The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (January 2022)

  • I've submitted mine.

  • As have I.

  • I as well.

  • I have too.

  • Friendly reminder that you have less than two days to let me know if you plan on participating. We currently have 7 participants, including myself, as well as a potential 8th; a great amount of people but I wouldn't say no to more. See ya soon!

  • Hey folks, the presentation period is now open. Be sure to look at the rules one last time before you submit, but other than that feel free to post your presentations. You have until the end of the 16th to get them in.

  • Hello, fellow forum members.

    Last time I’ve nominated a free-to-play multiplayer-only shooter and got non-zero votes. So today I dare to bring a game from a genre that never receives any accolades. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my favorite visual novel - Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward.

    Zero Escape is a narrative trilogy and Virtue's Last Reward is it’s second volume. Usually, jumping in the middle of the tale isn’t the best idea – ultimate goal and key figures are already established, while resolution is saved for the last entry. Even if given’s game story ark is wonderful, you usually still have an unsatisfying feeling of missing out the bigger picture. Mass Effect 2 may be your favorite entry, but you still want to play the entire trilogy. However, Virtue's Last Reward works incredibly well as a standalone experience. It starts as a separate story with a brand-new protagonist, requiring no knowledge of this universe. References to prior events doesn’t appear immediately and they are presented as a world-building lore, so you never feel like the game expects you to know more than you do. Also, Virtue's Last Reward includes series’ ultimate finale (third game is about how, not about what), so you get a proper and satisfying conclusion to all incorporated plotlines.

    So, what this story is about? The setup is simple: nine people, including protagonist, get abducted and trapped inside a giant facility. To escape, they need to earn enough points by playing the Nonary Game, which is essentially a prisoner's dilemma. However, the exit door will open only once, and whoever will not have necessary score at that moment will stay inside forever. Everyone understands that cooperation can secure everyone’s freedom but betraying those who trust you is the fastest way to escape. So, alliances between these strangers are very fragile, and deciding whom to team up with and whether to trust them isn’t as simple as being good or bad.

    Yes, Virtue's Last Reward isn’t a linear tale as it allows you chose on one of its many branching story paths. You may get fascinated by certain character and decide to stick together. Or you may want to be a good guy and always chose “Ally” in the Nonary Game. It worth noting that every choice here is final and story branches never merge once they split. However, this is not a choose-your-own-adventure kind of game. Most narrative paths have story locks that can be opened only by gaining knowledge from other plot branches, and finishing the game requires you to explore many if not all possibilities. This may sound like a pain, especially if you don’t like grinding and worry about forgetting crucial details, but the game makes the process as convenient as possible. There’s a narrative flowchart that allows you to jump back to any point you’ve seen, including choices that lead to undiscovered story branches. The game keeps track of all dialogs you’ve previously heard and allows you to fast-forward through repeated lines. And going back in the timeline doesn’t lock subsequential points, so you can refresh your memory of any prior event without losing any progress. Also, the form serves the function here and this particular story could not be told without using this particular narrative structure.

    Visual novels are often criticized for not being actual games, so let’s talk about gameplay. Apart from exploring the story and making choices, you also need to solve numerous escape rooms. Conceptually, they are all the same: you look around for clues, items, and places to apply them, unlock new possibilities and ultimately open the safe containing an exit key. However, the game goes out of its way to keep things fresh and interesting. Sometimes there’s more than one room, requiring you to go back and forth or coordinating with others. Sometimes room’s decoration will be unexpected. Sometimes there will be a minigame or a puzzle to solve. By the way, these puzzle rooms aren’t pushovers and often have something that can’t be simply brute-forced. If puzzles aren’t your thing, you can switch to easy difficulty at any time. However, there’s an incentive to play on hard as it rewards you with additional lore documents in the safe. Plus, every room has an optional challenge with even more lore documents as a prize.

    These escape rooms aren’t just tacked-on gameplay sequences. Items that you use to solve puzzles also often give you a clue about what’s going on in the story. Characters regularly revisit these rooms to use discovered equipment to their advantage. And they may react to particular environment, providing you an insight to their personalities.

    Speaking of characters, they are all great. You may find many of them boring and simplistic at first, but that’s because everyone has their guard up since abusing other’s trust is part of the Nonary Game. Nine of game’s endings have significant revelations about each of nine cast members, and it’s incredibly gratifying to finally learn what motivates them. And it’s not like each of them will spill their life story at you after gaining enough trust – some heroes would never reveal their secrets and you learn them via other means. It all feels natural and believable, which is another strong point of this excellent game.

    Visual novels aren’t my thing. I never heard about Zero Escape series before launching Virtue's Last Reward. I’ve intended to sample this newest PS Plus addition for just 5-10 minutes and ended up 100% it twice in a row. That’s because Virtue's Last Reward is an incredibly gripping tale that suck you down into the rabbit hole like very few others. It simultaneously gives you freedom of exploring story sequences in any order and delivers tight narrative with remarkable conclusion. And if that isn’t enough, the gameplay respects your intelligence and feels like the essential component of the entire experience. That’s why I think that Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward deserves to join the pantheon of this forum’s Hall of Greats.

  • Greetings Allies!

    The Super Mario Bros series is renowned by critics and fans for it's continued excellence in both gameplay and presentation. I've been a fan all my life, having played and enjoyed the series since Super Mario Bros on the NES. And for me, Super Mario World is the culmination of those early 2D Mario games, my favorite game of all-time and my pick for the Forum's Hall of Greats.

    To start with, the tight controls is something that makes it great till this day, which is impressive for a game that came out over 30 years ago. When you have Mario slide down hills, spin-jump off of enemies, carry and throw shells - It all feels very precise and satisfying.

    0_1641842186072_shell throw.gif

    Complimenting it's tight controls is it's excellent gameplay, which is full of platforming inventiveness. All the levels are expertly crafted with a mix of combat, puzzle and platforming challenges. With castles that ramp up the difficulty, while the overall difficulty is consistently challenging. The addition of Yoshi and the Cape Feather power-up add just enough extra depth to go along with the returning Fire Flower and Super Star power-ups. And although it has less power-ups than other games in the series, the levels are tightly designed around Yoshi and the Cape Feather, which reinforces the development of your skills with them. Such as the skill to stay in flight longer with the Cape, and the ability to precisely launch off of Yoshi at the right time.

    Another thing it does really well is it's penchant for secrets. All the different map routes, secret exits, and special levels are a joy to uncover. Like when you stumble into the Star World for the first time with it's multiple different entrances and exits. Successfully find all the secret exits in the Star World and you can go straight to the final level, or find a group of hidden bonus levels. That sense of discovery is one of the biggest reasons why I love video games and this game is great at it.

    Composer Koji Kondo did the music for Super Mario World. Tracks that slap very well include; the spirited Main Theme, the spooky Ghost House Theme and the joy of my favorite track - the Ending Credits Theme. Not only is the music superb but the sound design is also top notch. From Mario's iconic coin collecting sound to the simple "boing" sound of a spring block. Every little attention to detail with the audio adds so much more to the game.

    As for the visuals. It features gorgeous 16 bit graphics with a vibrant use of color. Everything in this game feels hand crafted with distinct looking levels and very few reused elements. Including a beautiful overworld map for the level select, loaded with variety and detail. There's also a crisp, striking look to all the enemies. From the basic multi-color shelled Koopa Troopas, to the large imposing Big Boos. Culminating in a grand final battle with a giant Bowser bouncing all around the screen in a clown helicopter.

    0_1641842368456_Boo gif.gif

    Lastly, I think what makes Super Mario World great above all else is it's simplicity. It nails it's core gameplay expertly well, delivering an enjoyable experience from start to finish. This was a special game for me when I was a kid, and even though my taste in games has changed over the years, I still play it every year to completion. In my honest opinion - Super Mario World was, is, and will always be - One of the Greats.

    Trailer (skip the first 5 seconds and the ending)

    Ending Credits Theme

  • For this second ceremony, I’m NOT expecting my pick to get votes for several reasons, not the least of which is it’s from the SAME FRANCHISE as my first nominee. But I promise, I won’t bring a game from said series for a very long time.

    I nominate my third favorite game ever: Final Fantasy X. More specifically the NORTH AMERICAN PS2 version.

    To start, I MUST focus on the strongest aspect: The battle system. Whenever I’ve heard “Turn-based,” I’ve found it odd many games adopt a timer for combat. Not here. Take as long as you want to strategize and plan. Having the ENTIRE turn order on the left side, showing both characters and enemies, provides tactical depth most other turn-based systems don’t offer. Plus, unlike selecting party members you want via save points, FFX allows you to swap in any character in any battle.

    Always being able to execute multiple strategies never gets old, because as you progress, more possibilities open up. Summoning Aeons, throwing items, and unleashing ultimate attacks called Overdrives, the combat is simple, but immensely deep. This is further enhanced when FFX allows for something no other Final Fantasy has done prior or since (to my knowledge): Customize your weapons and armor with stats and abilities. Once you permanently have Rikku, as long as you have the necessary materials, you can give every character’s equipment things like elemental properties, stat increases, immunities, and in-battle abilities like double Overdrive growth or the First Strike in every fight just to name a tiny fraction.

    The soundtrack is wonderful and memorable both in and out of game. Besaid Island and The Sight of Spira are tunes which are so relaxing. Revealed Truth is emotional, carrying one of the most critical reveals. Auron's Theme is epic by communicating his character with measured pace. The range of FFX’s songs is a testament to the diverse emotions you feel while you listen.

    And how the game makes me feel is a massive reason why I’m bringing it. The characters grow in meaningful ways, tackling heavy themes and undertaking captivating events. Every party member has unique quirks and challenges they overcome in their own way. To give one example, Auron, who is my favorite game character ever, is a badass that cuts down anything in his path with one arm, and he fails at protecting his closest friends. His subsequent vow to see their children succeed where they couldn’t hits me hard. As they face harsh truths and deal with death in intense ways, the overarching themes of not taking religion at face value, how prejudices born from that and other factors are complete bullshit, and to push on in the face of adversity to make the world a better place has always stuck with me. The story is excellent beginning to end, but one lengthy segment is absolutely outstanding with FANTASTIC pacing:

    Destroy a mechanized tank on top of frozen Lake Macalania
    ! Reach the nearby temple, but discover Seymour Guado is corrupt and committed patricide.
    ! Confront and kill Seymour and his Aeon, Anima
    ! Escape the Guado, but fall beneath the lake and land on top of Sin.
    ! Wake up face down in an Oasis in the middle of a desert known as Bikanel Island
    ! Find your party members across the sands and reach the Al Bhed’s Home, which is under attack by the Guado and the religious authority Yevon.
    ! Learn what happens to Summoners during the Final Summoning.
    ! Escape on an airship you unknowingly excavated near the start of the game.
    ! While regrouping, discover Yuna was kidnapped at Home and is being married to Seymour in Bevelle.
    ! Stowaways attack and you fight a giant dragon named Evrae from atop the airship.
    ! Crash (and fight your way up to) the wedding.
    ! Escape after Yuna intentionally falls backward off the top what seems like Bevelle’s largest tower, saving herself by calling the Aeon Valefor.
    ! Be captured and split into two parties, one being underwater and fights an undead version of Evrae while the other is in a small maze culminating in a three on three Aeon fight with former ally and fellow Summoner Issaru.
    ! Everyone reunites, but is confronted by Seymour who kills fellow Yevon Maester and head of the Warrior Monks, Kinoc.
    ! Defeat Seymour a second time and escape.

    I'm nominating the North American PS2 version because other versions have egregious grinding and superbosses, which unnecessarily pad-out side-quests and endgame. Example: Dark Valefor is at Besaid Village, which holds items for Auron and Valefor, plus the opportunity to speak with Valefor in the temple, and is INFURATING without either spending DOZENS of hours grinding OR using Yojimbo’s Zanmato.

    Dark Aeons aside, side-quests are (mostly) fun. Blitzball is engaging and strategic, especially when you get the best move and recruit the best players possible before even playing a match. Finding all the Ultimate Weapons and the Celestial Items is cool, except for three instances: Chasing Butterflies if you struggle with colors, Racing Chocobos because the Chocobo controls like it’s drunk, and most angering, Dodging Lighting. You must dodge 200 CONSECUTIVE, not CUMULATIVE, lighting strikes with split-second reflex timing. It’s the worst design decision in FFX. However, capturing monsters, chasing Cactuars, finding Aeons, and more all incentivize revisiting many areas.

    While my biggest gripes are the Dark Aeons causing excessive endgame grinding plus the aforementioned mini-games for Celestial Items, I also acknowledge something many dislike: The voice acting. Personally, the actors do a good job, even with moments where the delivery feels off. And yes, the laughing scene is INTENTIONALLY bad because that’s the point. James Arnold Taylor, Tidus’s voice actor, has said during recording, the producers explained it’s supposed to be awkward and terrible when he asked.

    Regardless, Final Fantasy X is EXCELLENT. An impactful journey from beginning to end and an EASY recommendation as a starting point for those looking to get into the franchise.

  • Previously on Hall of Greats I put forward a classic Rockstar title adored by many. Now I present to the panel another Rockstar game, this time one that doesn't get the credibility or recognition it wholeheartedly deserves, and it is arguably the best Rockstar production and one of the freshest and coolest videogames I have ever played. I give to you 2006's Bully.

    Taking place at the fictional Bullworth Academy and the surrounding area, Bully slips you into the snazzy sneakers of 15-year-old ruffian Jimmy Hopkins, who is dropped off outside the hallowed gates of his new educational institution by his mother and newly minted stepfather – the latter of whom Jimmy is quick to antagonize with his callous insults. From here, Bully welcomes you into a messed-up school where the bullies rule the roost and the little guys suffer in anonymity and irrelevancy.
    Youtube Video

    What makes Bully distinct from all Rockstar games is the unique setting and all the tasty little kernels attached to it, in the form of the various school lessons you can attend and missions you carry out for students and the faculty; as well as the juvenile tools of the trade at your disposal, like a bag of marbles, stink bombs, a slingshot, and itching powder – to name but a few of the game’s Dennis the Menace style mischief makers.

    Aligning with Bullworth’s cliques and doing their dirty work is par for the course in Bully, but the faculty are no model citizens themselves, as they are gritted with the grime of corruption that tars the institution’s reputation. Heck, even Bullworth Academy’s scholarly and respectable headmaster Dr Crabblesnitch is a blind and ignorant fool who excuses bad behaviour as ‘school spirit’.

    Then there’s Garry Smith, the main antagonist and resident sociopath. Gary’s masterful manipulation and his ability to dupe all his fellow students and the teachers is at once brazenly ruthless and ridiculously cunning. A bad boy who puts many of GTA’s villains to shame, Gary can flip the switch on many simply by making outrageous yet hilarious lies that turn Jimmy’s allies into foes at the drop of a hat.

    Getting to know the students and faculty at the heart of the academy’s discord is what makes Bully so deliciously intriguing. Whether it’s the urine-stained Algernon, the big burly brutish bully Russell, the portly sweetheart Eunice, the grossly unhygienic lunch lady Edna, the hopeless drunk English teacher Lionel Galloway, the unlikable Math teacher Mr Hattrick, and all the other delightfully dissonant students and adults. Bully constantly throws weird and demented personalities at you and they exude all the elements you’d expect of Rockstar characters. In addition, there’s Pete Kowalski who wears a pink shirt and is an instant target for bullying, but he’s quite possibly the sanest guy in the school.

    When we think of educational institutions they’re steeped in order, conformity, and codes of conduct, but in Bully the stench of corruption lingers thick in the Bullworth Academy’s corridors and throttles the oxygen from every classroom, the library, and gymnasium. It’s a classic case of the snobbish ignorance of higher-ups and the turmoil of the underclasses, and Bully plays around with this dichotomy gleefully.

    Cliques expose the anarchy on the Bullworth campus with the game’s four big factions demonstrating how divided the academy is. Jocks are your typical more brawn than brains types who excel at sports but are academic underachievers, Greasers your throwback leather jacket-wearing hardened thugs, Preppies, the snobbish trust fund Timothies and Tiffanies whose erudite mannerisms and class on the outside conceal their wimpy behaviour and insecurities. Lastly the Nerds, who receive plenty of wedgies and nuggies for their smartness and love of science. They are usually the friendliest clique but they are also the most unhygienic and creepy. They are “sneaky bastards” according to Gary Smith as well as goofy annoying pests.

    Doing dirty deeds for cliques truly opens Bully up into the layers of the campus, where you truly come to understand the pecking order. Jimmy sometimes confidently and other times reluctantly carries out missions for his host, some that require you to defend your allies from attacks by bullies and some where you will have to do perverse things like (SPOILER!) sneaking into the girl’s dorm and pinching their panties or taking girls out on dates to carnivals.

    Some may say that Bully doesn’t deviate enough from Rockstar’s open-world formula, and besides sharing this DNA, it’s the best possible game to adopt it. You aren’t working for hardened criminals with allegiances, you’re carrying out favours for clearly defined and distinctive groups who want a leg-up on their competition. The teachers require Jimmy to handle their affairs as well.

    The structure of Bully feeds in very neatly with the R* open-world format too. You start off as a lonely 15 year-old miscreant trying to understand the lay of the land, then you proceed to gain the trust of each of the cliques and accrue power and notoriety, afterwards things devolve into disarray before you claw your way back up and win the day.

    The reason you should pick Bully as a sure-fire entry into the Hall of Greats is because not only is Bully a fantastic game and arguably Rockstar’s finest work to date, but it’s a game that should be celebrated for laying under-the-radar until you think back to it and remember just how forward-thinking and fresh it was back in 2006. All these years later and there is still no game like Bully, so in some regards it stands alone as a one-of-a-kind experience. If there’s one thing that truly marks a game as worthy for inclusion into the Hall of Greats, it’s the ability to be a trailblazer. Bully is a trailblazer, and the panel should heavily consider entering it into the Hall of Greats. To refuse is to soil Bully’s legacy with a larger stain than the ones found on Algie’s pants.
    Youtube Video

  • Prior to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, a 2006 launch-window title for the Xbox 360, I took no notice of RPGs, seeing them as being dialogue and FMVs over real-time gameplay and graphics. I didn't even know Oblivion existed until it was on a demo kiosk at my local game store in 2007.

    What initially got my interest was the character creator - I hadn't seen one as flexible or detailed outside of wrestling games. Then the graphics - real next-gen lighting and textures. The eerie dungeon atmopshere was next - I felt like I was actually in one.

    I progressed though the opening area, fought a few soldiers, saw some spells cast, picked up some basic swords. Pretty ordinary medieval vibes. The room was pretty small. I was able to move VERY freely though, and jump onto anything I wanted. Kinda 3D platforming vibes, haven't seen that in a gritty medieval game before. And those swords looked DAMN nice, serious next-gen detailing.

    There was very little in the inventory menus at this point, but I noticed they didn't have the kind of limited layout I was used to seeing with obvious slots to fill, instead full-screen lists with a bunch of sorting tabs and no clear endpoints. Most interesting...

    As I kept moving through tunnels, something felt about the mechanics. Like, I didn't feel any of the limits you expect in games. It felt kind of like an environment where a real human wouldn't feel out of place.

    Ah, found the exit. I get to pick...stats and special, there's more going on here than I was expecting. And this menu artwork is excellent. Great production values. I wonder how this all fits together, what the point of the game is.

    Ooo, outside now. It's sunset, can't see very far. There's a big hill in front of me. Walking around...a small romanesque, it can be activated..."Continue your penance to earn the gods' forgiveness"...mysterious! Feels like something a lot later on.

    alt text

    It's dark now. Walking a bit more...I can search these crates and barrels...a torch...hey, it works! I'll walk towards the hill...oh, a couple of people are running at me...they're bandits! This is great real-time combat! Examining the bodies under torchlight...great lighting...I can loot them...I can take their clothes? That's something new. And the clothes are VISIBLY taken off their bodies, leaving underwear?? Ok, this is something.

    Checking the menus...I can examine the map...different zoom levels...panning over it...still panning....still panning...WTF, it can't be THAT big. Not possible. I'm used to Zelda maps that fit on one screen. This is on a universal scale in comparison. It seems just about endless. 0_0

    There's another page in the menus...what the heck are all these stats?? Fame? Infamy? Books read? Murders? Personality? Luck? This is overload...and it's true honest-to-goodness full-3D real-time action. It's like Zelda put on its big, BIG boy pants. I have GOT to buy this and play it proper.


    I bought an Xbox 360 for it and Halo 3 in January 2008. Now almost 300 hours played, all on the same save file, with only about 30 hours being DLC, and still play it occasionally. And, I've yet to even begin two of the main guilds.

    alt text

    Oblivion has five major hooks for me:

    1. The World

    It IS as big as the map makes it look. Given the size, I was worried about an empty, procedural feel. But it's anything but empty, and anything but a flat plain. Serene, thick forests with gently swaying trees. Prairie fields, seashores, bogs, soaring mountains. Inns and stables and farms and towns filled with people that have jobs and schedules and homes. Draw distance? What's that? Go to a hilltop and you can see forever. And you can go there. The map DOES end eventually, but it'll be a heck of a walk getting there. And on the way, you'll pass by dozens and dozens of hidden mines, bandit camps, ruins, shrines, mystical stones, and gates to the lurid hell dimension of Oblivion. Even the most obscure reaches of the map offer points of interest. The Imperial City, which is a city in every sense of the word, caps it all off, with its market, arboretum, housing districts, sewers, seat of government, graveyard, arena, and harbour.

    1. The Depth

    As soon as you finish the opening area, you have no limits. You're barely pressured into the main story. There are hundreds of quests, and very few are level-locked. Every building is fully furnished, and you can pick up any object and drop it anywhere. Potions, spell scrolls, ingredients, cutlery, clothing, it's all 100% tangible instead of mere menu icons.

    You can lockpick, eat, brew potions, barter, enchant weapons, and manipulate your physical and arcane attributes. And read lore books. A LOT of VERY wordy lore books. The Elder Scrolls has the densest lore of any video game series.

    alt text

    Oh, and there's dungeon crawling too. And a crime system. And diseases. And sneaking and invisibility and night vision and water walking and vampirism and horses and a drug den. Aw yeah. :P

    1. The Technical Prowess

    It just plain looks good. Some people hate it, but there's a bloom effect applied to the world that imparts a surreal, entrancing quality. There's great use of colour, very detailed textures with gorgeous bump mapping, and ethereal screen-filling lightbursts from spells.

    There's also well-managed ragdoll physics, an utter metric s**t-ton of fully voiced dialogue, and SO many layered systems. This sheer quantity does result in some weirdness/bugginess, but even on Xbox 360, it's never truly gamebreaking, and the performance holds up well.

    1. The Soundtrack

    Youtube Video

    Youtube Video

    It's just beautiful. Combined with the sunsets, stars, lakes, just looking at a tree or a makes the world monumentally absorbing.

    1. Unique Vibes

    Lizard people, cat people, churls, blood fountains, trapping souls, a pantheon of gods, its own full calendar, cults, beggars, the menu sound effects, the cultured names given to each of the people/places/ all keeps the world fresh.

  • Hello Allies! As I left Pokemon Brilliant Diamond recently, I yearned for a remake that was striving to challenge itself and innovate from its original games. Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver might not only be a great remake in the series, it might be one of the best games in the series. You can say that Gold & SIlver could be considered as some of the greatest games in the series, but you do not have things that stand HeartGold & SoulSilver (HGSS) above its original counterpart.

    One of those main things being the Physical/Special split that was implemented into the fourth generation of Pokemon. This means that Pokemon moves, prior to Generation Four, were divided into two groups depending on the type of the Pokemon; Physical and Special. Each Pokemon type was assigned to one of these groups, other than moves being Physical or Special and basing it around that. Calculations then go into the Pokemon’s Attack or Special Attack then go into the opponent’s Defense or Special Defense.

    Thankfully, Generation Four fixed this, allowing Pokemon to have more diverse movesets and some even being able to utilize their Types better, like Sneasel. Sneasel is a Dark/Ice type who prior to Generation Four, had higher Attack than Special Attack, but had two Special Attack types in Dark and Ice types, so it wasn’t really a viable Pokemon to use for Same Type Attack Bonus. Overall, this helped Pokemon get more moves, but also make some Pokemon better than their previous iterations.

    HGSS are the perfect blends of Pokemon games. They incorporate, subjectively, my favorite art style in the series as the sprites aren’t too small, but they aren’t too 2.5D like how I feel they are in Generation 5. Right now, I am not a fan of the 3D introduction in Generation 6 compared to the art style of the 2D games. The colors are bright and bring life to a lot of the areas that weren’t able to have that much color on the limited hardware of the Game Boy Color. While also incorporating great, memorable areas and music.

    Now, areas in HGSS are great and as you have various places to visit on your journey like Olivine City, a port city that exceeds Vermillion City in Red & Blue just on the scale of volume of liveliness, which could be just technical limitations, sure. Another memorable and grand area is Ecruteak City, which is an homage to Japanese architecture with the Bell Tower, the Burned Tower, and the Dance Theater. Ecruteak introduces the Legendary Beasts in the Burned Tower which does turn into a fetch quest for two of them, yes but it is still one of my favorite Pokemon-esque cutscenes of the games.


    Some of the most memorable quests of the series are in this game like the Red Gyrados, being tasked by a Gym Leader to get an antidote for her sick Ampharos across the sea, and the Bug Catching Contest! Which is something that Game Freak has only really done Contests of Beauty, Coolness, and other attributes for already owned Pokemon. Nothing on the lines of catching Pokemon and earning a better score based on various factors of what Pokemon you caught. Catching the legendaries is also a spectacle. You either go deep beneath the ocean to obtain Lugia, or go up various levels of this gigantic tower to eventually get to the roof to find Ho-Oh there as they both wait for your arrival.

    Another grand quest is Mt. Silver. Here you are facing some of the toughest wild Pokemon that you’ve encountered in the game. This along with the final battle here bring this mountain to a memorable level of value to the series. The final battle you face Red who is the personification of elite boss fights. If you are not prepared for this fight with items and high-level Pokemon, you will get your money taken from you and Red will say nothing, but know inside that this trainer is not good enough to be taken seriously yet. The game does not explicitly say that, but it works.

    Another point I love about this game is the music. Whether it be unlocking the GB Sounds in the post-game to play songs from the original games, or just original songs in general. Ho-Oh’s battle music is a grandiose track that just speaks in volumes of the big epic battle you are currently having, while also incorporating the culture of Ecruteak City and the Dance Theater into it as well.

    Youtube Video

    Game Freak added a Battle Frontier to this game which adds a lot of post-game enjoyment for people who enjoyed Pokemon Emerald’s Battle Frontier. This does add to the game once you finish the Elite Four which is a welcome introduction from Gold and Silver, which didn’t include a Battle Frontier.

    One of the main points of contention for people is the reliance on the Kanto in this game. Which some can take as a blessing, while others can take that as a hindrance. For me though, that is a blessing. That just makes this game so vast and gives you the opportunity to try out Pokemon you didn’t want to use before, like Zubat. Who gets an extra evolution, Crobat, in this game and becomes a much better Pokemon because of this added evolution. Onix is another great example of this, I had no interest in using an Onix in Let’s Go Pikachu if you couldn’t evolve Onix into Steelix. This just makes Pokemon much more enjoyable to use if you neglected them before.

    Overall, Pokemon HeartGoldSoulSilver is probably my favorite Pokemon remake that Game Freak has done, and probably will be. I love the art style, I love Espeon and Umbreon as new Eevee introductions, and the Physical/Special split helped Gold and Silver so much.

  • My video:

    Youtube Video

    I'll make an update in a few hours opening the thread for cross-examination. See ya then.

  • Okay folks, Cross-Examination is now open! As a reminder, everybody can participate in this, even those who did not bring a game. Remember to check the rules one more time before you start. This ends one week from today, after which I will ask for your vote.

  • As I did for the first ceremony, I'll just leave both questions for every presentation below:

    For @ffff0 regarding Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward:

    1.) In your presentation, you touch on how there are nine different endings and over the course of a single playthrough, decisions lock you into a set path. So, is the game’s sole replay value to go back and make different choices to see these outcomes, or are there other incentives or rewards to entice you to keep playing?

    2.) If the game tasks you to replay for various outcomes and scenes, how long does it take for not just a single playthrough, but to completely do everything (which subsequently because of its puzzle nature, once you know the solutions I can understand that may cut down on the time, but could still sap the fun of it after a while.)?

    For @Shoulderguy regarding Super Mario World:

    1.) I never had the opportunity to play SMW growing up and haven’t felt the pull to do so since, and one of the big reasons is the sheer amount of stuff SMW provides. It’s actually intimidating to know there’s so many different secrets, stages, and even the Star World to the point I would feel like I’m missing out on stuff even when playing it. How easy/difficult is it to uncover the various goodies you discuss?

    2.) As you touch on, the game is renowned for being expertly crafted in its controls and still holds up to this day. But of the few 2D Marios I’ve played, they all feel the same to me without specific powerups to change things up in their respective games. In what way do the controls surpass say, the original Super Mario Bros., New Super Mario Bros., New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and so on?

    For @JDINCINERATOR regarding Bully:

    1.) Rockstar has earned a reputation for creating MASSIVE worlds brimming with activity. You kind of dance around it in your presentation, but don’t outright explain, so if you could please clarify: How big is the map(s)? Is it all one huge area where you can enter zones/buildings/etc., or is it an amalgamation of siphoned off areas where you need to backtrack through places and loading screens just to get to where you want to go?

    2.) ANOTHER thing Rockstar games pride themselves on is granting player freedom; go wherever you want, and do whatever you want. In Bully, could I, for example, constantly take classes over and over or do a whole lap around the map without having to worry about story? Or are there activities/mini-games locked behind story progression?

    For @Oscillator regarding The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:

    1.) I have arachnophobia, so there’s no way in hell I would ever pick up any Elder Scrolls (or a large amount of fantasy games for that matter), and as such, just the mere presence of spiders, and large ones at that, is an instant deal-breaker. How often do you encounter them and is it possible to play the entire game without encountering them once?

    2.) Massive games bum me out with the overload of how much there is to do in them and most of the quests and tasks in many (though not all) open world games are also filler. One of the big bullet points you give is how deep with variety Oblivion is, and most of it is optional, but what incentive is there to do any of it? Do all the activities you list (and certainly more) always stay fresh and fun with enticing rewards, or do they become wrote after a time?

    For @brunojoey regarding Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver:

    1.) I LOVE the original Gold & Silver, and as such most of your middle of chunk of your presentation I could recite as well regarding those games. Aside from the splitting the Physical and Special and adding the Battle Frontier, how is this remake “better” than the originals? Does it do anything different to the battle system you couldn’t do in the source material? Change up the story?

    2.) Generation 4 (specifically Diamond and Pearl) is where I dropped off of keeping up with Pokemon because I DESPISE the 3D character models in the world, many of the gimmicky things you can do on the DS’s bottom screen, and general balancing of those games. I found out Gen 4 Pokemon (many of which I actually don’t really like either) also appear in these remakes and to me, is beyond weird and breaks things in that it doesn’t make ANY sense why those Pokemon would be in that region. So, because these are remakes and not remasters, does HG & SS retain the balancing of the originals and do a better job of providing trainers with diverse teams and a consistently gradual increase in opponents levels/difficulty (Which, after a while in Johto and ALL of Kanto EXCEPT for the Gym Leaders, the originals DON’T do, and is very annoying.)?

    For @Capnbobamous regarding The Sims:

    1.) In your video, you do say that there’s so much you can do it’s nearly impossible to list it all, but nowhere while watching did I understand how to play or what makes it better than its sequels. I can tell it’s PC so it’s point and click, but to do anything, do you leverage a menu to tell your Sims what to do, or do you have to click on them directly to give them commands? And further, what makes this game better than its sequels?

    2.) As I infer in a different question above, games where there really isn’t a pre-designated end goal or objective is kind of a turn off to me because without a directive (in most cases), when I play I feel as if there’s nothing else to do when I’ve reached that point because I’ve seen all there is to see (which, admittedly may not be the case in many instances, but with the games I play, I have a decent idea when I know I’ve done all I can.). So this long preamble is to ask: Because this is the first Sims game, would it take, for example, a few days if not a whole week of various “playthroughs” to see/do everything?

  • @brannox In response to both of your questions:

    1.)The size of the map isn't huge, it's quite small actually but you don't have to worry about loading screens popping up every time you enter a new location. It's essentially like a GTA game without the grating problems with size. Getting to where you want to go is really easy and there are markers on the map where activities and collectibles can be found.

    2.) When classes open up you can play them when the subjects become available which is on a scheduled rotation. So basically what I mean is you can take say an English class and then a few hours later another class will start such as Art for you to attend. You won't be able to go back to a class until it is scheduled-so you will have to wait a few in-game days for the a desired subject to be playable again. Meanwhile though, you may want to attend other classes to fill the time before the next English class is available for instance. Classes are not locked behind story progression and can be attended when they are scheduled through the school day. There are 5 class stages for each subject and completing them grants you new equipment and abilities. For instance in Shop completing each class rewards you with a better bike that has upgraded attributes in speed, handling and so on. In the Scholarship Edition version once you complete all Geography classes then the collectibles will be marked on the map. Generally speaking you can play Bully's classes without a care for much of the story and those classes reward you with cool new things every time.

  • I didn't have time to prepare a presentation myself, but I read about half of these presentations and will check the other half later. All I can say is that TWO nominees are all time favourites, and ONE of them is my all time favourite gaming memory so I really wish I could vote. But nice presentations so far!

  • @brannox said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (January 2022):

    For @Oscillator regarding The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:

    1.) I have arachnophobia, so there’s no way in hell I would ever pick up any Elder Scrolls (or a large amount of fantasy games for that matter), and as such, just the mere presence of spiders, and large ones at that, is an instant deal-breaker. How often do you encounter them and is it possible to play the entire game without encountering them once?

    2.) Massive games bum me out with the overload of how much there is to do in them and most of the quests and tasks in many (though not all) open world games are also filler. One of the big bullet points you give is how deep with variety Oblivion is, and most of it is optional, but what incentive is there to do any of it? Do all the activities you list (and certainly more) always stay fresh and fun with enticing rewards, or do they become wrote after a time?

    1. There are no actual spiders in Oblivion, however there are a couple of spider-like enemies;

    the oft-memed Mud Crab, which is one of the most common enemies in the game. It's a dark-coloured crab, about two feet wide, found on lakeshores, extremely easy to kill.


    the Land Dreugh, a man-sized four-legged orange-coloured...thing with pincer-esque hands and two kinda tendrils sticking out its back. It's one of the freakiest enemies in the game. It doesn't show up until you're around level 17, which takes a while.

    There are also rats in the dungeons, about three feet long, which lunge at you to attack. Like Mud Crabs, very common and very easy to kill.

    1. While quests do have rewards, the best come from longer questlines, especially the guilds, which can take quite a while to complete. I personally do quests for the sense of achievement and the dialogue. The quests are just as varied as the game's range of activities.

    The most efficient way to get rewards is dungeon crawling. Even small dungeons have several loot-laden enemies, and several chests of various tiers. You can also harvest pelts and potion ingredients of good value from slain animals and monsters and sell them.

    For me, just the beauty and detail of the world is incentive enough to play it. More traditional video game incentives are fighting enemies, collecting ingredients to brew potions, and locating Daedric shrines, which are scattered across the map and trigger quests for the game's most powerful weapons. Half of them are locked to high levels, though.

    As your level increases, new enemies and types of loot appear, including many different classes of weapons and armour, which all look great in this engine. Building up your various skills through exploration, combat, skill books, and trainers can also be an incentive. Every 25 levels that a skill gains (many individual skill level-ups = 1 main level up), a perk for it is unlocked. The perks for spell skills are just being able to equip the next tier of spells, though. And your major skills - the ones that contribute the most to your main level - are locked in at the end of the starting area.

    Additional activities are clearing Oblivion Gates, which are very cool hellscape dungeons that are the only place to find Sigil Stones used in custom weapon and armour enchantments, and fighting in the Imperial City Arena, which offers some of the most intense combat in the game (but does become repetitive).

    Oblivion is a laid-back game. The point of it is whatever you choose to do. This style isn't for everyone - I've seen a lot of people complain about Breath of the Wild (which took a lot of cues from The Elder Scrolls) not having enough primary objectives. I describe it as 'passive' gamers that don't mind searching for fun VS. 'active' gamers that need fun given to them.

  • Response to @Brannox regarding replay value and total playtime.

    The game actually has more than 9 endings, 9 are just tied to specific characters. However, going on another route in Virtue’s Last Reward isn’t a replay, it’s a continuation of playing. On your path to see every possible outcome you never have to do the same puzzle room twice, because story paths never connects after branching and each puzzle appear only once on entire flowchart. Also, repeated dialog barely present after your second choice, so you need to fast-forward almost only through three alternatives of an early section, where world’s rules are explained to you. Imagine multiple questlines in an RPG - you can do them in any order, and each has its own conclusion, but they all shape continuous gameplay experience. This isn’t the best analogy but going into specifics will be a spoiler (as I said, this game’s structure is essential for its story) and figuring out why certain things are different in different timelines is one of the reasons why you want to keep exploring narrative alternatives.

    Doing and seeing absolutely everything, including “bad” endings and optional puzzle challenges, will not take that long – 30-35 hours give or take. Replaying entire game may be worth it just to see how many late revelations are referenced early on without giving anything away. It’s not an entirely new read, but I’ve enjoyed my second run and I’ve marveled writers’ ability to make characters act natural and believable both when you know everything they know and when you have no idea that they might know something you still don’t.

  • Question for @Shoulderguy about Super Mario World.

    I’m a person who look at the Mario series from the outside. I mean, after buying a Switch I’ve completed Super Mario Odyssey, but I’ve realized that I have a problem with controlling a platformer’s character that has as much inertia as a car in a racing sim (not a critique of the game, just a reason why this series isn’t for me). And when I look at this series from the outside, it feels like it constantly releases something new (either a new title or remaster of some old game). Therefore, I find it very hard to believe that this series achieved its peak in 1990 and everything else weren’t as good as the game you’ve nominated.

    So, why we should recognize Super Mario World and not any follow-up that took its formula and improved it?