Jorge Illingworth, I'm a 25 year old Latino with a passion for gaming and trying to get as many people to play different types of games and show them that there is a giant variety to enjoy no matter the age, gender or country!
I have always wanted to write about the games that really shook me; the interactive experiences that molded a good chunk of my moral code and expanded my view of the world by diversifying it. Games can have such a diverse effect from just being entertainment to conveying fear, happiness, isolation, fulfillment, etc. Sometimes, games that are written to convey something fail to achieve that memorial status that many franchises have long established in our minds. So I want to experiment and try to understand what really fuels nostalgia, what makes certain games stay in our memories, certain chimes and song loop endlessly in our minds from past games. I’ll try to recall as much as I can from the first experiences I had with the games that somewhat shaped me to the man I am today, and once I’m done recalling, try to explain when this “nostalgia” factor is triggered in people and how some franchises exploit effectively while others seem to miss the mark for one reason or another. So without further ado, here is my first full experience with The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993).-
Ahh the 90’s, greatest years of my life, ridiculous but entertaining over the top pop artists, great punk/rock bands, virtual pets, freaking Beast Wars, and swimming in the summer, hell yeah!! But with the introduction of the Gameboy in my early years I knew gaming was going to change for good. Super Mario and Megaman in my pocket!? What!? For real!? Awesome!!!!! Then, Link’s Awakening arrived when my dad surprised me with it from a business trip. This was the first Zelda game I ever played and the one game that shook my way of viewing the fact that, yes, I am going to grow up eventually and transgress from being a kid to a man, and that it was going to be one awesome experience.
First, a little about the game itself. Link’s awakening was a huge adventure for you to take anywhere since it was a Gameboy game. A lot of characters for you to talk to, and a blend of RPG item gathering, puzzle, and adventure/action elements gave me the sensation that I was in full control on how to lead this quest.
The game took place in Koholint Island, this was my first Zelda game so I had no idea what Hyrule was, it didn’t felt like a foreign scenario on a Zelda game for me. It felt more like really traveling far away from home and, as the game intends to do, be washed off on a shore with no idea on what’s going on and have to figure it out by yourself on how to get back home.
With a very simple objective in the game you think the story is going to be straight forward but no, this game made me care about the main non-playable character Marin while always giving me hints that the island was a dream and that if I woke up I wouldn’t see Marin or any of the characters ever again. That feeling of knowing that something big is bound to happen is what took me to think that I better brace myself for anything.
It’s so strange that an 8-bit videogame could really make me ponder about life in such an early age but this one did. In the closing chapter of the game you are told by the Windfish (a giant blue whale that can fly) that you need to wake up and embrace reality, that the island and everything in it was just a dream. When you choose to wake up you see Marin and everything fade away. I was under my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sheets late at night playing this and about to cry back then. This was the first time I saw something inherently good, an island that I had just saved, disappear with all the people I have helped and endeared myself with.
When Link finally wakes up he doesn’t look disappointed, sad or mad that all these characters he felt where real just vanished in a blink of an eye. He just looks at the sun as the Windfish flies and he just smiles. This made me think, -” yeah, I’m growing up, and I’m going to leave the tranquility that was childhood and take upon larger and heavier responsibilities. But why would that be a bad thing? Why struggling with finding happiness should be a burden?” - . As the Windfish flew away in my little monochromatic screen I lost all fears of growing up and embraced the idea that good and bad are bound to happen all the time and that only smiling at everything will help me to enjoy the good and overcome the bad.
Hope you guys liked this VG Remembrance! I may do a couple of more of these, since there are a few games that really imprinted in my character as a person. Do you have any game that really stayed in your mind or heart? Tell me about it in the comments!
Screenshots courtesy of NINTENDO EAD.
Acrylic Painting courtesy of Jacob Smiley you can buy his amazing Zelda pieces at www.jacobsmiley.tumblr.com
Had some free time at work today and decided to practice some speed creative writing, oh God, what is wrong with me!?
Hey podtoid gang! Hope you like my tribute Dafoe Movie pitch! Hopefully you see this and maybe find it good enough to read it during the podcast!
Danny Devito plays Vanny Devito, a regular magic van working as a school transport. He was pretty miserable because kids would jump and pinch his seats ‘Stop joimping on my god damn seats you pricks! I’m warning you!’. One day, when getting an oil change at the local magic van shop, he tells his favorite mechanic about his awful job. ‘Those joiks at school make no effort to teach those kids good manners on how to handle my insides, I bet if they would learn in a more fun way they wouldn’t be idiots’.
‘WELL I’VE GOT THE SOLUTION FOR YOU!’, Yells his favorite mechanic, Mr. Coggers, as he takes his cap off ‘I WILL TAKE THEM ON A MAGIC RIDE ACROSS THE WORLD, AND TEACH THEM THE IDEA OF RESPECT!!’, and it’s actually Mrs. Fritz (from the Magic School Bus) played by Willem Dafoe. Vanny can’t contain his excitement as he wonders about better days where kids don’t touch his insides improperly “Oh please Mrs. Fritz could you come and..’, ‘I SAID I WOULD HELP YOU YA IDIOT’, rudely interrupted Mrs. Firtz ‘DIDN’T YOU HEAR ME!? NOW LET’S GO TO SCHOOL AND PICK UP THOSE KIDS FROM THEIR CLASSROOM RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY!’.
Then there is a 30 minute montage of Mrs. Fritz recklessly driving way above the speed limit around Generic City USA “Wait Mrs. Fritz we may crash!” Vanny says as he shivers in regret and fear. ‘NO! YOU ARE A MAGIC VAN AND MAGIC VANS NEVER CRASH OR HURT PEOPLE! SO ITS OK!’ says Mrs. Fritz filled with joy, ‘I’M COMING FOR YOU KIDS! OR I’M NOT CALLED THE FRITZ FOR NOTHING!!!’.
So they get to “Generic City USA School for Ungrateful Brats” (or G.C.U.S.A.S.U.B. as the cool kids call it) and parks right outside the school ‘COME ON KIDS! GET INSIDE VANNY! WE WILL GO ON AN ADVEEEEENTUUUREEEEE!!’ the kids are ecstatic because they are going to skip class for this. ‘NOW VANNY HERE TELLS ME YOU’VE ALL BEEN JOYCKS TO HIM! SO I WILL TEACH YOU ABOUT RESPECT! I WILL TAKE YOU TO THE SCARIETS PLACES ON EARTH!’ says Mrs. Fritz viciously.
Then there is an hour montage of Mrs. Fritz taking the kids through the scariest and god-forsaken places in planet earth. The events include; visiting the pirates in Somalia, the drug cartels controlled jungles of Colombia and Mexico, the hideouts of all the Islamist extremists, a Westboro Baptist church service and all the prisons around the world. During all these events they are closely exposed to mortal danger but never close enough for them to actually be in serious trouble. ‘VANNY IS MAGIC!!!’, Mrs. Fritz yells ‘THEREFORE, YOU ARE ALL SAFE AND NOT EXPOSED TO SERIOUS TROUBLE!’
After traveling around the world they get back to school just in time for lunch and no one ever noticed they left. ‘WELL KIDS! I HOPE YOU LEARNED ABOUT NOT MESSING WITH VANNY’S INSIDES! FOR THE WORLD IS A FAR WORSE PLACE THAN WHAT YOU THOUGHT!!’ Mrs. Fritz lectured the kids followed by a low whisper ‘and you’ve got it pretty good’. As the kids come out of the bus filled with a new spirit and intentions of living a better and nicer life, Vanny thanks Mrs. Fritz for her help ‘Thank you “The Fritz” without you this kids would not have stopped pinching and jumping in my insides’, ‘DON’T MENTION IT KID!’ yells Mrs. Fritz as she floats up into the sky while two bat wings come out of his back followed by a full black giant vampire bat that flies away and Mrs. Fritz yells ‘EEEEAAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH’, she then falls back onto the ground and says ‘not only the kids learned to be good, I learned to leave my bad thoughts and intentions fly away IN THE FORM OF A BAT!!! LET’S GO VANNY! WE HAVE MORE SCHOOLS TO FIX!’
The Double Dragon series has always been defined by its simple controls, little to no plot and a fun tried and true beat-‘em-up scheme. Like many old videogames most of the challenge came from learning the enemies attack patterns, and making restricting control mechanics look like they have the flexibility of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat just so you wouldn’t get annihilated by the onslaught of enemy horde after enemy horde. Some games that possessed these types of challenges got popular while sticking to their formula (where sadomasochism inflicted by the game’s refusal to give you a break only infused your desire for more).
Due to the shrinking popularity of Arcades and gaming together in the same room from the general population games like Double Dragon lost great part of their charm and where mostly left behind. That was, until the more recent retro-gaming trend appeared which gave birth to a variety of retro-inspired games, chiptune music genre and HD Remakes from older games.
Enter Double Dragon Neon, a game developed by WayFoward studios is a love letter to both; the Double Dragon Series and the era the series was conceived. The game retains almost all of the aspects from older iterations of the series with little tweaks here and there like the MixTape system (which works as a character status altering system). Unfortunately, the fidelity that this game has towards previous control schemes seems to be the reason that is detouring people away from this game.
It is true that out of all the old school inspired games the HD Remakes suffer harshest criticism due to their reliance on the nostalgia factor. Relying on nostalgia is a double-edged sword because you are playing with player’s memories and if your product does not recreate that nostalgia feeling it is just another quick cash-in on people who just want more of the same (New Super Mario Bros Wii, Sonic 4, etc).One of the most effective ways to use this nostalgia factor is go all out (Binding of Isaac, Super Meat Boy, Bionic Commando Rearmed, ect) and in this front Double Dragon Neon does it right combining faithful gameplay and a presentation that towers most HD Remakes up to date.
Double Dragon Neon clearly presents the players with an almost exact type of gameplay from its previous iterations, but the area that makes this game feel a genuine, kind-hearted experience is their attention to the 80’s flavored presentation. From awkward-hilarious puns, to stellar music by Jake Kaufman this game is a trip down memory lane through and through. The problem with this nostalgia technique is that it will only appeal towards people born in that age (and more precisely, people who remember it fondly), younger generations will mostly walk away thinking “this is the exact type of shit my older cousin keeps trying to shove down my throat, but it’s not all that great”.
But for anyone who just wants a challenging experience and have that 80’s Saturday morning cartoons feeling this game should be right up your alley.