Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Because I Couldn't Find One Anywhere Else...

...I've banged out a complete transcript of the newest Sequelitis video, where Egoraptor compares the two most venerated entries in the Zelda series. I'll likely be messing with the formatting off and on for a while.

So, without further ado:


It's a series so huge, I couldn't help but say it all "ooOOoo".
But its hugeness is mostly--

--Hey, uh ... Hey, what're you doin' over there?
[Zelda fanboy] Oh!  Heh.  Oh, uh -- I'm just writing my preemptive counter-argument about how you're WRONG about my favorite game of all time and the best game ever.
Oh.  Okay.  Well, don't you think that's a little ... I dunno, closed-minded?
I mean, I get you probably liked this game as a kid, but...
isn't it time we looked at it critically, and made a fair analysis of how--
[Zelda fanboy] NO!

Okay.  So!  Ask anybody about Zelda.
Anyone could tell you what makes a Zelda game a Zelda game, and what a game needs to be, to be a Zelda game.
But is that description you get really what describes a Zelda game at its core?
Is it possible that following this formula might actually be missing the entire point of what makes Zelda awesome?  Or even what makes a sequel awesome?
I mean...

Zelda's a game where you swing a fuggin' sword at some pigs 'r whatever.
An' there's bombs, 'n' triangles.
Get three triangles -- YOU WIN!
In Zelda you were an adventurer, and...
Well, seriously, that much wasn't even explained.
You're just a green dude!
Walk into a cave!
Old dude goes, "hey, take this."
You're like, "okay."
It's a sword.
You swing it at monsters that shoot rocks an' shit at you an' have a great time killin' 'em.
You figure, if there's a cave that I get a sword in, there must be other caves to get other shit in, right?  Maybe other swords?  I dunno.
This world's neat.

Well, THAT'S Zelda.
And whether or not Zelda is what it is now, that's how it started.
And that's what sold a bazillion games!  A trillion million games!  Look at how many games there are!

And then -- uh ... then Adventures 'a Lincoln came out, whatever, I don't care.

It was like the definitive Zelda, right?
It felt like the first Zelda, but there was so much more!
Bigger world!  More things going on!  It was NUTS!
My eight-year-old mind couldn't take it.  Was I eight?  I don't remember.  But still!
It changed a lot of things.
This guy -- Link -- was given a name and a purpose.
Rescue the Princess!
Save Hyrule!
You have an uncle.
I dunno what his name is.
He dies.

In Link to the Past you start out in a house.
You're forced to head up, sneak into a castle, fight some guards, rescue a Princess and bring 'er to an underground tunnel to some church or whatever, so you can finally go out and have your world to enjoy!
Okay, cool, but--
Okay.  You want me to talk to some old lady?
Okay.  Then what?  Oh, find some kid who knows about where some old dude is?
Okay.  So--
Okay.  So here's the old dude?
Okay.  So go into this temple?
Okay.  Beat the temple?
Listen -- I'm not your fuckin' servant.
Why do you gimme this world to explore and have a good time in, and then you tell me to do these super-specific things?!
You don't throw a 6-year-old kid into a sandbox and say, "Hey!  You can only make poopy castles."
You know when you take wet sand and just let it drip on top of a pile of sand?
That's a "poopy castle".
I mean exploration still exists in Link to the Past, and God knows it's required to beat it, but if a game is telling you to do specific things, with marks on a map and a sequence of which things to do with specific instructions, you're not discovering a world -- you're being taken on a tour.
You're no longer a pioneer adventurer ... you're a guest at Disneyland.

Here's your ticket!  Be sure to check out Space Mountain 'n' Indiana Jones 'fore y'leave!
[Disneyland guest] ...120 pounds?
That's too low.

The whole game ... it feels a bit more processed.  It feels a bit more planned.
You have a mission, and the mission is laid out for you.
And that kind'a thing is fine.
I mean, I go to Disneyland like six times a year.
I fucking love the Blue Bayou restaurant, they got great food--
OH!  That's a little pricey.  But y'know what, it's worth it.
But Zelda, from its roots -- it's not the kind'a game that holds your hand.
There's no explanation, or even really like a goal, but there's adversity EVERYWHERE.
And you can approach it anytime you want, whether you're prepared or not.
You run the real risk facing off against something that will KILL YOU in a fuckin' SECOND.
But if you look at A Link to the Past and The Legend of Zelda from a surface level, they seem the same.
There's a bunch'a dungeons you get items from!
Bombs!  Triangles!  Boomerangs!  Oh my!
With bosses, and a final fight with a giant pig-man!
There's a big world with caves an' bushes!
But it's not the same.
There's a shift in soul, a difference in how you perceive and experience the world.
Is it better?  Is it worse?  I don't fuckin' know.
But it's NOT THE SAME.

[Kid #1] Oh my God, lookit that!  The clouds are parting, and the heavens are sending us a message from above!
Our eyes squint and adjust to the heavenly glow, when we finally can understand what it says:

[Guy standing on a cloud] Hey!  There's a 3D Zelda comin' out!

[Kid #2] OH  MY  GOD.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
It's a game considered by most to be a MASTERPIECE.
A 3D world with delicious sound and amazing graphics (at the time)!
Each dungeon and each town feels unique and has its own energy to it.
We were all fuckin' floored!  It was so epic!
This is what it felt like gaming was leading up to!
It felt like a natural progression!
It felt like ... witnessing a fish grow legs!

...But not that one.  It's...
it's really gross.

So now, we have this 3D world, and it felt like that was what made the difference.
But what exactly WAS different?
Well, in order to examine that we have to examine
The Dreaded Transition from the Second Dimension to the Third Dimension!
If we've learned anything from Sanic the Hedjhorg over here, it's that turning a 2D game into a 3D game... ain't easy.  It ain't even fuckin' quantifiable.
How do you take the simplicity of form that 2D allows, and give it a Z axis?
Everything changes, and it seems to turn a really good game design into a completely fuckin' BROKEN one.

...oh god.
...OH my GOD.
Timmy, don't look!
Did'ja look at that?!

But Zelda?  That one's not too hard.  It already technically has three dimensions.
You've got the Y axis, the X axis, but you know, you can go up stairs, enemies could jump over you, all that stuff.
So that's where the differences start.
See, Link to the Past had a selective Z axis.
For example, you couldn't be on the second floor and attack a dude on the first floor.
But if the sandworm boss soared over your head and you weren't harmed by it, you could still swing at it, and it would register a hit.
Bats fly through the air, but they're always conveniently at sword's height.
That shit's asinine in 3D -- which, ironically, in this situation, is a limitation of the medium.
The more specific you get about situations analogous to reality, the more you have to stipulate on.
You can't hit a bat from any Z-axis position distance!
Now it's really clear where the bats are in 3D space, they're up, down, every-fuckin'-where.
And aiming your sword would be RETARDED--

I see you there loomin'.
[Skyward Sword] Dude, man, I'm sorry, I'm just curious.

So, whatta we gotta do to remedy this Z-axis problem?
[Carnival barker] Ladies and gents, I present to you Z-Targeting!
Pesky bats flying from every which way?
Trying to circle around a Stalfos without losing track of where it is relative to you?
Have I got a treat for you!
Just press the Z button and you'll lock onto the nearest baddie and have a go with your mighty sword device!

Check it out -- Z-Targeting made combat COMPLICATED.
And that's not a bad thing!
No more simple point-and-swing stuff here, folks; you get a lock-on, focus on the fight.
This is a GIGANTIC difference, and it makes combat COMPLEX.
And I don't say this a lot, but let's see how this is a GOOD thing.

A new method of combat means new ways to go about designing enemies and combat situations.
You used to just point-and-hit.  Hit-and-run.
[Evil guard] Hey, hey what da fuck, man?
But now?
There's rolling, dodging, stabbing, swinging, leaping, holy SHIT.
SO complex!  So many possibilities.
It's so deep, they could make an entire GAME based on the combat system.

Here's how this is a POOPY-BAD THING!

Z-Targeting creates a strange disconnect from the world around you.
It changes the camera angle from what you're used to exploring the world in, and that shifts your entire focus and outlook.
It segments the game into two pieces:
This's the combat piece!
This's the world-exploring piece!
Put 'em in a room together, and they get into an argument.
[Combat Piece] Hey, fuck you!
[World-exploring Piece] Hey, fuck you too!
Dude, guys!  Can't we just get along?
[World-exploring Piece] Whad'ya think this is, Link to the Past?

Like the man says, in the old Zelda games, those two pieces were linked.
There were segments where you had to fight off enemies and explore the room simultaneously.
It was much easier to manage it all, and now it's complicated and puts you in unfair situations-- AW WHAT THE F--
[Kid #1] What the heck was that all about?

Z-Targeting also puts a damper on throwaway enemies like bats, who were fun to kill in previous Zeldas, but are now a pain in the Goddamn ass since you have to individually focus on each one and precisely hit them.
It'd be like if you wanted to kill a bunch of ants in your house by stompin' on 'em, but instead of doing that, you pointed a slingshot at each one individually.

Now, okay.  On the flip side, complicated enemies are a total JOY to fight.
But, the issue then comes up of, how they're even designed?
Okay.  So, as I mentioned before, a lot of the charm from the original Zelda was how ruthless the game was, and a complex fighting system would be the perfect place to implement that.
the source of a lot of Ocarina's problems is that the game's idea of "difficulty" is WAITING.

There's SO much.
in Ocarina.
Every enemy has a period where they just stand around and do FUCKIN' NOTHING, and attacking them during this time is useless.
Deku scrubs.
Lizard men.
Wolf dudes.
Waiting is not a difficult thing to do, but it creates the illusion of difficulty, because it takes up your time.
And that's ALL it does.
A fight feels like an ordeal when you have to devote a decent amount of time to it, but it's not HARD.
Just look at:  Final Fantasy IX.  Skies of Arcadia.  Grandia.
These long-ass battles?  Not hard, but they FEEL like they're something.
This is a mindless interaction, and you're simply going through the motions instead of strategizing.
Wait.  Attack.
Wait.  Attack.
Wait.  Attack.
It's not very hard to do, and it's difficult to mess up.
This style of enemy isn't inherently bad; I mean, it creates an interesting player/enemy relationship where the enemy's controlling the pace of the battle.
But the fact that it's a consistent theme in enemies gives the impression that it's used as a difficulty supplement, since none of these enemies are actually difficult to fight.

Now, on the flip side, Ocarina has the coolest enemy ever:  the Iron Knuckle.
It's an enemy that is actually provoked to attack, and also to be vulnerable, by your own attack, which makes the pace of the battle completely dictated by YOU and your ability to fight it.
Additionally, the nature of his attack pattern requires you to be aware of your surroundings.
You can lure him to attack pillars, which yield hearts to replenish your life, which is another layer of depth to the battle.
This is the kind of enemy design Ocarina needed so much more of!
A merging of combat and world, where you are still very aware of your surrounding in each set-piece, even during combat, and the world around you affects your combat.
I feel that this particular battle shows how Ocarina could have had an even better combat-world connection than Link to the Past, or even the original Zelda, but chose to save it only for mini-bosses and some boss battles.
Could've been every enemy.

In any case, the nature of Z-Targeting forced Zelda to be more combat-centric, and with it, the world was forced to change.

But it DIDN'T.

You still push blocks, only you can't push them when you're engaged in combat, and you still open doors by shooting slingshots at eyeballs in the wall, and--

...Is that a puzzle?
Like, seriously.  Is that a puzzle??
Is looking around the room, and finding an eyeball on the wall, really super-fun for people?
Like, the game is 3D now, so everything isn't laid out before you like a map anymore.
So I get that there's this sense that you walk into a room and aren't getting all the information about the room right away.
But is stopping your forward motion -- stopping EVERYTHING -- to look for a DIAMOND to WHACK that's in a soulless crevice in the wall so you can open a door that leads to another room with a locked door and some other silly Open Sesame trick --
Is that FUN??
Is this what you WANT?!?
[Skyward Sword] Hey, c'mon man, it's not that bad.
Sh-sh, Skyward Sword.  Seriously, I'm doing, like, a show?
[Skyward Sword] I know, I just figured I'd give like my two cents--
I don't care!  Nobody LIKES you!  You took FUN and made it UN-FUN, how'd you even DO that??
Maybe I should go DOWSE for a better game, huh??
[Skyward Sword] !!  Hey man, that's low.
So's my interest in playing you again.
Oh, shit!  Burn!  BURN!!
Sorry, I'm just really proud of what I've done today.
Plus ... I really hate you.

All right, let me explain something:  a puzzle is something you have all the information for.
The only thing standing between you and the solution is your own ability to put the pieces together in the right way.
The satisfaction you obtain from solving a puzzle is from the "Ah-HA!" moment, when the pieces fit and you have only YOURSELF to blame for it.
If you're missing a piece, how're you supposed to even get to a conclusion?
You wrack your brain!  Run in circles!  Go "what do I fuckin' DO??"
Until you find the last piece on a WHIM, and SUDDENLY it all makes sense.
You say, "Well, SHIT!" or "Aw, COME ON!"
The satisfaction doesn't come from the door opening; it comes from the puzzle ITSELF.
If the puzzle itself isn't satisfying ...
Well, there you go.  The puzzle itself isn't satisfying.
You see, in the original Zelda, you'd walk into a room, the doors'd lock, but five caped horse-sword-dude-lookin' guys who're fuckin' hard as shit surround you.
They follow you around when they see you, you can only attack them from the sides or the back; you've gotta find vantage points, ins, outs, manage your health, dodge them when they gang up.
It's daunting.  It's interesting,  It engages you.  And it's really easy to understand.
And because of all this, it's satisfying when you beat them.
A door opening is like, "Oh, okay.  Cool!  The door opened."
You're not like, "Ah, fuckin' FINALLY, the DOOR!"

But look, that's not to say puzzles or whatever can't exist in Ocarina of Time's combat-centric universe.
But sliding spiked death pucks comin' out from around the corner that you can't see is just BAD FUCKIN' DESIGN.
It's bad design in any game!  It's no different in Zelda!
You don't get a Get Outta Jail Free card! ... YOU GOTTA ROLL THREE TIMES!
In the first Zelda, you SEE that shit!
In Link to the Past, you SEE that shit!
In Ocarina -- OOPS!?!
Yeah, I know.  That's the nature of 3D.  But if it doesn't work in 3D, you CHANGE IT!
If the formula doesn't work, you CHANGE the FORMULA.

Why do I gotta leap across these platforms?
There's no challenge here.  I hold the joystick up!
Just because the scenario's treacherous doesn't mean the game is actually treacherous.
I could'a just walked forward in a straight line!  Heck, I could close my eyes here and do this!
Is that treacherous?
Can I just close my eyes and shoot at terrorist insurgents and be like, "Oh, I'm fuckin' FINE!"
Hey, or better yet, how about some nice interesting combat scenario here on these platforms, huh?
Like some kind'a enemy that'll just circle around you, and you just gotta time your jump across, or like, block his path with a bomb or something?
Or like, how about an enemy you have to slash at enough to knock it off the edge, but when you slash him, he also kind'a slashes and knocks you back!
Like ANOTHER well-designed enemy in some other fuckin' game!
I just made that UP!  I didn't even -- and it EXISTS!  In a GOOD Zelda game!
[Skyward Sword] Oh, man!  Enemies in a good Zelda game?  Are you talking about me?
I'm not talking about you.
Get outta my house.
Go on.

...I can't be too hard on Skyward Sword.  It at least made bombs bearable to use.
You threw a bomb in Link to the Past in four directions.  Left right up down.
In Ocarina, you have infinity directions.
You also have a really vague idea of where it's gonna land.
Especially if you're throwing up or down at different elevations.
So much room for error, its fuckin' unreal!
Z-Targeting helps ... but what if there're enemies around you don't want to target onto?
You just wanna see straight.  Just wanna fuckin' throw a bomb!
Skyward Sword added, like, a throw arc, but it also added bomb bowling.

Yeah, okay, fuck Skyward Sword, it still handles treasure chests DUMB.
But to be fair, Ocarina started it.
You know -- okay.
In each dungeon, Ocarina has a unique item in a regular old treasure chest.
In each dungeon, it just kind'a shows up after a random battle with some enemies.
Link to the Past had a giant fuckin' treasure chest that needed a Big Key to open.
The Big Key also opened the door to the boss.
There's, like, a genuine giddiness to finding a treasure with such a huge implication to it.
The Big Key not only gives me amazing new treasure, but also allows me to face off against an incredible boss.
The time it takes me to get back to the big treasure is like the most fucking suspenseful thing ever.
It's like running downstairs to get the presents under the Christmas tree.
Or -- or menorah.
Or, like, whatever.  Birthday tree.
I often hear that this is a minor point, but it creates an emotional through-line for a dungeon.
It establishes an important, consistent relationship with the player and the dungeon.
It creates goals.  It creates expectations.  It creates a GOOD FUCKIN' GAME.
A treasure chest in and of itself is a mystery, in a sense of suspense.
The original Zelda didn't have chests.
It just had, like, new items sitting at the end of a long hallway that built up tension.
It gave you time to wonder about what it was and how it worked.
Link to the Past added chests, which is another means the same goal, you know, building suspense.
It's a fuckin' Secret Box.  You see a present, you're like, "oh, god, I wanna OPEN it!"
Simply WALKING to the chest is ALL the suspense you need.
When you arrive, the payoff is INSTANT.  It opens right away when you hit the button.
It shows what it is -- DONE.
I know, it may not appear epic, and it may seem kind'a silly and video-gamey, but the feeling of suspense is REAL, and VERY valid.

Ocarina decided to add in bullshit!
Link opens up the treasure chest, all like, "What da fuck is ... what's is this?  Oh my God, I'm amazed!"
Who CARES if he's amazed??  I wanna be amazed!!  Just SHOW the FUCKIN' TREASURE already!!
I beat the dudes blockin' it!!  I climbed the ladder and whatever and got here!!
Just because the game needs to be all epic and 3D-whooshy-whooshy with all the graphics an' polygons an' all that what-not, I gotta wait like -- look how many CHESTS I can open in that time!!

God!  There's so much WAITING in Ocarina!
You gotta wait for a door to close!
You gotta wait for a character to stop talking!
You gotta wait for the dialog box to tell you how to use bombs for the FORTY-SEVENTH GODDAMN TIME!
Wait for the switch to make a music tone and open a door across the room!
Wait for Link to go flying backwards and get up off the ground!
Wait for bombs to blow up!
HOW FUCKING LONG does it take to switch between worlds?!
You gotta play the Prelude of Light!
Say yes!
Watch the cutscene!
Walk up to the Master Sword plot!
Watch the cutscene!
Walk outta the Temple of Time!
Play whatever song takes you closest to wherever you wanna go!
Say yes!
Watch the cutscene!
And walk all the way to where you wanna be!
In Link to the Past, you equip a mirror, press a button, you're THERE.

...what the fuck'm I doing with my life??
I am harshly criticizing Ocarina of Time on the INTERNET.
I'M gonna get CRUCIFIED!!

Waiting is the BANE of exploration.  Why would I want to explore in a world where I gotta waste useless time just to check a fuckin' room?
You should never.
hit that point where you're like, "Eh, I'll check that room later,"

I mean, you're explorin' a world, right?
And then, they decide, hey!  We're going to streamline the dungeon process!
Guess what?  You enter a dungeon; halfway through, you get an item that helps you through the other half the dungeon, and then use that item on the boss to render it hittable.
And you hit it, with a sword, typically in a pattern of three times -- but THAT part can vary.
Ladies and gentlemen!  Please exit through the gift shop, try our Triforce-shaped ice cream bars!
Can you please tell me what about this world is interesting if I know, before I even finish the dungeon, what the BOSS BATTLE's gonna be?
Oh, I got a slingshot!  Maybe I hit some big glowing object with a slingshot!
Oh, a Mirror Shield that lets me reflect light at stuff!  Maybe the boss is gonna be a dude that I gotta reflect light at!
Look, I know that you can argue that this is actually good game design, but in a game where I'm adventuring, and I'm supposed to be excited about what's to come -- it's kind'a hard to wonder wide-eyed about something that's so predictable it HURTS.
Oo!  Darn!  Oo!  Jeez!  Arrgh.
And this, like, "streamlining" process in Ocarina is present even outside the dungeons.
Every little piece of this game is just hopping over some roadblock that needs you do some specific thing to make it to the next roadblock.
It's a game about jumping through hoops!
Hey, man, there's a closed door.  Find the eye symbol, hit it with a slingshot.
Another closed door.  Find a key.
Another closed door.  Press a button.
Another closed door.  Give this dude a letter from Impa.
Yeah, I get it.
Look, there's some exploring?  But a random secret cave in the ground isn't going to lead you through a complex catacomb with a mini-boss at the end!
It just won't!  It's not gonna happen!
You'll fall, you'll get a treasure chest, go "duh-nuh-nuh-nuhhh!" and FUCKING LEAVE.
They would not sacrifice their precious formula for a little bit of fun!
Link to the Past had a little bit more variety.
Sometimes the item you get in the dungeon isn't even a weapon.
Sometimes the boss can be defeated with just the fuckin' sword!
Sometimes the boss needs to be defeated with an item from a dungeon two dungeons ago!
There's one boss that you have to beat 'im with an item that you don't even GET in a dungeon!
It still felt like an adventure.
Like you had, like, this arsenal you've been collecting, and you're using it whenever it may be useful.
And it may be useful at any time!  You gotta be ready for that shit!

Original Legend of Zelda had ... some dinosaurs.
There's a dinosaur...
...just lookit that ... that dinosaur.
...there's a fuggin' dinosaur right there!

It's this kind of misdirection of, like, what you should care about in Zelda that really bugs me about Ocarina.
Like, let's take its story, for example.
Ocarina's story provides you with a context to your quest, that accomplishing this will save this, or change this, but it refuses to acknowledge the player's innate sense of wonder and, and drive to quest and fight.
Players want to fight bosses!  They want to be rewarded for their efforts!
They want to enter a dungeon, see what's inside, and succeed against enemies.
But you've gotta put that feeling aside.  There are more important matters at hand!
The Sheikahs, or -- the Hylians?  Or whatever, save the Hylians.
Gorons don't have rocks to eat.  That's why you gotta quest!  Gorons gotta eat.
...the FUCK are the GORONS?!  I don't even care!
And then what we're left with is what feels like a formality.
Dungeons with doors that need to be opened, bosses that are beaten in the the same fuckin' manner every time.
I think the idea that you're told you're a hero saving a kingdom is at least somewhat unnecessary.
When it's an order delivered by the game, it becomes a task.  It's like a job.
The message should be in that, as a player, your idea of fun ends up MAKING you a hero.
Fighting monsters is what you live for, and isn't what, say ... this fuckin' guy lives for.
Why aren't all these other dudes going out and fighting monsters and questing?
Because they're not heroes!  They don't find it fun!
But YOU, the PLAYER, find it fun.
You find killing monsters fun!  You find ridding the world of evil things fun!
That MAKES you a hero.  Not the dialog, not the story.
A book can tell you the main character's a hero with dialog.  A movie can, too.
But a game?  In a game you can FEEL it.  You can experience it, firsthand.  You don't NEED dialog.
Why was the inclusion of so many semantics necessary?
And I don't buy the argument that they're only there to richen the world with story, because adding those contexts to the situation is devaluing design aspects.
The game literally STOPS for you to complete some asinine story task!
You go to Kakariko Village.  You go to the entrance to Death Mountain.  Dude won't let you pass.
You go, what the fuck, man?   I wanna go up there!  That's what I WANT to do!
But no, you have to wait for the game to tell you WHY you wanna go up there.
You KNOW why you want to go up there!  You wanna fight some dudes, fight a boss, get a cool weapon!
But no.  You gotta go talk to Zelda.  "Oh my god, the world is in peril!"
And then Impa's like, "hey, y'know, this is really important, so I'm gonna give you this note to give to this guy."
I DON'T CARE!!  NOBODY CARES!!  You seriously just made me waste my time, press A a bunch'a times, so that I could go up there!
There's like a fuckin'--
There's a TINY WALL standing between me -- I could CLIMB over it!
I'm an agile kid!  I can climb the shit outta that!  I climb vines all the time!  No big deal!
Purposely misinforming the player about why they should care about what they're doing displaces their values, and it creates a "You Can't Tell Me What To Do" attitude towards the game!
And that's the LAST thing you want a game to do.
You don't want a game to NAG at you, especially in a game with an open world!
Just look at how many fucking people hate Navi and Fi!  All they do is nag, and tell you what to do!  Who the FUCK wants to be told what to do?
Am I in a cubicle?  Am I sitting in a cubicle, playing a Zelda game?  No!
See, this is why I think the Master Sword is brilliant, particularly in Link to the Past, because it's talked about in literal terms.
It's a sword that will make you more powerful and defeat evil.  That's what it actually does for you, the player.
There's no bullshit about avenging your mother, or saving a village from persecution, or giving Gorons rocks.
There's ROCKS EVERYWHERE!!  What is WRONG with you?!?  Your WHOLE TOWN is made of ROCKS, and you're STARVING??!!
The Master Sword is just the Sword of Evil's Bane!  Fucking awesome!
How exciting is that!?  A new awesome sword!  Count me the fuck IN!

And don't get me wrong, I don't think a world where people walk and talk is flawed, but having to trigger the ability to explore BY walking and talking?  It's annoying!
It's like your Mom.
You can't have dessert 'til you eat your peas!
Can't explore the dungeon 'til you play Saria's Song for a Goron!
There are ways to involve characters in a story and not have them be utterly boring and detached from what you're doing.
Why not have a Goron that helps you fight?  Goes *pbfff* and blows shit up while you're doing stuff?
Why not have the Goron stay healthy by eating rocks, and they're slowly becoming rarer as you progress through the dungeon?
And he's on the verge of fatigue.  Shit!  Don't you wanna get him some rocks to stay the hell alive?
Let's keep moving so my friend can live!
See, I'm a video game player.  I care about slashing things, finding things, having an adventure.
Not wandering around until I've pressed A at all the right places in the right order for whatever fucking story reason.
It's like the longest page-turn ever.
Imagine if you had to walk across your house back 'n' forth three times before you could turn the page in a book you're reading.
Gosh!  Isn't that STUPID?  Wouldn't that be RETARDED?
That's what you're fuckin' doing in video games!

...Things just need to be simple.  And what I mean by that is...
Link to the Past added a story to make everything a little more epic.
And since it was the same kind of game as the first, the game needed those tropes to come back -- all those enemies and elements -- while adding new ones, too.
But with that, a formula was born.
A through-line is important for a series, but when it acts like a, a katamari of tropes and elements that can't be forgotten or changed, things start getting sloppy and samey.
We get games that become less and less interesting.
Shigeru Miyamoto once described his idea for Zelda coming from the feeling he got from wanting to explore caves near his house as a child, which led to an amazing game where you explored caves and dungeons and found wondrous things.
The irony is that when it came time to make sequels, Nintendo cared more about the things that were found, rather than the mystery itself.
There is no mystery in modern Zelda games.
[Skyward Sword] Hey man, I'm mysterious!

Seriously!  You want all this attention like you CARE!
Like you really gave it your all in a New Innovative Zelda Experience, but instead, you led Zelda into a frustrating monotony!
You know, what started the franchise was like this sense of wonder, but what's thus far concluded the franchise is a sense of FORMALITY.
A predictable, time-consuming MESS that asks you not of your sense of adventure, or even your wits, but instead your ability to LISTEN and FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.
You ask of us our ability to point something at something else and then WALK TOWARDS IT.
You ask of us our willingness to get another bow and arrow, fight another BOSS with another GIANT GLOWING EYEBALL.
Gee!  I wonder how to FUCKING BEAT IT!  I FUCKING WONDER, Skyward Sword!
You ask of us to get a cat from on top of a ROOF, and carry it over to some guy who says THANK YOU.
THE ADVENTURES OF LINK: CAT DELIVERY MAN!  Is that your title?  What's the tagline on the ad?
"Cat's outta the bag -- and ONTO THE ROOF!"  TEN OUTTA TEN!!
No Wiimote Motion issues here that could possibly cripple the entire experience!  BEST IN THE SERIES!
You're like a spoiled rich kid, who gets everything bought for you your entire life.
And then when it comes to making it on your own, you can't take it!
You expect everyone to love you, because you are who you are:  part of the Illustrious Zelda Lineage.
Nothing could possibly be wrong with you!  You look just like a Zelda!
But you're NOT ONE.  You're a pampered, doughy snob wearing nice clothes, expecting to graduate scot-free because your Daddy's an alum!
Why would YOU need to improve??  Why would YOU need to get any better??
Everyone just agrees with your shitty ideas because you're a ZELDA.

Fuck you, Skyward Sword.  FUCK YOU.

[Skyward Sword] (sobbing) ...oh my god...

Now, as I spent three hundred and seventy three thousand years writing this frigging video, a new Zelda game showed up that made everyone pee their pants.
...You know, except me.  Because I don't do that.  's weird.
It was a direct sequel to Link to the Past, taking place in the same aesthetic world of Link to the Past.
It's called "A Link Between Worlds".
All right -- look, it's worth mentioning that it does have nearly an entire formula ripped from a game.
But ... it's fun.  But why?
Well, I feel partly because it has less wait time.
But it's mostly because of the new mechanic, which is beautifully integrated to the point of feeling second nature -- like jumping in a Mario game.
On top of that, you have nooks and crannies around every turn that contain weird hidden stuff, and there's also this system of pay-for-an-item that adds this interesting value to rupees that no other Zelda had.
Not even Twilight Princess with its stupid weird fuckin' dumbass end-game magic-not-magic armor bullshit.
[Hipster dude] Wow, look at that.  Sure is expensive to die.  Is what we're seeing a commentary on capitalist society and life insurance policies choking the life out of Middle America?
What's more, nearly every item in A Link Between Worlds has multiple uses, aside from its, you know, intended dungeon use, and has such a broad feel that they can all be upgraded to be even more useful.
You know, while it does eliminate the mystique of finding an item, it allows each dungeon to have a spoil that feels less like it's in tandem with the dungeon.
Like it's a treasure that you can enjoy as a general adventurer -- not just as a house guest of fuckin' Mr. Vulnerableforasec Glowyeyeball McWeaktoarrows.
[Glowyeyeball McWeaktoarrows] Why'd I leave my one weakness lyin' around my house?  Oh no-- Ow!
Jeez, man, that's my glowy-eye!  I use that to SEE??
So I think what I've been discussing this whole video doesn't seem like it applies much to this game at first glance, but it absolutely does.
This game decided to switch up the Zelda formula from a different angle.
And while it doesn't eliminate the Zelda staple items and constant reuse of existing enemies, it does something different with how you INTERACT with all of them.
And that something different WORKS.
It changed how you explore the world itself, how you find things, and how you figure out things about the world around you.
A stupid spinning dumbass top-thing doesn't change anything.  You find a track on a wall, and you ride it.
It's like a teleporter, but instead of being transported instantly, you just get there at normal-speed!
A double-dumbass Clawshot doesn't change anything.
It just means that, instead of having to land on a platform and awkwardly aim to another Clawshot target, you don't HAVE to land on a platform when you awkwardly aim to another Clawshot target!  Thank God!
But THIS shit??
It changes how you view platforms, their relationship to one another, how you view distance, how you view the differences between Lorule and Hyrule -- it feels like you're exploring a world again!
And the things you find are less important than the WAY that you find them.
It's back to how it felt before.
The reward was the fact that -- you did it!  Not that you found a thing.

And you know what?
I think this may be Nintendo's way of easing people into being open-minded about a shift in Zelda.
I mean lookit THIS shit!
What??  "Hyrule Warriors", what the fuck does THAT even mean??
Look-- what the-- what is goin' on-- Holy-- oh my god this BIG thing!!
Jeez-- what--
'm sure it's good.

Hey, thanks for listening to me shout my opinion at you for fuckin' 30 minutes.
Hope I could make you laugh, and make you think.
And not make you angry, because that wasn't my intention.
But ... if I did ... I'm sorry?
[Zelda fanboy] Now it's time for me to write my POST-emptive counter-argument!
All right, fine!  You watched the video, that's only fair.
I mean, I've been throwing my opinion at you for 30 friggin' minutes.
Just because you might like Ocarina of Time and I don't, doesn't mean that you're not a beautiful person.  Because you are.  Look at yourself.
Ah.  I would kiss you.  If I could.  But I can't.  I'm a cartoon.
And, hey!  If you like Sequelitis, you can click that Subscribe button right there, and that'll let'cha know when new Sequelitises are comin' out.
And hey, I did a Sequelitis before this about Megaman!  You should check it out if you haven't seen it.
And if you HAVE seen it ... well, you can watch it again, I dunno.
And if you like Zelda SO much that you gotta watch a whole video series of me playin' it, go ahead and click that button.  You can see my friend Dan and I playin' the HD remake of Wind Waker over here.
I know I didn't talk about it in this video, but ... maybe I will in another one, hmmm?
And hey!  There's an even NEWER Zelda comin' out that they say is open-world!
What's the deal with that?  Whadda YOU think the game's gonna be like?
Do you think they're gonna stick to the open world, or d'you think they're just gonna go back to the old Zelda formula?  Because that would piss me off.
I mean, I wouldn't lose sleep over it, but, you know.  I'd just be a little disappointed, I guess.  It wouldn't piss me off.
And now I'm just gonna stare at you for a couple seconds.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Side Benefits of Playing the Acclaimed "Batman: Arkham City"

I've never been satisfied with the old rhyme about the months.  At least, not in the form that I've known it since childhood.

You know the thing.  "Thirty days has September," yada yada yada.  The thing is, the last two lines of the verse, as I learned it long ago, both ended in the word "year", and even in my days of youth and poor taste I could tell that was a cop-out.  Rhyming a word with itself is advertising to the world that you couldn't think of a real rhyme.  But, well, it was drilled into my skull, so it was all I had.

Well, some forty years later, I've finally found a new favorite variant.  As the post title would indicate, it comes up while you're playing the second Batman game produced by Rocksteady Studios, Arkham City.

One of the incidental villains you stumble across, locked in a cell in the basement of the old courthouse -- apparently even Two-Face found him a bit too creepy to let him roam the prison grounds -- is one Julian Day, or Calendar Man as he was known.  Yeah, he's one of the innumerable gimmick villains in the rogues' gallery, basing his crimes on various major and minor holidays and festivals.  Mind you, in a recent (and I'll define "recent" as having been printed within the past five to ten years or so; I've been out of the comics loop for quite some time) story arc titled "The Long Halloween," his MO got bumped up from petty larceny to mass murder, with his personality revamped to give off a more Silence-of-the-Lambs vibe.  When you visit him on one of twelve specific real-world holidays, he'll recount for you the tale of one of the themed murders which he performed on that day.

So, upon entering the back room of the courthouse, where the steps to the basement are found, you're greeted with this rhyme:

Thirty days has September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one
except February alone,
to which we twenty-eight assign...
...'til leap year brings us twenty-nine.

Which would be fine, except it's delivered like you're having a nursery rhyme recited to you by Hannibal Lecter.

I'm pretty sure that's someone's fetish, anyway.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trying Out This "Blog" Thing

I figure, hey, if they're going to just hand me the keys, may as well take it around the block.

Corners like a pig. And don't even get me started about the acceleration.

On the other hand, it does have air-conditioned cup holders. So there is that.

For your own safety and that of your passengers, don't hold your breath waiting for updates. I have no real plans for this space, nor even a hint of what to plan.