Friday Night Trivial 27: The Wheel of Letters Edition

The 27th episode of Radio Free Caemlyn’s Friday Night Trivial went live Friday night, 7 June. Rand “Lord Quizmaster”al’Thor was joined by DaveAC, Ian The6thDoctor, and Megan MysteryM. Rounds includes Working Titles, Mixed-Up Beatles and one This Week in Music History question.

Internet Archive link.

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Nintendo Switch Online: December 2018 NES Games

Nintendo have just rolled out the December 2018 NES games for Nintendo Switch Online. As expected, there are also some special editions thrown in as well.

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New this month are The Adventures of Lolo (a fun puzzle game for the NES, and also the first of a trilogy of games), Wario’s Woods (another puzzle game that’s kind of a blend of Yoshi’s Cookie and Dr. Mario), and Ninja Gaiden (a fun sidescroller, but I kind of prefer the sequels).

Nintendo has also been adding special editions of already-available games, versions set to certain conditions. First is Dr. Mario, which starts you at the end of level 20-Hi, with a small number of viruses left to clear, so you can see the game’s rarely seen UFO segment. The second is Metroid, which gives you all power-ups just before the fight against Ridley, in honor of Ridley’s debut in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Games I Don’t Think Anyone Remembers: Meteos (DS)

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It was summer of 2005. I had had my Nintendo DS for a while, and I had heard about this new puzzle game just released for the system. It was called Meteos, and its style and mechanics intrigued me.

Meteos was a puzzle game. I’ve always been a fan of puzzle games, going back to Tetris and Dr. Mario on the NES. Meteos had a sci-fi style, with a story about planets battling with each other by launching blocks back and forth. The gameplay revolved around the DS’ touch screen and stylus: you moved blocks along vertical columns by touching and dragging them with the stylus. You lined up multiples of the same and those were launched to the top of the screen. If they were launched with enough force (ie. you get enough combos going), they go beyond the top of the screen to another player’s planet. The game becomes a sort of tug-of-war, with each player burning Meteos and trying to overload other player’s fields, in effect destroying their planet. The game had its share of power-ups to shake up gameplay.

There were different planets you could play as. Each planet had its own unique musical style and instrumentation, as well as Meteos symbols. In addition, each planet had its own level of gravity. Some planets had extreme gravity, meaning blocks fell quickly and you needed to build up a lot of combos to launch your Meteos off the screen. Some planets had very light gravity, meaning you could launch more Meteos quicker.

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I remember playing against friends a lot in this game, and how fun it was. The DS was still a new handheld at that point, and I was getting used to the wireless gameplay the system offered, compared with the game link cable required for the Game Boy family of systems. Technology was progressing. Friends and I would occasionally play between classes or just before the weekly anime club meetings.

I would also play it on my own just because it was a really fun puzzle game, with a lot of personality, and a lot to unlock. The main story mode had multiple branching paths (made visually clear by a branching path you could take through the story mode (you chose which planet to go to next, and the planets available to choose were determined by your performance in the previous match).

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The game also had a great soundtrack. I would carry a pair of earbuds around with me just so I could hear the music even when playing out and about campus. Each planet had its own musical style and instrumentation.

I remember there being a sequel released, but I never got or played it. Maybe it was that it was based on Disney properties, and lost that unique character and style the original had. Meteos was all about that interplanetary block puzzle-based warfare, and making it about Disney characters was a bizarre choice. I lost track of the games after that.

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It wasn’t until I got an XBOX 360 back in 2011 that I learned that an additional game had been made and released on that system. Called Meteos Wars, it was released on XBOX Live Arcade. I downloaded and played it, but I don’t remember much about it.

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I remembered the game the other day while playing Lumines on the Switch. Something about Lumines’ style reminded me of Meteos. Today I learned why.

You see, Tetsuya Mizuguchi was the producer of Meteos. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, then maybe you’ve heard of other games he either created or worked on. He worked on such games as Sega Rally Championship and Sega Touring Car Championship, and was partially in charge of Rez and Space Channel 5. Games he created include Rez, Lumines, and Child of Eden, all games with a heavy emphasis on interactive sound elements.

Then there’s Meteos’s lead designer, a guy named Masahiro Sakurai. The same Masahiro Sakurai in charge of the Super Smash Bros. series, although at that point we just had the first two games in the series. You get these two guys working together on a game and you know you’ve got something good.

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As of this point, Meteos Wars on XBOX Live Arcade is the last game in the series. It’d be neat to see it come back, maybe for the 3DS. I don’t think it’d work as well on the Switch, as a lot of its style was based around having those two screens. However, given Sakurai’s heavy workload in regards to Smash, and Mizuguchi working on Tetris Effect, I don’t know if or when it’ll ever happen.

Does anyone else remember Meteos?

Remembering the Chronicles

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Way back in the early 2000s (way back? Is it really so long ago?), a neighbor and I would hang out after school and play multiplayer Gamecube games. We played a lot of Smash Bros. Melee, Mario Kart Double Dash!!, Tales of Symphonia, and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, but one game in particular stood out among the others, that being Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. We played through the entirety of the game together, and eventually I borrowed his copy and my mom and I played through the game together. Eventually I would move on, graduate high school, go on to University. Life would progress. I lost contact with that neighbor, and those adventures we went on in those games became happy memories tucked away in my mind.

A couple weeks ago I got my own Gamecube, and got my own copy of FFCC. As I opened the package and saw the game’s case, memories rushed back to me, and I suddenly started remembering just why I love this game so much, why just hearing the opening theme, “Kaze No Ne“, makes me tear up.

I remember all those times hanging up with my neighbor, strategizing over the game, about who has which spell, which items, who should attack and how. He played a Selkie, I played a Yuke. I still have that save file on a GCN memory card. I still have that character, that old friend. I remember bringing that character over to a new save file so my mom and I could play together, journey through the world of the Crystal Chronicles. I remember just how much I truly enjoyed playing through a beautifully-made RPG with my mom, who loves RPGs just as much as I do. I remember she played as a Lilty, and we fought our way through those dungeons, collected those treasures, defeated those bosses, made our way to the end of the caravan’s journey and restored peace to the world. I treasure those memories. It makes me start to tear up again remembering just how happy that was.

I’m sat here listening to “Kaze No Ne” and the sound of that music, the voice of the singer, brings it all back.

I could go through all the technical details that I’ve realized lately concerning FFCC, about how it is one of the truest realizations of what an RPG really is in video game form: a role-playing game, a traditional table-top game, in the vein of Dungeons & Dragons, a bunch of friends hanging out, playing out an adventure, the story drawing organically from the conversations and jokes among those friends as they design their characters, make decisions, travel, deal with monsters, obstacles, and puzzles along the way. That’s what RPG campaigns like D&D are really all about, what makes them so popular, what makes me such a fan of the whole idea. FFCC recreates this so perfectly: discussion among friends playing about who will collect what weapons/spells, who will get what items, how everyone will attack, what everyone discovers along the way, how everyone reacts to what the game presents, how everyone works together to overcome the game’s challenges. FFCC does this so amazingly well.

I could go on about the game’s music. The game had an amazing soundtrack, from the opening theme to the background music. It was all so peaceful and beautiful, among if not the best soundtrack for any game on the Gamecube. I could go on about the visuals; they look dated today, but they still hold up so well. I could go on about the gameplay: I love the real-time combat, the way you unleash focus attacks and cast spells. I love how you and others can combine spells to make more powerful attacks. I could go on about the game’s story, about how emotional it is experiencing your character’s struggle to overcome the miasma and restore peace to the world, and how great it is to experience that with friends. I could go on about the experienced story, the story outside the game, that which you yourself experience with friends as you play.

Could it be the sacred wind
It’s calling me to now begin
To walk into the dark carrying the light of tomorrow

I was talking with my mom today, mentioning that I’d just obtained my own copy of FFCC. She also started remembering the game, and went on about how much she loved everything about it, and wishes she could play it again.

“Cast a spell for me when you play tonight,” she said when I told her I’d be playing it tonight. I really miss those times. I wish we could play the game together again.

Beating are the wings up high
Beyond the earth, beyond the sky
Come now, don’t hesitate
Don’t look back, we’ve got to go now

Don’t fear
You’ll be safe from now on
Morning sky watching over the world