Today is World Wildlife Day. Today is also National Anthem Day in the United States, Liberation Day in Bulgaria, and Girls’ Day in Japan.
Today, however, is a personally interesting day. It’s March 3rd, or 3/3/2018, otherwise what I will tentatively call 3×3 Day.
For those wondering what it is, a 3×3 is a layout that wanderers on the Internet will use to display their favorites within a certain subject matter in no particular order. While I am unclear about its true origins, it happens to be most popular within the anime community and where I first discovered it, and I personally find it a fun and intriguing way to showcase beloved works or things.
And that is what I plan to post about. Three times over.
On this day of writing, I will be composing three separate posts featuring a distinct 3×3 and brief elaboration for each thing highlighted. This time around, I am going to discuss the following subject matters:
- YouTube Creators
With that out of the way, this blog post will be discussing the reasoning behind my current 3×3 for gaming.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
While lacking the same grandiose feeling of the original Super Mario Galaxy, I find it unquestionable that Super Mario Galaxy 2 pushes the boundaries of its planetoid level design and fun factor to their absolute limits. By taking the necessary steps to polish Mario’s movement and “Spin” abilities, experiment with original planet ideas, and enhance the difficulty, the development team crafted the quintessential experience from a gameplay perspective by naturally expanding upon Mario’s capabilities that work hand-in-hand with the new environments that he traverses.
And whether it be the lighter tone or brighter aesthetic, I marvel at the radiance of creativity every time I visit one of the game’s forty-nine galaxies to collect the required Power Stars and familiarize myself with each galaxy’s intricacies or overcome the trials inherent with the Prankster Comets. As both a three-dimensional platformer and entry into the storied Mario franchise, I find that Super Mario Galaxy 2 continues to triumphantly outshines its predecessors and successors in nearly every regard as the summit of the series’ most innovative and entertaining entries not because the others failed to impress, but because Super Mario Galaxy 2 impresses two-fold.
If someone asked me to think of just one title that wholly embraces the concept of video games as a medium, Nier: Automata would immediately assert itself as the contender in my mind. What I mean by this solely lies in the idea that the game does everything in its capacity to take advantage of gaming’s unique properties that simply cannot be accomplished anywhere else, especially with its unorthodox yet masterful means of storytelling that conveys a bleak tale and would be best not spoiled for any intrigued by the game on a surface level.
Every hour I wrecked havoc upon waves of robots, every hour I traversed and re-traversed the landscape of a desolate Earth, and every hour I spent pondering over the unfolding twists and their eventual conclusions, the game never failed to leave my unsatisfied. I couldn’t prevent myself from contemplating the events that exists within the game’s universe as well as ours, succumbing to the emotional undertones of an impeccable soundtrack, or feeling the torrents of astonishment that blessed every major story beat. Nier: Automata is shameless in its execution and confident in its experience regardless of its flaws, and that in itself may be the driving reasoning behind my preoccupation with it.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Here’s a fun fact: the first game that I ever played was Super Smash Bros. Melee when I was just three years old. Even so many years ago, I still remember battling it out with childhood friends, although I will never be able to explain why we chose to play on Princess Peach’s Castle more than any other stage. Then Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out in 2008, and after overcoming the hurdle that was my parents to let me get the game despite the Teen rating, hundreds of hours were dedicated to countless fights between friends and CPU.
Now the latest iteration, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, has managed to suffice that same craving for a chaotic brawler starring Nintendo characters, and not only did it strike the perfect balance between the competitive and casual, but worked its way into my heart as my absolute favorite fighting game.
(at least until my Wii U broke. Rip.)
It’s one thing for a fighting game to feature fifty-five characters with the most memorable and obscure of Nintendo’s history alongside some of gaming’s biggest icons. It’s another thing to have a wealth of options in the stage selection and custom move sets for every fighter.
However, nothing compares to its pristine battle system that incorporates the best aspects of every Super Smash Bros. game to date and serves as the vessel for pure fun with nearly everyone. Had I still own a functioning console, there is no doubt in my mind that amongst all the multiplayer games available, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U would be the instant choice to play every single time.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Coincidentally, it’s been exactly a year at the time of writing since I purchased a Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild alongside it. I recall not having the chance to start playing until around 9:00 in the evening, but right after managing to pop in the game and get out of the Shrine of Resurrection I was greeted with this beautiful scenery:
And it was this moment that I lost myself within the expansive world of Hyrule scouting out for shrines, uncovering the limitless secrets within every region, climbing every mountain and tower in sight. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild excels in seamless open-world design that prompts exploration and adventure on a grandest scale. Aside for specific story missions, there are nearly no pointers, no icons, no prompts telling you the exact locations of specific items or enemies. Rather, it is wholly up to the player to carve their own path forward in their efforts to bring down the Calamity Ganon.
I find that this degree of freedom triggered my addiction with the game, so much so that I spent three days straight literally doing nothing but playing Breath of the Wild four hours upon end, while skipping several meals and depriving myself of any breaks. My inability to stop myself from traversing Hyrule for its countless distractions and secrets can only be justified by the fact that the game’s underlying mechanics and immersive nature were that stellar in every regard. And while I am acutely aware of its significant flaws, I can’t help but cling to that longing of freedom that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild so effortlessly instilled within my psyche.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
I have already taken the time to personally rank the Ace Attorney games in a separate blog post in extensive detail that I cannot possibly cram into a brief overview, but regardless I find it easy to derive my primary source of enjoyment from this series.
The Ace Attorney games place much greater on the emphasis on the “why” rather than the “who” in its many cases, effectively bolstering the amount of player interactivity as a visual novel. However, it also provides the opportunity to feature a host of brilliant characters filled to the brim with engaging and memorable personalities. Each essential narrative arc within each game remains captivating in its own right, indirectly involving the player in each case through the need for critical thinking and deduction.
In a sense, the Ace Attorney games serve as a personal haven for entertainment that is contemplative in nature, yet intriguing in its moment-to-moment storytelling that somehow manages to unleash feelings of excitement and tension from the depths of my subconscious. With every “Objection!”, cross-examination, and contradiction scattered throughout every case, nothing can quite manage to captivate in the way that the Ace Attorney trilogy does.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Indeed there are two Zelda titles that manage to make the cut, and trust me when I affirm that I hesitated to do so. However, I found that my underlying reasoning for finding so much entertainment within each were fundamentally different at their core, and essentially function as two completely distinct entries within the same series. While I adored The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for its absolute freedom and originality, I cherish The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD for its evolution on tradition and gorgeous aesthetic.
The cel-shaded art style of the original Wind Waker already impresses and holds up today, but the beautiful high–definition remaster sparks a new life within the entire universe and manages to retain its same contributions to impactful storytelling and visual expression.
For me, however, the most recent iteration of The Wind Waker went beyond that. Never did I find a dull moment sailing across the Great Sea given its ability to instill a sense of adventure and dungeon-crawling the most interesting locales with varied objectives surrounding the events of the narrative. The titular Wind Waker was genuinely fun to use, and carried with it a natural beauty permeating every aspect of the game.
And maybe it is the beauty alone that captivates someone like myself, but more importantly elevates it as a defining game within everything that I have played throughout my fourteen years of gaming.
Let’s get straight to the point: Xenoblade Chronicles is a breath-taking adventure that tears down the constructs and typical characteristics of the JRPG (japanese role-playing game), and lovingly crafts a game that magnificently displays the ambitious, open-ended environments typically found within western role-playing games with the longevity and narrative focus that the aforementioned JRPG often prides itself upon.
With a great emphasis on a small cast of characters exploring the Bionis and Mechonis and its surrounding conflict, Xenoblade Chronicles prioritizes substance over style, choosing to create an immersive battle system that compliments its gorgeous landscapes and wildlife and implements new mechanics. Hell, I played this game on a Nintendo 3DS and amidst the lower graphical and technical performance, I found the compelling narrative, memorable characters, well-rounded gameplay, and phenomenal sound and game design to shine above the rest. In other words, Xenoblade Chronicles is one of those titles where the development team felt much greater pride in creating something meaningful rather than keeping up with the trends of the modern day, and it certainly paid off through my seventy-five hour journey.
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
For a good portion of my childhood years, Pokémon dominated nearly every facet of my life. It was a catalyst for discussion and interaction with friends at the time, as we would always keep up to date on the newest games, the newest episodes of the television show, and the newest trading cards.
However, our attention span always dedicated much more time to the video games released. And in 2010 the release of Pokémon HeartGold and Pokémon SoulSilver enthralled my working thoughts for months on end, with hundreds of hours exploring both the regions of Kanto and Johto and training up countless Pokémon not only to progress through the game, but to compete against good friends in hundreds of battles.
Personally, I find that this pair of games are just as enjoyable as others in the franchise. It doesn’t even take many liberties with its formula, instead focusing on its refinements from previous entries. As I may have alluded to though, what makes these games one of my favorites are the corresponding memories that arose from it. These experiences specifically cemented the capacity of gaming to expand its outreach beyond the boundaries of one video game into the outskirts of our reality. What should have been another set of experiences that I play and move on from rather became a learning experience that transformed my approach to gaming as it is now.
If you’re looking for an impressive collaborative effort between the magical universe of Disney and the fantastical worlds of Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts will remain one of the finest. To be completely honest, it’s the sole reason why I think I picked it up so many years ago. Yet I’m so glad that I chose to do so, as playing it to completion twice in total, once back in 2005 and once last year, confirmed my love for the entire Kingdom Hearts series and my urge to play each major installment available.
What makes Kingdom Hearts my favorite compared to the other installments is its slightly slower, rewarding battle system that prompts the player to work towards mastery of its core mechanics in order to be prepared for its upcoming challenges. This may sound like a weird comparison, but I often found some of the difficult fights in the game comparable to that of a game like Dark Souls (blog post in the near future), and in short it means that the way Kingdom Hearts is challenging isn’t frustrating in the sense that it’s unfair.
As one of my earliest exposures to the action role-playing genre as a kid, I can’t help but believe that Kingdom Hearts is directly correlated with the fact that it continues to be my favorite genre of video games on the whole. By putting a twist on my preconceptions of Disney and managing to impress in nearly every regard, Kingdom Hearts has stood the test of time to not only be an important influence, but a spectacular title that remains among my personal bests.
And that’s all I have! Hopefully after reading through this post, one can gain a better understanding of my overall tastes as a gaming enthusiast and gain insight into the qualities of gaming that make it such a captivating medium for me on the whole. In the meantime, be sure to check out the other 3×3 posts that’ll be on the blog!
*Note: As a heads-up, the introduction and conclusion for this series of blog posts will be nearly the same (copy-and-paste), and don’t necessarily require reading through it you already have once.
Links to Other 3x3s