Zelda Collaboration Project

IT’S HERE! It’s finally here!  The Zelda collaboration blog, hosted by Matt at Normal Happenings, is finally published for all the world to see.

Guys, this project is insane.  It was tons of bloggers adding their input on the sights and sounds of Hyrule.  How cool is that?!  And all of their hard work, and especially Matt’s hard work, should be recognized.  So please go check it out!  I don’t want to reblog here, because I want you to go to this amazing person’s site and see everything the way he planned it.  He deserves that.

OH!  And in case you were interested, I included 2 new recipes for this project.  Yay!  To see them just head on over…

Hyrule: See the Sights, Hear the Sounds!

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.

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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/

 

 

The Completionist’s Dilemma

The Completionist’s Dilemma
Warning- this post may contain a few minor spoilers for completionists

I’ve always been a completionist when I play Zelda.  I complete every side quest, open every chest, get the highest possible tier in every game, collect every item, explore literally every nook and cranny, and, up to this point, cut every blade of grass and pick up every single rock.  I love the feeling of mastering a game, of knowing it inside and out, and of feeling like I gave it everything I have.  So when I started playing Breath of the Wild there was never any question of whether I would collect all the Korok seeds, explore every area thoroughly, and complete as many missions as they threw at me.

I started with a game plan: I would explore every new tower area completely and 100% before I unlocked the next area.  It was the only way to ensure that I didn’t miss anything.  I block off the new area before I activate the tower and then I start exploring.  Literally every single square foot is explored before I move on to the next tower.  I slowly move my boundary inward until I have seen all the amazing, incredible landscape and admired every lovingly-rendered scene.  If I see anything suspicious that I haven’t figured out yet, I stamp it and come back to it once I’ve had time to figure it out.

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It’s been a fantastic way to see everything.  I have definitely gotten hours of excitement and enjoyment from this game I would have missed if I had focused on the story alone.  It’s nice to be the one my little brother questions when he can’t find a shrine and it’s fun to feel like I gave the developers the exploration they were intending.

But sometimes it’s a struggle.  When I climb yet another craggy peak at Death Mountain it can get boring and tedious.  When I run across yet another empty field, zig-zagging until the entire thing has been viewed I wonder what I’m doing with my life.  And when I accidentally notice how many hours I’ve played and I’ve barely finished half the map I worry about my life choices.  Sometimes I worry that, by choosing to play the game this way, I’m losing all the spontaneity and pure excitement that comes from random exploration.  And, frankly, sometimes I worry that people are judging me for not spending my time the way they think I should.

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So there’s the dilemma… What I am doing vs. what I feel I should be doing vs. what other people do.  It’s been hard.  Sometimes I don’t want to keep playing because Hyrule field took forever to explore and there was literally nothing there.  And sometimes I get bored climbing and climbing and waiting in the rain to do yet more climbing just to get to the top of spires that don’t contain a single item.  But when I find something all the spark and energy come flowing back.  It’s rewarding to find a Korok seed in some random area I never would have explored.  It’s awesome to be obsessed with killing every Lynel only to find out there’s a medal for doing so.  It’s breathtaking to find a view you never would have seen unless you were in the right place at the right time.

And you know what – it doesn’t matter what people think and how other people play the game.  This is your game and your experience.  Don’t let anyone take that away from you!  They can keep their judgy comments to themselves  because this brings you joy and life is about having joy.  However you choose to play the game, just do it!  Because Zelda is about adventure and someone else’s adventure should never take away your adventure.

So has it been worthwhile to become a 100% completionist for Breath of the Wild.  You bet.  I wouldn’t change this experience for the anything.

So how about the rest of you?  Are there any completionists out there pushing for 100% like me?  Have you been working a different strategy to make sure you get every piece of awesome you can?

 

A strong, female playable character in Legend of Zelda

A strong, female playable character in Legend of Zelda

I wish more video games had strong female leads.  Having said that, I’m definitely not one of those people who needs a strong female to take over every male role.  In the immortal words of George R R Martin “To me being a feminist is about treating men and women the same” (Salter, The Telegraph, 2013).  There should be, and needs to be, a balance.  There are games that should be about male characters, and that’s okay!  And there are games that should be about female characters, and that’s also okay!

 

What I don’t like is the trend of taking a male character, turning them into a female character, and calling it “good enough”.  We don’t need yet another female who reminds us more of our brother than ourselves.  What we need is a character who is a woman who was meant to be a woman.  With that in mind, I don’t need Link to be a girl.  I need Link to continue to be a boy (because he so obviously is) and I need a game from Zelda’s point of view.

Zelda is already the strong, intelligent, awesome female character we need in the Legend of Zelda series.  She is brave, always fighting alongside Link, like she does as Sheik or Tetra.  She is fleshed out, created as a person with thoughts, opinions, and struggles, as is so poignantly brought home in the memories of Link in Breath of the Wild.  And, more importantly, she’s been there from the beginning.  This is not some character Nintendo would create out of nothing to prove to the public that they, too, care about women.  This would be a way for them to show that, from the beginning, they have cared about women.  It would be a way to prove that, just because their main hero in this series is male, it doesn’t mean they had a completely chauvinistic point of view.  I mean, these are the people who created Zelda’s Adventure, one of the few older games I have played from a female’s perspective!

And not only is Zelda already created, expanded, and real to the story, but she already has an amazing super power – the triforce of wisdom.  How easy would it be to make more difficult, challenging puzzles focusing on the idea that Zelda has to use her triforce of wisdom to defeat them?  Instead of the regularly-encountered boss, why not bosses with a big twist, requiring some serious forethought and skills to defeat them?

Don’t you guys agree that the absolute best remastered version of Ocarina of Time would be to include the original mode from Link’s point of view and a newly released mode from Zelda aka Sheik’s point of view?  It’s not like she sat around doing nothing for 7 years while Link was sealed away!  So what awesome shenanigans did she save Hyrule from?  Or to have a new Skyward Sword utilizing her very particular role at the temples, with new maps, puzzles, and her own set of bosses?

So, in my opinion, we don’t need a new female, playable character in the Zelda series.  We don’t even (in fact, please don’t!) need to make Link into a girl.  Nintendo just needs to jump on the idea they’ve already started and use the amazing character they already have. Let’s make a new Legend of Zelda about Zelda.

So what do you guys think?  Don’t be afraid to weigh in!  I’d love to hear your opinions.