Game: Sonic Battle (Sega, GBA)
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)
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!