Tag Archives: Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Review

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No matter how things change, some things always stay the same. The Zelda series, for all its continued innovations and original ideas in moving forward has always retained a comforting air of familiarity. The first new Zelda since Skyward Sword, A Link Between Worlds is actually a sequel to the revered SNES classic A Link to the Past. Does this new title manage to push the series forward in exciting new directions, or is it bogged down by dewy eyed nostalgia?

Thankfully, the game achieves the former with just a healthy dose of the latter. This game oozes innovation and a sense of freedom I’ve not felt since the first Zelda. Longtime fans will have a blast seeing what’s changed and what’s remained in this loving recreation of the SNES Hyrule while we also get to explore the entirely new world of Lorule. Both worlds are filled with fiendishly clever puzzles, moody dungeons and all manner of secrets and collectibles to keep the completists happy.

The story leaves a little to be desired, with your standard Zelda collect X amount of this then X amount of that quest. However, the game does have a truly surprising twist up its sleeve and is peppered with likeable and charming characters throughout. The most prominent of these is Ravio, the salesman who sets up shop in your gaff and is responsible for the games biggest shake up: The item rental system.

The rental system is designed to allow players the aforementioned freedom to move around as they wish. Technically, you could run off with all the items within the first few hours and buy them to keep soon after that-at a price. For the most part, this system works and being able to go anywhere and do anything after previous game’s increasingly restricting hand holding is truly liberating.

Sadly, stumping up the rupees to get all the items is far too easy and the idea that if you die, you lose any rented items just doesn’t work. This is because the game is really, very easy and with a few fairies you can blitz through without ever dying. The only incentive to buy the items and not just rent is so you can upgrade them later on.

What the game lacks in actual challenge from death by enemies, it makes up for with some of the series’ most ingenious puzzles. A lot of this is down to Link’s new ability to merge into a wall and become a painting, Paper Mario style. This system actually turns everything you know about Zelda on its head and more than a few times, I was staring at a chasm or conundrum for minutes, only to realize all I needed to do was jump into the wall.

Each dungeon has it’s own unique feel and atmospheric music. In fact, all the music in this game is outstanding, be it a remix of an old classic or a completely new score, your ears are always in for a treat.

Graphically, the game looks just OK. When you slide up the 3D, it really pops but if you’re playing on a 2DS don’t expect anything too special.

My biggest problem with A Link Between Worlds is that it just doesn’t go far enough with the changes it’s begun to implement. It’s as if Nintendo didn’t want to go any further in case it started to feel too different to what’s come before. Despite this, it’s a short, sharp, charming adventure that easily sits among the best of Zelda and is undisputably the finest of the handheld titles. If Nintendo take what they’ve started here and keep pushing, Zelda should be in very safe hands.

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The Five Creepiest Moments in The Legend of Zelda

It’s that time of year again. The leaves turn brown and fall from the trees, the days grow shorter and parents believe that it’s somehow acceptable to allow their offspring to roam the streets begging while they set off explosions in the sky at night. It’s the most wonderful time.

But it got me thinking about what actually used to scare me as a kid. I was never exposed to 18 rated horror films because my parents actually gave a shit. As a kid I was scared by the kind of stuff that was meant to send a chill down a kids’ spine. Not graphic images of a knife wielding madman stabbing some horny teenagers by a lake, but stuff that sent my imagination into overdrive and allowed my brain to do most of the scaring.

Nothing did this job better than The Legend of Zelda series. While usually charming and swashbuckling, every Zelda game is peppered with darker, chilling moments that can still to this day freak me out. Here are five moments that made me want to put my controller down and sit in a corner, and no, Tingle will not be in this list. Because that’s such an obvious choice.

Dead Hand (Ocarina of Time)

You only need to look at this ungodly bastard to see why it might terrify a ten year old encountering it for the first time. It’s not as if exploring under the well in Kakariko village was a traumatizing enough experience, with INVISIBLE SPIDERS, random patches of floor you could fall through into a pit of zombies and INVISIBLE SPIDERS.

No, they had to top the whole experience off with a boss fight with fucking satan himself, scabby hands shoot from the ground, holding you still while a hell beast with a giant, rictus grin that would make The Joker shudder edges over to you to eat your brains. Ten years on and I still dread meeting Dead Hand. The Lens of Truth wasn’t even that good.

Wall Masters (Zelda I, Oracle Series)

You might find it strange that I find these scarier than Ocarina’s ceiling dropping breed or the Wind Waker variety that basically pull you into hell, but Oracle of Seasons Wall Masters are the first I encountered and where I expected to simply take damage from them, they took me back to the start of the bloody dungeon.

I was scared, confused, and it took me more tries than I can remember to get past them. For that reason, and the fact they came out of the shitting walls made me terrified of them.

ReDeads (Various)

It’s at its worst when you aren’t aware of their presence. You’re edging your way through a dungeon. You hear that hellish shrill scream and your heart leaps into your throat as the camera swings around to reveal a zombie plodding towards you. You mash the controller, screaming, doing anything you can to just move but it’s all to no avail. The ReDead is upon your paralyzed form. It closes on you and… dry humps you.

The ex Hyrulean sex offenders are a scary bunch, if only because they literally stop you in your tracks and sexually assault you. Of course, as with all things scary, they’re at their worst when you don’t expect them. For example, in Ocarina when you’re in a hurry to get out of Ganon’s crumbling castle and you’re accosted by one right next to the bloody exit. Dick move, Nintendo.

Ikana Tower (Majora’s Mask)

It’s not that the final dungeon in Majora’s mask is even trying to be overtly scary, it’s just that everything about it is deeply, deeply unsettling.

The subtly creepy music, the strange statues of demons holding upside down triforces, that fucking freaky statue that’s meant to look like Link when you play that song… The entire place feels wrong, and more than a little off. I suppose that sums up Majora’s Mask as a whole really.

Dodongo (Ocarina of Time)

This one is based purely on personal experience as Dodongo is not in the least bit scary as the second boss of the game. These days I off the guy with barely a second thought. Muscle memory kicks in and it’s bomb, sword, boom. But it wasn’t always like that.

I must have been about eight when I first played Ocarina (it came with the Wind Waker special edition if you must know). All was well as I breezed through the second dungeon and I plunged down the hole and into Dodongo’s pit. There I was faced with this giant, fire breathing lizard and I just froze up.

It’s not that I was ever even scared of dinosaurs or anything (I loved them) it was the combination of the fact there was literally no way out, and I can only run in a small circle because of the lava pit at the center. I just freaked out and could never do it. Of course, the day I finally did, I felt like I could overcome anything…

Then I got to the shadow temple. Thank you Zelda, for absolutely destroying my childhood. Good job.

Why A Link Between Worlds Could Be the Best Zelda Yet

 

After seeing the awesome new trailer for Link Between Worlds, I was moved to download A Link to the Past from the Wii Shop and relive the 16 bit glory of one of my favorite Zelda titles.

This got me thinking about how the upcoming 3DS Zelda title has the potential to be something truly special. For a start, I realized what a powerful (perhaps even somewhat manipulative) tool nostalgia is.

For example, I think one of the reasons so many people cite Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal as their favorite gen is because of the nostalgia fueled return trip Kanto from the first game. Everything was very much the same but… different. There was a joy in traversing the familiar locales and spotting what had changed over time.

And so as I play through LTTP again (for probably the hundredth time) I breeze through because I know it like the back of my hand. I know every secret, every nook and every cranny in such detail that the chance to revisit that same over world, but slightly altered over the years excites me beyond measure. I suspect that I am not alone in this.

On top of this, we can no doubt expect dozens of references to LTTP, be it characters, items, dungeons or music. Anyone who played the SNES classic will doubtless be smitten just on the fact that LBW is a sequel.

Of course, trying to make a good gaming experience through nostalgia and references alone would not make for a satisfactory game. Fortunately, Link Between Worlds looks set to shake up the Zelda formula in the biggest way since, well, since A Link to the Past.

Not only does it have a completely new Dark World in Lorule (no one strained any brain cells at Nintendo there) to complement the familiar Hyrule, we have new items (always a standard but welcome addition to a new Zelda), intriguing new characters (hopefully, one of them won’t turn out to be Ganon).

But above all, what has me so excited about this new game is shake up of the age old Zelda formula; That you have to complete dungeons in a certain order. While I have never had a problem with the series’ formulaic approach, I will welcome this change with open arms, for the level of freedom and challenge this shake up will bring.

It’s for these reasons that I think A Link Between Worlds absolutely has the potential to be the best Zelda ever. While it promises to completely reinvent decades old aspects of the franchise, it also looks to have an unrivaled air of familiarity,ensuring that no matter how different things get, it will be unmistakably, The Legend of Zelda.

Five Stages That Should Be In Smash Bros. 4

I know, another list post. I’m a lazy, sloppy excuse for a writer but I needed to post something so I don’t fall further into the depths of obscurity.  Just go with it, ‘kay?

Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS are getting ever closer and we’re slowly being drip fed tantalizing nuggets of information that only serve to make the game more exciting with each morsel of news. So I’m jumping on the bandwagon and giving my own list of stages that should be included in the new games. Because it’s Sunday and I don’t have any original thoughts.

Comet Observatory (Mario Galaxy Series)

It’s inevitable that in the new Smash installments, the Galaxy series is gonna be represented somehow. After all, it’s only some of Nintendo’s finest work to date.

In my mind, the stage would work similar to Isle Delfino from Brawl. You fight in the Comet Observatory, but it regularly whooshes (yes, that’s a word) off to various galaxies from the two games and you fight to cling on as the stage flies through space. Maybe one section has rolling chain chomps to dodge, and another has balls of fire flying in from all directions.

This way, we get one stage that manages to represent  loads of different aspects from Galaxy. Why yes Nintendo, you can have your cake and eat it.

Forsaken Fortress (Zelda: Wind Waker)

With the brilliant news that Toon Link is coming back to the brawl, we all know a Wind Waker stage is a certainty, especially if the 3DS is reppin’ Toon Link with a Spirit Tracks stage. Why not the Forsaken Fortress?

It could work like Shadow Moses Island did, if a spotlight catches you, you’re bombarded by a barrage of bombs. Every now and then, Ganon’s giant pet bird could fly down into the stage and start pecking at everything in sight, or flap items and characters off the stage.

Tourian (Metroid)

This stage would be absolutely mental. Metroids flying in at random times to suck on your brain, fireballs flying from every possible angle and every now and then, Mother Brain rises from the ground to take pop shots at you just to cause further chaos.

Maybe it could be a scrolling stage, taking you right through a faithful recreation of the final Metroid level from the first Metroid to Mother Brain at the end?

Smash Bros is all about frantic gameplay and a stage packed with traps like this would be perfect.

Pokemon Center (Pokemon)

This would be awesome. Death and destruction in a place of healing? Lovely. Just imagine a full scale brawl over the the peaceful music we all know and love.

Maybe random Pokemon could appear from behind the counter to cause trouble, similar to Goldenrod City in the original Smash Bros.? Or perhaps Team Rocket could storm in with various contraptions for stealing items and the like.

Wii Fit Park (Wii Fit)

What better way to scare off joggers than by having a great big throw down in the park? Since Wii Fit lady has been confirmed and we all juts have to deal with that, we might as well get a good stage out of the deal.

It could be a scrolling stage in which you have to keep along at a good pace or your unfit ways will kill you dead. DEAD. Perhaps every so often a parade of jogging Miis could come in from the opposite direction and trample you if you don’t get out of the way.

So then, that’s your lot. If you don’t agree or think you can come up with better, I don’t care. (I’m joking, please, I need the validation and approval of strangers). Thanks for reading.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review (9.8/10)

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So the other day I was just riding the train, when a cat got all up in my face and started pestering me. He was asking me all these personal questions about who I was and where I was going, which was annoying to say the least. When I finally got off the train, I was accosted by an assortment of various animals.

The dog among them, who I took to be their leader, started demanding I be the mayor of their freakish little town. The dog dragged me around, yapping all sorts of things about houses and rent and planning permits. I was in such a state of shock that all I can recall is a bizarre ritual that involved the tribe watching me plant a tree and being made to sleep in a tent.

It’s two days later and a kindly racoon has given me a house (for a price), but their seems to be no way out of this hellish world I am trapped in. There are no princesses to save, no world in peril and not the slightest sign of any danger. I love it.

At the time of writing this review, I’ve only racked up about ten hours of playtime. I am more than aware that there are many, many hours left in this game. The Animal Crossing series has always felt to me like a quaint little old British children’s cartoon. Nothing ever happens. The day is formulaic; catch fish and bugs, gather fruit and try and make enough money to pay off your loans all while occasionally chatting with the strange animal folk that live next door.

So what is it that makes a game about trading turnip with sheep so insanely addictive? Especially for me, as an avid hater of games like The Sims.

I think a great deal of it lies in the atmosphere. The whole game constantly feels like a hug, or a hot cup of tea. You can dip in and out whenever you like. The game never tells you to do anything or demands anything from you. The only thing gently pushing you along is the real time aspect of the game, meaning certain shops open and close, or certain things can be done at certain times.

But even this can be adjusted through your mayoral powers. A new aspect of the Animal Crossing and one which adds on another few dozen hours of playtime. You also feel more invested in the town than you might have in previous entries. Jobs like weeding and watering the plants feel like less of a chore now you are actually the boss instead of just some guy.

Being the mayor also affords you the ability to build bridges, benches, streetlights and all kinds of other stuff. I wouldn’t know yet, as I haven’t gained the approval of the villagers. It seems easy enough however, as I’m on 85% at the moment. The extra level of customization is a welcome touch.

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Of course while every day generally follows the same outline, there are enough differences to make you actually want to return again and again. The town receives new visitors and passerby every now and again. The most recent of which for me was a chameleon who held a bug catching contest in the town, obviously so he could eat the entries. Something I thought was a nice comedic touch.

The shops also offer new stock each day and I haven’t even come to close to upgrading and fully unlocking every shop on the high street. I really enjoy the fortune cookies, which can be exchanged for various Nintendo items. On my first two tries I got Link from Zelda’s clothes and boots, which sent the fanboy in me into a slight frenzy.

Then there are the changing seasons. Since the game moves in real time and we’re mid Summer, I won’t be seeing this for a while. I refuse to adjust the clock and time travel because it completely defeats the object of the game and besides, even if I have stopped playing by September, this means I’ll still boot up the game just to see how things have changed and I’ll probably get sucked right back in till Christmas.

The game is absolutely crammed full of charm and humor. You actually want to talk to the NPC’s because they are genuinely funny and engaging characters, each with their own personality. My personal favorite at the moment is a dog I taught to say “pass the weed”. I’m easy pleased.

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I’ve managed to write this much about a game I have barely scratched the surface of. I know I have dozens upon dozens more hours of play ahead of me and so much more to see and do. Animal Crossing: New Leaf is more than worth the tawdry price of thirty quid considering you’ll be playing it for months. I couldn’t recommend a more engaging, relaxing and downright enjoyable game if I tried.

Nintendo at E3: Did we win?

Well, Nintendo could have prepared a half hour presentation showing us a guided tour of a homeless man’s prolapsed anus and they still would have looked better than Microsoft.

What Nintendo needed to do, was to show us that the Wii U is worth buying. They needed to show us some grade A, top banana, cream of the crop games. Did they? Let’s take a look.

Mario Kart 8

Check. This game looks absolutely fantastic in HD. Add in the fact that bikes from Mario Kart wii are back, as are the air gliders and submarine sections from Mario Kart 7 and we have a winner. The fact we have some mad as shit anti grav tracks and presumably smooth as anything online play won’t hurt this game either.

Donkey Kong

MEH. When I heard Retro Studios were working on a new game for Nintendo, I wanted Metroid Prime 4. HD METROID. Who the hell cares about some dull ape that made a name for himself by throwing barrels at an Italian? Not me, that’s for sure. I highly doubt I’m the only one that felt shortchanged by this news.

The Wind Waker HD

Right in the childhood. Nintendo shamelessly emotionally blackmail their fans into buying a Wii U for this updated gem. Improved sailing mechanics and an updated feature that connects to the Miiverse already show us this game is more than just a new lick of paint. Now we just need those dungeons that were cut from the original put back in and an orchestral soundtrack. Make it happen, big N.

Mario 3D World

The question we were all asking when we heard about a new 3D Mario was “where can they go after Galaxy 1 and 2?”. To ripping off one of their handheld entries it turns out. Slightly underwhelming, this one. I suppose Mario 3D land was a great game, and the cat suit and four player mode certainly does look interesting. Sadly, this just doesn’t wow me in the same way that Galaxy did.

Super Smash Bros Wii U and 3DS

Awwwwwwwwyeah. That’s what we wanted to see. Nintendo possibly pulled off the biggest troll of E3 (unless Microsoft is having us all on) by opening up the trailer as if it was an Animal Crossing game, only to reveal that the villager will be a playable character.

The 3DS version looks decent enough, although I’m not sold on those cel shaded graphics yet. The Wii U version however, looks amazing. We’ve got most of the same characters back, Link, Mario, Samus etc along with some groovy new stages and some guy called Mega Man? Whoever he is.

Third Party Goodness

From Rayman to Batman, the Wii U is loaded up with content (something it was sorely lacking) and plenty of reasons for us to choose Nintendo over Microsoft or Sony. Whether or not you do, is entirely your choice. Just remember which console has crazy plumbers driving anti grav go karts though, okay?

 

Looking Back: The Legend of Zelda – A Link to the Past

A Link to the Past is a faultless game. Released for the Super Nintendo in the 90s, a sequel was announced just last month and the internet pretty much collectively lost their minds. That’s how popular this two decade old game is.

And it’s hard to see why people wouldn’t be in love with it. For a start, the game is huge. Two completely different and giant overworlds to explore in the game’s genius light/dark world mechanic added an entirely new level to exploration. Gamers would discover that an action in one world could affect an object or environment in the other. That’s some sophisticated design for the time.

While the original Zelda laid the foundation for mass exploration, ALTTP hands down nailed it. For a start, it was actually worth looking around as it all looked and sounded beautiful, had secret items and upgrades everywhere and was littered with NPCs that added to the rich backstory of the game.

Speaking of the story, this is the first Zelda to weave a genuinely captivating yarn. Eight maidens being kidnapped for mysterious purposes, an evil wizard that assassinates the king, the death of your uncle and a prison break all occur in the first half hour of the game. I haven’t even mentioned some of the genuine twists and shocks that pop up. After games that basically boiled down to “go here and do this”, we had a refreshing change of pace.

It was the first Zelda to offer up huge, challenging and puzzling boss fights. For the first time you couldn’t win by simply going at it with your sword. The bosses required analysis and careful study to pinpoint and exploit weaknesses. Once you’d done that, you could go at it with your sword. But you’d earned it, so it was satisfying as hell.

The sheer amount of weapons to discover in Link’s armoury was truly a joy. Tracking down the bow and arrow, the hookshot and the Master Sword all felt massively rewarding. Add to that optional items like an invisibility cloak and medallions that essentially butchered anything onscreen and you were in business.

People say Ocarina of Time changed the series, but I say it all started here. This was when The Legend of Zelda stopped being good and started being so much more. I would argue that out of every game from this generation, A Link to the Past holds up the best. Check it out for yourself.

Nintendo Announce A Link to the Past 2!

If it wasn’t my job to actually inform in some way, I would be reporting on this by simply smashing my head on the keyboard until I passed out and hope that someone would come along and click publish for me.

Yes, Nintendo have announced a sequel for game that is nearly twenty years old. Zelda has never really been big on linearity I suppose.

While many were hoping for news of a 3DS remake for Majora’s Mask, this announcement has surprised fans everywhere, despite Nintendo previously stating that they were keen to see how ALTTP’s top down world would look with depth and height. Now we know. Glorious.

The game, which currently has no official title, will take place in the same world as the SNES classic, A Link to the Past but is by no means a remake.

The trailer demonstrates a curious ability Link now has to become a drawing and slide across walls, as well as showcasing classic items like the bow, mallet and sword and shield. Obviously.

Zelda 3DS (Or ALTTP 2) is scheduled for release holiday season 2013. Praise be to Nintendo.