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Last week I explored some of my favorite opening sequences in gaming, and this week I'm doing the polar opposite, my favorite ending sequences. While a great opening can get you off on the right foot and get you motivated to continue, a great closing is just as important. There's nothing worse than putting several hours of your life into a game only to have it leave you with a sour taste in your mouth.
Like last week, I'll only be including the final moments of player control, and let me stress one more time: SPOILERS AHEAD! Let's get started.
While the end credits in Super Mario World are perhaps my favorite end credits ever (not to mention that I love the music that accompanies it so much that my wife and I played it as we left the church at our wedding), you don't hear too many people talking about the events that lead up to it. You trek your way across the Valley of Bowser and finally make it his castle, and suddenly find yourself with several doors to choose from. The game had already proven itself to be bigger and better than any other Mario game up to that point, and this final stage only drove that fact home.
You have a room with four doors, each one taking you to a different area, and after you get through it, you have another set of four doors. This meant that you had 16 different combinations of paths to choose from in order to reach Bowser, and I had a ton of fun just going back and replaying the castle to see them all (and now I always choose doors 3 and 5 since they're the quickest to get through).
After a short section with a disco ball that you can turn on and off, you come to the final battle. Seeing Bowser descend upon you in his clown car/ship/bowling ball distributor was very intimidating. Then, after you manage to get through the first two stages of the battle, the once happy clown car furrows its brow and starts stomping it's way toward you. This was very intense for a 6-year-old Dustin Thomas, but the payoff is worth the fear if you can pull through.
That was quite a bit to say about an honorable mention, but Super Mario World is my favorite game of all-time, so you may be wondering what could possibly have beaten it? Well, let's continue and I'll tell you.
I play every campaign in the Call of Duty franchise, and I always wind up leaving them satisfied (except Ghosts, there's no logical reason why that dude was still alive). We can say what we want about Call of Duty and how it's become one of those "dudebro" titles, but I still enjoy the campaigns quite a bit, and they always end with some sort of epic showdown or event. But the one I still love going back to is the ending of the original Modern Warfare. I should clarify I'm not talking about the airplane hijacking bonus mission, I'm referring to the end of the actual story.
Up to that point you had already experienced a ton of intense moments, including the Captain Price sniper mission and the terrifying final moments of a soldier's life after his chopper is taken down by a detonated nuke. The game is very bleak at time, but never more so than in the game's final mission, when your vehicle is overturned and you're outnumbered by enemy forces. The game then goes into a cinematic slow-motion scene where you witness your comrades getting shot and the game's antagonist walking towards you.
After an incoming missile strikes down an enemy helicopter, the enemy's attention is diverted, and your camera pans left to find Captain Price (whose mustache is so manly that the only way to make it more manly is to attach my beard to it) who slides a pistol your way. Three concentrated shots later, followed by the words "Objective Completed," leave you feeling like you actually saved the world.
Escape sequences in games are sometimes very captivating. I remember the final bridge escape from Uncharted 2 very vividly, and the Metal Gear Solid tunnel chase is also a very fond gaming memory of mine. But no game has done the escape sequence as well as Super Metroid. Before we get to that, though, let's back up a bit.
As you make your way through the final area of Planet Zebes, you find yourself about to be attacked by an enemy, when suddenly, the once tiny metroid appears, now several times larger, and kills the enemy before turning its attention on you. Once it realizes who you are, it lets you go and you're able to confront Mother Brain. It can't be overstated just how much of a surprise Mother Brain was here. Rather than just fighting a stationary brain in a glass enclosure, this one shows its true form, revealing itself to be the size of a t-rex. When it seems all hope is lost, the metroid reappears, saving and energizing Samus with a powerful new energy before Mother Brain is able to kill the metroid. A noble and appreciated sacrifice.
At this point Samus becomes a two-legged death machine and must race against the clock to get back to her ship before the planet explodes. I just played Super Metroid for the first time last summer, and this was a thrilling final sequence. I managed to escape the planet with only 15 seconds left, and I got really depressed when I discovered you can save the creatures that helped you along your adventure. I was selfish, little ones, and I'm sorry.
If you're a faithful reader of my top 5 lists, then you probably remember that I listed the 2008 version of Prince of Persia as my number one hidden gem on the previous generation systems a little while ago, and part of that is because of how much I loved the ending. Much like the baby metroid, your companion, Elika, sacrifices herself to save the world. If the game were to end right there, it wouldn't be as memorable.
What happens next is that the prince takes Elika into his arms and you're tasked with walking her body outside. The credits begin to roll as you continue to walk. I don't know why this was so cool to me, but it was. It was nice having something to do while the credits roll rather than just sitting around and looking at a bunch of letters formed together to make names. But it doesn't end there. In order to save Elika, you're given control of the prince once more and must destroy the Tree of Life, a major plot device in the game. When he does this, she is revived, but he opens the door for the game's antagonist, Ahriman, to unleash his darkness upon the world.
I would have preferred if this were a player choice: save Elika or save the world, because whenever I'm given a choice, I always opt for the "greater good" conclusion. Nevertheless, this remains one of my favorite ending sequences ever.
Note: do not play the downloadable epilogue, it negates everything great about this ending.
On last week's list, Sonic429 brought up the openings of the Metal Gear Solid games. I then got really mad at myself because I'm one of the biggest Metal Gear fans you'll meet and I completely overlooked the tanker mission in MGS2. It was the first time since I started doing my weekly top 5 series that someone mentioned a game and I felt like I genuinely forgot something that probably would have made my list. Oh well.
But I wrote that list and this one in tandem, and I certainly couldn't write a list of my favorite endings without including one that left me sweating and with an aching thumb. I bought a Playstation 3 for the sole purpose of playing Metal Gear Solid 4, and while I did wind up playing other games on it, it remains my favorite PS3 exclusive and one of my favorite games of the last generation. The only section of the game I didn't care for was that tedious third mission in Prague, but outside of that, I think the game is a masterpiece. But how could you top the finales of MGS 1, 2, and 3? That final fisticuffs battle with Liquid and subsequent chase sequence? Completely outstanding. The weirdness that is the final hour of MGS2? Nothing if not memorable. The fight with The Boss that concludes MGS3? One of the best final battles in gaming.
Now, I'm not going to sit here and try to explain what's going on to anyone that hasn't played the game because I only have so much time left in my life and that would take up the majority of it. The place I decided to start with this one is in the microwave room. Yeah, it's basically just a QTE that requires no skill or reflexes, but it was one of the most tense hours of my gaming life. At least, it felt like an hour based off of how bad my thumb was hurting by the end of it (unfortunately, I couldn't find a video that shows the button prompt, which makes you feel a great sense of urgency). But I had to block out that pain, I had to help Snake reach the end of his hero's journey. Then you get a nice little throwback to the original Metal Gear Solid, fighting Liquid at the top of Outer Haven, with cool close-ups adding a nice touch while the MGS theme plays over the scene.
The final moments of Blood Dragon speak to everything that I love about 80s action movies. There is no possibly way they could have crafted a better final sequence for the type of game that it was than the one that came in the finished product. Some may complain that there's no challenge at all, and it's true, there isn't, but that's what makes it great. You're in a giant, impenetrable, steel blood dragon that spouts one-liners and, in the dragon's own words: "shoots lasers out of its f****** eyes." You literally just walk to the end of the game in this dragon blowing up every single thing you see (no shortage of red barrels here). Oh, and by the way, you do all this while the song "War" from Rocky IV is playing. I listen to that song at the gym all the time!
I've written an entire blog about why I feel Blood Dragon is the best "modern-retro" game ever, and there's really not much left to be said. How can you read that last paragraph and not be blown away? Just watch the video, guys. Trust me, it's worth it.
And as I always do at the ends of these lists, what are some of your favorite ending sequences that I may have missed?
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We're down a man this week, but that doesn't mean we don't have a mighty fine show for you. The second half of the show is devoted to listener questions, but before we get there we discuss Ocarina of Time 3D, Dying Light, Fantasy Life, Resident Evil Revelations, and Arkham Knight getting a Mature rating. Then we get into some really fun listener questions about our favorite Assassin's Creed game, our favorite/least favorite things about gaming today, and our favorite moments in horror games. Topics and time marks below!
Chris GOTW – Master Chief Collection 02:00
Erik GOTW – Ocarina of Time 3D 03:00
Dustin GOTW – Fantasy Life/Dying Light 03:40
New releases 07:00
Resident Evil Revelations discussion 10:00
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse/Pokemon Shuffle 16:00
Batman: Arkham Knight gets a Mature rating from ESRB 17:45
Our favorite Assassin's Creed games? 22:00
What would our over-the-top wrestling move be? 25:10
The origins of the “Dirty Diaper” 25:45
How long is Dustin's beard? 27:50
Favorite/least favorite thing about gaming today? 29:00
How many little people to subdue a lion? 34:30
Thoughts on Dead or Alive marketing? 35:50
What's anime? 37:20
What's Monster Hunter? 38:00
Moments in horror games that still scare us 38:40
Outro and plugs 46:30
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The Error Machine Podcast is recording at 6pm (EST) tonight, so send some questions our way. Doesn't really matter what kind of question, gaming or not. Although we will be briefly discussing WWE Fast Lane if you have thoughts on that.
But like I said, ask us anything. We're up for whatever, and be on the lookout for the episode to go up on Dtoid tomorrow.
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Sometimes the opening of a game is all you need to decide if you want to continue playing. It's the first impression you get for the game, and if it doesn't capture you right away, then all may be lost. Before games started having cinematics, they didn't need them. But now that videogames are becoming more and more of a creative medium for storytelling, the importance on a game's opening can't be overstated.
The way I decided to do this one is by starting from the first moment of actual player control. So if a game starts with an amazing opening cutscene and just plops you into the game with nothing special going on, that's not going to make it on here.
Before we begin, I should stress that there are SPOILERS for the upcoming games if you wish to avoid them.
Having the Joker taunting you the whole time he's on his way to his cell leaves you with an unsettling feeling. It's almost like he has an ace up his sleeve.
Simply put, this is how you begin your epic adventure game. I remember playing and being really bummed it was only a flashback. I couldn't wait to figure out how Nathan Drake got himself into such a predicament.
A game's opening doesn't always have to be thrilling, sometimes it just needs to put a smile on your face.
And now that we've got the honorable mentions out of the way, let's get to my top 5.
The opening to the original Resident Evil was dripping with tension. After the initial (corny) opening scene, you walk through the first few rooms of the Spencer mansion bracing for the worst.
Resident Evil 2 took an entirely different approach. Instead of letting you sweat a little while, this time Capcom opted to throw you right into the middle of a zombie minefield. When I first played these games in the late 90s, I was never able to beat them because I was playing them entirely wrong. I didn't like the idea of having to run away from enemies, so I tried killing everything and would soon find myself with no ammo and had sealed my inevitable gruesome fate.
With Resident Evil 2, you have to run away lest you get overwhelmed by the zombie horde shambling toward you. You may not like this opening better than the original's, but it's definitely a better way of showing you the proper way to play the game, which is to avoid conflict at all costs if you can.
This was also our first glimpse of Raccoon City outside of the mansion, and after finding what we presume to be a safe haven in the Raccoon City Police Department, we soon come to find just how wrong we are.
If there's one thing that the God of War series gets right, it's that they always open with a bang. In fact, with both the original and with this particular entry, my favorite part of the game is the first 30 minutes.
While the hydra battle that kicks off the original God of War is my favorite boss battle in the series, the opening of GoW3 takes the word 'epic' to a whole new level. You have titans climbing up Mount Olympus, the Greek gods convening together, and a giant, angry hippocampus trying to take you out before the come face to face with the sea god, Poseidon.
Rip my heart out, why don't you? This is the most recent game on the list, and I'm sure there are some out there who haven't had a chance to play it yet but want to, so, again, heavy spoilers after the video.
The Last of Us may be a post-apocalyptic game, which is way overdone, but one of the things that makes it stand out is the fact that instead of being dropped into the middle of an apocalypse, you actually get to experience the very beginning of the outbreak. You get to see the panic and hysteria that comes an with unknown force ravaging the area.
Then, once you meet someone that you think is there to help you, things only get worse, and leads to one of the most heartbreaking deaths you'll ever experience in gaming.
The original Dead Space did a great job of conveying a sense of hopelessness. Even after you beat the game, you couldn't really celebrate, as you knew that things were only going to get worse for Isaac Clarke. And get worse, they did. The reason early survival horror games worked as well as they did was because even though you had some means of defense, you were hesitant to use them for fear of running out of ammo that you would need in future battles. What could be scarier? Well, how about not being able to defend yourself at all? Which is exactly what Dead Space 2 did.
While Dead Space 2 definitely took a step away from horror in favor of a more action oriented game, the opening scene left me on the edge of my seat with sweaty palms and white knuckles. After seeing a young man (rather gruesomely) transform into a necromorph before your very eyes, you're then tasked with escaping a mental hospital crawling with the alien undead, all while confined to a straight jacket.
I've always been a huge history buff, especially when it comes to wars. Put a war movie in front of me and I'm glued to my seat. World War II I've always found particularly fascinating, specifically the storming of the beach at Normandy. June 6th, 1944 will forever be known as D-Day, and when I saw a commercial for Medal of Honor Frontline that showed this particular battle, that was enough to convince me to buy the game.
I've always wondered what was going through those solider's heads as they approached the beach. They knew that even though they were conducting a surprise attack, they were still going to be out in the open once the enemy soldiers spotted them. Most of them probably went into the battle knowing their chance of survival was slim, but their duty to defend their country was a greater priority than even their own lives.
While the game doesn't depict the violence that took place during this battle, it's still a great depiction of one of the most important moments in military history.
I know that I missed some really good opening sequences, so what are some of your favorites?
Special guest and PStoid host Nanashi joins the Error Machine Podcast this week. We discuss things like the New 3DS, Amiibo news, Kmart phasing out games, Lemmy Kilmister, how hardcore Dustin was in high school, and much more. Topics and time marks below.
Nanashi enters the arena 01:20
Erik New 3DS impressions 02:45
Majora's Mask 3D discussion 05:35
Chris gets a new car 10:20
Remembering Dustin's high school car 11:10
Nanashi's Diablo III addiction 13:00
Nanashi's GOTW – Eliot Quest 16:00
Erik GOTW – Shinobi 3DS 20:45
Revengeance discussion/sequel rumors 22:00
Chris GOTW – Halo Master Chief Collection 24:50
Schwarzenegger training techniques 27:20
Dustin GOTW – Hyrule Warriors/Captain Toad 28:50
Luke GOTW – Regular Show: Mordecai and Rigby in 8 Bit Land 31:20
New Releases 34:50
Error Machine Describes: Gas Guzzlers Extreme: Full Metal Zombie 41:55
Link is the most popular Amiibo 47:40
Nintendo confirms Amiibo cards 49:00
Kmart phasing out games 51:00
Goodbyes and plugs 57:50
Thanks for listening!
Hey everybody! Welcome to the new episode of my recent adventures in video content! An exciting new venture, for sure.
This week, in anticipation for Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, I took a look at one of the finer titles on the original Game Boy: Kirby's Pinball Land.
This video is a bit different than the previous two. For one, despite how much I love the game, it's a simple game, so this video is a bit shorter than the others. Also, this time I don't appear in the video at all. I always intended for these videos not to feature me at all, but some people seemed to like that stuff.
Anyway, give it a view and let me know what you think.
If you're interested in our YouTube channel, check it out here.
Enjoy! And let me know what you think.
Be on the lookout for a new Weekly Top 5 later this week (probably tomorrow).
And, as always, give my podcast a listen: