the Wizard witnesses the kidnapping and makes his way into KÔstler÷ck, which is not only Morbius's stronghold, but also where six pieces of the Staff Of Demnos are hidden.  The Staff Of Demnos has the power to defeat Morbius, but its invisible pieces are only magically visible on Winter Solstice once a century, which is the very day that you are infiltrating KÔstler÷ck.  Will you, as Shadax, be able to save the princess, and the world?

 

Solstice (or, as on the box, Solstice: The Quest For The Staff Of Demnos) is a puzzle-oriented platformer.  Its isometric view makes it stand out visually and also challenges the player to be aware of their surroundings in this pseudo-3D environment.  KÔstler÷ck consists of 253 dangerous rooms in nine different areas, so it may be easy to get disoriented, and the perspective might make it challenging to map.  Thankfully Guillame Saint-Amant has figured out how to do it, with a thoroughly-labelled map that shows how all the colourful rooms are connected, even vertically.  Not only are the items indicated, but also the routes of enemies and the movement paths of traps and obstacles.  Without a doubt, this map of KÔstler÷ck is one of the most impressive and detailed NES maps that VGMaps.com is proud to host.

 

So to recognize the effort in conquering KÔstler÷ck, Guillaume Saint-Amant's Solstice (NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for December 2014.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo, N64)

Compiler: Peardian

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Peardian's Super Smash Bros. (N64) maps.
 

Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64 is the first major Nintendo crossover. Twelve fighters from across the Nintendo universe duke it out...just because? The whim of Master Hand? Who knows? Whatever the reason, it's ridiculously crazy multiplayer fun, and paves the way for a series known for its expanding roster (always speculated on by any fan, hopeful that their favourite Nintendo character - or even non-Nintendo - makes the cut) and insane amount of Nintendo-related content.

For this first instalment, there are only eight characters available at the start, up to twelve when they are all unlocked. Even so, that's still over three dozen maps, including each character's "Break The Targets!" and "Board The Platforms!" challenges, all by Peardian, whose N64 mapping wizardry brought us two versions of each map - one with tips and another without.

Super Smash Bros. is a celebration of Nintendo history, but now about to enter its fifth iteration, it has its own history, so let's not forget its roots on the N64...(and a time before dependency on the GameCube controller).

So to recognize the effort of making these smashing maps, Peardian's Super Smash Bros. (N64) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for November 2014.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Clock Tower (J) (Human, Super NES)

Compiler: TerraEsperZ

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

One of the first survival horror adventures on a game console, even predating Resident Evil, is Clock Tower (J) on the Super Famicom.  Four orphan girls are adopted by the wealthy but reclusive Mr. Barrows.  After arriving at the Barrows Mansion, they find their lives threatened as they are stalked by a deformed boy with a large pair of scissors and murderous intent.  You play as Jennifer, who must evade the Scissorman, find her friends and save them (if possible) and escape the mansion.  With multiple endings, you might want to experience this horror more than once...

 

The Barrows Mansion is definitely a creepy place, and somewhat large.  With a number of doors and some similar-looking hallways it can be easy to get lost.  What makes it interesting - but potentially more confusing - is that some rooms may be swapped around with each playthrough.  TerraEsperZ has done a great job at laying it all out, so when the Scissorman attacks, your chance of survival is better.  Or at the very least, you can plan efficient routes to end the nightmare as soon as possible.  Thanks, TerraEsperZ!  Interestingly, despite being among the most honoured mapmakers on VGMaps, this map is TerraEsperZ's first (and currently only) submission for the Super NES atlas.

 

So to recognize the courage in surveying (and surviving) the Barrows Mansion, TerraEsperZ's Clock Tower (J) (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for October 2014.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Final Fantasy IV (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 IV (Super NES) maps.
 

After retrieving an elemental crystal from another kingdom, Dark Knight Cecil, Captain of the Red Wings of Baron, questions the King and his intentions.  Relieved of his command, Cecil's loyalty is tested with a task to deliver a package to the town of Mist.  When the package ends up destroying the town, Cecil vows to make amends.  With his friend Kain, the summoner girl Rydia, and a number of other allies he meets along the way, he will not only redeem himself but end up saving the world from an unimaginable evil.

 

Airships!  Crystals!  Fiends!  Final Fantasy IV is one of the definitive Final Fantasy games.  Pioneering many console RPG features, it was one of the first games in the 16-bit era to popularize JRPGs in the West.  Originally released as "Final Fantasy II" outside of Japan (due to the original II and III not having yet been released outside of their homeland), it has since been renumbered back with the proper number in its (numerous) rereleases since then, on the PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, DS, PlayStation Portable, and iOS devices.

 

Veteran 16-bit RPG cartographer FlyingArmor stepped up yet again, mapping it all thoroughly for us to be able to use as a real guide or to reminisce this incredible adventure.  Now that may be on par with his other excellent works, but this time around he took it a step further and mapped both versions of the game!  Between the original Final Fantasy IV and the revised Final Fantasy II were more differences than just the number and language.  For example, the southwest corner of the Town of Baron has some buildings rearranged.  Little things like that may be inconsequential to most players, but thanks to FlyingArmor, it's easier than ever to compare such details for those who are interested.

 

So to recognize the effort of finally mapping this definitive Final Fantasy, FlyingArmor's Final Fantasy IV (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for September 2014.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Konami, Arcade)

Compiler: BumFengShui

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to BumFengShui's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade) maps.
 

Shredder is at it again, causing chaos in New York City.  In this very classic arcade beat-'em-up, you can play as any or all four Ninja Turtles, fighting your way through hundreds of foot soldiers.  You will also do battle with baddies including Bebop, Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman, General Traag and Granitor, before eventually facing off against Krang and Shredder inside the Technodrome.  Go save April O'Neill, Master Splinter, and New York City, you heroes in a half-shell!

 

Since the original comic in 1984, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have appeared in many versions over the past three decades.  Undoubtedly, the TMNT's popularity was at its peak in the late '80s and into the '90s, thanks to the 1987 cartoon and toy line.  Among all this Ninja Turtle media and merchandise were of course a number of video games, and the 1989 Konami arcade game was certainly among the best.  Being able to play as the coolest cartoon characters around, with up to three of your friends simultaneously was always a lot of fun, even if it meant taking advances on allowances to be able to have enough quarters on hand.  Sure, arcade games are not usually what you think you need maps for, because you don't usually get lost in those types of games.  But if you want to remember a time when Turtle Power was truly awesome, BumFengShui's hooked you up.  Cowabunga!

 

So to recognize this radical effort, and as the first arcade game maps to receive this honour, BumFengShui's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for August 2014.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Blaster Master: Enemy Below (Sunsoft, GBC)

Compiler: Shiny

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Shiny's Blaster Master: Enemy Below (GBC) maps.
 

There's some secret lab somewhere where creatures are being cloned.  They escape, and it's up to Jason, the hero of the original Blaster Master, to take his vehicle, Sophia the 3rd, back underground through eight areas and blast away the subterranean menace.  (Not the best story...even chasing a pet frog underground and finding a tank was better than this!)  But hey, time for some platforming action!  It's sort of like Metroid in that you have to find items and "retraverse" areas with new abilities, but in the Blaster Master series, you have a tank that can jump...what could be better?

 

The original Blaster Master on the NES is an incredible game, but underrated.  It managed to have even more obscure sequels and spin-offs on the Game Boy (Blaster Master Boy), Genesis (Blaster Master 2), PlayStation (Blaster Master: Blasting Again) and WiiWare (Blaster Master: Overdrive), but none seemed close to as good as the original adventure.  The closest you can get is on the Game Boy Color, in the form of Blaster Master: Enemy Below.

 

The graphics are similar to the NES's, and in some places, perhaps more bold and bright.  Considering that the graphics on the NES seemed beyond its capabilities, looking similar is not a bad thing.  The incredible soundtrack is back, too.  It has the same types of areas as in the original, but essentially remixed.  And this is where you'll need Shiny's maps; it might be easy to get lost with the small screen on the GBC showing you little of your surroundings at any given moment.  But hey, it's a good portable Blaster Master game, and worthy of more attention.

So to recognize the effort put into mapping this GBC gem, Shiny's Blaster Master: Enemy Below (GBC) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for July 2014.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Mario Kart 64 (Nintendo, N64)

Compiler: Peardian

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Peardian's Mario Kart 64 (N64) maps.

Mario Kart hardly needs an introduction.  The title is pretty self-explanatory as it is.  It's a kart-racing game series featuring Mario characters, items, and settings.  If you've played a Nintendo console fom the Super NES onward, or a portable from the GBA and up, you've very likely played one of these.  (There are also three Mario Kart GP arcade machines, too!)  There's no story, no set up, no premise...just get in a vehicle and race!  Even Bowser and the Koopalings get into the action, and the Mario Bros. appear to have no problem flinging Bob-Ombs at the princesses, or knocking their younger selves into lava.

Now, back in 1997 (or 1996 if you lived in Japan), Mario Kart 64 came onto the scene.  While every Mario Kart game manages to introduce something new, this first "sequel" was a significant upgrade.  Tracks were now rendered by polygons in three-dimensions, and four-player action was introduced!  Four players has since been the standard for local multiplayer games - Mario Kart 64 can lay claim to being one of the first major multiplayer releases on the Nintendo 64 (the first major console to have four controller ports) and predates other multiplayer classics like Star Fox 64 and GoldenEye 007 by a few months.  Mario Kart 64 also introduced the Blue Spiny Shell...so it has a claim to infamy as well.

Peardian, a mapping wizard who's tackled other Nintendo 64 games, and a fan of all things Mario, has used his expertise and passion to bring us overhead maps of the Mario Kart 64 tracks.  You might not ever get lost in a racing game, sure, but obviously it pays to know the best route possible...in tracks like Yoshi Valley, especially!

So to recognize the effort put into mapping one of the first great party games, Peardian's Mario Kart 64 (N64) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for June 2014.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: X-Men 2: Clone Wars (Sega, Genesis)

Compiler: feos

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to feos's X-Men 2: Clone Wars (Genesis) maps.

When the Phalanx, an evil alien race, seeks to assimilate the Earth's inhabitants, it is up to six X-Men to save the world.  Even Magneto joins the X-Men to stop this great threat that endangers mutantkind and humankind alike.
 

One of the best licensed platforming games on Sega's 16-bit platform is X-Men 2: Clone Wars.  It features multiple playable characters with their own skills and abilities, a variety of different levels, a plethora of bosses, and all with impressive visuals and animation.  If you are an X-Men fan, this is definitely one of their best games, and perhaps one of the best comic-based games at the time.

 

Feos is clearly a fan of this game too, and has taken the time to put together maps for the game's areas, and some of them fairly large and/or labyrinthine.  Now you'll have no problem getting through the Savage Land, Avalon, or even the Phalanx's maze.


So to recognize the effort put into these first class maps, feos's X-Men 2: Clone Wars (Genesis) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for May 2014.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Bugs Bunny In Rabbit Rampage (Sunsoft, Super NES)

Compiler: Will Mallia

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Will Mallia's Bugs Bunny In Rabbit Rampage (Super NES) maps.

In Rabbit Rampage, Looney Tunes star Bugs Bunny finds himself in a number of predicaments due to the work of an unseen animator.  Before encountering him, Bugs must face off against some of his most notable nemeses, like Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Taz, Wile E. Coyote, and of course his eternal rival, Daffy Duck.

 

Our resident Looney Tunes fan, Will Mallia, has mapped a number of video games based on Warner Bros. animations for VGMaps.com, including this Super NES platformer.  Beautifully animated, it captures the feel of classic cartoons considerably well for a 16-bit platform.  Levels include outer space, Tasmania, a wrestling ring, and more, with the distinct look you would expect.  The humour is present throughout, including ridiculous level names like "Level │√x¸(y/c-Z-10)" and "Round 42,759⅜".  If you enjoy the antics of Warner Bros. cartoons, you can thank Will Mallia for these maps.

So to recognize the effort put into capturing the wascally wabbit...or at least the video game worlds he inhabits, Will Mallia's Bugs Bunny In Rabbit Rampage (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for April 2014.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (Quest, Super NES)

Compiler: YelseyKing

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to YelseyKing's Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (J) (Super NES) maps.

Valeria is a nation ravaged by war, with three groups fighting for leadership. After his home town is massacred, the protagonist Denam, along with his sister Catiua and his friend Vyce, seek justice against the Dark Knights, and fight to bring peace to the kingdom of Valeria.

Though part of the Ogre Battle franchise, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (J) features considerably different gameplay, and has become part of its own sub-series including the GBA prequel Tactics Ogre: The Knight Of Lodis. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (J) also predates Final Fantasy Tactics (PSX), as well as Suikoden Tactics (PS2), Dynasty Tactics (PS2), La Pucelle: Tactics (PS2), Onimusha Tactics (GBA), Dungeons & Dragons Tactics (PSP), The Lord Of The Rings Tactics (PSP), and more, all strategy games with "Tactics" in their name, in an interesting case where games of different series but of the same genre share part of their title.

With over 200 gorgeous maps of this landmark title, YelseyKing's first submission to VGMaps is clearly deserving of the Maps Of The Month honour. He has taken the time to render maps twice whenever applicable: one version with items indicated, and an unmarked version to admire the beauty of these isometric graphics. With no stone left unturned across all of Valeria, YelseyKing will surely help you and Denam lead the Liberation Army to victory!

So to recognize the effort put into tackling this tactical RPG, YelseyKing's Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (J) (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for March 2014.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Strider (Capcom, NES)

Compiler: KingKuros

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

 

The Striders are a secret organization of high-tech ninja operatives.  The young Strider Hiryu is tasked with kill his friend Kain, who had been captured by enemy forces.  Hiryu defies his superiors and instead chooses to rescue him, subsequently learning of a mind-control weapon codenamed "Zain".  Strider destroys Zain units located around the world, while hunting down the conspirators responsible.

 

The NES Strider game is quite different from the arcade game, and follows the plot of the Strider Hiryu manga.  Curiously, the Japanese Famicom version ended up being cancelled.

 

This globe-trotting adventure takes you from Kazakh to Los Angeles to Australia and to the space station, Red Dragon.  Thanks to KingKuros, you won't get lost in the Egyptian pyramid while hunting down those Aqua-Boots, or in the caves of Africa while hunting down another Zain unit.  Still unusual for platform games at the time, it's not linear, and you will have to revisit areas throughout the course of the story - a story which was pretty good for its time.  However, like games of its time, it is somewhat difficult.

 

So to recognize the effort put into mapping this challenging game, yet taking it all in stride, KingKuros's Strider (NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for February 2014.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Clash At Demonhead (Vic Tokai, NES)

Compiler: Chiasm

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Chiasm's Clash At Demonhead (NES) maps.

 

The evil LAWBREAKERS have captured Professor Plum and his designs for a doomsday device called DEAD END.  As Sgt. Billy "Big Bang" Blitz, a commando of SABRE, you're going to have to make you way to Demonhead Mountain, while defeating seven governors to obtain the medallions needed to disable DEAD END and save the world!  As you can tell by the synopsis, this NES game is quirky, and crazy yet cool in that 1980s way.

 

This isn't a simple action game, though.  There are multiple routes that you'll have to travel on, in order to get all the items to progress to the end.  Chiasm's got you covered with all of these maps.

 

Chiasm's also put in the dialogue scenes on the maps, so you can read how quirky it all is.  But why not experience it yourself?  Enough "Talking Time"...it's time to get to Demonhead Mountain!

 

So to recognize the effort put into mapping this quirky, underrated '80s gem, Chiasm's Clash At Demonhead (NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for January 2014.

 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

 

Congratulations and thanks to the Mapmakers of 2014!