Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – More Randomizers

Different Randomzier Modes

There are a few different Randomizer settings besides the basic one I had played before. Open is the next step: the opening Escape sequence is now optional. Your uncle may not give you a sword anymore. Thus, you may have to go some time with no sword. A common scenario is finding the Hammer and having that be your primary weapon. If you have no Sword and no Hammer you’ll have to get creative.

Next there’s the Entrance Randomizer. Ever door into any house, cave, or dungeon is now randomized. Go into a village house and it may instead be Misery Mire. I didn’t try this out myself since, interesting as it is, it also seems a bit too confusing and random for my liking.

The final step (at least for now) is all of that plus the Enemizer: random enemies. You won’t see bosses in the middle of dungeons but you will see a random boss at the end. The real fun is that most rooms with a lot of enemies have smaller and/or easier enemies. Chances are you’ll see some bigger and nastier enemies there. Also, enemy stats are randomized. Those weak enemies now might be tanks that hit like trucks. I saw a “Hell Seed” recently that featured large spikes that move and do 3 hearts of damage. They accounted for many, many deaths.

I did four runs with Open Seed. Unlike my last couple runs I tried to be speedy on these. No 100%’ing for the heck of it, if I could beat Ganon I would. Still not a speed runner by any means but had some fun with it. Also, they’ve added the ability to change the player sprite rather than having to be Link.

1st Run (Frog)

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Frog seems to be one of the more popular sprites to pick. I’m a big fan of Chrono Trigger so I picked him first. Poor Frog had to go some time without a Sword. This immediately led to some gameplay I wasn’t used to. A key miss early for me was not being able to do Hype Cave (an early game cave with five treasures in it). To access Hype Cave you need to beat a room filled with mini Moldorms (small, erratic, and fast worms). I had no weapons besides Bombs! There was no way I’d be able to nail the worms often enough with Bombs before running out. I had to skip Hype Cave for a bit. I then went and half-did some dungeons looking for items. Eastern Palace had two Swords in it, upgrading me to the Master Sword and Red Mail, making me combat ready.

I modeled my initial path off the racers I’d seen. Most skip a cave in the desert initially as it has only one item and is just out of the way. Well, that cave had the Bow and it’s near Hype Cave. If I had done it first I would have been able to do Hype Cave. Hype Cave had the Lamp and with Lamp and Bow I would’ve been able to finish Eastern Palace immediately.

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For some reason Frog’s Dark World form is Bomberman

The next big item I was missing was the Hammer. I was able to do all of Thieves’ Hideout except couldn’t get the big chest without the Hammer. I’d end up stuck for a bit as the Hammer is key to getting around a lot of the Dark World. I ended up having to beat Agahnim to gain access to the Palace of Darkness and inside was a vanilla Hammer (Hammer found in same place as the original game). Vanilla items are considered rudeness by the seed. With that I went back for the Thieves’ Hideout chest which had the Flippers, another item I needed.

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Finally, I don’t like Ice Palace so I delayed doing that as long as possible. That ended up being another miss: it had the Cane of Somaria which I needed. I explored much of the world before finally giving in and going to Ice Palace to find it. That was the last item I needed for Go Mode (having all the items you need so you just need to beat dungeons and Ganon).

By the end I had just about 100%’d the game anyway.

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2nd Run (Mog)

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Mog here is from Final Fantasy VI, another of my favorites, so I went with him next. No Magic Powder in this run as it was locked by Agahnim who ended up being optional. Magic Powder is nice because it turns Anti-Fairies into normal Fairies for a lot of healing.

That damn old man in the desert had the Bow yet again on this run. I was quicker in going to him this time. However, I forgot about the Escape. I went around the Light World quite a bit before remembering. Though not required the Escape is still good since it has a few items. In this case the uncle had the Moon Pearl which allowed me access to the Dark World to get a lot more items. Of key note was that I went to do Thieves’ Hideout early again. It’s an easier DW dungeon and doesn’t require a lot so it’s often a candidate for first DW dungeon. It had the Hammer right in it this time.

I was awful on the Desert Palace this run. With the Titan Mitts and Flute I could skip the first half of the dungeon to do the second half. However, I forgot the second half had no items and I needed the Boots to get the Big Key to do the first half of the dungeon. Then I got the Fire Rod to light the torches at the end of the second half so I went in thinking I could at least beat the boss. Nope, I needed the Big Key. Thus, I ended up going into the Desert Palace three times and only wasting time the first two times.

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I went a while without the Lamp on this one. I tried some darkwalking but I really suck at it. Even rooms the racers can darkwalk easily gave me trouble. The Lamp ended up being in Misery Mire, a dungeon that itself has dark rooms.

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3rd Run (Zelda)

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It’s called Legend of Zelda, right? Time for Zelda to go on an adventure. This one was interesting right out of the gate with no Sword but with the Cane of Somaria as a weapon. The cane uses magic to create a block which you can then split into fireballs going in the cardinal directions. I didn’t have much confidence in getting into Hype Cave with it until I found that the block itself also damages and doesn’t disappear when an enemy hits it. Thus, I could just push it into the worms to clear them.

The Blind fight was also interesting. I didn’t have a lot of health and no Sword. I did have the Hammer and Cane of Byrna (uses magic to make you invincible with a ball of light orbiting you to damage enemies). The Hammer isn’t ideal for Blind with him taking equal damage to everything and it being slow to use. But I had to make do. The Cane of Byrna was ideal except for using magic. I had to wait for the last phase before busting it out.

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I don’t understand how this happened

I also soft-locked on Moldorm which I’ve never seen before. A trick I learned from the racers is to hold your sword out in front of you to block Moldorm. You’ll bounce off it but usually will be able to recover without falling off. Well, he bounced me into the ledge you use to drop into the arena somehow. I was held in place and unable to use any items, not even the Mirror. I ultimately had to save and quit.

There were some key items out of the way again. The Bow was sold by King Zora for 500 rupees on a corner of the map. I had to half-do Turtle Rock to get the Flippers.

After that, I needed either the Hookshot to complete a required Swamp Palace or the Fire Rod to finish Turtle Rock and hopefully find the Hookshot there. I scoured all of both worlds to find these items and didn’t find them. For the first time I had to consult the seed spoiler to find an item.

The issue was when I made my first trip into the Eastern Palace. I didn’t darkwalk this time and in not doing that missed a chest. When I returned to it later I thought I had gotten that chest and so didn’t go get it. That’s where the Fire Rod was.

Thus, I considered this run a failure and called it there.

4th Run (Zelda again)

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Time for Zelda to get some redemption. For the first time in these runs the village was pretty good. I got a Sword, the Flute, and the Hammer there. Those items weren’t quite enough though as after the initial sweep I was missing the Moon Pearl to continue into the Dark World. I took a chance at half-doing the Eastern Palace and it paid off with the Pearl.

The Dark World also got off to a nice start. I had to fight Blind with low health again. I had a Sword this time but the Fighter Sword has less reach so still not the greatest. I had the Cane of Byrna again so I used a strategy similar to last time and didn’t get hit once on this try. Dark World Hype Case was full of goodies: Flippers, Boots, and Silver Arrows.

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Even with all these items I still found myself without some key pieces needed for required dungeons, including the Cane of Somaria. The Swamp Palace was optional but it also has the most chests in it. I went in there and was rewarded with the missing Cane as well as both Mail upgrades. I have yet to finish a seed without at least Blue Mail and the Tempered Sword and most of my runs end with a maxed out Red Mail and Golden Sword.

Soon after I hit Go Mode. This was the first time I went into Turtle Rock in Go Mode, being able to skip some of the dungeon. I got lucky on the laser room. There is a room with four chests but each is guarded by a laser and thin walkway over a pit. In the base game you have the Mirror Shield to block the lasers. I had no Mirror Shield and only the magic-burning Cane of Byrna to help me. I went in needing a key and was lucky and found it in the first chest.

Starting with Ganon’s Tower I started playing poorly. I took a bunch of dumb hits in the tower. This was especially the case in one room where you need to kill two mimic enemies with bow and arrows to proceed. There are spikes that get in the way and can hit you for damage. Usually I don’t have much trouble in that room but this time I just failed at it, taking 2/3 of my health in damage and having to use a potion soon after.

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The Ganon fight could’ve gone better too. I kept being just late in hitting him before he’d teleport. Finally when he probably had one hit left I missed him once and he teleported. But he teleported right next to me so I thought I could get stun him and finish him. Nope, he nailed me with a bat first and I was close to the edge so he knocked me off. Getting knocked off means having to start the fight over from the beginning which cost me a few minutes.

Conclusion

Well I’m definitely not racing caliber but it was fun to try and get through the seeds as fast as I can. The Randomzier has been a huge breath of air for me on this classic game. I can definitely see myself just every so often plugging in a seed and doing a run after this. And with some of the tricks I learned I wonder how fast I could go in the base game now.

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Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Kind of Randomized?

ALBW_Worlds

Introduction

I’ve still got some randomizer fever so I decided to do a “kind of ranomized” run of this game. I still played the original game without mods so it wasn’t anywhere near as randomized as the ALttP Randomzier. The game allows you to choose what order you get items in and allows flexibility in what order you do dungeons in, especially once you get to Lorule. Thus, I used an RNG to determine what items I’d buy when I had money for it and then to determine what order I’d do dungeons in. I did do some non-RNG in making sure to do the Hyrule dungeons in the other order I usually do (there are only two possible orders in Hyrule). I also purposely left the Swamp Palace for last in Lorule since that was the first dungeon I did in my other runs.

Hyrule

As mentioned above there are only two possible orders to take the Hyrule dungeons so there wasn’t much difference here. I had a little bit less health for Death Mountain than usual but it still wasn’t difficult. Anytime I had enough money to get an item I’d do an RNG to choose which item to get next and then do a quick sweep of Hyrule to get any chests and items possible with the new tool. The RNG elected to have the two items needed for Hyrule dungeons, the Hammer and the Tornado Rod, show up last. Thus, I had a full arsenal for the Hyrule dungeons.

Lorule

Maiamai

Once you get to Lorule you get the chance to fully buy your items instead of renting them and for every 10 Maiamai you find you get to upgrade one item. I used the RNG to determine what item to upgrade when I could. The Fire Rod came up first and that’s easily the best item so I could waste just about everything from there on out. Next time I run ALBW I should purposely leave the Fire Rod for last and not ever upgrade it. It throws a pillar of fire forward that moves slowly and knocks enemies back. One good blast will register damage three times on an enemy and pretty much kill any non-boss, no matter how tough they usually are. It also reaches up a bit to hit pesky aerial enemies.

Baseball

I really like the baseball minigame

The first dungeon picked was Turtle Rock. TR being first was pretty interesting. It’s a fire based dungeon with lava everywhere and enemies that are on fire so you can’t hit them with your sword. It would be difficult but I had some fairies stored up (restore 5 hearts when you die) and ALBW is pretty liberal with hearts. Next time I play I should also not allow myself to hunt for hearts. The RNG was kind to me again and had me upgrade the Ice Rod, which is required and useful for TR.

Next up was the Dark Palace. I still hate not being able to see where I’m going and the room filled with ghosts, some of whom can only be seen in light and others only in dark, is very annoying to me.

Skull Woods was next. I didn’t remember much of this dungeon. It heavily features Wallmasters, very annoying enemies that drop from the ceiling and return you to the dungeon entrance if they get you. It has some cool puzzles with them though. The boss is a giant Wallmaster and I learned to cheese him by sticking close to a wall. All his attacks are trying to smash you or ram you with a tell so I’d repeatedly merge into the wall to dodge.

The last two dungeons both give Master Ores as their big chest items which is enough for the first Master Sword upgrade. With an upgraded sword and the upgraded Fire Rod I had a lot of offensive power for Lorule.

Ice Ruins was drawn next. I’d say it’s the toughest dungeon and definitely the longest and most confusing. Even getting there is a journey. It was always the last dungeon I did on the other runs. It gives you more Item Stamina. It was nice being able to use items pretty much with no mind of running out after this dungeon. The boss was more fun than I remember him being. He encases himself in ice you need to melt with the ice rod. The arena is a hexagon with a hole in the middle covered in ice. The boss shoots out triangles that will freeze you if you don’t get out of them. Normally I don’t like slippery floors but in this case I found it fun.

Dharkstare

Dharkstare, boss of the Ice Ruins

Thieves’ Hideout was the only option next because it unlocks the Sand Rod needed for the Desert Palace and I was leaving Swamp for last. Thieves’ isn’t my favorite due to having to escort an NPC. Thankfully not as annoying as many other escort missions. I still love the boss fight.

Desert is an okay dungeon. While I’m still not an expert I’ve gotten a lot better at the boss and now think it’s a fun fight. The fight is over quicksand with platforms around. You need to use the Sand Rod to create temporary walkways to reach the boss while dodging its shots.

Swamp has a lot of puzzles so even at full power I didn’t breeze through it.

Finally, Lorule Castle went as on the other runs. I still think it’s a good final dungeon with great music. The final boss is also fun.

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Link confronts Yuga-Ganon, the final boss

Conclusion

Well, it definitely wasn’t a randomizer. Having the rupee caves around the world have items and not having all the tools be at the shop would be good. Of course, ALBW is still a very fun game on its own.

Nevertheless, I’ll be heading back to the ALttP Randomizer to get my random fix.

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright – Post 2

***** ENDGAME SPOILERS FOR BIRTHRIGHT AND CONQUEST THROUGHOUT *****

Characters

Corrin (Nohr Princess -> Hoshido Noble)

Hoshidan Noble

I was worred about Corrin but she turned out alright. She still had some Speed issues and would sometimes get doubled if I had her use her Dragonstone (which lowers Speed but raises Defense). Her defense was good enough to be tanky if she used the Dragonstone and the stone gives a +10 to Dodge (evade for crits) which was great for this run. Her HP and Strength were massive. With the Yato she had no accuracy problems and would do a ton of damage. This came in very handy especially in the last few chapters.

Rinkah (Oni Savage -> Blacksmith) – Rinkah storywise was probably better suited for Oni Chieftain. But Chieftain gave Tomes and Blacksmith gave Swords and Rinkah didn’t have good magic for using Tomes. Having Swords came in handy a few times. Rinkah continued to be tanky and had the highest Defense. However, she also had the lowest Luck (primarily used for crit evade) and her Defense wasn’t high enough to shrug off crits. I could give her Bronze/Brass weapons (weakest damage but raises crit evade) but with her low Strength she would do no damage with them. Towards the end she finally got some Strength growths and I gave her a Strength boosting item. Her animation when finishing an enemy was flashy: she’d start with a jumping strike and embed her weapon in the ground and then grab the weapon and destroy the enemy with a punishing jumping uppercut. All her strikes were wreathed in fire due to her being in the Flame Tribe.

Rinkah continued to be an amusing character in support conversations. It turns out the Flame Tribe was spurned by outsiders in the past so that’s why they’re so isolationist. Many of Rinkah’s supports involve others getting her to be more social. Oboro’s supports were especially amusing. The Flame Tribe don’t use utensils when they eat so they leave quite a mess. Oboro convinced Rinkah to eat with utensils since one wastes less food that way. She then started teaching Rinkah to eat that way which was….a project.

Sakura (Shrine Maiden -> Onmyoji) – Sakura is likely meant to promote to Priestess but Priestess gives Bows and Onmyoji gives Tomes. Sakura had low Strength and really high Magic. Sakura was still my primary healer but a bunch of people got healing on promotion. She was pretty good at doing magic damage but with low HP, Defense, and not amazing Resistance she couldn’t take much in return. Her accuracy was also a concern with her low Skill. She had both Rally Luck and Rally Magic by the end (Rally skills use the unit’s turn to raise the respective stat for a round for allies within 2 spaces). Rally Luck ended up being very valuable with how Luck starved my team was since crits are often a OHKO.

Mozu (Villager -> Master of Arms) – Rural village girl becomes Master of Arms. Her animations went from barely being able to hold a weapon to elaborate twirls and weapon throwing as part of her attacks. As Master of Arms she gained both Swords and Axes/Clubs. The problem with gaining access to weapon types on promotions is you always get the lowest rank in your new weapons and so only get to use the weakest weapons of the new types at first. Thus, I hardly ever had her use Axes/Clubs but I did build her skill in Swords a bit. Mozu was a solid contributor though not an MVP. She had good Speed and Strength to do damage but her defenses were too low to have her constantly on the front lines. She was a unit with good Luck so that was nice. She also was the only character to get triple-digit Victories and she cleared that mark, going to 111.

I forged a weapon for her at one point. Asked for a name I called it the Blair Press, a reference to a rural town for a rural village warrior.

Hinoka (Sky Knight -> Falcon Knight) – In this case the choice was between Falcon Knight for Staves and Kinshi Knight for Bows. Hinoka’s Magic isn’t great but I like my healing and Falcon Knight is the better thematic fit. Hinoka ended up fitting the stereotypical Pegasus Knight mold: high Speed and flying but low Strength and low Defenses. Her Resistance was through the roof so she was my first choice to take out pesky mages. She also gained the Rally Speed (use for +4 speed to allies within 2 spaces) skill which was fantastic to have up to and including for the final boss to give units a boost to double an enemy or not get doubled.

Orochi (Diviner -> Onmyoji) – Became my magic destroyer. Her Magic was higher than Sakura’s and her Skill was better. She also had better Resistance for dueling other mages. Her weakness was low Luck even for my team and the lowest Speed of the group.

Oboro (Spear Fighter -> Spear Master) – Her Defense growth didn’t keep up but she was still one of my tankier units. With the Guard Naginata (+5 Defense and Resistance) she could withstand physical and magical punishment. Low Skill so accuracy was a problem. In addition to Seal Defense (-6 Defense to enemy after combat) she gained Seal Speed so enemies she fought were sitting ducks after.

Kaden (Kitsune -> Ninetails) – Kaden is similar to Keaton: he transforms with a Beaststone and gets a Beastrune that boosts tankiness at the cost of Speed. Kaden isn’t as tanky as Keaton was. However, his stones do give +10 crit evade which along with Corrin made Kaden a good choice against high crit enemies like Berserkers.

Takumi (Archer -> Sniper) – Takumi is a bad, bad man. He’s the true destroyer of the team. Lots of attack power, high accuracy, and a high crit rate. He got four crits in a row once. Enemy fliers tend to cause a lot of problems but they get demolished by Takumi and his super effective against fliers damage. His Speed was his weakness but with his high damage and the fact most of the time he’s not getting counterattacked it’s not so bad for his Speed to be low.

Takumi continued to be an interesting character. Clearly has an inferiority complex like Leo on the Nohr side. That said, he warmed up surprisingly easy to several characters, including Corrin.

Ryoma (Swordmaster)

Ryoma

High Speed as is the trademark of a Swordmaster. Also comes with his own weapon, Rajinto, a katana that can attack from range 2 with a lightning blast. This alone makes him awesome but combine that with his good damage and dodging makes him even better. He also got a lot of crits as is also typical of a Swordmaster. However, I tend not to rely on dodging since it’s RNG based and his Defense and Resistance were both very low. If he got hit he was going to feel it so I didn’t feel confident putting him in tanking spots.

Average Stats

Level ups in FE are RNG-based weighted against the characters’ growths. I compared my team’s endgame stats to the expected averages and here are some things I noticed:

  • At the beginning you choose a strength and a weakness for Corrin. I can’t remember if I chose HP or Strength for Corrin. If I chose HP then she was +5 above average on Strength and vice versa if I chose Strength.
  • Poor Jakob didn’t fare well. -4 Strength, -3 Magic, -5 Skill, -2 Speed, -2 Defense, and -3 Resistance. The only stats he did well in were HP (even) and Luck (+2, and generally one of the least sought after stats).
  • I wondered if Rinkah was Strength-screwed. As it turns out she was exactly even. Though, this was with her getting a lot of Strength in her last few levels. It sounds like many people think Rinkah is a bad unit and it’s easy to see why with that Strength growth. She also had +3 Defense and +4 Resistance to make her tankier.
  • I complained Oboro’s Skill was low. Well, she had an amazing -7 in Skill, the most extreme deviation from the average on the whole team. For comparison, the most extreme debuff in the game is a -6 and debuffs wear off.
  • Sakura was eager to enter combat with a +2 HP, +2 Magic, and +4 Speed.
  • Orochi’s Speed was awful and she was actually +2 over her average.
  • Kaden also was tankier than average with a +3 Defense and +3 Resistance.

Chapters

Chapter 19: Rainbow Sage – Remember to check enemy stats instead of just thinking, “Oh there’s a General. Okay, sky high Defense but no Speed or Resistance…” There are two paths through the level. One path has enemies that have 0 Defense and sky high Resistance and the other path has the opposite. These stat oddities ignore class so there are Generals with 0 Defense, for instance. Here I realized I didn’t have much magic damage available with Orochi and Sakura as my mages. Corrin’s Dragonstone does magic damage so I sent her with the mages.

Chapter 21: Burning Falls – This level was BS. It’s a volcano level so of course you have to deal with some lava. Except instead of doing a good amount of damage it also slows movement, making it difficult to get out of. That wasn’t bad enough. The level is segmented into a few sections. To move to the next section you need to use one of two Dragon Veins near a statue. If you choose the wrong one the section you’re on is flooded with lava and a bunch of reinforcements spawn. So your units take a significant amount of damage each turn, can barely move, and have to deal with enemies. There is a way to tell which one is the right one but the game doesn’t tell you.

Chapter 23: Camilla – This level was pretty tense at the beginning. It’s a sewer level where the map has two medium sized columns on the sides and a big column in the middle. There are waterways that also constrict movement in the columns. Between the columns are tiny alleyways. Camilla starts next to three infinite-use Dragon Veins that each blast one column with fire, doing 10 unavoidable, irreducible damage to all of your units there. Basically, Camilla picks one column and every unit there takes 10 damage.

There’s not enough room to hide all your units in the alleyways and there are a lot of mounted units with a mix of physical and magic attack power. The early turns were tough as I had to try and get units into the nearby alleyways and fend off the charge of the mounted units. My position wasn’t sustainable so I had to be aggressive to take out the first wave of enemies before they took one of my units out. I had some units with super-effective weapons against mounted units and they were key. Forming a chain of offensive units that can take out a unit and then help the next link with their support attack. I still had to extend my team pretty far to take out the whole first wave but with some careful positioning and attacks I had it where three units could be reduced to 3 HP or less but guaranteed nobody would die. After that it was smooth sailing.

With the constant HP drain from Camilla’s fire I brought in a bench-warmer for extra healing. Having Corrin and Hinoka able to heal also helped. All healers got a bunch of uses in this map.

Chapter 25: Traitor Revealed – Opening of this level was intense too. Your squad starts surrounded so I immediately had to burst out of the gates on offense yet establish a line to handle the next wave. Reinforcements stream in constantly so no times to rest. I split my team in two and had them establish defensive positions.

After controlling the bottom of the map the rest of the level was defined by a lady I affectionately came to name “Entrap Bitch.” Entrap is a staff with a long range that teleports an enemy to the user. EB is stationed near a bunch of powerful units so whoever she traps will have to survive a gauntlet. I agonized for a while over a plan to lure EB over, have the victim live, and then have backup nearby to take out EB and her friends. Guard Stance, buffs, and mounted units were all called on.

Chapter 27: King Garon

King_Garon

With this being the second to last chapter and with me having a lot of money saved up I bought a full set of Tonics (each tonic gives +2 to a stat for a chapter) for my whole team for two chapters. Loaded up on performance enhancers my team was well prepared for this chapter. Team starts in the bottom center and there are several rooms with powerful enemy squads. The squads charge at your group in shifts but my team was good enough to handle the charge and dispatch a squad in time to be prepared for the next charge. Ryoma and Takumi especially were out there taking names.

There was an Entrap user in this map too but she also ended up charging and was one of the last ones to do so so she was easy to deal with. This map was much better than the Conquest equivalent with the BS huge range, never miss, choose target randomly Entrap staves.

King Garon had stats similar to his Conquest self. However, he doesn’t move and I was able to get rid of all his help. An immobile boss with no help is pretty easy to deal with.

Endgame: Dawn Breaks

Blight_Dragon

I spent probably 20 minutes on the prep screen for this. No saving between this and the previous chapter so, like with Conquest, I looked at spoilers for this map so I would reduce my chances at having to restart and redo two chapters.

Garon is back and now in the form of a powerful Blight Dragon. Lots of HP, attack power, and defenses plus Draconic Skin to half damage from everything except Corrin’s Yato which does 3/4 damage. Also a surprising amount of speed; even boosted Corrin couldn’t double him. He starts just barely in range but with a General in front to make it difficult to get to him off the bat. Meanwhile, the team started surrounded by powerful enemies and it would be difficult to fight them off.

I ended up with a good plan and some fall back options, a high chance of pulling it off.

My prep time was spent trying to figure out how feasible an aggressive, 1-turn clear would be. Corrin was key as she was easily able to do the most damage. She needed to be able to double though so I Paired Up Takumi with her. Takumi gives a Speed boost but I still needed Hinoka and her Rally Speed to push Corrin’s Speed high enough.

Corrin couldn’t one-round the dragon but there were options. I could have someone with a Rescue staff (teleport an ally to the staff user) pull Azura near Corrin and have her Sing for Corrin to give Corrin another turn. Corrin could two-turn the dragon if she hit every strike (not guaranteed at an 85% hit rate). If needed I Paired Up Ryoma with Scarlet to fly him to the boss. He would have contributed some strikes too. Much less damage but with his crit rate and chance to activate Astra chances are he’d lay some pain on.

It ended up not being necessary as I also had two staff users with a Hexing Rod (half target’s max HP). The first one hit at a 60% and Corrin one-rounded the dragon after that.

Difficulty

It was definitely easier than Conquest but that’s a high bar. I didn’t get stuck anywhere for too long and I didn’t agonize over decisions for as long as I often did in Conquest. I’d say it was a good challenge. So how did it measure up on my GameFAQs based rankings?

141st out of 148 with a score of -14.16. Wow. That puts it in the range of games like Legend of Mana, Super Mario 3D Land, and Fantasy Life. Now that doesn’t seem right to me. However, it should be noted that I didn’t take advantage of several features that could have powered up my team. Chief among them is the ability to grind. I’d be curious what the rating would be for people who don’t grind. Or maybe I just suck. Or both.

***** PLOT SECTION AHEAD *****

Working Through Nohr

When we left off last time all the Hoshidan royal siblings had reunited and the group joined with a Nohrian rebellion. The group presses into Nohr to try to make it to the castle to stop King Garon. They run into projections of Iago who manages to outmaneuver them a few times. Iago taunts Corrin by saying there’s a traitor in their midst. Corrin is shaken by the revelation but encouragement from Ryoma and the other siblings gets her through.

Later the group encounters and fights Leo. Leo claims he always hated Corrin because of how much attention she always got. Leo is defeated but Corrin refuses to kill him and in fact gives Leo a chance to kill her. Leo refuses, proving that he didn’t always hate her and that he still doesn’t want to fight her. Nevertheless, he refuses to help them. Azura gives Leo a crystal that shows him something. What it shows is not shown to the player but I’m guessing it’s what Azura shows Corrin in Conquest: the true demon that is now inhabiting King Garon’s body. After that Leo helps the group by teleporting them to the Rainbow Sage, though he doesn’t join them.

The Hoshidans flee to the Ice Tribe, Felicia’s and Flora’s home. In Conquest Corrin helped the Ice Tribe rather than kill them as she had been sent to. In Birthright Corrin wasn’t there to help so the Ice Tribe was subjugated and Felicia’s and Flora’s father was killed. Flora was left to lead as a puppet. Flora leads an attack on Corrin. Corrin fights them off. Afterwards, Flora is filled with so much shame at attacking Corrin that she kills herself.

Just like in Conquest Corrin and her allies overcome trials to find the sage. This time there aren’t Nohrians trying to kill the sage so the sage lives. The sage gives Corrin life lessons about overcoming trials and powers up the Yato too.

The Nohrian Capital

After returning to Nohr the group makes it to the capital. They run into Elise. Elise has begun sneaking out of the castle as Xander has no time for her, Leo is gone, and Camilla has shut herself in her room. Elise decides to help Corrin pursue peace. Elise shows the group hidden passages under the castle town.

In one such passage the group is cut off by Camilla. She deludes herself into thinking if she kills Corrin’s allies Corrin will come back to her. The group puts a stop to her madness. After hearing Corrin out Camilla wishes her luck and withdraws.

The group is able to sneak into the castle. They confront Hans. Hans gets the drop on Corrin and almost kills her but Lilith comes in and takes the blow and dies. Like Conquest, this doesn’t have the intended punch since Lilith barely appears in the story and it seems out of place since she stays at My Castle otherwise and never leaves. After that the group fights and kills Hans which is always satisfying.

The next opponent is Iago. Iago reveals the traitor: Takumi! Takumi wasn’t completely broken of his mind control. Iago tries to get Takumi to kill Azura but Corrin and the others get Takumi to snap out of it. With Takumi himself again, the group fights and kills Iago; also satisfying.

The Final Confrontations

Xander

Xander is next to stand in their path. Corrin tries to talk Xander down but Xander refuses. The two engage in a duel. Corrin is still not good enough to match Xander and is disarmed. Xander prepares the killing blow but Elise runs in at the last moment. Sadly, Elise is mortally wounded. Elise begs the two to reconcile with her last words. However, Xander is too blinded by grief and fights Corrin anyway. This time Corrin wins and mortally wounds Xander. She realizes too late that Xander let her win. With his last words Xander urges Corrin to achieve peace. That scene was a surprise. After Conquest I thought Leo and Xander would be the ones to die; I’m very surprised Elise died in Birthright.

Xander_Elise

Elise’s Final Moments

Finally, the group confronts King Garon. Garon has no remorse for his fallen children; he callously refers to Xander as a “useful pawn.” The group fights and defeats him. But then a strange power fills Garon and he becomes a terrible Blight Dragon. The dragon is too powerful for the group and, like in Conquest, it breaks the Yato and renders Corrin comatose.

While out Corrin sees her dead family and friends. Xander, Elise, Flora, and Lilith all urge Corrin to get up and continue the fight. The Yato is reformed and Corrin rejoins her comrades. As in Conquest, Azura sings her song to weaken the dragon. Corrin worries what will happen to Azura afterwards but Azura urges Corrin not to worry. The group fights and kills the dragon. Just like in Conquest, the song takes too much from Azura and she disintegrates and fades away in Corrin’s arms.

Ending

Ending

With Garon gone peace soon follows. Corrin returns to Hoshido and soon after Ryoma is crowned king of Hoshido. Not only do the Hoshidan siblings attend the ceremony but as a sign of the new peace Leo and Camilla do too. Camilla reveals that though she was next in line to the throne of Nohr she didn’t want to rule and gave the throne to Leo instead. Leo proposes a friendly competition with Hoshido to see who can build the best country. Meanwhile, Ryoma, Hinoka, Takumi, Sakura, and Corrin gather by a statue of the late Queen Mikoto and look forward to a brighter future.

Lingering Questions

Azura_Disappearing

Azura disintegrates at the end of both Birthright and Conquest

That’s Conquest and Birthright down. Fates has a final path: Revelations. I don’t know much about it other than it’s the Golden Path and involves Corrin picking neither side at the fateful decision. At some point I’ll go ahead and play it. I’ll be looking for resolutions on the following points:

  • Who are the strange invisible soldiers that sometimes fight against Corrin in both routes?
  • Who is this “Anankos” that King Garon speaks out to that we never see? Is this perhaps who is pulling the demon’s strings?
  • Will Azura survive Revelations?
  • Though all the royal siblings have the power of the dragons with their ability to use Dragon Veins why is Corrin the only one that can turn into a dragon?
  • On that note, will all the royal siblings survive Revelations?
  • What was the strange realm that Azura and Corrin were briefly in during Conquest?

External Links

Lost in Thoughts All Alone – The theme of Fates and Azura’s mysterious song. Most of the time she sings only the refrain. There is a verse for Birthright and one for Conquest. The full song appears in the credits.

Resolve (Dark) – The map preparating tune for Conquest. This got stuck in my head all the time playing Conquest, especially the flute part.

A Dark Fall – This plays in late game chapters of Conquest as Corrin regrettably leads the invasion of Hoshido.

Condemnation – The battle theme when you fight non-royal Nohrian characters. It comes right out of the gate with a great tune.

Destiny, Help Us – Played on the preparation screen of the final chapters in both routes. It’s a very good, late game tune conveying the sort of desperate resolve the heroes and especially Corrin have.

End of All (Birthright / Conquest) – The theme of the last map in both versions. It’s an epic version of Lost in Thoughts All Alone featuring the path’s verse as well as the refrain. The Birthright and Conquest versions are the same, differing only in the lyrics after the opening instrumental break.

Super Mario Maker – Level Review

I revisited Super Mario Maker a bit after a few months hiatus. I didn’t do a lot of level creation but reviewed the levels I already made. I also got some chances to show these levels off to other people and get their feedback. Thus, this post is more reflecting on the levels I already made and the improvements that were found.

General Improvements

  • None of my levels are beginner levels: each level assumes you’ll know the mechanics of the game they’re built off and some Super Mario Maker conventions as well.
  • Directing the player is a weakness of mine in general.
  • I really wish we were given some ability to control the camera. Being able to pan the camera would be immensely helpful. That said, I can appreciate it probably wouldn’t be an easy thing to add in and honestly for all the situations it has to be ready to deal with the camera is pretty good.
  • It’s okay to have some empty space. I do not need to just chuck enemies all over the place for the heck of filling space.
  • If I think a spot is rude I should probably adjust it rather than subject other people to it.
  • I apparently need to make a wow impression right away and so several of my levels are frustrating right away due to me putting in overly difficult or gimmicky openings.

Jailbreak (Super Mario World, Castle/Underground)

This level is supposed to be Mario being captured and Bowser puts him in a prison under construction which allows Mario to bust out. The very beginning where Mario is cornered by a huge Bowser with no way to beat him is lame; I remember I did part of the level before finding out you have limited control over the start spot and threw that in there to make up for it. The end of the first section where you need to bounce off a koopa over some lava is a bit busy; it’s unclear on what to do and things are a bit tight so even if you know you might hit the ceiling or something.

Jailbreak_Skeletons

Way too many skeletons here

The portion right after the checkpoint needs fewer enemies. There are a ton of skeletons there. Problem is in SMM the skeletons don’t just walk like they do in Super Mario World, they throw bones. So there just gets to be too many bones here. Thankfully, this is right after the checkpoint at least so you don’t redo a bunch after being killed. I included a jump I’m oddly fond of where you’re inside a box with a wall missing and have to running jump out of the box but immediately turn back around so that you jump on the roof of the box. I like the jump but I made it a bit too rude here. There’s a pit there so failing tends to kill you; I should have just put a floor there. That was where the other player eventually quit.

The Lakitu Wars (New Super Mario Bros. Wii U, Overworld)

Again I was reminded of how much of a pain Lakitus are to work with. Directing the player was a bigger problem than usual here. When I replayed this level I actually got lost at one point. Another problem was a run where whenever I ran the level I would go as fast as possible but at the end three Lakitu came together and I almost always took a hit. I put a Fire Flower before that so the player could take a hit. Problem is expecting the player to take a hit is generally a really bad idea. Players will always want to avoid damage especially on an unfamiliar level.

The Ungrounds (Super Mario Bros., Ghost House)

Ungrounds_Boos

Way too many Boos

When I replayed this on my own I came away thinking this was my best level. That notion got thoroughly disproven. The beginning was unnecessarily brutal featuring a tricky jump that was tricky because I had a fast moving platform that bounced off the end of its track often causing Mario to lose his forward momentum. It has had waaaayyy too many Boos. Somehow when I played the level and had to position myself just right and constantly look off Boos from both sides it never occurred to me there were too many. The other player died probably 80% of his deaths in the opening segment because by the time he made the jump the legion of Boos were positioned such that there was no way for him to get past.

The other player did eventually finish this level after many tries. I also had to tell him how to get past one section. This obviously is a design flaw but I can’t help but wonder what someone who plays a lot of SMM levels would think. The issue was I had blocks in front of a pipe that spit out a P-block needed to proceed. This is fairly common in other SMM levels especially ones with a puzzle-solving component. Don’t get me wrong, the spot still needs to be tweaked to be less confusing but I just think part of it was lack of experience with SMM.

My Level: The Redevastator (Super Mario Bros. 3, Airship/Airship)

I outright warned the guy this was my toughest level. Again, opening was tough. Moving screen and you need to jump off a cannon shot onto a vine. Should have just made it a climb instead of needing a bounce jump. I do like how a lot of the level went. It was tough but not BS for the most part. I did have my “throwing enemy here because why not” problem in a few places, such as putting a Hammer Bro in a high-up, out-of-the-way spot such that he pretty much exists to peg Mario from out of nowhere.

Besides that, I was mostly happy with how the level turned out. It was challenging but it didn’t seem like BS challenge. That said, the other player only made it halfway due to the other glaring mistake of mine. I believe I mentioned in the last SMM post the very rude jump I added to the level. It features two max-speed conveyor belts, the first going backwards and the other forwards. This leads to a high ledge that requires a running jump and has spikes on the wall if you don’t get high enough. Finally, there are moles on the conveyor belts. This segment is incredible rude and a good candidate of the, “if it ticks me off that means it should be toned down” rule.

Redevastator_Jump

An excessively rude jump

My Level: Golgoran Cliffs (Super Mario Bros., Overworld/Underwater)

Golgoran_Cliffs_2

By the end of all this I’ve concluded this is my best level and the one needing the least work. It has some challenging spots but not a lot of BS and finally an opening that isn’t BS! Also, I think I did a decent job with the atmosphere and background of the level with things like a small cave under a mountain, trapped enemies for scenery, and the house that marks the end of level.

I do still have some adjustments to make here. There were some spots where I need to add arrows to direct players. Also, the underwater section was a bit frustrating for the player. The worst part is the star dash, where the player can find a star (but can also miss it) and is then expected to rush through the next part before it wears off. I should definitely move the star to a pipe so it can’t be missed and then put “GO” in coins or something. Nevertheless, feedback was mostly positive for this one.

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright – Post 1

Box Art

Conquest Run Links

Introduction

Last year I played through Conquest. Conquest is one of the three games in Fire Emblem Fates. Corrin was born into Hoshido royalty but was kidnapped by Nohr, Hoshido’s enemy. Corrin was raised in Nohr and became as close as true siblings with the princes and princesses of Nohr. One one of his/her first missions he/she is taken by Hoshido who reveals the truth. Soon after Corrin must choose between Hoshido (Birthright) and Nohr (Conquest).

Characters

 

Corrin (Nohr Princess)

Female_Corrin

I’m a bit worried about Corrin. I gave her Strength as her Boon and Magic as her Bane so that she would actually use her sword this time around instead of always depending on the Dragonstones. Her strength and attack power are good. She also has a ton of HP, easily more than anyone else. Everything else…is meh at best. She’s among the slowest of the group and has started to get doubled by enemies and she has decent defense but not high enough to tank. So she’s good for finishing off enemies and can finish off enemies with more HP than others but I can’t throw her into difficult situations like my Conquest Corrin.

Storywise I feel like it was a good thing to do Conquest first. As expected, Birthright Corrin is much less conflicted due to being on the right side of the conflict. She still is conflicted when it comes to fighting her Nohr siblings but she’s acting much more like a typical “FE protagonist fighting to free her homeland.”

Jakob (Butler) – Since I choose a female Corrin this time Jakob joins earlier instead of Felicia. Their roles are similar: dagger/shuriken/staff users. Jakob seems quite a bit worse than Felicia though. He has better Strength but much less Magic and Speed. Thus, he’s no longer doubling people, his Strength isn’t so much higher to give him good damage, he does a worse job healing, and his offense won’t get a massive boost from a Flame Shuriken like Felicia did. That said, healers are pretty much always useful and shurikens are nice for debuffs even when they do poor damage. He also has Gentilhomme as a personal skill which reduces damage done to female allies by 2 which is pretty nice.

Personality wise Jakob reminds me of Geoffrey from Fresh Prince. He’s often stand-offish and sarcastic but occasionally has some words of wisdom and counsel to share. Unlike Geoffrey he is completely devoted to his master, Corrin, and is always polite and helpful to her.

Rinkah (Oni Savage)

Rinkah

Oni Savage is supposed to be the Hoshido version of Fighter: uses axes (clubs for Hoshido), high HP, high attack, low speed, and defense that starts alright but doesn’t grow much. Instead, Rinkah has low attack, good speed, and the best defense on the team. She’s become my best tank and with that speed isn’t horrible on offense either. I also continually chuckle since defense is supposed to be more about wearing heavy armor than dodging yet Rinkah’s design specifically has very little armor. I guess she’s really good at blocking with her club.

Personality wise Rinkah is a red-haired daughter of a tribal chief that prides itself in strength and associates with fire. Thus, she is contractually obligated by jRPG law to be hot-tempered. It’s amusing to see her interact with calmer characters like Kaze and Jakob. There’s also a hint that the Fire Tribe’s alliance with Hoshido is relatively new and not accepted by everyone, including Rinkah herself. This could be an interest piece in support conversations.

Sakura (Shrine Maiden) – The main healer. The Hoshido staff equivalent, festals, have range 1-2 in exchange for healing less. Her high magic makes this awesome as it helps keep her out of harm’s way. Sakura also has an awesome skill in Quiet Strength: allies within two spaces take two less damage from attacks. Her great stats, particularly magic and speed, make it frustrating she can’t fight until promotion.

Sakura is very shy. Most of her conversations so far involve other characters encouraging her.

Hana (Samurai) – On the bench now since Ryoma joined. Not as much a slight against Hana as Ryoma just being great and indeed maybe I should keep starting Hana. Samurai are the same as Myrmidons from past games: speedy sword users. Thus, Hana is supposed to have low strength but she actually had quite a bit, giving her some of the best offense on the team. Her defense was awful though.

Hana is cheerful yet very focused on improving her swordsmanship and serving Sakura. She had an interesting conversation with Corrin where Hana revealed she disliked Corrin for making Sakura sad (inadvertently, it was due to Corrin being kidnapped as a child).

Mozu (Villager) – Mozu is the Magikarp Power character for Fates; a character that starts weak but has a lot of potential. She comes in very fragile with bad stats and is underleveled. However, the Villager class skill, Aptitude, adds 10 percentage points to all her growths making for some nice level ups. I gave her a shot in this run and have not been disappointed. She’s still a bit fragile with low defense but has some good strength and speed for nice offense. Also, seeing her go against fearsome foes with her animation of quaking knees and barely able to lift her weapon is amusing. I believe Villager also has some nice promotion choices.

Orochi (Diviner) – A Hoshido mage. Her hit rate was low at first but has climbed up. She’s also gotten some very high magic and she hits resistance instead of defense giving her good offense. She has terrible speed and HP so it’s imperative to keep her away from melee combat.

Hinoka (Sky Knight)

Hinoka

When she first joined she had high defense and a Guard Naginata (low power but great boosts to defense and resistance). She was a rare tanky pegasus rider. Since then her defense has fallen behind and I gave the Guard Naginata to Oboro. She now is closer to a typical pegasus unit, high speed and low strength. There have been quite a few maps with difficult terrain making her flying great to have.

Hinoka reveals in one conversation she hated being powerless when Corrin was taken. That’s why she has worked hard to become a Sky Knight and protect others.

Oboro (Spearfighter)

Oboro

I saw her stats, skills, and class and said, “Yessss!!!” Good HP, strength, speed, and defense. Second best tank after Rinkah and much better offense. Her skill is Seal Defense: enemy gets a big -6 to defense after combat with Oboro. I hated facing this skill in Conquest and now I get to use it.

Oboro is a big fan of fashion outside of battle and also seems to be taken with her master, Takumi. She acts sweet for the most part…until Nohr is brought up. Her parents were killed by Nohrians so the slightest mention of Nohr can set her into a rage.

Takumi (Archer) – Always a tough boss in Conquest now he’s a capable ally in Birthright. Decent stats but the best part about him is his personal weapon, the Fujin Yumi. Tons of attack power and allows him to ignore terrain. Range 2 so for most enemies he doesn’t have to worry about a counterattack.

It’s interesting having Takumi as an ally after him being a big antagonist in Conquest. It’s clear that he, like Leo from Nohr, works hard and often acts arrogant because really he feels inadequate at times.

Chapters

Chapter 9: Land of the Gods – FE games love to put you on maps with treasure chests and then have enemy thieves (or assassins, in this case) rushing to get there first and escape with the loot. You have to get there first or take out the thieves, usually requiring some aggressive strategy since enemy thieves get to go through other enemies. In this one I couldn’t get to the treasure first but the thieves were set to drop their items so I got two teams to box them in after they got the treasures. I had to carefully stay out of range of the middle enemies which were the boss and his guards.

Chapter 11: To the Sea – Sacred Stones, the first FE I ever played, had a map where you’re on a ship being assaulted by enemy fliers. This map has much the same concept except is much easier. For one, no fog of war, thank goodness. For two, there are Dragon Veins you can use to conjure tempests, which greatly slow down fliers. There are quite a few fliers here but by maintaining a controlled push forward I kept control of the battlefield

Chapter 12: Dark Reunion – Conquest had a chapter where you fought on rowboats at an aquatic theater. I found it to be an interest battlefield. This is the Birthright version of the same battlefield. This was further difficult as, unlike Conquest, the goal was the have Corrin escape and they provided ample reason to do that. Xander appears here and my team was not ready to fight him. He also starts advancing immediately with his 8 move. The boats formed a narrow path to a Dragon Vein that freezes the water, allowing everyone to walk on the water. Thus, the goal would seem to be to freeze the water and then bolt for the exit on the stage. Problem was I couldn’t ever get to the Vein soon enough; Xander and the other enemies would start charging and activating the Vein ended up being bad since it removed the chokepoint formed by the boats.

Instead, I had to rely on my flyers. The goal is just to get Corrin to escape so it occurred to me I could have Corrin pair with a flyer who would drop her off by the exit. It’d make the map pretty easy but at the cost of EXP from fighting and the treasure chest. Therefore, I delayed having Corrin escape as long as possible while I hunted down the treasure and got some EXP for the other units. It was a good map and really made it feel like the team had to escape or be routed.

Chapter 14: Light Scatters – This one was an attack on a fort. The map was divided in two with the first half being outside the fort and the second half being inside. Outside the fort there are a lot of mounted units that will charge at you. It’s also a wide open area so one has to maintain a front line to keep squishy units safe. A controlled advance is once again key so that you can take care of as many enemies as you can so there are fewer to deal with when enemies start charging.

Inside the fort is much different. There are three Dragon Veins that will cause cave-ins to do 10 damage each to all enemies. Use all three and most of the enemies will be ripe for picking off. The Berserkers are still very dangerous. Huge attack power, huge HP, good speed, and their class gives them an innate bonus to getting criticals. Thus, even weakened they’re difficult the finish off and extremely dangerous in melee. I pretty much sent Rinkah and Oboro, my best tanks, armed with Brass/Bronze weapons (weakest weapons but give a bonus to crit evade) to draw them forward and then picked them off with ranged attacks.

Chapter 15: Wolfskin Peak – This map was against the Nohr version of the animal shapeshifters including Keaton who was one of my best units in Conquest. I have to say this map, while still challenging, was sooo much better than the Conquest maps against the foxes, including Kaden who is in my starting lineup. Main reason: no bullshit “invulnerable every other turn and become vulnerable on the enemy phase so they get a free shot on you plus every enemy has Pass to walk through your front line.” The map itself was highly mountainous so Hinoka and Takumi were very useful with their ability to ignore terrain movement penalties. Kaden himself was also good since he has a skill that makes his attacks super effective against beasts, including the wolves here.

The main challenges here were the reinforcements that started flowing out of the forts and the Wolfssegner (promoted wolves) having high speed, attack, and HP as well as some of them advancing. My team got flanked a couple times but the mountains actually helped me since I could use them as chokepoints to keep my fragile units safe.

**** SPOILERS AHEAD (Including Endgame spoilers for Conquest) *****

Plot

We’ll pick up after the choice of fate. Corrin joins Hoshido and begins undertaking missions for them. Soon after she learns that Ryoma and Takumi have disappeared. After some fighting and investigation they come across a possessed Takumi. I found it very interesting that Takumi is possessed in Birthright like he was in Conquest. In this case, Azura uses her mysterious powers to free Takumi. This suggests that the reason Takumi was consumed in Conquest was because in that path Azura isn’t around to free him.

There was an interesting storyline with the treacherous Zola. Corrin captures him after defeating him and spares his life. He then swears loyalty to her but the rest of the group don’t believe him and treat him like dirt. I’ll admit I was fooled by him after he saved Takumi’s life in one scene. Even Takumi apologizes and gives Zola his trust. But Zola ends up betraying Corrin and nearly gets her captured. For that King Garon has Zola Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves.

Some time later Corrin comes across Azura as she’s suffering from some mysterious force. Azura explains that when she sings it takes a toll on her; not immediately but at some point it always does. Azura tries to get Corrin not to worry but of course Corrin does. I don’t remember if this was mentioned in Conquest or not but it explains Azura dying at the end.

As they journey Corrin encounters his Nohr siblings. Xander and Leo brand Corrin a traitor. Camilla, with her weird sense of love and obsession over Corrin, declares that if she can’t be with Corrin then Corrin and her allies will need to die. Xander and Camilla attack Corrin but Corrin is able to escape Xander and defeat Camilla. Corrin tries to convince Camilla to stop serving their evil father but then Leo comes in and whisks Camilla away.

The group then turns their search toward finding Ryoma. They go all the way into Nohr itself looking for him. They catch up with him allying himself with Scarlet, the leader of a Nohrian Resistance force. Together, Corrin, Ryoma, and Scarlet team up to continue the fight in Nohr itself.

Vintage Game Night

A friend of mine collects video games and has a collection of over 1,000 video games. He especially likes collecting and playing older video games. When I lived in the area he would periodically host Vintage Game Nights in which we’d play old classics and some unknown titles. I recently visited the area and we got together for another VGN. Here were the highlights:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time (SNES)

TurtlesInTime

I’ve been itching to play this game again for a while. A great and fun beat-em-up featuring our favorite pizza-devouring turtles and a prime example of old video games in the age of “everything explodes upon defeat.” I forgot how much stuff they added to this to make it fresh and fun for a button-masher. You’ve got environmental effects such as being able to blast Foot Clan soldiers with hydrants and them getting hit with their own giant bowling balls.

Of course, the combos and special attacks are awesome. I forgot just how many there are. I never figured out the combos but they were so easy that just button mashing would have you do many of them. There’s several kinds of throws including one in which your throw the foot soldier at the screen. This is used to hilarious and ingenious effect in the first fight against Shredder which takes place from his perspective. The only way to hit him is to throw foot soldiers at him. My favorite is grabbing a soldier and brutally bashing him back and forth, weaponizing his poor body such that one hit will kill any other foot soldiers you hit with him.

As kids we always set ourselves on max lives and continues. This time we just went with default settings. We were doing pretty well until the titular time travel. The past is a pretty rough place; no wonder Shredder decided to use that to try to kill the turtles. Enemies like the Stone Soldiers are rough, doing tons of damage and taking tons in return. Slash, the sword fighting evil turtle, is a pretty rough boss with great speed, doing lots of damage on attacks, and good defense. We fully Game Over’d on the pirate ship against Bebop and Rocksteady as we just ran out of lives.

I started as Raphael since I always played as him as a kid. After GO’ing a couple times I decided to respawn as Michelangelo since the other player had already tried Leonardo and Donatello. Wow, I can see why we never used Mikey as a kid. He seemed so slow and didn’t have reach like Leo and Don. I honestly think we would have gotten a bit further and past the pirate stage if I had stuck with Raph.

Metroid II: Return of Samus (Gameboy)

ReturnOfSamus

In honor of the upcoming remake of this game I decided to put the original in. My first Metroid game was Super Metroid, the third installment. I’d maybe played this a bit here and there at friends’ houses but never owned or played much of it. I’ll give it this: I like it better than the original. The ability to crouch alone is a monstrous improvement in my opinion. No more difficulties hitting short enemies. Still, the effect of playing the later, more advanced, and I would say leagues better sequels soured this for me. No diagonal aiming. The screen was so small they could not fit much on there and a few times I hit an enemy I had no way of knowing was there due to screen transitions. Finally, no maps. Adding maps to Metroid was a huge improvement for the series. Samus controlled clunky too. As you can tell, I didn’t have much patience for this one. I still look forward to the remake. I saw a bit of the fan-made remake before it was shut down and if the official one is anywhere near as good it’ll be an awesome game.

Mega Man 4

MegaMan4

Toad Man’s whole battle strategy is to taunt Mega Man and got shot for it repeatedly

This occupied a surprisingly large amount of our time. I started off on this one. I had to shake some rust off but then managed to beat Toad Man; the easiest boss on the easiest stage. I then turned the controller over to the others, most of whom had little experience with Mega Man. Much time was spent on Bright Man’s stage struggling with the moving platforms over pits requiring precise jumps. Groans were made anytime they saw another platforming section.

Eventually the group gave up on Bright Man and I suggested Pharaoh Man’s stage. I remembered the stage not being too bad but warned the boss was very tough without his weakness. The stage was bit tougher than I remembered it, with some tough enemies early on and some difficult platforms over spikes later.

We also had a great time spouting Mega Man memes. “All you have to do is jump and shoot,” being a very popular one, especially after the current player died on a difficult section. “Okay, you almost made it to the difficult part,” was one of mine, right after the current player died for the third time on a different still-difficult part. “Watch out for the (obstacle), which is of course instant death.” Mercy invincibility was very popular on Pharaoh Man’s stage to avoid spikes many times. Rush was referred to as “Spring Dog” many times due to his main utility being to spring Mega Man on higher jumps.

The Legend of Zelda: Adventure of Link

AdventureOfLink

My impression of this game was that it was the bastard child of the Zelda series: much different than the others and the worst one. It’s a side-scroller instead of top-down and actually has RPG elements unlike the other Zelda games (still don’t understand how it’s considered an RPG series by some). I took first shift on this and honestly it wasn’t that bad. There was some frustration at first in finding where to go. There are two caves nearby and this is a game where caves are dark until you get a Candle. I thought the idea was you don’t go into a cave until getting it. After sweeping the relatively small starting area a few times I picked a cave and just went through it. There were a couple invisible enemies in it, which is a jerk move, but that was the way to go. The first dungeon was nearby.

I was impressed with the combat for a NES game. It isn’t much by today’s standards but Link can stab high and low. I know there’s a down-stab move (same as what he has in Smash Bros.) but I didn’t unlock it. His shield also blocks high or low. In the first dungeon there were some enemies that made the player use this as they would also attack and defend high and low.

The lack of map still bugged me in the first dungeon but it wasn’t too bad. The knight enemies were a bit much for my feeble skills and did a good amount of damage. Link has a Shield spell early on to reduce damage but only enough MP to use twice. Enemies will sometimes drop MP refills but we never saw a health refill. This made the dungeon pretty tough. I limped to the boss and died before figuring out anything about him.

One of the other guys made some good progress in the dungeon. He found the fabled Candle. He also found a room with Anti-Faeries flying about. Most of them weren’t bad to avoid but then there was one flying like a bat out of hell.

Tecmo Super Bowl 2017 – Playoffs

Format

One thing to mention is that the seeding in Tecmo is a bit messed up. The 3-seed and 5-seed meet in the Wildcard round. This is likely either an oversight or something that couldn’t be corrected by the romhackers when they put in the extra divisions. Also, the tournament follows a standard format where the Round 1 winners will always know their next opponent immediately rather than real-life where the Wildcard round is a play-in round and the true tournament starts in the Divisional round. This is something that also happened on the original Tecmo.

I put COM labels on all non-Falcons teams and watched COM vs. COM matchups for all non-Falcons games. The results are below.

Wildcard Round

AFC: Bengals (5) at Steelers (3)

 

The playoffs started with a doozy. The Steelers were clearly the better team in the first half but took only a 17-14 lead into halftime. The Steelers offense seemed unstoppable and not because they kept getting huge plays; they ground out three long drives using relatively short gains. Bell in particular amassed 90 yards and 2 TDs. Meanwhile, Dalton did not complete a pass in the first half. So how did the Bengals keep it close? Special teams. The Steelers kept kicking it incredibly short to give the Bengals short fields. One kick return went to the Pit 8. They also fumbled away a kick from the Bengals.

Still, the Steelers likely wouldn’t keep screwing up like that. I expected them to pull away in the second half. The Bengals came out with an 80+ yard Green TD reception. Then the Steelers used their own big plays and an interception to build a 31-21 lead in the 4th quarter. The next drive saw 4th and 28 for the Bengals. With multiple missed tackles a Dalton-Bernard pass converted. Dalton-Green for a 40 yard TD soon after to make it 31-28. The Steelers missed a TD opportunity on the next drive but hit a FG to make it 34-28.

Another criminally short kick gave the Bengals a short field on the last drive. They got to the Pit 15 with 18 Tecmo seconds left (maybe 2 plays but not guaranteed). Dalton hit Eifert for a TD as time expired and the PAT was good. The Tecmo Bengals got further than the real-life Bengals have gotten since 1990, before Tecmo Super Bowl itself.

Final – 35-34, Bengals

NFC: Saints (5) at Vikings (3)

 

Ingram looked unstoppable at first. He ran with blazing speed and was popcorning defenders. Combined with Brees’s precision it seemed like a shootout that the Vikings wouldn’t be able to keep up with. The Vikings did the smart thing and fed Peterson on offense, converting a 4th and 1 on the way to a TD. At 7-7 in the 2nd quarter a season that had been very unkind to certain players took one more victim:

Tecmo2017_rev2_055

This season had an insatiable hunger for star QBs

The Viking seemed to feed on this turn of events. The Saints, with McCown subbed in, started focusing on the pass more for some reason. Everson Griffen began destroying the Saints O-line and had about 5 or 6 sacks on the day. McCown was picked off twice and the Vikings scored a safety once. Meanwhile, the Vikings may have kept up with the Saints even if they were unstoppable like on their first drive. Peterson led the way with 234 rushing yards and 4 TDs. Despite the stat line, it wasn’t all Peterson. Bradford made some good plays especially on 3rd down. In the end, it turned into a blowout.

Final – 36-7, Vikings

AFC: Chiefs (6) at Broncos (4)

 

Jamaal Charles was a beast when I saw him in the season but he was injured on the first drive of the game. After two picked plays in which they were almost safety’d, KC punted it and Den fumbled the punt which KC returned deep in Den territory. They made 7 out of that. The KC defense then picked some plays and the offense made it 14-0. Den woke up after that. Siemian hit a wide open Sanders for an 85 yard TD. Miller made an appearance on D and a picked play caused a fumble which gave Den the ball deep. Anderson converted that gift to make it 14-14 at halftime. Den had 0 rushing yards at the half while Alex Smith led KC rushing with 44.

It was all Broncos in the second half. West was running very slow and getting minimal yardage. Smith got some 3rd down conversions but it wasn’t enough. Miller and Ware were a force and combined for about 7 sacks. Meanwhile, Den got the running game going and Siemian had success on the deep passing attack.

Final – 35-14, Broncos

NFC: Cardinals (6) at Rams (4)

 

Gurley remained a speed demon and wasted little time tearing off on a 60 yard TD rush. LA then wisely decided to stop feeding Gurley and put the offense on Keenum’s shoulders. The Cardinals D used this opportunity to record several sacks as they had little trouble getting through the LA o-line. Keenum still managed a TD pass to Austin. The Cardinal offense also started hot with Peterson runs and some nice passes from Palmer. At halftime the Cardinals led 17-14. Palmer was 71%, 146 pass yards, and 2 pass TDs.

In the second half LA finally gave the ball back to Gurley but the Cardinals figured out how to defend Gurley and kept smothering him. On offense the Cardinals fell in love with the Palmer sneak which had predictable results until Palmer inexplicably ran up the middle for 20 yards on a 3rd down. The Cardinals went up 27-14. LA made a move for a comeback on a Keenum-Gurley 70 yard passing TD in the 4th, making it 27-20. But the Cardinals did a good job killing clock with the ball back and got an insurance FG.

In addition to his good day passing Palmer led Ari with 55 rushing yards. Gurley turned in 104 rushing yards, 86 receiving yards, and 2 TDs in the loss. Keenum contributed 33%, 126 passing yards, and an interception.

Final – 30-21, Cardinals

Divisional Round

AFC: Bengals (5) at Jaguars (2)

 

Offensive explosion in the first half as between the two teams there was only one punt. The Bengals started with a huge gain on a pass to Bernard but then he fumbled it away. Bortles looks like a great QB on Tecmo. He was decently fast and accurate and helped convert some plays while Ivory also had great speed and elusiveness. The Jaguars scored TDs on all three of their first half possessions while Ivory tallied 71 yards and a TD. The Bengals got two more big plays after that lost fumble which kept them close. It was 21-14, Jaguars at halftime.

The defenses took over a 3rd quarter that saw 3 turnovers. Ivory started the half by coughing it up. Dalton decided it’d be a great idea to throw into double and triple coverage and was picked twice. The second pick led to a Jax TD to make it 28-14. The Jaguars were in control from there. The Bengals couldn’t get the big plays going in the second half. They scored a garbage time TD but wouldn’t pull within a score. Dalton finished with 33%, 133 yards, 2 TDs, and 2 Ints. Onto the AFC Championship for the Jaguars which is a little bit further than they got in real life.

Final – 34-21, Jaguars

NFC: Vikings (3) at Falcons (2)

 

With how difficult regular season games got to be I knew I was in for it here. I got blasted in my first try of this game. I decided I had to change the playbook and focus more on stopping the run. At this point a single missed tackle on a running play probably means giving up a TD. I’m not an expert of Tecmo playbooks since I usually just use the default but I found some tips online. I got rid of plays that I never used (playaction) and focused on rushing plays that didn’t take long to set up and a combination of short and long passing plays.

The Viking defense still made life miserable. Griffin busted through the line immediately on pretty much every play. On one punt Patterson, the returner, coughed it up. Alex Mack scooped it up and took it all the way to the house for the first score. On the next possession I missed Peterson once so of course he was gone for the tying score. Both teams lost a fumble each after that but the Vikings still made a late drive at the end of the half to go up 10-7. The Falcons had 0 offensive yards in the first half while Peterson was 3 for 102 yards and a TD.

Alford had a beautiful diving pick to stop one dangerous Viking drive. I still couldn’t get anything going but at least was stopping the Vikings too. Then they left Julio wide open and Ryan hit him for a 70 yard score to take the lead. That is, until I missed Peterson again and he went the distance to give the lead back to Min. Next drive the Falcons used short gains to drive down the field the hard way until Freeman managed to bust through the line for a 20 yard TD late in the 4th. 21-17, Falcons. On the Vikings’ last chance I played a sort of run-prevent to stop Peterson from busting another one. The Vikings got some gains but ran out of time. The Falcons finished with 150 yards with 74 of those going to Julio. Peterson alone had 202 yards and 2 TDs.

Final – 21-17, Falcons

AFC: Broncos (4) at Patriots (1)

 

A.k.a. The Fumble Bowl. This was a crazy game. There were five lost fumbles and an interception between the two teams in the first half alone. The Broncos either scored or turned it over on every possession. Anderson lost two fumbles himself but did manage to break through for a TD rush after Den recovered a Brady fumble. The Bronco D-line continued to be dominant as Brady was given no time in the first half. Someone broke through every play right away and it wasn’t even Miller. The Broncos, fearful of the clock, kicked a late FG too early and gave NE time and a short field for them to get on the board with a FG. It was 10-3, Broncos, at halftime. There were 115 yards of offense in the first half, 25 of which were the Patriots’. The Broncos did not complete a pass in the first half.

Some nice defense caused the first punt from the Broncos. Then the Patriot returner fumbled it. The ball bounced for a while among four Broncos before the punter finally picked it up and ran it in for a score. Down two scores in the 4th Ware of the Broncos continued to make life miserable for Brady. The Broncos defense got a stop on 4th down and then the offense got an insurance TD. It was pretty much over from there. Ware had four sacks on his own in the victory.

At the beginning of the season I thought it’d be a Patriots vs. Falcons Super Bowl, just like the real life matchup. The Broncos’ defense and a slippery ball apparently took offense to my expectations.

Final – 24-10, Broncos

NFC: Cardinals (6) at Cowboys (1)

 

The WRs showed off their skills early as both Bryant and Fitzgerald saved drives with jumping or diving catches. Bryant went on to score a TD while Palmer found a wide open Gresham for a TD. After that, the offenses stalled. Romo threw two picks, both in Cardinal territory with one in the endzone. It was a 7-7 tie at halftime.

The Cardinals got it going in the third quarter. Johnson went for 70 yards to set up a TD. Catanzaro hit a 50 yard FG to make it a 17-7 Cardinal lead. The Cowboys couldn’t respond. The Cardinals always had good coverage and good rushing defense and a healthy amount of picked plays to derail drives. It became a rout in the 4th. The Cardinals scored on a Palmer sneak and on a picked Cowboy reverse where they knocked down Bryant before he could get the pitch, resulting in a fumble that was returned to the house. Romo finished with 3 Ints. Palmer finished 66%, 206 yards, 3 pass TDs, and 1 rush TD.

Final – 38-7, Cardinals

Conference Championships

AFC Championship: Broncos (4) at Jaguars (2)

 

 

Some time ago an in-law of mine got drunk and enacted a five minute skit in which he declared the true Super Bowl LI wasn’t Patriots vs. Falcons; we only think so because of the Illuminati. Instead, the real Super Bowl was Jaguars vs. Falcons. Because of that and because of the contrast between the Tecmo Jaguars and the real-life Jaguars I was pulling for them in this game.

The 1st quarter was filled with stuffed Broncos runs and the Broncos’ D-line continuing to destroy plays and O-linemen. The Jaguars used runs to score first in the 2nd quarter. The Broncos used a curious strategy of running the reverse three straight times and then not running it to get Thomas wide open for a score. It was 7-7 at halftime. The Jaguars did not complete a pass in the first half, largely due to the Broncos’ D-line. However, Bortles was the leading rusher out of both teams going 3 for 55 yards.

Bortles had enough of the Bronco D-line and threw a laser TD pass to Robinson while under pressure to open the 3rd. The Broncos had to work a little harder but the Jaguars neglecting to have anyone in coverage on a 3rd and 4 helped them keep a drive alive and later score. Ware then made his presence known using two sacks to kill a promising Jax drive. The Broncos then scored their third straight TD on a Siemian-Anderson pass. Thomas of Jax fumbled the ball away on the next drive. The Jax defense got a stop to keep hope alive but there was less than half a minute left. The offense failed to get the tying score. Demaryius Thomas ended the day with 159 yards and 2 TDs. Siemian was 53%, 207 yards, and 3 TDs. However, most impressive was how the Bronco D-line continued to make life miserable for opposing QBs. I’d say that’s the main reason that led to the Broncos being AFC Champs.

Final – 21-14, Broncos

 

NFC Championship: Cardinals (6) at. Falcons (2)

 

 

Due to emulator troubles I played 9 quarters of this game. The first try was an epic back-and-forth struggle in which Julio had a leaping catch for a late go-ahead score. Then as I attempted to get a screenshot (Alt+E) I accidentally hit Alt+R (reset). On the next try I got out to a promising 10-0 start in the 1st quarter but then my computer crashed.

Anyway, on the game that counted I got out to another promising start. The first drive was comprised of short gains into FG range before it stalled. The second drive featured a heavy dose of Freeman right up the middle which was my best run play at this point. It paid off with a TD to make it 10-0. Defensively things were going great as the Cardinals couldn’t get anything going. It could have been 17-0 but Ryan overthrew a wide open Julio. Freeman was the leading rusher and receiver in the first half with 57 total yards and a TD. The Cardinals had 8 first half yards total.

Unfortunately, it didn’t stay that way. Palmer used short gains to drive down the field and then get on the board to Gresham. Coleman then had a nice kick return which he of course fumbled away. The Cardinals drove to 1st and goal. Their 3rd quarter drives took so long that this is when the 3rd ended.

Thanks in part to a picked play the Falcons held the Cardinals until 4th and goal at the 8. I thought they’d kick a tying FG but early in the 4th they went for it. Palmer’s pass was defended and the ball went to the Falcons. Freeman gained a lot of space by going off for 40 yards and it seemed the Falcons were in business. But then of course there was another fumble. The Cardinals likely had one chance left. Some stout D made it 4th down again and the defense managed yet another key stop! With little time left the offense just screwed around (no kneel-down in Tecmo) until time expired. Freeman ended with 104 total yards in a game where neither team went above 160.

Final – 10-7, Falcons

Tecmo2017_rev2_128

Pro Bowl

 

 

I could have put the MAN tag on the NFC but decided to have this go as a COM vs. COM matchup. Both offenses started hot with Peterson going on long runs and Brady finding different receivers. Both QBs were surprisingly fallible as Brady let himself get sacked standing forever a couple times and Rodgers had to get bailed out by his receivers a few times. Brady failed to get a TD after 2nd and goal at the 2 and that resulted in a halftime score of 14-10, NFC. Despite that, Brady went 80%, 116 yards, and a TD. Peterson put in 52 yards and a TD.

The AFC started with big plays in the second half to take a 17-14 lead. They used a picked play to derail the next NFC drive. Brady had a nice play where he narrowly avoided a safety to hit Edelman for a huge gain but then Edelman fumbled it away. After that Rodgers finally started making BS completions in coverage like he did against the Falcons to retake the lead. Back and forth after that with Charles getting a huge run and Tate bailing Rodgers out with a diving TD grab. With time running out Brady hit Miller for a long gain but Miller was tragically stopped 20 yards short.

Final – 28-24, NFC

Super Bowl

Falcons (2) vs. Broncos (4)

 

 

 

After seeing them demolish offenses all postseason long I had great fear of the Bronco D-line. Star Wars has taught us that fear leads to the dark side. However, there are some groups, like the Sith, that derive power from the dark side. The Sith predominantly favor red and black. Thus, perhaps red and black groups get power from fear. That’s the only somewhat reasonable explanation I have for what happened in this game.

The Super Bowl started with Grade-A bullshit. The opening kick went to the Broncos and was covered well. The returner fumbled it. However, it was recovered by another Bronco who found a crease and zoomed off to the Atl 15. A Trufant sack helped prevent a TD. Both teams were stopped on their next possessions which took the rest of the 1st quarter.

Now to give myself some precious time before Ryan got swallowed by the Den D I called a shotgun play: the only one I had which involved everyone going deep. Everyone was covered but Ryan had time. I decided to just lob one up for Julio and see what happened. Julio made a jumping catch while the two guys on him dove for a ball that would never get close to the ground. 80 yard TD Julio.

I got too aggressive on defense and let Trufant get taken out of the play and of course no CPU player had a shot at stopping the boosted Anderson. Den led 10-7. I soon after called shotgun again. Again everyone was covered so I sent another 80 yard pass deep. And again Julio leaped up to snag it for a TD. Den had no time to score before the half. It was 14-10, Atl at the half. Atl had 0 rushing yards. Siemian was 33% and 36 yards. Anderson had 77 yards and a TD. But the true star was Julio with 160 yards and 2 TDs.

Atl started with the ball but the Den kicker went full power and I barely got Coleman out of his own endzone (which is a safety on Tecmo). The only play I had that I could be reasonably certain wouldn’t result in a safety was the shotgun. Again Ryan had surprising time (thanks o-line!) but nobody open. So why not try Julio a third time? Julio didn’t quite make it in for a TD but got a 96 yard reception. Freeman got the first non-Julio TD and yards. The two score lead was short lived as I missed another tackle on Anderson who shot out for his own long score.

If it’s not broke why fix it? Long pass to Julio again who this time dove into double coverage to snag the ball instead of jumping. 60 yard gain. Then Freeman fumbled the ball away. Den pulled out some of their own bullshit catches to convert 3rd downs and drive within the 10 early in the 4th. Some staunch run defense and a diving play by Alford kept them out of the endzone and brought up 4th and goal from the 4. It was an Anderson run and Trufant was there for the stop at the 2.

Of course, no room to operate on offense so what choice did I have but to go shotgun again? Julio pulled one down for 80 this time. Wasn’t able to get in the endzone from there but Matt Bryant made it 24-17. There was little time left for the Broncos. Trufant and an energized Falcons defense stopped them three times as time ran out.

The below stat screen has pretty much all the stats you need to know. Julio fed off the dark side in this game.

Final – 24-17, Falcons

 

 

Bonus Content: Simulated Season

As a kid I not only played some Tecmo seasons but simulated some as well. I figured I’d simulate a season and see what a non-human-influenced season would turn out like. Here are some things I noticed:

  • The Falcons unfortunately went 7-9 and finished 3rd in the NFC South. The Saints went 4-12 and were in the cellar.
  • The Jaguars once again pulled in the 2-seed.
  • The Steelers were the first team to clinch their division yet finished only 9-7.
  • 4 of the NFC playoff teams finished 11-5: the 1, 2, 3, and 5 seeds.
  • The NFC North finished like this:
    Tecmo2017_rev2_179
  • The 5 and 6 seeds faced off in the NFC Championship
  • The Simulated Tecmo Super Bowl 51 was a rematch of Super Bowl 43 between the Steelers and Cardinals

The playoffs went like this:
AFC Wildcard – Steelers (9-7, 3) vs. Bills (11-5, 5) -> 19-7, Steelers
NFC Wildcard – Bears (11-5, 3) vs. Cardinals (11-5, 5) -> 28-21, Cardinals
AFC Wildcard – Chiefs (9-7, 4) vs. Texans (10-6, 6) -> 27-14, Texans
NFC Wildcard – Cowboys (8-8, 4) vs. Lions (10-6, 6) -> 30-10, Lions

AFC Divisional – Jaguars (13-3, 2) vs. Steelers (10-7, 3) -> 21-16, Steelers
NFC Divisional – Panthers (11-5, 2) vs. Cardinals (12-5, 5) -> 20-10, Cardinals
AFC Divisional – Patriots (13-3, 1) vs. Texans (11-6, 6) -> 34-28, Patriots
NFC Divisional – Seahawks (11-5, 1) vs. Lions (11-6, 6) -> 34-24, Lions

AFC Championship – Patriots (14-3, 1) vs. Steelers (11-7, 3) -> 20-14, Steelers
NFC Championship – Cardinals (13-5, 5) vs. Lions (12-6, 6) -> 24-10, Cardinals

Super Bowl – Steelers (12-7, 3) vs. Cardinals (14-5) -> 31-21, Cardinals