Game: Shining Wisdom (Sonic!, Saturn)

Compilers: Jackster

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Jackster's Shining Wisdom (Saturn) maps.


The dark elf wizard, Pazort, threatens to destroy the world with his intention of summoning the Giant, Seeega.  An orphan named Mars stands in his way.  As Mars, you will travel across the continent of Parmecia to find a way to thwart Pazort's schemes.  Unlike past Shining games, this is a solo action-adventure, instead of travelling with a party in a turn-based RPG.


Though published by Sega in Japan and Europe, the North American version of Shining Wisdom was published by Working Designs, who did not have the rights to the names of characters and locations that Sega Japan had copyrighted.  Therefore, Parmecia, as it is known in Japan and Europe, is called "Palacia" in the North American version.  Whatever you call it, it's a large world that has been fully mapped here on VGMaps.com, thanks to Jackster.


Jackster's maps include both marked and unmarked versions.  The marked maps are more than just having items and stairs indicated, but also have helpful notes to help you through this Zelda-like adventure.  The unmarked maps allow you to fully appreciate the graphics, which are 2D, unlike most games on the Saturn, since the game was originally intended for the Genesis/Mega Drive.  As it is on Sega's 32-bit machine, they are in higher resolution than they would have been if they were on those 16-bit platforms, and these maps are also the first Saturn games to be honoured here.


So to recognize this "shining" example of thorough mapping, Jackster's Shining Wisdom (Saturn) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for November 2021.

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Darkmere: The Nightmare's Begun (Core Design, Amiga)

Compilers: George s

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to George s's Darkmere: The Nightmare's Begun (Amiga) maps.


As Prince Ebryn, you are given a magic sword and an elven crystal from your dying father, King Gildorn.  Gildorn was once an elven hero who had defended the kingdom from the great dragon Enywas.  But now, the kingdom is plagued by orcs and dragons, as well as the "Darkmere" - a cloud of darkness - and so it is your turn to destroy the approaching evil.  The nightmare may have begun - but can you end it?


The Amiga is a classic computer platform that we haven't seen represented much here on VGMaps.com, and the last time we saw an Amiga game featured in the Maps Of The Month was nearly 15 years ago!  George s is no stranger to isometric maps, having been honoured for the Maps Of The Month for Landstalker and Lady Stalker, which are both isometric adventures, as well.  But this one is triply mapped!  First, there are full screenshot maps of each area, fragmented, but as they appear in-game.  Second, there are "connected" maps with the screens stitched together, providing a more cohesive look at the world.  Third, there's a more recent addition of simplified maps that are ideal for printing.


So to recognize the effort put into mapping yet another isometric game, and three times over, George s's Darkmere: The Nightmare's Begun (Amiga) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for October 2021.

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Tomba! (Whoopee Camp, PlayStation)

Compilers: Electromax

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Electromax's Tomba! (PlayStation) maps.


A feral boy named Tomba lives on an archipelago terrorized by a group known as the Seven Evil Pigs and their army, the Koma Pigs.  After a confrontation with some Koma Pigs, Tomba loses a golden bracelet that belonged to his grandfather.  Tomba sets off to recover the heirloom and learns that the stolen gold is the source of the Seven Evil Pigs' magical power.


Tomba! is a platforming adventure with some RPG elements.  There are 130 "Events", which are a variety of objectives that usually award Adventure Points for triggering and completing.  Some Events are required to make progress in the story, while some are optional.  As this is an open world with many places to explore and items to find, we are thankful to have these maps by Electromax!


Electromax has tackled the technical challenges of mapping PlayStation games and has started adding to the PlayStation atlas page here on VGMaps.com, with more maps from other 32-bit classics on the way.  This early effort is especially impressive, considering the World map, which stitches together all of the area maps, despite the various perspectives of each area; you definitely have to check this one out!  The Haunted Mansion is mapped from each side, and there is some skill in handling three-dimensional backgrounds like in the Lava Caves.  There's a map specifically showing the locations of all of the Pump Rocks, to help clear that particular Event.  It's all incredible work on a quirky game by the short-lived Whoopee Camp (founded by Tokuro Fujiwara, a longtime director and producer of some of Capcom's biggest games).


So to recognize the effort put into mapping this colourful PlayStation adventure, Electromax's Tomba! (PlayStation) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for September 2021.

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Lunar: Eternal Blue (Game Arts, Sega CD)

Compilers: Lüt

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Lüt's Lunar: Eternal Blue (Sega CD) maps.


1000 years after the events of Lunar: Silver Star, an archaeologist named Hiro meets a mysterious woman named Lucia, who warns of an evil "Destroyer" named Zophar, who poses a threat to the world of Lunar.  Together, they travel to the holy city of Pentagulia to find the Goddess Althena and try to save the world.  A great Sega CD JRPG sequel ensues!


With a blue moon in August 2021, it seems fitting to honour this now, but at the same time, it also feels a little overdue.  Lüt submitted this massive map set last year and, at 790 maps, it is undoubtedly one of the largest map sets here on VGMaps.com.  It certainly is the most animated - 126 of these maps are animated .GIFs of areas with environmental motion, such as rippling water, flickering flames, or flowing lava.  The overworld maps are especially impressive to see with ocean waves.


It's always great to see a 16-bit RPG thoroughly mapped, yet it's not often for a Sega platform, and quite rare for any game to get animated maps!  Lüt sure shows this Lunar game lots of love, and we recognize that this month.


So to recognize the effort put into mapping - and animating - this beloved RPG, Lüt's Lunar: Eternal Blue (Sega CD) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for August 2021.

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Shantae (WayForward, GBC)

Compilers: Cleeem

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Cleeem's Shantae (GBC) maps.


Shantae is the Guardian Genie of Scuttle Town.  Technically, she is a half-genie, but her powers are enough to fight against lady pirate Risky Boots, who terrorizes the seas with her army of Tinkerbats.  Risky Boots steals Uncle Mimic's Steam Engine, and seeks four Magical Stones for some nefarious purpose, which Shantae aims to stop.


When Shantae was released in 2002 for the Game Boy Color, it was a cult hit; despite being critically acclaimed, it didn't get many sales, as the GBC's successor, the Game Boy Advance, had already been out for almost a year.  (Though this game also has a brighter palette and other bonuses when played on a GBA.)  It didn't help that the publisher, Capcom, was slow to release it, and the required 32-megabit battery-backed cart was expensive to produce, so there were only between 20,000 and 25,000 cartridges made in a single run, making the game rare and now quite collectible.


Thankfully, the game managed to get a DSi sequel eight years later, and has moved on to have five games for multiple platforms.  All of them are now available on the Nintendo Switch, and there was recently a rerelease of the original game by Limited Run Games on a cartridge compatible with the Game Boy Color.  Super Smash Bros. Ultimate includes Shantae costume parts for their Mii Fighters, which were just announced and released.  So Shantae clearly has her fans!


As for the original game, Cleeem has mapped out this first adventure of the half-genie hero, from her lighthouse home to Risky Boots's TinkerTank.  You should have no trouble saving the citizens of Scuttle Town with this complete map set.


So to recognize the effort put into mapping this cult classic, Cleeem's Shantae (GBC) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for July 2021.

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Ultima VI: The False Prophet (Origin, PC)

Compilers: FlyingArmor & Zerker

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to FlyingArmor's and Zerker's Ultima VI: The False Prophet (PC) maps.


On a stormy night, a red moongate appears before the hero known as the Avatar.  Entering it and expecting to be taken back to Britannia, the Avatar is instead captured and bound to be sacrificed by demon-like creatures.  Rescued at the last moment by his friends, Dupre, Shamino and Iolo, they escape to Lord British's throne room, where the Avatar learns of attacks from the Gargoyles, who have captured the shrines of Virtue.  Though initially setting out on a quest to stop the invaders, might there be another side to this story?


Building on and improving on previous Ultima adventures, the whole world is now set to the same scale, with no "zooming-in" on towns, and no more first-person perspective in dungeons, providing a seamless, continuous journey across this open world.  While Zerker provided the original 15-megabyte, 16384 x 16384 map of Britannia (he'd also mapped out Ultima VII), FlyingArmor has taken a deep dive by taking on all of the dungeons - and a whole other world beyond Britannia.  But what is even more impressive than putting up all of these beautiful, colourful VGA pixels is marking every single item in the game!  There are literally thousands of objects - and whether they're out in the open, or within containers - FlyingArmor has put it all out there for your perusal, so you should have no problem finding anything you want or need.  (Though remember, a person who abides by the Virtues shouldn't steal...)  Such detail is appreciated in any set of maps, but much more so in a huge, open world like Britannia, where there are just so many things to take and use!


So to recognize the effort put into thoroughly mapping this open-world classic, FlyingArmor's and Zerker's Ultima VI: The False Prophet (PC) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for June 2021.

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Mega Man V (Capcom, Game Boy)

Compiler: TerraEsperZ

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to TerraEsperZ's Mega Man V (Game Boy) maps.

It's May... or should we say "Mega May"?  For the fifth month of the year, we look at the fifth Mega Man game in the "Rockman World" series (as it is known in Japan) on the Game Boy.  This month also marks the seventeenth anniversary of the Maps Of The Month featurette, and this game is the seventeenth Mega Man game released - if you count the two odd PC games, the pinball game "Panic Shot! Rockman", and the first Mega Man X game on the Super NES (even though X is considered a sequel series - just go with it here).  And if we exclude the five April Fool's jokes, this is the 200th map set recognized as the Maps Of The Month (the first being also an odd-numbered Mega Man game mapped by a longtime VGMaps contributor)!


The stars may have aligned to recognize this game now - and stars (and planets) are the theme here.  While the first four Mega Man Game Boy games had a pattern of taking four Robot Masters from the same-named NES game and four from the next one, Mega Man V instead has a completely new set of bosses: the Stardroids, named after the planets in our solar system.  Conveniently, the Mega Man formula is retained here, by having eight main bosses to take weapons from - though this group includes Pluto (as it would be years before being reclassified as a dwarf planet), and Earth is represented by Terra (Earth's Latin/alternate/mythological name), who is a special boss, unsurprisingly.  As if we're not out of connections here, on the subject of Terra, TerraEsperZ is the veteran mapper who has taken on this unique Mega Man game.  Use these maps to hunt down Terra and the Stardroids, and see if Dr. Wily is once again responsible for threatening the world... well, if so, that's not new, but the Super Game Boy palettes are, which help this handheld Mega Man adventure to be more vibrant, at least.

So to recognize the effort put into mapping this mighty Mega Man game for this major milestone, TerraEsperZ's Mega Man V (Game Boy) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for May 2021.

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Robotrek (Enix, Super NES)

Compiler: Vorpal86

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

The world of Quintenix is threatened by a group called "The Hackers", who want a renowned inventor, Dr. Akihabara, to aid them in their sinister plot, which involves a stone that can allow the observation and travel through time. Dr. Akihabara refuses, and it's up to his son to use his robot-building skills to send those Hackers packing!

Robotrek is known as "Slapstick" in Japan, and "slapstick" is a term used to describe "a simple type of comedy in which the actors behave in a rough and foolish way" (according to the Collins Dictionary). No fooling around with the choice for this April's Maps Of The Month, which is this map set from Vorpal86 of this quirky sci-fi RPG from Quintet and Enix.

Quintet is best known for their works published by Enix for the Super NES, which include Soul Blazer, Illusion Of Gaia, Terranigma, and the two ActRaiser games - all absolutely wonderful games. Those were all fantasy action games (most with some RPG elements), but Robotrek is a sci-fi, turn-based RPG. Not only that, but you don't control the player directly when you go into battle; rather, you issue commands to robots stored in round, red-and-white capsules. Sounds like Pokémon (which Robotrek predates by a couple years), but with mechanical beings that you build and equip, instead of "pocket monsters" that you catch and train.

Though preparing a small troop of war machines is unique for a Super NES RPG, like most RPGs, there is a decent-sized story and a large world, involving many locales including buildings and caves. And, as with any RPG, maps such as these ones from Vorpal86 are very helpful, especially as these are labelled with treasures, enemy details, and even reminders to read every in-game book. Thanks for this deep dive into Robotrek!

So to recognize the effort put into capturing this quirky quest in the world of Quintenix, Vorpal86's Robotrek (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for April 2021.

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Lemmings (DMA, PC)

Compiler: Revned

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

March, march, march; that's what lemmings do, right off a cliff to their doom, supposedly.  But that's actually a myth.  However, that is the premise of one of the first really big personal computer game hits of the 1990s.  Lemmings walk forward, uncaring what dangers they may be treading into.  That's where the player comes in.  By assigning jobs to them, such as building ramps, digging or mining, you can make a safe path to the exit and try to save as many of the hapless rodents as possible.


Thanks to Revned's maps of all 120 levels, you can plan to survive this fun, tricky, and taxing mayhem.


Originally on Amiga, but then ported to the PC, and then over twenty other platforms, this is one of the most successful video games of all time, and so we finally recognize it here on VGMaps.com, on the year of its 30th anniversary.

So to recognize the effort put into keeping the Lemmings safe, Revned's Lemmings (PC) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for March 2021.

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Sonic Battle (Sega, GBA)

Compiler: TerraEsperZ

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

An ancient robot is recovered by Dr. Eggman, who seeks to use its destructive power in his quest for world domination.  Unwilling to fight for Eggman, the robot is discarded, where it is found by Sonic The Hedgehog.  Sonic names it "Emerl", after the Chaos Emeralds that power it, and the two of them search for the Chaos Emeralds to fully restore Emerl's sentience - but Eggman wants Emerl back!  And this is the story of the GBA game, Sonic Battle, a Sonic game that is really more about battling than running around.


Battles take place in three-dimensional arenas.  These are mostly constructed with textured rectangles for a very blocky design (with the only exception being the cylinders, which are more like octagonal prisms, in Tails' Lab).  Though this is still interesting, considering that this is on the GBA, a handheld that, while capable, is not really known for its 3D.  A number of games that do are indeed impressive, including this game!


What is even more impressive than a GBA displaying it is a mapper mapping it.  In gameplay, the camera is not limited to just an isometric perspective at a fixed distance.  However, this is the aesthetic choice that TerraEsperZ made, which works very well, considering its "blockiness".  Each of the arenas are seen at four angles, which seems like four times the work, but this quadrupled effort is logical and necessary to see it all.  And that's after figuring out how to even extract and present this accurately in the first place!  This isn't "just" the typical stitching-together of screenshots (not to say that isn't a lot of effort in the first place)!  One has to go above and beyond for a 3D game like this, which is exactly what TerraEsperZ did.

So to recognize the effort put into tackling this technical challenge to bring us more Sonic maps, TerraEsperZ's Sonic Battle (GBA) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for February 2021.

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Legacy Of The Wizard (Brøderbund, NES)

Compiler: FlyingArmor

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

Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family - as it is known for its original Japanese MSX2 release - was developed by Falcom and published in North America by Brøderbund as Legacy Of The Wizard.  The titular wizard is Douel, who had sealed away the dragon Keela into a painting, which has been kept underground.  The time has come for the Drasle Family to now search the dragon's labyrinth for the four crowns that will unlock the DragonSlayer, a magical sword capable of destroying the dragon once and for all.


Grandfather Douel is not up for adventuring anymore, and now only verifies passwords to continue the game, which the grandmother, Jiela, provides.  Instead, you will be in control of Xemn (the father), Meyna (the mother), Roas (the son), Lyll (the daughter) and Pochi (their pet monster).  Each character has their own unique abilities - like Pochi not taking damage from other monsters - and there are special items that only one of them can use - like the DragonSlayer, which can only be wielded by Roas.


Because they play differently, they take their own paths through the labyrinth, comprised of 256 screens (if you consider each screen to be 256 x 192 pixels).  It's a massive game on the NES, one that is very challenging to take on without at least some guidance. Thankfully, FlyingArmor is here to help you get around this gargantuan grotto!  FlyingArmor definitely likes to take on epic fantasy games, including this legacy!


(Ironically, the unqiue title sounds like it's not actually part of an ongoing legacy, but it actually is!  Obviously, from the Japanese name, it is part of the Dragon Slayer series, but Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu has a side story that NES owners may be familiar with, in the form of Faxanadu, and 2017 saw the release of Tokyo Xanadu eX+.  If you are familiar with Sorcerian, released on the Mega Drive in Japan and on the PC in North America, you might be interested to know that that is part of this series, as well.)

So to recognize the effort put into mapping this adventure that is fun for the whole family (including the pet), FlyingArmor's Legacy Of The Wizard (NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for January 2021.

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!


Congratulations and thanks to the Mapmakers of 2021!