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Aria of Sorrow
Bionic Commando (GBC)
Bonk's Adventure
Duck Hunt
Mars Matrix
Puss N Boots
Rescue Rangers
Super C
Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Land
Thunder Force V


Crawl's Notes

Reader Reviews



Update Log

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I realize I have not updated this site in a while. As I get older, I have found that I've had less time for html coding. I have, however, started a wordpress Blog, which may allow for more frequent updating. It already has posts on physics, videogames, and a harmonica project of mine.

Unfortunately, I am announcing this on the date of sad news. My most recent post is a eulogy on the passing of my beloved pet cat, Lady.

-Crawl, September 29, 2014

My workbench is finished.

As a matter of fact, not only is it finished, I've also used it to finish one other project so far. I've made a homemade harmonica comb -- a so-called "discrete comb" which has a dividing line through the middle of the holes, which allows you to isolate any (blow or draw) reed to bend their pitch down, and also "overbend" the reed (breathing the wrong way, but then bending to sound the note and raise the pitch of the reed). It's also possible to get normal bends by playing the holes stacked.

To talk about the workbench itself a bit:

To be frank, one reason I got that bench was because it is inexpensive. It was well under $100. It is also made of wood, which makes it heavier, more solid and stable than other cheap workbenches made of thin sheet metal.

My brother recommended not to get a wooden workbench for an Ohio basement, but I did finish it, which will hopefully help it resist humidity. Speaking of finishing, I started using spray cans, but that can become prohibitively expensive; it is much cheaper to use finish from a can and paint it on. It took me less than a gallon to finish it, so it might be possible to get away with only buying two quarts. Also, I think I started with semi-gloss, but then decided I liked the look of gloss more.

The other reason I went with that workbench is that it is, oddly, one of the few workbenches I found when researching (particularly anywhere close to its price range) that had an overhang. That is, the top of the bench sticks out quite a ways on all sides from the legs. Many other workbenches have their table top flush with their base. I need an overhang for clamping pieces to the side of the bench so I can use a router with a template.

This is the workbench I got.

-Crawl, November 26, 2011

I added my maps of Kid Icarus 2 to the notes section.

-Crawl, August 19, 2010

I am replaying Vagrant Story, and in commemoration I mapped the Snowfly Forest maze and added it to the notes page.

-Crawl, June 27, 2010

I beat Kid Icarus, and added my notes on it -- passwords and maps -- to the notes page.

-Crawl, January 4, 2010

I updated the Might and Magic maps in the Notes section. I found my notebook with my maps, and decided to scan in even maps I hadn't fully completed. Now all 55 areas have some presence here.

-Crawl, March 2, 2009

I updated the Notes section with a page on (and a full map of the overworld of the first quest of) the excellent ROM hack Zelda: Outlands.

-Crawl, Jan. 9, 2009

Added some reader capsule reviews for The Great Gatsby, Hamlet, and Resident Evil 4. Insightful stuff, guys! Those reviews are getting more professional -- I think I may have even read some professional reviews that made some similar points.

-Crawl, Feb. 21, 2008

I know a lot of videogamers like to joke about the Graveyard Duck. I'm sorry to spoil your fun. A short update for the features section.

In random personal gaming news, after finishing Final Fantasy 3, I started a new game of Final Fantasy 1. This time, I decided to play with only a single Black Wizard. At first, I was just curious to see what the beginning of the game would be like that, but I was quickly hooked, and now have the airship, as well as NUKE (I decided to go ahead and class change).

This game is such a timeless classic. When I was younger, I thought that maybe if it had a flaw, it would be that level building is too time consuming, which would discourage replays. Yet I've replayed the game many times. And here I am purposefully doing something that can require even more level building. So go figure.

What makes this challenge interesting isn't just that it's an off the wall challenge. I actually am learning more about the nuances of this game now. I never would have anticipated the challenges I would face without having actually played the game this way. Moreover, the game's difficulty curve still remains.

At the beginning of the game, you face a danger you rarely meet in videogames: That of screwing up your game so badly, you'd need to completely start over your save file again. You can only reasonably survive one battle with imps at level 1, yet one battle with imps may not give you enough gold to save. So you will be operating at a deficit, and face the real possibility of running out of money entirely, until you gain enough levels to survive longer.

After that, I thought the game might become easier. Indeed, you can at least now level build at your leisure. But who would have thought the pirates of Provoka would be such an impediment? Even with a Black Mage, any single pirate can be killed in one round. But against nine pirates, and with you only getting one attack per round, surviving their damage is difficult.

If you can beat the pirates, you can sail to Elfland and buy Lightning 2, and are no longer limited to one attack per round. So, after that, I thought the game would be easier. It is ... and it isn't. Another challenge which can escape your notice entirely while playing normally is that of the [polter]geists. They can paralyze you, which is nearly a death sentence without allies.

That's the way it goes. Every time you think you've surpassed a challenge, another bigger one appears. That is the way the game is even when played normally, but now the individual challenges that you face are even more transparent. You can clearly see that, unlike in some inferior RPGs, the difference between dungeon 1 and 2 and 3 is not merely that the enemies have greater hit points.

I don't believe that many people that are making games today could craft a difficulty curve as good as Final Fantasy's.

And how difficult is this, anyway? Well, like I said, I've gotten the airship, and class changed, and have NUKE, and am even past level 30 (way past the level where I would have beaten the entire game if I was playing normally), and I still haven't beaten Kary, the second Fiend!

-Crawl, October 4, 2007

It's been about four months since I mentioned it, but I finally got some free time, and finished scanning my Phantasy Star Maps, which I've subsequently added to the notes section.

In other news, I recently beat Final Fantasy 3. That is, the "real" third game in the series, by the Japanese numbering. This game was released for the DS, but was remade was different graphics and possibly other changes. The version I played was the original version (albeit with a fan translation), played on a real NES, made by NES Reproductions. It's an interesting service, and good for those of us who don't like the "revisions" associated with modern remakes, and who also might not like playing games on the computer with an emulator.

Regarding Final Fantasy 3 itself, I enjoyed it, but I don't think it's quite as good as Final Fantasy 1. I talked about it a little more in the forums.

-Crawl, August 31, 2007

In a one minute review of Paper Mario (now in the Update Log), I said, "The soundtrack is one of the worst I've ever heard (in particular, the haunted house theme is annoying, and the flower field song sounds like death moans)."

Thanks to the power of high speed internet connections, you no longer need to take my word for it on that, but can listen to songs from the game yourself.

Clouds Over Flower Fields
All Aboard
Boo's Mansion

I don't think it's a stretch to say that those are some of the worst videogame songs I have ever heard. There are many other pieces of music from that game that are nearly as bad.

Yet when the game was released, it got nearly universal praise for its soundtrack. Gamespot gave it a 9/10 for sound, implying that it would have gotten a 10/10 if it had only had voice acting. IGN wrote, "Cheery, smile-inducing, and admittedly well composed music that one could easily imagine Miyamoto dancing to..." That doesn't even make any sense! What kind of standard for judging music is, "Can I imagine Miyamoto dancing to it?" And while I truncated that quote, rest assured that the full quote is not even a full sentence!

Something is deeply wrong with those judgments.

-Crawl, August 29, 2007

This site has a tracker, so I know the sort of search terms that lead people to my pages from Google. And it turns out that my Contra review, the one in which I said that the 30-life code is unnecessary and encouraged people to beat the game without it, is found by people searching for the Contra 30 life code. Well, people will find it eventually whether I have that information or not, so I decided to add it as a note at the bottom. Enter it at the title screen. If you want to play a two player game, enter the code, then hit select before pressing start.

Now that you know the code, don't use it.

-Crawl, June 3, 2007

A fairly large update for today! I've added to the new notes section pages on Castlevania 3 (complete passwords), Ocarina of Time (notes on the Water Temple), and Ys Book I and II (passwords). I've also decided to make the section on Might and Magic maps a snap shot of the maps and notes I had when I beat the game (rather than attempting a 100% complete map collection). I've scanned and added a few more maps to that section, and have quite a few more to add in the future.

I've also added a Reader Review for Gran Turismo 3.

-Crawl, May 17, 2007

I recently rediscovered my notebook in which I drew my original maps for Phantasy Star. I was scanning them to create a permanent record of them: If I ever wanted to play it again, having the maps available should make it go faster.

While scanning, though, it occurred to me that I didn't really have a good place online to put them. I also have scanned some other maps I've made recently, and didn't have a permanent home for them, either.

So, I decided to open a new section to the site: Crawl's Videogame Notes. Since I'm still scanning the maps for Phantasy Star (I've scanned about 20 notebook pages so far, and might only be halfway done), there's no section for that yet. But I do have sections for Might and Magic, mostly maps (which is sort of a work in progress, as I stopped mapping the game after beating it, but I have other partially finished maps for that game I haven't scanned yet, either), and Faxanadu, which has passwords and a map for the final area. That section is done as far as I'm concerned, since those are the only notes I needed to take while beating Faxanadu.

-Crawl, May 5, 2007

Just as I've moved this site from Geocities, I thought it might be good to move the archive of The NES Enshrined. This was my favorite personal videogame website from around the turn of the millenium, or just before.

So, now it can be viewed without Geocities annoying ads, in its original form. And there's no more danger of Geocities deleting it.

In the process of moving it, I uncovered slightly more content. As an example, there is now some information on the NES tournament. The link to the tournament on the main page is still dead, since that page was never found. However, the tournament links are not all orphaned, since they can also (aside from the link I just gave) be accessed from the 1999 Updates page.

Anyway, enjoy.

-Crawl, February 20, 2007

I have posted a review of Aria of Sorrow.

This review is a little longer than my past couple of reviews. Even so, it's more of a sketch of the arguments that I have regarding the game than the full arguments. I felt certain things I could have said about the game were not appropriate for a review that aimed for a certain length and degree of organization and brevity. But, what the hell, I can ramble here, so here are some other things I can add.

-Some people might have enjoyed earning (not just applying) souls. It seems to be an OCD type of appeal. I didn't really enjoy it (I did, however, eventually earn 100% of them -- and, incidentally, also 100% of the map). I earned about 40% of the souls simply by playing through the game normally. To get the remainder usually involves finding a room where the particular enemy is next to the entrance. Then you enter, kill the enemy, leave so it respawns, and enter and repeat. Over and over. Level building in RPGs is one standard for tedium in a videogame. Well, there were many monsters I had to kill so many times before they gave me their soul that I gained two or more levels while fighting them. Also, in RPGs, at least you have an idea how long it'll be before you gain the next level. In Aria of Sorrow, you have no clue how many times you'll have to kill an enemy before it'll give you its soul. The worst for me was Lubicant, against whom I gained over 8 levels without earning its soul.

-I mentioned several Bullet (attack) souls, but didn't mention any Guardian or Enchanted souls. You get the (Guardian) Flying Armor soul automatically (it's not from killing an enemy) early in the game. I think I kept that from the beginning of the game until I got the bat transformation ability at the end of the game. So, obviously, I didn't take much strategic advantage of that soul category.

For Enchanted souls, I mostly stuck to 4: The worm and the succubus (which heal), and two souls which are needed for exploring certain areas (and allow you to walk on or under water). Early in the game, souls that boost stats (strength or defense) can be useful (ie., make the easy game even easier), but on my first play through, I didn't use them, for whatever reason.

-I didn't mention the game's hard mode (you need to beat the game once to unlock it). I've beaten it twice now, once as a New Game +, once from scratch. I don't think there's any difference in terms of enemy placement, patterns, or AI. With New Game +, no difference at all is notable, except it might even be easier, due to everything you've gained on the first play through. When played from scratch, the difference is slightly more noticible. Legion is still one of the easiest bosses in the game, but now he takes longer to beat. The game might have been a little better if it got rid of Normal mode altogether and had Hard as the default.

-There's also a time-trial mode, which I didn't think was worth mentioning. I do think it's disturbing that so many modern games hope that some optional feature or challenge (Get 100% of the souls! Beat the Hard mode! Beat the time trial!) will make up for a weak main game. Hmm, what's more important, a time trial that lasts several minutes, or a primary quest that lasts several hours? Let us also not forget that the main, minimum and default goals to accomplish with a game form the first impression. If that's not good, it's hard to recover (I might even wonder why someone would be motivated to do anything optional to begin with if the game isn't good enough the first time).

These sort of optional goals are an attempt to make everyone happy: Some people don't like to be frustrated by challenging games, so the easy main game is for them. Some people do liked to be challenged, so they can go after the optional stuff. But that doesn't work for me. I don't want to have to play through 6 or 8 hours of insignificance to get to something challenging. A challenging main game is what I find most satisfying.

Even when I first beat Goldeneye on Agent, I thought it was an excellent game. When I continued with 00 mode, played optional stages like Aztec, etc., I was thoroughly blown away. That is the way to add optional goals to a game.

-Another issue that makes the game seem easy: It's liberaly peppered with save points. Also, even if the bosses were harder, level building or using items would make them easier -- though, in fairness, the same thing is true for Symphony of the Night, not to mention countless other adventure games.

-Aside from the plot, the game's dialogue suffers from an issue I've noticed in other modern games (including Lament of Innocence): Characters (particularly the main character) habitually repeat what is told to them, but as a question.

Here are actual quotes from the game:

"But his TRUE castle exists somewhere else."
"His true castle?"

"Yes, but there's still more to the story."
"There's more? "

"Essentially, you have the power to rule over and command monsters."
"Rule over monsters?"

"I can't give you my name, but people call me J."
"People call you 'J'?"

-I mentioned Symphony of the Night's story paid tribute to previous Castlevania games generally, while Aria of Sorrow's has no basis in established Castlevania canon. I think what I mean by that is clear enough, but I just so happened to make a message board post that delved into this issue a little more, which I'll quote here:

There are two rules I could apply for determining what new Castlevania stories I'd accept as canon.

1 - The older games take precedence.

2 - A better game trumps a worse game.

By these standards, for instance, Castlevania 3 is considered to be the first game in the Castlevania time line. By rule 1, because it was the first game that was supposed to be first (even Castlevania 1 alluded to an earlier battle in the manual). By rule 2, because Castlevania Legends and Lament of Innocence suck.

Now, let's think about precedence for Aria of Sorrow.

We know that Dracula can be beaten and come back. We have to take that for granted if we can accept even more than one Castlevania game as canon. And, really, this is mostly consistent with vampire lore anyway. We know vampires are hard to destroy, and can rejuvenate.

What we don't know, and isn't hinted at in any Castlevania game, is that Dracula's body can permanently be destroyed, in a way beyond that of any other Castlevania game. No previous Castlevania game suggested HOW it could be done. No previous Castlevania game suggested the consequences IF it was done.

All this crap was made up out of thin air in an attempt to come up with an original story for this game. Having crap made out of the blue, for no reason, and with no justification, is just about the definition of a bad story. Someone might then try to hold Aria's story to a lesser standard, and ask if it's at least internally consistent with itself, if not the entire series. But even in the game itself, there are no clear rules established at the outset of how Dracula's resurrection could work. It's still just crap that's made up as it goes along, so a "plot twist" can be pulled at the end.

Now let's look at rule 2. We're supposed to accept that all the other characters from all the other Castlevania games, many of them better than Aria of Sorrow, were unable to "really" kill Dracula, but some joker we've never seen before -- he did / does not even have his own game -- was able to do it (somehow)? I do not accept that.

-Crawl, 28 January, 2007

I've added a review of Dynowarz.

-Crawl, January 3, 2007

Hello! Welcome to my site. My (far) distant goal for this website will be to eventually review every video game I have beaten. My immediate plans are to review whatever games I've beaten and currently feel like reviewing. I have a few reviews up already so you can see I've been at work. There may not be many yet, but I believe they are all of high quality, so still please browse around. Even if you can read them all in about 15 minutes, I believe you'll have enjoyed that time.

Any comments on any content of the site, including reviews, or comments on any videogame subject, are welcome at the forums.