2019

Game: Catmaze (Redblack Spade, PC)

Compiler: Eishiya

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

Inspired by Slavic mythology and described as a "fairy Metroidvania", Catmaze has you guide the sorceress Alesta to find a way to Nav, the world of the dead.  As the name implies, the way is labyrinthine... and has lots of cats!  Not to mention side quests, boss battles, skills to acquire and multiple endings.  This indie title is impressive enough even before pointing out that this grand adventure was developed by just one person, Slava Gris.  When's the last time that you played an epic made by a lone coder/artist?


"Metroidvania" is one of the video game genres where maps are particularly helpful and impressive to behold.  Having the whole world before you makes it easier to plot your next course, whether you are charging into new territory or trying to remember where you have to backtrack - this is a Metroidvania, after all, where new skills make previously accessible areas within reach and former obstacles become surmountable.  Help Alesta through the woods, ruins, swamps and mountains, and open the road to Nav!


So to recognize the effort put into navigating us to Nav, Eishiya's Catmaze (PC) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for December 2019.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Felix The Cat (Hudson Soft, NES)

Compiler: Vorpal86

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Vorpal86's Felix The Cat (NES) maps.

Felix The Cat, one of the oldest animated characters ever, turns 100 years old this month in North America, as the US release of "Feline Follies" was November 9, 1919.  This silent-era cartoon cat moved from theatrically-released animated shorts to comic strips to television.  In 1986 and 1987, Felix The Cat: The Movie was made in Europe and released directly to video in the United States in 1991, followed by a 1992 video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, where Felix must rescue his girlfriend Kitty who has been kidnapped by the Professor.

 

The Professor wants Felix's magic bag, but Felix refuses to relinquish it and instead uses its magical abilities to help him fight off the baddies, as it provides Felix weapons like a boxing glove up to a tank.  Otherwise, this platforming game that features a licensed character is pretty standard fare for the time, and not very groundbreaking as it is a later release for the NES, when the Super NES was already available.

 

That's not to say it isn't enjoyable, and Vorpal86 shows love for this game, not to mention thoroughness, by mapping the game twice - each of the 23 areas in the nine rounds have a standard map but also an unmarked map with just the terrain and no items, enemies, or bonus areas.  You'll have no trouble making your way to Poindexter, Master Cylinder, and the Professor!


So to recognize the effort put into double-mapping the crazy adventure of this charming cartoon cat as we celebrate its centennial, Vorpal86's Felix The Cat (NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for November 2019.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Demon's Crest (Capcom, Super NES)

Compiler: Will Mallia

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Will Mallia's Demon's Crest (Super NES) maps.

The inhabitants of the Demon Realm fight to possess six elemental crests of Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Time and Heaven.  Obtaining all of them allows access to the Crest of Infinity which grants its holder infinite power.  Firebrand - the gargoyle you might know from the Gargoyle's Quest games, and originally from the Ghosts 'n Goblins series - is the antihero you play here, as you try to stop another demon named Phalanx from acquiring the Crest of Infinity.

 

A sort of underrated game, Demon's Crest still manages to make it in  the initial wave of twenty Super NES offerings for the Nintendo Switch Online service.  And why not?  The gameplay is solid, the story has multiple endings, the graphics are detailed, you might even say gorgeous, despite its macabre theme.  So even though its sales back in the days weren't so great, the Switch's sales right now are awesome, so chances are, you already have access to this adventure!  Go stop Phalanx and take over the Demon Realm for yourself, if you dare!  Will Mallia's maps might help - even if the game isn't quite as gruellingly difficult as the Ghosts 'n Goblins or Ghouls 'n Ghosts games to require a guide, they're still nice to take a gander at, in that gorgeous yet ghoulish way.  Go, gargoyle guy!


So to recognize the effort put into mapping this heck of a good time, Will Mallia's Demon's Crest (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for October 2019.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Mega Man: The Wily Wars (E) (Capcom, Genesis)

Compilers: Geminiman & Grizzly

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Geminiman's and Grizzly's Mega Man: The Wily Wars (E) (Genesis) maps.

It's been a while since we've honoured a Genesis (or Mega Drive) game.  Besides being overdue, this is also fitting right now, as this month sees the release of the Sega Genesis Mini, a small plug-and-play console packed with dozens of classic Sega Genesis games.  One of those games is Mega Man: The Wily Wars, which was not released in cartridge form in North America (fitting that it would be released in parts of the world where the Genesis is known as the Mega Drive), though it was accessible via the Sega Channel.  But as the service is no longer available, and hasn't been for two decades, the Sega Genesis Mini is particularly appealing because of the rerelease of this specific game!

 

And in a way it's more than just one game, as it is a compilation of the first three Mega Man games previously released on the NES, but now with 16-bit visuals and arranged music.  A save feature is now available, replacing passwords.  And a new challenge, "Wily Tower", has been added, where Mega Man tackles new stages and encounters three new bosses - appropriately called the "Genesis Unit" - based on characters from the classic Chinese novel, Journey To The West, before taking on Dr. Wily yet again.

 

This month's selection doesn't just recognize a key game included in the Sega Genesis Mini, but also the 30th anniversary of Captain N: The Game Master, where Mega Man was a major character.  (Though maybe ironic that we would focus on Mega Man's first non-Nintendo game...)

 

Geminiman (fitting name) and Grizzly did not actually mean to collaborate on these maps.  But they each submitted some maps at the same time, with only one map being a duplicate submission.  Great minds think alike!  Such a coincidence hasn't happened before or since!


So to recognize the effort put into mapping this mega gem for the Mega Drive or the Sega Genesis Mini, Geminiman's and Grizzly's Mega Man: The Wily Wars (E) (Genesis) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for September 2019.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Final Fantasy Adventure (Square, GB)

Compiler: RyuMaster

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to RyuMaster's Final Fantasy Adventure (GB) maps.

The Dark Lord seeks a way into the Mana Sanctuary, where he wishes to take control of the Mana Tree.  As the Hero, together with the Heroine, you will have to find a way to stop him, and eventually this includes searching for a powerful sword, Excalibur (or the Sword Of Mana).

 

Speaking of "Sword Of Mana", that is the title of the GBA remake of this game (with its maps recognized here as the Maps Of The Month for February 2012), as this is actually the first Mana game.  The Japanese title, "Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden" means that it is a Final Fantasy spin-off, but other than sharing a few elements (such as the Moogle species) the Mana series has grown into something quite different from the typical Final Fantasy games.  If you want to get even more confusing, the European title of this game is "Mystic Quest", which is unrelated to the Super NES game, "Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest".  (Though the European name for that was "Mystic Quest Legend", and no one should be confusing any of these with the other Final Fantasy games on the Game Boy, The Final Fantasy Legend and its two sequels, which are actually part of the SaGa series...)

Whatever you call it, it's more typically compared with The Legend Of Zelda than Final Fantasy, as it has an overhead perspective and the action is real-time (as opposed to turn-based).  But even if it's not turn-based, it's still an epic game, and maps always come in handy for these.  One method of mapping that RyuMaster has employed here that should be used more often is indicating the room coordinates with letters and numbers, and underneath having a key indicating items, entrances/exits, anything else noteworthy.  While we all love labelled maps, doing it this way means the original graphics are also clutter-free.

 

Collection Of Mana, a compilation of the first three games of the Mana series, comes out this month in a limited physical edition for the Nintendo Switch, allowing you to play Final Fantasy Adventure if you can't get a hold of the original Game Boy game.  Along with the incredible Secret Of Mana (Super NES) and the official North America debut of Seiken Densetsu 3 (Super Famicom), now named Trials Of Mana, it's really quite the bundle of adventure!  Though you would think they could have included Sword Of Mana, the Game Boy game is indeed where this all began.


So to recognize the effort put into mapping the beginning of the beloved Mana series, RyuMaster's Final Fantasy Adventure (GB) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for August 2019.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Ultima VII: The Black Gate (Origin, PC)

Compiler: Zerker

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Zerker's Ultima VII: The Black Gate (PC) maps.

200 years after previously bringing peace to Britannia in Ultima VI, the Avatar returns to this troubled world, where a Scientology-like organization, the Fellowship, seek to open the Black Gate to allow the Guardian to enter.  The Guardian believes he should rule Britannia, and be master of all, even the Avatar!  Playing as the Avatar, you will reunite with your travelling companions and scour the world to stop the Guardian's influence and find a way to stop Batlin, founder of the Fellowship, from completing the Black Gate at the Isle of the Avatar.  But at what cost?

 

Ultima VII: The Black Gate is the favourite Ultima game of Richard Garriott (Ultima creator and the real-life counterpart to Lord British) and also one of the first real open-world computer games.  And what a world it is!  It's so huge - Britannia is a whopping 24576 x 24576 pixels!  And there is a high level of interactivity with the many, many objects found within.  This was certainly an achievement in 1992, and it's still well-loved to this day.

 

PC game mapper and Ultima fan Zerker has mapped all of Britannia's overworld.  As if this 89-megabyte monster wasn't enough, he's also mapped a version showing the interior areas!  Both nearly 604-megapixel maps may choke up your browser - but if you can view them, it's the largest, most detailed version of 2D Britannia in this whole classic CRPG series.


So to recognize the effort put into mapping one of the largest worlds in classic gaming, Zerker's Ultima VII: The Black Gate (PC) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for July 2019.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Samurai Shodown (SNK, Super NES)

Compiler: gRE3N744

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to gRE3N744's Samurai Shodown (Super NES) maps.

It's the year 1788.  The martyr Amakusa is brought back to life 150 years after his original death, and now a demon, threatens to unleash chaos!  An assortment of warriors from around the world come to feudal Japan to stop Amakusa, and as in any fighting game, each comes with their own goals and story, and of course unique moves and abilities - but in this case, weapons too!
 

The original Samurai Shodown was for Neo-Geo hardware, but of the numerous ports, the Super NES one is one of the better ones, retaining all of the characters and stages.  While maps are not really known to be useful for the fighting game genre, they are still interesting in that they showcase a variety of unique areas, oftentimes associated with particular characters which may add some personality and style.  In this case in particular, we have animated maps!

 

gRE3N744 has mapped every area as an animated GIF, except for Kochi and Texas which are static, however, having added a second version of every map with the featured fighter at that location, ready for battle, every map has motion!  I've raved about animated maps before - like TerraEsperZ's map of "The Revolution" stage in Battletoads for the NES back in September 2011 - but I think it's particularly cool to have an entire game mapped out like a short looped video of the time and place, than just a singular snapshot.  The crashing waves of Gairyu Isle, the flaming sky at Yamagata, the rushing waters of Ixipalotal - you don't just see them, you watch them.  If only there are more maps like this!  (We've always wanted 3D maps on VGMaps.com, and while this isn't three-dimensional in the typical sense with the third being depth, we could bring in the fourth dimension, time, in place of it.)


So to recognize the effort put into mapping - and animating - the arenas of this fighting game classic, gRE3N744's Samurai Shodown (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for June 2019.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Popful Mail (J) (Falcom, Super NES)

Compiler: George s

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

Mail is a bounty hunter down on her luck, repeatedly unable to capture the technomancer, Nuts Cracker, who gets away yet again. But she soon learns of a new bounty, a magician-turned-criminal, Muttonhead, worth two million gold. Mail eventually teams up with Muttonhead's apprentice, Tatt, and a creature named Gaw, in her adventure which will turn out to be more grand than anything she has ever imagined (even if the stakes are totally expected from any Japanese fantasy adventure game)!

There have been many versions of Popful Mail, with different ports handled or published by NEC, Sega, SIMS and Working Designs, but the Super Famicom version was remade by Nihon Falcom, the creators of the original PC-88 version. While Falcom is known for their Japanese RPGs, Popful Mail is a 2D platformer with some RPG elements. But for any platformer, RPG-like or not, the areas here can be quite sprawling and twisty. Good luck trying to navigate the Gades Ruins or Castle without some help from George s!

So to recognize the effort put into mapping this Japanese gem, George s's Popful Mail (J) (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for May 2019.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue (Konami, Game Boy)

Compiler: qwert_vs_qwerty

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to qwert_vs_qwerty's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue (Game Boy) maps.

"Yikes!! We gotta go save April." That's what the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles say, yet again, as Shredder has made a prison break. But this time, April O'Neil isn't the only one in trouble, as the three Ninja Turtles that stormed Shredder's fortress get captured as well! It's up to Michaelangelo, who was not part of the initial rescue attempt because he was at the pizza joint, to save the other turtles and Master Splinter, and together they can stop Shredder and save April yet again!

This Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game features a large fortress for the Ninja Turtles to explore. They'll have to use their unique abilities to get around, and look for key cards to unlock doors and get deeper into the labyrinth to face Shredder. By defeating mutant bosses they can obtain keys to unlock cell doors to free another Ninja Turtle to use, or their friends Splinter and April. It's not linear like some other games featuring these heores in a half-shell, but while not as deep as a Metroid game, you will be happy that qwert_vs_qwerty has already taken on Shredder's fortress and mapped it all out to help you save the day (and April) yet again!

So to recognize this underrated but actually radical rescue, qwert_vs_qwerty's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue (Game Boy) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for April 2019.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Inindo: Way Of The Ninja (Koei, Super NES)

Compiler: zagato blackfist

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to zagato blackfist's Inindo: Way Of The Ninja (Super NES) maps.

The year is 1582, and the demonic warlord Oda Nobunaga has destroyed your village. As an Iga ninja seeking to avenge your clan, you must travel across feudal Japan. But the path to killing Nobunaga is not an easy one. It could take years, yet you only have until the year 1601 to complete your quest. And being a ninja is not a lonely existence - here, you will need to earn the trust of a number of different allies, to have them aid you in battle and survive maze-like dungeons.

Inindo: Way Of The Ninja is different from many other Super NES RPGs. It's a bit less fantastical, taking place in feudal Japan, though a fictionalized version of it. It's less linear than more story-heavy RPGs, and has a very large number of recruitable characters, but you have to earn their trust first, usually by talking to them at inns and tea houses. Turn-based battles take place, as you would expect, but in this game your position on the battlefield is important, so you will be moving around a lot. Fighting for or against certain daimyo can affect these feudal lords' possession of provinces, which affect your progress. And there are two different storyline paths, and the one you are on is determined upon exiting the first cave, the Password Dungeon. So there are a few things that make this game unique.

The various floors of any dungeon, however, are not so unique from each other in design, and there tends to be a sameness across the levels of any particular cave or mountain. Without help, you will most definitely get lost in these mazes - good thing zagato blackfist has taken on this game. In fact, he has mapped this once before in 2010, but redid these maps in 2019, consolidating the floors per dungeon and providing lots of information. Sure, there's the usual treasure contents in dungeons and the price lists of town shops, but also, the times there are differences based on which storyline you are on are indicated. Here at VGMaps.com we value improvement, and so it's good to see when someone takes the time to perfect their work. Thanks twice over, zagato!

So to recognize the effort put into mapping out the way of the ninja, zagato blackfist's Inindo: Way Of The Ninja (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for March 2019.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: The Flintstones: The Surprise At Dinosaur Peak! (Taito, NES)

Compiler: TerraEsperZ

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to TerraEsperZ's The Flintstones: The Surprise At Dinosaur Peak! (NES) maps.

Fred and Barney find Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm trapped on the other side of some lava flow on Dinosaur Peak. Our two heroes must venture around the islands to get to a pterodactyl nest to fly to Dinosaur Peak to save their children. But before that, they'll have to cross prehistoric terrain - and also a giant's house, a witch's tower, and play hockey and basketball in minigames for some reason...

Maybe the story isn't the greatest, but The Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak! is an above-average licensed platforming game. The graphics are colourful and cartoony, just like one should hope for something based on the Flintstones. You can now switch between Fred and Barney, each with different abilities (unlike the first Flintstones game, The Rescue Of Dino & Hoppy, where you could only play as Fred). And the areas have nice variety, something that regular mapper TerraEsperZ has found joy in mapping for us.

And the other thing definitely above average about this game is its price. Probably due to its late release, it was produced in limited numbers, and is now considered one of the rarest NES games ever. If you are a collector, you might expect to pay around or over a thousand dollars for an original cartridge!

So to recognize the effort put into mapping this rare game, TerraEsperZ's The Flintstones: The Surprise At Dinosaur Peak! (NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for February 2019.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Game: Silva Saga II: The Legend Of Light And Darkness (J) (Seta, Super NES)

Compiler: FlyingArmor

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to FlyingArmor's Silva Saga II: The Legend Of Light And Darkness (J) (Super NES) maps.

Waking up with amnesia, one of the few things you do remember is that you were on a quest to defeat the forces of the evil Zuhl. But now you must find and catch up to Kyral, the Light Warrior, and together you will be able to defeat the son of Zuhl, the evil Zolde.

Okay, the story is a little simple, and even a little cliché. What IS unique is the battle system. As you go about your jounrey, to defend yourself from the world's many monsters, you will have to hire powerful mercenaries and utilize magical idols. And speaking of battles, the enemies are often animated and there are fancy battle transitions. Though I guess you wouldn't be able to tell that from these maps...

And speaking of maps, FlyingArmor once again helps any 16-bit adventurer with this complete map set to the world of Minelvaton (which looks quite different than in the original Minelvaton Saga on the Famicom). As you might expect from a JRPG, the epic adventure will span the entire world. The world of Minelvaton is fairly vast, though its features might not be hugely different from many other fantasy RPGs... grass, forests, mountains... it may be familiar, but it does seem a bit more mountainous than most RPG worlds, and a quarter of the map, the whole northwest quadrant, seems to be dedicated to Zolde's castle and the four coloured towers that surround it. From the Village of Beta, through the Temple Of Thor and the Pantheon, all the way to Zolde's Castle, FlyingArmor, through his trademark thoroughness will ensure that you won't miss any items on your way to meeting up with Kyral!

So to recognize the effort put into mapping the finale of the Minvelvaton trilogy, FlyingArmor's Silva Saga II: The Legend Of Light And Darkness (J) (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for January 2019.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

 

Congratulations and thanks to the Mapmakers of 2019!