Chrono Trigger

Fireworks crackle in the air. An ancient and symbolic bell rings out across the land. Townsfolk bustle from every direction to congregate in one location. The year is 1000 A.D., and the kingdom of Guardia is celebrating its 1000-year anniversary. As you make your way through the Millennial Fair, amidst the colorful circus shows and games of all varieties, you accidentally run into a spirited young woman. And so begins the tale of Chrono, a courageous young man from the kingdom of Guardia, who will travel throughout time, to lands whose histories have long since been recorded, to the future filled with uncertainties.

Chrono and his friends journey to the ancient past, filled with volcanoes and dinosaurs, to find the root of the future’s troubles.

For, you see, shortly after Chrono and Marle cross paths, the two are separated when an experimental teleport machine, developed by Chrono’s inventor friend, Lucca, goes awry, and Marle vanishes, leaving only the pendant that was draped around her neck as a reminder she was there. Chrono picks up the jewel, and via the teleport device, pursues Marle, uncertain as to where he will end up. He winds up in a land very similar to where he came from, and upon conversing with the villagers discovers that he is indeed in Guardia. However, he also is informed the year is 600 A.D., and the Kingdom is at war against More

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Imagination

One of the greatest qualities of video games is they allow people to suspend their disbelief and use their imaginations to fully immerse themselves in a make-believe world.

This characteristic is very obvious in the earliest video games, when technology wasn’t great enough to produce realistic images. During these times, players had to almost fully create an image in their head based off primitive symbols. A screen dotted with green globs was a lush forest, a solid brown rectangle was a mountain, and blue squares were bodies of water.

The first magical foray into the wonderful land of Hyrule.

Computer technology has improved at a rapid rate, and with it programmer’s abilities to create realistic forests, mountains and oceans. Players no longer have to construct entire areas in their minds, although I still think, to some degree, people project properties they know from experience onto anything they see. However, as the graphics increase, people need to start imagining less what the world looks like and more what is possible in the world.

You see a stretch of land far off in the distance, and you have to use your imagination and grasp of the special attributes of the fantasy world you are in to figure out how to get there. Or maybe you have a mystery to solve and it is up to you to decipher the clues concealed within the world you are in.

In the GameInformer issue 222, Jeff Cork, one of the editors of the magazine, described his first time playing The Legend of Zelda.

“As other kids in my school got their own copies, we hoarded and exchanged tips and secrets. ‘Did you know that you could push that tombstone?’…There was a collaborative spirit surrounding the game and its mysteries that’s impossible to recapture. I really wish I could go back and play it again for the first time.”

The setting wasn’t the only aspect of games that required the use of imagination. You had to imagine what the characters were like, and what they meant to you. Certain characters will remind you of particular people you know. Your experiences will also determine the relationships you see between all of the characters.

Portal

Portal is one of the only games where the antagonist is the biggest standout aspect of the game.

You wake up in a strange test chamber, and your mission is to progress through the series of rooms in the facility. While you are navigating the array of challenges, you are being directed by a super-intelligent computer named GLaDOS. In the beginning she seems innocent enough, with her calm, monotone and positive remarks. But she slowly starts to show her deranged side, and you begin to fear GLaDOS more than anything else.

Take these quotes as examples of GLaDOS’ madness: More

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

In my opinion, Ocarina of Time is still the best video game ever made. Maybe it’s just because I happened to play it at a particular age that I have the fondest memories of, or maybe it’s because one of my friends names it as his favorite of all time. Nonetheless, even though game technology has advanced considerably, Ocarina of Time is still the game I hold closest to my heart.

Early in his adventure, Link happens upon the serene Lon Lon Ranch, home to the sweet Malon and her horse, Epona, Malon’s pride and joy.

It introduced a very important element for 3D action games, and that is the lock-on and auto jump features. This made combat a lot easier, while still leaving room for strategy. Also, this was the first 3D Zelda game, and it brought a lot of what made the series so magical to life in a whole new way.

There are just too many magical moments in this game to count, and they all add up to an unforgettable adventure. Take the opening sequence as an example. More

Resident Evil 4

In the late 1990s, Resident Evil had created and refined the genre of survival horror, but by the third installment the series wasn’t making any significant changes, and its slower pace was growing stale.

But in 2005, Resident Evil 4 moved the series, and the survival horror genre, in a new direction. Masterfully, I might add.

RE 4 traded the shambling pace of the earlier entries for a more brisk one emphasizing action. Ammo was more plentiful, there was a greater variety of guns, and there were swarms of enemies. But, the game still managed to remain eerie thanks to a foreboding setting, diabolical characters, tense music, and intimidating enemies.

Leon scouts out the area up ahead. What are these people up to?

Your search for the president’s missing daughter brings you to Europe, and you will visit a rural village rife with rot, a magnificent but deadly castle, and a secluded island established as a scientific haven.

Even though you find more ammo, it is still necessary to be strategic when combating each enemy. There are so many of them that if you aren’t smart you run out of bullets and are defenseless, forced to run away. Enemies move faster and are more intelligent, often sneaking up behind you undetected.

And I’ll never forget the first time I heard the chainsaw revving up.

You are ambushed in a village, you run into an abandoned house More

Super Mario 64 DS

It was Christmas 2004, and me and my best friend Scott both got a Nintendo DS as gifts, along with Super Mario 64. For the next year, my friends and I had nothing else on our minds but exploring the varied and unique worlds of the game, racing against each other to collect the hidden power stars scattered throughout the game.

My friends and I would get to school an hour early just to play the game, and I would stay up late at night to continue combing all of Bowser’s Castle to uncover it’s many secrets, and ultimately rescuing the fair Princess Peach.

This poor mama penguin has been separated from her baby, and it is up to Mario to search the area for it.

As you wander the halls and rooms of Bowser’s large manor, you see paintings of incredible worlds. There is one where the inhabitants are super sized, More

Professor Layton and the Curious Village

Unlike most of the other entries in my blog series, Professor Layton did not break any barriers or introduce new ways to play games (although it did increase the popularity of the puzzle genre immensely). However, the reason I feel it is necessary to discuss it is for the touching and mesmerizing story it tells, as well as the art style, soundtrack, and, of course, the puzzles. All four of these components, on their own, are charming, but when combined they create an irresistible journey that you will never forget for the rest of your life.

“The things we saw in the village that day became a secret we would have to keep from everyone for the rest of our lives. Because, you see…”

With this cryptic message, the adventure begins. Professor Layton, a world-renowned archeologist, received a letter from a woman, Lady Dahlia, saying that her husband, Baron Augustus Reinhold of St. Mystere, has recently passed away. However, when his will was read it was found to be most peculiar, and it did not agree with Lady Dahlia at all.

“The Reinhold family treasure,” it reads, “the Golden Apple, is hidden somewhere within this village. To whomever successfully locates this treasure, I offer the whole of my estate.”

In the letter, Lady Dahlia is asking for Layton’s help in finding the elusive Golden Apple, so she can claim the riches she feels rightfully belong to her.

Luke, a small lad of 10 and “the apprentice of the great Professor Layton!”, remarks, “and so you immediately decided to take her up on her request, eh?”

To which Layton, dressed in a black top hat and black suit, responds, “Ho, ho! Well, Luke, a true gentleman never refuses the request of a beautiful lady.”

“…If you say so, Professor…”

A panoramic view of St. Mystere, a village of singular architecture, citizens and secrets.

Upon arriving in St. Mystere, it becomes apparent that the town, and the townspeople, are quite quirky. The buildings are all at different angles, painted a hodgepodge of colors, and a single, ramshackle tower in the center of the village rises  high above the rest of the architecture. The citizenry are all dressed in odd clothing, More