[left][A lot of big issues are finally coming to the fore in the Nintendo world. They seem to be pushing to create new ideas and develop older concepts more than they have before. However, something has been bugging me about the debate involving a playable Zelda, not that I’m against it, I’m 100% for it, but there’s a pretty big pitfall in the idea that I want to address. Shut your eyes and relax your facial muscles...I’m about to blow my load and I don’t want to cost you your eyesight. Goggles will not be provided...sorry]
So here’s the thing, Zelda. People want to play as her, they want to see what a game series would be like from her perspective. And I agree with them on that. But there’s something we have to be aware of, something fundamentally wrong with the title of ‘Zelda’, and something that, through an examination of a pivotal point in Wind Waker, becomes disturbingly clear about the actual name, versus the character: Zelda is a title that immediately gives way to a disempowering of the character.
I know people might not agree, after all, Zelda helps you in several games, including the Wind Waker during the final boss fight. The issue is this; in this game, Zelda wasn’t always Zelda...Zelda was Tetra, and Tetra was awesome.
Tetra’s first appearance shows her as being one of the strongest, most assertive and downright badass iterations of the character we’ve ever seen. She stands as a character who isn’t just on par with Link, she’s more than a match and somewhat more likeable than the Hero of Time. See, she commands and entire pirate crew, all of whom are afraid of her because she’s a force to be reckoned with. She’s got a temper and a sword, she’s powerful and commanding, right from the off. Hell, she outright saves Link. She inherited ship and crew from her mother, yet still earned the place of leader despite her age. Though she seems pretty self-interested, she’s actually a kind-hearted individual, so what isn’t to like about her, really?
You see, Tetra aids an inexperienced Link in assaulting the forces of Ganondorf when his attempt fails. She rescues him over and over again, and does it all using her power as a leader, not of a kingdom that, let’s face it, can’t keep her safe to save their lives, to help Link...and then this leads to the very moment where I found things take an odd turn. Zelda, as a series, had featured the game-titled character many times, but this time around, with Hyrule sunk and the kingdom in ruins, I didn’t think they’d pull the ‘Zelda-card’ quite as poorly as they did here. See, during her rescue of Link, we learn that Tetra is, in reality, a descendant of Zelda. As such, she’s the heir to the Hyrulian family...which is pointless, given the fact that the family is all but dead, and has instead used their talents to become pirates, which is a cool and interesting new take on the world in which the characters are living. However, this discovery leads to the utter and complete sidelining and disempowerment of Tetra, as she is magically transformed into Zelda.
No, I don’t just mean she’s wearing the classic, recognisable clothes...her personality is shattered as a result. The small expression voice clips become more timid, the dialogue becomes more refined and ladylike, her attitude changes to a more, albeit unnecessary, regal air. Why? Because shut up, that’s why. She becomes the old-school Zelda, despite the kingdom not existing anymore, the royal line being irrelevant and the triforce being the only connection to the family lineage that’s left. For all intents and purposes, Tetra is dead, wiped clean by the curse of Zelda...which contradicts what the game told the player: that she is a descendant of Zelda, a member of the royal bloodline, not the actual character. Which leads me to my point: a character who is a descendant of an important character, as hard as it is to believe, is not that character, especially when they’ve been shown to have more individual traits than a generic doll.
Tetra is an independent leader of sorts, to a gang of pirates through succession, as they followed her mother, who passed away, only to be moved under Tetra’s control. They’re her subjects, her army. While the setting may be drastically different, the same basic points apply. Her kingdom is her boat and the seas she moves upon. So why then, did the writers feel they had to shoehorn in the ‘character’ of Zelda, in place of Tetra, and effectively bungle their own message?
Well, as a person who rips on Nintendo any chance he gets, I’d say it was classic Nintendo, being as creatively bankrupt as possible, and shoving in the uninspired character because, hey, it’s the name of the series right? And this character is a descendent right? So that means, though the transition of properties, that Tetra IS Zelda...right?
Wrong. This is why the series needs to change. This is why a playable character, a descendent of Zelda, would be pretty awesome; because Nintendo couldn’t cop out and move the player’s character into a state of non-agency. They’d be forced to make an interesting character, develop her, and not just make her another ‘Zelda’, through some pretty shoddy reasoning and magical crap that isn’t fooling anyone. You see, Link is the easy-way-out. He’s a blank slate, sometimes he has a family and friends, but he’s always the same, always with the same fate; to rescue the princess and stop Ganon or the equivalent evil-doer. This also makes him predictable, shallow and unappealing. We see Dark Link, but what does he really represent? How evil Link could be? How did something like this come to be? Does Link, as a character, have doubts about his fate? Does he, at times, feel cheated that his life is taken away so he can fulfil some frigging prophetic fight with an unkillable demi-god? We never know, just that there is a Dark Link, and he’s bad, and because of...stuff.
That last example conveys precisely what I’m talking about here. Nintendo think players want a blank slate character because it makes them imprint personally on the story...but after dozens of Zelda games, who actually buys into that anymore? This is archaic thinking, it’s creatively bankrupt...it’s playing it safe. The same can be said of Tetra’s sudden and somewhat insulting character change. She simply becomes another person altogether, she doesn’t retain her traits, she becomes Zelda. This is not how you write a story, not matter what angle you’re using, eliminating the character’s personal traits and replacing them with familiar ones because you, as a writer, aren’t able to expand on an original idea is nothing short of playing it safe, and conveying how poor your writing skills truly are. Instead of moving the story forward with the new character they had, Nintendo flipped the default setting and made the game too familiar...and familiarity is doing more harm than good to fantastic characters and concepts.
So in summation, I hope that we get to play a Zelda game where the title character is the protagonist...so long as they don’t act like Zelda. Something akin to Tetra would be acceptable, but I think it’s time we let the stereotypical Zelda characteristics rest for a while. The series almost got it right with Wind Waker, for the time at least, and if Nintendo could just make a game where the descendent of Zelda, not some generic princess character herself, could be the protagonist, I think we’d be onto a winning formula. They’ve admitted that they need to change or die...this is the best way they can do it, by avoiding the pitfalls of the previous games, and making a character in the same vein as the character of Zelda, without resorting to pretty unappealing decimations of character traits that defined the character.[/left]
[Settle down, it’s not what it sounds like. Seriously, I’m not even joking, if you came here with your anger, ready to rumble, relax, it’s just a very dickish move on my part to try to draw in a readership that can look at what I’m about to write – also, worth noting that I brought lube this time, so the message can slide right into your knowledge holes...good and smooth]
Right, let’s get down to business here: female avatars in Multiplayer modes. I know the Jimquisition tackled these issues quite a bit, but I want to approach it from the perfect world view:
Female avatars in Multiplayer shouldn’t be an issue...and why is that, you ask, fists shaking in ever-growing anger to a possibly sexist answer? Well fear not, it’s because, when it comes down to it...we should really just have those avatars in the games. Yeah.
It’s simple, right? In a perfect world we’d all be able to choose our genders in videogames, customise them to whatever degree we wanted, and make them our own. Assassin’s Creed has been doing it for three games, so why is it so hard to do it for other games? The latest comes from Battlefield 4, where the developer mentioned that female characters wouldn’t be available in the multiplayer mode, despite the fact that there are rumours of an alleged female character in the gripping (trying to keep a straight face) singeplayer mode. So why not just migrate it to MP, add voices, fiddle with the hitboxes (of which BF has had issues before) and ship the game?
Well I have an issue with this, mostly because people are calling it ‘unimportant’ that in a first person setting, it doesn’t matter who you’re shooting, gender-wise. I’d have to disagree there. A little diversity goes a long way, and given EA’s inability to actually garner any fan-love or favour over the last couple of years, the little things in a game this big would make for some interesting changes, even aesthetically. This is to the benefit of a series that needs, now more than ever, to differentiate itself from the pack of brow-gray, gritty and ‘realistic’ shooters on the market (since I’m not seeing a BF 2143 on the cards).
People have also put it down to discomfort with violence against women...eh no. Given the reaction to Tomb Raider, that’s not the issue. Besides, as Jim has covered, Blacklight: Retribution can offer gender swaps...they’re not ideal, but they get the job done. Halo, since I believe 3, has offered the player the ability to swap genders, only really introducing model changes in Reach. In the AC series, all the models are virtually the same in terms of height, hitboxes and the like, so there’s no issue there.
The monetary value has also been raised against this...no. Just no. Right now, EA cannot afford not to gobble up the scraps of good will flaking down around them like the dandruff from an old man’s unwashed, crusty ballsack, they need something, anything, to show that they’re willing to play ball. (not my best explanation given where that sentence went) EA have no issue pouring money into pathetic attempts of games – I’m looking at you, TOR – and if anything, the simple fact remains...it’s 2013, and we’re having a discussion over something that, by all right, should have been in the multiplayer from the getgo. So it requires a little more work, a bit of extra cash...it’d be worth it in the long-run...which is seemingly a term lost on publishers of this generation.
I guess what I’m getting at is: placing female avatars in a game’s MP mode like BF4 shouldn’t be that big a deal, because it should have been done already. The situation in the industry is dire, and someone needs to take even the smallest steps forward into the puddle of female representation in order to begin the ripple that will lead to the big wave, breaking the banks of poor, anti-female ideologies that have pervaded an industry which has been paralyzed by a fear it wrought itself.
I’m by no means a feminist, I kinda have plenty of those influences, but people are starting to talk about these kinds of things with raised eyebrows and questioning tones – I think it’s about time publishers step up and start representing for the female avatar, lord knows, we’re overdue getting back to the early 2000s.
[This is my first D-toid blog, I'm not quite sure how to do...things and stuff, but I'll learn eventually; so grit your teeth and bite the pillow, I forgot the lube and this might cause some discomfort! Also; any tips on how to add images would be appreciated, I'm not exactly good at this stuff, which isn't entirely my fault, I personally blame my college assignments]
Recent events and the growing debate over Nintendo not just as a company, but as a developer, have thrown me back into my youth, where I was bright eyed and full of optimism and ready to believe that Nintendo could do no wrong.
In 2005, I was reading any Nintendo-related magazine I could get my hands on, lapping up information on new games and the newest consoles that were coming out so damn soon that I was giddy to get my hands on them. The Nintendo DS was just around the corner, with previews and specs showing that this would be one of the greatest handhelds ever created - with two screens, one of which was a touch screen? Holy shit, I was close to wetting myself...it was a great time to be a Nintendo fan.
The Early Years & The Honeymoon:
You see my love affair with the company started when I was five, and we have a SNES and a Gameboy in the house. I loved playing Zelda: Link's Awakening...hell; it was one of the first games I had ever finished. Killer Instinct on the SNES was another one of my favourites...though I was young, I still understood that this was all fiction, it wasn't real (take that 'videogames corrupt the young' fuckers), but I still loved what these consoles were giving me.
As I got older, I really got into the Pokémon series...for god's sake; I had a Pikachu Gameboy Colour. Pokémon Silver, to this day, is still my most loved game of the series. After that it was a Gameboy Advance, and a GameCube, which locked down my love for the company forever, in a way that I never thought, could be broken. The GameCube was on sale in a local Smyth's Toys; it came with a free copy of Pokémon Colosseum, but I slowly built up my collection...I say slowly, because getting games was difficult. Here in Ireland, the best you could hope for was a small game shop that sold them second hand, or a local GAME or Smyth's that had a limited stock of the 'platinum' titles. I hunted down as many titles as I could; the Metroid Prime series, Star Fox Assault, Star Wars Rouge Squadrons 1 and 2, X-men Legends 1 and 2, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker...god damn they were some awesome games. I even got to play Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes. I honestly had nothing but devotion to the company I loved, I was under its spell, and couldn't escape, I was bordering on obsessed...I was a fanboy.
It was on the advent of the Wii launch in '06 that I really felt the anticipation growing in me. I had always wanted to see gaming climb to new heights, and it was my side, Nintendo, that were taking the world towards the next generation of games. Motion controls were going to change everything I could ever think of in gaming. We were going to see games become more interactive, more precise and better than they had ever been. I was on the verge of seeing history change.
My parents had gotten me one for Christmas, a present I thought I'd never get, seeing as the consoles were selling out everywhere. It was amazing, and I was happier than I ever thought I could be. I stayed up late at night to play it, and when I couldn't, it was the DS that grabbed my attention. (on a side-note, this makes it sound like I spent all of my time playing games...I didn't. I had other things going on; these are just my deluded happy memories)
Love is Blind...Marriage is a Pair of Glasses:
It was late '08 then, when the rose-tinted glasses shattered, of which some of their remains lodged in my eyes that I finally realised just what I had supported. Now around this time, I had tried to get a copy of The World Ends With You for my DS and my Wii hadn't seen that much use (story of my life, right...see what I did there?) in a few months, with No More Heroes tickling my fancy, but Super Smash Bros. Brawl doing nothing for me that Melee hadn't done better. TWEWY was nowhere to be seen, but I still liked the games I had, but something in me started to rebel against my love of Nintendo. It was around that time that we had bought an Xbox 360, and though it had given me a greater insights into games that I could play (having owned the original Xbox but having few games for it) I thought it was pretty neat bit of hardware, with Crackdown and Burnout Revenge being my preferred games at the time. I figured I was just looking for a better game on the Wii, something that really made me feel like I'd enjoy it all again.
Although Wii Fit was given to me as a present, and I thought it was fairly fun seeing as I enjoy being active when I can, it never really filled the space that had begun to open, you could say, perhaps, in my soul. While the games still came for the Wii in dribs and drabs, Mario Kart Wii was pretty entertaining but rarely seen much action given my new college timetable, I still felt that nothing had made me feel the same way as when I first cracked that console box open and was nearly overwhelmed by my joy.
In '09, my hazy feelings were made clear by the release of the Wii Motionplus controller attachment. It broke my heart and made me feel so betrayed that - looking back on it now - it may have been an overreaction. Still, it pissed me off to no end. This idea, so pure and so amazing, the future of fucking gaming...needed an extra thing on the end of it to make it 'work better' - like it should have worked in the first place? At this stage, the Wii hadn't been used for a little over four months, I was at my wits end with it, and I had finally started buying some 360 games, and some for PC, to sate my need for entertainment.
...Ok, so maybe I was going through pretty shitty time too, and this betrayal was some sort of hate-anchor I could cling on to so that I wouldn't go crazy, but given the feelings I had at the time, and the life spent defending Nintendo; shielding them from any and all criticism...to feel left out in the rain while they dined on fine foods, drank the most decadent of wine and laughed at the misfortunes of their loyal fanbase they had refused to invite in, as their cool, new friends; the casual market chuckled and threw money at them for entertainment, dug into my heart like a fucking knife.
Other than The Last Story, a game by Mistwalker who I support as best I can, given that Lost Odyssey is possibly the best game I've played this generation, my Wii hasn't been touched - yet again, left to collect dust next to the original Xbox. It was on that day that I realised: Nintendo didn't care about me. Or anyone that wasn't buying into their ploys to make money. Metroid Prime Hunters, the game that had a fucking demo on the DS, came out a little over a year following the DS' release. TWEWY was never stocked in my local stores, was too expensive online, and forced me to seek out a friends copy. It still remains a damn fine title, but one that holds a bittersweet place in my heart. Xenoblade Chronicles wasn't stocked anywhere I could easily get to, or buy for a humane price. Skyward Sword...I never touched it, Motionplus support was a deal-breaker, for myself and many of my friends, who were die-hard Zelda fans. Murumasa: The Demon Blade? Couldn't find it. For all intents and purposes, Nintendo has abandoned their consoles for get-rich-quick games like Wii-Fit, or Rayman Raving Rabbids games, Mario Galaxy or Mario Party...I hadn't a hope of collecting games that I really wanted anymore, because Nintendo had seen fit to wipe the table clear of any interests I may have had, forcing me to look at them in a light that made them seem ugly, petty and wrong.
The Nintendo that I had grown up with, had aided my creativity and my imagination, the Nintendo that had given me hope for the future of games, that they were going to be leading the pack in terms of innovation and fun...have produced two consoles that will only ever sell well if they drop their prices. Times are tougher now than they were back then. We're all feeling the pinch...I just know that no Nintendo console of this generation will enter my home, today, or in the future, unless I see something, anything, that gives me hope in their vision again.
What Have I Learned?
I can't think of a good way to collect all of my thoughts and conclude with some insightful, optimistic message that might lead to a brighter future. I cannot. This is, seemingly, an irreparable situation, there are no happy endings here...perhaps it can be put down to a learning experience, and insofar as I take that train of thought, there was some point to this. The Wii and DS treatment don't erase the past and all the good times I've ever had...but they feel, in a way, tainted. Who knows, maybe one day there'll be an olive branch extended to bring me back into the fold, but until then, this just seems like a situation that became wrong for me, relationships are, after all, two-way streets, and if it's not right for one, it sure as hell shouldn't be right for the other.