November 30, 2009

THE LIST: Five "Whoa" Moments

This week's THE LIST asks you for five "whoa" moments from games.

Did a game's story take a turn for the crazy? Did you end up in some amazing world? Fight a ridiculous boss battle? Do you remember a moment while playing multiplayer that just caught you off-guard? How about the first time you popped in a game and were immediately struck by it?

We want your list of five vibrant gaming memories in which a moment from a game has really stuck with you. We'll be reading your THE LISTs on the next podcast.

Oh, and if the game came out in the last year or so, try not to spoil anything for those who haven't played. But if a game is more than two years old everything is fair game.


Christopher said...

Five "Whoa" Moments

- In Dragon Age: Origins, I was on my 7th, maybe 8th attempt at the final boss fight. To keep it non-spoilered, I'll simply say that at about half health the final boss escapes temporarily while a large wave of minions attacks. The minion swarm had continuously been my downfall, but after a change of tactics I survived the wave...with my healer. I said "Screw it" and kept on fighting. I did everything possible to keep the boss away from me, just going "pewpewpew" from a distance for single-digit damage. And I won. I beat the game. With a healer. WOOT!

- It was during the pursuit of (I believe) Abul Nuquod of Damascus in Assassin's Creed. I had spent over ten minutes sneaking along the long border of the palace, climbing down without death. I finally drop onto the balcony behind him, and just as I was about to reach him I am spotted. Nuquod ducks behind a guard and gets away. I chased him through most of the palace, and in one critical moment when Nuquod took a turn, I *accidentally* ran up the side of a statue and *accidentally* catapulted at least 10ft right onto Nuquod, getting the kill. WOOT!

- When I reached the final stage battles in Brutal Legend, I had my strategy down solid. After having some difficulty with the current fight, I realized that I had the last unit of my arsenal: the Rock Crusher. I quickly built one and joined with it to try out the Double Team. Holy crap. When I saw it go down, I stood still in my seat for a few seconds, and followed it up with a cackle of glee. WOOT!

- I loved replaying Chrono Trigger on my DS, especially knowing that it was still just as fun as it was in the beginning. Back then I never cared for using Crono much; I've always tended to avoid the main character if I had the chance. But with all of the new additions of the DS port... When I got hold of the ultimate sword (Dreamcatcher?), being able to crit 90% of the time... WOOT!

- I was running Left 4 Dead's Death Toll campaign on Expert with my three roommates. After a good hour and a half of trying to keep everyone alive, defending at the boathouse, etc., we finally made it. The steamboat parked at the dock. We jumped out of the house and made a run for it. We were all giddy from getting this perfect run, it was quite a feat for us! I was two or three steps away from the boat. A hidden Smoker from the furthest line of trees sniped me PERFECTLY. I was tripped and dragged into the water, where the incoming swarm surrounded and annihilated me. So much for the perfect run. NOT WOOT!

Kevin said...

1) "Ur-moment": "The Princess is in Another Castle" through actually finding the princess in Super Mario Bros. This is a "whoa" moment because it teaches you that incremental rewards in games can sometimes keep postponing you and your desire for gratification until the end.

2) Various cut-sequences in FFVII, especially when the player learns the gory details of Jenova Project. These because they sort of yielded the adult age of JRPGs in their invocation of H.R. Geiger style alien grotesque.

3)First time I saw STAR FOX, the gangly "Mode 7" POV really had me hooked. Important to me because it was a new sort of visual style for video games.

4)First Zerg-horde attack (if you are on the defensive) in STARCRAFT. Nothing like seeing a wave of flesh and blood consume all of your technology!

5) "I know Kung-Fu" moment: in Chrono Trigger, when you first start using Lumiere...why the hell haven't you realized that it was in you all along???

epicpoet said...

My five moments, in no particular order (divided into two parts)

"Ahh... fresh meat!" - In Diablo, when your character first encounters The Butcher, the game's first boss (of only four bosses total). The Butcher's menacing growl and the almost-certain death you'll face when meeting him for the first time are the real introduction to the atmosphere and danger of Diablo Uno.

"Nothing can beat the music of hundreds of voices screaming in unison!" - In Final Fantasy VI, the world ends. Yup, right around the game's halfway point, the psychopathic mage Kefka succeeds in destroying the world, permanently scarring it. When you revisit the world map, 1 game-year after the apocalypse, the continents have shifted, virtually every city has been leveled, and you control only one of the game's 12 characters that you had for the previous dungeon; what's more it isn't even one of the main characters from the beginning of the game. Damn. It made for a hell of a shock and cemented Kefka's position as one of the best gaming villains of all time.

"Ten years, Athena! I have faithfully served the gods for ten years! When will you leave me of these nightmares?" - in God of War on the PS2, you navigate through a few wrecked triremes, ruthlessly murder a ship's captain because you need the key hanging around his neck, kill a sea serpent version of the mythological Hydra by impaling three of its heads on a ship's mast, and then have off-screen sex with two women during a minigame on your return to shore. This isn't towards the end of the game, it's the first thirty minutes. God of War, as a game and perhaps even as a series, starts out incredibly brutal and entertaining, and outdoes itself with each new cutscene and boss battle. What a beginning.

epicpoet said...
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epicpoet said...

"Dear Mario, please come to the castle. I'm baking a cake for you. Yours truly, Princess Toadstool ~Peach" - Now, I never owned an N64, and I still think that N64 fans overrate the system's games to hell and back. However, one thing NOT overrated about the N64 was running around in the 3D world of Super Mario 64 for the first time. This is Mario, it's 3D, and it's still as bold, colorful, smooth, and fun as it ever was on the NES or SNES. Woah. Also, in its way, I suppose Mario 64 started the grand tradition of promising cakes to protagonists only to serve danger instead. Even if there is cake at the end.

"Let's go topside and see what kind of trouble we can get into." - In probably the least significant or famous entry on my list, I'm going to give the prize to the series of endgame revelations in Jak 3. Before busting blocks with games like Uncharted 2 but after trying to give Sony a mascot with the first few Crash Bandicoot games, Naughty Dog created a nifty trilogy-plus-one on the PS2 with the Jak & Daxter series. In the first game, Daxter gets cursed into the form of a mustelid-like creature and the duo tries to save the world and turn Daxter back. In the second game, the duo jumps through a mysterious portal to a dystopian future, where they join an underground resistance movement. In the third game, everything comes full-circle. Here's some spoilers: that portal was a time-traveling device, and this dark ironically named Haven City is the future of the tropical paradise from game 1. Daxter was never cursed at all; when he touched that weird Eco he was *blessed* by the power of it, because those furry little critters are the Precursors that built all these ruins that you've been exploring for three games! Also, the annoying street urchin that tagged around you in Jak 2? Well, he's none other than yourself, who is also none other than the legendary hero Mar that founded Haven City in the distant past/future/something. So, what started out as a straightforward platformer that evolved into a free-roaming platformer ends up as a complete clusterfuck of time travel and convoluted plot revelations. In the end, though, Jak finally gets to kiss the girl, Daxter finally gets a pair of pants, and Naughty Dog can finally get to making Tomb Raider Jones. Whatever. Wrapping everything up by delivering a great game and answering fans' questions, that's how it's done.

Good LORD that was too long. Sorry about that, guys. ~Sollosi

ExMachina said...
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ExMachina said...

Vaguely in chronological order...

Crystalis (NES) - "Plot twists" or devices like repeatedly facing off against the same set of antagonists multiple times, getting the eponymous sword, finally meeting Mesia (it's so lonely being some cryogenically frozen guy with no memory!), and discovering the real baddie after you kill Emperor Draygon. Reveals like this are pretty standard fare for J-RPGs that I've now experienced way too many times, but this kinda stuff was amazing the first time around... I can't think of a better introduction to action-RPG games than Crystalis.

Eternal Darkness - All of the insanity effects were excellent, but the one that really got my cousin and I (we were playing the game tag-team, basically) was the fake ending screen about a third in that told you to look forward to the sequel. Silicon Knights let it linger on screen for juuuuust the right length of time before we could recover from our bewilderment.

LoZ: Windwaker - Discovering suspended-in-time Hyrule underneath the sea. When I first descended, I stood still for a good minute just taking the scale of it all in. Everything about that sequence is pitch-perfect when it comes to playing on years of Zelda fan nostalgia - the music, the slightly eerie atmosphere, the amazing look of the statues and stained glass windows... That's a whoa moment thanks to epicness right there.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - Basically the entire game... I had no prior exposure to the series, but the combination of acrobatics and time-reverting mechanics, excellent voice acting bringing strong characters to life, and incredible art direction just hit me as the perfect example of why I love gaming. Top it off with one of the best endings in games - one that's so thematically appropriate, ties in perfectly with the gameplay, and satisfyingly completes the title sequence - and yeah, that's a "whoa" game for me.

ICO - The bridge sequence. It seems like you're almost out of the castle, but then the Queen finally steps in to show you that she's been allowing you to run around and you never actually stood a chance of escaping. What do you do when there's a massive, growing chasm between you and your companion? You jump. Not "ICO jumps in a cutscene" - you're fully in control of him and of course it's the action you choose because you've just spent the past couple of hours just barely scraping through the castle with your companion. Sure, you see plenty of similar "just barely make the jump" situations in action games that constantly serve up thrill after thrill, but coming out of an atmospheric game almost devoid of confrontation, the sequence was definitely a whoa moment for me and is completely in line with what the gameplay has been building up (the bond between the two main characters).

I could come up with dozens more... Metroid Prime was another "whoa" game for me, and there are countless multiplayer stories to be told from Pac-Man VS, Gears of War LAN sessions, Naruto/fighting game get togethers, etc. Man, I love video games.

High Off Pixels said...

1.The last bit in Chrono Cross when you realize you've spent the whole game working for the bad guys!

2. I'm sure someone will mention Portal's abrupt change, though I will add that, during the escape, the giant turret room threw me for a loop

3. One of my favorite games, Final Fantasy XI, had some great "Whoa" moments ranging from revealing who the Lord of Jeuno really was, entering the new continent in Chains of Promathia, or (my favorite) going through the Chocobo raising process. However my favorite Whoa moment was entering Tu'Lia (the first real "high level" area in FFXI) for the first time and marveling at the heavenly beauty and sense of being far far away from the world.

4. Learning how to sticky jump in Team Fortress 2, the first time I went halfway across the map was great. The fall which ate the leftover HP wasn't quite so great.

5. So many moments within Persona 4, especially involving Teddie, such as manifesting as a bishounen. There is also the moment when (along with the other male protagonists) are cross dressing and a text box pops up as Teddie is dressed as Alice in Wonderland

"...I'd hit it."

High Off Pixels said...

@ExMachina: YES! I had totally forgotten about that scene in ICO. I'd also say that the first time you are outside and can actually see the architecture. Also, while not a "whoa" moment (more aww moment), I loved what happens when you save your game in Ico.