Soundtrack Central The best of VGM and other great soundtracks

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Jodo Kast May 31, 2015

The Gameboy Advance Everdrive was announced in 2014, but there are so few games that interest me for the GBA that I bought a GB player with Gamecube. Depending on one's point of view, the Gamecube itself could be considered an accessory. In my case, it is, because I won't be picking up any GC titles.

I bought 6 GBA titles in all: Circle of the Moon, Harmony of Dissonance, Aria of Sorrow, Metroid Fusion, Metroid Zero Mission and Gradius Galaxies. A few others looked interesting but those six are what I need. A GBA Everdrive would just have me bouncing around from game to game. The only two issues I can see with buying GBA cartridges are having to replace the batteries and having to repair the optical drive on the GC, since a boot disc is required.

As for the DS, there are 3 main titles I need: Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin and Order of Ecclesia. Luckily, they are all still in stock at Amazon and I picked them up. In fact, I can completely avoid auctions to get any DS or 3DS games I might want, since Amazon has them all in stock.

I checked into connecting a DS or 3DS to a TV and it can be done, but it introduces lag and it can cost hundreds of dollars. According to many youtube videos and comments, playing DS games on a 3DS XL just makes them look better. So rather than buying an original DS, I'll get an XL for the bigger screen and improved contrast.

Ramza May 31, 2015

I can think of a handful of other GBA titles that you might truly enjoy.

If you enjoy Strategy RPGs, the Tactics Ogre game "Knights of Lodis" is a joy to play.

Many people didn't like it, but I found the FF Adventure remake "Sword of Mana" to be great. I played that on GC's GBPlayer and really adored it.

There are also plenty of ported titles, that may be easier to gain access to than their originals. These include Zelda: LttP, the first two Breath of Fire games, Tales of Phantasia, and Shining Force.

As for DS/3DS -> TV setup ... yeah, it's a mess. I'm impressed by people who do it, but I refuse to expend the time/money/effort to make it happen. 3DS XL is a good compromise, as it is quite a large screen.

Ashley Winchester May 31, 2015

Jodo Kast wrote:

Depending on one's point of view, the Gamecube itself could be considered an accessory. In my case, it is, because I won't be picking up any GC titles.

Not even Metroid Prime? I put off playing this until 2012 and damn it... that was a shame cause it was awesome.

I've played most of these games:

Circle of the Moon:
"Circle of the Moon is that rare Castlevania game that doesn't exactly know what it wants to be. The overall difficulty level makes it feel like the game wants one of its feet planted in the old-school games of the past while the formula brought over from Symphony of the Night simply fights against that idea at every turn. I don't exactly hate the game but I wish it would just pick a side and stick with it.

Harmony of Dissonance:
While Circle of the Moon doesn't know if it wants to take influence from the old-school titles or Symphony's Metroidvania style and feels strained because of its indecision, Harmony makes a decision and sticks with it. However, in doing this it gambles with so many of its elements that the result, while not quite horrible, is just odd. Unsurprisingly, these curiosities become the face of the game itself.

Aria of Sorrow
While my opinion of Aria of Sorrow has changed a bit over the years the degree of that change is probably more substantial than I'd ever admit. I've always felt that Aria was the best of the three Castlevania games on the GameBoy Advance but it wasn't until playing the remaining games on the Nintendo DS that I began to feel it was the best follow-up to the acclaimed Symphony of the Night.

Metroid Fusion
As great as it was to have Metroid back after an eight year absence I can't help but feel conflicted when it comes to Metroid Fusion. The mission based structure of the game puts somewhat of a cap on the usual, free-form exploration but the suspense built up by the story quickly justifies it as a necessary evil. What isn't justified is the layout of the Biologic Space Labs which feels entirely phoned in.

Metroid Zero Mission
As conflicted as I am about Metroid Fusion, I am even more conflicted over the quality of Zero Mission. Generally speaking I can get behind the concept of the game with the original Metroid aging somewhat poorly, but Zero Mission fudges up its promising premise by simply doing too much. The game's over-eagerness reaches its peak with its ending climax coming off as completely unnecessary.

Dawn of Sorrow
As the sequel to Aria of Sorrow, I guess the nicest thing I could say about Dawn of Sorrow is that it works, but at the same time it doesn't because it only seems to reinforce the fact that I find the original game to be superior. That's not quite the kiss of death the above makes it out to be yet unlike its predecessor, Dawn of Sorrow's issues are easy to identify.

Portrait of Ruin
Unlike most of the other Castlevania titles on this list, my opinion of Portrait of Ruin has unfortunately fallen a few pegs since I last wrote about it. For a while it felt like it was the strongest entry in the series since Symphony of the Night, but when I replayed Aria of Sorrow I knew that wasn't true. Also hurting Ruin is the games' final battle which is just a bunch of (expletive) any way you slice it.

I hid the paragraphs below each game in case you didn't want to read my opinion until after you've played them. I obviously don't want to influence your thoughts.

GoldfishX May 31, 2015

For me, having Puzzle Fighter, Final Fight and Namco Museum on the go were important on the GBA. I was never really big on the system: Too many high profile ports (by the time they got to the DS, they HAD to make fresh 2D Mario games because they ran out of games to port!) and I lost interest in the direction of Castlevania/Megaman on the system (I enjoyed Circle of the Moon though). Even the music was generally lackluster. Be sure to look into Mother 3 in English though. And Tiny Toons Buster's Bad Dream is a Treasure game that seemingly no one knows about. And yes I realize the irony that my favorite 3 games on the system were ports. ;p

The DS actually saw some decent action. There was kind of a mini-2D revival with Peach and New Super Mario Brothers coming out on it and Tetris DS and Planet Puzzle League were fantastic updates to classic games. I also put some serious time into Dragonquest 6 when it came out. The general rule: Games that didn't rely on the touchscreen were usually good (similar to Wii games that didn't rely on motion controls). There was a LOT of shovelware shoveled onto the system early on. That said, once I got a CycloDS and an NES emulator on the go, I haven't touched too many of the regular DS games.

Ashley Winchester May 31, 2015

What about Breath of Fire II? The GBA port of that was pretty damn solid aside from the fact they didn't bother to re-translate it.

They did a good job on the sound programming (it surprisingly doesn't sound like crap) and it pretty much kills any reason to own the SNES original because of the 3x/2x gold/experience boost.

That last part makes the game WAY less grindy!

Amazingu May 31, 2015

GoldfishX wrote:

and I lost interest in the direction of Castlevania/Megaman on the system

Mega Man definitely went off in unusual directions on the GBA, but both of them were fantastic if you ask me.

Jodo, if you enjoyed the MMX series at any point, you'll want to try the Mega Man Zero games, because they have a lot in common, while also being different enough. They have great music but they're pretty tough.
I'd also recommend to just skip the first one because it wasn't that good. 2, 3, and 4 are where it's at.
Alternatively, just get the MMZ Collection on DS.

And then there's the Mega Man Battle Network games, which are some of the best action RPGs EVER IMHO.
Again, there's some you can avoid (1 is very rough around the edges, don't bother with 4, and don't go in expecting too much of 5), but 2, 3, and 6 are all fantastic.

GoldfishX May 31, 2015

Btw, I give Network Battle 2 my seal of approval as far as being a good game (for whatever that's worth). I did enjoy my time with it. But it left me wanting as a "Megaman" game.

As for Breath of Fire, there's something about those games that always caused me to overlook them. Guess bad release timing.

Amazingu Jun 1, 2015

GoldfishX wrote:

Btw, I give Network Battle 2 my seal of approval as far as being a good game (for whatever that's worth). I did enjoy my time with it. But it left me wanting as a "Megaman" game.

That makes sense as it's by no means a traditional Mega Man game.
I think it's the best use they made of the IP outside of the traditional games though.

Ashley Winchester Jun 1, 2015

GoldfishX wrote:

As for Breath of Fire, there's something about those games that always caused me to overlook them. Guess bad release timing.

Basically this. I don't doubt that I played Breath of FIre II at the right time because if I had played it any later it wouldn't have made the impression it did on me. And in all honesty even though I like the game I can see why other games overshadowed it. Take away the things in it that scream Capcom and you have a rather basic game.

I played the original BOF back in 2011 I think and yeah... okay game but probably played that too late. Didn't make much an impression on me.

Jodo Kast Jun 2, 2015

I had bought a Gameboy Advance when it was initially released, along with Circle of the Moon. I shortly sold the game along with the GBA, due to being unable to properly see the screen. I ignored the system. When the Gameboy Player was released, I bought it, along with Harmony of Dissonance. For reasons I don't remember, I didn't repurchase Circle of the Moon and play it properly, I did play CoM on an emulator in 2004 or earlier, so I could see the screen, but it still just didn't look right. I later learned (a few days ago) that later versions of the GBA corrected the poor screen of the first model. Had the GBA been released with a good screen from the start, my whole experience with the system would've been more favorable.

Ramza wrote:

If you enjoy Strategy RPGs, the Tactics Ogre game "Knights of Lodis" is a joy to play.

Many people didn't like it, but I found the FF Adventure remake "Sword of Mana" to be great. I played that on GC's GBPlayer and really adored it.

I don't know if I enjoy strategy RPGs, since I've never tried one. I am curious about Ogre Battle in general.

Ashley Winchester wrote:

Not even Metroid Prime? I put off playing this until 2012 and damn it... that was a shame cause it was awesome.

It's really easy to obtain, so I might change my mind.

Amazingu wrote:

Jodo, if you enjoyed the MMX series at any point, you'll want to try the Mega Man Zero games, because they have a lot in common, while also being different enough. They have great music but they're pretty tough.
I'd also recommend to just skip the first one because it wasn't that good. 2, 3, and 4 are where it's at.
Alternatively, just get the MMZ Collection on DS.

And then there's the Mega Man Battle Network games, which are some of the best action RPGs EVER IMHO.
Again, there's some you can avoid (1 is very rough around the edges, don't bother with 4, and don't go in expecting too much of 5), but 2, 3, and 6 are all fantastic.

  I added the Mega Man Zero collection to my cart at Amazon. It's still in stock and under $20. I don't mind the tough factor, since I'm stubborn.

Ashley Winchester Jun 3, 2015 (edited Jun 3, 2015)

Jodo Kast wrote:
Amazingu wrote:

Jodo, if you enjoyed the MMX series at any point, you'll want to try the Mega Man Zero games, because they have a lot in common, while also being different enough. They have great music but they're pretty tough.
I'd also recommend to just skip the first one because it wasn't that good. 2, 3, and 4 are where it's at.
Alternatively, just get the MMZ Collection on DS.

And then there's the Mega Man Battle Network games, which are some of the best action RPGs EVER IMHO.
Again, there's some you can avoid (1 is very rough around the edges, don't bother with 4, and don't go in expecting too much of 5), but 2, 3, and 6 are all fantastic.

  I added the Mega Man Zero collection to my cart at Amazon. It's still in stock and under $20. I don't mind the tough factor, since I'm stubborn.

I don't really care for the Zero series (aside from the music) but yeah, if your going to play them I'd recommend doing it with the collection since you have more buttons on the DS and can reassign the buttons. The control configuration screen is a little wonky but if you screw with it it makes dealing with your sub weapons/dashing easier.

XLord007 Jun 7, 2015

Lots of good GBA games mentioned above, but not the best GBA game, Mario & Luigi: Super Star Saga. Love that game.

Sami Jun 22, 2015

Ashley Winchester wrote:

Not even Metroid Prime? I put off playing this until 2012 and damn it... that was a shame cause it was awesome.

Metroid Prime has a superior version in Wii's Metroid Prime Trilogy. The disc release is rare nowadays, but there's also a digital version available on the Wii U eShop.

Ashley Winchester Jun 22, 2015 (edited Jun 22, 2015)

Sami wrote:
Ashley Winchester wrote:

Not even Metroid Prime? I put off playing this until 2012 and damn it... that was a shame cause it was awesome.

Metroid Prime has a superior version in Wii's Metroid Prime Trilogy. The disc release is rare nowadays, but there's also a digital version available on the Wii U eShop.

I'm assuming you mean graphically because I'd rather play prime with the Cube controller than the Wii Mote. Absolutely HATE switching beams on the Wii. Hell, half the reason I was impressed with Prime was how well the action was geared to the controller.

Also, Prime Trilogy isn't as rare as you think. Gamestop reprinted the (non-metal case) one a few years ago. The store by me has three copies... they're pricey but obtainable.

Sami Jun 24, 2015

Ashley Winchester wrote:

I'm assuming you mean graphically because I'd rather play prime with the Cube controller than the Wii Mote. Absolutely HATE switching beams on the Wii.

Nah, I absolutely love the Wiimote controls. They improved the Prime games massively for me. On Gamecube, I could recognize the good game design, but the Cube controls took away some of the gameplay enjoyment. The Gamecube controller just doesn't sit very well in my hands.

Jodo Kast wrote:

According to many youtube videos and comments, playing DS games on a 3DS XL just makes them look better. So rather than buying an original DS, I'll get an XL for the bigger screen and improved contrast.

Just noticed this comment. Are people really saying that? The 3DS makes DS games smudgy, and the best way to play DS games is on a DSi XL.

Jodo Kast Jun 27, 2015

Sami wrote:

Just noticed this comment. Are people really saying that? The 3DS makes DS games smudgy, and the best way to play DS games is on a DSi XL.

  It's not unanimous, but people are saying it. Considering I haven't yet bought the 3DS XL, I have a chance to do this right and research if a DSi XL is the better option. I only want to play some DS games and nothing designed specifically for the 3DS XL.

absuplendous Jun 27, 2015

If you play DS games on an XL using its native resolution rather than full-screen mode, DS games will appear exactly the same size as if you were playing it on a DS Lite (of course, this introduces a black border). I imagine that's what people mean--the original resolution and screen dimensions on the most modern screens. Playing DS games upscaled is just plain ugly regardless of what model 3DS you use, especially 2D games. It's like playing a living jpeg.

If you are buying a 3DS XL to play DS games on a bigger screen, you're either rendering the point moot (the original resolution won't fill the entire screen) or compromising image quality (DS games stretched to fit the 3DS screen look awful--2D games like Castlevania will especially suffer); it's simply not ideal. As Sami pointed out, a DSi XL is your best bet if you want to play on a large screen without impacting clarity; otherwise a DS Lite will do just fine. Either option is a lot cheaper than buying any 3DS, especially if you're not going to play 3DS games. These options open the door to an R4 game card, too, which is quite clearly an incentive for you!

Unless screen size is truly prized, I recommend a DS Lite--GBA and DS compatability, including flash cards.

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