Saturday, February 17, 2024

The 1000 Games I've Beaten (#214 - 231)


#214 Final Fantasy X-2 (Playstation 2) – Spring 2004

Today I'm looking at 2004 which was characterized by the Zelda Crusade I went on. But first! A sequel I was pleasantly surprised by and spent most of the Spring playing, just like I had with FFX two years earlier. This game makes me think of Spring more than any other game. It's such a fun, lively game, with a peppy soundtrack and all kinds of wondrous locales to explore.

Plot here is basically Yuna trying to reunite with Tidus so they can be together, and battling various menaces along the way. It isn't the most serious game out there, but it has its moments and is actually capable of drawing out some emotion late in the game with the ballad of Lenne and Shuyin.

I like that it brings back the class system after a 5-game absence in the main series. You can change classes on the fly in this game and there are about a zillion abilities to learn. The only downside is that a lot of the classes aren't very good / not worth the time to master, so you'll find yourself sticking with the same few classes on replays. Dark Knight and Alchemist are both way OP, for example. Alchemist is missable, which is kinda messed up considering it's the best healing class in the game. After the midway point, two leveled-up DKs and one leveled-up Alchemist pretty much runs over most of the remainder of the game.

Favorite Class: Songstress. I mean, the class isn't particularly good (I'm sure someone out there has mastered it and figured out how to make it good) but it sure is hot. The game is basically "play dress-up with hot women" which is a fun evolution of the FF class system.

Perplexing Thing: There were two commercials for this game. One of them had pop music and made it look like a silly romp. Did nothing to make me want to check it out. Then the second commercial was set to "Thousand Words" and showed some of the game's most dramatic moments. I was instantly sold. Who even greenlit the first one? Well, it might have tapped some of the youth demographic (no relation to the Youth League).

Toughest Part: The optional postgame bosses in Via Infinito. Especially the very last one, Trema. I only won that fight by endlessly using that one trick that made the gun spam do excessive damage. They removed that for the HD version so I legit have no idea how I'd be able to win this again in that version. 

I think I was level 99 and maxed-out and still got utterly dominated by that fight even with the gun spam glitch, still took a few tries to get the RNG I needed to kill him before he killed the party. Him being a bland ancient dude who isn't particularly fun to fight made it even lamer. How was he able to attack like 5x for every round my heroes got, anyway? He looks like he's going to keel over at any moment. Am I old-shaming? Not really, even though old-shaming seems to be all the rage as of late. No, I just think this fight kinda sucks, and you have to do it for 100%.

Favorite Tune: Probably Mi'ihen Highroad. I'm sure the game has much better tunes and probably a bunch of them. This is what comes to mind when I think of the game though, a light airy springtime jaunt of a theme that reminds you of better days. Funny thing is, in this timeframe the "better days" for me were the 90's, but now the "better days" are, well, 2004 and the 2000's. Maybe someday THIS will be the "better days"? Yeah I kinda doubt it.

Honorable Mention: Dragon Quest VII -  Early 2002, Late 2003

This was actually late 2003 and it slipped through the cracks, so I'm adding it to the 2004 post. My second great stab at the game (first was early 2002, don't think I mentioned it in that post), and once again it just fizzled out after a while. I spent a LOT of time playing it between October 2003 and January 2004 or so, so I did try. Figured it was time and I could get it done, especially with my late night nothing-else-to-do game romps. Nope. Not yet anyway.

In the first go I think I only got about five hours in or so, while in this second go I think I got about halfway through the game so I made significant progress. Another thing I associate this with was watching Neon Genesis Evangelion and getting existentially depressed for the first time in my life circa like October 2003 or so. In other words I had a tough time with this space of time. However the fog lifted by the time Spring 2004 rolled around and I got to FFX-2.

Honorable Mention: RPG Maker 2 - Winter 2003

Another thing from late 2003 that I missed in the previous post. I was stoked for this, but significantly less so than I was for the first one a few years earlier. No staying up multiple days this time. Wasn't even completely sure I'd make anything with this one as the drive wasn't there like it was in 2000. Once it arrived, it was very clear that I probably wouldn't get far with it. The world design was much more 3D than the previous game, but very rudimentary and un-detailed 3D. This required a lot of sculpting of environments rather than just placing tiles like the previous game.

The actual coding/scripting of the game was much more complicated this time, as well, and I had issues wrapping my head around how everything worked. The first RPG Maker simplified everything very nicely without taking too much power away from the player. This one gave you more power, but at the cost of being user-unfriendly.

Fondest Memory: Discovering you could have a rainstorm happen in your game. I created all of one area, a ruin in a meadow with a thunderstorm overhead and various bad guys roaming around. Took a while just to create this one area, and that was about it. It was cool and showed that the game had some major potential, but it also had dealbreakers.

Biggest Dealbreaker: Besides the coding/scripting being much more complicated and hard to grasp, the character models were all superdeformed POP figure type designs. I'll never know why they went for that particular look for the characters in a 3D RPG in 2004. It basically meant that no matter what the content of your story was, the game would instantly look like it was for little kids. The monster models for battles weren't much better, with a lot of silliness and goof.

The sole "archangel" model in the game, one of the most important models in an RPG maker for a major character or foe, had breasts. No male archangel. So if you had a male character in your game that could turn into an archangel, as I did, you were boned. Not sure why they'd code one model and not the other. However the game was full of corner-cutting decisions like that where they'd do one thing but not the other more obvious thing. Even the Grim Reaper enemy model looked kind of goofy. Aside from an archangel, a reaper is probably the big bad guy model you should pay the most attention to getting right, and they didn't.

All in all, I REALLY should have gotten into the PC RPG Maker games around this time instead. RPG Maker 2000 and 2003 were both far superior games that I never even tried. In that era, with my level of creativity and energy, I could have probably made something outstanding if I had the right software.

#215 The Legend of Zelda (NES) – Spring 2004

This was the beginning of my "Zelda Crusade". I decided to play the entire Zelda series, all the games I missed, to lead up to Wind Waker. A friend at work just up and gave me his copy of Wind Waker before going off to Iraq, which was pretty cool. So I had an impetus for this Zelda Crusade. Unfortunately, said Crusade never actually caught up to the series. I did eventually get to Wind Waker, but by then there were several more games out. I think I finally played the copy he gave me in like 2012. Even now, in 2024, I'm still about 3 games behind in the Zelda series. Amazing how I managed to just never catch up.

In any case, over Spring 2004 I played through this, Zelda 2, Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Oracle of Seasons, and Oracle of Ages to catch up to Wind Waker... and then I just fell off entirely. I think I played the first half hour or so of Wind Waker, got turned off by the stealth/sneaking dungeon right at the beginning, and didn't play it again for a long while. I was missing out, for sure.

As for this game, it's a perfectly good game. I missed the NES era so I don't have any nostalgia for it, and I'm not real crazy about the overall look and color scheme, but you can see all of the Zelda tropes having their dawn here. The dungeons were challenging, the overworld was mysterious and fun to explore, and it was great to just see where it all started.

I notice this wasn't in my first round of NES emulation back in the late 90's. The Zelda series has always taken a backseat to other games for me even though I really like it and care about it. Not sure why that is. When I did play this, it was on the Gamecube Zelda Collection that included a bunch of Zelda games. Not sure if that was the same collection that had OoT Master Quest or if that was a different Gamcube game.

Post HERE.

#216 Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES) – Spring 2004

This one I liked significantly less than the first. I think it would benefit a lot from nostalgia and attachment. Since I don't have any for it, I could look at it with a critical eye. It tried some new things and some worked, some didn't. I do like the swordplay and think it's better than it gets credit for in that department.

This game is also HARD. I played it on the Gamecube Zelda Collection so I didn't have any emulator advantages, and I had quite a few deaths and extensive runbacks. This is an unforgiving game, but it did manage to be exciting thanks to the soundtrack and the world. I also liked that you could level up, and level grinding allowed me to even the playing field against the tougher parts of the game.

Favorite Boss: Horsehead. In my novella in 6th grade or so I had Horsehead as the secondary bad guy (Ganon's main henchman) in the first of the five stories.

Toughest Part: Negotiating Death Mountain and all of its caves.

Post HERE.

#217 Onimusha Tactics (Game Boy Advance) – Spring 2004

A Zelda break (maybe...I was also finishing A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, and Ocarina of Time replays during this span of time). This is a pretty cool Tactics-style game with characters from the Nobunaga era of Japan's history. Like I did with everything else in this timeframe, I had fun with it, lots of fun.

As with most games set in this era, the objective is basically to stop Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, etc from engulfing Japan in the fires of war. It's really the perfect setting for a tactics game and it's surprising that this game is so generally un-sung. It flew under the radar for the most part. Would be cool to also get a Three Kingdoms Tactics, but it's possible the era for that kind of game has passed. I'm surprised that THIS game even existed.

Note: Is Nobunaga in blackface? What is he, Justin Trudeau?

Fondest Memory: "Let's Fighting Love" from South Park being the unofficial anthem of the game. The character portraits were the best.

#218 Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (Nintendo 64) – Spring 2004

Now the Zelda Crusade had caught up to more games that I hadn't beaten. I DID rent Majora's Mask back in 2000, somewhere toward the end of the year. Got pretty far with it, but ultimately I just couldn't get around the timed system of the game resetting itself. Didn't know you could slow time to a crawl, or how to make your progress count, so I was just kinda flailing in the wind. I think I got to the second of the four main provinces/dungeons. Wasn't my favorite Zelda and I don't think I even planned to revisit it.

Come 2004 I went back with the intent of finishing the game from scratch, and did. It isn't really that long of a game, and it was pretty doable now with more patience. I ended up liking this game a lot. It's dark in a way that Twilight Princess only hoped to be. This is a legitimately eerie game that can be outright unsettling at times, and deals with the apocalypse in a thoughtful way that I don't think I've seen any other game pull off.

Know what really got me into the Zelda games? The inventory. Reading about all of A Link to the Past's items in Nintendo Power was awesome. They had a couple pages about all the items and what they did. Each one felt like it had a real-world application and you knew how you'd use them. I don't think that game had a single dud item. And even as the series rolls on, most of the Zeldas have solid inventories / item lineups.

Favorite Area: Snowhead. The second of the four main areas of the game. I liked the ice dungeon, but I especially liked the snowy mountains leading up to it. The feeling of isolation as you trudged through the snow was incredibly well-done.

Favorite Tune: Probably the Snowhead theme. Fits the mood that I described to a T.

Fondest Memory: Turning into a Goron and rolling all over the place.

#219 Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (Game Boy Color) – Spring 2004

Next up, the last two unplayed games before Wind Waker! The Oracle games were a couple of gems, that's for sure. Seasons is the more action-focused one while Ages is the more puzzle-focused one, so they're very different while being similar. I like that they run off of the Link's Awakening engine and that made them pretty nostalgic in their own way. As for which one I prefer, I love Oracle of Seasons the most by a good margin. With the focus on action and just generally being a great Link's Awakening sequel, not to mention the seasons mechanic being awesome (you can make it snow)... well, I'd put it up nearly at the level of Link's Awakening, while Ages falls a few steps down in the rankings.

Fondest Memory: Casting Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean to play Link in the posts and having him cut battle raps on the bosses. You're damn right it was weird. And I'd do it again too!

Posts HERE.

#220 Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (Game Boy Color) – Spring 2004

So why did I have issues with Ages? There were just too many puzzles and not enough action. Some of the puzzles also bordered a bit on obscure in terms of their solutions. The time travel concept was also more confusing and less appealing than the "change the seasons" concept of the previous game. There were two "worlds" rather than four (like in Seasons) and they were way too similar to each other so it became confusing. Games with two ultra-similar worlds can be a problem for me. See Dragon Quest VI. More on that later in this post.

My progress through Ages was much...jerkier? than the previous one, as I had to stop frequently to look things up. I couldn't make it snow anymore. I mean there were a bunch of things. I still got to the end of the game, and if you've beaten both this and the previous game, you get a new endgame with the return of Ganon. Not sure how I made that work on emulator but I'm pretty sure I did.

Fondest Memory: "Teaching Mr. Tingle" starring Natalie Portman, Tingle, and Tingle's tiny green penis.

Posts HERE.

#221 Metroid Fusion (Game Boy Advance) – Summer 2004

Actually kind of shocked that this game took me so long to get to. It came out nearly two years before I played it, and about a year after I first started emulating GBA. Still didn't have the system, but emulating worked better anyway because you could actually see the screen. Regardless, you would think that this would be the FIRST thing I rushed to emulate once I could, but nope.

Maybe I was saving it for a rainy week, not sure. All I know is that when I did play it, I had an absolute blast. This is an outstanding GBA game, and from an objective point of view it's probably a top 5 original game on the system (meaning factoring out ports like FFVI Advance). I can't say enough good things about this one. It's a lot more linear than the previous games, but some might like that because you can't really ever get lost and the progression stays steady even on a first run through the game.

There's also an interesting premise here with an X parasite cloning Samus and all of her powers, also causing her to lose said powers and have to start from scratch with a new suit. I particularly like how Samus gets visibly more powerful over the course of the game, going from being unable to match up with the X clone of her old self (AKA her at full power), to being able to trounce said clone by the end due to all of the new powers she'd gotten to compensate. They got really creative with the new powers too, like how Samus is now weak to ice due to having DNA from Metroids, so she can't fire an ice beam anymore and needs to use Ice Missiles instead.

Only thing I don't like is how shrill and shrieky some of the bosses are. It can get ear-splitting. However all in all this is a damn good game that was very well refined. Wouldn't mind seeing a remake of it, provided they don't change it too much besides the visual update. Unfortunately we're probably getting a Mercury Steam version that radically changes the game rather than just doing a visual update.

I'd put this at 2nd place among the main five games in the Metroid series, even to this day, behind Super Metroid. Anyone who hasn't ever checked it out, put it on your list. It's 4-5 hours (on a first go) well spent.

Posts HERE.

Honorable Mention: Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker - Summer 2004

Unfortunately Ages would be the last Zelda I beat for a while. I got all the way to Wind Waker, so the Zelda Crusade was very nearly a success! And then after playing WW for about an hour, I just totally fell off with it. After all that buildup. I think the problem was the fort near the beginning where you have to make heavy use of stealth mechanics to get through. That section kinda sucked a lot of the momentum out of the game. It's basically a training tutorial to get you used to being patient while playing the game, but yeah. It just went on way too long and burned me out.

After that I just amused myself running around the first island aimlessly, and I think I threw anything I could find (including various farm animals) into the local volcano for a little while. Yeah that was kind of awful of me, and I'm sorry. The game IS visually stunning, I'll give it that.

Unfortunately I wouldn't get back to the game until many years later, once a bunch of other Zeldas were out, and I have never actually finished the Zelda Crusade. I've perpetually been at least 3 games behind since 2007 or so. Right now, in 2024, I'm 3 games behind.

#222 24: The Game (Playstation 2) – Summer 2004

I was a huuuuge fan of the show 24. I'd say it's one of three media IPs I have any particular fanboyism over, the others being Highlander and Terminator. At least unlike those two, 24 never particularly let me down. This game came out right around Season 3, in what I consider the golden era of the show's writing. It takes place between S2 and S3 and ties up a very big loose end from S2. It fits perfectly with the show canon and is considered to BE canon by the show writers.

This could have easily been a terrible licensed game, but it's quite good and has a lot of attention to detail. They particularly did a stunning job with the character models, especially for early 2000's. They look just like the people they're based on. This follows a similar format to the show with similar crazy developments happening every time you turn around. Another cool thing is you don't just play as Jack Bauer, you also play as Tony Almeida and Michelle Dessler at times.

I love all those characters, and President Palmer, and I get deep pangs of nostalgia watching those seasons of the show today and realizing it was twenty years ago. Everyone on the show is way older now, not what I remember, and friends I had at the time (and watched the show with) that I haven't seen in a while are also way older than how I remember them.

Hey, there's that existential dread again. Know what takes away existential dread? That first flight theme from Secret of Mana.

Oh yeah, that's the stuff. One of the best "everything is great" tunes in gaming.

#223 Devil May Cry 2 (Playstation 2) – Summer 2004

A sequel I was very excited for, think I rented it the first chance I got. Then what I got was a generic action game with repetitive battles, a zoomed-way-out camera, and bosses that could be slain by simple spam of the gun button. This game was below-average even by normal PS2 action game standards, much less the standards set by its predecessor. Big letdown here.

Also, the enemy designs were pretty uninspired. Tanks and helicopters and zombies instead of the highly-creative fare of other games in the series. The camera was zoomed way out, as I mentioned, and that made the game feel very impersonal compared to the first game's in-your-face style of battles. Basically in two games the series went from super fun and stylish to "dull regular game". I assume a B-Team made this one, because it felt like what you'd get if the first game had been designed by a much less talented group of people.

Most of all though, I just hate how range attack spam could win virtually any fight in the game with no effort. No need to dodge and slash or use any of your fun abilities. Just back away and fire gun spam, activate super mode when you have enough power built up for it for even spammier and more damaging gun spam, win. For the whole game. It's kinda like what Legend of Mana did with being able to stunlock every enemy in the game, thereby killing the gameplay.

#224 WWF Smackdown (Playstation) - Summer 2004

Let's Play was going out of business around this point (there's the existential dread again). A small ramshackle store that brought a lot of joy to a lot of people. So I had one last burst of renting things from there. Went for the earlier Smackdown games (but never played the 5th one, which was the newest one around this time, bizarrely enough). Now unlike WWF War Zone, these aged pretty well. All five games in the Smackdown series are fun and playable right up to this very day.

Don't remember too much about this first one except that it had a super long story mode, especially compared to Just Bring It and its 20 minute story mode. It takes place circa early 1999 in terms of who is on the roster. One big thing the Smackdown games have that most other wrestling games didn't have at the time was audience camera flashes, which was pretty cool. Every time you hit a big move you'd see a bunch of sparks go off in the background. Sadly wrestling games (and wrestling itself) don't really have that anymore because almost nobody takes pictures now, they record everything.

Roster timeframes of the Smackdown Games, Since They Were Always A Bit Behind The Times At Their Release:

Smackdown 1: Released early 2000, has roster from mid 1999

Smackdown 2 - Know Your Role: Released late 2000, has roster from early 2000

Smackdown 3 - Just Bring It: Released end of 2001, has roster from late 2000 (This one was especially behind the times)

Smackdown 4 - Shut Your Mouth: Released late 2002, has roster from mid 2002

Smackdown 5 - Here Comes The Pain: Released late 2003, has roster from mid 2003

Toughest Part: Getting through the season mode that just went on and on and on. IIRC I played as The Rock for the entire game.

#225 WWF Smackdown 2: Know Your Role (Playstation) – Summer 2004

Don't remember much about this one by comparison. It's improved over the previous game, flashier, has more wrestlers, and does everything about as well as it gets on the original Playstation for wrestling games. Also notable that it had Rock and HHH on the cover (no sign of Austin) which signified the changing of the guard that year.

It's kind of hard to tell this game apart from the first, but it does have a bunch of improvements. I think I played this one through as Triple H, who had his rad "My Time" theme.

Stuff I Liked: Besides the camera flashes and HHH having the right theme and all that cosmetic stuff (these games looked very good, especially for the Playstation), I liked that you'd get these close-up shots every time you hit a big move.

#226 Medal of Honor: Frontline (Playstation 2) – Summer 2004

Decent rental. It's a WW2 game, one that strives for historical accuracy with locations and strategy and so forth. No craziness like Wolfenstein but also not as polished as Call of Duty. It was a good one though. They released two of these games at about the same time, and Frontline was the European theater. Rising Sun is the Pacific theater (and the better of the two games by a bit). I was studying up on WW2 at the time and this was just part of that. I like the attention to detail here and the intention to have it be as accurate as possible.

#227 Medal of Honor: Rising Sun (Playstation 2) – Fall 2004

Very good game here. This covers the relatively un-sung (in video games) Pacific theater and all of the lesser-known but still critical battles therein. I found it to be a much better game than Frontline, even though they both dropped at about the same time (which was an achievement, because these are both very complete games).

Most Memorable Level: The first stage re-creates Pearl Harbor and has you trying to get off of a boat during the attack. The level of detail and thought that went into this stage was impressive and they captured what a disaster it all was.

#228 F-Zero GX (Gamecube) – Fall 2004

Think this was the last thing I ever rented from Let's Play before it shut its doors. Have very little to say about this because I can barely remember it. Never got into the F-Zero games the way I did with the Mario Karts. This was a fun game though and I remember getting a lot out of it. I liked the characters and they were all intriguing even if I didn't know anything about them. What was Black Shadow's deal? I have no idea, but he seemed like a bad-ass villain and had a great theme.

Favorite Tune: Black Shadow's theme...because it's the only track I can remember. I'm sure the game had much better tunes. This guy is like the Emperor Edgelord.

#229 Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland (Game Boy Advance) – Fall 2004

Don't remember this one too well. It's some sort of remake of Kirby's Adventure for the NES and it looks super pretty. At least when emulated in a fullscreen type of format, not sure how good it looks on the original hardware. They did some awesome backgrounds in this game, to say the least. Emulated this, like Metroid Fusion and Onimusha Tactics, and I gotta say the GBA really had some nice stuff that deserved to be played on a TV or monitor.

A bit of a gem here and the kind of game I got into the Kirby series to play (it has had a few duds). Wish I remembered this game better.

Fondest Memory: The final level(s?) go back to greyscale since they're an homage to the original Kirby's Dream Land, which is cool.

Post HERE.

#230 Final Fantasy Legend III (Game Boy) – Fall 2004

This is the last physical Game Boy game I ever bought. Got it after I played FFL2 on emulator back in 2000, played some of it, couldn't get into it (probably due to the small screen), sat on it for four years. I definitely preferred the clarity of the emulator image over trying to play something like this on my by-then very fuzzy Game Boy screen.

Regardless, I sat down and played through it, mostly while on break at work, over a few weeks. I like this the least of the three FFL games because it gets rid of the classes and a lot of what set them apart, going for a more traditional RPG instead. I'll replay it at some point and maybe I'll like it more with a clearer screen, either on emulator or on Collection of SaGa (which unfortunately emulates the Game Boy screen a little too well, rather than the B&W clarity of an emulator).

Most Vivid Memory: This battle. This battle right here. I fought this one enemy group so many times and I remember it being emblematic of how bland and weird and repetitive I found the game to be. Just couldn't get into this one. I'll give it another shot at some point, if I live long enough.

Toughest Part: I remember Sol and Xagor being pretty nasty fights. All of the FFLs have really rough final bosses.

#231 Metroid Prime 2 (Gamecube) – Fall 2004

This is a tremendous game. I thought it was pretty far below the first Prime back then, but still much better than your average game. As time has gone on, I've gained a new appreciation for this one, and in the past decade or so I actually kinda prefer this game to the first. Like if all things were equal and I needed to reach for one to replay, I'd reach for this one. That said, now that the first has an HD version, it wins 9 times out of 10. However, if this gets an HD version, they're back to being equal, so...

All of that is taking a lot of words to say that this is a game that might actually be better than its predecessor, but that's gonna be a controversial take for most fans of the series given how amazing the first is (especially for its time). They ported over the controls and everything else that worked spot-on, and created a more interesting world for this one.

There's also a four-player splitscreen death-match mode that is fantastic to play around with. Hopefully the inevitable HD version has it too, because it'd harken back to when games regularly had things like this. It was one of the better multiplayer deathmatch games out there in 2004, especially for the Gamecube. Unfortunately I don't think I ever really did much with the multiplayer in this and was very much focused on the single-player, like most of the time.

While the first Prime gives you a pretty standard Metroid world with every biome accounted for, not unlike Fusion or Super, this one goes off in a new direction by basing the world around light and dark elements. It might well do two parallel worlds better than any other game I've seen with this mechanic (Dragon Quest VI, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, Chrono Cross, Zelda: Oracle of Ages, to name a few). The dark world in this game is very distinct, incredibly atmospheric, and legitimately a bit scary.

There are 3 main areas in this game, plus a particularly memorable hub temple area. From there, Agon Wastes is a, well, wasteland, a desert biome with stone ruins. Torvus Bog is a gloomy, atmospheric, stormy location with somber, thought-provoking music. Sanctuary Fortress is a hyper-advanced, futuristic sky fortress that might well be the single most interesting zone in the series.

If this game has any weakness in its world design, it's that Agon Wastes is actually kind of a dull area compared to the others. We already did the "desert with stone ruins" theme in the first game with Chozo Ruins. And considering that Agon Wastes takes up a full third of the game (a third being 3-5 hours on a first go of the game), it's quite a bit of playing before you get to the more interesting areas. I kinda wish the game had led off with Torvus Bog, or a more interesting version of Agon Wastes. The first big area being weak drags things down a bit and probably warded off some players. The first game starts things with a bang and Tallon Overworld is insanely memorable in a way nothing in early Prime 2 is. Overall though I think this game has a stronger world, and every area having a dark world counterpart is also quite interesting.

Toughest Part: Boost Guardian. Dunno why that fight is so nasty. It's overtuned and seems like it was intended for later in the game than it actually is. Never had a ton of trouble with it (nothing in this game is terribly difficult) but it's certainly a much bigger challenge than anything before that and maybe after.

Favorite Boss: Quadraxis. A giant quadripedal mech is a great idea for a boss fight, and I like that it makes use of Samus' sonic visor and sound-based weapons to damage some parts of it that are shielded. So much creativity went into this game.

Iffy Memory 1: This game came out immediately after a contentious election that a lot of us young people at the time weren't happy with the outcome of and weren't sure if we were going to be drafted by the end of the next year. Which in retrospect might have happened with either of the turd sandwich establishment candidates we had. A tale as old as time. In the moment though, we didn't know what was going to happen and it sucked. This game launching pretty much RIGHT after that caught me at, shall we say, not the best time. With a lot of bad stuff going on, at least we didn't get drafted, I guess.

Iffy Memory 2: A girl I liked, who I very nearly won over, decided to stay the course with another guy who had asked her out first (and beat me to it by like one week). We'd gotten pretty close, but it was what it was. This also all kinda went down while I was chipping at this game. So I associate Torvus Bog's theme with moping about it. Walking through a bog in pouring rain was pretty appropriate for feeling like a sad sack at the time.

Favorite Tune: Torvus Bog! What a great theme. Maybe the best theme I've heard for having to slog through a thunderstorm, like you do in that part of the game.

Fondest Memory: I don't really have any.

In Short: This game was dragged down by things that had nothing to do with it. It's also pretty dark and oppressive in general. However, that means it had plenty of room to have a second life with me in the 2010's when I replayed it a couple times and found it way better than I thought. I'd say that it might even be my favorite of the trilogy.

Fondest Memory on Replay 6 Years Later: Really dug the Sanctuary Fortress and found some of the vistas there breathtaking. The fact that you only see it in the last third of the game means it keeps you waiting for it for a while, building the hype.

The 1000 Games I've Beaten

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