Saturday, November 26, 2016

Paper Mario - Top Ten Music Tracks


Paper Mario is no doubt an amazing game for the N64. With plenty of subjects to discuss it, and since I've already covered my Worst to Best chapters of the game, I think I should point out the best of the best music tracks this first installments of this fantastic spinoff series has to offer. And just to make things fair, since there are literally TONS of good ones to choose from, I've decided to limit this list to only one song per chapter. Meaning if the theme is first introduced in the chapter, it'll qualify for this countdown. I'm not only judging them on how catchy they are, the situation in which they play in are also a major factor of their inclusion here. Whether its character theme, boss fight, a particular area of the level, or just anything newly introduced in the chapter. I'll be taking out that one theme per chapter rule when putting my lists of my favorite themes of the first three Paper Mario games together (up to say a Top FIFTY), but now, I present my Top Ten Best Music Tracks of the original N64 Paper Mario. So for now... enjoy the music.

Chapter 2 - The Mystery of Dry Dry Ruins

I could've gone with Tutankoopa's boss theme whom you fight in Dry Dry Ruins at the very end of the chapter. But I have to go with the first theme of your journey to find the ruins, since it's really bouncy and fun to listen to during the first part of your trek to find the Star Spirit in the ruins... It really suits going on a journey even though this isn't the best track of the game and only starts this countdown off.

Chapter 1 - Storming Koopa Bros. Fortress

Not are they something you'd see out of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, their music also sounds like something you'd hear out of the franchise of the Ninja Turtles. And I don't really know about you, but I think other boss themes overshadow this. Even if it isn't much of something you like, you gotta admit it's super catchy and epically joyfully to listen and really does give you that feeling of an epic fight between Mario and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-inspired Koopa Bros.

Chapter 4 - Trails in the Toy Box

Another underrated boss theme in the Paper Mario series, this may not have the most powerful boss in the game, but I gotta say it's pretty fun taking out all of General Guy's minions (even if it does get rather tedious and lame). The theme that plays during the fight though suits situation greatly even if it's not the most intense. I might even think of me fighting off another general in the military when playing this even though that song that plays would song much more extreme than this. Fantastic boss theme either way.

Chapter 3 - The "Invincible" Tubba Blubba

It may be considered the best boss theme of the game if not technically the series itself (what with Super Paper Mario's The Ultimate Show), but despite that, at times, I feel it's overrated, this track is still excellent. It may be super catchy during your fight against Tubba's Heart, but it's not all that epic... but I will ask; do you really need to put epicness into a boss theme to make it good? I wouldn't say EVERYtime, but sometimes epic boss themes are more catchy. But this is still what it is nonetheless; A good boss theme and a fantastic song to a fantastic game.

Chapter 6 - Dark Days in Flower Fields

It's so joyful, it practically feels like you're in a beautiful paradise after destroying such a wicked machine (of pure evil) built by the evil cloud spirit Huff N. Puff. It feels as though I'm getting more than enough sunshine since of course, this does feel like you're someplace bright and pretty like in an actual flower field. It's a real breath of fresh air for the rest of the game after having to put up with a little too much of that mediocre but suitable theme of the fields covered in all those dark clouds.

Prolouge - A Plea from the Stars

I know a lot of people consider the theme of Mario traveling along path between Toad Town and Goomba Village (and the areas of Chpater 1 as well) better, but I think this is the best of the first area you travel around after your unfortunate forced failure from Bowser. It's just so bouncy that you like to run and skip around the village, or just any in reality. The village may be something little, but this level theme certainly isn't.

Chapter 5 - Hot, Hot Times on Lavalava Island

My favorite theme of my favorite chapter (but not the whole game as you can clearly tell). The Jade Jungle and Lava Piranha boss theme were both good, but this has to be my favorite of the chapter cause it gives me that feeling that I'm the Tarzan of Lavalava Island's jungle. It may only play when you're in Raphael's part of the jungle, but it's such an addictive theme that I just can't get enough of it.

Ending

Probably the most underappreciated track of the whole series, it's so beautiful, it heart-breakingly makes you weep. It especially feels like you're reminded of your youngest years feeling like you're back in a crib or listening to a lullby. That music box towards the very end of the song is honestly the most tear-enducing part. And this plays unlimitedly RIGHT AFTER the end credits when you're watching fireworks with Mario and Peach after you finally defeat Bowser. (I could only find the full version of the song on Alex Rochon's Top Ten Most Beautiful Video Game Music Tracks (in Part 2 at Number 3) from New Year's 2010 if anyone wants to hear it from beginning to end... I'm sorry but there's nowhere else where I can find the complete track of the song)

Chapter 7 - A Star Spirit on Ice

A mysteriously beautiful theme to a mysterious palace level, this track feelingly sounds to me like you're on a major search for something hidden within a majestic palace and you're not so certain as to where you're heading next, or what you're going to do to make it out with something sacred like a star spirit. But why isn't this the best music track of the game as Alex Rochon and Joshscorcher consider it to be as shown on their collab post of the best Mario themes you ask?

Chapter 8 - A Star-Powered Showdown

Yes. I rank this higher than what the Autarch of Flame and the Fiery Joker consider the best theme of the game. I could perhaps rank it as THE best song of the entire series. (Yeah, even above Super Paper Mario's final boss theme The Ultimate Show) It's intense, epic, and very fitting for the final boss since this is where you REALLY defeat Bowser and reclaim the Star Rod for the Star Spirits. That guitar may just be the most extreme part of the song, along with how much it's telling you "You're Screwed!" at first when it starts off.

Every final boss of the first three games is good, but I might just call this one the best not only because it's satisfying once you defeat Bowser, but also for its incredible boss theme that really pumps your blood and motivates you to take Mario's arch-nemesis/the King of the Koopas down for good (until the next game despite that he doesn't play a major role in Thousand-Year Door). Every song of his IS what suits Bowser's motives, personality, and antagonistic character - and this final boss theme is a major prof of that. It's everything I like in the spinoff series since it's suitable in every sense of the way. The situation, the tone, and of course, the final boss fight it plays in.


Do you agree with my list? What's your favorite N64 Paper Mario music track?

For more catchy posts posted every year, be sure to tune in The Super Mario Brony Blog.

Thanks for reading!

Next Post: Paper Mario - Worst to Best ~ Partners

After the Fact - What NOT to Do When Writing an Episode (ft. The Railfan Brony)


For reason or another, perfecting an episode of any particular TV series can be hard. It can be like a double-edge sword; majestic when you succeed, a complete and utter mess when you fail. For this post though, we'll be discussing those small things that need to be kept in mind before writing an episode. This also doubles as a guide for newbie writers on what to avoid when it comes to their job. That's right. This post is a letter dedicated solely to Friendship Is Magic's crew at Hasbro.


This is Tyler Smith, and Zack Wanzer.
And now, we'll be presenting to all you writers of MLP's crew something extremely important;
The Things You Need to Avoid Doing in An Episode

DON'T Redeem Anymore Evil Characters


Here's one of our first messages we have to every newbie: "Please stop giving bad guys new leafs of redemption."

Here's a question when it comes to characters viewed as evil; are they really that bad? Why do they behave the way they do? Are they worth sympathizing with?

Take Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear (or Lotso, for short) from Toy Story 3 as an example. In the film, he was loved by a girl named Daisy but one day, she left him behind by accident and so she got a new one by the time the old Lotso came home. This made him bitter and angry, and so he took over Sunnyside Daycare and abused the toys. When Woody and his friends expose him as a bully, Big Baby throws him into dumpster, but Woody and his friends also end up at the garbage dump. When Lotso is stuck and in danger of being shredded, Woody and Buzz rescue him, and how does he repay them? By leaving them to die, that's what! (It's lucky that Andy's toys were rescued in time by the aliens.)


Was Lotso evil? Well, he did let anger and jealousy control his emotions, which makes him sympathetic, but he did leave Andy's toys to die, which doesn't. So, yeah - Lotso's evil, and is not deserving of sympathy. However, Pixar initially wanted him to press the button to stop the conveyor belt, but thankfully, they didn't go that direction and made sure we still loved Andy's toys after fifteen years. (I wonder how they'll do it again in Toy Story 4?)


With any newer redemptions since Starlight's nowadays, it really seems more like a dumb excuse to help the show live up to its title during advertising, than to give it at least some potential that it had back then before redemptions started getting out of hand. Not to mention how it reached its nadir with Legend of Everfree. Okay, we'll admit Thorax's redemption could have been at least acceptable on occasion...if only it weren't for that atrocious song Spike sung and if Burke and Wyatt didn't rush The Times They Are A Changeling's ending. (More on that fact later) But seriously, redeeming characters throughout most of any newer season of MLP instead of coming up with newer ideas for plotlines is as about as WOW Factor-diminishing as recycling old plots from previous installments (more on that later also). And don't get us wrong, some of you have done well with redemptions (especially Discord's and Sunset's for the most part), but all of those after Diamond Tiara's in Crusaders of the Lost Mark just lost that special something that made them reasonably good. So all we're really saying is think of something that doesn't involve anything unreasonable nowadays like these (redemptions).

DON'T Derail Well-Established Characters


One of the deadliest sins in story writing, we're strongly betting that you've been able to make an episode good by doing the basics of pacing its plot properly in the entertaining fashion, making its concept interesting, and delivering its moral greatly. Don't blow all of it by turning even the most impossible to dislike character into a jerk, idiot or both, or just anything that makes a character all OOC. "Putting Your Hoof Down" is an infamous example of this for reasons which we're sure most of you know by this point. Which that goes to show that keeping a creative story and life-changing moral are two things to note, but if you don't take any personalities of characters like the Mane Six, Discord, or even characters that used to be good like Luna, the Wonderbolts, or even Starlight, it's honestly a completely clear message of what you're really trying to do with the episode. It could have the greatest story ever told, but the fact of matter is, if the leading character is unlikable, it completely ruins the story.

DON'T Overuse Certain Characters


If any of you writers need to either know or be reminded of one of the most important things about minor characters, it's to balance the amount of appearances one needs each season. And here's one example:

Throughout seasons 8-16 of Thomas and Friends, how many times has the little blue tank engine got a starring role? TOO MANY! I mean, good luck finding an episode that doesn't feature him even as a cameo! In season 13 alone, he had (coincidentally) thirteen starring roles, leaving the other seven to the remaining Steam Team members barring Edward (that episode was given to Hiro). Yes, we get that Thomas is the main character, but that does not mean he needs to turn up in every single episode just to make children happy. This also happened in The Railway Series, specifically in the Christopher era, where he turns up because the publishers wanted more Thomas, leaving the likes of Oliver and Bear largely underdeveloped. As the old saying goes, you can have too much of a good thing, and too much of Thomas showing up is a prime example of this.

Yeah, what he said. Another example of this as we've discussed (where we often didn't shut up about her) is of course Starlight ever since the very beginning of Season 6. And no offense to any brony or pegasister in the fandom, or just any fans of characters like her reading this, but we don't care everyone else views her development nowadays, or how dedicated voice actress Kelly Sheridan is to her role. Cause as To Where and Back Again (which is by far THE worst episode of the show no matter how much you writers or other lovers of that finale try reason some "good" aspects of it out with us) demonstrated, having a character like her overshadow every other good one (as to also making them look stupid in a way,not to mention make her shine out to the audience to make her more interesting of a character), using her for FAR more than enough episodes to make her unreasonable redemption look good, and giving her as much *necessary* as possible for your own sake is a great way to throw away her desired potential (that of which she's obviously already lost). 

So long story short; we're not saying don't bring back characters like Starlight (although we are sick and tired of other annoying ones like Trixie despite that she doesn't appear that often), but as with every other character in MLP, use them when the time is necessary.

 And here's two things that would certainly help her:

  1. Make her Discord's female unicorn counterpart instead of Sunset's Equestria-only one. (In terms of both a personality and the amount of appearances a character like her and Discord really need... as primarily to ONLY and NO MORE THAN 2 or 3 episodes per season)
  2. Redevelop her current character since her redemption from the Season 5 Finale still doesn't even work. (And we think you all know why)
Otherwise, just get rid of her already if none of you even have the guts to do so.

Do these things for us if you want to get Friendship Is Magic back in good standards please!


DON'T Disuse Character Development


Basically, a character has been so well developed that you feel possibly nothing could tear them down. Except they find a way somehow. One way to turn a good character into a bad one, is to give them a rushed backstory with not enough proper development (as we've already discussed with redemptions to any evil character). Not to mention have other characters overshadow them. Which, in retrospect, has personally made me rethink my views on Starlight, and I'll expand on that in a future blog post. And I might make another "untouchable" post on characters (as I myself have done with some of the show's episodes), but that's for some other day next year.

Anyways, if we're wanting to see a newer character become developed like say Tree Hugger or Plaid Stripes, it's not so we can watch them just interact with other characters as to bond closer with no real detail about themselves (like what Dusedau did with Discord in What About Discord? when he was only showing off to Twilight just what an awesome time he and their friends had together over an entire three-day weekend which really makes for even more lack of development). We think every character of MLP is hard to write for. But if they haven't been developed enough, focus on them one at a time, think about what makes them what they truly are (in the right way), and most importantly, keep their original traits into account at all costs.

DON'T Rush Its Plot


Perhaps the most essential part in making a good episode or movie is the pacing. If it's too slow, you've bored the audience to death. If it's too fast, you've left the audience confused at best as to what's going on. If it's somewhere in the middle, not only does the audience know what's happening, but they're also entertained as well. Rushing too many things at once as shown with things like Starlight's redemption in The Cutie Re-Mark, or Thorax instantly being excepted by the empire through a song by Spike in The Times They Are A Changeling is pretty much tell us fans straight up you're not putting enough time into working or pacing the story out properly enough. Or if things go too slowly like in Friendship Games, The Crystalling, or Legend of Everfree, then you're not providing enough excitement for the audience and they end up being a real slog to sit through, even at the climax. So even if it takes you a little too long to pace the episode perfectly, take all the (necessary) time you need. And I think there's a statement from the world's greatest game creator (Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto) to best sum this whole subject up:

"A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad."

Seriously this goes for everything in life as much as it does for any franchise in any form of media. Think about an episode (and its pacing) overtime before you finally air it... It makes giving a show true potential a lot more easier.

DON'T Make Kind Characters Act Mean-Spirited


Mean-spiritedness has spread like cancer to pretty much every TV Show (live-action or animation) out there (and not just those of My Little Pony, Thomas the Tank Engine, Spongebob Squarepants, etc.). And while some episodes of even this series used it well, at the end of the day, it's completely unneeded! Not only that, but it can result in character derailment at best, or character destruction at worst. And really, unless you're writing for a maniacal villain like Tirek or Chrysalis, we intensely forbid you rookies to make a character act so cold-hearted. But seriously, for the most part, we personally do NOT want to see other characters act this terrible even if it's supposed to "deliver a moral." It especially helps if you know where the morality is centered.

Speaking of which...with Spongebob Squarepants, they screwed up morality pretty badly; for example, in Breath of Fresh Squidward, we're supposed to see SpongeBob as the good guy and Squidward as the bad guy, but it's actually the opposite since SpongeBob (and Patrick) annoyed Squidward by breaking into his house every single morning, and when Squidward becomes SpongeBob 2.0, you're supposed to root for the original SpongeBob since his life is being ruined. Actually no. SpongeBob dealing with an equivalent to himself is very much justified, but when he breaks down, suddenly, nope! Squidward's still the antagonist.

You see how messed up that is?


Making a kind-hearted character act sadistically mean-spirited (with prime examples like Discord in What About Discord?, Twilight and Trixie in No Second Prances, the Wonderbolts in Newbie Dash, or Rainbow Dash in 28 Pranks Later) is a clear sign of making an episode shockingly unwatchable, or as we said, destroying a character's reputation or potential.

DON'T Rehash Previous Episodes


This one is... negotiable, to say the least. It depends on how well written either the original story or the retelling. If the original story was good, why change it? Of course, there are retellings that are worse and very rarely manage to top the original. However, if the original story was bad, the retellings tend to be hit or miss. We were given plenty of  hits like Gauntlet of Fire fixing up Dragon Quest, or Top Bolt fixing up Newbie Dash (while also being the right kind of reboot/sequel to Wonderbolts Academy), but then there have been misses for those that were just broken from the beginning that we felt were just unfixable after such installments like Legend of Everfree tried with Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep? which unfortunately tried to be an epic rehash of Lesson Zero (although to be fair Every Little Thing She Does kinda did the same thing - if a little less in the epicness), but in the end, just failed. So whilst rehashing episodes isn't always a bad idea - so long as it's done in a different context - we would suggest NOT doing so very frequently as it gets old fast. And of course we've gotten other disasters like What About Discord? ripping off Three's A Crowd which really go to show that if an episode isn't broke, DON'T FIX IT! So please just promise us both, no more old ideas being made to look like new ones.

And I've even made a Top Ten Untouchable Episodes list on those episodes that I feel don't need a reboot at all (unless under certain circumstances), so I suggest you all read THAT post after this letter.

DON'T Neglect Entertainment


Where do we begin with this? We think you writers know exactly which episodes we're talking about by this factor of boringness; What About Discord?, Trade Ya!Applejack's "Day" Off, A Bird in the Hoof... you all get the idea... And why are they boring? Simple; because they take. Too. Loooong. To get going. It's very much where you could cut the episode down by seven minutes, or, if you can't be bothered, scrap it entirely, especially if an episode goes nowhere. Sure, critically-acclaimed movies with the likes of Citizen Kane or 2001: A Space Odyssey may have been incredible even with a bunch of boringness to them, but since this is a series meant to entertain audiences of all ages, don't even try to come up with a way to have the whole boring factor done right. As boring plots clearly aren't what kids want in a favorable TV series. (Let alone for the rest of us fans as well)


Bottom line, avoid these these pet peeves/grudges we have with an episode if you writers (veterans who haven't been doing so well currently or newbies who aren't really starting off that well) want to help do the show justice as to making it what it truly was meant to be from Seasons 1-4. And one more thing: If you can't accept any fanfictions whatsoever from us (which by no means are we asking you to here), fine. But at least accept taking these important facts into account before you write another episode even in Season 8 if you make it. (That is if you're already done with Season 7 by now as I'm partially guessing)


This is Tyler Smith, the Super Mario Brony,
and Zack Wanzer, the Railfan Brony...

Signing out.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Paper Mario - Worst to Best ~ Chapters


One of my most nostalgic games of my childhood, the first Paper Mario was an instant classic after its release with so many good features to it and its story. One of many being the game's chapters throughout its story. While all 8 were at least interesting, some I feel were better than others. With eight to complete, I've ranked them all depending on how much fun they are, their appeal to the game's plot, and its ideal concept. I'll also be looking at the pacing throughtout all of these chapters - although that won't be too much of a factor for their inclusion here.

And take note that major spoilers lay right ahead. So if you haven't played this first installment in the Paper Mario franchise for whatever reason, stop right now and play the game before you read through all of these entries.

Chapter 3

A lot of people may have a thing for spooky levels at the start of a level (or in this case chapter obviously), but for me, I don't like spooky designs of things like ghosts and forests at all. The story of this chapter follows as our titular character explores through Forever Forest to find his way to Boo's Mansion when he's invited by a strange ghost Bootler and to find the third star spirit Skolar who surprisingly escaped from the chapter's antagonist Tubba Blubba's castle. The flaw with the story and disappointing thing is you're given the task that you first must defeat the boss who's literally invincible until the end of the chapter when you find out his secret within the windmill near the beginning of Gusty Gulch. And to think, you have to defeat him in order to release a bunch of other boos Tubba Blubba gobbled up. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of pros like searching for TB's weakness by weakening his heart in the Gusty Gulch windmill (after you escape from him in his castle after getting the key to the windmill that is), but I really find getting up to Lady Bow in Boo's Mansion to be a bit sluggish and quite boring. And Lady Bow herself isn't that good of a partner, and Thousand-Year Door's Vivian was done much better of a character since most partners in the game aren't developed that much.

Making up for some (if not a lot) of that has to be sneaking and running around and about Tubba Blubba's castle in order to find the key to the windmill. There has been some build up to TB before the chapter which is good, but the story and idea of the chapter could've been done better for me. So I'll just say that I liked at least some of it, but on the filpside, I really just didn't like it that much since literally every other chapter on this countdown is more interesting and much better - both in the categories of plots and fun factor. Not a bad chapter though.

Chapter 1

First levels in games aren't always the funnest or most interesting, but this game's first chapter is pretty good. I gotta say that on another note, it was paced much better than Chapter 3 and actually had some appeal in both the environments and during plenty of enemy and boss battles. Both partners you get, Kooper and Bombette were interesting and colorfully quirky characters who really come in handy when it comes to defeating enemies and bosses and the overall puzzle solving sections and exploration through both the fortress of the Koopa Bros. and Koopa Village were both so fun. It's even fun to be chasing all those bugger fuzzies around in Koopa Village to help restore every Koopa Shell and earn Kooper's partnership, and even blow up walls in Koopa Bros. Fortress with Bombette later on.

And was there ever a gamer who leveled up as little as possible to fight the main boss (the TMNT-inspired Koopa Bros. obviously) at only Level 2? (Well I know there have been some, but still) I dare any of you who haven't hardly leveled up to fight ONLY the necessary enemies that require you to progress on through the chapter if you haven't taken that challenge already...

Chapter 2

You could argue that this chapter was gonna be fun just from the title. And you can be certain that it clearly lives up to it as it features Mario searching around the ruins as to finding out just where the Star Spirit is hidden, which has been sealed away by the so-called "spooky" ancient Egyptian Koopa pharaoh known as Tutankoopa who literally acts as a ghost as to warning Mario to flee from the ancient ruins. Even the first half of searching for Parakarry's letters and getting them back to him before he joins your party as your 4th partner to journey with more than back all of this chapter's fun factor up despite not being quite as memorable as the rest of the entries that rank higher than it. When you fight a giant bird for a boss and a bunch of Chain Chomps before taking on Tutankoopa, you're clearly in for a treat.

I especially love it when you're given a mystical stone that beeps faster and faster as you reach the ancient ruins to help you gain access to it. It's always fun to revisit the chapter and replay it when you're replaying the whole game itself especially considering you get your second hammer (the Super Hammer) to help you destroy any metal blocks that block your path (and will especially increase your hammer's attack power). All of this adds up to a very enjoyable and well crafted chapter in the story that anyone who loves desert and ruins levels so much that they never get old.

 Chapter 6

The last chapter that gives you a partner (in this case Lakilester), Dark Days in Flower Fields has to be one of the most beautiful levels in a video game to date since literally it takes all around a flower garden and something like your own typical paradise (after you destroy the Puff-Puff Machine that makes the clouds so dark). With both good and evil lakitus, and more quirky and colorful characters like the living tree Wise Wisterwood, Petunia the flower, and even a kind-hearted lily pad (who's also ironically named Lily), every character you come across certain adds to the chapter's charming appeal. Add in the fact that the main boss of the chapter Huff N. Puff (who somewhat reminds me of one Yoshi's Story's bosses; Cloud N. Candy) is literally an evil cloud who tried to ruin the whole field and you have yourself the most evil guardian of all the Star Spirit guarding baddies. Having to take various objects to the creatures of the fields in order to reach Huff N. Puff with a giant beanstalk seems like a pretty big task but once you complete it, it's worth it in the end to deliver the final blow to the cloud master and save all of the fields from total darkness in the sky (or clouds I should say).

With great characters, fun pacing, and a cleverly great layout, DDiFF is another appealing breath of fresh air after progressing more than halfway through the game at pretty much every turn.

Chapter 4

Much like Super Mario Galaxy's Toy Time Galaxy, this level of Paper Mario's 4th chapter can best be described as a concept of being both cheerful and delightful. You may have to do sluggish things like go in and out of the toy box to return valuables to other citizens (all of which were stolen by a bunch of thieving Shy Guys) from Shy Guy's Toy Box in Toad Town like Tayce T.'s frying pan for a cake to feed to Gourmet Guy, or even return things like a calculator back to Rowf and Rhuff at their badge shop, and Russ T.'s dictionary just for more Star Pieces, but all in all, going in and out of the box from time to time is worth it just to complete more of the actual game. The great thing about this chapter is the creativity around each station you travel around via the toy train you get from Harry T. in his storehouse in his shop cause each station you stop by in the toy box truly has a wide variety of clever design (from slot machines to rising plaforms etc.).

The chapter's two bosses the Big Lantern Ghost and General Guy (along with the opitional Anti Guy at the first station who guards the chest to one of the Power Plus badges) were both pretty clever and fun to fight, but the great thing about defeating the Ghost was the partner (who has to be the best the game offers you that) you get afterward; a little sparky named Watt (though it's completely confusing as to which gender Watt is much like Thousand-Year Door's Chapter 1 boss Hooktail). Watt comes in very handy when it comes to both combat and when searching for hidden blocks that can only be found with a little hint of light. And it's no wonder that such a good partner comes from a pretty good chapter. With plenty of great puzzles to solve, two good boss fights (with an optional one towards the very beginning of course), awesome layout, and every other good thing I mentioned about it, Trails in the Toy Box just goes to show that Mario can be as kid friendly as you'd always view him.

 Chapter 8
→ Final Chapter ←

Would it be cheating if I instantly gave this the top spot just and only for the game's final boss? With all due respect, I'd say sort of. Because I really can't look at just one thing in a chapter that stands out. I can tell you though that this final chapter is by no means terrible. Exploring Bowser's Castle before reaching Peach's feels like actual buildup to the final boss of Mario's arch-nemesis and does give you that feel that you should prepare for an intense and epic face off with the great and evil Koopa King. All of the puzzles and challenges against Bowser's minions in his castle before reaching Peach's all felt like the perfect kind of buildup to the final boss fight with the King of Koopas himself, and thank graciousness that this is also supposed to be both the 6th and last time time you ever fight Jr. Troopa, the first boss/enemy you actually defeat in the game, whom you also love to hate.

It's a majorly epically climatic and stellar conclusion to the game with some awesome music inserted in, and thanks mind-blowing puzzles, epic boss battles (especially Bowser's final phase), and excellent pacing all add up to a chapter that will test you, haunt you, stun you, and most importantly, it will entertain you. Nuff said.

Chapter 7

Some may call it the best of the game, but for me, A Star Spirit on Ice is only a close second, but that's not to say it's completely bad. Like the previous chapter before it, ASSoI is an excellent chapter thanks to its beautiful and gorgeous environments of snow and ice - especially the Crystal Palace. The story of the chapter sees Mario at first trying to clear his name of a sudden murdering of the mayor that he's instantly blamed for, then eventually traveling down the icy road to Starborn Valley where he meets another wizard named Merle (Merlon's son) to learn the secrets and true of the Crystal Palace where along the way in Shiver Mountain, Mario also runs into Merlon the Wizard's ancestor Madam Merlar to learn even more about the secrets of the Crystal Palace and what lies ahead. What follows is Mario accessing his way to the palace with a placed Star Stone in the mountain to make his way to the palace and eventually having to fight off enemies like duplighosts and White Clubbas, all while leading his way up to the Crystal King to save the last Star Spirit; Kalmar.

Finding your way throughout the palace to solve puzzles throughout the palace, and fighting probably the most challenging boss in the game at the end of it only makes this heartfelt chapter more fun as to giving a really high spot on this Worst to Best. And let's not forget that it may be hard for you to tell between your partners when their are numerous duplighosts impersonating them, and there's even a boss made of several other protective star kids known as Monstar before you reach Starborn Valley - not to mention this is the 5th time you'll fight Jr. Troopa. I really hope you leveled up if you're a newbie, cause this chapter will challenge you so much (even if you're already an expert).

Chapter 5

Being based around things like your favorite characters, environments, etc. is one thing to add charm to a chapter, and Hot, Hot Times on Lavalava Island is no exception - which is why I feel this chapter is slightly better than the one chapter before the very last. The story sees Mario heading for the erupting volcano to look for the fifth Star Spirit known as Misstar, and eventually travels throughout the island with the help of his 7th acquire partner Sushie; a motherly Cheep Cheep who is best described as bossy by the other Yoshi kids. And that's another thing that makes this better than A Star Spirit on Ice for me. The Yoshis themselves are all very colorful (both inside and out of their characters), cute, and just plenty kind-hearted. This may have been just a little less awesome if they weren't included, but what's important here is that we get those elements that make a level good, like enemies, pacing and entertainment, and the various environments of the chapter. Its especially fun to search for all those younger Yoshi's after checking the volcano out and never feels one bit tedious unlike the game's fetch quests half the time (or at least a little in that manner).

Along with traveling to find Raphael the Raven in order to get access to the volcano and collecting an ultra stone to power up your partners a second time each, you'll also be exploring the volcano and reaching the chapter's boss Lava Piranha whom I got say that, despite being somewhat too easy, is made up for thanks to his second phase and clever design of a regular Piranha Plant in the Mario universe. What's also cool is that after the End of Chapter screen, you have that brief section of having to escape the volcano before it erupts and then eventually find that treasure chest (after Peach's fun event of winning a Sneaky Parasol after you clear a quiz) to give its treasure to Kolorado and get the last seed to access Flower Fields after collecting the other three throughout Toad Town, Mt. Rugged, and Forever Forest. Always a blast to play, Hot, Hot Times of Lavalava Island could not only be the best chapter of the game, but could also possibly be THE best Paper Mario series chapter of all time.


Do you agree with my list? Which Paper Mario chapter is your personal favorite?

For more awesome posts posted every week, be sure to tune in to The Super Mario Brony Blog.

Thanks for reading!

Next Paper Mario post: Top Ten Music Tracks

Friday, November 18, 2016

Mario Game Review - Paper Mario (N64, 2001)


It may be something of a gimmick to turn Mario into paper, but the Paper Mario series unexpectedly turned out to be successful among both critics and gamers alike. (Alas, now that I'm done with MLPSeason6, I can go back to Mario for the time being) The first game was a like an heirloom for me since I've grown up with it since childhood due to its fun gameplay, complex concept, spot on sound, and well done controls. It's been forever since I've reviewed a game of the plumber as you may know, so now, let's review one of my most nostalgic Mario games of all time (and one of my favorites nonetheless).


Paper Mario is set in the Mushroom Kingdom as the protagonist Mario tries to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser, who has imprisoned the seven "Star Spirits", lifted her castle into the sky and has successfully defeated his foe after stealing the Star Rod from Star Haven and making himself invulnerable to any attacks. To save Mushroom Kingdom, rescue Peach, get the castle back, and defeat Bowser, Mario must locate the Star Spirits, who can negate the effects of the stolen Star Rod, by defeating Bowser's minions guarding the star spirits.


Paper Mario is the second game in the RPG genre of the plumber after Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars on the Super Nintendo just five years beforehand. And I gotta tell ya, it's a big improvement for me (though I never grew up with the Super NES nor have I played (or downloaded) Seven Stars (on the Virtual Console on my old Wii) until sometime in the last five or six years). The first thing that sets it apart from the first RPG in the main franchise is of course the layout of the game with a papery feel to it. You begin the game as Mario with no weapons or items and instead just Mario's trusty jump. As you travel along your journey, you'll pick up different hammers to help you make your way through certain environments of the game's various chapters, with a total of eight after the prologue where the game really begins. Ranging from a variety of puzzles to solve and enemies to fight, it takes plenty enough skill to help you along your quest. Which brings me to another important aspect in the gameplay: the Battle System.

With the battle system, you have your trusty jump to help you stomp down enemies (like Goombas and Koopas, or any airborne baddies), a hammer to smash your enemies down (like the spiky ones), an items option to either replenish your health or attack any specific foes, along with the flag icon; strategies to change your party members (once you get more than one), skip your turn by doing nothing (but stupidly without reason), or run away from any enemies minus any bosses. To enter these battles however, you must approach the enemy (with caution, naturally) with or without a strike, or your foe striking you (sadly), and prepare yourself for combat with all the options you have to either attack them, heal yourself, change your partners, etc. You can equip badges for special attacks and stuff, but it is at the cost of some of your Flower Points (FP) to pull it off. If your Heart Points (HP) reaches zero though, it's, go figure, game over (proving you have no Life Shrooms with you). Along with all that (after collecting the first star spirit), you also have your star gauge meter to help you in battle (proving you have enough power in your meter with or without using the focus opinion) with special abilities ranging from attacking the enemies, healing your health, lowering their attack power, you get the idea...

For fetch quests, you up to exactly 80 badges to collect to either help boost your stats or increase your HP or FP (by 5 at least), 160 star pieces (which can buy you more badges) to search for via places with flip panels, or by answering Chuck Quizmo's quiz questions correctly, and even cooking various recipes with Tayce T. They're all fun side quests for the most part though they will get a bit tedious and (at times) petty as you go on. But all this at least adds up to a fun experience for you to enjoy for hours (if not more than enough days). You do have your partners (up to eight total along your journey much like the star spirits) to accompany you, all of whom will help you in battles, solve puzzles, move across areas you presumably can't reach on your own - making for a much more fun gaming experience.

For any flaws I have though, primarily due to how much its first sequel has improved much more over it, the game does feel a little too short if your trying to beat the main game itself, ignoring any real side quests to fully complete it since of course, there's no continuation after you beat the game's final boss. But with reason, this IS the very first game in the series so newer things are greatly added at least as the franchise goes along with more and more installments overtime. The side quests do get a little tedious and require that you listen very, VERY closely to its sluggish text in order to understand them (and I say this because I literally just skip through it almost every single time it pops up at the top the screen), but do at least add replay value but as I said, is practically a little too short at times compared to Thousand-Year Door just three years later. But at the end of the day, the first Paper Mario is an amazing game that any gamer (RPG or Mario fan or not) can enjoy with every last bit of appeal added to it.


In terms of visuals, Paper Mario looks beautiful, gorgeous, and everything else you could use to best describe good graphics. The concept ranging from volcanic islands, to crystal palaces, snowy towns, gardening fields, bright and sunny deserts, and even a toy box were all superb for the game's design, and its overall layout is pretty much near flawless with that papery feel of cutouts and models of buildings and other things constructed out of paper kits. I really don't have anything bad to say about its visuals as they're all just well-balanced and greatly crafted. So in conclusion, long story short; Paper Mario's graphics in visuals, concept, and overall animation (I forgot to mention) are all charming.


From a mixture of epic and tense boss themes (like the game's final boss), to happy and joyfully bouncy ones, and even a few beautiful tunes, Paper Mario's music is the epitome of a well-orchestrated soundtrack and I can honestly say it's one of the best and most memorable soundtracks I've ever listened to ever since my childhood days with it. There isn't a single dull or forgettable music track in it so all in all, it's excellent. As for sound effects, well they're just as spot on as the game's music with plenty of wacky ones and just enough to give the game a pleasurable feel to it (especially with those sound effects badges you collect throughout your journey). And voice acting? Well, there's none other than that text that drags along throughout each character and sometimes it may be interesting, but at other times, it's really just nonsensical and I often prefer to skip past it even when its trying to be helpful or tell me a story, but that's just me. So in the end, everything in this category from the music and sound effects (if not really anything to say about voice acting) is spot on, so moving on.


The Main Game
  • Control Stick – Move
  • A – Jump / Talk / Investigate
  • B – Hammer
  • Z – Spin Dash
  • C ↑ – Toggle HUD
  • C → – Open partner menu
  • C ← – Open inventory
  • C ↓ – Partner ability
  • START – Open game menu
Menu
  • Control Stick – Move cursor
  • A – Confirm
  • B – Cancel
  • Z – Move to ← register
  • R – Move to → register
  • START – Open menu
Battle
  • Control Stick – Move cursor
  • A – Confirm / Guard (during enemy attack)
  • B – Cancel
  • Z – Change attack order
  • C ↓ – Used for some action commands
Princess Peach's
  • Control Stick – Move
  • A – Talk / Investigate
  • B – Use Sneaky Parasol (After Chapter 6)


With a great deal/feel of roaming around throughout the Mushroom Kingdom for youngsters and replayable in so many ways for the older games (specifically those in the 90s that have grown up with it or at least played some of it at best), this second RPG game in the main franchise of Mario is one you'll be pulling out of your collection forever. With plenty of replayability in its side quests and many various enemies and areas throughout the game's chapters, this N64 installment (despite being possibly the last of the plumber on the console) proves sometimes visiting retro games can be more fun than buying newer ones... since it's a whole lot better than those after Super Paper Mario (though I haven't played the ones after the Wii sequel yet), and will provide you with plenty of good fun and entertainment.

If you haven't played it, you're missing out.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

MLP:FIM - Revised Equestria Girls Spinoff Film Ratings & Grades (Supercut)


Equestria Girls Films

C+ ~ Good
Coy

A+ ~ Incredible
Awesome

F- ~ Atrocious
Failure

F- ~ Atrocious
Catastrophic

F ~ Bad
Sloppy

MLP:FIM - Episode and Season Ratings & Grades Chart


Episodes

Awesome

"S"
"Masterpiece"

(Best Episode only)
Twilight's Kingdom
(Season 4)

A+
"Incredible"

Season 2
The Return of Harmony
A Canterlot Wedding
Season 3
The Crystal Empire
Keep Calm and Flutter On
Season 4
Princess Twilight Sparkle
Three's A Crowd
Pinkie Pride
Season 5
Castle Sweet Castle
The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone
Amending Fences
Crusaders of the Lost Mark
The Mane Attraction
Season 6
Gauntlet of Fire
Stranger Than Fan Fiction
The Fault in Our Cutie Marks
Viva Las Pegasus
Top Bolt

Superb

A
"Amazing"

Season 1
Sonic Rainboom
The Cutie Mark Chronicles
Party of One
Season 2
Lesson Zero
Hearth's Warming Eve
Read It and Weep
Hurricane Fluttershy
Season 3
Magical Mystery Cure
Season 4
Flight to the Finish
Maud Pie
Season 5
The Cutie Map
Brotherhooves Social
Season 6
Flutter Brutter
Buckball Season

A-
"Outstanding"

Season 1
Dragonshy
Winter Wrap Up
Season 2
Sisterhooves Social
Secret of My Excess
Season 3
Magic Duel
Season 4
Bats!
Rarity Takes Manehattan
Pinkie Apple Pie
For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils
Season 5
Canterlot Boutique
Season 6
The Gift of the Maud Pie
On Your Marks

Fantastic

B+
"Excellent"

Season 1
Friendship Is Magic
Season 2
The Last Roundup
Hearts and Hooves Day
Season 3
Too Many Pinkie Pies
Season 4
Daring Don't
Season 5
Make New Friends but Keep Discord
Made in Manehattan
The One Where Pinkie Pies Knows

B
"Wonderful"

Season 1
The Ticket Master
Call of the Cutie
Fall Weather Friends
A Dog and Pony Show
The Best Night Ever
Season 3
Sleepless in Ponyville
Wonderbolts Academy
Season 4
Power Ponies
Testing Testing 1, 2, 3
Equestria Games
Season 5
Rarity Investigates!

B-
"Great"

Season 1
Suited for Success
Over a Barrel
Season 2
Family Appreciation Day
Season 3
Apple Family Reunion
Season 4
Castle Mane-ia
Simple Ways
Filli Vanilli
Twilight Time
It Ain't Easy Being Breezies
Leap of Faith
Inspiration Manifestation
Season 5
Tanks for the Memories
Appleoosa's Most Wanted
Season 6
Spice Up Your Life
Where the Apple Lies

Coy

C+
"Good"

Season 3
Spike at Your Service
Season 6
Dungeons & Discords

C
"Nice"

Season 1
Applebuck Season

C-
"Decent"

Season 1
Green Isn't Your Color

Average

D+
"Okay"

Season 2
The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000
It's About Time
Season 3
Games Ponies Play
Season 5
Princess Spike
The Hooffields and McColts
Hearthbreakers
Season 6
A Hearth's Warming Tail
The Saddle Row Review

D
"Mediocre"

Season 1
Look Before You Sleep
Swarm of the Century
Season 2
MMMystery on the Friendship Express
Season 4
Trade Ya!

D-
"Meh"

Season 1
Stare Master
Season 2
Sweet and Elite
A Friend in Deed

Acceptable

P
"Neutral"

Season 1
Griffon the Brush Off
Boast Busters
Bridle Gossip
Feeling Pinkie Keen
Season 2
The Cutie Pox
May the Best Pet Win!
Putting Your Hoof Down
Season 3
One Bad Apple
Season 4
Rainbow Falls
Season 6
Applejack's "Day" Off

Weak

F+
"Poor"

Season 1
The Show Stoppers
Season 4
Somepony to Watch Over Me

Sloppy

F
"Bad"

Season 1
A Bird in the Hoof
Season 2
Luna Eclipsed
Season 5
Bloom & Gloom
Season 6
The Cart Before the Ponies
The Times They Are  A Changeling
P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View)

Painful

Season 1
Owl's Well That Ends Well
Season 2
Ponyville Confidential
Season 3
Just for Sidekicks
Season 5
Scare Master

Unbearable

Season 2
Baby Cakes
Season 5
Slice of Life
Season 6
The Crystalling
Every Little Thing She Does

Failure

F-
"Atrocious"

Season 2
The Mysterious Mare Do Well
Dragon Quest
Season 5
Party Pooped
Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?
What About Discord?
The Cutie Re-Mark
Season 6
No Second Prances
Newbie Dash
28 Pranks Later

Catastrophic (-0.5 or lower)

"NS"
"Garbage"

(Worst Episode only)
To Where and Back Again
(Season 6)
----
Seasons

C- ~ Decent
Coy

D+ ~ Okay
Average

B- ~ Great
Fantastic

A ~ Amazing
Superb

P ~ Neutral
Acceptable

This image will be replaced once the DVD cover of Season 6 comes online.
P Neutral
Acceptable