Mother 3 Review

Mother 3

The legendary Mother 3 is known for never coming out in the US. Nintendo may never release it, but dedicated fans have translated this turn based RPG into English for anyone with an emulator. After completing Mother 3 I was left with a whirlwind of emotions. The emotion most prominent was anger because Mother 3 is one of the greatest RPGs ever made and Nintendo not releasing it in America is a disservice to the history of Video Games.

Mother 3 Dragos

Mother 3 opens with the disappearance of mother Hinawa and her two children Lucas and Claus. Their father, Flint goes searching for his family near their home on the Nowhere Islands. The Village of Tazmily is unique with the whole town living harmoniously with the earth and living selflessly. Everyone is kind to each other and extremely polite. This completely changes while Flint goes into the woods North of the village searching for his family. Strange men in Pigmasks set the woods on fire and begin to introduce many new concepts to Tazmily Village. The pigmasks introduce money, which therefore creates both greed and crime. Each chapter of Mother 3 stars a different character until Lucas takes over as the main character. Each new character offers a unique perspective on the ongoing change of the world around them. Eventually, Lucas and a group of misfits go against the modernized corrupted world around them and seek a way to stop the leader of the Pigmask Army (Who ties the series together.) Mother 3’s story is a roller coaster of emotions as the game explores the worth of happiness.

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The gameplay is very similar to the previous game Earthbound (Mother 2). It is a turn based RPG that has a few unique twists. The health points are on a countdown so even if you take mortal damage you can still make actions or heal yourself as your health points deplete. You can also tap to the music during battles to perform combos. With the soundtrack in Mother 3 being as great as it is, this mechanic is tons of fun as you try to find each enemy’s unique beat. Each enemy is bizarre and unique just like Earthbound (Looking at you Jealous Upright Double Bass!) and the Mother series’ signature Psychodelic backdrops. It creates an experience unlike any other as you travel to many diverse locations from the crumbling ruins of a castle to the futuristic town of New Pork City.

Mother 3 Battle

The presentation is excellent with Mother 3 easily being the most beautiful Game Boy Advance game ever. The art style is timeless and the animation is top notch. Special kudos go out to the translation team for the English writing and script. It is heartfelt, hilarious, and every word keeps the player invested with this wacky group of characters.

Mother 3 is a lost classic that has found new life thanks to some dedicated fans. Mother 3 constantly keeps the player on their toes with amazing writing, active combat, and a colorful presentation that is oozing with personality. Nintendo better give Mother 3 a chance in the West because many gamers are missing out on this timeless classic.

Final Score: 9.8/10

Review: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS.

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Every 7-8 years high lord Sakurai blesses us with a fighting game that doesn’t hold back. From polished gameplay to an overwhelming number of gameplay modes to a plethora of fan service, Nintendo’s mascot fighter is back. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time for Smash Bros.

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Smash Bros. on 3DS raised a lot of eyebrows when it was first announced since it will be the first time we can smash on the go and for the most part it doesn’t disappoint. With a staggering 51 characters this iteration of Smash Bros. has easily the largest roster with many of the newcomers proving their worth. The 31 stages however, don’t have the same impact with many stages returning from past games and the new stages are dull in design. Luckily, the competitive Smash Bros. scene has left it’s mark on Sakurai since every stage has it’s own “Final Destination” version for more competitive play.

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The game modes have also been tweaked for the 3DS hardware. The main attraction this time around is “Smash Run,” a 5 minute rush through a massive level grabbing stat boosts to prepare yourself for a final showdown. Unfortunately, this mode is a novelty at best with the big finale being only a minute long rendering the previous 5 minutes pointless. Classic mode returns with an overworld map similar to the “Find Mii” minigame on the 3DS. All-Star mode is here as well with a unique twist where the player smashes through each character based on the year they were created. Customization is now much larger than it was in Brawl with the ability to change character’s stats and special moves. This goes one step further with the inclusion of Mii’s for complete customization. These new options can make fights pretty hectic if Bowser is running faster than Sonic and Jigglypuff hits like a truck on steroids.

Upon first glance gameplay is pretty solid with the thought of “Yup. It’s Smash.” running through your head. Dig a little deeper and the flaws begin to surface. The game itself doesn’t have any flaws gameplay-wise, but instead the 3DS hardware is the main problem. The circle pad on the 3DS isn’t as precise as the accepted smash controller (Gamecube) and can lead to some frustrating moments of “That’s not what I meant to do!” as you play. The game’s camera doesn’t do any favors either with it pulling out so far sometimes that you can easily lose the small dot that resembles your character on screen. When these issues are absent Smash Bros. is Smash Bros. You will beat the daylight out of other Nintendo Mascots with a massive grin on your face as the game runs smoothly at 60 fps.

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To many Smash Bros. is a multiplayer fighting game and this is where Smash Bros. on 3DS falls apart. Couch multiplayer is still accessible with local wifi, but the lag is unbearable at times. It happens so frequently that the game becomes unplayable. Things only get worst when you go into full online matches. Their heart is in the right place with online modes emphasizing party play as well as competitive play, but the lag on this precision fighting game ruins everything. This was a problem 7 years ago with Brawl’s multiplayer on the Wii, but the fact that 7 years later the online functionality is just as bad is unacceptable. With so many issues plaguing Smash Bros. multiplayer I can’t imagine this game having the same longevity as previous games in the series.

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Smash Bros. for 3DS is good, but it should be great. Hardware limitations and poor online hold it back from reaching the heights of previous installments. When it works Smash Bros. is a blast and will put a massive grin on your face. Even with the flaws Smash Bros. is still Smash Bros. and shouldn’t be missed by any 3DS owner.

Design: 7/10
Gameplay: 8.4/10
Presentation: 9.0/10

Final Score: 8.1/10

Final Fantasy X HD Remastered Review

Guardians of  Yuna ready to rock!

Guardians of Yuna ready to rock!

The classic PS2 role playing game has received an HD upgrade by Square Enix. Final Fantasy X has been beloved for over a decade for its excellent turn based gameplay, elegant story, amazing graphics for the time, and one of the best soundtracks in a video game. Do Final Fantasy X hold up after 12 years or should the Fayth have kept dreaming?

Final Fantasy X tells the story of Tidus, an ace athlete with daddy issues who witnesses the destruction of his home town of Zanarkand. He is sent away during the disaster by his father’s friend Auron and a massive beast named Sin. When Tidus awakens he is in the world of Spira 1000 years later. Sin has become a constant threat and the only hope to stop Sin are the teachings and religion of Yevon. Yevon is the religion that governs Spira and requires certain citizens to become summoners to make pilgrimage to defeat Sin…even if Sin’s defeat is only temporary. The story revolves around Tidus as he becomes a guardian to the summoner Yuna and aids her quest to vanquish Sin. The story is excellent as Spira struggles to fight the looming threat of Sin while politics and religion clash over the big question: Should we honor religious tradition or seek a new way to stop Sin? The story itself is great even if the moment to moment voice acting and writing isn’t up to scratch…I’m looking at you Tidus’ laugh scene.

I will liberate you from the disease that is life.

I will liberate you from the disease that is life.

The world of Spira is a sight to behold taking influence from Southern Asia. Even though Final Fantasy X is more linear than most Final Fantasy games there are still many things to do. From secret side quests to the addicting and fully fleshed out Blitzball games, Final Fantasy X isn’t short on keeping the player busy. With tons of collectibles to find, now beasts to capture, and Celestial Weapons to hunt Final Fantasy X is the king of Final Fantasy side quests. The only downsides are the requirements and design flaws of the Celestial Weapons. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to dodge lightning 200 times in the Thunder Plains for Lulu’s Sigil or having to go through the living hell that is the Chocobo Catcher mini-game for Tidus’ Sigil.

Hell is Real...

Hell is Real…

The Chocobo Catcher mini-game is easily the worst gaming experience I’ve had in my entire life. This mini-game requires Tidus to pilot a Chocobo through a race against another Chocobo. Hitting balloons negates 3 seconds off your time, while hitting flying birds adds 3 seconds to your time. To obtain the key item for his weapon the player must beat the race with a time under 0:00 seconds. The problem is the horrible controls of this mini-game make it nearly impossible to achieve this time. The randomness and horrible AI of the birds take the experience from painful to nearly unbearable. This mini-game is completely optional, but if you’re a completionist then prepare for the worst mini-game in history.

In contrast, the Blitzball mini-game is quite possibly the greatest mini-game in video game history (It’s up there with Mario Party Bumper Balls). Blitzball is a simulation of soccer, except it is played underwater, and is a number crunching RPG. What makes it so fascinating is how the developers were able to implement a full league with players to scout and free agents to sign to make your team stronger. It’s so amazing that Square Enix should have made Blitzball its own spin-off game.

Summons are still awesome!

Summons are still awesome!

The core gameplay of Final Fantasy X removes the Active Time Battle System in favor of a more traditional turn-based battle system. This system focuses on the different classes of characters who are strong against different classes of enemies. Tidus is strong against agile fiends, Wakka can snipe out of reach flying enemies, and Auron can pierce the strongest armored foes. This paved the way for more modern RPG systems like Shin Megami’s “Press-Turn” system. Each character also has special moves called Overdrives, which increase in power if the player inputs certain commands. Tidus’ Overdrives require you to stop a meter similar to Mario Golf, Auron requires you to quickly input a Konami-esque Code (UP UP DOWN DOWN Etc…), and Lulu requires you to rapidly rotate the control stick. Yuna’s Summons are easily the highlight of gameplay as these massive beasts appear and decimate the enemy. Considering how I am not a huge fan of the Active Time Battle system I must say that FFX has the best battle system of any Final Fantasy game. I’ve never had so much fun just grinding for levels.

Final Fantasy X uses a unique level up system called the sphere grid. Each character collects spheres for different attributes such as strength, magic, agility, and defense, while ability spheres allow for characters to gain new abilities. The freedom of selecting which attribute or ability to get is refreshing and allows for some incredibly unique character growth. This is especially true if you choose the expert sphere grid at the beginning, which doesn’t immediately lock certain characters into classes such as warrior or thief. Want to build a warrior who can heal while stealing items from enemies? Well you totally can.

SD versus HD

SD versus HD

The presentation is nearly perfect with each vista being so breathtaking that it’s hard to believe the PS2 could handle this game. From the amazing HD graphics to the amazing landscapes, Final Fantasy X is one of the most beautiful worlds ever created. Spira is a world that goes beyond immersion and feels real. This fact is made even more solid by the game’s outstanding soundtrack. I enjoy Final Fantasy X’s soundtrack so much that I’m positive it puts the legendary soundtrack from Final Fantasy VI to shame. The downside…is the voice acting. Being Square Enix’s first FF game with voice acting it is clear that things were a bit rough. Many characters talk like they’re William Shatner having a stroke and some performances go way over the top for no reason. It is so jarring with the rest of the game that the voice acting can’t even be seen as humorous.

Final Fantasy X is an amazing experience and the core game holds up great after 12+ years. Unfortunately, the rough edges that were present in the original game haven’t been improved on at all for this HD remake and are just as terrible as they were the first time around. Luckily, most of the flaws are minor or optional making Final Fantasy X HD a must buy for any fans of Japanese Role Playing Games.

Story: 9.3/10
Design: 8.4/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Presentation: 8.8/10

Final Score: 8.9/10

Top 10 WTF Dark Souls Moments

Dark Souls II is almost here. The anticipation has been killing me and led me to finally overcome the challenges and beat the first Dark Souls. Now midway through my second/third/forth play through I’ve compiled the Top 10 WTF Dark Souls moments and I hope Dark Souls II holds many more.

Honorable Mention: Kill The Dogs First (Capra Demon)

F*** F*** F***!

F*** F*** F***!

You think you’ve figured it out. You’ve bested the Taurus Demon and limped out barely of the Gargoyle fight. Nothing can stop you now. You enter the fog gate and…find yourself trapped in a broom closet with an angry rapist and his rabid dogs. The fight with the Capra Demon was the make or break moment for nearly all Dark Souls players. If your undead makes it out alive you can be sure your confidence didn’t.

10) Crystal Cave Navigation

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The Crystal Caves are an interesting place filled with euphoric scenery and slippery paths left and right. Then you get stuck. The path just ends and you see no way to progress. Until you notice the crystals seeming to crash land onto thin air. You take a deep breath and walk onto nothing. The orange text barely comforts you with a “Good Luck” as you navigate the thin, invisible paths of the Crystal Cave. Of course, Seathe The Scaleless will promptly curse your ass and make you start all over.

9) Asylum Demon

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Ah, the classic first boss. The Asylum Demon crashes down with a mighty boom as your unequipped undead shits his loincloth. What do you do!? You’re five minutes into the game and a 30 foot tall monster is charging you. Most new players would drop their controllers right there and walk away, while most just run through the door on the left.

8) Saving Solaire

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Solaire, the upbeat knight who can be summoned for boss fights is on a quest to find his own sun. Unfortunately, this quest comes to an end when he gets his mind controlled by a Chaos bug in the Demon Ruins. You’re forced to kill the knight who encouraged your jolly co-operation…or are you? If you stumble across The Fair Lady and join the Chaos Covenant and offer 30 humanity to her, then the area with the chaos bugs will open early allowing you to kill them and save Solaire. This then allows him to be summonable for the final boss fight against Gwyn. (Aka Solaire’s Pops.)

7) Drake Tail

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What’s one of the best early game weapon? Why the Drake Sword of course! Getting one is tricky since it requires patience, arrows, and more patience. Most experienced players know the trick by now. Stock up on arrows and head to the bridge where the huge ass dragon is. By taking the bonfire shortcut you can navigate under the bridge and fire arrows at the bastard’s tail. After 15-30 arrows (depending on the quality) the tail will fall off and become the Drake Sword, providing you with a powerful weapon… at least until you grab the lightening spear.

6) The Great Hollow/Ash Lake

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Blighttown…. UGHHHHHHHHHH. Everyone’s favorite part of Dark Souls holds a secret the size of an entire level…because it is. At the bottom of Blighttown in the poison swamp there is a large tree that you can climb into, which reveals a secret chest. If you sneeze on your controller and accidentally attack the wall behind the chest it reveals an entire level called the Great Deku Tree (joking, but not really). From here you can grab a ton of items from Crystal Lizards as well as catch a curse or two on the way! Yippee!

5) Lay in the Coffin

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After facing another Titanite Demon in the catacombs you might find a coffin that allows you to lay in it. Initially, laying in the coffin does nothing, but 20 seconds later a douchebag skeleton locks you in and transports you to the home of Gravelord Nito. This allows you to join the Gravelord Covenant and access to a cool poison weapon. Sucks I literally kill him a few hours later for his Lord Soul…oh well!

4) Ceaseless Discharge Easy kill

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Easily the best named boss in Dark Souls (snickers). The Ceaseless Discharge is massive and intimidating. Many who are weak willed may run to the entrance of the area and look to escape. Well guess what, you being a coward is his main weakness. At the entrance to the boss area The Ceaseless Discharge will attack you, freeze, and then fall down the never ending pit on the side. Three things can happen at this point:
a) You celebrate your heroic and brave victory.
b) You scratch your head at what just happened.
c) You look ahead and realize the next area is made up of Taurus Demons and Capra Demons…Greattttttttt.

3) Kaathe The Darkstalker

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So you’ve obtained the Lord Vessel in Anor Lando and on your way back to the weird looking thing that sounds like Dumbledore. Well what happens if you don’t do that? If you beat the Four Kings in the Abyss without giving Frampt the Lord Vessel, then another serpent named Kaathe will appear. Kaathe is against Frampt and wishes to begin the Age of Man. This allows insight on the two serpents and what their motives actually are. Making the game’s final choice less vague.

2) Snuggly The Crow/ Asylum Return

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How’s this for a WTF secret. After unlocking the elevator between Firelink and the Undead Parish you can actually jump off the elevator. From here you can hardcore parkour the ruins around Firelink and actually have the huge ass crow take you back to the Undead Asylum. The Asylum is very different with tougher enemies and a new boss fight (they must’ve upped security after a certain undead brokeout…). Another secret here is Snuggly the Crow who sounds weird and asks for something “warm” and “soft.” Dropping certain items in his nest provides many rare items and different rewards to exchange with Snuggly. It’s convenient, but seriously WTF.

1) Gwyndolin’s Anor Illusions

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After beating Fatass McQuack and Speedy Gonzalez in Anor Lando, Gwynevere and her “Amazing Chest Ahead” that you should “Try Holding With Both Hands” will bequeath onto you the Lord Vessel. Don’t get your hopes up though, since you can attack her revealing the great beauty as an illusion (much like my dates). This transforms Anor Lando into an eternal night and opens up an optional boss fight with Gwyndolin. Good freakin luck beating the asshole since his mix of magic and rapid arrow attacks will deplete your life bar instantly (Zigzagzigzag). The cause and effect of these actions as well as the difficulty of uncovering this twist easily puts the Anor Lando Illusions as the most WTF moment in Dark Souls. If you agree or disagree and have more awesome moments I might have missed put them in the comments below!

Killer Instinct: Spinal Impressions

Spinal has arrived in the latest update to Killer Instinct on the Xbox One. This Ancient warrior has a steep learning curve and some very technical traits, but despite the initial confusion this skeleton was designed for the hardcore with some fine fresh ideas. Also it’s a badass pirate skeleton with a scimitar so…there’s that.


KI Mini Glossery

Opener: A move that can start a combo.
Combo Linker: A move that continues the combo.
Combo Ender: A Powerful move that ends a combo.
Shadow Meter: A meter that enhances the power of special moves without using up the combo meter.
Instinct Meter: A character specific ability that can turn the tide of any fight.

The initial frustration comes from Spinal’s combo links and move set placement. Specifically, his move Searing Skull. The quarter-circle forward, punch move launches a spectral skull from Spinal’s shield and attacks the enemy. The problem with this move is that it can only be used to finish a combo and is useless as an opener or a linker. This means Spinal’s combos will be linked by awkwardly alternating between Soul Sword (Quarter-circle Back, Punch) and Boneshaker (Quarter-circle Forward, Kick.). Another option is to use Spinal’s Skeleport as a linker (Quarter-circle Back, Kick), but this move can’t be used as an Opener since damage only happens with a link. It makes Spinal’s learning curve much steeper than other characters with much more complex muscle memory coming into play.

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Spinal’s skull mechanic is interesting and will add some much needed depth to the competitive scene, but newcomers may not quite grasp the usefulness. Spinal’s moves gain stacks of spectral skulls that can enhance his attacks. These skulls can curse and drain the opponent’s Shadow and Instinct meter (while filling up Spinal’s meter), which can help out in those very close matches. His Instinct mode enhances the skulls by immediately giving him the maximum amount of five skulls and regenerating a new skull every two seconds. Combining this with the skull’s draining capabilities can extend the length of Spinal’s Instinct Meter. Unfortunately, this concept will fly over the heads of everyone except the most competitive players.

Spinal’s complexity doesn’t end there with Skeleport being used to deceive opponents who try and Rambo you. His best asset however, is his amazing cross-up capability with his aerial kicks. Any aerial kick from Spinal can be used as a combo opener and thus makes Spinal’s cross-up play the best in the game. His Ultra is kind of a letdown though, if only just because it’s not as flashy or musically influenced as others.

Spinal’s a great addition so far to Killer Instinct, but is definitely not for beginners. If you’re a player who is deep in competitive play he’s a must buy, but if you’re a casual player he might not be the best fit for you.

Top 10 Greatest Title Screens in Video games

Title Screens are our first impression of many video games past and present. A successful title screen succeeds on the merits of mood, atmosphere, music, and/or relevance to the game you’re playing. The best title screens incorporate all of these features and stand high above their contemporaries. We do have to note that this is strictly limited to title screens and not actual game menus such as Conker’s Bad Fur Day’s bar scene. With that aside, these are the top 10 video game title screens that hypnotized us from pressing the start button.

10. Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

The Title Screen for Xenoblade Chronicles tells us so much using so little. The somber theme overlays a beautiful backdrop complimenting it perfectly. The Monado in the grass with no game title as the wind blows delivers a pure minimalist experience. Those who beat the game would leave this title screen on repeat with their jaw on the floor. Xenoblade Chronicles’ title screen is simple, clean, and incredibly effective.

9. Mirror’s Edge (Multiplatform)

The atmosphere accomplished in the Mirror’s Edge is like a breath of fresh air. The white city backdrop shows us the playground before us, while the calming electronica music soothes us into the not so distant future. The title screen invited us to this world and most people let go of any skepticism they had and dove right into Mirror’s Edge.

8. Mass Effect 3 (Multiplatform)

The second you booted up mass Effect 3 you knew this was it. The orchestral theme complimented the feeling of awe most players felt watching their beloved Earth slowly get invaded by the Reapers. Many questions raced through our heads as this title screen played out. Who was alive? What could we do to stop it? Is the ending as shit as everyone says it is? With the success of the previous Mass Effect games this title screen firmly cemented the scary fact that players scrubbed from their minds. THIS IS THE END.

7 Metroid Prime (Gamecube/Wii)

What sells the title screen of Metroid Prime isn’t the creepy parasite-esque images, or the fading film filter…It’s the music. The music sets the unsettling mood of Metroid Prime with its mix of electronics and feedback. The Music is so sci-fi creepy that many players were terrified to press start. It is one of the most uncomfortable and effective title screens. Thank you Retro for sending chills down my spine.

6. The Legend of Zelda Windwaker (Gamecube, HD Remake on WiiU)

It is nearly impossible to not whistle the tune of Windwaker as the title screen begins. Giving us a tour of Link’s home island, Windwaker immediately paints a vivid picture of the flooded world of Hyrule. It prepares our sea legs as we zoom over the vast ocean before us, providing a sense of great adventure. Any prejudice towards toon Link was gone the second Windwaker’s title screen began. *Whistles*

5. Spec Ops the Line (Multiplatform)

A destroyed city, a massive sandstorm, a tattered upside down American Flag…Welcome to Spec Ops. The title screen’s iconic imagery accompanied by the loudspeaker Star Spangled banner proved Spec Ops wasn’t just another military shooter. The electric guitar licked through the National Anthem as the wind blew leaving players with an incredibly valid question “WTF AM I GETTING IN TO HERE?” Spec Ops’ title screen was an inviting welcome to a game that changed the way people perceive narrative within military shooters.

4. Braid (Multiplatform)

Braid’s “Not-so” Title Screen is easily one of the best. With no start button many players realize that you can actually move Tim on the title screen. Silhouetted by the fires behind him, Tim moves to the right into the last remaining house at the beginning of the game. This title screen allowed players to open their minds to this puzzle platforming masterpiece. The contrast between the actual game and its title screen showed that Braid’s narrative was much deeper than players initially thought.

3. Halo (Multiplatform)

If this title screen didn’t pump you up then you have no soul. Now lets listen to this on repeat for 3 hours then go punch buildings!

2. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)

An iconic title screen, Super Mario 64 allows players to morph Mario’s face at their will, while jamming to the toe tapping new music. This title screen was our first true glimpse at 3D Mario and it easily brought a massive fully-teethed smile to our faces.

1. Super Metroid (SNES)

Ceres Station is under attack. The scientists bodies lie dead on the floor. A single Metroid Larva is incased in the center. Eerie sci-fi music sets the scene. Super Metroid’s title screen is flawless. The music sets the horrific tone of loneliness, the images are terrifying, and the mystery surrounding the attack is ever present. Super Metroid’s title screen set a bar in 1994 that will never be reached. Some title screens may be fantastic and incredible, but they still don’t come anywhere close to the masterpiece known as Super Metroid’s Title Screen.