2020

Game: Castle Of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse (Sega, Genesis)

Compiler: Vorpal86

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Vorpal86's Castle Of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse (Genesis) maps.

 

An evil witch named Mizrabel wants to steal Minnie Mouse's youth! To rescue Minnie, Mickey Mouse enters the Castle of Illusion, where each door leads to another world. By defeating the Masters of Illusion within, and obtaining the Seven Gems of the Rainbow, Mickey will have a chance to defeat Mizrabel and save Minnie.

 

Castle Of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse is a Sega Genesis game that is considered a classic, featuring a miniature mammalian mascot that predates Sonic The Hedgehog by many months.

 

Vorpal86 has mapped the main areas of this game both with and without backgrounds. It's always nice to have a choice regarding how we want to view a game! There are also maps of the truncated stages of the "Practice" difficulty, including versions of the first area of The Enchanted Forest, the last area of Toyland (without being flipped upside-down), and the first area of The Storm (with about 2/5 of the end simplified). This cartoon quest to collect colourful crystals isn't so challenging now that Vorpal86 has captured every pixel of every nook and cranny of this creepy castle.

 

So to recognize the effort of dispelling Mizrabel's illusions, Vorpal86's Castle Of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse (Genesis) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for October 2020.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Equinox (Sony, Super NES)

Compilers: Cleeem & TerraEsperZ

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Cleeem's and TerraEsperZ's Equinox (Super NES) maps.

 

Shadax, the hero of Galadonia, has been captured by the evil witch, Sonia. It is up to Shadax's son, Glendaal, to make his way to Sonia's Ice Palace to save him, as well as all the kingdoms of the world.  That's the entire premise of this perilous adventure of platforms and puzzles!

Equinox on the Super NES is the sequel to Solstice on the NES, and both are puzzle-laden adventures presented in isometric view. Both colourful and challenging, maps of these games are the kind that not only would you like to merely look at - for their tints and hues - but, if you are playing this, you might have to refer to - for any hints and clues.  These are pretty maps, and pretty useful maps, too.

Cleeem took on the maps of the eight underground/interior areas, with all these platforms, blocks and spikes.  The dungeon under Galadonia is barely more than a couple passageways, but it doesn't take long before you will need some assistance when navigating the sprawling labyrinths of Quagmire or Afralona.  TerraEsperZ took on the overworld map, a rotating plane, courtesy of the Super NES's "Mode 7". To conquer it, fancy math had to be employed, and the end result is a crisp and clear map of the kingdoms of the world of Equinox, which is actually sharper than what is seen from actual Super NES hardware.

 

Just as the term "equinox" refers to when daytime and nighttime equally share a day, Cleeem and TerraEsperZ can claim the "Maps Of The Month" honour together.

 

So to recognize the effort put into team-mapping this puzzlish isometry, Cleeem's and TerraEsperZ's Equinox (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for September 2020.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Blasphemous (Team17, PC)

Compiler: Eishiya

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Eishiya's Blasphemous (PC) maps.

 

You are The Penitent One, the sole survivor of the massacre of the "Silent Sorrow".  Wielding a sword and mastering abilities earned by Relics, you seek to free the world from a curse known as "The Miracle".  Will you succeed, or die trying?  Well, you will die.  Again and again...

 

Blasphemous (stylized in lower-case as "blasphemous") is a Spanish indie game that features impressive art.  There is a variety of locales, each drawn with such detail, including lots of religious iconography.  There are definitely some strange and disturbing sights.  Yet it's beautiful, in that eerie way, where you don't want to look away, even when you should be creeped out.  Eishiya has laid out all of this horrific splendour into maps that can help you - and The Penitent One - to navigate the cursed land of Cvstodia.  Who wouldn't want help in a world like this, as you take on challenging sidequests and titanic bosses while you scour the land for useful Relics?  (Eishiya won't help you avoid getting torn in half by a giant baby, though - that's on you.)

 

Eishiya is clearly a fan of indie "Metroidvania" games, having also mapped Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight and Catmaze in recent years, and earning "Maps Of The Month" honours for those games, as well.

 

So to recognize the effort put into mapping this gorgeous nightmare, Eishiya's Blasphemous (PC) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for August 2020.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Rolan's Curse (American Sammy, GB)

Compiler: Shiny

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to Shiny's Rolan's Curse (GB) maps.

 

The evil emperor Barius has cursed the land of Rolan.  As a heroic (and generic) knight, it's up to you to stop Barius and lift the curse!

 

That's not much of a story, but not every fantasy game has to be a sprawling epic.  This top-down action-adventure is often compared to similar-looking Zelda games, but Rolan's Curse is very short and sweet.  There are only four chapters, with the fourth one much shorter than the first three.  Unlike the legendary game series its appearance evokes, this is a more linear experience and can be cleared in one sitting.

 

Even so, there may be some areas where maps can be handy, and VGMaps.com has got that covered - twice - with marked and unmarked maps of every chapter, so you won't feel alone in your quest to defeat the evil Barius, with Shiny, one of our resident Game Boy cartographers, as your guide!

 

But maybe you aren't really alone if you have a Game Link Cable!  Rolan's Curse has a feature that not many people have utilized - this journey can be done with two players!  Maybe it hasn't been played this way often enough because the game is not hugely popular to begin with - which is a shame, as it is simple and charming, the very epitome of pick-up-and-play Game Boy fun.

 

So to recognize the effort put into mapping a game cursed with obscurity, Shiny's Rolan's Curse (GB) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for July 2020.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Lunar: Sanposuru Gakuen (J) (Game Arts, Game Gear)

Compiler: zagato blackfist

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to zagato blackfist's Lunar: Sanposuru Gakuen (J) (Game Gear) maps.

 

Ellie and Lena are two girls from a little town called Burg, and the story begins with them enrolled at a new magic school.  When they arrive at the island of Ien, they find that the school is empty and their instructors are missing, so they team up with other students to uncover what happened.  This mystery has monsters and magic and more in this fairly late Game Gear release, which is the first handheld game of the Lunar JRPG series.

 

Maybe to get around the Island of Ien, Ellie and Lena could consult these maps by our resident Game Gear fan, zagato blackfist, who seems to have a knack for mapping obscure, but interesting, RPGs and strategy games.  The game may not look huge, based on the number of maps, but it is quite possible to get lost in the Coastal Cavern or Demon Castle D, which are positively labyrinthine.

 

So to recognize the effort put into mapping another handheld epic, zagato blackfist's Lunar: Sanposuru Gakuen (J) (Game Gear) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for June 2020.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Trials Of Mana / Seiken Densetsu 3 (J) (Square, Super NES)

Compiler: xyzbilliu

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to xyzbilliu's Trials Of Mana / Seiken Densetsu 3 (J) (Super NES) maps.
 

Eight powerful beings - the Benevodons - were sealed into the Mana Stones by the Mana Goddess long ago.  Now, the Mana Stones are sought by those who wish to unleash the Benevodons and take over the world.  Six characters - Angela, Duran, Charlotte, Kevin, Hawkeye and Riesz - three of which are playable in any one playthrough - face one of three different antagonists in their journey that will involve seeking out the Mana Sword and defeating the Benevodons to save the world.

 

Like its immediate predecessor, Secret Of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3 is a beautiful top-down action-RPG that supports multiple players (though only two instead of Secret Of Mana's three).  With multiple combinations of characters and multiple storylines across a huge world, this adventure is one of the biggest that can be experienced on the Super NES or Super Famicom!

 

There's an interesting thing about this game's name.  Seiken Densetsu 3 was a Japanese exclusive until the first three games in the series were rereleased together in a bundle called "Collection Of Mana" for the Switch in 2019.  As it would now need a title in English, by following the convention of all the Mana games being titled "_____ Of Mana", this was rechristened as "Trials Of Mana" (with the "tri" in "Trials" being an intentional reference to the number three).  The Switch (as well as PS4 and PC) also received a complete remake in the spring of 2020, built as a modern game.  Though it is an entirely different engine, comparing many maps between the old and new versions show that there are quite a lot of similarities.  We can thank xyzbilliu for traversing this world and mapping it all out.

 

So to recognize the effort put into mapping this massive Mana game (the other Square original to receive a remake this spring), xyzbilliu's Trials Of Mana / Seiken Densetsu 3 (J) (Super NES) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for May 2020.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Final Fantasy VII (Square, PSX)

Compiler: FlyingArmor

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to FlyingArmor's Final Fantasy VII (PSX) maps.

The Shinra Electric Power Company is draining the planet of its Lifestream to produce Mako energy, but AVALANCHE, the eco-terrorist group, seeks to disrupt Shinra's operations. Also a danger is Sephiroth, who seeks the Black Materia to cast the spell "Meteor" to damage the planet, which would allow him to absorb the Lifestream to become a god. Can the mercenary Cloud, with AVALANCHE members Tifa and Barrett, and other allies and friends (inluding a robot cat and a vampire), save the world?

Final Fantasy VII is considered one of the greatest video games of all time, and it helped popularize JRPGs worldwide while boosting the sales of the original PlayStation, of which it is considered an iconic title (though it would also appear on the PC a year later). This 1997 game is the first Final Fantasy game featuring polygonal graphics and full-motion cutscenes, making use of the optical media on which it originally appeared. It has seen a number of rereleases in the last decade alone, including PC (again), iOS, Android, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and the mini-console, PlayStation Classic, to be followed by an episodic remake appearing this month for PlayStation 4.

(Its iconic status has put protoganist Cloud Strife into a number of other games, from Chocobo Racing, Ehrgeiz, and the Kingdom Hearts series - though those were all by Square (later Square-Enix), as well, but Cloud also managed to be a surprise guest character in Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series starting with Super Smash Bros. For 3DS/Wii U.)

FlyingArmor is definitely a JRPG fan, judging from the many epics he has mapped for VGMaps.com. Having put together over 800 maps for the Super NES atlas alone, mostly for RPGs, he now adds almost a hundred PlayStation maps by mapping out Final Fantasy VII. Though fully labelling RPG maps to show where items and points of interest are should be the norm by now, FlyingArmor went so far as to recreate icons, such as the icon for the save point, which was originally seen (though distorted) on the fourth disc of the International version. Now that's attention to detail!

 

So to recognize the effort put into finally fully mapping this fan-favourite Final Fantasy, FlyingArmor's Final Fantasy VII (PSX) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for April 2020.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Earthworm Jim (Shiny Entertainment, Genesis)

Compiler: G.E.R.

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to G.E.R.'s Earthworm Jim (Genesis) maps.

This month brings spring, and soon the birds and the worms will be out and about again!

 

Psy-Crow is tasked with delivering Professor Monkey-For-A-Head's Super Suit to Queen Slug-For-A-Butt. The suit accidentally falls to Earth and lands on an earthworm, and this is the origin of the weird and wacky (and wormy) hero, Earthworm Jim!

Everything about this game is just as weird and wacky as its hero. The other characters are also bizarre, from his friend Peter Puppy with Hulk-like anger management issues, the bungee-jumping ball of snot that is Major Mucus, and Bob The Killer Goldfish. The game takes you from New Junk City to Heck to Level 5 (yes, that's its name) to Buttville, each with unconventionally-designed stages, lacking the "blockiness" of many platformers of this time and instead has a more freeform, cartoonish design. Fittingly, Earthworm Jim was adapted into an animated series, though Playmates Toys planned to have a franchise of their own (after the success with their license for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) but beginning with a video game - which was unusual at the time. But again, being unusual fits the overall theme...

Though this game also appears on the Super NES, which we also have maps for (by Tropicon), we recognize the Genesis version's maps (by G.E.R.) here since it is the original and has an exclusive stage, Intestinal Distress! You can also snag Earthworm Jim on the Sega Genesis Mini.

So to recognize the effort put into mapping this groovy game, G.E.R.'s Earthworm Jim (Genesis) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for March 2020.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Sonic Advance (Sega, GBA)

Compiler: TerraEsperZ

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to TerraEsperZ's Sonic Advance (GBA) maps.

As Sonic heads to the big screen this month, let's take a look at one of his small screen adventures...

Doctor Eggman is once again causing trouble by "roboticizing" animals to build an army and threatening to take over the world. Who can possibly stop him? Well, the same hero that's stopped him for a little over a decade by this point, Sonic The Hedgehog! With his friends - Tails, Knuckles, and Amy Rose - and any Chaos Emeralds he can find along the way, he should have a chance to make it through numerous Zones, ranging from the Neo Green Hill Zone to Angel Island Zone and beyond.

Created in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the first Sonic The Hedgehog game, Sonic Advance is also notable for being the very first Sonic game to be released on a Nintendo platform. This Sega mascot has appeared in numerous games on Nintendo's (and others') gaming devices since, even appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series as one of the first non-Nintendo characters (alongside Konami's Solid Snake) beginning with Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii, and also starting at about this time, Sonic competes against Mario in numerous games based on the Olympic Games. So perhaps a whole generation of gamers don't find it unusual, but near the start of the millennium, Sega's main mascot on a Nintendo machine was sort of a big deal.

So to recognize the effort put into mapping this pivotal, portable adventure, TerraEsperZ's Sonic Advance (GBA) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for February 2020.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

Game: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time (Konami, Arcade)

Compiler: BumFengShui

For this month's "Maps Of The Month" featurette, I wish to draw your attention to BumFengShui's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time (Arcade) maps.
 

Time under normal circumstances flows linearly and steadily, but when the Ninja Turtles pursue Shredder and Krang in this classic arcade game, they jump from one time period to the next, after only a few minutes of smashing Foot Soldiers and other goons.  After leaving 1991 New York, they find themselves in the prehistoric era, then face pirates and cowboys and end up on another planet more than a century later than when they began this journey.  So unsheathe your bō, katana, nunchaku, or sai, and unleash some Turtle Power!  You know this adventure is timeless when Konami has included it in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare (GameCube, PS2, Xbox) and remade it as Turtles In Time Re-Shelled (PS3, Xbox 360).


Though we'd recognized the Super NES version 11 years ago, the recent release of Arcade1Up's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Home Arcade Game (which includes both of the original arcade games) makes the arcade version of Turtles In Time specifically relevant... as well as the fact that one of the years that the Ninja Turtles visit in this time-hopping adventure is the year 2020!  Will we ever see hovering vehicles like those seen in "A.D. 2020: Neon Night-Riders"?

So to recognize the effort put into mapping this timely adventure, BumFengShui's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time (Arcade) maps will be known as VGMaps.com's Maps Of The Month for January 2020.
 

Discuss the Maps Of The Month here!

 

Congratulations and thanks to the Mapmakers of 2020!