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It's been a long time since I did anything here. Considering recent events in the video game industry, I have not really been in a frame of mind to interact with it too much, whether it be the writey-all-about-it side or the makey-play-it-so-we-can-sell-it stuff. Generally, speaking, I've been keeping my head down and S'ing TFUAJPG's, not because I'm actually pissed off or emotional at anything going on; it's rather difficult to be when anyone else who puts finger to keyboard does plenty of that already. Time contraints are my main issue, and despite some ideas which have been hovering in my head, I just haven't had the inspiration to get down with it.
One feature I did used to really like on this site came from Chris Carter, and his Carter's Quest series. For those not familiar, Chris would play through an entire series of games, and then tell you what he thought of them. This is pretty much the purest sort of gaming blog I can think of. I'm not opposed to political charged or controversial content, but there's just something so pure about that concept; a concept I hope to imitate over the coming weeks.
Playing off of the alliteration of Carter's Quest, I shall be producing a series called "Villainthropist Voyage", each entry of which will be focused on a different game series. Browsing through my collection, it occured to me I have quite a few series I could do this on, and have chosen my first two.
The origin of this collection is rather simple; a few months ago I bought a Playstation 4, blasted through Infamous: Second Son, and then picked up Watch Dogs. It was about three missions into Watch Dogs that all my enthusiasm for modern gaming diminished immediately. Suddenly, there in front of me, was everything that gaming had evolved into over the last five or so years, and I wanted no part in it. For a few weeks, I played nothing. I've had these burnouts on gaming before, where my drive to actually muster the effort to even switch a console on was just gone, including my brand new Playstation 4 (which I recently switched on again for some Shadows of Mordor, so all is not lost in shadow).
What eventually rejuvenated my interest was picking a copy of Spirit Tracks off my shelf which I hadn't touched since buying it. I'd previously played some Phantom Hourglass, but hadn't really clicked with it, despite Ocarina of Time being one of my favourite games. Spirit Tracks, I have to say with some confidence, is quite possibly the worst Zelda game. I couldn't believe how little respect the creators seemed to have for my time. It gradually occured to me that this game was surely designed with a younger audience in mind, but this seemed a poor excuse for such a bland and time consuming mechanic like driving a train everywhere and occassionally shooting a cannon at things. My Link is still waiting to pick things up on the fourth level of that bloody tower, and I have promised that I will return, but not until I could remind myself that Zelda was actually a good series.
Prior to Spirit Tracks and Phantom Hourglass, my experience of the Zelda franchise was minimal. The only games I owned and had completed were Ocarina of Time (and the 3DS iteration), Twilight Princess, and A Link Between Worlds. I do have vague childhood memories of when my Dad borrowed and completed A Link to the Past for the SNES back when I was 5 or 6, but only vague snippets spring to mind from that original playthrough. I therefore decided that, along with another series I'd recently discovered, I would endeavour to buy and play through all of them, and maybe write a blog about it.
I think the reason Zelda came to mind was twofold; the series obviously has a lot of prestige and presensce. Asking a layman to name video game series they know, and they'll likely say Mario, Call of Duty, Halo, Wii Sports, and to my reckoning, Zelda. Sure they might think Zelda is the name of the green guy you control in it, but you can't win every battle. Secondly, the games represent what gaming is ultimately about to me; a little bit of action and challenge, some exploration, a nicely detailed world to explore, and ultimately, just something a little different to reality. It also helps that despite being so similar fundamentally to each other, they can be whole worlds apart in how they actually feel, without alienating series fans each time (although I have heard Skyward Sword can get a little trying, but I'm yet to be the judge of that).
It will be a little while before I can post a full account of my time with the series. The next time I post about it will be when it's all done. In the meantime, here is a progress report. Struckthrough are finished, and italics means not currently owned:
As you can see, a bit of work to do. But as I mentioned, another series has only recently come to my attention, and is one that hit so hard, I feel the need to explore it fully.
I discovered Metroid only last year. To some of you, this may be blasphemy, but kindly put down those pitchforks and hear me out. As someone who went through early life from Sega console to Sega console, coming back to the Nintendo 64 for a bit before back to Sega and then the Xbox's, Metroid never really had an opportunity to show what it could do for me. This changed last year when I picked up a Wii U from HMV back when they were at risk of closing down, and noticing Super Metroid was only 50p on the eShop. I'd obviously heard that this was one of those SNES games which were up there as a classic, so thought I'd have a look to see what the fuss is about.
Despite being twenty years old, and despite being played on hardware that no one could have conceived of back when the game was first made, Super Metroid very quickly became one of my favourite games of all time. It opened up my interest in the term "Metroidvania", and the classic examples of the games this newish term refers to, to the point where once Zelda and Metroid are done, I might be taking a bit of a closer look at Castlevania. At this point in time, I have managed to gather all but the NES game, which is a hidden bonus on Zero Mission anyway, but I have chosen to be pedantic and get it in its original form anyway to round off my collection (along with the NES Classics GBA rerelease, because I am a fussy son of a bitch who will always think something is missing until I have it.)
I would go into further detail on Super Metroid, but I figure that is best saved for the future blog I will be writing on the series. I might consider doing some videos on it, but it depends how willing I am to subject people to my droll monotone voice as footage of games you've seen hundreds of times rolls in the background. Anyway, again, here's my progress:
Well, for one, I always liked Carter's Quest, and would like to see it come back. Second, I need to make an excuse for myself to be buying all these retro games (some costing more than when they were new), and thirdly, I've started to miss writing about games, but I don't know what else to write about other than... well...games. I don't really feel like wading into the "issues" of the moment, be they issues with marketing companies, youtubers, feminists, misogynysts, resolutions, 900P's and 1080P's, Ubisoft's and all that other stuff. I prefer to just read what other people have to say, and make my own choices without broadcasting it to the world. And by doing this series of blogs instead, maybe one or two people might decide to play a game they haven't played before. Heck, I'd forgotten Oracle of Ages and Seasons existed until I looked up Zelda on Wikipedia so I could write my shopping list!
One further thing: Due to the nature of my history with these two series, these blogs, I'm hoping, will have multiple purposes; a minor history lesson (and I will be trying to do a little research to go along with my own thoughts) as well as modern consumer advice. Will a modern gamer who is used to the sensibilities of Quick Saving, checkpoints, and not being able to crawl through small gaps be able to get along with Metroid or Legend of Zelda? I believe there comes a point where today's gaming children will scratch their heads, unable to fathom what the heck they're supposed to do. After all, the first Zelda game was designed not to make things easy and self explanatory. Instead, you were either supposed to get a walkthrough if you got really stuck, or heck, talk to other players to see what they had found out! Can you imagine many kids today doing that? Well, there are always the various walkthroughs and wiki's, but I'm tempted to think this would prove to be too much work, and the game would get abandoned in favour of something flashier and easier before you can say "SHIT! I'M RELOADING". I'm open to the idea that some of you may disagree with some of my assessments on this, but these would be based on my own time with these games, which is recent and fresh, and from the perspective of someone who has very much gone the way of checkpoints, respawning and chest-high-walls. And I too, unfortunately and embarrassingly, tried to make "Metroid crawl".