Triforce Heroes and the Power of Nostalgia

Triforce Heroes and the Power of Nostalgia

Sorry for the major posting today but guess what, readers?  It’s another collaboration post, but this one is, dare I say, even bigger than the last one I was involved in!  This series, put on by NekoJonez, is a nice retrospective on everyone’s (or at least my) favorite series: The Legend of Zelda.  In his article you’ll find links between blogs, sharing all the amazing posts by other bloggers discussing each of the LoZ games.  I am so glad and grateful to be involved in this article because, as you all know, I’m a little obsessed with Zelda… Just a bit…

I get to talk about Tri-Force Heroes!  I’ll be taking you through my favorite part of the game: the nostalgia.  This is something Nintendo really tapped into in order to make the game a massively enjoyable multiplayer experience.

triforce heroes

Triforce Heroes, for those of you who never played it, is a multiplayer game for the Nintendo 3DS handheld consoles.  The game was created to improve on the limitations of the GameBoy Advanced Four Swords multiplayer game, which required a lot of finagling to be able to play with others.  Utilizing the built-in WiFi and capability to interact with people all across the globe, Nintendo was able to recapture the enjoyment and excitement of a multiplayer Zelda game in a much more user-friendly way.

Once you start playing Triforce Heroes it seems like Nintendo wanted to recapture a lot of past feelings.  The nostalgia factor is incredibly high while playing, with nods to previous characters, abilities, and artistic styles throughout the game.  It may seem like a simple move to include these little hints but it sure made all the difference for me!  As a bit of a stickler for story the idea of saving an entire kingdom from a “fashion emergency” put me off right from the start.  I was skeptical about the fun I would have playing a game that not only cut out Zelda and Hyrule, but also cut out any semblance of a real story.  But every time I came across another nod at the Zelda series I felt excited, happy that I understood the reference, and eager to continue playing.  For me, that was the real masterpiece of the game.  Nintendo’s ability to capitalize on our love of these characters is what keeps us coming back for more!  What are some of these references, you might ask?  Here, let me show you…

First, let’s talk about concept and artistic style.  This game is heavily based off of the art and world of A Link Between Worlds.  In an interview with Polygon the developer, Hiromasa Shikata, explained that it was A Link Between Worlds that really sparked his interest in creating a multiplayer Legend of Zelda game.  So, naturally, the game would have plenty of elements of LbW throughout it.  The enemies we encounter in each of the levels, the 2D-but-actually-3D visuals, and the stepped terraces and environments are each elements that hearken directly back to LbW.  And, if you know anything about LbW you know that this hearkens back to A Link to the Past, one of the first Legend of Zelda games and a favorite among fans.  So right in the initial development is a double-hit of nostalgia.

In Triforce Heroes Link is able to enter a realm of Doppel’s, which are character’s he inhabits in order to complete levels on his own.  This ability ensures that players can complete the levels they need to even when other players aren’t available.  Shikata, who helped develop Spirit Tracks, explained in his Polygon interview at E3 in 2015 “That element [the ability to control phantoms] really intrigued me and brought out the idea that I wanted to try multiplayer as well.”  So, if we read that correctly (and trust me, we did) Link’s ability to play and inhabit other characters is a direct link to Spirit Tracks.

But we can’t just spend the entire article talking about development, can we? There’s far too much to see and remember to focus just on that!  We’ve already talked about how the art style was heavily influenced by LbW and ALTTP but it seems the character’s were, as well!  There’s no need to go in depth on the enemies, who are a perfect match to the enemies found in LbW.  Did Match Master and Doppel Master look strangely familiar to anyone else?  Yep, to me they looked and reminded me exactly of Sahasrahla from A Link to the Past.  Sahasrahla, the wise old sage, is a perfect match up to the Masters, who are supposed to be guardians of the gates to the outer drablands.  This character, who is able to communicate with Link in ALTTP makes perfect sense as the Masters, who would need to communicate with outside Link’s to create matches.  And then there’s the Street Merchant, a perfect match to the one found in LbW and ALTTP.  This character even makes a little nod when he first shows up at having “seen” Link before… possibly in another world?

And then there’s the outfits.  So many of them are reminders of the characters and things we loved from LoZ games.  Shall we list them?  I think we should, just for the fun of it.

costumes

There’s the Goron garb and Kokiri tunic are a perfect match to those races from Ocarina of Time, while the Zora garb comes straight out of LbW and ALTTP.  Was anyone else reminded of Dodoh from Skyward Sword with the Rupee Regalia outfit?  And Linebeck from Phantom Hourglass and the Fierce Diety armor from Majora’s Mask shows up in the DLC. The Tingle outfit needs no introduction and in a game without Zelda the legendary dress was sorely needed to remind us of her.  The Timeless tunic, from the original Legend of Zelda, is the perfect little nod to the one that started it all, changing all the music to 8-bit sounds throughout the entire game.  And, in a fit of inclusion Nintendo added the hammerwear, a perfect match to the Hammer Bros. from Mario and the Cozy Parka looked very similar to Ice Climbers from Smash Brothers.

But now for my favorite nostaglia moment of them all – the music balls in the waiting room.  I decided, when I was asked to help contribute to this awesome collaboration, to replay a little of the game.  While it held up (mostly) from when it was first released I got stuck in an awful lot of waiting rooms.  It seems like there are fewer and fewer people playing, which means waiting for matches can take quite a while.  And while I waited for a team to show up I spent what amounts to hours playing with the music balls.  If you haven’t played the game you can run, full tilt, at the wall and a music ball (looking like a beach ball) will bounce down from the ceiling.  If you’re able to keep the ball off the ground using your sword you get to hear all the classic Kondo tunes that make Legend of Zelda great.  There’s something, it seems, from nearly every game, and each one brings to mind exactly how much I loved that game and makes me want to play it again.  It was like a few perfect minutes remembering things I loved and still loved from every single game.  I would even get a little upset when my match would begin and it would prevent me from playing with the music balls…

Nintendo created an incredible franchise when they developed The Legend of Zelda.  They created memorable characters, places, stories, items, and music to immerse us in a world we can continue to visit again and again.  In Triforce Heroes, where they needed to create a different type of story and a different type of gameplay, Nintendo capitalized on the elements of LoZ that really capture our hearts, making it another classic we will continue to revisit as time passes on.

Featured Image Credit: Pieter-Jan Casteels https://zoef.deviantart.com/

 

 

Blogger Blitz Retrospective

After something that has been pretty blog-consuming over the last month or two I wanted to jot down some feelings I’ve had throughout the entire competition.

First and foremost – a HUGE thank you to Ian at Adventure Rules for dreaming up the perfect competition.  His creativity knows no bounds, his pictures have been spectacular, and his enthusiasm really caught us up in his excitement.  The work and effort that went into something as big as this cannot be understated and we all owe him a lot of gratitude for pushing us outside our comfort zones.

Secondly – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the other competitors in the Blitz.  It’s been so fun to get immersed in a community and really feel the encouragement and support of everyone.  The stories and writing have truly inspired me and I’ve learned so much from what they’ve done.  It’s been a blast to trash talk or encourage by turns and exciting to see how creative everyone is.  I’ll really miss the constant interaction that this experience has brought.

Third – A competition would be nothing without our judges and it feels like these one’s have really upped the bar on blogging competitions!  Their insight, interest, and extensive knowledge have really broken down these entries in a way I’m surprised at.  They took their duties very seriously and it’s been impressive to read their logic on announcement days AKA Fridays.  What a task and we were lucky enough to find people worthy of it!

Fourth – I’ve always known how much Link means to me and what he’s helped me get through in my life, but it’s nice to be able to revisit him in so much detail and really express my love for the Legend of Zelda series.  And it’s strengthened my resolve and determination to 100% BotW, which is no small feat!

And lastly – I want to talk a bit about my journey through this process.  Each time I’ve won I’ve been surprised.  Once I read the competitor’s entry I am confident I don’t stand a chance of winning.  Luna’s entry on the Joker was clever and so well-written.  She really knows that character and her details really blew me away.  And then came Luke’s moving story about Claire and her heart-wrenching decision.  Each Friday, when I read the results, I felt like there had been some kind of mistake.  There was no way I actually beat those guys.  And frankly, despite making it to the finals, I still feel a little like my place here is a fluke.  I may have gotten one or two elements better, but their entries were so inspired I just don’t feel worthy of winning.  It’s been a learning process for me to accept the idea that I may have done something right.  I’ve had to learn to accept my advancement and have tried to come to terms with my place in the final.  I’ve never had a lot of self-confidence and I’m more used to making excuses for why my thing “got lucky” than accepting the fact that it might actually be good.  So along this journey I’ve been trying to accept the idea that what I created may have actually had merit.  It may have actually been a worthy entry.  And that’s where I’ve grown.  I’ve grown as a writer, of course, but I’ve grown emotionally and mentally, as well.

So Ian, judges, and fellow challengers, thank you.  Thank you for teaching me and encouraging me.  Thank you for the confidence boost this has been and for the community you’ve given me when I’ve definitely needed it.  No matter who wins the competition tomorrow it doesn’t matter – because I’m definitely the real winner because of all of you.

 

Blogger Blitz Finale: Saving the Castle

Blogger Blitz Finale: Saving the Castle

This is it: the last challenge.  And boy, is it a rough one.  I’m not sure how it’ll turn out but I had to use every bit of Zelda lore I knew to try and accomplish the task set by Ian at Adventure Rules.  The challenge is as follows:

“You have been invited by the steward of the Mushroom Kingdom to assist them with a royal problem. The infant princess, Baby Peach, has begun to develop strange abilities based on her emotions. She literally cries rivers, when she’s angry she bursts into flame, her happiness causes her to float in the air and produce bursts of wind – the only emotional state in which the castle and its staff are safe from her is when she is calm. A doctor is preparing a cure but a courier has to make an overnight trip to pick it up. So the steward needs someone to protect Peach’s Castle from her emotion powers until the cure is delivered.
‘Why not just take her out of the castle?’ you might ask. As fate would have it, there’s an issue with the castle’s power source, the Power Stars. They’ve malfunctioned and now the only thing keeping them running is Peach’s presence in the castle. If she leaves, the Stars will fail and be scattered across the kingdom.
‘We tried having the castle wizard place a spell on her to make her sleep through the night,’ the steward explains, ‘but she is immune to any magic that influences her emotional state.’ There’s another problem too – taking advantage of the castle’s current vulnerability, the evil wizard Kamek has summoned six warriors from other worlds to attack the Mushroom Kingdom. You might recognize them as the defeated competitors from the Blogger Blitz challenge. These warriors, under Kamek’s control, will stop at nothing to kidnap Peach and leave the castle in ruins.”

This event has three distinct parts: the competitors must protect Peach from the previous six Blogger Blitz competitors, protect the castle from those same attackers, and finally protect the castle from Peach and her dangerous emotion powers (based, by the way, on the video game Super Princess Peach). The competitors have been told that they are not able to circumvent any parts of the challenge – no taking Peach out of the castle and no controlling Peach’s emotions through magic. These have been justified fictionally in the above description of the event. Finally, because this event has three distinct parts the competitors will have up to 1200 words in order to make their argument. Also, this makes it so that the total word counts of each phase of the competition go 4000, 3200, 2400. Why does that matter? Because…symmetry, or something.

Wow.  What an imagination to come up with something as complex and awesome as that!  A big, hearty “good luck” to my challenger, Lightning Ellen!  You can read her submission on her blog.  As always, check back Friday at Adventure Rules to find the results of the finale!  And now, on with the show!

… P.S. I promise to have a new recipe tomorrow!


The last month has been increasingly difficult.  These external calls for a hero’s help have left me drained.  But still I answer, Courage never failing, because I am a Hero.  And I’m finally going to tell my own story.  Written down, of course, since no amount of gesticulating seems to be heard.  Everyone understands me, of course.  They just can’t hear me.  Writing is the easier route.

Peach's Castle

When the request came I knew I would need help.  I grabbed my tools, called on some loyal companions, and found my way to the Mushroom Kingdom.  I had already been briefed on the situation: baby peach’s magical powers were wreaking havoc on the castle and herself.  There was possible danger from the outside, as well.  I was nervous, but took comfort from the Ocarina I carried and the Song of Time, which would turn back the clock 3 days in case of failure.  I hoped I wouldn’t need it.

When I got to the castle it seemed like the mission had already started.  The princess was in a terrible rage and the castle was catching fire.  I whipped out my Ocarina and played the Song of Storms.  The gentle rain extinguished the fire and had the added bonus of calming the princess.  She seemed fascinated by the music.  After that she warmed up to me.  I began my preparations while Peach’s attendants prepared her for the evening.  I established a perimeter of warp points on each of the four sides of the castle, knowing that I could be needed at anywhere in a moment.  I asked my guides to stay at those points since they could quickly find me and alert me if something was wrong.  I set up my friend, Ooccoo, on the East along with Tatl, the fairy.  By keeping Ooccoo Jr. with me I could quickly return to his mother.  Using the Travel Medallion and my Sheikah Slate I created a point on the West and asked Navi to stand guard there.  Farore’s Wind created a point on the North side of the castle with Ciela. And in the South I set up Midna and her warp capability.  With each of the areas guarded I needed to find a way to protect Peach, not only from external threats, but from herself.

baby peach

When I found her, the princess was laughing at a book and floating 6 feet off the ground.  A sudden gust of wind threatened to blow her out the window.  In a panic I used my Hookshot to latch to the ceiling above her, dropped down, and snatched her out of the air.  She calmed down once we hit the floor and seemed comfortable with me.  I requested that she wear my Minish Cap, which would shrink her to a very small size.  She’d still express her powers, but they would be minimized and more manageable.  She agreed and I decided to take it further, making the entire situation a game, and asking her to play in one of the Bottles I carried.  After more laughter and another trip on my Hookshot, she agreed.  I placed her inside a Bottle with a Fairy, to keep her company.  This would protect her, but I would still be be able to see her and interfere if necessary.

indiana jones

As soon as I capped the lid Navi came racing toward me.  I knew there was trouble and warped to her side of the castle.  A man with a bull whip stood, ready to attack.  I used my Ice Rod and froze him, allowing me time to think.  Fi quickly told me to be careful of his whip.  That seemed simple enough and, as he unfroze, I dealt him a blow with my Boomerang and stunned him.  I tied him up, took him to the dungeon, knowing his lack of magic would prevent him from escaping, and locked the door just as Tatl flew in.

ash ketchum

I warped to her location to find an electric monster guarding the hallway – it was yellow, with black stripes and tall, pointed ears.  With my Thunder Helm I didn’t fear any electrical discharge.  I exhausted the beast with the Master Sword and used the Hookshot to stun the Trainer standing behind the monster.  Fi let me know that this boy lacked magical powers, as well, so down to the dungeon he went.

guybrush threepwood

As I came up the stairs I felt a sickening blow to my head.  A Fairy came to my aid and the stars quickly blinked out of my eyes.  I realized the man who had attacked was a pirate, laughing and making a sharp joke about the situation.  I froze this intruder with an Ice Arrow and, after receiving Fi’s confirmation that he, too, would lack the skills required to escape from a magical dungeon, placed him in there with his 3 fellow-attackers.

the joker

Midna appeared before me, quickly warping us to her side of the castle.  We re-appeared just as an explosion went off.  Luckily I had Daruk’s Blessing, which created a temporary shield and protected both myself and Peach from the damage.  As the ringing in my ears died I heard frightening laughter.  The Joker, a man I had encountered before, was standing down the hallway, finger on another trigger.  I quickly froze him and, knowing he was under no spell forcing him to attack, drew my Master Sword and brought it crashing down into him.

claire redfield

The castle became quiet after that… Too quiet.  I checked on Peach but she seemed to be happily floating in air, playing with the Fairy and laughing as a gentle breeze pushed her around the Bottle.  I sighed in relief and decided to prowl the hallways.  I donned the Stone Mask, which turned me invisible, and began patrolling.  A soft noise startled me and I glanced around.  There, in the shadows, was a character I knew well – Claire Redfield.  I knew she possessed a terrible power that would transform her if left alive.  I needed to get her out of the castle.  I crept up, using a Sneaky Elixer, and froze her using my Cryonis Sheikah Rune.  I created a Dark World warp using my Magic Mirror and sent her into another realm.  As I did so, I unfroze her, knowing she would be able to protect herself while there.  When this was all over I would fetch her and return her to her home.

mega man

Ciela came shooting toward me and we warped to her section of the castle.  I saw the invader and attempted to freeze him with the Ice Rod, but there didn’t seem to be much effect.  Every attack I shot at him just made him stronger, and he soon started shooting my attacks back!  I knew if I couldn’t defeat him I would have to incapacitate him.  Ciela Stopped Time, just long enough for me to bring Peach out of the bottle and remove the Minish Cap.  I quickly placed the cap on Mega Man’s head, shrinking him down, and dropped him in an empty Bottle.  When time restarted, he was trapped and without the power to escape.  As I held the princess’s hand the sun rose, the long night was over, and Peach’s antidote had arrived.

Better Gaming Through Criticism

Better Gaming Through Criticism

It seems like game journalism and critics are a hot button topic right now in social media and on other gaming blogs.  I think it’s finally time that I put in my two cents about it.

Last night on the commute home I was listening to a RadioWest Podcast episode in which A. O. Scott was discussing his new book, Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth.  Scott is the chief film critic for the New York Times and has quite a lot of experience critiquing films and other art.  Just a few days earlier The Well-Red Mage posted an article discussing whether video games are considered art.  Now, I know it seems like these are two unrelated events but it was like lightning had just struck my brain and today’s post, which had at first seemed impossible, was now impossibly easy.  So let’s talk about the importance of criticism (proper criticism, mind you) on the gaming industry.  And yes, in case you were wondering, I absolutely think video games are art…

First, let’s discuss some science.  I, if you’ve read my profile, am a microbiologist and love infectious disease.  I specialize in human pathogens and in my studies had to learn a lot about how viruses and bacteria evolve.  There are two major ways they do this: antigenic shift and antigenic drift.  Drift occurs slowly, over time, making small changes in the genetic code that eventually lead to a new organism.  Shift happens when a large factor is changed in the genetic code, creating a new organism right away.  Criticism in the game industry lead to these two types of changes: slow, small changes that occur over time and big leaps that happen almost immediately.

So now let’s discuss criticism.  There are two different types of criticism and I want to talk about both, because each one leads to the advance of the industry.  Let’s start with the easy one: “the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes”.  This is the criticism I think most of us encounter – the twitter rants, the angry Reddit posts, the comments section on Amazon.  This form of expression seems to be everywhere.

It’s interesting to think of these critics as important for the gaming industry because I think, in general, they are looked down on.  But have you ever liked a tweet expressing displeasure with, say, Nintendo for not producing enough SNES mini’s to meet demand?  Or left a review of how a game’s mechanics are difficult, not intuitive, or broken?  Whenever you do you are telling the game industry what to produce and what not to produce next time.  If a game is unpopular, has terrible reviews, and no one purchases it you’ve just told the developer to never make that kind of game again.  If there’s a twitter rant about not enough consoles for the masses, the developer will change tatics and immediately begin reproduction on that console (thank you Nintendo for more SNES mini’s!).  If everyone is complaining about the mechanics of how a particular gun is made in Destiny, it’ll be fixed in the next patch.

These kinds of criticism produce the massive shifts in the industry that responds to what the gamers want right now.  It’s a way to ensure that developers are meeting popular opinion and demand.  If you want something done, express your frustration and, if enough people agree with you, you can bet it’ll get fixed, either for the next game or in the next update.

The second form of criticism is “the analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work”.  This is where game journalism comes in because these are the critics of the industry.  In Better Living Through Criticism, Scott discusses the idea that art cannot exist without criticism.  I loved this idea because it rings so true to me.  Without criticism, without thinking clearly and examining our emotional response to something, we cannot give that something meaning.  Without meaning, that something cannot be art.  So in order to continue to ensure that games are taken seriously, these kinds of critics are a valuable part of our industry.

A critics job is to look at something and figure out why it has meaning.  Why did it evoke certain feelings?  What is the underlying tone and vibe of the game?  How did it affect the general population and what will the impact be on current societal trends?  These questions provide new insights, even insights the artist wasn’t intending, into the games and consoles that are being released.  In turn, these criticisms evoke antigenic drift, the slow process of small changes that adjust the way the industry behaves, the games that are made, and the stories that are told.  When critics ask hard questions and come up with new answers, it provokes though and ingenuity in the developers.  Sometimes it’s something no one had considered before.  Because of these new ideas we are able to change the way that we think about games and the way that games are created, produced, and told.

And you know what?  These voices are important, whether they are good at something or bad at it.  Just because you aren’t capable of playing every game on the market doesn’t mean that your in-depth analysis is invalid.  We don’t expect sports commentators to have necessarily been pro players, but we still accept their opinions and their commentary as valid.  We don’t expect film critics to have been producers or actors at some point in their career.  The point of a critic is to be able to think about something a little outside the box in order to invest new, and sometimes groundbreaking ideas into the mix.  We should extend the same courtesy to game journalists.   Most of them have an area of expertise and they are pretty good at sticking to that area.  But they’re allowed to be humans and step outside that range for non-professional moments.  Let’s let them be human.

A word of caution: just because we can be critics doesn’t mean we should be.  This post isn’t a call to arms, trying to make sure everyone remains harsh and unforgiving in their opinions about new games, new consoles, new media.  In fact, I think we can be just as influential in our positive opinions and reviews as we are in our criticism of how things are done.  By showing Nintendo that the masses love Zelda (obvious by the sales numbers) we are ensuring that something we admire continues to be made.  By expressing our delight with the mechanics of Overwatch, we continue to provide support for the loving tweaks they give the characters to help make the game even better.  People’s disappointment that the Uncharted series was over may have ensured that spin-off’s like Lost Legacy continue to be made.  So let’s use criticism to help make the things we love so much become better, but let’s also use our positivity and optimism to make them better, too.

My conclusion?  The criticism from both gamers and critics introduce novel changes to the industry that help it stay active and alive.  I think it’s an important aspect of gaming and something that we should be proud to be a part of.  What do you guys think?  Do you believe that criticism and critics are important for the game industry and how could it be different and better?

 

Blogger Blitz Semifinals: Raccoon City

Blogger Blitz Semifinals: Raccoon City

If any of you follow along with the non-recipe posts you’ll know that I won Round One of the incredible Blogger Blitz Challenge, hosted by Ian at Adventure Rules.  I honestly didn’t expect to win, especially since Luna of Gamer’s United put up such a good fight.  But by some serious luck I got to move on to the semifinals!  If you want to know more about the basics behind the Blogger Blitz a link to the rules can be found here.  However, for this second challenge a new scenario and a new rule were introduced.  The new rule: I get 800 words (instead of 500) to describe why Link would be able to survive a dastardly plan by LeChuck of The Secret of Monkey Island and take down Albert Wesker in Resident Evil territory.  Since I’ve never played Resident Evil I relied heavily on recaps and synopsis to understand what Link was up against, so bear with me if it may be a tad inaccurate!  The official prompt is as follows:

“In this event, the two competitors must switch roles for a day – Link must lead the charge against biologically-enhanced zombie warriors (can you tell I’ve totally played Resident Evil before?!) and their leader Wesker, while Claire has to save Hyrule from the mighty sorcerer Ganondorf and his evil hordes. However, before they can do their new jobs, LeChuck interferes, dragging them to the waters of Mêlée Island (which, as we all know, conveniently borders both Hyrule and the United States). Attaching each competitor to a heavy ship anchor, he sends them plummeting into the deep before heading off to capture Elaine Marley. Our competitors must explain how they escape LeChuck’s deadly trap without drowning, make their way back, and defeat a villain they have never faced with abilities foreign to their own world.”

If you are dying to see what my competitor, Luke, at Hundstrasse has written (like I am) then check out his blog here.  And now, let’s see what Link’s got up his sleeve for this challenge!  And don’t forget, the results will go live Friday at 9am EST on Adventure Rules.

Judges and curious onlookers – the word count starts now:

Hyrule

Another day, another kingdom to save.  It seems the work is never done for the Hero of Hyrule.  But this time, it’s not his kingdom that needs saving.  A request came for help from the distant land of Raccoon City, and Link, a born hero through all ages, answers the call.  As he leaves the safety of Hyrule he is ambushed by the dread pirate, LeChuck, who captures Link using a sleeping draft.  LeChuck ties Link to an anchor and drops him into the depths of the ocean…

Link!  Link, wake up! Hurry!

Link awakens, gasps, and struggles wildly.  Luckily, he always wears his Zora Tunic, which allows him to breathe underwater, when he sails.  With no fear of drowning, Link struggles with his bonds, eventually freeing one arm.  He draws the Master Sword and slices through the rope, freeing himself from the anchor.  Using his Silver Scale, Link swims to the surface to find the King of Red Lions, his companion across all oceans.  He hops into this boat and ties up his Swift Sail, knowing that time is running out.

Raccoon City

As Link reaches the shore he realizes he is still far from Raccoon City.  He could call his loyal steed, Epona, but knows that time is pressing.  Instead he calls his Crimson Loftwing and soars through the skies to reach this new realm.  He sets down just outside the town, cautious and wary.  He isn’t sure what monsters Raccoon City may be facing but his Stealth Crouch and Sheikah Stealth Armor help him avoid detection.  The closer he gets to the city, the fewer resources he notices.  Luckily, scavenging for food, materials, and weapons and careful use of those goods is a skill he has recently acquired.  Maintaining a supply of health-restoring food and weapons shouldn’t be a problem with his Sheikah Slate Sensor capabilities.  And Link isn’t afraid to break literally every pot and cut every blade of grass to find what he needs.

As he enters the city he encounters his first monster – a hideous, humanoid thing that looks undead.  Or maybe ReDead?  Link sighs with relief when he realizes he’s encountered monsters similar to this before.  He manages to sneak past the first few zombies before coming to a large mansion.  He checks his map and notices a glowing sphere underneath the mansion.  It must be the location of Wesker, the man behind these evils deeds.  He cautiously slips through the front doors and stumbles upon a monster just inside the door.  He whips out his Ocarina, quickly plays the Sun Song and a beam of light appears, blinding the zombie, allowing Link the time to kill him with the Master Sword before moving on.

Resident Evil Mansion

As Link steps into the next room he notices hidden switches and some kind of puzzle to be worked out.  He smiles.  As Hero of Hyrule, he has worked his way through hundreds of puzzles.  It seems like the people of Hyrule insist their temples be so complex no one could actually use them.  He quickly works out the first puzzle and moves on.  As he works his way through the following rooms and puzzles he notices that the mansions is becoming quieter.  As he leaves the last room and zombie runs down the corridor toward him.  Working quickly, Link uses his Ice Rod to freeze his opponent.  He then uses a well-placed bomb to kill the monster.  The sound, however, draws more zombies to him.  His Triforce of Courage never fails him and he swiftly fires a Bomb Arrow, blasting them all as he makes his escape to the stairs at the end of the hall.

Albert Wesker from Resident Evil

Link rushes down toward the glowing dot from his map to find a giant mutant and Wesker.  Wesker congratulates Link on making it this far and explains his terrible plan for world domination.  Link rolls his eyes – he’s heard this before and this guy had nothing on Ganondorf.  As Wesker finishes his tirade he unleashes the monster, a Tyrant.  Link quickly downs a Tough Meat and Rice Bowl, boosting his ability to handle damage and his health, and uses a combination of the Mirror Shield to blind the monster and Master Sword Beams to defeat it.  In the monster’s last, terrible rage he attacks Wesker, who appears dead beside the remains of the beast.  But Link knows that after Ganondorf comes Ganon and waits for the second monster to appear.  Wesker revives, having injected himself with a powerful virus, and attacks.  Link brings out the Light Arrows, knowing of their power to stop evil (and blind his foes), and uses them and powerful attacks with his Master Sword to defeat Wesker.  As Link leaves the building the sun bursts above the horizon and he smiles, knowing he restored peace to Raccoon City.

Anxiety and the Positive Benefits of Gaming

Anxiety and the Positive Benefits of Gaming

Apparently, as I learned in the RadioWest podcast episode I listened to just a month ago, we live in the “age of anxiety”.  The author of a new book called Just Can’t Stop delves into the realm of compulsions and how small compulsions are evolution’s way of helping us cope with overwhelming situations.  In the podcast she talked about mental health and the difference between serious, need to get help compulsions and minor, help you cope with your minor anxiety compulsions.  It really pushed some ideas inward and I’ve been seriously contemplating my own battles and what they’ve meant in my life.  So let’s get personal.

About 5 months ago I was diagnosed with debilitating anxiety and minor depression.  After struggling with the inability to function for about 10 months I finally, with the support and courage of my wonderful husband, sought professional help.  It was incredibly difficult for me to admit that I needed any help and incredibly difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t my mom – I couldn’t handle the stress of my life with the aplomb and poise that she does.

Since I started down this destructive path I’ve found that one of the best coping mechanisms for me has been video games.  And now, after seeking help and understanding a little better where my anxiety and depression come from, I know why.  I think I want to share this, not only because it’ll help me but because maybe it’ll help you, too!

I feel like I am in control:

When I look at my life I do not feel in control of my situation – work, our home being built, children getting sick, my daycare quitting and leaving me in a bit of a lurch, and the list continues.  Playing a video game, especially because I pretty much stick to single player games or modes like Breath of the Wild or one player MarioKart, allows me to be in control of my entire situation.  I want to explore in that direction, I can.  I get to control where I go, when I accomplish tasks, how long it’ll take, and how to approach an enemy.  This, for someone who feels like their life is spiraling, is a positive experience and helps me feel a little more inner peace and calm.

I can get upset without becoming mean:

I try to be as kind as I can.  I don’t understand other people’s experiences, where they are coming from, or why they behave certain ways.  As such, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt when something goes wrong or they screw something up.  But it leaves me with a pretty big ball of frustration that I’ve been unable to lose.  When I play a video game I can get mad at the RNG gods without feeling like I am judging someone too harshly or becoming a toxic player.  I can get frustrated without disrupting someone else’s experience.  This gives me an outlet for my frustration without ruining any relationships or people.

It allows me to set and achieve goals:

When you are struggling with anxiety it can be incredibly difficult, even impossible, to set and achieve goals.  You feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by fear all the time.  When I play a video game I am given tasks and goals and a desire to finish them.  Every time I finish a side quest I know I’ve accomplished something.  Whenever I beat a dungeon or boss I feel like I’m making a difference and finishing a major task.  These small victories do wonders for my self esteem and positive outlook, even if they are virtual.  It’s something that didn’t require much thought or even, sometimes, much work on my part.  But it’s something that helps me feel just a little bit better about myself.  With enough game victories I usually feel a little more capable to set and accomplish real life goals.

The games I play bring me joy:

In the book Essentialism by Greg Mckeown, he spends a great deal of time discussing the importance of doing something because it brings you joy.  It doesn’t necessarily accomplish a task or goal, it just makes you happy.  Video games make me happy.  I love the stories, the music, the characters, and the feeling of being involved in another world.  And when you are depressed the importance of  doing something that makes you happy and fires off that dopamine becomes even more essential.  So I play because it makes my life a better place.

What kind of happiness do you find playing video games?  Are there any lessons you’ve learned about how video games have positively affected your life?

Blogger Blitz Round 4: Matchmaker

You know, after an accidental hiatus it’s interesting that the post I come back with isn’t a recipe.  It’s not even a Thursday Thought.  It’s a competition.  So to kick off being back from vacation and back on track I’m going to spend the next 500 words (after this intro, judges!  Don’t start counting now!) convincing you that Link, our very own Hero of Life, the Universe, and Everything can play matchmaker with only his impressive collection of skills.  This competition, hosted by Ian at Adventure Rules, is called the Blogger Blitz.  If you want to know more about it a link to the rules can be found here.  I’m participating in Round 4, so if you’d like to read the previous rounds click on 1, 2, and 3 for the respective hub articles.  This community event has been really fun to be a part of so far, and, with luck, I’ll get to keep playing in the next round!  For any of you who, for some silly reason, don’t want to read the full rules and regulations, my prompt is as follows:

“Match Maker! It’s a mission to find love for a malboro, the most horrifying creature in Final Fantasy history. Malboro are known for their putrid breath, breath so terrible that when exhaled on a party of adventurers, it can cause a range of status ailments from poison to confusion to becoming Doomed to die! Finding someone – or something – for a creature like that is pretty intimidating, but it’s up to you to convince the judges why your character can do it.”

malboro

If you want to read my competitor’s argument head over to Gamer’s United.  Luna is writing about the Joker so this could be a very interesting match-up!  Oh, and one more thing, the results will be posted on Adventure Rules this Friday to see who won!  So cross your fingers, wish me luck, and let’s get this party started!  Judges, word counts starts at the top the of the next paragraph.

“Hey! Listen! Link, it’s almost time for the challenge.  Wake Up!”

*Mumbling and yawning*

“I can’t believe I picked such a lazy boy to help me with this… Link, it’s challenge day!  Can you explain the argument we came up with that you are an incredible matchmaker and that you can help anyone find love?”

“. . . . .”

“Um…. A little louder for the back?”

“. . . . .”

*Sigh* “Fine.  Why don’t I just tell them.”

Link, The legend of Zelda

Link, the Hero of Time and defender of Hyrule, has always been up to a challenge.  When he heard about this one it was no different.  He knew that finding love for a creature as horrific as a malboro would be tough, but he’s never backed down from a fight and he never will.

First, Link must use his triforce of courage.  Only the most brave and fearless could stand to be near a malboro long enough to learn what he was really like.  Link’s ability to stay calm in the face of overwhelming danger would allow him to hang out, learn, and find the positive aspects of such a creature.  Link’s incessant questions to everyone, including asking the same questions over and over again, would allow him to discover who malboro truly was.  This knowledge would be invaluable to finding a true love for this monster.  He would also utilize his companion, be it fairy, sword spirit, or twilight princess, to learn everything he could about malboros.  He would learn the creature’s weaknesses in order to help the potential mate know when it was safe to approach their true love.

After learning about his foe… I mean, friend… he would start to search for the right person to love such a monster.  Link loves to travel, usually covering vast countries and lands to discover everything he can about other people, cultures, and races.  This knowledge will help him choose the person most likely to love a malboro.  After using his persistence and questioning skills he will have found the person just right for the malboro – looking for love and slightly desperate.

moe the moblinOnce the potential soul mate has been found he’d start a letter campaign, knowing that the best way to get these two to fall in love would be long-distance.  So he’d deliver these letters back and forth between the lover’s, like he’s always done.  He reminded me that every incarnation of himself has played matchmaker regardless of race, age, and distance.  He even reminded me that his incarnation during the flood (Wind Waker) was able to match a Hylian with a Moblin monster.

He’s always helping people find love and it usually bring him great joy and some kind of reward.  The promise of this reward means that he would not give up until the quest was completed.  These letters would spark true romance and, after enough of them, the malboro and his true love would finally meet.  Armed with the knowledge Link was able to pass on these two could live happily, and maybe distantly, ever after.