Whore Swords

Hey Gamers,

Despite my best efforts, I have not yet tired of speaking about Zelda.

I Think I'd Have To Change My Name If I Did

I Think I’d Have To Change My Name If I Did, Honestly

I made mention of a possible part four to conclude my thoughts on Zelda, though I feel as if I’ve already done justice in giving A Link Between Worlds ample spotlight. This whole line of articles, for those who may remember, was the first effort in flexing my mental fibers after a long hiatus. ALBW gave me plenty to think about, and Zelda does easy work of making me a happy gamer. While my last post  may have come off rather irritated instead of happy, it was more of a “dude, really?” in regards to Nintendo’s sometimes backward approach in game design. The company may be responsible for building the house of Mario, but that doesn’t mean they’re master carpenters all of the time.

And the metaphorical outhouses they sometimes build

Too Soon?

*ShitFests

Nintendo did learn a valuable lesson from narrowly focus testing the 3DS XL in house: do not build accessories to scale with Reggie Fils-Aime size in mind.

Reggie, Seen Here, Standing In His Office At Nintendo HQ

Reggie, Overseeing Operations At A Nintendo HQ

I will save myself (and you) from the endless stream of jokes, resulting in the mention of the massive girth Reggie boasts.

Those are laughs for another time.

I speak in reference to Nintendo’s meaty American President (and more directly to the Circle Pad Pro), as a correlative reference to my last post, which dealt with Nintendo’s missteps with Skyward Swords motion controls. I’ve made peace with what I think in regards to SS, and the mention of the game’s usage of the Wii-mote helps to center a singular point Nintendo often seems to get wrong: simplicity. The debate I observed, had some claiming the motion controls indeed complicated an already simplistic control scheme, which has a truth about it. More leg (arm) work was involved in controlling Link in SS, thusly making the game a little more involved, and a little less simple. Skyward Sword failed in adhering to a simplicity found in previous games, and lacked “That Zelda Feel” for some, ensuring the game was not fully embrace across the board.

In contrast, ALBW works rather simply, and that’s very good for players of all sorts. The game’s simplicity may have been overlooked in pre-hype phases, from the way Nintendo tried to sell the game. Very simply, while the wall hugging is cool, the 3D elements offer some visual oomph, and the game boasts a “retro flair”, these are all just elements Nintendo ended up abusing for marketing purposes, because they all are easily identifiable ways to sell Zelda. What surprises me here, in fact, is that in some strange way, selling Zelda by Zelda standards seems beyond Nintendo at this point, as if they’ve forgotten that the basic formula is what makes or breaks a game.

You can have all of the cool abilities and weapons in a game, but if it doesn’t feel right, it’s no game at all.

Balthier, Reminding Vaan He's Got No Game At All

Balthier, Reminding Vaan He’s Got No Game At All

Moving from reality to fantasy, let’s take shooters for example.

Articulation can be difficult, especially in sub cultures. In gaming for example, a lot of people might like a game, but may not have the vocabulary to explain why. Some people just lack awareness, others just simply don’t put as much thought into how they enjoy their spare time as I do. Any popular game or title that is worth it’s weight in virtual gold, possesses this comfortable value of feel through effective design. Why a Halo player may not enjoy Counter Strike and vice versa, is only lost to those who haven’t really spent time with either. Halo and Counter Strike both have different feels, and even within their own machinations, different iterations of Counter Strikes and Halos can indeed differ.

All

All

Different

Different

Feels

Feels

Bro

Bro

Four Swords, all of the same caliber, all used by the Chief. Ignoring a lot of the fourth wall breaking stuff (like the god awful weapon continuity of the Halo universe due to alterations in game balancing), the man and the sword do not change, though the feel does. The overall feel, to the uninitiated, is one of empowerment. Power Weapon Mongering may be one way to describe it, noob swooping another, and sword whoring yet one more title this specific empowerment takes on. They all refer to the same thing, and yet from game to game, the feel changes ever so slightly, but tries to not get too far away from that classic “sword feel”. A hard concept to relate to, if you have an estrangement from the virtual realities of Halo, but one that helps frame why or how a game “feels right”. Even within a single fan base, this can be a violent, divisive sense of elitism and debate, which shows you just how complex and delicate game design really can be.

Though Delicacy and Complexity Are Not Always What's Produced

Though Delicacy and Complexity Are Not Always What’s Produced

I know my focus on first person shooters may seem like an odd interjection in terms of Zelda discussion, but it relates in a broader sense, how Nintendo seems to “miss the point” in marketing Zelda by Zelda standards, and overlooking “the feel” of a game entirely. I suppose in some ways, people may criticism Nintendo for playing it too safe with their own formulas, so an appeal to the familiar in marketing may have been dangerous territory. Considering how quick Nintendo was to try and sell the DS Zelda’s and Skyward Sword on “gimmicks” instead of “Zelda”, selling ALBW more honestly as a straight up Zelda game, without the 3D wall hugging bells and whistles attached, might have been a good thing.

Not that I’m implying Zelda needs to follow Halo’s lead in marketing or execution, but the two can benefit from similar approaches

Link Warthog

Seen Here: Link Only Briefly Questioning What Song He Just Played On His Ocarina

ALBW did just fine in both a retail and critical sense, so I believe what’s synonymous with Zelda is still well intact, even if Nintendo’s understanding of it is not. Again, I’m not saying Zelda needs to HTFU, gets some guns, blow shit up etc, I just think Nintendo forgets how Zelda simply is better in the first place, without all of the superfluous nonsense. “That Zelda Feel” is all important, and really why the series, even when the games seem too safe or too quirky, are still tons of fun. My concern with the quality of ALBW, is that it’s polish may have been in an incidental bi-product of being a sequel to a game with a fantastic feel, A Link to the Past, and how playing it completely safe here was completely acceptable. I know this goes back to what Zelda you like, and there’s plenty of you out there (which is good), but I think it’s about time Nintendo acknowledges some of the strengths of certain Zelda games, and brings them to the front in one title.

You Know, Reaching A Common Ground Between Fans?

You Know, Like Reaching A Common Ground Between Fans?

I’m ending this post (in one sense) prematurely, only because I’ve broken up the writing process of finishing this post into three parts, which has made the effort unfocused. I’ve also gone and had too many ideas concerning “That Zelda Feel”, and realize further discussion is required in all regards. ALBW, as I’ve observed, is appealing, provoking, and refined, largely due in part to staying faithful to familiar fun. The game has been inspiring enough, in these more personally dark times, and has helped me to ponder a great many things about design and Zelda as a result. I believe my next post will continue to Link  Zelda’s, in understanding how the series has done it best.

As I’ve investigated here today, a Link Between Worlds can really draw you in, and will remind you that inspiration can sometimes be found in odd places.

They say green is the color of genius.

They Say Green Is The Color Of Genuis

I’d Argue It Can At Least Be The Color Of Success

~Pash

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