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Update 3/31/2015 10:09 PM: The Contest is Over! Congrats to the Winners! Check your PMs!
You heard that right folks! My birthday is coming up in the next few days, turning the ripe old age of 26. But while going through my Humble Bundle account recently, I noticed I had a few games that I haven't redeemed, either because I already owned them or they weren't games that appealed to me. And so to celebrate the fact that I'm turning older but not any wiser, I decided to pass these games onto YOU! No not you; the person behind him. Yeah you!
However, it quickly occured to me that it wouldn't be fair just to ask people who want the games and be done with it, so I decided to hold a contest instead to give everybody a chance. It's simple really and nothing too painlful (unless you're into that; in that case PM me your digits girl): to enter just leave a comment telling me what your fondest gaming realted birthday memory is. Maybe your parents got you a game that you really wanted, or maybe you went to rad video game themed birthday party once. Whatever it is, just let me know, as well as tell me what three games that you want. Why three you ask? Because in case people ask for the same game, I don't want people to feel left out, so if one of the games you ask for is already taken, you have two other games you can grab, though in the rare case that all three of the games are taken, we'll work something out.
You guys have until April 1st to enter, at which point I'll pick the winners and give them one of the three games they listed. Limit one entry per person, and it's open to everybody! Also, I hate to say this, but Dtoid regulars only, so if you're a new person or someone who hasn't been around in awhile, sorry you're out of luck. Nothing personal.
Oh yeah before I forgot, here are the list of games that you can win (unless stated otherwise, all games are played through Steam):
Crusader Kings II
Crusader Kings II - African Unit Pack
Crusader Kings II - Norse Unit Pack
Crusader Kings II - Russian Unit Pack
Empire: Total War
Galactic Civilizations II: Ultimate Edition
NiGHTS Into Dreams
Orcs Must Die! 2: Complete Pack
Peggle Deluxe, Bejeweled 3, Bookworm Deluxe, Escape Rosecliff Island, and Feeding Frenzy 2 Deluxe (Origin)
Plants vs Zombies GOTY Edition, Peggle Nights, and Zuma's Revenge (Origin)
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
Titan Quest Steam Key
Viking: Battle for Asgard
Also in the case of Crusader Kings II, it's an everything ot nothing thing, so no picking and choosing what DLC you get. Other than that, good luck and have fun guys!
I make no secret of the fact that I love The Legend of Zelda series, nor am I stranger to writing about certain games of the series. Band of Bloggers was created by a trio of rad Dtoiders (Dreamweaver, Fenriff, and The Scholarly Gamer) as a video game book club where we look at a certain game or series, and this month is all about The Legend of Zelda series. However, rather then going down memory lane or talk about a game I'm not a fan of, I decided that I would discuss and analyze my favorite game in the series. A game that I was excited for and defended in my early days of Internet browisng. A game that got me back into the series after my disappointment over Majora's Mask. The game I liked before it was cool. I'm of course referring to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker; in case that wasn't obvious already.
Released in Japan in late 2002 (with Europe and North America getting it in 2003), Wind Waker was initally slammed by many gamers and members of the press for being "too cartoony", was called by one of my friends as "baby's first Zelda" at one point, and was even being compared to the ill-fated CD-i games. Naturally, all of these claims were unfounded, and Wind Waker would get universal praise by critics and gamers (though it fell way short of sales expectations and is the main reason Twilight Princess was darker). I was one of those people who loved the game, from it's bright art style, to it's lovable cast of characters, to the silly yet kind of sad story, and yes even the sailing. But the biggest thing in my mind that stuck out about Wind Waker and what's made it amazing even after all these years was how much it eschewed a lot of the familar tropes we've grown accustomed to when it comes to playing Zelda games, often going against the norm. The end result of this is a game that embraces what made past Zelda games amazing, but at the same time isn't afraid to shake up some of the more cliched characters and ideas the series has become famous for, and the game is much more interesting and engaging because of it. Here are just a few examples of what I mean.
Oh by the way, before I go on, this is your one and only warning but: SPOILERS AHOY. So if you've never played Wind Waker and don't want the game spoiled for you, you might want to close the tab now.
Let's start with the famous and easily recognizable hero Link (or Toon Link as he's been retroactively been called since Brawl). In most of the games, Link is a brave, strong, stoic hero who will save the land of Hyrule because it's his destiny (there are some slight variations, like where he lives, but for the most part it's pretty much the same). Toon Link on the other hand? He's brave.....and that's about it. He's young, naive, reckless, and not all that bright at times, with many characters reprimanding him because he goes into situations without thinking, often ending with him getting his butt kicked not once, not twice, but THREE times (at least according to my count). Heck, the only reason he's wearing his trademark green tunic is because it's a tradition on his home island of Outset Island to dress young boys as the hero of legend. In other words, at this point in time of Zelda's history, the green tunic is on par with lame holiday tradition that people do for no reason other than because it's a tradition, like not wearing white after Labor Day.
At the same time however, while Toon Link lacks a lot of the qualities of other iterations of Link, he has one thing going for him, and that he's more relatable as a character. Besides the fact that he's a lot more expressive in this game, Toon Link isn't sailing around this huge ocean, fighting hordes of monsters, and exploring dark dungeons because it's his destiny, but because his sister was kidnapped at the beginning of the game by the Helmaroc King, a giant bird, due to mistaken identity (the Helmaroc King was originally aiming for Tetra, who I'll talk about in a bit). This is a lot more meaningful as we all have someone important in our lives who we would do anything to save, and in that regard we as players can let some of Toon Link's reckless behavior slide because we would probably do the same thing. And yeah, it's established early on that Ganondorf is behind all of this and later in the game it falls into the traditional "great evil has returned, awaken to your destiny and stop it", but by that point it doesn't matter. Because by the time you get to that part of the story, you've already explored this vast world as a young boy on a quest to save his sister, so when the King of Red Lions (a.k.a. the King of Hyrule) tells you to revive the Master Sword and stop Ganondorf, you've not only explored the world enough that you're familiar with it, but you also have a personal investment to save it as well, as you have to stop Ganondorf not just because it's your destiny, but because doing so also protects Aryll, Link's Grandma (yeah he has a grandma in this game), Tetra and her pirates, and all the other NPCs you've met throughout this adventure, and that to me is much more of an impactful story than other games; not to say that Zelda games have terrible stories (far from it, I actually enjoy many of them for their narratives), but as a player, it was a lot easier to get invested in Toon Link's plight than in other games.
Wind Waker's version of Zelda (a.k.a Tetra) is another perfect example of a new twist on a classic character. In most games, Zelda is a kind, wise, caring ruler that is beloved by everyone. Tetra on the other hand, is the leader of a band of pirates and cares more about treasure, at least at first. In the beginning, she's bossy, makes a lot of jokes, and even a bit mean, making fun of Toon Link at the beginning of the game because of how sentimental he's getting over leaving his home for the first time. It's not until later in the game that she begins to open up more and shows that she is a kind caring indvidual, eventually forming a bond with Link and doing all she can to help him. Hmm, that sounds familar, doesn't it?
Tetra is an interesting version of Zelda, and not just because she serves as the basis for Midna (who is one of my favorite characters in the series). What makes Tetra interesting is that much like Toon Link, while she possess the basic, common traits of her counterparts, at the same time what makes her an endearing character is how much she isn't them; in other words, how un-princess like she is. She doesn't sit in a castle waiting for Toon Link to save her, but takes the initative, at one point saving him twice in the Forsaken Fortress. She cracks jokes, like in the final battle against Ganondorf when she apologies to Toon Link that she didn't help him sooner because she overslept. And while they don't go over it too much, she also has to deal with the death of her mother. All of this makes for a familar yet unique vision of the Princess of Hyrule. And while she may not get as much screen time as Toon Link, Tetra/Zelda without a doubt leave a mark.
Finally, let's take a look at the big bad of this game, Ganondorf (I swear this one won't be as long). Now throughout the game, it's no secret that Ganondorf is responsible for all of the monsters you fight, including the Helmaroc King (a.k.a the giant bird) who kidnapped Aryll. After giving the overgrown bird a few whacks of your Skull Hammer, you fnally meet Ganondorf. He tells you about the Master Sword and how it acted as a key to his power, and that by pulling it you've brought him back to full strength; he then blocks an attack from Toon Link and says that the Master Sword is useless in it's current state. Tetra shows up to help, but she doesn't fare much better, and it's not until Valoo, a giant dragon shows up and attacks that the two are able to escape. Ganondorf isn't seen again until he kidnaps Zelda and you must climb his tower to get to him. When you meet him, he goes on about how the Gods, not him, have destroyed the world, as the Gods decided to flood the land of Hyrule and turn it into the Great Sea you've been exploring this whole time (told you there were spoilers). This is interesting because it shows a side of Ganondorf that we haven't seen before in previous games (or since for that matter), as in a weird way Ganondorf begins to justify why he's done what he's done. But the real shocker when you reach the top of the Tower, and Ganondorf tells you a bit of his youth. About how growing up in the Gerudo Valley, the wind would always bring death and hardship to him and his people, while in Hyrule, the wind would always bring forth life and hope, and how he began to covet both the wind and by assocation Hyrule.
Now this doesn't seem like much, but in the context of both Wind Waker and the Zelda series as a whole, this is Ganondorf's Killing Joke moment. By that I mean, is that much like The Killing Joke, this sheds some light on the tragic backstory of a well established villian, in this case Ganon. It isn't much, but by giving us this bit of info, Wind Waker takes one of gaming's most famous villians and gives him a motive, a reason for the evil things that he's done over the years, and by doing so, Ganondorf becomes an interesting character in his own right. It's kind of a shame Nintendo never really built on this, because Wind Waker not only made me interested in Ganondorf, but made me kind of feel sad for him in a way. At least until he straight up decks Toon Link.
I could probably go on for ages. I could talk about how the Rito and Koroks are the polar opposites of their ancestors, the Zora and Kokiri respectively. I could talk about how vast and empty the Great Sea is, or how the destruction of Hyrule at the end of the game is symbolic of the Wind Waker as a whole washing away the past Zelda games to try something new. I could go on about all kinds of stuff about Wind Waker and why I love it so, but any more and this is going to turn into a novel. These were just a few of the observations that I found while playing through Wind Waker again for the first time in a couple years.
I love The Legend of Zelda series. They're fun, immersive, engaging with interesting stories, great soundtracks, and memorable characters. Some of them are better than others, but of all of the games I played, Wind Waker is the one that hold a special place in my heart. It had an interesting combat system, the game was colorful, the characters were memorable, and the story was great, dealing with themes of regret, destiny, and clinging to the past. On the surface, it doesn't look like Wind Waker is those things, and not everyone will love it. But much like the Great Sea the game takes place on, all one needs to do is look beneath the waves to find a game that is truly a treasure.
This year, Destructoid is turning nine years old. Can you believe that? I sure can't; it seems like only yesterday I was browsing Dtoid and talking about video games, Queen, and touching other people's butts. Oh wait, that was yesterday. Point is, this place has been around for awhile, and I hope it stays around even longer.
I've been here for about four to five years (the date is still a little iffy) when someone on 4chan linked a blog from here in the /v/ board. I won't go into too much detail about my earlier days since I've covered it before in earlier blog post, but just know that while I visit and lurk at plenty of gaming sites, Destructoid is the only one that I find myself coming to time after time. Sure, I haven't agreed with a lot of the decisions made over the years, but nobody's perfect. To celebrate these nine years, it was decided that we as a community talk about who are nine favorite people are, and not wanting to feel left out, yours truly decided to throw his hat in the ring and let you all know who here at Destructoid I'd like to touch in the bum.
Before we go any further, do know that this was a pretty tough one to come up with. As I said, I love each and everyone of you, so to narrow it down to nine people was really tough, like picking my favorite Queen song tough (Killer Queen....no wait Radio Gaga. No uh, Princes of the Universe?). However, know that just because some of you don't show up on this list, doesn't mean I don't love all of you in some way or another. You're all awesome and beautiful people and if I could I would include all of you on here, but alas I can't. Yes, I know other people have done that so far, but I try and do things by the book here, lest I want the chief to take my badge for being a loose cannon. With that out of the way, let's get dangerous
9. Papa Niero
I know some of you are reading this and are going to be al like "THAT'S CHEATING GOOF!" Well, maybe, but let me ask you a question: if Destructoid was never created, what community would you guys be a part of right now? And would you have as close of a bond with that community as you do with people on Dtoid? It's possible, but I kind of doubt it, especially considering the sense of humor we have here would probably get us banned from most websites. You can't build a house without a solid foundation, and Niero creating this site as an excuse to get into E3 is a perfect foundation to build the sexy funtime house we call Desructoid. And yeah, Dtoid may be bigger than a website at this point, with people coming and going over the years, but this place is still the one thread that brings us all together, and it's all thanks to Papa Niero.
So thanks Niero for creating Destructoid. Without this site, none of us would be here, talking about video games and touching each other's sexy parts.
Gardevoir. What started off as a funny, random comment from JawshButturBawls quickly evolved into a Destructoid meme that I doubt is going to lose steam anytime soon. It's gotten so huge, that when it comes to stories on the FP about Pokemon, it's not a question of IF we're going to be flooded with Gardevoir pics, but WHEN. Hell our own Kyle McGregor made a lovely poem telling us how great Gadrevoir was. And whether you believe the Psychic/Fairy type is life/love, or want the meme to die a horrible death, there's no denying that this is the kind of weird, crazy stuff that brought many of us to the website in the first place.
And hey look on the bright side: at least it wasn't Jynx.
7. It's About To Get Gay In Here
Seriously, how could I not include It's About To Get Gay In Here on this list? Have you read some of his (her?) C-Blogs? They're pretty hiliarious and some of the funniest stuff I've read in awhile. Seriously if you haven't read any of Gay's blog posts, stop reading this and go check them out. Go on; I'll still be here when you get back.
Oh hey you're back. They're pretty funny aren't they? And that's why It's About To Get Gay In Here is on this list. No ifs, ands or butts. Hehe butts.
6. Chris Carter
MORE LIKE 6.5 AMIRITE GUYS? In all seriousness, I enjoy the stuff that Chris writes. He writes in a way that is clear, precise, and entertaining to read. And even if you disagree with the scores in his reviews (as I have in the past), he's still a pretty cool guy. So yeah, even though me and you haven't interacted all that often, I'm a fan of what you do, Chris Carter. Keep doing what you're doing.
Dreamweaver is one of the few people who consistently thinks the stuff I blog about is interesting, but that isn't the reason he's on this list (though it is greatly apperciated). No what puts Dream on this list is the fact that he's a pretty cool guy (and doesn't afraid of anything). He's always on the front page with something interesting or funny to say, his c-blogs are entertaining, and he's all around weird; making him the perfect member of the Dtoid family. And he also started up Comments of the Week again, so bonus points there.
So yeah Dream, you're an awesome guy, and one of the coolest people in the community. And that's saying a lot.
4. Mike Martin (formerly PhilKenSebben)
HA HA.....dangly parts. Mike Martin (formerly lovable scamp PhilKenSebben) was one of the first people I saw when lurking on the site. I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't a fan of his, what with talking about his dick and well talking about his dick. But once I got rid of the massive stick up my ass, I realized the Mike was rough around the edges but was a cool guy on the inside. Much like Dream, he's a super cool member of the community, one of the old people from before my time who puts his heart, his soul, and most importantly his dick, into making this place awesome. And I for one thank you for that.
3. Andy Dixon
The man, the myth himself. Like Mike, I didn't have a positive first impression of Randy, and I actually remember saying to myself "who the fuck is this asshole in the pink bath robe?" After being here for as long as I have, I now have an answer. Andy is a rad dude who makes no secret of the fact that he loves this place and does everything in his power to make this place as awesome as it can be. And he's been doing a damn fine job so far. He's also there to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it, and has helped me a couple times when I first started blogging seriously. So thanks Andy for being an awesome Community Manager and all around cool guy.
2. Occam's Electric Toothbrush
I make no secret of the fact that I was a massive asshole when I first started visiting Destructoid. And when I was acting like a dick in those early years, Occams was there to tell me in the nicest way to get my head out of my ass. Much like Andy and Mike, Occams loves this place and does what he can to make this place awesome. He's warm and gentle to all, and does an excellent job of helping new people find their groove and get comfortable here. I've seen Occams get upset at a few people over the years (though to be fair, those people deserved it), but for the most part, he's a jolly happy guy that you can't help but smile along with.
So thanks for being you Occams. You're a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.
1. The Dtoider who wrote about Earthbound's Giygas being a fetus
The single most important Dtoider, the one who's C-blog first introduced me to this awesome site, and I don't even know your name. I don't know who you are or what your real name is. I don't know if you're still a Dtoid regular or if you left us long ago. But I do know this much though: you're the reason I'm here in the first place. If it wasn't for you talking about the dark themes in one of the best games ever, I would never have come here and been introduced to such awesome people. Things haven't always been perfect, but the good has always outweighed the bad. This place has become more than a gaming blog to me; it's become a giant dsyfunctional family that I absolutely love. And I wouldn't experince it if it wasn't for you, random Dtoider. And words cannot express those feelings adequately enough. Thank you.
Man, I really shouldn't be chopping onions when I write this stuff.
As I said at the beginning of this, I love each and every one of you and to limit myself to only nine people was really hard. That being said, a special thanks to a bunch of other Dtoiders that I want to thank as well, including Brittany Vincent, RenaudB90, Jordan Devore, HyperLemonBusterCannon, Nekrosys, Wrenchfarm (a.k.a Nic Rowen), Steven Hansen, GajKnight (even though you have terrible taste in Persona girls), SeymourDuncan17, The Scholarly Gamer, Jonathan Holmes (who totally stole my first name), Pixilated, Cosmotropolis, ooktar, Luna Sy, JoyfulSanity, and all the rest on CBS. It's been an interesting nine years for Dtoid (four-to five years for me), and hope the next nine years are just as awesome.
So happy birthday, Dtoid. I made you a cake. A BEEF CAKE:
Good night, and good luck.
"What's your favorite game of all time?" That may sound like a simple question, but it's anything but. Chances are good that some people wouldn't be able to answer the question on the spot, and those who do probably wouln't give the same exact answer. Some people might say The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time or Half-Life 2, or they might pick something completely out of left field like a Dynasty Warriors game or Pac-Man. Heck, I had a friend in high school who said his favorite game of all time was Jet Force Gemini, a.k.a. that one time Rare said "hey, let's make a third person shooter where you kill space bugs, save knock-off Ewoks, and can play as a cybernetic dog that can temporarily fly in the air". Because video games.
The second question asked after that is usually "why". This one is usually easier for most people to answer, but much like the first question, you'll get a wide variety of answers. Some people like a particular game because it was the first time they ever played a video game before, or they played with a close family member or friend. Maybe said game hit them on a personal level with their story, or it helped them come to terms with who they really are as a person; or maybe the game was really, really good. But regardless of what our favorite game is or why, I think we can all agree on this simple truth: that all of us, from the guy who speedruns Dark Souls to the people who play League of Legends professionally, love video games in some form or another. And while we all have different reasons for loving video games, it's that basic feeling of love and joy that unite us as a community, more so than even movies or music have before us.
The reason I bring this up is because for the first time in a long time, I can answer both of these questions easily. Without a doubt, my favorite game of all time is Super Mario Galaxy. No, not Super Mario Galaxy 2, the original game that came out in 2007. I love Super Mario Galaxy because it's a well designed, beautiful looking and sounding, absoultely fun game to play. However, it also did something that was much more important, which was to create a burning desire in my heart to create an amazing video game and gave me the motivation I needed to make it through my early years in college. And while that desire doesn't burn as bright as it once did, it's still there within in me, and I doubt I would have it all if I didn't play Super Mario Galaxy at the right time. I suppose I should start from the beginning.
Let's go back to a simpler time: August of 2007. I was just starting college, fresh from high school and beginning my college education to get a degree in Game Software Development. It was a fresh start for me as no one from my high school would be there. And when things first started, it was great. I made a ton of new friends, the teachers were great, and I realized how much I liked programming. Unfortunately, the honeymoon period ended almost as soon as it started.
I knew that programming was going to be difficult, but man those first few months were rough. I had never had any previous programming before hand, so to have my teachers talk about variables, if statements, compiliers, and functions sounded foreign to me. It didn't help that a few of my friends and classmates also had a leg up on me, as some of them had programmed before. On top of that, I was unable to hang out with my new friends, either because they had busy schedules, or because I was busy. And if I was free, I would often turn them down because my anti-social, awkward nature from high school carried over (despite the fact I was the loudest and jolliest guy in my class). Oh and there was a guy in my programming class who was kind of a dick, but he was the least of my worries at that point.
Even the one thing that granted me solace, video games, weren't really doing anything for me at the time. I had recently gotten a Wii at the time (after searching everywhere for one, remember when those were hard to find?), and had picked up the Wii versions of Resident Evil 4 and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. While both of these were excellent games, the fact that I had played both of them before on the Gamecube made any desire to play them again not really a priority. It didn't help that Super Smash Bros. Brawl wasn't going to be out for awhile. During those early years, things were changing, and I'm not sure if I could keep up. Then in November, I went to my local Gamestop to pick a game I had pre-ordered back in July; that game was Super Mario Galaxy.
You ever felt down or bummed, only for something to come by at the right time to pick you up? Super Mario Galaxy was that thing; a 3D Mario platfomer for the Nintendo Wii in which the platformers had their own center of gravity. So basically Super Mario 64 but IN SPACE! And yet despite this familarity, there was something about Galaxy that felt different, special almost. Whether it was because I was playing on a new system or because we hadn't seen a 3D Mario since Super Mario Sunshine in 2002, but something about it felt old and new at the same time, like holding your childhood teddy bear after it's been washed for the first time in years. And everything about it was perfect.
The levels (called galaxies in the game), while smaller and a bit more linear than what was in Super Mario 64, were well designed with interesting gameplay mechanics such as using the Wii-mote to tehter Mario to certain points across an area a la Spider-Man, or having platforms with the aformentioned center of gravity. While the Wii could only run games in SD, the levels looked nothing short of amazing, ranging from bright and colorful flowery fields to dark onimous ships flying in the night sky, and even a stage that combined the genric fire and ice worlds found in most platformers and made them one. The soundtrack, which was the first in the series' history to be composed by an orchestra (something that not even The Legend of Zelda series would do until Skyward Sword), was beautiful and stuck with me long after I completed the game, and I often find myself listening to it whenever I worked; in fact, I'm listening to Wind Garden, a.k.a the theme heard in the Gusty Garden Galaxy as I'm typing this out right now. This was also the first game that introduced us to Rosalina, who not only became my main in both Smash 4 and Mario Kart 8, but has also became my favorite Mario character, if not one of my favorite all time Nintendo characters. I even loved the Manta Surfing minigames, the Purple Coin challenges, AND the Storybook, three elements that were often criticized by fans. Simply put: I loved everything about Super Mario Galaxy.
Soon, Galaxy became my anchor for those early months. It was the game that I would play to reward myself for figuring out a programming problem or unwind if I had hit a wall. It then occured to me that if someone could make a game as beautiful as this, why couldn't I? A foolish and naive thought for sure, but it was enough to give me the creative spark I needed to get into my studies. As the months went on, other games would come along and take up what free time I had left that wasn't spent studying, job hunting, or hanging out with my friends. But I'll never forget the feelings of joy and immersion I felt playing Super Mario Galaxy, and while Super Mario Galaxy 2 was a great game in it's own right, it just couldn't replace the love I had for the original.
That being said, I'm not going to sit here and say that me playing Super Mario Galaxy instantly made me a better a programmer or that because I played it I now have my dream job. Neither of those things could be further from the truth; it also didn't make me a happier person or make me question my choices. I've had plenty of doubts and moments of sadness while I was in college and after graduating, I'm having them now, and I'm going to have them in the future too. No what Super Mario Galaxy did was show my I love video games in the first place at a time when I needed to know that the most. And while I've lost some of the creative spark and optimism of my younger days, the game still holds a special place in my heart. If The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the game that first introduced me to the idea of making games as my dream job, then Super Mario Galaxy was the game that confirmed to me that I made the right choice.
Hey Internet, how are you doing? Good, I presume? That's great to hear. I'm not very good with small talk, so let me just cut to the chase: I've been a fan of the Legend of Zelda series for a very long time, with my first game being The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It was a change of pace from the usual platformers that I usually played at the time, and while I didn't initally get the hang of it at first, once it clicked for me, I was hooked for life. From then on, I made it a point to play every main game in the series, with a couple of them (specifically Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker) being some of my all time favorite games, alongside the likes of Half-Life 2 and the original Super Mario Galaxy.
But my experince with certain games in the Zelda series hasn't always been pleasant. While there are some games in the series that I absolutely adore (the aformentioned Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker), there have been some games that I've been a bit lukewarm on. Which is pretty common when you have a franchise as big as Zelda, since not everyone is going to like the same thing. But there's one game in the series that I could never get into despite trying numerous times. It's a game that had a bit of a cult following when it first came out, but has since grown in popularity, with many people considering it to be their favorite game in the series. And so Internet, with an enhanced port coming out soon, I come now to confess something that many of you will not agree with.
Internet, my name is GoofierBrute. And I don't like the The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
The face I'm sure many of you are making right now.
Before I go any further down this rabbit hole, I suppose I should probably get something out of the way right now. Despite not liking it, I don't think Majora's Mask is a terrible game. I know that sounds a little contradictory to what I've already said and what I'm about to say, but that's the honest truth. Hell, I wouldn't even call it the worse Zelda game, since that honor belongs to Phantom Hourglass as far as I'm concerned. I'd even go so far as to say that there are some things in Majora's Mask that I actually enjoy quite a bit.
For instance, as much as I love Ocarina of Time for it's story, combat, music, and dungeon designs, I'll be the first to admit the game feels a bit lifeless at times. Don't get me wrong, there are some cool interesting areas like Lon Lon Ranch and the Gerudo Valley, but for the most part the land of Hyrule feels empty and not very interesting, with areas like Hyrule Town feeling like nothing more but window dressing. The denizens of Hyrule don't fare much better, as many of the characters that aren't part of the main story or various side quests come off as forgetable and don't have much in the way of personality. Neither of these problems hurt the overall experince of Ocarina, but they most certainly didn't help. You could chalk this up as being the problem with the Nintendo 64 being not as powerful of system to render such things, and I would agree with you....if it wasn't for the fact that Majora's Mask proved that notion wrong a little more than a year later.
Sure, a lot of the assets of Majora were ripped straight from Ocarina, but that worked in the game's favor, since the team didn't have to spend too much time creating new enviroments and character models, they could take the exisiting ones and give them more detail. Clock Town and the land of Termina were diverse and vibrant, with each area feeling unique and interesting to explore. NPCs who were once forgetable now had names and acted like real people with routines and unique traits. They had likes, dislikes, fears, hopes, and dreams. Some people were close friends with one another, while others were bitter rivals. Getting to know the denizens of Termina and helping them out went a long way to helping you feel immeresed in the game's world.
It's no Morrowind in terms of immersion, but it's pretty damn close.
The story was another aspect of Majora's Mask that impressed me quite a bit. While Ocarina of Time's narrative dealt with themes like growing up, friendship, and finding one's place in an unfamilar world, Majora's Mask's themes focused more on regret, sorrow, mortality, the inevitablity of death and how we as indviduals react when we know the end is coming, in this case the moon falling from the sky and destroying all of Termina. Some characters like Anju (a.k.a. the Cucco Lady from Ocarina who I'm not ashamed to admit was my first gaming crush) accept their fate willingly, while others like the Postman want nothing more than to flee but can't due to various reasons. Watching characters who were once steadfast and heroic on the first day only to turn into broken hysterical messes as the last day was coming to a close was genuinely heartbreaking, and I'd be lying if I didn't say a few of the characters made me get a little teary-eyed, especially when I realized early on that there was no way to save them outside of going back in time to the first day, thus leaving them to their fate. Simply put: Majora's Mask's story and world are absolutely amazing, and for that Majora's Mask should be commended.
So yeah, from a story perspective, Majora's Mask impresses me, and for that I tip my hat to Eiji Aonuma and his team. However, at the same I have to wag my finger at them, since the game has a lot of mechanics and design choices that drive me up the wall. Some of them I've gotten use to over the years, like using the Deku, Goron, and Zora masks to access certain points or a stealth section later on in the game. But there's one part of the game that I've never gotten use and I sincerely doubt I ever will. It's the part of the game that is key to the entire game, and without it, Majora's Mask wouldn't be the same.
I am of course referring to the three day cycle and the manipulation of time.
You guys are making that face again.
At this point, I'm sure a lot of you are skipping to the comments and telling me that I'm wrong while listing all the things that I can do to make it easier, and to you I say: yes, I know. Yes, I know that you can play the Song of Time backwards to slow down time, or play the Song of Double Time to speed things up. Yes, I know that there's a bank to store my Rupees so I don't lose them when I go back to the first day. Yes I know it's really easy to get bombs and arrows on the first day, and that I keep all my key items. Yes I know the Bomber's Notebook keeps a rough schedule of where important NPCs are and what time of day they go about their lives. I get all of that: but you know what? That still doesn't excuse the fact that this mechanic is limiting and goes against the spirit of what the Zelda series is all about.
Let me tell you what I mean; since it's early days on the NES, The Legend of Zelda series biggest gaming hook has always been the idea of exploring a wide world, with some games (like Wind Waker for instance) suceeding at this better than others. At first, Majora's Mask is one of those games that looks like it's going to suceed. And as I said earlier, interacting with the various denizens of Clock Town and exploring Termina is great in and of itself...at first. Before long however, it felt like the game didn't want me to explore the world, instead making it painfully obvious that in order to get far, I'd have to do the various sidequests to get far and obtain new masks. This quickly became a problem when I realized that many of the side quests were timed and that if you missed even one part of it, the entire side quest had to be started from the beginning, meaning going back to the first day and replaying major portions of it again.
Before long, my various playhtroughs went from "oh boy, I can't wait to explore Termina" to "okay this character shows up here at 7 AM, so if I use the Goron Mask's roll ability I should get there with a few minutes to spare", and to me, that's not what Zelda games are all about. When I play a Zelda game, I want to explore the world: play a few mini-games, find treasure, ride around an open field (or sail around in the case of Wind Waker), maybe even attack some Cuccos to see how long I can survive before they kill me (spoiler alert: not very long); in other words, goofing around while the villian does a bad thing. Majora's Mask lets you do stuff like that, but the game isn't designed to be played like, which I know that for a lot of people is fine, but for me it feels like the game is rushing me, and I don't like it when that happens. It doesn't help either that the game can be pretty cryptic at times with what you can do and where you have to go, so unless you know what you're doing or have a walkthrough handy, it's very easy to get lost playing. All of this culminated in various playthroughs where I would fall in love with the game's world, story, music (oh that music), and characters in the beginning of the game before going through a few dungeons, attempting to complete a few sidequests, trying to complete those sidequests AGAIN because I missed an event or did something wrong, before throwing my hands up and thinking "screw this, I'm playing Wind Waker again".
The one thing that stayed consistent with my various attempts to beat Majora's Mask was how creepy the moon is. Because having pleasent dreams is overrated anyway.
And honestly, that's the what frustrates me the most about Majora's Mask. I WANT to love this game, and put it in my top ten games of all time, since there are elements that I absolutely adore. But much like Charlie Brown and the infamous football, just when I'm confident that the game is really good, Majora's Mask pulls it away at the last minute. And that's more frustrating to me than playing a truly terrible game like Sonic '06 as a terrible game I can justify me not liking it because it's just poorly made. Games like Majora's Mask on the other hand make me genuinely question if it's the game that's flawed or if I'm doing something wrong, and let me tell you; that's not a good felling to have.
I know a lot of you are going to read this and disagree wth me or even be mad at me. And I don't blame you for feeling that way; after all, I just dedicated a c-blog talking about how much I don't like what was an important game for a lot of you, and I did it a few days before a highly anticpated remake of said game is set to release. But know that I didn't write this in anger or spite, or to prove a point, but rather out of dissapointment. I get why a lot of you like Majora's Mask and sing it's praises, and I imagine that in some alternate reality I'm having a blast with it aboard my yacht. But as it stands now, I just can't find myself getting into as much as the rest of you, and I'm starting to wonder if I ever will, even with the remake coming out this week.
I guess you could say I've met with a terrible fate, haven't I?
Hello and welcome to another edition of "Do's and Don'ts", a series in which I talk about what developers and publishers should/shouldn't do when it comes to games, practices, etc. In this installment, I'll be talking about what I would like to see from a hypothetical new Punch-Out!! game.
During a recent Direct, Nintendo announced that they were bringing select Wii titles to the Wii U via download from the Nintendo eShop. The first three titles that were to be announced were the excellent Super Mario Galaxy 2 (despit the original being a bit better), the Wii version of Punch-Out!!, and the Metroid Prime Trilogy, which was nothing short of a brilliant decision by Nintendo and massive flip of the bird to all the scalpers on eBay who had the nerve to sell copies for as low as $80. I still own my Wii and my original copy of Super Mario Galaxy 2, and I intend to download Trilogy when it comes out next week, but a few days ago I downloaded Punch-Out!! for the Wii, and it's as awesome as I remember it. The game still looks nice (despite being in standard definition), the game sounds great, and the gameplay is classic Punch-Out!!, striking a perfect balance between challenging and fair. Soda Popinski is still a dick though.
After playing it for a bit, something occured to me: wouldn't it be great if we got a new Punch-Out!! game for the Wii U? Despite not being as popular as Nintendo's other franchises, the Punch-Out!! series is still loved by a lot of people, myself included. And with this recent re-release and his apperance in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U & 3DS, interest in Little Mac and the series he hails from is pretty high right now, almost like Marth and Pit were shortly after their debuts in Smash. So yeah, as far as I'm concerned, it's not a question of IF we're getting a new Punch-Out!!, but WHEN. And when Nintendo decides to make a new game, here are some of the things I'd like to see them do, and what to avoid like one of Mike Tyson's haymakers.
DO: Create some new, original boxers
More Fresh Meat to wail on please.
As much I enjoyed the Wii iteration of Punch-Out!!, one of the few problems I had with it were the boxers themselves. Yeah, you had fan favorites like King Hippo and Don Flamenco, but of the fourteen boxers that Little Mac had to fight his way through, only two of them made their debut in this game, with everyone else being a boxer from a previous game. Donkey Kong was one of the new characters, and the other one was Disco Kid, who's big dumb grinning face you can see above. Maybe developer Next Level Games didn't have enough time to put in new characters, or maybe they had some designs that Nintendo didn't approve of. Maybe Nintendo was afraid that because the Punch-Out!! series was (at the time) dormant for so long, that people wouldn't buy it unless they had some old boxers. Whatever the reason, for the next game, give me some new people to Star Punch.
Punch-Out is famous for boxers from various parts of the world, so use that to your advantage. Why not have a singing cowboy from Texas who's songs determine what punches he's going to throw? Or how about a mime where you have to pay attention to their visual cues on account of them being silent? Hell, a lot of the classic boxers are a lot bigger than Little Mac, but why not have one who's the same size as Mac or, dare I say it slightly smaller? The possibilities are endless. Now I'm not saying you should get rid of the old boxers completely, but I do hope going that in this game, the new and interesting boxers are as plentiful as the veterans.
DON'T: Add gimmicky control schemes
Remember the Wii Fit Balance Board? Of course you do; it was the thing that your non-gaming relative bought the Wii for back in it's heyday because they saw a report on CNN/Fox News/MSNBC that said that the Wii was an amazing way to lose weight and was perfect for them to get into shape because reasons. But what most people don't remember is that the Wii Balance Board was compatible with a few other games besides Wii Fit, and of those games was the Wii version of Punch-Out!!. Using the Balance Board with the Wiimote and Nunchuck in Punch-Out!! was about as much fun as being Muhammed Ali's personal boxing bag, and most people I know stuck with the Wiimote by itself for most of their playthrough(you could use the Wiimote and Nunchuck together as well, but it wasn't as good). Which is why when it comes to the next Punch-Out!!, I ask this of you Nintendo: don't add gimmicky controls. Just let me use a traditional control scheme.
Now to be fair, Nintendo isn't as motion control crazy as they were last generation. In fact, a lot of big Wii U games support the Pro Controller and use mainly traditional control schemes, and I personal couldn't be happier to see that (and I'm saying this as someone who rather enjoyed my Wii). But then there's the elephant in the room: the Gamepad. I wouldn't mind seeing it used for off-screen play or use the screen to display important info like health, how much time is left in a round, etc., but don't make me have to tilt it block or throw a punch. It's pointless and takes up valuable resources and time. Time that could be used to make the game look nicer, make some new music, add some new boxers, or......
DO: Add more characters from other Nintendo franchises
So I know this contradicts my previous point of "new original characters", and if given the choice between new characters and having Little Mac box a famous Nintendo character, I'll take the former everytime. At the same time.....the fight with DK was super cool and a nice little reward for completing the game's harder modes. And even though he kicked my ass on numerous occasions, it was still an absolute blast to play. So why not do something like that again?
Obviously, you would have to limit yourself to male Nintendo characters only, since I can't imagine many people would be down with watching Peach getting all black and bruised, but that shouldn't be a problem. Besides Donkey Kong, you also have other heavy hitters Bowser, Ganondorf and Wario, or if you want to spice things up, maybe have charaters that aren't as big but can still pack a punch like Link, Captain Falcon and Pit, speedy characters like Fox or Falco, or even tricky characters like Waluigi. Hell, if you want to make things interesting, make Shulk a boxer and have him use the Monado's power to make himself faster or able to take a punch better, or even Mewtwo and Lucario. Now I'm not saying you should make the next Punch-Out!! an all out Nintendo brawl, because frankly if I wanted to see Little Mac beat the crap out of various Nintendo characters, I'd just play Super Smash Bros. But at the same time, it would be a nice change of pace to see characters from Nintendo's other franchises put on a pair of boxing gloves and have a go with Little Mac. No items, three stock, Fox only, Final Destination.
DON'T: Add multiplayer
Punch-Out!! for the Wii had a multiplayer mode.....and it kind of sucked. To be fair, it did play better than the Master Chief Collection's multiplayer, but it's not exactly something you would see played at EVO. For those of you who don't know what it was about (consider yourself lucky) it went something like this: you and your friend on the couch (there was no online) pick between Little Mac and....a different colored Little Mac. Once you picked your Mac, you and your friend would try and hit each other and dodge punches and jabs (which is actually a bit harder then it sounds due to the split screen setup during this) until one of you gets enough energy to turn into Giga Mac, a.k.a that thing he turns into whenever he grabs the Smash Ball. From there it turns into a more traditional fight, with the person who isn't Giga Mac dodging Giga's punches and looks for tells to get Stars. This goes on for a bit until the player who's Giga Mac turns back into regular Little Mac, and the cycle contuines until someone is declared a winner or both of you get bored and switch over to Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Don't do that in the next Punch-Out!! game; it was dull, boring, and felt unnecessary. You could argue that multiplayer for Punch-Out!! could work if you add the option to play as the boxers you fight in the main game, but in order to do that, you'd either have to A) make it a Party Mode and add random elements like items and special abilities so that characters like Glass Joe and Von Kaiser stand a chance against Super Macho Man and Mr. Sandman or B) do nothing and make them handle and react the same way they do in the main game. And from where I'm sitting, neither of those is a good idea, as the former removes any kind of skill and timing (you know, the core of Punch-Out!!'s gameplay) in favor of luck, while the latter means that people will be mainly playing as the Major and World Circuit boxers, while everyone from the Minor Circuit outside of King Hippo (assuming he's in the Minor Circuit in the next game) gets left out in the cold. So yeah, just to make it easier on everyone, don't have a multiplayer mode; some games benefit greatly from multiplayer, while in others it feels tacked on and completely superfluous. And unfortunately for Punch-Out!!, it's one of those series where it just doesn't work.
DO: Keep Doc Louis
Winning is a lot like a choclate. I just love it baby.
Okay, so this is one of those "no duh" situations, but I feel it should still be addressed. Doc Louis didn't do much in the NES Punch-Out!! other than give you generic tips or tell you to join the Nintendo Fun Club. After being absent in Super Punch-Out!!, Doc Louis returned in the Wii game, completely different than he was in the original. Sure he still gave generic advice and told Little Mac to join Club Nintendo (R.I.P.), but he would do it in way that was part lame, part funny, and all around memorable. From telling Little Mac to "dance like a fly, bite like a mosquito", to having an obsession with chocolate bars, Doc Louis in Punch-Out!! for the Wii was hiliarious, and he brought some much needed comic relief; no matter how hard I got hit in the face, I knew Doc would be there in the corner to give me words of encouragment, crack a joke, or eat a chocolate bar. That last one would mysterious restore some of my health.
So yeah, there's not really much else to say. Give me more Doc Louis Nintendo.
DO: Make a Punch-Out!! line of amiibos....specifically King Hippo
....Seriously Nintendo, just let me buy an amiibo of King Hippo. I don't care if the amiibo bubble has burst by the time this new Punch-Out!! comes out. Let me buy a King Hippo amiibo, and I will love you forever. FOREVER.
So yeah, that's what I would love to see in the inevitable new game in the Punch-Out!! series. Do you agree or disagree? What would you guys personally like to see in a new Punch-Out!! game? Sound off in the comments. Thanks for reading, and remember guys: float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, eye of the tiger, and other boxing terms and metaphors. Good night and good luck.