It is a general truism of this world that anything long divided will surely unite, and anything long united will surely divide
I can't speak for you, but I love my mother. She used to tell me stories before I would go to bed every night for a year or so...then she ran out of stories and just told me to start reading. King Arthur, Sinbad the Sailor, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, she somehow knew each of these stories and would tell me of their adventures, of the voyages, of that thieving bastard Lancelot (her words not mine) and the Battle of Red Cliffs.
Let's fast forward about a year and by then I learned how to read fairly well. It was also around this time I became the proud owner of a game called The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
. I was reminded of the Adventures of Camelot and of the Warring states of China and how magical the entire experience was. I never finished the experience until a couple years later (The game was very hard) but I immediately knew what I loved so much about the game which was that it reminded me so much of the stories my mother would tell me when I was slightly younger than when I was young.
Today I've grown a bit and still I love the Zelda games for retaining that element of childhood wonder and fascination, that mythology that the series had built for itself and later turned into staples of its own stories. Just as how no story of Camelot is complete without the great sword Excalibur, no Zelda story is complete without the Master Sword. The series continues to perpetuate itself in the world it created twenty five years ago while at the same time expanding the mythos forged over time. In short, it has remained just as innocent and whimsical, grand and full of wonder as it had for so long.
Now imagine my surprise when I read this
over at IGN a couple days ago. Now granted it is just the readers of one particular website and no way telling of a majority consensus, but a lot of people read IGN and I've had way too many conversations about the Legend of Zelda series to know that many others share this view. No, not just that Zelda should have voice acting, but this idea that the Zelda series should grow up. That a game made to have children fall in love with a beautiful world should grow up with the audience that first fell in love with it twenty five years ago.
Somewhere along the line a few gamers began to feel upset that Zelda held onto this "kiddy" feel. I think we all remember gamers when Wind Waker was announced. The outcry that followed was disheartening to say the least. That a game we played as children would somehow stop being for children- I mean what kind of world do we live in when the phrase for children
is a bad, derogatory thing? No, I have yet to meet an extremist that demands for sex, blood, and gore in a Zelda game, but there are those who grow tired of the story of saving the Princess from the forces of evil and want some odd story about betrayal or something I usually zone out once they start writing their own Zelda stories. And yes, voice acting is a modern norm for video games, but if I may, let me just say a few things about Zelda and not try to convince anyone of anything.
I think the first thing that should be said is that I don't think Zelda can be defined entirely as "childish". Yes, it's for children, but just as you find out about adultery and other naughty things from old stories, dark elements can be found all across the Zelda games. In fact, there is a helpful list
of all the nightmarish things put into a game where we once had this adorable little guy become a badass and stab Ganandorf in the face. I mean like his sword just entered a guy's face! It even made a creepy sound! Yet people want a story with whatever warped definition maturity has these days. No, the Zelda straddles the line of definition by being a mature, even existential (too far?) tale wrapped in a simple allegory. Just as there are extremists who deride Zelda stories as being incredibly simplistic and childish to be worth the time of any "Mature Gamer", there are those who somehow find deep, Plato like philosophical questions in the series (No, I do not believe Link is a Christ metaphor). While I don't agree with either side of the spectrum, just the fact that such interpretations of the story exist be evidence enough that any tale, as long as it provokes thought and at a more primal level, resonant emotions, be heralded for great story telling? Not just defined narrowly as either "childish" or "mature", but instead be praised for being a great story instead? No, you don't have to like the Zelda games, but can those who once have and once loved it really look back and say "Oh, I used to like the series and then I grew up."
Now about the desire for voice acting. Remember earlier in this blog somewhere near the first couple of sentences I told you my mother would tell me stories before bed? Well she also did awesome voices too. Her impression of King Arthur pulling out the sword from the stone (No lady in the water for me) and going "Woah" in an almost Keanu Reeves
like fashion may be the greatest moment in my childhood life, and though I may be sketchy on some details I do know this: My mother was certainly not a professional voice actor.
Give Link dialogue? Couldn't hurt. I mean you could hear the tale of Sinbad the Sailor and still relate to him even if he did things like plunder and say things like "Bring forth the whores!" (Like I said, some details are sketchy) and still a seven year old will relate. A seven year old could relate with a rock if it was interesting enough (don't ask). But a voice?!?! I don't think you've ever heard a child come up with voices for characters, but that shit is not only magical but goddamned adorable and you want to rob a child of that right? If you answered yes then I have bad news for you; You're a monster.
Now that that has settled in, let me end by saying this. I love the Zelda series. There are people who don't love the Zelda series either from the beginning or anymore and that's perfectly understandable. But wishing something you loved before and expecting it to change just so you can love it again is wrong. I mean just read that sentence again and imagine telling that to a woman or a child or anyone else for that matter and it sounds really bad...and it is. If I may just say one thing about Skyward Sword, the game seems to include an aspect I actually do desire from a Zelda game which is an actual romance between Link and Zelda. I mean yes the subtext was always there, but this one seems fleshed out a bit further. I do hope this game makes Link and Zelda the next Romeo and Juliet equivalent in my mind.
(I'd be cool with this.)
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