An Explanation – More to Come!

So things have been crazy in the real world of late and as a result, it’s left me with a multitude of unfinished drafts and the like. I’ve been jumping across the globe, through an obscure variety of towns and countries, seeing far too many airports. Things are finally settling down though so I can spend some time at last polishing up my unfinished drafts and finally getting them ready for the world to see! My gaming has not stopped however, while battery may be at a premium for the most part, emulators have helped me stay sane in jumping from place to place (Project 64 most notably, got those Super Mario 64 vibes of late!). So apologies for the break and stay tuned for more!


Stay tuned folks!



The Cartography of Gaming #1 – The Legend of Zelda and Hyrule

So I’ve decided to start this series right back at the beginning with one of the most iconic Nintendo series, The Legend of Zelda, first released on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) way back in 1986, hard to believe that Hyrule has been around that long and after seeing Breath of the Wild, the development in the time since then has been truly crazy. Hyrule is effectively the basis of all Zelda games, being the key setting for a number of games in the series across varying generations, each showing a new and improved incarnation of our hero, Link. Hyrule started off as a typical 1980’s video game, the map being blocky and pixelated, near indistinguishable from other games of the time, to a certain extent. But in the decades gone past since we were introduced to the world of Hyrule, things have changed immensely.


The development of Hyrule from 1986-2017, the original NES release compared with the recent Breath of the Wild.

The development of gaming and technology has come a long long way as outlined above, and no games show this more than The Legend of Zelda series. Hyrule is effectively a medieval western Europe, though it’s appearance varies from game to game as the story starts over and over again (see the significant difference in The Wind Waker and its island ‘Hyrule’ in the Great Sea). Within Hyrule, we have varying dungeons, temples, islands and so on to explore, each more exotic and exciting than the last. Arguably the game in the series that left the biggest impact on me The Wind Waker, coming out at just about the right time for me, an era when I was discovering the best games out there. The vast ocean was like nothing I’d ever come to close to seeing before, it was something magical.

The Great Sea of the The Wind Waker, an alternative take on Hyrule, providing a vast ocean for you to chart your way across.

Each island offers something new (much in the same manner that the dungeons of, say, Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess). The dungeon map format is another thing about Zelda games that I’ve always enjoyed (though it is admittedly a modern take on the dungeon formats compared to those of the 1980’s). The top down view is easily understood and traversable, providing a whole other insight into the game, the Nintendo DS games do this particularly well, mainly thanks to the duel screen. The console versions still do this rather well however and they’re one of my favourite features of mapping in video games.

All parts of a standard overview of a typical dungeon in the Zelda series, taken from Dragon Roost Island.
Twilight Princess’ Forest Temple map and the DS version of Majora’s Mask’s Great Bay Temple.


The development of Hyrule through the ages has been one of my favourite progressions, and one can safely assume that we will get to see very many more versions of it to come, the Zelda series is one of the pinnacles of early video game cartography and plays an important role in the development of many other games series maps, which I’ll be adding to in time, as well as adding to this entry possibly to update my thoughts based on Breath of the Wild (I know there’s already a lot of nonsensical rambling in this blog already but that is it’s name after all…). This will no doubt not be the last we see of Nintendo in this series of course.


Then and now: the development of Hyrule over 30 years, something magical is it not?

The Cartography of Gaming – The Maps That Defined Video Games, An Intro

While it may not instantly stand out to us, maps and video games have been intrinsically linked since day one. I’ve been playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt recently and the shear scale of the in game map got me thinking about my past adventures with video game maps, and the ones that fascinated me most. The large scale ones of Red Dead Redemption and The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim once adorned my bedroom walls, maps impressive due to the shear magnitude and detail to them, but maps and video games have been intertwined a lot longer than any of us may even care to think. Take the classic Super Mario Bros. 3 world maps, maps that I’m sure that any avid gaming nerd has run into at some stage or another.

Super Mario Bros. 3, World 1, one of gaming’s earliest ‘iconic’ maps.

I’ve been working on compiling a series of games maps that have defined the shape of gaming as we know it (as well as creating my aforementioned budget game collecting series which is currently being prepared, I like to take my time with these things…). So I essentially aim to complete a series of maps and analyse them, inspired my by early days of reading PowerStation and their game walkthroughs, creating a sort of games atlas if you will. Stay tuned!

1001 (Budget) Video Games To Play Before You Die – An Introduction To Collecting Good Games For Nothing


I recently was perusing a copy of 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die and it got me thinking about what a more realistic affordable, modern equivalent list would look like. Admittedly, it would be possible to collect all 1001+ games in the books, from both first and second editions, which has slight changes in the two, but it would cost a large fortune, with some arcade exclusive classics and rare 80’s releases for hard to find consoles. My aim was to produce a list of more ‘modern’ and affordable games, primarily those you will find for under a tenner, so off I set to work on that and I will be presenting the findings as they progress over time in a series of blog posts. Given the mass production of video games these days you can find some seriously great games for prices that are next to nothing, both online and elsewhere, if you’re like me and behind a generation cause you’re too cheap, it can be a seriously great time getting top rated video game gold for a steal. So here goes nothing, stay tuned for more in the coming days and weeks folks!

Nintendo GameCube – My Top 10

The purple box of dreams in all its glory! I replaced my cover with a Luigi’s Mansion one!

No console has really left an impact on me the way the Nintendo GameCube has, sure, I’ve loved many games from many other systems but the GameCube was where I always felt most at home. An original PlayStation was the first console my parents got me as a kid (for which I am forever grateful and still own to this day I might add), but I think I properly fell in love with gaming upon seeing a Nintendo 64 with Super Mario 64 in tow for the first time, as fantastic as Crash Bandicoot was, it just could not compare. As a kid, my pocket-money and savings were spent almost exclusively on video games and related magazines, the magazines being because I didn’t want to spend my money on average games that I would finish quick and easy, the internet wasn’t a thing then so you had to get reviews elsewhere, shows how I old I am… I liked to get value for money even at a young age I guess…

Just one of the many game magazines still present in my collection, showing E3 2003!

I regularly bought copies of GamesMaster, Nintendo Official Magazine, Games TM, GCN, Nintendo Power, etc., the majority of which still grace my old room (as a nerd for making lists how could I ever part with my copy of NOM’s top 250 Nintendo games ever made, right?) It was one of my earlier copies of these magazines that introduced 8-year-old Pat to the Nintendo GameCube, the Nintendo 64’s sequel, I knew there and then that purple cube would fill my life with joy. I started saving for months upon months and eventually had enough to buy myself a console along with the only game I wanted at the time. Super Mario Sunshine. Though I didn’t actually have enough money for a memory card after that, hilariously, so the first few months were me running through the game as far as a I could in one go (I did eventually get one for Christmas!) Anyway, since then I kept saving and buying, building my collection as I went, at times I thought about trading in GameCube games for newer generation releases but never had the willpower to part with them, and for that I am grateful now. While I love my PlayStation and Xbox game collections, I think the GameCube collection, albeit smaller, is closer to my heart, possibly due to the effort I put into researching and finding each and every one of those games for it, things are just different now I guess. So without further ado, I’ll try to pick just 10 games I love to bits and why they mean so much to me. They’ll be ordered, but while I do love making lists, I find ordering them is often redundant, with games easily interchangeable depending on mood, scenarios and a whole load of other factors (this is also the case when I list movies, music, books, etc.), but enough nonsense, in the words of the legendary plumber, Mario Mario, ‘Here we go’.


10: Mario Kart: Double Dash!!


For me, Double Dash!! is the ultimate racing game. Forza, Burnout, Gran Turismo and Need for Speed might be more realistic and glamorous to look at, but they don’t provide the same satisfaction that comes with hitting your mate with a spiny blue shell seconds before they cross the finish line, allowing you to swoop in and win. Double Dash!! was the first Mario Kart game I owned, I had played the earlier incarnations, Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64, but having a copy of my own really allowed me to get to grips with the game, and I loved it.

It was the must have game of Christmas ’03, I remember well. I had cousins visiting from down under at the time and our Christmas holidays were spent trying to best each other at 4 player racing, televisions were still smaller then which made it even more mental. The single player mode was pretty great too though, 4 cups at 4 difficulty settings. 50, 100, 150 cc and the insane mirror mode, where every course was in reverse, offered plenty of unlockables, such as bonus karts and characters. Never before had Mario Kart had such an array of characters and vehicles, which could be mixed and matched to your pleasure. Personally, I liked to use Baby Mario partnered with Koopa Paratroopa, giving you the perfect blend of special weapons to win (gotta have me those red shells!), usually accompanied with one of the Koopa karts. The courses were more fine tuned compared to earlier Mario Karts also, offering short cuts galore if you could find them and them get them right,the jumpable gap on Yoshi Circuit springing to mind instantly, pull it off and you’re on your way to victory, miss and your back of the line. They were also a whole lot more fun, Wario Colosseum, while only 2 laps long, offered jumps, ramps and sharp turns every few seconds, sending you spiraling through a massive cage, while DK Mountain blasted you to the top via canon and took you back down through an onslaught of boulders rushing after you across treacherous gaps. It was chaos, wonderful, fast-paced chaos and oh, so satisfying when you managed to unlock everything.

My Highlight:

Waluigi Stadium was the track that still stands out in my mind above all others, a dirt track full of traps and enemies to dodge, jumps and fireball rings, not to mention the mud that can slow you to a standstill if you don’t get it right, nothing is more satisfying than having those blue sparks flying from your back wheels as you spin through cutting past your opponents into the lead.

Waluigi Stadium and some of its infamous mud!


9: TimeSplitters 2


Goldeneye 007 was probably the first FPS I ever laid hands on, I remember it being the most incredible thing, right from that first level on that dam in Siberia, even my dad, who’s not ‘tech savvy’ in the slightest, loved the game to bits and could take me down in multiplayer with ease. Why all the Goldeneye 007 talk? Well the TimeSplitters series is pretty much the natural successor to Goldeneye 007 (and I know I’m not alone in feeling this way), and not just because it was made by former members of Rare who left to found Free Radical.

TimeSplitters 2 took the formula shown in Goldeneye 007 and Rare’s other N64 classic, Perfect Dark, and brought it to crazy new levels. The plot itself is mad, where you play as a space marine travelling through time to gather time crystals from the evil TimeSplitters, who are trying to alter the course of history, so not only do you get to go around shooting people and aliens but you get to learn about history as you do so, see, games can be educational! It brings you to the wild west in the 1850’s, 1930’s Chicago, or into the future to see Planet X and Neo-Tokyo. This also gives you an opportunity to play with a vast array of weapons, ranging from Tommy guns through to laser pistols. The opening level in Siberia is even a clear throwback to that of Goldeneye 007, complete with dam. And all that’s before I even get started on the insane multiplayer mode, which still to this day sets the standard for all multiplayer FPS’s in my humble opinion, what other game offers game modes such as ‘Shrink’ (where the person in first place is tallest and the person in last place is the smallest, affecting the size of your target) and ‘Monkey Assistant’ (where the person in last place gets a team of monkeys to help them, move over Halo). TimeSplitters 2 was certainly the peak in a very good trilogy, and I am still to this day awaiting the announcement of the fourth installment (I can dream, right…?)

My Highlight:

Chicago, 1932. The games second mission and what’s not to love about it? The closest you’ll ever get to being a proper gangster as you stroll around the nighttime streets of the city with Tommy guns, gunning down Big Tony’s men, protecting Marco the Snitch and even the ever-satisfying draining of whiskey barrels. Fun fact: you actually had to shoot the whiskey barrels at the bottom for them to drain, pretty well done for the time).

Double Tommy guns for twice as much fun!


8: Luigi’s Mansion


Luigi had been on the sidelines for far far too long, but with the release of the GameCube he finally got his own 3D adventure and it was the polar opposite of those of his brother at times. Admittedly, it shares the same basic concepts that we’ve come to love with the 3D Mario games, but the undertones were darker, and while it may seem all colourful and rosy on the outside, and for the most part it was, it had the ability to make you jump at a moments notice. I loved it.

I got the game as a gift from my aunt after she found it on sale in those ad sections of newspaper, back before Amazon and co. took off and people still sold decent stuff in newspapers. The game had clear ghost busting influences, only sprinkled with that Nintendo charm we all love so much. It begins in typical Mario Bros. fashion, Luigi winning a haunted mansion, even though he never entered any competition, not suspicious at all, right? So naturally , Mario and Luigi agree to meet up at the house that evening (of course they don’t travel together!) And when Luigi gets there, lo and behold, no sign of Mario.  Luigi ventures in anyway and is met by ghosts, being rescued by the mad, Professor E. Gadd. Gadd had been working on a vacuum for capturing the ghosts and he feels Luigi is the perfect guy to try it out, and so Luigi’s adventure begins. The house has a whole range of ghosts to be caught,  ranging from the well-known boos, to the more powerful ghosts of the family who once resided in the house, with plenty of areas of the mansion to be explored. The game was a fresh take for Nintendo and certainly started the GameCube off on the right foot. A sequel for the 3DS has since come out and I imagine a home console version will follow at some stage (possibly for the Switch?) A worthy purchase if you can get your hands on it.


My Highlight:

One of the more terrifying moments of Luigi’s Mansion is found in the basement. Where we discover, what is effectively a shrine, and at its centre, a picture frame with a moving Mario trapped inside. There’s no way of getting him out just yet and it’s one of Nintendo’s more unnerving moments to see their usual hero trapped inside.

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A blurry Mario trapped inside the frame in the mansions basement shrine.


7. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4


Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical initially about the format change of the fourth installment in the Tony Hawk’s franchise. The first 3 games were absolute perfection, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 could easily make this list also, though I consider it more as a PlayStation game, the console where I first encountered the games. The original trio had the tried and tested system, 2 minute timers while you skate through a series of levels performing a series of challenges and tricks before time is out. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 changed this significantly.

The timed 2 minute challenges remained, only buried within larger, open world levels, a fresh new approach. Once you get over the initial format change (if you’re a fan of the earlier incarnations anyway), you learn to appreciate and love what is hidden within. It allows for more creative and expansive challenges. And as always, the soundtrack is rocking, I still remember the original Tony Hawk’s and its influence on my musical tastes , introducing me to a whole load of punk and its variants, lets be honest, we’ve all restarted our games just to get a song we want to hear (mine was Superman by Goldfinger). Tricks and combos continued to grow also, allowing you to string together huge scores as you zoom around. It’s hard not to love Tony Hawk’s, raw, fast-paced action that offers something for every level of gamer, and here’s hoping we still get a sequel that can do the series proper justice (after Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, which we’ll all just forget was a thing please…)


My Highlight:

The entirety of Alcatraz is the level that stands out the most to me, with some outrageous jumps and grinds. Challenges provide enough of a mix to keep you coming back, cause beating them first go ain’t an easy task even for the best of skaters. Aside from the old staples, such as beating high scores and collecting s-k-a-t-e, there’s a whole load of others to satisfy your needs. There’s the entertaining tour of Alcatraz where you need to hitch on behind a little cart as it winds it’s way through the prison, giving you a guided tour as you go, nowhere near as easy as it may seem (especially when it comes to the corners) or even by helping a prisoner escape, for a skating game, it sure has a lot of story-line hidden in there.

One of Alcatraz’s many high wire grinds!

6: Super Mario Sunshine

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The main reason I got a GameCube, simple as. I fell in love with Super Mario games upon playing Super Mario 64, and when I first learned of Super Mario Sunshine, I knew I had to have this console. As previously mentioned, I had no memory card for the first few months of my GameCube’s life and as a result I became incredibly familiar with the first few ‘worlds’ of Sunshine (worlds being a very vague term when compared to the other games in the Mario series but we’ll come to that in a bit).

Super Mario Sunshine is was really the first Mario release with an unconventional setting I guess, unlike the usual Mushroom Kingdom. Mario, Peach and co., jet off to the sun-soaked Isle Delfino for a lovely getaway (no Luigi though, probably chilling at his mansion). Think the Canary Islands only all the locals look like giant pieces of fruit. Things go wrong instantly as they arrive of course, with the local airstrip, an island off the island, covered in some sort of pink-orange goop, and encased within, a giant piranha plant. It’s soon after this that Mario discovers F.L.U.D.D. (a fluid liquidizer ultra dousing device, or more precisely a fancy taking robotic water gun). With F.L.U.D.D. in tow, Mario downs the plant and cleans the airstrip. Things turn sour from here on in though as Mario is arrested by the local police force and is accused of being the perpetrator of the graffiti goop, his sentence being to clean it all up. And so the adventure, Mario travels to various ‘worlds’, ranging from the rolling green Bianco Hills and its village of windmills, to the island fairground, Pinna Park, only accessible if you’re shot there via canon. There’s more to the story of course, with the obligatory kidnapping of Princess Peach, leaving it up to Mario to save the day as always, but who is the kidnapper? You’ll have to play to find out.


My Highlight:

Hard to pick just one, but in the end it’s probably the entirety of Ricco Harbor that I’d have to plump for, a once beautiful seaside harbor, currently ruined by oil produced from a giant squid. Not only does the squid provide an eventual boss fight, but mini-squid racing is the local sport, with races across the harbor. Cranes and construction have built up over the harbor providing more areas to explore. Just one of many stunning locations in Super Mario Sunshine.

An overview of Ricco Harbor from above!


5: Metroid Prime


Honestly I never expected to find something like this on GameCube, when compared to the other games I’d been playing at the time, there was a whole world of difference. I got this around the time my younger sister was born, again I’d read good reviews and figured it was worth the money without really knowing too much. Though in time, I’ve come to love it, arguably the greatest FPS I’ve ever played.

Metroid Prime was the first 3D Metroid game in the franchise and also the first one I properly owned. Childhood me struggled with the game initially, with the opening mission frustrating me. It begins on a space station controlled by space pirates. Samus Aran, the series’ female lead character intercepts a distress signal from the pirates where she learns the pirate crew have been mostly slaughtered by their own experimental subjects. Samus searches the station, culminating in the games first boss fight, versus the giant Parasite Queen, one the queen is defeat the station starts to fall apart and Samus just about escapes in time, though her suit is substantially damaged. Upon escaping, Samus chases the space pirates in her ship, eventually tracking them to the planet of Tallon IV, this is where the game really kicks into gear. Tallon is massive planet to explore, with huge monsters roaming everywhere, as well as plenty more space pirates. I don’t need to say anymore about the plot, because you simply need to play it to experience how breathtaking it is. The game is like no other FPS, especially those of nowadays. Nintendo had no intention of making Metroid a multiplayer console game, instead focusing on the brilliant single player game it is. Ammo is of no issue, with a series of blaster upgrades being part of Samus’ suit as the game progresses. Everything about this game screams perfection.


My Highlight:

Undoubtedly the first time I fought a Sheegoth springs to mind the most. Even getting near a Sheegoth was no easy task, the Baby Sheegoth were tearing me to shreds the first few times. When I did eventually get past them, their mother awaited. A powerful behemoth of a creature that gives one hell of a fight. Understandably this thing destroyed me for quite some time before I finally got past it, still stands out the most to this day.

A fully grown Sheegoth in all its glory!


4: Super Smash Bros. Melee


The worlds ultimate party game. Nothing provides more frenetic fun than four player Melee. For those of you who don’t know, the Super Smash Bros. franchise is basically a who’s who of Nintendo superstars, fighting off in crazy four person battles across a series of Nintendo’s most famous locations.

The concept of Super Smash Bros. Melee is simple for the most part, crazy button mashing fights, with the aim being to increase your opponents injury percentage and in turn, knock them off the course, the higher the percentage, the easier it is to send them flying. There are of course other modes too, but the fighting is the games major part, with a whole load of variables in between. Each character has their own special moves, Mario can shoot balls of fire, Fox can shoot blasters, Captain Falcon has his falcon punch and there are many many others, plus many more to unlock. The maps are just as crazy as well, representing a whole series of Nintendo’s most famous games. These courses often have huge changes throughout, such as Pokemon Stadium which constantly changes format. There are 2 main fighting modes in the game, classic and adventure. Classic is, as you may have guessed, the classic fighting mode that we’ve come to know in most fighting games, working your way through a series of fights towards an ultimate boss fight. Though Nintendo has a twist in there too of course, including multiples of the same opponents, metal versions and giant opponents, all of which leads to a boss fight with the Master Hand, basically a giant flying hand. Adventure mode has you working through a series of level, ranging from the Mushroom Kingdom to Brinstar, culminating with a boss fight against Bowser. There’s also hundreds of trophies to collect, giving a guide to a whole history of Nintendo. Though, as mentioned, the real fun is held in 4 person multiplayer.


My Highlight:

Just choosing one level is tough that stands out above the rest. In the end, I’d have to plump for Onett, the beginning of the Nintendo classic, Earthbound. Onett is the home of Ness and friends, and has finally been rendered in 3D, making for a crazy fight location. The battle rages over 3 buildings, central being the drug store where the signs regularly falls off and onto the street below, where there is even more chaos as cars power by, often sending you flying into the walls of the surrounding buildings.

A chaotic four-way battle in Onett!


3: Resident Evil 4

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I’d actually never played a Resident Evil game before getting my hands on this, so I wasn’t sure just how terrifying this could be. The answer was very. In hindsight, it really leaves the rest of the franchise behind as it constantly found new ways to shock you and send shivers down your spine.


Resident Evil 4 really has the full package. The game play is perfect, the camera angles tweaked to such an extent that the ‘over the shoulder’ view provides the perfect mixture of terror and action. Anything can scare you half to death but you can also fight off anything without having to fight the camera too (often an issue in games back then). Aiming isn’t too much of issue, though get your shots off in time may prove more problematic. The story line of the game is also one of my favourites. You play as Leon Scott Kennedy, who we’re first introduced to in Resident Evil 2. A survivor of the Raccoon City incident, where he was a police officer (we don’t need to delve too much into Resident Evil lore for now), he has now become a special agent and has been tasked to find the kidnapped daughter of the US president. And where was she last sighted? Spain, of course, where she has been abducted by a rural cult. Leon joins 2 Spanish police officers as they travel into rural Spain and this is where things start to go wrong. Leon stops to ask for directions in a local, who instantly tries to kill him, while all this is going on, a crash outside sends the Spanish police truck down a ravine, killing one of the cops while the other is captured. Leon follows to a nearby town and more grizzly scenes greet him. The other cop  has now been nailed to a cross with a bonfire burning around his feet, this really sets the tone for the rest of the game to come, now you know what you’re dealing with.


My Highlight:

The first standout moment is a death scene, hard to believe, but it just shows how terrifying the game really is what was to come. This happens in the first village, should you get caught by the crazy, chainsaw wielding Dr. Salvador with a bag on his head, and be warned, it gets fairly gruesome as the first time you’re caught he slices right into Leon with his blade.

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Dr. Salvador and his chainsaw giving us a happy intro to the game!


2: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker


My first proper foray into the world of Zelda. The game brewed up a bit of ‘controversy’ at first, given the alteration in graphics in graphics from the previous 3D Zelda games (I use the term controversy lightly admittedly, but some critics were concerned). The game was something beautiful though.

Unlike earlier Zelda games, the game moves away from Hyrule, landing us instead in the Great Sea, a huge sprawling ocean with a whole series of islands, rocks, fortresses and temples to explore. The game starts in the deep south, on the rather large Outset Island. home to the lead character ‘Link’ (or whatever you may choose to name him), where he lives with his grandma and sister. The island is usually quiet but on Link’s birthday, drama comes to the island. A huge bird like creature is flying towards the island with a person clutched in its talons, chasing the birds with canons blasting, was a pirate ship. The bird flies over the island, dropping the person into the woods below. Of course, Link comes to the rescue, only for the bird to come back, this time not kidnapping the same woman Link had just rescued, instead capturing his sister, Aryll. Thus, the adventure begins. The girl Link rescued turns out to be a pirate, Tetra, who’s crew agree to bring Link to Forsaken Fortress, but the rescue does not go to plan. Link washes up on Windfall Island, where he encounters the talking boat, the King of the Red Lions, with whom he can sail all over the Great Sea to save his sister. There isn’t really many other games like this, based out on the open sea, the wind can dictate your route and travelling can become tedious at times but it also remains fascinating at times, you’ll never know what you can encounter, ranging from whirlpools and giant squids to massive thunder storms. Truly a unique experience.


My Highlight:

Dragon Roost Island is the first island you sail too upon meeting the King of Red Lions, and from the second it comes into view it is spectacular. The huge towering volcanic island has dark storm clouds brewing around the top, where the monstrous dragon, Valoo, remains perched, causing havoc for the islanders. The music remains one of my favourite pieces ever composed also, simply breathtaking throughout.

Link on his final approach towards Dragon Roost Island with Valoo perched on top.


1. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door


Maybe a bit of a left field pick as my favourite GameCube release, but without a doubt, that is what it has become. I never went out with the intention of buying this game, in fact, my eyes were really on TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, which for some inexplicable reason remained out of stock at GAME for months on end. In the end, I decided enough is enough, that I was going to spend my money on something more fruitful instead, I began browsing and chose Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. And it turned out to be probably the best decision I could have possibly made.

The Thousand-Year Door is an RPG of the highest quality, a much different type of adventure compared to what we’ve become accustomed to with Mario. The game begins with Mario receiving a map from Princess Peach in the mail alongside a letter. Peach tells Mario to meet him in the rough harbour town of Rogueport, where the map has led her, and being Mario, of course he jumps at the chance to met the princess. Though when he arrives things start to go wrong… Being Mario, he naturally stumbles into a fight taking place on the harbour front when he arrives, saving a young goomba known as Goombella from a crazy caped guy called Lord Crump, with his band of x-nauts. After saving Goombella and escaping, Mario tells her of his map and why he is in Rogueport, when they bump into Toadsworth, Peach’s butler, learning of her going missing. Everything begins to overlap after this, with Goombella showing the map to her history lecturer, Professor Frankly, who explains about the thousand-year door and the crystal stars and so off Mario and Goombella go in search of the stars and to find Peach, travelling mysterious lands as they go and adding new members of their team, it makes for one hell of an adventure.


My Highlight:

The entirety of chapter 3, set in the glamorous floating sky city of Glitzville stands out as one my favourite story parts of any game ever, not just in terms of Mario and Nintendo. The crystal star in this case, appears to be found on the wrestling championship belt, currently held by the dominant number one seed, Rawk Hawk. Mario enters the league in a bid to climb the ranking to win the belt, only something a lot more sinister is going on behind the scenes, with wrestlers disappearing every so often and it’s up to Mario to figure out just what is going on.

The glamorous Glitzville with the wrestling stadium at its centre!