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Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame Entry #19: ‘Metroid’

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Goomba Stomp’s Hall of Fame is reserved for only those Nintendo titles that can be called absolute classics. Chosen by the crew of the NXpress Nintendo Podcast, these bite-sized capsule reviews reflect what we’ve discussed on the podcast over the past six months. Look for more entries every 25 episodes we record.

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Revolutionary in design, pioneering in character diversity, origin for a hallowed franchise, and partial inspiration for an entire gaming genre; not a bad résumé for what was in 1986 a rather unassuming action NES platformer. Metroid may not hold up to modern gamers as one of the best of all time, but there’s no question it’s one of the most important. A rare venture into the solemn and somber for the eternally upbeat Nintendo, the first adventure of bounty hunter Samus Aran captivated players with its moody atmosphere and sci-fi setting, conveying feelings of isolation and dread through its use of silence and an amelodic score, making the lonely planet Zebes come alive with chirping eeriness.

Influenced by Ridley Scott’s 1979 horror masterpiece Alien, the developers crafted an experience that is more about echoing footsteps in dark corridors than pure running-and-gunning. Though the powerful weapons ready to be discovered are necessary for progression, Metroid relies more on getting lost to maintain its undercurrent, weaving complex labyrinthine caverns beneath the surface that pose the biggest obstacle to the destruction of Mother Brain and ultimate victory. In addition to precise aim and missile management, cartography skills are put to the test, and those with the most accurate graph paper maps have a chance to uncover all of Zebes secrets. Exploring this maze, with the anticipation of danger around every corner, leads to a wonderful tension that turns any peep into both welcome company and cause for concern.

At the center of it all is Samus Aran, a badass space warrior all alone on an alien world, contracted by the clearly pathetic Federation Police to penetrate the Space Pirate fortress and destroy the Mother Brain controlling it. The personality traits of this silent protagonist are dependent mostly on the perspective of the player, but in a brilliant move that blew 8-year-old male minds everywhere at the time, completion of the game under five hours elicits an ending that sees Samus remove her helmet and reveal the woman underneath the power suit. This twist ending, treated almost nonchalantly, was the talk of schoolyard playgrounds for a while, and cemented Samus’ place as a truly fascinating character, a presence that surpasses the scope of the games she stars in.

With its mature tone, fantastic sound design and unique environments, Metroid evoked a feeling of creepy solitude few other games had achieved, wrapped in open-ended exploration. Though the non-linear design of the original may not have aged as well as some of its sequels, the desolate ambiance it fosters became a foundation upon which those superior efforts could build and perfect, setting the tone and establishing one of the most respected and beloved franchises in all of gaming.

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Patrick Murphy grew up in the hearty Midwest, where he spent many winter hours watching movies and playing video games while waiting for baseball season to start again. When not thinking of his next Nintendo post or writing screenplays to satisfy his film school training, he’s getting his cinema fix as the Editor of Sordid Cinema, Goomba Stomp's Film and TV section.

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Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame #30: ‘The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker’

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Goomba Stomp’s Hall of Fame is reserved for only those Nintendo titles that can be called absolute classics. Chosen by the crew of the NXpress Nintendo Podcast, these bite-sized capsule reviews reflect what we’ve discussed on the podcast over the past six months. Look for more entries every 25 episodes we record.

Director Eiji Aonuma’s swashbuckling adventure The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, set 100 years after the events in Ocarina of Time, stands as one of three best games released in the series thus far. Along with the N64 classic and A Link to the Past, The Wind Waker masterfully baits and hooks players in with its perfect blend of polished design, tightly crafted controls and beautiful presentation. Utilizing a completely new look with cel-shaded graphics, the game casts players in the role of a familiar young Link who sets out on a long voyage across troubled seas, into dark dangerous dungeons and against ruthless foes to save his kidnapped sister. At the time of its release, it was immediately evident that Wind Waker was going to be different from the previous Zelda titles, yet it’s surprising that the grandeur of The Wind Waker‘s bold, thick strokes, lusciously saturated palette, and the notably boyish protagonist with his humongous, expressive eyes ever caused so much controversy back in 2003 — because over a decade later, the game’s legacy remains defined by its visuals.

Players with keen eyes and an appreciation for art will know that Nintendo doesn’t just do things for the sake of pure experimentation. When developing The Wind Waker, Nintendo not only created a hugely stylistic world down to every last detail but also pushed the power of GameCube to do so. Upon closer inspection, cel-shading clearly was the right choice. This is a game that emphasizes the vastness of the open ocean and the open sky, and, with the application of cel-shading, every wave, every gust of wind is beautifully pronounced against a backdrop of colorful hillsides, small villages, and coastal locales. And like all previous titles in the series, the dungeons prove to be the most enjoyable aspect of this game, despite having so few. It is within these dungeons that Wind Waker shines. The true beauty of the visuals stands out, as each dungeon is brought to life with an astounding amount of detail. It’s ultimately not difficult to see why The Wind Waker has become something of a classic in the years since its release. Overall the Wind Waker is a huge achievement in every way, from the classic mix of sword-swinging action, perplexing puzzles, stirring story lines, vibrant art, evocative soundtrack, a cast of colorful characters, beautiful melodies and a fantastic battle system that propels the adventure and exploration. For many, the Zelda brand represents the pinnacle of gaming, and The Wind Waker stands tall, side by side with the very best. (Ricky D)

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Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame #29: ‘Super Mario Bros.’

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Goomba Stomp’s Hall of Fame is reserved for only those Nintendo titles that can be called absolute classics. Chosen by the crew of the NXpress Nintendo Podcast, these bite-sized capsule reviews reflect what we’ve discussed on the podcast over the past six months. Look for more entries every 25 episodes we record.

It’s hard to imagine a video game industry today without Super Mario Bros.. Here’s the title that single-handedly revitalized the gaming industry and solidified Nintendo as the King of the video game market. While the vast majority of early video games were largely designed by the programmers coding them, Super Mario Bros. was instead made by Shigeru Miyamoto, an artist first and foremost, who graduated with a degree in industrial design. As with Donkey Kong, character, and story mattered most. Players would play as Mario, accompanying him on his journey through the Mushroom Kingdom and his quest to rescue Princess Peach from the vicious Bowser, King of the Koopas. Miyamoto made Mario his go-to character, a plump, awkward Italian-American who could easily fit into any 8-bit graphics. Overalls made his arms more visible and his thick mustache appeared clearer than a thinly sketched mouth. He was given a hat so Miyamoto could sidestep designing hair and a big nose to accentuate Mario’s look.

One of the most amazing aspects of Super Mario Bros. is the game’s extraordinary level design in which Mario or Luigi must walk, run, or jump through various roadblocks throughout the levels comprised of bricks, underground pipes, menacing oceans and foreboding castles. Miyamoto’s motto was that a game should be easy to learn but difficult to master – one of the defining aspects of Super Mario that made it popular amongst dedicated gamers and casual players alike. Each castle grows increasingly difficult, and there are hidden warp zones that transport Mario or Luigi to higher levels – but if a player takes the incorrect routes, he will be transported back to the beginning of the level. Meanwhile, the clock ticking down at the corner of the screen becomes your biggest enemy. Chases and races are key ingredients for spicing up games and a race against time is perhaps the most exciting, suspenseful kind. Nothing creates on screen tension like an impending deadline or clock that counts down to the final seconds. In Super Mario Bros. time will eventually run out, resulting in an inevitable death.

Super Mario Bros.
is celebrated for its intricate levels, colorful characters and intuitive controls, but Koji Kondo’s sinister soundtrack rarely invites a discussion. Sure, just about anyone who’s played the game can whistle or hum the catchy theme song, but I’m referring to the complex score that elevates the game to a whole new level. Unlike any game before it, Super Mario Bros. wasn’t scored by a computer programmer – instead, Nintendo hired a talented composer. Kondo wrote the six-song musical score using only small pianos and yet still managed to create rich musical tapestries despite the limited resources. Koji Kondo’s Super Mario Bros. score not only redefined video game music, but it still resonates thirty years later. It’s easy to take Kondo’s work for granted but had Nintendo not hired a professional composer, the Super Mario Bros. soundtrack might have comprised of nothing more than odd sound-bites and background noise.

Super Mario Bros. quickly became synonymous with the Nintendo Entertainment System and helped the NES become the top-selling console of its time. The video game crash of 1983 was officially over, and the famous brick-busting duo became household names. Super Mario Bros. is one of the most iconic video games ever conceived due to the sprawling level design, clever enemy placement, hidden secrets, optional sub-routes, superb physics, legendary soundtrack and gorgeous sprite-work.

  • Ricky D
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Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame #28: ‘Super Smash Bros. Wii U’

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Goomba Stomp’s Hall of Fame is reserved for only those Nintendo titles that can be called absolute classics. Chosen by the crew of the NXpress Nintendo Podcast, these bite-sized capsule reviews reflect what we’ve discussed on the podcast over the past six months. Look for more entries every 25 episodes we record.

I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone reading this why Super Smash Bros. for the WiiU and 3DS makes an appearance in our Hall of Fame. As someone who spent his every lunch hour in high school hanging out at the local arcade playing Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, I have no reservations in calling this the greatest fighting game made to date. It isn’t just the roster of 49 iconic characters to choose from, or the assortment of weapons, nor the 8 player mode; it’s every painstaking detail, every pixel, every move set, in this smooth 60 frames per second masterpiece. Every fighter uses the same button presses to execute attacks and special moves, but each has their own distinct style, many of which are difficult to master. This is also the first game to integrate with Nintendo’s amiibo which has taken the world by storm, recently outselling the WiiU console by millions. Nearly every aspect of Smash Wii U seems fine-tuned to appeal to long-time Nintendo fans, and a generation of new gamers. Once you’re hooked, you won’t be able to put it down. (Ricky D)

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